7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Leader of the Senate any statement to make on the question of the prices of meat ? If not, will he inform me whether the prices of meat will be fixed, and the Senate given an opportunity to discuss them, before we rise for the proposed adjournment.
– In view of the steps that are being taken by the Government in this matter, it is impossible to make an announcement of the kind sought by the honorable senator at this juncture.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister if it is a fact that the British Government obtain Australian meat at 47/8d. per lb., and that Australians generally have to pay from10d. to1s. 3d. per lb. for similar meat? If so, will the Minister tell us when the Government will really do anything to enable. Australians to obtain meat at the prices at which it is now being supplied to the British Government?
– I have nothing to add to my reply to the previous question on this subject.
Report on Naval Bases Expenditure.
Report of the Public Accounts Committee upon the expenditure on the establishment of Naval Bases presented by Senator Earle, and ordered to be printed.
– In view of the state ments that have appeared in the press concerning the intention of the Government with regard to the apple-growing industry, I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister if he can inform the Senate as to the total unimproved value of the land whereon apples are grown in each State, and whether it is proposed to give poultry-raisers and other producers concessions similar to those it is proposed to give apple-growers.
– If the honorable senator can indicate the area on which apples are grown, I shall endeavour to see whether it is possible to obtain particulars as to the value of the same.
– I shall get the information from Mr. Knibbs, and supply it to the honorable senator, as he has not time to get it for himself.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether the Government have considered the representations made to them by the Highland Society and other Scottish associations regarding the recruiting of a special contingent of men entitled to wear kilts.
– I have already announced that the Government have considered the matter, and have agreed to these men being enlisted as special reinforcements, being kept together in training camps here, and, as far as possible sent overseas together. We have not been able to see our way to adopt the suggestion to permit them to wear the kilt. A reply in detail has been sent during this week to the society making the representations referred to, and if Senator Pratten wishes it, I shall see that a copy of that reply is furnished to him.
Information Supplied to Mr. George Daniels
– I wish to ask a question arising out of a paragraph which has appeared in the press. If there is no objection I should like to read the paragraph in question.
– If the paragraph is lengthy it ought not to be read in putting the question.
– Without reading the paragraph, I ask the Minister for Defence whether Mr. George Daniels, a private citizen of Albury, is given information of the arrival of troopships, while the Repatriation Committee in Albury is refused that information? Has such information also been refused to the member for the district? I wish to know further, whether Mr. Daniels is in the employ of the Government, and if he is not, what is the reason he is given information which is supplied to no one else?
– So far as I am aware, Mr. George Daniels is not given any information that is not equally available to every member of the public. Certainly he is not informed prior to the arrival of a troopship. It very often happens that before a troopship actually arrives at the point of disembarkation the lists are published in the daily press, and are, no doubt, telegraphed to country newspapers. So that before any troops could arrive at Albury any citizen of that town might arrange to have such information telegraphed to him from Melbourne. Mr. George Daniels is not in the employ of the Defence Department, and I am not aware that the Repatriation Committee, or any other committee, has been refused informationwhich has been given to him.
– Arising out of the answer to thequestion, I have much pleasure in presenting to the Minister for Defence a report of the minutes of a meeting, from which he will be able to see for himself the facilities by -which Mr. Daniels claims to obtain information.
Increase to meet Cost of Living.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In view of the enormous increase in the cost of living since the outbreak of the war, will the Government considerthe necessity of introducing at an early date an amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, with a view to increasing the weekly -pension so as to enable those in receipt of such pension to cope with the increased cost of commodities?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
The rate of pension paid under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act has been increased by 25 per centsince the outbreak of the war. The question of a further increase will receive due consideration by the Government.
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon, notice -
– The answers are -
Medals for Mothers of Soldiers
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1.. No special medalhas been adopted for presentation to mothers whose sons have been killed.
In addition, the medals earned by members of the Australian Imperial Force who are deceased will, in due course, be forwarded to the next of kin of the deceased soldier.
Senator MILLEN (New SouthWales-
Minister for Repatriation) [3.9]. - Owing to the non-arrival of any business f rom the other branch of the Legislature, and in anticipation that some communication will be received, probably after 4 p.m., may I suggest, sir, that in the exercise of your authority you might suspend the sitting until some time after that hour?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) . - In view of the statement of the Minister for Repatriation, and the absence of business on the paper, I sus- pend the sitting until 4:30 p.m., at which hourI shall resume the chair.
Sitting, suspended from3.10 to4.30 p.m.
Price Fixing: Meat - The War : State ment by Mr. Fisher : Peace by Negotiation : Peace Terms: Loyalty and Aims of Labour Party : Military Situation: German National Policy : The German People and Militarism : Anti-Submarine Campaign: Mines in Australian Waters - Recruiting Conference and Obstacles to Recruiting: Labour Conditions: Conscription: War Precautions Regulations - Country Postal Facilities - Macquarie. State Electorate : roll Stuffing - Defence Administration : Criticism by Senator pratten - Illegal Associations Act : Detention of Offenders - Shipbuilding.: Letting of Contracts.: Agree- ments with trade unions :sher- wood Patent - East- West Railway: Break of Gauge - Commonwealth Representation at Washington and in the East - German Method of Commercial Penetration - Captured German Possessions - Australian Standing Army.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
Thatso much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– Before we suspend the Standing Orders, I ask the Leader of the Senate if he will give an assurance that the Government’s intentions in regard to the fixation of the price of meat will be made known to honorable senators before Parliament adjourns ? I wish to remove, by a plain statement, any suspicion of party fighting, but I must add that I think that the fixation of meat prices is of so much importance to the stock growers, the beef interests, and the consumers., that we are entitled to know at the earliest possible moment what the Government intend to do. Of course, honorable senators on this side have an opportunity, by unduly prolonging the debate, to put pressure upon the Government, but I do not wish to adopt that course. Apart from any opposition to the Bill, there is a number of important matters which Idesire to put before the Senate.
– It is impossible for me to give the assurance for which the honorable senator has asked. I have already told him and the Senate that the Government are addressing themselves, in all seriousness, to the consideration of this matter, which involves very many sub-problems. No time will be lost in arriving at a decision and in making that decision known to the public.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
On previous similar occasions, criticism has been directed against me for not, on the first reading, indicating the purposes of the Bill. Such remarks are more proper at the second-reading stage, to which I shall defer all reference to the Bill itself. The opportunity is now presented for honorable senators to discuss any subject they care to bring under the notice of this Chamber, and I content myself with merely moving the first reading of the Bill.
– I shall offer no apology if I address the Senate at great length on this Bill. I understand that it will give the Government Supply for three months beyond the current financial year, and as this is the last occasion on which we shall have an opportunity of ventilating grievances, I wish to put before the Senate a few matters which I consider of importance, some of a personal character, but most of them of general public interest. And I shall try to state my views without bringing upon myself, as, unfortunately, I often do, those continuous interjections that lead to a waste of time. If honorable senators will bear with me, and defer their interjections until I have finished my remarks, I shall be pleased to answer them then.
I commence by giving to the Senate the exact statement of Mr. Andrew Fisher, in regard to “ the last man and the last shilling.” The Albury Daily News, of the 6th August, 1914, contains this report -
Last Man and Last Shilling mr. fisher’s announcement.
Mr. Fisher, speaking atCoolamon yesterday afternoon, announced that he had received a wire that war had been declared, and that fighting between Germany and Great Britain had commenced.
A Voice. - Hear, hear!
Mr. Fisher. He did not say “Hear, hear,” to war, but what he did say was that now the war had commenced, it was the duty of Australians to stand to their last man and their last shilling by Australia and the Mother Country. The matter should be discussed not from the view-point of captious criticism, but from the view of the Empire’s welfare.
I have put that statement before the Senate because I think that we should have on record what Mr. Fisher actually said, and I ask honorable senators to note that in that utterance, at the commencement of the war, Australia’s first statesman at that time put Australia first.
I turn now to a matter of purely departmental business. Having dealt with one great statesman very briefly, I propose to refer to another great statesman at much greater length. Mr. Webster has been Postmaster-General for some time and he has the ideathat the curtailment of the facilities of the people is economy, and that if he prevents the people from getting their mail matter he is saving money. It is the duty of the Government to take note of the manner in which the Post Office is being run, of how the public facilities are being curtailed, and how, instead of the Postal Department being for the convenience of the public, as it should be, the public are being made to serve the convenience of Mr. Webster and the Department. I have an extract from a newspaper published in that gentleman’s electorate, in which, I candidly admit, I have been campaigning, and it is headed: -
Cutting Down the Mail Facilities mr. webster’s latest.
T.P.O. between Sydney and Tamworth to go. “ T.P.O.” represents the travelling postoffice that carries the news to the people in the far north-west of New South Wales, and the Postmaster-General is practising what I may term mad economy by taking from the people their travelling postoffice, compelling them to wait two or three days for their business and other letters, and marking down that action as a saving of so much money for the Commonwealth. I do not care how members of the Government may pretend to support that action, they cannot believe in it. The extract reads -
A matter of vital importance to the country districts is at present engaging the attention of the Postal Department. The pruning knife is being ruthlessly used without any regard to the loss likely to result to the general public by the cutting away of facilities which have been in force for over thirty years, and which have, in no small degree, aided in the development of the country.
It is proposed to cut out the travelling postoffice attached to the mail train between Sydney and Tamworth. The immediate result of this will be that all the smaller towns, and those localities that are away from the railway line, will have their mail matter delayed one day. Those who receive through the post papers which are carried on the main lines will have their news in these stirring times delayed twenty-four hours. All correspondence from the country to the suburbs of Sydney will also be delayed, as it is now sorted in the T.P.O. van, and on arrival in the city is despatched direct to each suburban office.
With the change that is contemplated, everything will pass through the G.P.O., and the time required in sorting will prevent any possibility of letters reaching their destination till the day after arrival in Sydney.
It is hardly necessary to point out that the more expedition made in the transit of mails the greater will be the volume of business transacted by the community. The indirect way trade and commerce will benefit will many times compensate the country as a whole for any direct loss sustained. It would be a more admirable, and probably a better paying, proposition if the T.P.O. vans were increased and the sorting in other directions minimized.
The root of the whole trouble appears to emanate from a dispute between the Postal Department, which is a .Commonwealth service, and the Railway Department, which is a State service, over the cost of the carriage of the mails. Neither Department is prepared to entertain that spirit of sweet reasonableness and make a compromise, and the long-suffering public will have to further suffer. If a Commonwealth Department is to make a saving of £20,000 per year by wrenching that amount from a State Department, with the consequent loss of facilities necessary for the development of the country, it is hard to see where the profit to the community will come in.
The Minister will have the decision in his hands, and it is now for the shires and municipalities of the country districts, and the Farmers and Settlers Associations, and the different branches of the Primary Producers Union, to stand firm, and place their views before Mr. Webster. The postal services all over the country are gradually being whittled down, and where it is possible to save a few pounds the Minister- seems eager to do it without regard to the convenience and welfare of the residents of the country districts. This policy, coming from Mr. Webster, who is himself a country member, and therefore should be one of the first to appreciate the priceless boon of a frequent and regular service, is almost incomprehensible. The decision to cut out- the T.P.O. van is a retrograde step, and the people of many country centres, specially far back, will feel the change considerably. The organizations of the primary producers, at least, should lose no time in lodging a st-Tong protest direct to Mr. Webster.
I make no apology for putting that statement before the Senate. The Government should take the matter up at once, because it is no economy to rob the people, particularly those out back, of facilities which they have enjoyed, as in this case, for thirty years. I am more convinced than ever, from the utterances of the PostmasterGeneral, that he believes it is a saving to the community to cut out a van, such as the travelling postal van, and keep the business people of Sydney and those along the country lines waiting two or three days for mail matter that should reach them iti one. That is not economy, as the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral should forcibly report to him, because, if there is one section of the community who should be protected, and whose home life should be made as comfortable as possible, it is the primary producers in the outlying districts.
– Then you should not cut down the price- of what they produce. That is the greatest injustice you can inflict upon them.
– I am quite in accord with my party that we must take very good care that they get the world’s market price for their produce?
– Is that so? Then why are you inquiring so much about the price of meat? Your attitude is very inconsistent.
– Order! Senator Gardiner has asked to be heard without interruption.
– Although I asked for the privilege of speaking without interruption, I cannot pass over a personal and pertinent interjection like that of Senator Bakhap. Fixing the price of meat does not alter the farmers’ price for the stock he rears.
– I hope you can get him to believe it.
– I admit it will be difficult with the press saying the reverse, but I shall give the Senate some facts about meat prices. The Government of Queensland have fixed the price of meat at a very low figure. They take from the cattle-raisers beef at 3£d. per lb., and retail it to the consumers whereever there is a State meat shop in Queensland at prices which I shall quote.
– They make us pay ls. a lb. for it in South Australia.
– We pay that, and more, in New South Wales. The trouble is that in New South Wales and South Australia we have no Labour Governments. These were the prices in the State meat shops of Queensland on the 12 th June, 1917:-
Boast, sirloin, 6Ad. per lb.; roust, prime rib.
Hd.; roast, chuck, 31d.; steak, fillet, 8d.; steak, rump, 74(1.; steak, beef, 5ii.; topside, 5d.; corned round, 5id.; corned brisket (bone in), 34d.; corned ox tongue, 6d.; gravy beef 5-id. ; sausages, 5d.; mince, 4d.; shin ‘beef, id.: ox kidneys, each, 5d.; ox kidneys, halved, 5d.; ox cheeks, per lb., 3d.; ox skirts, 4d. ‘
– Twenty-five per cent, lower than in Western Australia.
– I am glad to hear it. I was in Western Australia last Christmas, and prices there were considerably higher. In that State, owing: to the fact that the Scaddan Labour Government introduced a system of State butchers’ shops, and had their ships bringing the meat from the north-west country, the prices cf meat were considerably lower than in the States governed, controlled, and owned by the trusts and combines.
– What was the loss on the transaction?
– What is the loss on the transaction to the people of New South Wales when they have to pay 1s. 2d. per lb. for rump steak as against 71/2d. per lb. in Queensland? Senator de Largie says that beef is cheaper in Western Australia than it was in Queensland on the date I gave. I shall be pleased if Senator de Largie can prove it. Possibly it is true, but is there any good reason why it should be at such an exorbitant price in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania? If fixing the price of beef reduces the price of stock, how easy would it he for New South Wales to purchase its stock in Queensland and bring it down.
– They cannot bring it across the border.
– I have here the statement of Mr. Ryan, the Queensland Premier, at the Premiers’ Conference, where he offered to enter into a guarantee with the State Premiers to have the beef delivered outside Queensland at the same price as in Queensland.
– Not on the hoof.
– I am not in the habit of misstating facts. The price of meat in the border towns of New South Wales, right in the best meat growing districts, from Armidale up, is just as high as it is in Sydney. The question of supply does not count for much when the Beef Trust interposes between the grazier and the consumer and pockets the difference between what it pays for the meat and the price at which it is sold to the consumer. There are men in the Queensland meat works who would welcome the Federal Government if it would only commandeer their beef at Queensland prices. At present they cannot tender for Commonwealth supplies; they cannot sell their beef, except under the conditions laid down by the Queensland Government. They can merely fill their freezing chambers until they are crowded, and then they have to put off their hands until they can ‘gradually empty those chambers when vessels are available for exporting their output. If the Commonwealth Government would only step in and take the meat from them at the cheap rate which is being paid in Queensland, the position of the grower would not be affected, because the exorbitant prices which are now being charged are maintained by the Meat Trust.
– At what price does the honorable senator suggest we should take this meat - at the price paid by the Queensland Government, or at the price paid by the Imperial authorities?
– I would pay the higher rate.
– That is to say, the rate of 47/8d. per lb., which the Imperial Government pay, although the Queensland Government compel the meat works to sell the meat to them at 31/2d. per lb.
– I do not object to paying 47/8d. per lb. ; but surely the wholesale price in Sydney should not be a fraction above the price at which the beef can be placed f.o.b. on vessels in Sydney Harbor.
– Why is the retail price so high in England if the Imperial Government gets the benefit of this cheap meat? Is the Imperial Government permitting profiteering?
– For a long time the Imperial Government has been permitting profiteering. The whole conduct of the war will show that it has permitted it.
– Mr. Bonar Law has made that admission.
– Let us have the evidence !
– If the honorable senator asks for evidence, I will use Senator Guy’s interjection. I believe that he is referring to an instance in which the British Chancellor of the Exchequer gave a glaring instance of profiteering. Of course, I am speaking from memory, but I believe that it is true that he said that he had £200 invested in a ship, and that a few weeks after the vessel was sunk he received a few thousand pounds for his share, in it.
– Now the honorable senator is dealing with shipping.
– If the honorable senator will seek to put in tricky and curly interjections, he must expect me to smack him to any side of the field I choose. However, I ask honorable senators not to interject, because I am anxious to conclude my remarks before the tea adjournment.
It is my wish now to refer to something which might be considered as a personal attack. During the recent Upper Hunter election, it was my good fortune to meet one of our opponents on the same platform - Mr. Weaver, the member for Willoughby. At least, he came along to meet me and when I made some references to “ roll-stuffing,” he inferred that I had not stated the case fairly when I accused him of being implicated in it. In justice to myself, I propose to read the report of the Commissioner who inquired into the matter, so that Mr. Weaver may read my remarks and see whether my accusation was unfair, and so that those who listened to the debate on that occasion may hold the balance between us. The report reads as follows : -
Central Police Office, Sydney, 6th February, 1914.
Referring to your letter of the 16th January ultimo, requesting me to undertake an inquiry, not on oath, into certain allegations as to improper practices in connexion with applications for enrolment on the rolls for the Macquarie Electorate, and also in connexion with the recent election of a parliamentary representative of that electorate, I have the honour to report that I opened the inquiry at the Court-house, Dubbo, on the 2nd instant, which terminated the same day.
As the papers - claims for enrolment and applications to transfer, &c. - disclosed serious allegations of improper practices on the part of Miss Lilian Alice Spark, Liberal Organizer, Mr. Alfred Horace Benham, grocer, and Mr. J. W. Bonnington, grazier, all of Dubbo, I commenced the proceedings by inquiring into the allegations referred to. The persons named, who were served with notices to attend, were called, but did not appear. I stated that, as they were aware that the signatures on the majority of the claims of application to transfer, lodged by Miss Spark, and witnessed by them, were alleged to be those of fictitious individuals, it was their bounden duty to attend the inquiry. Their names were again called at 2 o’clock, but they failed to answer. In view of the charge of “ roll-stuffing “ alleged against them, their failure to be in attendance, and their omission to furnish any explanation for non-attendance, presumptively show that they were aware that most of the names of the claimants were fictitious, and that the signatures in many cases, as described in the statement of Detective Moore, were written by the same person. Miss Spark witnessed fifty-nine documents, Mr. Benham fifty-two, and Mr. Bonnington three. All those forms were lodged late on the day of 7th November, 1913, which was the last day for the reception of claims. Several of the claims witnessed by Miss Spark are in the handwriting of Mr. Benham. The forms witnessed by Mr. Bonnington are in the handwriting of Mr. Benham, and the signature “ Edward Allan “ is in the same handwriting. The handwriting in the body of the claims of
Robert Howell and Nathan Jones is that of Mr. Benham, and the signatures were, in my opinion, written by the same person, probably Mr. Benham. All the claims for enrolment were objected to by Miss Spark and Mr. Weaver, and were disallowed by the Revision Court at Wellington. Prior to that Court, and a few days after they were enrolled, these claims had been referred to Sub-Inspector Peterswald for report. Constable Guthrie reported that in twelve cases the claimants were entitled to enrolment, but his statement at the inquiry did not satisfy me that those claimants were bond fide residents entitled to have their names placed on the roll. He admitted that he obtained his information in connexion with some of those claims from the persons witnessing the signatures. The police were unable to effect service of notices on the twelve referred to. It is unnecessary to go into further details respecting the various groups of signatures and the handwriting of Miss Spark and Mr. Benham, beyond stating that I entirely agree with the evidence given by Detective Moore at the inquiry, and his report furnished on the 8th December last year. Attention is invited to the conversation respecting the claims which took place on different occasions between Detective Moore and Miss Spark, and that officer and Messrs. Benham and Bonnington. The statement made by Miss Spark and Mr. Benham to Detective Moore is corroborated by Constable Rose, who interviewed them.
The applications to transfer from several other electorates number forty-five. Before the inquiry, I requested Detective Moore to examine the rolls for 1912 and 1913 of the districts from which the applicants desired to be transferred, and the result of his examination of the roll appears in his statement, namely, that he was unable to discover one of the names on these rolls.
The papers in connexion with William Buckley’s claim were submitted to me on the 21st January ultimo. A notice to appear at the inquiry was forwarded to the officer in charge of the police at Wellington, for service on Buckley, but he could not be found. Buckley’s application for transfer was objected to at the Revision Court on the ground that” he does not reside in the district, and is not eligible.” The objection was disallowed, and 15s. costs granted against the objector. The papers contain a statement that Buckley was five days under age when he sent in his application. I neither inquired into that phase of the question nor of his residence in the electorate, because I was prepared to find that he made a wilfully false statement in his declaration. With this exception, the papers do not disclose any complaint or charge of any kind by Mr. R. W. D. Weaver, the unsuccessful Liberal candidate at the late election.
On the 30th January (Friday) - two days before the commencement of the inquiry, and ten days after having received notice of same, I received from Mr. Weaver a list of names of persons whom he desired to be served with notices to attend the inquiry. This list contained111 names, and is forwarded with the papers. Two or three persons were enrolled, but the rest on his list appeared on the
Supplemental Roll, and were allowed by the revising magistrate at the Revision Court. Notices were sent to the police on the same day that Mr. Weaver’s letter reached me. In about six cases service was not attempted, as the persons lived a considerable distance from Dubbo. The police effected service on only three persons, and in 102 cases were unable to discover the persons, although a careful and diligent search was made in the limited time at the disposal of the police. The fact that 102 persons who were enrolled in November, 1913, could not be found on the 31st January, 1914, is remarkable, and the inference to be drawn from that fact is that they were not residing within the district for one month prior to the date they signed their claims. This fact corroborates the statement contained in Detective Moore’s report that, “ At Dubbo, in the months of September, October, and November, there is a floating population of shearers, agricultural labourers, &c, and these men are constantly on the move.” As against this inference, it must be conceded that the reports as to the qualifications of these persons were favorable, otherwise the claims, or most of them, would have been disallowed by the Revision. Court. In view of the fact that 111 notices to attend the inquiry were issued at the request of Mr. Weaver; that he attended the inquiry and crossexamined some of the witnesses, I am at a loss to understand his action in refusing to supply information respecting all the matters referred to in his statement. If Mr. Weaver had informed me, within a reasonable time after he knew that an inquiry was to be held, that he required the attendance of the Returning Officer, Presiding Officers, and others, also the production of the rolls used at the various polling booths for comparison and examination, and the papers in connexion with absent votes, I could have taken the necessary action for the attendance of the officers concerned, and the production of the documents. No doubt the inquiry would have been protracted, but Mr. Weaver would have had ample opportunity to prove, or attempt to establish, the charges referred to in his statement.
On the 19th December of last year, John Griffin, C. N. Spier, and A. B. Sutton, issued a circular headed “ Weaver Testimonial,” in which it was stated, inter alia,, thatMr. Weaver secured the votes of the majority of the electors in Macquarie, but was beaten by impersonation, duplication, and other forms of political dishonesty devised by the Caucus Government to thwart the will of the people” . . . “political corruption” . . . “Mr. Weaver was beaten by dishonest tactics.” Notices to attend the inquiry had been served on the persons named, but Mr. Spier had removed to Gulargambone, and probably could not attend without considerable inconvenience, but the failure of Messrs. Griffin and Sutton to attend is inexplicable.
For the reasons given in this report, I find -
The statements were taken in shorthand by Mr. H. G. Short, of the Chief Secretary’s Department, and a type-written report of the proceedings, together with an alphabetical list of names witnessed by Miss Spark, Mr. Benham, Mr. Bonnington, and others, are forwarded herewith.
All other papers are sent under separate cover.
I have, &c,
The Under-Secretary Department of the Attorney-General and of Justice.
– Is this a Federal matter?
– I shall show honorable senators why I have read the report. I made practically the same statements as those contained in the report at a public meeting, and they were statedto be untrue. To refute that challenge I have produced the report laid before the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. Honorable senators may say that it is not a Federal matter.
– It is not.
– I have always considered that the conduct, character, and reputation of the members of this Parliament is the most important matter with which we can concern ourselves.
– Your reputation has never been questioned.
– It is absolutely a municipal matter.
– Is roll stuffing a municipal matter?
– Are these Federal rolls ?
– Does the honorable senator not think that the Liberal
Associations, which were roll stuffing in 1913, are also roll stuffing to-day ? There are definite statements by the police magistrate that the lady mentioned in the report, who is an organizer of the Liberal or National party, was, along with others, engaged in roll stuffing. Further, Liberal organizers who, to my personal knowledge, live outside the electorate, had their names added to the rolls, and, though I do not know whether they voted, I am convinced they would not have had their names added unless they had intended to vote. They may have been a couple of months in the electorate organizing, but that is all. Honorable senators may condone roll stuffing of the kind, but it is a serious reflection on the party.
I am sorry that Senator Pratten and the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) are not here at the moment, because I desire to refer to both gentlemen, and to the interchange that recently took place between them. It is no part of my business to pose as the defender of Senator Pearce, but, judging by the attacks on him by his own party, and by the report of the Commission which inquired into the administration of his Department, I do say that, when the war is over, if there is nothing worse against him than what has already been said by those supporters and that Commission, he may for the remainder of his life congratulate himself on having conducted the business of the war for three or four years with excellent effect on his reputation. The Commission made the awful discovery that there were 1,000,000 pairs of boots more than were required. Well, we have 400,000 soldiers, and that would provide only’ 2i pairs of boots for each man. Is it not better that there should be 1,000,000* pairs of boots in stock to supply the men, because boots do not deteriorate after they are made up, than that we should be short of boots when they needed them? That was one of the charges made by the Commission, and one of the matters upon which they commented most severely.
– They did not make a charge, but a statement.
– It was one of those idiotic statements which made me lose all respect for them as business men. It is no part of my duty to pose as the defender of Senator Pearce, who is more than well able to defend himself. Senator Pratten made a complaint, in his latest attack, because it seems that some of his aristocratic friends were kept waiting in their motor cars for about three hours in Sydney to welcome returned men.
– What about the men who were waiting for two years to come back?
– That is the very thought that was in my mind. The idea of making a fuss about the streets of Sydney being thronged with expectant people !
– Senator Pratten was speaking of something he did not know anything about.
– He was, but his remarks have appeared in Hansard, and I think it is right that the public should know a little more about what he said. I wish the honorable senator were present to explain certain references that he made. The men who came back waited a long time for a good many things from us. All that I complain about in the reply of the Minister for Defence to Senator Pratten is that, instead of accepting fully and fairly the whole of the responsibility for the delay, he tried to shift it on tq the Department of the Navy. 1 stand corrected if I am wrong, but I believe that in the Senate Senator Pearce represents the Navy Department as well as the Defence Department. He should therefore, instead of trying to make out that as the head of the Defence Department he was not responsible, have accepted the whole responsibility, and have answered Senator Pratten’s complaints in “that way. As a matter of fact, there was nothing to answer. If so much is to be made of these paltry, mean little things, and the Minister for Defence may be attacked as fiercely as he was because of such matters, and if only such petty things can be brought against his administration, I must say that I should be glad to retire from a Department with so excellent a record and so good a reputation.
– There was also delay due to the quarantine regulations.
– I do not care where the fault lay, as it was not a matter of. much importance anyhow, though it was perhaps a regrettable incident. I have been attacked just now for introducing State matters into the Senate. If that attack was justified, surely minute matters such as those referred to by Senator Pratten might very well be left out of consideration in connexion with the great business of repatriating our soldiers. There should not be such captious criticism of the Defence Department at the present time. I can say, whether I get credit for it or not, that I have refrained almost from any criticism of the Defence administration since it has been in the hands of the present Government. I may have done so to too great an extent, but I always refrain from criticism which can only be irritating and annoying, and is not calculated to improve the system under which we are working.
I have been led chiefly to refer to this subject because of one direct statement in the speech made by Senator Pratten which honorable senators will remember. The honorable senator said that the Minister for Defence is “ the Jonah of the National party.” I suppose the press have taken that up, and that the reference will be repeated concerning Senator Pearce in a great many places. My early training made me fairly well acquainted with a great many of the characters in the Bible, and in my view Jonah was not altogether a fellow to be despised. I should like to learn from Senator Pratten, if he were present, in what particular respect he finds it appropriate to liken Senator Pearce to Jonah? If honorable senators generally had their early training forced upon them as I had they will remember that, the prophet Jonah was told to go and reprove the people of Nineveh.. He was to warn them of their wickedness. The task was rather a heavy one for him. He lacked moral courage, and instead of going to Nineveh he went on board a ship going to Tarshish, and did not obey the voice of Gpd. After he went on board the ship a storm arose, and tumultuous seas ran high. He was safe and sound in the interior of the vessel, but they brought him up. He was troubled in mind, and told those on board everything. He said that he had not obeyed the command of God, and advised them that if they wanted to save their ship they should throw him overboard.
And they did so. When he was thrown overboard a whale swallowed him, an<$ when he was in the belly of the whale for three days he was thrown up on dry land. Then he made his way to Nineveh, a city three days’ journey, and warned thepeople that their wickedness would mean their destruction within forty days. Thepeople of Nineveh listened to his warning. I am glad that Senator Pratten has entered the chamber, that I may give pointto my remarks. The people of Nineveh listened to the warning of Jonah that destruction would be upon them within forty days, and from the King down they repented in sack-cloth and ashes. Even, the animals were clothed in sack cloth, and animals and people fasted to show that they were truly repentant. At theend of the forty days Nineveh was not destroyed. Jonah had a little booth atthe Eastern gate of the city, and was very angry because his predictions did not come true. While he was sitting therein the heat of the sun a gourd grew up and sheltered and shaded him. Next day a worm came and destroyed the gourd.. So far as my memory has served me, after refreshing it slightly, I believe I havebriefly described the record of Jonah, and1 having done so, I wish to know from Senator Pratten in which position occupied by Jonah he desires to put Senator Pearce to-day. That honorable senator has already been thrown off the ship - thegood ship “ Labour.’’ He may have been swallowed by the National whale. Hemay be the prophet who is to warn theNational party of its destruction within forty days, as Nineveh was warnedThere may be a gourd growing to shelter him, and then the worm, in the person of Senator Pratten, may come. I shall leave the matter there.
I come now to a matter of some interest at the present juncture. Much is being; said now about “peace by negotiation.” We have had nearly four years of war, and I do not think that any of us now view the war as the plaything of politicians. In all sincerity I say that I think the day has gone by when, so far as the conduct of the war is concerned, one party should strive for an advantage over the otherbecause of the war sentiment or sympathy. That kind of thing is, to my mind, to be deprecated. I intend toquote some recent statements that have- been made, which, I think, fairly represent the military mind. I am taking the -statements of two responsible Ministers and of a military man who has done his share of the fighting. I refer to BrigadierGeneral Abbott. I find that in the Sydney Morning Herald of 6th June, -Senator Pearce is reported to have said -
Some idiots in this country are advocating peace by negotiation.
A woman’s voice answered this statement with the words -
They are not idiots, but traitors..
According to the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 6th June, Mr. Orchard said -
Something must be done to stop the seditious :stuff that emanates from the Domain every “Sunday.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald of 10th June, Brigadier-General Abbott, M.H.R., said-
But I tell you this: Anybody who talked «bout peace by negotiation in Great Britain today would be poleaxed
I have a brief extract here which goes “to show, not. only that there is. some one in Great Britain talking about peace by negotiation, but that the British newspapers publish such remarks. From the Daily Mail overseas edition of 6th April, 1918, under the heading, “ I.L.P. Outburst,” “Disaffection of Duty,” I find the following: -
A feature ‘of the International Labour Party Conference at Leicester was a speech by Mr. Robert Smilie, who spoke on a resolution embodying the spirit of the whole Conference that a “ democratic, unaggressive peace, secured “by negotiation, at the earliest possible moment -alone can save the nations from mutual destruction, ruin, and bankruptcy.”
– What did the Rus.sians get by negotiations?
– Let me answer one thing at a time. I have read certain statements by Senator Pearce, Mr. Orchard, and Brigadier-General Abbott, which, in my opinion, fairly represent the military mind. We have had the Labour party’s platform, in which has been put forward their proposal for peace by negotiation. I will not weary honorable senators by reading at length the peace proposals of the Labour party, because I have already done- so on one memorable occasion in the Senate. I shall make a brief extract from those proposals only for brevity sake, and no man will be able to say that I am. keeping anything back, because Hansard already records those proposals. There is recorded also the statement by Senator Colonel Rowell that there is nothing wrong with them if the other fellow would accept them. I find this in our proposals -
We believe in the right of small nations (including Ireland) to political independence, and that European countries occupied by invading armies during the present war should be immediately evacuated.
There is the Labour party’s proposal as, regards the evacuation of conquered territory. I shall have something to say with regard to the mind that contends that it is impossible to talk peace at the present time.
– What is the use of talking peace to a nation with a military mind.
– If there is no use in talking peace, what harm is there in doing so?
– What did we go to war for?
– We went to war to resist the invasion of Belgian territory.
– To remove a menace.
– And Senator Gardiner agreed to that.
– I did; and I have never shifted from that position. I say that if the Labour party’s peace proposals were given effect to, they would leave every European nation in the same position as before the war.
– Was there not plenty of negotiation for peace before the war? And did it not fail?
– I agree that there was ample negotiation for peace before the war. I say that, if history does justice to them, Earl Grey and Mr. Asquith will stand as the two strongest intellects handling the war, and men who used every effort humanly possible in order to avoid it. But even when Germany was threatening France, and the German legions. were marching upon Belgium, although perhaps Britain did not know it. I say that if Germany had respected the treaty with Belgium, Britain would never have entered the war.
– What does the honorable senator expect Germany to respect now ?
– I say that there would be no harm in getting back te-day to our position in 1914.
– With Germany on top.
– The honorable senator saying that does not put Germany on top.
– But the honorable senator admits that she is on top.
– I admit nothing. Not only do I admit nothing, but I venture to say that Kaiser William of Germany and his great generals, Hindenburg and Ludendorff, do not think they are on top, as Senator Guthrie would have us believe.
– What does the honorable senator believe?
– I shall come to that in good time. 1 want to put this matter before honorable senators in no offensive way. I think that three years and ten months of war has brought us to such a position that surely we can discuss peace.
– While we are at a disadvantage.
– At any time. We should not discuss peace in the light of Brigadier-General Abbott’s statement that ~ the man who does so should be pole-axed, or in the light of Senator Pearce’s statement that only idiots will discuss peace by negotiation. Nor should we proceed in the way in which Mr. Orchard would like to conduct the war, by closing to free speech the Sydney Domain, which has been the place of free speech ever since it has been a Domain.
– The place of licence !
– I do not care whether it is licence or not. .Do strong statements affect our conduct of the war ? What does most affect our conduct of the war is giving to those individuals who carry no influence beyond the circle of their immediate friends the opportunity of posing as martyrs because they have been prosecuted. To me there are three possible endings to the war. I put, first, victory for the Allied arms, which, from the day the first shot was fired, I have never doubted or ceased to hope for.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator say so.
– But if I were to repeat the statement every week, the miserable press that opposes our party would misrepresent us.
– The honorable senator has not been misrepresented; his trouble is that justice has been done to him.
– I went to the Sydney Domain and repeated a statement similar to that which I made in this House, and the Sydney newspapers said that I went to the Domain and apologized. When the reporter of the Melbourne Herald approached me on my return to this city, I said that the statement I made in the Senate stands. Notwithstanding that statement, another newspaper repeated a few days ago that I had apologized. The three possible endings to the war are, firstly, an Allied victory, for which I believe all Australia longs; secondly, peace by negotiation, which I and the party’ to which I belong would accept to-morrow.
– Rather than a victory ?
– No ; I have already put victory first. The third dread possibility is peace after a German victory.
– Unfortunately, that may be the case. There is a great danger of that.
– Not only is there a great danger of such a peace, but it is within the limits of reasonable probability. Facing the facts, I claim that we are weakening our influence abroad, and weakening Great Britain and our Allies in the conduct of the war, when the press of Australia and the National party depict one-half of the people of the Commonwealth as not desiring a victorious peace for the Allies as earnestly as they do. Although the National party may get a transient advantage and political kudos by discrediting those of us who stand for the Labour principles for which we have always fought; although they may give prominence to the statements of some irresponsible person in no way connected with the Labour movement-
– Organizations are not irresponsible. Certain Labour organizations have definitely decided to refrain from assisting in the war. The honorable senator knows that.
– That is what I do not know, and it is of such misrepresentation that I complain. Mr. Tudor may be stated to fairly represent our party, having regard to the fact that we elected him leader. Or take Mr. Storey, the Leader of the Labour party in the New South Wales Parliament; or Mr. Ryan, the Labour Premier of Queensland; or Mr. Collier, the Leader of the Labour party in the Western Australian Parliament.
– Take the Labour Leader in South Australia.
– I think that Lieutenant Denny is absent at the Front, but I refer honorable senators to the Deputy Leader, Mr. Jelley.
– Denny is not a Labour man, and never was.
– C - Coward ! You would not dare to say that if he were here.
– I would. Neither was the honorable senator a Labour man.
– Order! These interjections are disorderly.
– I - I never deserted the Labour party.
– The honorable senator did not come into the Labour party until he found that he could not get elected as a Liberal.
– I do not wish to quibble as to the position held in the Labour party by the members I have mentioned, but all of them have definitely, in season and out of season, not only spoken their loyalty, but proved it to the people of Australia. My object is to show the unwisdom of the tactics being adopted by the National party. They seek to gain a passing political advantage by fooling the people into the belief that the Labour party is opposed to the Allied cause. Mr. Hughes has said that the man who opposes him is a traitor to the Empire, and is waiting to strike a dagger to its heart. That and similar statements are cabled to Great Britain, and what must be their influence upon British statesmen ? When the last man and the last shilling are to be cast into the scales, they will say, “ So far as Australia is concerned we can count only on the supporters of the National party.”
– It is obvious that the fault of the Labour party rests with what may be termed its general staff rather than the rank and file.
– I do not care where the fault lies. When we are face to face with a party that puts the interests of the profiteers before the efficient conduct of the war, and that is trying to discredit the Labour movement-
– The Labour movement has discredited itself.
– From the Leader of the Nationalists in the Senate comes a statement that is false, misleading, and calculated to do infinite mischief in the community. Senator Millen should blush to say that the Labour party in its conduct of the war has discredited itself.
– I did not refer to the conduct of the war by the Labour Government. The honorable senator is twisting my words.
– The honorable gentleman’s interjection was that the Labour party has discredited itself. So far from having discredited ourselves we have a war record which, I hope, the present Government will succeed in approaching. The Government silence the voice of criticism when we attempt to speak of peace by negotiation. We have had nearly four years of war, and what have they meant to civilization? I have given a lot of consideration to war figures, and I compute that 15,000,000 of the prime of mankind have been killed.
– What would it have meant to civilization if we had surrendered to the Germans straight away?
– Have I ever talked of surrendering? Not only is peace by negotiation within the realm of practical politics, but it is pressing for consideration. It is useless for the Government, because they are in a strong position in this Parliament, and have a powerful press behind them, to seek to abuse and discredit their opponents. They shut them out of the Law Courts, by a War Precautions Regulation, they gag their mouths in the Sydney Domain, they censor their utterances in the press, and they seek in every way to suppress them. And yet we are faced with the awful fact that in four years of war 15,000,000 of the flower of mankind have been killed. Probably 15,000,000 more have been maimed, wounded, and rendered unfit to again follow useful occupations. I do not mind whether or not honorable senators accept my figures, because long ago I realized that very few of us can form any idea of what a million means.
– Nobody knows what the correct figures are.
– But to the best of my ability I calculate that 15,000,000 men have been killed and 15,000,000 have been wounded, and unless something happens to bring about peace the world can look forward to another four years of perhaps even .more destructive and devastating warfare. If any man had said at the beginning of the war. that it would last three years and ten months, that 15,000,000 men would be killed, and 15,000,000 injured, he would have been laughed to scorn. I do not care much about the money that has been spent - although the war means bankruptcy to all the nations that are engaged in it - but shall I say that the war has cost £50,000,000,000?
– That is a dangerous statement.
– I have made some calculations, taking as a basis the cost of our comparatively small Australian army and making due allowances for differences in pay and equipment, but without taking into consideration the enormous losses caused by the displacement of industry and labour the total losses cannot be computed. Now we are faced with the fact that another four years of war is not an impossibility. He is very hopeful indeed, who, looking at the facts and not persuaded by his own optimism, can see any hope of an early termination, of the war. I am one of those, however, who, even if we were fighting in the last ditch, would still hope for victory.
– Hope for victory and talk peace!
-r-I hope for victory for the Allied arms, but when I look at the awful sacrifice that is before humanity, I conclude that peace tomorrow would be a God-send to the nations of the world.
– Peace by negotiation would be the end of humanity.
– Let us follow out that argument. Senator Pearce said that only idiots would talk peace, and he pointed,, to the awful spectacle of Roumania and Russia, which had acquired peace by negotiation. Can any compari son be made between the Allies askingtoday for an armistice to discuss peace, and Roumania and Russia sitting at a peace conference after defeat? If there were an armistice to discuss peace, Britain, France, Italy, America, and the smaller nations would say to Germany, “ If you do not accept just and honorable terms of peace, the war must continue.”
– Let Germany withdraw its armies into its own territory, and then talk peace.
– I can quiteunderstand the fervour and zeal of honorable senators opposite, and if I thought, that such qualities would be effective I would be just as hot-headed as they are.. But it is wise to face facts, even if they do not suit one’s feelings.
– We had better fight it out now.
– If therehad not been peace cranks in Russia the. war would have ended ere now.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator, and when themight of America is marshalled in thefield we shall be much nearer peace, even, if the fight continues. ,
I am trying to state dispassionately,, not as one waving the white flag, but as one firmly looking facts in the face, that I shudder at the thought of four more years of war. I shudder at the thought of what is goingto happen to the white races of the world’ if this dreadful devastating conflict continues for another four years.
– None of us like it,, but we like defeat less.
– We like defeat less, and I hold the hopeful view that defeat never can come to us, but there may be, not only four years, but thirty or forty years of war before we are defeated. Our political opponents say we must not talk peace. What objection would there be if the peace delegates sat around the table to-morrow, and looked for a just and honorable ending to the war? What if there was a German peace agent on one side of the table, and an Allied peace agent on the other side ? Would not every nation engaged in the war feel, when those men sat down to discuss peace, that, nomatter what the peace terms were, the world had been relieved of the most awful nightmare that had ever overtaken it? What is the alternative to an early peace £
– We are listening with interest to the honorable senator, although we are not in agreementwith him.
– I do not ask honorable senators opposite to agree with me; I ask them to let me put my own ease, and to remember that I am trying to put it, not as one who shirks the responsibility of war, but as one who shudders at its possibilities. There are three possible endings; one is victory for the Allies, for which the Labour party stand. I speak as a representative of the Labour party, one of those men who, throughout this war, with all the cleavages that have taken place, have represented, and still represent, the Labour party in the prominent positions. The second possible ending is peace by negotiation. If it came tomorrow, it would come without loss of dignity or loss of position-
– But with loss of safety.
– It would come without loss of safety. What if Germany was back within her own borders? But, mark you, there are those who say that we must fight until we right the wrongs that Germany has inflicted upon the world. I should like to be able to think that we could do it. I have been reading about the earlier stages of the war, where the German armies marched through peaceful Belgium, and were entertained in peaceful Belgian houses. They brought with them waggons to take across the border the household goods of those peaceful people. They took the blood and farm stock from the farmer, and there are records in the newspapers of those things being sold at public auction to the German people - not plunder gained by victory over hostile armies, but plunder ruthlessly taken from inoffensive and innocent people. Do you think when I read those things that I would not be as anxious for an Allied victory as honorable senators opposite are ?
– Do you hope to get it by means of peace by negotiation ?
– I am trying to look at the alternatives. The time is ripe to look at them.
– It would be “ throwing in “ the towel. .
– Is there any indication that Germany desires peace by negotiation?
– We have the indications published in our own press.
– Remember the world is at war now. There is no arbitrator between the two parties if they disagree.
– If there is never any discussion about peace the world will always be at war. The point statesmanship must aim at is to find a termination of this awful war. Honorable senators opposite assume that a complete victory over Germany is the only satisfactory ending. Absolutely and unquestionably that would be the most satisfactory ending. No one with British instincts or Allied sympathies can think otherwise; but is it reasonably possible of attainment? We must face that proposition. We cannot avoid it. People may say, as Senator Millen says, that it is “throwing in the towel.” I disagree altogether with that view. I disagree altogether with those who say that the war must be continued until retribution has overtaken Germany, by German territory being invaded in the same way that Belgian territory was invaded. If tomorrow the Democracy of Germany, the Socialists of Germany, took the same stand as Labour is taking, and insisted on peace by negotiation, an honorable, just, and lasting peace might be obtained. But would we be any worse off if it were not obtained? Suppose Germany is so arrogant, so elevated by her apparent successes, by the fact that she has faced practically a world in arms for four years, and that the fourth year sees her no less forceful, no less powerful, and no less resourceful than in the beginning, we cannot howl down people who think, and we cannot stop them from thinking, that surely this awful conflict canend by some other means than fighting it to the dead finish.
– You ought to have thought of that before you went into it. War was just as dreadful then as it is to-day.
– The leaders we followed in that day, Mr. Asquith and Earl Grey, not only thought all that, but put it so fairly to the nations that were hungering for war that when history is written it will be unmistakably established that they went into the war reluctantly, because of the breach of the treaty; guaranteeing the integrity of Belgium, and because of German troops overrunning Belgian territory.
– After Mr. Asquith and Earl Grey had done all they could to prevent it.
– They did all that was humanly possible to prevent it.
– Then let us be united and see it through. There is nothing else for it.
– If we go on for another four years and the result is the same as for the last four, the argument that we must see it through will be just as good then as it is now. It will be good ten years hence. Does the honorable senator endeavour to realize what that will mean to mankind ? I speak here as one of Labour’s elected leaders, trying to put as clearly, intelligently, and as honestly as I can Labour’s view of the war. When honorable senators opposite pick out one of the planks of the Labour platform, and say “ Peace by negotiation means waving the white flag,” our reply is that the men who have kept the flag flying, so far as Australia is concerned, are mostly our own men. The men who are still keeping the flag flying and are risking their bodies are our men.
– Pardon me.
– I do not want to rob any section of the community of their share of the credit, but no one will deny that the unionists of Australia met this war as Australians. They flung their unionism and their party aside, and went into it, risking everything.
– There are no unionists in soldiering.
– But thousands of soldiers are unionists. Two out of every three of them, or more, are.
– They are not talking peace. They are fighting to-day to secure victory.
– Of course they are, and we shall go on fighting- to secure victory until we get a just and honorable peace.
– Do you think you are helping them when you talk peace by negotiation?
– Is talking peace by negotiation leaving off fighting, unless both sides leave off? When the honorable senator persists in that attitude of mind, which should have been deplored from the beginning of the war, that “ those who do not think with us are against us,” it is not surprising that 1900 years of the Christian doctrine have filled our community with people to whom war is abhorrent.
– Do you think soldiers like war?
– If the soldiers could have it to-morrow, we would have peace by negotiation: The soldiers, from their close contact with the enemy, the respect which grows up in them each for the other, because the soldier views the man on the other side as the man who has the same job as himself, who carries out his orders, and is fighting bravely for his country - the soldiers, I say, do not like war. They see too much of it, and know too much of its horrors. Still, for their national pride and their national safety, they continue the war, and so must we continue it until one of three positions is reached - until we win, until we get peace by negotiation, or until the other side win.
– Whom are you going to negotiate with?
– The representatives of the Allies would negotiate with the representatives of the Central Powers.
– If they invited you to do so your argument would be much stronger.
– What is the good of peace with an unbroken Germany ?
– Is ‘Germany unbroken ?
– No, she is not. That is why I say, “ Continue the war.”
– Is Germany even unshaken by the war? Remembering that she had to drive the Russians back, and was then driven back by the Russians, and then drove the Russians back again; that she assisted on the Italian front, that she came right down within 12 miles of Paris, and then retreated 50 or 60 miles away, and is again coming down, fighting “in the teeth of all the preparations made by the combined Allies for three years, do honorable members think that Germany has come unscathed out of the struggle? Do they think that the German nation has escaped the suffering that has been inflicted on other nations? Seeing that Germany was the aggressor, one can scarcely think with sympathy of the sufferings that she must have undergone.
– Scarcely ? I have no sympathy with Germany.
– I am not surprised at that. Any one who is intimate with the honorable senator will know that he has very little sympathy with anybody but himself. Germany would not get out of this war unpunished if an honorable and just peace were arrived at to-morrow.
– Who is going to inflict punishment upon an unbeaten Germany ?
– With 3,000,000 dead and 3,000,000 mangled, which is a fair computation of Germany’s losses, almost every home in Germany must be mourning the loss of some of their fighters. Germany is suffering all the hardships of a besieged country, and immense punishment has been inflicted upon her for having broken the world’s peace.
– No greater punishment than that inflicted upon those who did not break it.
– I recognise that, but are honorable senators opposite prepared to sit with their arms folded; and say we must continue this war, no matter for. how long, until Germany is beaten? They have to face facts.
– A lot of young men in Australia are folding their arms when they should be helping.
– No one can complain of Australia’s share in the war. It is appreciated, and applauded, and approved as altogether beyond what Great Britain expected from Australia. It has been pointed to as an example.
– I am not referring to what Australia has done, but to those who have not taken any part in the war.
– That is quite a different thing from trying to belittle Australia’s share in the war. What Australia has done could not have been imagined by the biggest-brained man that ever lived. Senator Millen, who was Minister for Defence when the war began, never dreamed of an army of 360,000 men being sent across the water, or, if he did, he commenced very slowly. The honorable senator is entitled to all the credit due to him for his effective work in the Department in that one month of war. I believe he met every emergency with an ability that will stand to his credit, but I never heard that in those early days he held the view that Australia would not have done enough if she sent about 8 per cent of her population. I read in the Round Table in March, 1915, eight months after the war started, a statement by Sir William Irvine that Australia should send at least 100,000 men. I am recalling these things so that honorable senators may remember the immense forces we have put in the field, the mighty result of Australia’s efforts in this war. Our efforts increased and increased as we saw the task before the Allies was greater than we anticipated.
The way to mend things is not to complain querulously that others are not playing their part. We are not doing our proper duty unless we present in Australia as solid a front as our soldiers present in their ranks when marching to their positions. What is keeping us apart is the fact that Senator Millen cannot say to me, “ Let there be peace so far as parties are concerned.” He cannot do so; it would be infra dig. on his part if he should attempt to do it. We have been political opponents for the past sixteen years, and we must still remain apart fighting each other. However, Australia is not getting a fair deal when one section of the community is endeavouring to brand another section as traitors, and that other section returns to the attack with equal viciousness.
– I have never done that.
– I know that thehonorable senator has not done so. I am sorry that I cannot make the same claim for myself, for I feel that when I am hit I must hit back, and hit hard. Instead of every day bringing us closer to the time when all these party feelings may pass away, we still allow party warfare to continue, and party differences to exist, creating in the community the feeling that honorable senators who occupy the benches opposite are thepure merinoes of loyalty, and that we are the enemies of the country. Honorable senators may glory in that sort of thing, and they may again win elections by it, but they are not helping their country or the Empire.
– When the honorable senator has done as much for the Empire as I have done, he may have reason to talk.
– The honorable senator has -never heard a word of disapproval from me in regard to the honorable part that any man has played in fighting for his country, but the very fact that a mau has done his share of fighting for the Empire is no justification for wishing to weaken his country’s effort by keeping up a false, misleading, and pretended situation, when, in his heart of hearts, he does not believe it to be the true position of affairs. However, no matter whether .Senator Millen may be responsible for it, or whether the responsibility may rest upon myself, that is the position in Australia to-day, at a time when we should be looking for a better condition of things.
At the Conference held at Government House an attempt was made to bring about unity of parties. Senator Millen attended the Conference, and I, as leader of my party in this Chamber, was also present; but from the very first day on which the press came into possession of the report of the proceedings of that Conference they have done all in their power to misrepresent what actually transpired. I do not say that they have done it viciously. In the growing anxiety in regard to things that are happening overseas, I am more inclined to regard their action, as stupidity - absolute, thickheaded stupidity. When that Conference assembled, unfortunately, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was too ill to attend on the opening day, when the following motion was submitted by the GovernorGeneral for adoption : -
That this meeting, recognising the urgent necessity for united “effort, in order to secure adequate reinforcements under the voluntary system of enlistment, resolves to consider impartially, and with all goodwill, such proposals as may be made to enable Australia to respond to the appeal for men addressed to the Dominions by the Imperial Government.
There is nothing in that motion to which any one could take exception. Every one at that Conference could have agreed to it.
– Then why was it not adopted?
– I am prepared to hear from the honorable senator a statement showing why it was not adopted.
– I think the onus rests upon the honorable senator to show why the motion was not adopted.
– If the Leader, of the Senate knows why it was not adopted I shall be prepared to hear him upon the subject. All I know is that it could have been adopted, and that if it had been forced to a vote it would have been agreed to unanimously.
– It was not proceeded with because of the objections that were raised.
– I am not aware of it, and I attended the whole of the proceedings of the Conference. However, as the honorable senator invites me to give my views in regard to the matter, I can say that it was owing to Mr. Hughes’ absence through ill-health that the motion was not adopted. It was thought wise to leave it over as a matter for discussion, and it became the subject of discussion. ‘ Each man, as he rose to speak, addressed himself to it.
– The honorable senator at the Conference gave another reason for not adopting the motion. He did not advance the reason which he has just mentioned.
– I shall be very pleased if the Leader of the Senate can point to any part of the report of the proceedings where I gave any reason for not adopting the -motion other than that which I have already mentioned. I do not know whether his interjection does not compel me to read everything that I did say at the Conference. Much of it will stand repeating, because nothing that I or the party to which I belong did or said there was iri. opposition to the proposal submitted by the Governor-General.
– But the honorable senator’s party urged that the motion should not be adopted.
– Yes, at that particular stage. The suggestion was that it should not be adopted, but should be left over for discussion. Do not let us quibble as to whether one can split straws more cleverly than another.
– Will the honorable senator read what Mr. Tudor and Mr. Ryan said against the motion? Their objection to it was not Mr. Hughes’ absence.
– I have no intention of putting the case unfairly. My first words at the Conference were -
I take exception to the attitude of Senator Millen in assuming that, because we have not accepted the motion without discussion, we are opposed to it. If that is the attitude in which the Conference is to be conducted, the Conference may as well adjourn indefinitely.
– Of course, it is not to be assumed that I said anything of the kind.
– On the face of it, it would appear that the honorable senator had done so. I went on to say -
I came here with an open mind.
That sentence is proof that I did not approach the Conference with any feeling of hostility. It was one of the reasons for the failure of the Conference - if there was failure; where there was every possibility of success - that men went there with feelings of suspicion towards one another. Men left Western Australia - men who will fight Senator Pearce with all the vigour at their command, just as I shall take every opportunity of fighting Senator Millen - and took train to Melbourne immediately they were summoned to attend that Conference. More harm is done than can be calculated when opponents are treated with suspicion as to anything they do or say. The Leader of the Senate has asked me to quote what Mr. Ryan said. This is one thing he said -
I have much pleasure in seconding the proposal that the debate shall be adjourned. I do not think there is any doubt that we are all in favour of bringing about that harmony and unanimity in the community which will make for the greatest’ efficiency of Australia, as a war factor, in bringing this great world struggle to a satisfactory conclusion.
Were those remarks made in opposition to the motion? No one will accuse Mr. Ryan of speaking merely for the purpose of covering up his feelings. At a later stage he said -
I am quite willing to accept the assurance that there is no suggestion that there is any one here, so far as members have expressed their views, who is willing to find any excuse for not doing his part. I take it we are anxious to do all we can to win the war. I am not one of those who have any sympathy whatever with those who say that the war must end according to the German view, but rather do I say that peace should be on some equitable basis.
When Mr. Watson interjected, “I think Mr. Lloyd George made that fairlyclear,” Mr. Ryan replied -
At all events, it is something which should be made clear. There is one way to end thewar, and that is not to resist Germany; but no one wants to do that. We do want to know what our object is - what objective we are fighting for, and what are the terms of peace we are aiming at.
Mr. Ryan was one of the big men at the Conference. He took up a strong stand, and while I am quoting his remarks, I might as well make a still further quotation. On page 161 of the report of the Conference proceedings, he is reported to have said -
We are basing the whole thing on the assumption that we are not opposed to the war, or to recruiting, and, in my view, we should not by any resolution lead it to be inferred that anybody in the community is opposed to the war or recruiting. There is no one here opposed to winning the war or recruiting.
Those are very definite and strong statements, and they fairly represent the attitude of Labour in regard to the war. There are some other quotations which I desire to make, because they bear upon my claim in regard to the press of Australia. When our party put .certain points forward at the Conference, the removal of which they considered would bring about greater harmony, and tend more towards assisting in recruiting, the press, not altogether from wickedness, but most likely from stupidity, immediately took up the attitude that we were saying, “ Give us these concessions, and we will help recruiting.” There is not one member of the Labour party but would repudiate that attitude. Neither Mr. Ryan from Queensland, nor Mr. Tudor or Mr. Elmslie from Victoria, nor Mr. Collier from Western Australia, nor Mr. Lyons from Tasmania, nor Mr. Jelley from South Australia, had the least thought of taking up such an attitude. No representative, of Labour at the Conference ever demanded certain concessions to induce us to do more in recruiting. We. were met with this innocent motion, and we discussed it just as we might discuss a matter in the club-room upstairs. His Excellency, after submitting the motion, left the Conference, and the Director-General of Recruiting took the chair. Had we carried the motion, as we could have done unanimously, and then immediately departed, the representatives, would have “been brought miles for nothing. But what happened? We started a debate, and pointed out that the cause of the dis.appointing results in recruiting was the unfavorable conditions brought about by the Win-the-war Government. We also pointed out, without going too much into detail, the adverse conditions forced on Australia. - the really wicked attack on trade unionism and unionists by the Federal Government and the New South Wales Government combined.
– The card system !
– Yes ; the card system. No matter what our old unionist friends opposite may say, now that they are in new company, I have known the day when Senator Guthrie would have gone on strike for the same reason.
– I worked under the card system forty years ago.
– Not this card system. Even if it were a good system, which I deny, it was on this occasion a wicked device to bring about exactly what occurred. It was deliberately introduced, with every preparation, in order to create strife and bring about the de-registra- tion of the unions. Without claiming to be a prophet, I say that everything is again ready to bring about such another turmoil; and I never knew the conditions to be worse from that point of view. As one who never did like a strike, I say that everything is being done by the Federal and State Governments to make the position and the irritation and annoyance of unionists worse.
– What is being done ?
– I shall tell the honorable senator the facts, and then he will understand. We met the Conference with a desire to assist in recruiting, and to come to some arrangement. The Commonwealth Government, which conducts the affairs of this country, and should have led the Conference, had prepared no programme or business-paper. Would it be the place of the Opposition in this Chamber to provide business if the Government failed to provide any for us to do? I can quite understand honorable senators opposite saying that the Government was not responsible for calling the Conference; but, as a matter of fact, Mr. Hughes, on behalf of the Government, took full responsibility. Any one who understands the Constitution must know that, in calling a Conference of the kind, the Governor-General would not act without consulting his Advisers. But, as I say, with the exception of that motion, which any one could have accepted, no business was placed before us. That was possibly due to the fact of the Prime Minister’s illness, which we all deplored; but nothing was done to make up for his action, though Mr. Joseph Cook, the second in command, and also Senator Millen, were present. The representatives of the Labour party who were called to the Conference met quite hurriedly, some of them not arriving by train until the afternoon ; and after some debate, which was really directed to finding out what there was to do, they pointed out that the failure of recruiting was the distrust and dissatisfaction amongst the unionists of Australia caused by the acts of omission and commission on the part of the Federal and State Governments. I shallnot quote the speeches, because Senator Millen and other honorable senators will know that I am stating exactly what happened.
– That does not necessarily follow.
- Senator Plain will corroborate what I say, for he, at that Conference, asked what was the cause of, the unrest, and what would remove the obstacles to recruiting.
– That is so.
– The Labour representatives met that night, and the next day, according to the official report -
The following statement was submitted by Mr. Tudor as showing some of the conditions upon which, in the opinion of those associated with him, the harmony of the community depended: -
That there shouldbe a definite pronouncement by the Government that conscription has been finally abandoned.
That there should be no economic conscription in public or privateemploy. 3.Reregistration of unions deregistered, and restoration to unions of their former status, restoration to their employment of victimized unionists, abolition of bogus unions and bureaux set up in connexion therewith. 4. (a) Repeal of all War Precautions Regulations not vital to the ‘conduct of the war, and a Government guarantee against their re-enactment.
Abolition of press censorship and limitation upon free speech, except as relating to military news of advantage to the enemy.
Cessation of political and industrial prosecutions under the War Precautions Act.
The immediate release of all persons - not guilty of criminal offences - imprisoned in connexion with conscription, peace propaganda, recruiting, and the recent industrial troubles.
Refund of fines and costs in connexion with all industrial and political prosecutions during the war period.
That immediate and effective steps be taken to protect soldiers’ dependants, and the public generally, against profiteering.
In reply to the various requirements set out in the statement, Mr. Hughes, after consulting with the State Premiers, other than Mr. Ryan, stated that it was not admitted that the matters brought forward by Mr. Tudor constituted sound reasons for abstention from recruiting efforts, but, in order to secure the co-operation of thelabour organizations,he and those for whom he spoke were prepared to meet the alleged objections, provided that by doing so the needed co-operation could be secured. He submitted the following replies: -
I wish to show that when Mr. Holman and Mr. Hughes asked our party to make a bargain we, one and all, absolutely repudiated the idea. We refused to take up the position that, whether they gave or withheld all we asked, it would make any difference in our recruiting efforts - that if our. requests were granted we would do more. All we did was to point out what we believed were obstacles to recruiting, and to suggest that their removal would be attended with better results: I could quote from the report to show what was in the mind of each of us; and when Mr. Holman persistently endeavoured to get us to make a bargain, I indignantly repudiated any such idea. I said whether or not every one of the suggestions or claims presented by Mr. Tudor were granted, it would make no difference in my attitude or in that of the other members of the party. And that is practically what I say here to-night. Honorable senators opposite, feeling the advantage they get by placing their opponents at a disadvantage, may applaud the action ofthe press in describing our attitude at the Conference as “ The , price of Labour for giving assistance in the war.” Labour asked for no “price” . for its assistance; it asked the Federal and State Governments to restore the conditions that prevailed in this country when the Labour Government left office. Was that asking too much. I am beginning now to attribute these things not to the stupidity, but to the wickedness of the press. It is due to one or the other that we have this continual division of parties, misrepresentation, and effort to put some one at a disadvantage.
What happened at the Recruiting Conference? Nearly everything that we asked for was accepted. Of course we could not get the Prime Minister to make a definite statement that conscription had been abandoned. He would not make that statement. He clearly and definitely refused to make it. I venture to say that Mr. Ryan practically cross-examined him for half-an-hour in the effort to get from him what he was driving at. Let me put the Prime Minister’s, statement as he and his colleagues put it before the Conference. On the question that conscription should be finally abandoned the Conference was referred to a statement by Mr. Hughes at the Royal Agricultural Show in Sydney, the relevant portion of which was -
The people have decided that there shall be no compulsion in recruiting. Good. The Government will accept that. But,the Government calls upon every citizen to do everything within his power to give effect to the policy that alone remains. . Voluntarism has been nailed to the mast. Let it be so.
One would think that a gentleman who could make that statement would not have the slightest- difficulty in definitely answering our proposal, which was that there should be a definite pronouncement by the Government that conscription had been finally abandoned.
– Was not the Prime Minister’s statement definite enough? He said that voluntarism was nailed to the mast.
– I should like to know what the honorable senator would mean by saying that “ voluntarism was nailed to the mast.” I can show that Mr. Hughes did not take the view of the matter that Senator Guthrie takes of it. Our second proposal was that there should be no economic conscription in public or private employ, and how did the Prime Minister answer that proposal.. He answered it in this way -
The Government and the employers’ representatives agree to that.
If they could agree that there should be no economic conscription in public or private employment during the war, why could they not be just as definite regarding the final abandonment of conscription ?
– -They did not mean what they said about . economic conscription.
– So far as what they meant is concerned, I will say that when I was at the Conference, and when I came away from it, I believed that the spirit of our agreement would be honoured. I had notices of motion on the business-paper of the Senate for the disallowance of - certain regulations, and when I heard Senator Millen say that the Government would abide by the spirit of the understandings come to at the Conference I did not wait to see whether they would do so or not, but immediately withdrew my motions. I took the word of the Government for it. I shall have something to say later on about the way in which that word was kept. Senator Guthrie thinks that Mr. Hughes agreed to the final abandonment of conscription, but the whole course of the debates at the Conference created in my mind a different opinion.
– I believe the honorable senator is wrong.
– I shall give one or two quotations, to back up my assertion. If you approve of a man and believe in him you naturally take what he says at its face value.. But I have known Mr. Hughes for a considerable time now, and I direct the attention of honorable senators to some of the statements he made. Mr. Tudor’s” first proposal presented to the Conference was -
That there should be a definite announcement that conscription has been finally abandoned.
Mr. Hughes’ reply to that was
Upon that point we are of the opinion that the statement I made at the Agricultural Show luncheon in Sydney is sufficiently clear, explicit, and unambiguous. If members do not regard it in that light, I ask them to say exactly where it falls short, and I shall endeavour to meet the objections.
The second proposal put forward by Mr. Tudor was -
That there should be no economic conscription in public or private employ.
In answer to that Mr. Hughes said -
The Government are prepared to accept that.
Now I shall read the reference to the third proposal concerning the reregistration of de-registered unions, a matter which may be of some interest to the Government. Mr. Tudor’s third proposal, was -
Re-registration of unions de-registered, and’ restoration to unions of their former status;, restoration to their employment of victimized unionists, abolition of bogus unions and; bureaux set up in connexion therewith.
Mr. Hughes’ statement in reply to that proposal will be found at page 71 of thereport of the Conference. He said ;
The re-registration of unions is a matterwhich falls wholly within the jurisdiction of the State of New South Wales, and I am authorized, on behalf of the Government of that State, to say that it will re-register those unions by special Act. In regard to the rest of the proposals, the attitude of the Governments isthat no workman is to be refused employment in any occupation by reason of his connexion with the late general strike, members of old and new unions to have equal opportunity iac any employment offering.
To return now to my statement that Mr. Hughes, in answering the first proposal, had not in his mind that conscription was to be finally abandoned, I can prove that from the speeches made by theright honorable gentleman himself.
– The honorablesenator will have a job to do so.
– I shall not have the least trouble in doing so. Therewas considerable debate on that matter,, and I quote the following: -
Mr. RYAN. ; I cannot understand why theexact wording of the suggestion put forward, by Mr. Tudor in regard to recruiting is not. accepted.
– Do you mean to say that theGovernment must promise that conscriptionwill not be imposed ‘during our life-time, and the life-time of the next generation?
Mr. RYAN. ; Mr. Watson is trying to placeon our suggestion a fantastic construction. It deals only with the present war, and w’ith conscription for service oversea. If the people can be satisfied that for this war and for service oversea there will be no compulsion, that will go a long way to encourage recruiting.
– Why not- put forward words that will convey that idea? The word “finally” does not convey what you desire.
Mr. RYAN. ; We are not dealing with 100 or 1,000 years ahead. The wording of our suggestion is plain and unambiguous-, and anymember who attempts to give it a fantasticmeaning shows that he is not approaching it in the spirit in which it is made.
Mr. HOLMAN. ; Supposing there is abona fide objection to the phrase referring to conscription in your suggestion ; I do not knowwhethef the wording is yours or that of MrTudor - will you still insist upon it?
Mr. RYAN. ; It is a joint suggestion.
Mr. HOLMAN. If a. bond fide objection to it can be shown, are you and those who think with ‘ you so committed to that phrase that you cannot suggest an alternative?
Mr. RYAN. We are not committed to that phrase, but we want something that means the same thing.
Mr. HOLMAN. There is a real objection to the phrase, which I shall point out later on.
Mr. HUGHES. I have said that we accept the verdict of the people unreservedly. They have said, after two efforts on our part to bring about a change, that there must be voluntarism. That being so, we have nailed voluntarism to the mast, and, because of that, His Excellency has summoned us here, in this crisis in our history, so that we may endeavour to make voluntarism the success we desire it to be.
Later Mr. Ryan said -
Consequently there must be some unequivocal pronouncement on the question if they are to accept it in the spirit in which I should like it to be accepted. I am anxious to have it impressed on the minds of the people that there is no fear of conscription.
– Would you object, in the case of extreme’ danger to the Empire, to the people being again asked for their opinion as to the introduction of conscription?
Then Mr. Joseph Cook said -
Supposing public opinion outside changed, and became unmistakably in favour of conscription.
Mr. RYAN. Who is to be the judge of whether or not public opinion has changed?
That kind of debate went on for some time, and Mr. Hughes said -
I say that we have accepted the verdict of the people, and have nailed the policy of voluntarism to the mast. Having done that, we call upon the people of Australia to make it a success.
Mr. RYAN. Does that mean that conscription for service overseas is finally abandoned during this war?
That was surely a definite question, and here is Mr. Hughes’ answer to it -
I can conceive it possible that there might arise circumstances in which you would be one of the first to take the platform along with me to advocate conscription, and do even more than that.
– The honorable senator would lead the Senate to believe that that was applied by Mr. Hughes to the duration of the present war, whereas it was applied by him to all time.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– I am not wrong. ^ I remember hearing the remarks quite well.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– Before dinner I was referring to the fact that at the Governor-General’s Conference no definite statement could be obtained from Mr. Hughes that conscription had been finally abandoned. Senator Plain questioned my statement, and that compels me to quote the Prime Minister’s remarks at the Conference at greater length -
Mr. RYAN. Does that mean that conscription for service overseas is finally abandoned during this war?
Mr. HUGHES. I can conceive it possible that there might arise circumstances in which you would be one of the first to take the platform along with me to advocate conscription, and do even more than that.
Mr. RYAN. You must speak for yourself.
Mr. HUGHES. Well, that is my opinion. You do not know the circumstances I have in my mind, and, therefore, you cannot tell what you would do. I say I do not believe for one moment that such a set of circumstances would arise; but I say quite candidly that some recent events have shattered my whole belief in the possibilities of the future. If any one had told me that the conditions of this war would have changed as they have changed, I would not have believed him.
Sitting in that Conference and listening to Mr. Hughes on that occasion, not only did I arrive at the conviction that conscription was not finally abandoned, but, against my wish, I was driven to the conclusion that the Government were actually preparing to introduce conscription. Mr. Hughes was so pronounced in his statement that he knew something that other members of the Conference did not know. A little later, when Mr. Holman was speaking, Mr. Hughes returned to the same matter -
Mr. HOLMAN. I entirely agree with those who say that there should be complete and satisfactory renunciation of conscription by the Government.
Mr. HUGHES. You said before that my statement was quite clear to you who knew the position, but it might not be clear to persons who did not.
It is clear what was in Mr. Hughes’ mind. Mr. Holman might say that there should be a definite renunciation of conscription, but Mr. Hughes had in mind something that the other members of the Conference did not know. All these things showed the reluctance of Mr. Hughes to make a definite pronouncement that conscription would not be introduced, or to give an assurance that the statement he made at the Sydney Show was definite, and represented the attitude of the Government. “Why should he be reluctant to say, in clear and unambiguous language, that conscription during this war was finally abandoned.
– In any circumstances ?
– In any circumstances.
– Even in the face of defeat? Is that the honorable senator’s opinion ?
– I think in the face of anything conscription should be definitely abandoned.
– The honorable senator is a passive resister.
– I am nothing of the kind. I believe in organizing the forces of Australia that we may efficiently and effectively play our part in this war. But those people who try to organize the forces of Australia against the will of the people, earnest though Senator Bakhap and others like him may be, altogether misunderstand the mind of the Australian people.
– The new development is that people shall not be compulsorily organized even for the defence of Australia.
– Upon the question of conscription, Senator Bakhap and I might argue till dawn, and then be still as far apart as ever. There is a fundamental difference between the conscriptionist and the anti-conscriptionist. It suits Senator Bakhap to say that conscription is effective organization. My chief objection to the system is that it is effective disintegration, that it effectively divides the people, and prevents Australia putting its full force into the war.
– Peace talk at the present time is dividing the nation.
– I do not think it is, so long as it is met in the proper way. It is the conscriptionists who have divided the community. For two years Australia presented an unbroken front; not a voice was raised against anything the Government did or proposed, and a mighty force of Australians was armed and sent across the water to do our share. And they did it well. But the conscriptionist said that that was not enough. Even when we were getting an average of 12,000 recruits per month - -almost as many as the Government could effectively clothe and train - Senator Bakhap was on the warpath, endeavouring to induce the Government to introduce conscription.
– Because conscription is the only effective and scientific way of waging war.
– That is a fact.
- Senator de Largie was another of the originators of the conscription cry that has caused so much trouble in the community.
– I was consistent to my Labour principles. That is more than the honorable senator can say.
- Senator de Largie may plume himself on being the most perfectly consistent man that ever existed, and criticise me as the most inconsistent man, but if I have not been consistent I, at any rate, have been true to my beliefs. From the days when I was first able to think, I have walked with my eyes fixed on the distant goal. I have marched towards it as straight as I was able to do, and if my course has not been altogether true, critics like Senator de Largie may say so. In 1914, when I was introducing in this chamber the War Census Bill, Senator de Largie, then a conscriptionist, said, “ This is the first step towards conscription.” From my position on these benches I replied, “ When a war census means the first step towards conscription another Minister must introduce it.” Senator de Largie has not altered his views ; I have not altered mine.
– Why I say that the honorable senator is inconsistent is that he and others in this chamber opposed conscription after the Labour movement had approved of compulsory military training.
– When the Labour movement repudiates compulsory military training I shall still be in the movement, and I shall still be a believer in that system. I believe in my boy being taught to fight as much as I believe in him being taught to read. In the near future fighting may be of a great deal more importance than reading, writing, or arithmetic.
– What is the use of training boys to fight if they will not fight when they are asked to do so?
– I do not think that Senator Millen ought to make that insinuation against the Australians. The Australians have not refused to fight. One out of every five fit single men in
Australia has already volunteered for service.
– My taunt is against those who will not volunteer.
– Does the honorable senator think that he understands the reason why they will not go to fight? Our distance from the fighting area, and the safety with which we follow our occupations, ought not to be the subject of a taunt of the Australian people, particularly by men who hail from overseas and are more concerned about the Old Country than about Australia.
– Australia and the Empire sink or swim together, and we cannot differentiate between the two.
– I wish to refer to a few matters in regard to the reregistration of unions, and the promises that have been clearly made, because these matters are just as serious to-day as when the Governor-General’s Conference was discussing them. I think I have made it clear to the Senate that we discussed the matter altogether free of the spirit of bargaining. Not one Labour representative at the Conference said, “ Give us something and we will do something for you.” We each said, “ We tell you what is dividing the community, and suggest how you may remove the obstacles to harmony.” And almost unanimously Mr. Hughes, Mr. Cook, Senator Millen, Mr. Holman, and Mr. Beeby said, “ In order to create harmony we are prepared to remove anything that can be shown to be a real grievance.” But nothing has been done to carry out any of those promises.
– On either side.
– We said, “ These things are obstacles to harmony. These things stand in the way of unanimity. You are members of the Governments which caused these difficulties. You are in power. Remove them, and you will get harmony, and with harmony you will get more recruits.” Take, for instance, the suggested cancellation” of such regulations as were harassing, and were not in any way essential to the conduct of the war. The regulation in regard to Sinn Fein is one of them. In Ireland the people are electing Sinn Feiners to the British Parliament. The people of Great Britain do not object to the principle of a man offering his services to organizations that are not acceptable to them. They say that a man has as much right to be a Sinn Feiner as another has to be a Nationalist, or a Free Trader, or a Protectionist. I suppose that there will be Sinn Fein candidates in England and Scotland yet, and nobody will think of silencing them by regulations. But in this country, where we are supposed to have greater freedom, if I were to wear in my buttonhole the Sinn Fein colours I could be hauled before a magistrate and punished. If we are so nervy and so thin-skinned that we must have these regulations to protect ourselves, we are making a very grave mistake. By trying to suppress any organization the Government advertise it, and make martyrs of its members. They glory in their martyrdom, and the movement to which they belong grows in power. Such people revel in fighting constituted authority. There is a good deal of rebel blood in many of us. I am not a Sinn Feiner, but I believe that if I were an Irishman I should be. Just as I say, “Australia for the Australians,” so, if I were an Irishman, I would say, “ Ourselves - Ireland for the Irish.” But the fact is that in free Australia the Government are interfering with the freedom of citizens in a manner that would not be tolerated in Great Britain. These things are destroying harmony in the community. Take the publication of a book like The Parasite, by Arthur Mee. It is on the list of prohibited books,- because the Minister of Defence, as a temperance man, shows his enthusiasm by suppressing temperance literature. This was one of the works which I wanted to embody in Hansard, but I have promised not to read it on this occasion. It deals chiefly with the evils of the destruction of food in the manufacture of spirits, just as Defeat and The Fiddlers did. Honorable senators will have a hazy recollection of my reading a few brief extracts from one of those pamphlets on one occasion. How can the suppression of books of this kind affect, the conduct of the war? When I made those remarks about The Fiddlers the Rev. T. E. Ruth preached in a Collinsstreet church a sermon upon it, and used the extracts from Hansard in his sermon. That little pamphlet is censored, and it is. an offence to have it in one’s possession.
Tha police may, without warrant, come in and take it from you. In what way does that affect the war? You cannot stop human beings with intellects from thinking; you cannot stop them from talking. Why do the Government attempt the impossible by trying to stop them from putting their thoughts into print ?
– It is hard to get a good many of them to think.
– The honorable senator will remember the lines -
O wad some power the giftie gie us,
To see oursels as others see us!
He should remember, also, that, his own remark is liable to be applied to himself. If Governments and Government supporters would only think, Australia’s share in this war would be conducted without ruthless attempts to tramnle upon the liberties of the people, interfere with their civil freedom, and take from them rights that are worth maintaining.
The most outrageous offence upon British or Australian liberty has not only been perpetrated, but is actually being perpetuated by the present Government. By the authority of the Federal Government quite a number of men are being kept in the prisons of Australia to-day who are absolutely innocent. These are men who have stood their trial, who have been sentenced, and have served their sentences. Having paid the penalty the Court imposed on them, they should leave the gaols innocent men, but the Government, with the help of the supporters I see opposite me, are permitting numbers of them to be kept in prison for weeks and months after their sentences have been served. I am not speaking of criminals who are a danger to society, but of men whose one offence is that they belong to an association that this Parliament, in its wisdom, has declared illegal. I brought before the Senate the case of Mr. Wilson, and I want to thank Senator Millen for the prompt manner in which he released that man.
– H - He did not remain long in that frame of mind, because I brought another case before him, and he refused to take action.
– When I brought Wilson’s case before the Senate I said his previous employers thought so much of him that they were keeping his job waiting for him, and I was informed, before I was notified by Senator Millen that he had been released, that he was back working for his old employers. His offence was that he was reputed to be a member of an illegal association. He served his sentence, which expired on 4th March, and it was May before he was released. If the Government were wise, and their supporters would think, conduct of that kind would not be tolerated for two minutes. I have no sympathy with the man who breaks the law; but when he doe3 it, and comes before a Court of Justice, and a penalty is inflicted upon him, and he serves that penalty, I have no time for a Government who, of their own volition, increase the penalty.
– The Government did not increase the penalty. In that case they lessened it.
– When the case was brought under the notice of the Government, they had already detained him weeks after his term had expired.
– Part of his punishment was his detention. The honorable senator knows the terms of the Unlawful Associations Act, which gave the Government power to detain a man until they could deport him.
– I am aware of it; but I appeal to honorable senators opposite to say if any one of them imagined when they voted for that Act that a man, whose only offence was to be a member of an illegal association, could be detained by the Government after he had served the penalty inflicted on him by the Court ? If honorable senators opposite believe in that, the last trench for the defence of liberty is gone, and we are on the run.
– You waited two months before you brought the case before the Senate.
– I brought it forward on the first day the Senate met. On that occasion I warned the Minister about it, and on the next day I drove home my warning, and obtained the Minister’s promise to do . something. Previous to that, I had been in one-sided communication . with the Crown Solicitor on the case. I had been wiring and writing to him, and getting no reply for weeks before the Senate met. I find there is quite a number of other men detained under exactly the same conditions. The Government have made the position now such that, after a man has served the sentence the Court inflicts on him, he is no longer under prison regulations, hut is detained. On Monday night the case was brought under my notice of a man named Tom Barker, ‘who is detained at the Albury Gaol. His sentence has expired some four months. I have not investigated the case, but am stating the facts as I have heard them. One of his friends in Albury visited the Albury Gaol to see him, but was informed by the governor of the gaol that he had instructions from the Government not to admit anybody to Barker’s presence without an order from the military. His friend immediately communicated with headquarters, Melbourne, and was told that, as Barker was in New South Wales, he had better apply to the Commandant there. He did so, and was told that it was a matter for the State Government, to whom he ought to apply. He did so, and the State Government told him that it was purely a Federal matter. I heard all those letters read at a public meeting on Monday night. To hold an innocent man in gaol - I am not speaking of a dangerous type of criminal-
– The Court has found that man guilty.
– Yes, and awarded punishment. The punishment has expired, and he has paid the penalty the Court awarded him. The Government are now . detaining him under false pretences. There is not a Nationalist representative present who would support a Government in deporting an innocent man.
– You, as a member of a Government, kept men in gaol without any trial at all.
– I should like to know the case.
– ‘The men you interned.
– The cases are not parallel. I would do exactly the same thing to-morrow, where there was even a suspicion of danger to the community through enemy influence. This man has paid the penalty to the last minute.
– No. The law is that that man shall stop there until he can be deported.
– Barker was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, and Moyle to four months. None of these men was guilty of any criminal offence; they were guilty merely of a new offence that we created - the offence of being a member of an illegal association. On Senator Millen’s line of reasoning, if I took office to-morrow, I could immediately declare every Masonic Lodge in. Australia an illegal association.
– If you could show it was doing harm to the country, you would be justified.
– The men I have been speaking of can be shown tohave done no harm to “the country. I want to show the Government and theirfollowers the danger of the thing they areplaying with. If I were wicked enough to pass a regulation declaring every Masonic Lodge an illegal association, what would happen ? All those men who have nothing against them could be legally made prisoners, and legally deported. Honorable senators opposite never dreamt that the Government were going to use legislation of that characterin this manner. It takes the power of punishment out of the hands of the Courts constituted to inflict it, and leaves it in the hands of Governments. I want to keep Courts of Justice free from the pollution of parliamentary or Ministerial’ interference, but we are drifting alongthat track. The magistrate thought Moyle’s offence so serious that he sentenced him to only four months’ imprisonment. How long has Moyle been in gaol now?
– The magistrate did’ not add anything to his sentence.
– That is so. Itwas merely the papers found in his possession that showed him to have been a member of an illegal association, and no crime was alleged against him. He fulfilled the term of imprisonment inflicted’ by the Court, and the Government then became the instrument of torture by” telling him that he must remain in prison. They have inflicted another penalty on him. They have said to him, “ If you sign an agreement promising not to do certain things, we will release you.” That shows he is not a dangerous criminal, but Moyle stands on his rights as a Britisher. He says, “ I will sign nothing. I have served my sentence, and would rather remain in gaol suffering under this injustice than go out under conditions in which I sign away my liberties.” I know of nothing so dangerous to the liberties. of the Australian people as to keep a man in prison contrary to the sentence of the Court. When the Unlawful Associations Bill was passing through this Chamber,, not one honorable senator on the other side expected that innocent men would be imprisoned under it. The only offence of these men is that they believe in one big union, and the law has declared that belief by that particular set of people to be an illegal belief. This is the most serious attack that has ever been made on British justice in Australia, and it is being made by men who do not realize the seriousness of what they are doing. They do not realize how sacred should be the rights and privileges of every man in the community, and they are quite annoyed and disturbed if any one speaks on behalf of their victims.
– How many men did you agree to intern ?
– If the honorable senator puts the two cases on the same footing, I am sorry for his intelligence. If it is believed that these men are assisting the enemy, intern them; if there is a crime alleged against them, indict them; but do not keep them in prison without a chance to defend themselves. The action of the Government in punishing Tom Barker, Moyle, and the others is absolutely shocking to one’s sense of justice, and of what is right and decent in regard to the liberties of a freepeople, who may belong to associations with most objectionable ideals; but if they are to be pursued and convicted by a super-Court, and released by the same means, where are our liberties?
– It is a travesty on justice.
– It is the most wicked travesty on justice that has ever been enacted in this country. The position is becoming more dangerous every day.
– The Government have set Germans at liberty.
– There is no harm in releasing a German subject who cannot possibly do any harm to the community, but it is better to intern him if he is likely to be a source of danger. If these men have expressed sympathy towards those with whom we are fighting, they must be treated as prisoners of war; but I cannot understand how any Government can consent to remain idle and allow men who have no enemy sympathies to be treated as criminals and kept in prison, although their offence has been wiped out by the expiration of the sentence of imprisonment imposed upon them. In the Moyle case, the magistrate did not attempt to impose any bond, but the Government have sought to do so.
– The law provides that he may be kept in confinement until he is deported
– The law may be strained to make it read in that way. When the Unlawful Associations Bill was under consideration, it was felt that power should be given to deal with men who might be regarded as dangerous criminals, but in this case the Government are dealing with a man against whom a criminal- charge cannot lie, and against whom there is no criminal record. His offence has simply been the fact that he belonged to an association which was not unlawful at the time he joined it. It has now been disbanded. It does not exist. The men who have been sentenced to imprisonment do not grumble on that score, because they consider they . are martyrs to the cause in which they believe; but the Government are continuing their martyrdom by breaking through all the trenches that protect the liberties of the British subject. Rights cannot be destroyed and built up again. I warn honorable senators that they are creating a precedent which will tell against them. They will not have long to wait. Just imagine a woman waiting for her husband to get out of prison, and come back to work for the family again, only to find that, although his term of imprisonment has elapsed, the Government, without bringing any other charge against him, have sentenced him to a further indefinite period of imprisonment at their own sweet will. The worst feature of the matter is that no member of the Ministry seems to care a rap about it, and supporters of the Ministry seem to care less. What is the liberty of these men to them ?
– It is because -we know something about the matter that these men are still in gaol.
– I challenge the Leader of the Senate to put what the Government know about these men in the form of a charge, and give them a fair trial before a magistrate.
– They have already had a trial before a magistrate.
– And he fixed the penalty at four months’ imprisonment in one case, and six months’ imprisonment in the other. These penalties have been paid, but still Ministers are keeping the men in gaol because they say they know something more about them. The law is wide enough to deal with any case of wrong-doing, and if a man is a source of danger to the community, let him be given a fair trial and a fair opportunity of establishing his innocence, the Crown at the same time being given the opportunity to establish his guilt. These men have paid the penalty inflicted by the Courts after the Crown has used all its powers to make out a case against them, and it is a disgrace and a matter of degradation to the people of Australia that innocent men are kept in gaol. I say that they are innocent, because they have purged themselves of their offence by paying the penalty imposed by the Court. If they are still detained, the responsibility rests primarily on the Ministry, and, secondly, on their supporters. If honorable senators opposite value British liberty above party servility, they will speak their minds, and say that no man must be kept in prison in Australia, where he can pose as a martyr, and thatno man who has paid the full penalty for any offence which he has committed should still be detained at the will of an indifferent Government..
I have discussed many matters of importance with varied degrees of success. I have gone into them at great length, because I am under the impression that when the Senate rises Parliament will not meet again for a considerable time, and Ministers will go along with their easy-going methods.
– Just now the honorable senator thought we were hard.
– Ministers are easy-going in the matter of personal convenience. It is easy to keep a man in gaol. It is hard to induce Ministers to look at the facts.
– Does the honorable senator say that Ministers will have an easy time?
– Ministers will proceed in their easy-going way, allowing innocent men to be kept in gaol, and they are too callous to investigate the cases which I have brought under their notice. The offence committed by these men lies in their membership of an association which was not an unlawful one when they joined it, and which is now out of existence. “When good citizens have paid the penalty attaching to the offence they have committed there ought to be no need to appeal for their release unless there are other charges against them. If these men are in sympathy with our enemies let them be interned as war prisoners, but if there are further charges against them let them be indicted. I will not raise my voice against criminals, but it will always be heard in protest when innocent men are kept in prison.
.- I know that things have gone alittle too far to remedy the evils about which I propose to speak, but I am anxious to say a few words in justice to the trade union to which I belong, and upon which blame has been passed for the delay in connexion with shipbuilding: I do not know how many years will pass before the ships which are now under, construction will be completed, but at the rate of progress which is being made it appears to me that it will be a very long time before they can carry one bag of wheat across the seas. All the trouble could have been remedied in the early days. If the private offers made to the Government to build vessels had been accepted our own ships would have been afloat to-day. I am not an advocate of private enterprise, but at a time when we needed” ships for a special purpose offers to build them should have been accepted, no matter who made them. It is hard to understand why an order was sent across to America for wooden vessels that will be useless to us in a very few years, when an offer had already been made to build such ships in Australia. It is also hard to understand why the contractors for building the ships ordered in America have had to send to Australia for some of the timber which is to be used in building the vessels, the reason given being that American timber is not suitable for Australian waters. If we have good timber in Australia - and that is the case - private enterprise might have been given the opportunity to build vessels here. In the matter of shipbuilding, or in any other class of work necessitating the use of skilled labour, operations must always be concentrated at spots where population is thickest, and where skilled labour can be obtained; but the very opposite course has been pursued in regard to the Government proposals. Contracts have been let to certain individuals and companies in Sydney to build wooden vessels, and contracts have been let to the people in Tasmania to build steel vessels. Exactly the opposite course should have been pursued because the wooden vessels to be built in Sydney ‘ are to be built on slips that have been used for steel and iron vessels for years past; and the steel ships are to be built on slips that have been used for building wooden vessels.
– Why did not the people with those facilities offer to build the class of vessels for which theyexisted ?
– They did make the offer.
– Did the people in Tasmania offer to build wooden ships?
– Yes. They have the labour there to build wooden ships but they have not the labour to build steel ships. The timber is in Tasmania, and it has been proved to be a good wearing timber. I am givento understand that vessels are in use which were built of Tasmanian timber seventy years ago, and that the material in them is still good.
– They are running on the Victorian coast, after having outlived four sets of boilers.
– It proves what I was saying : that we have the timber in Australia, and yet we are sending to America for vessels to be built of American timber, which will not last ten years.
– It is reported in the Tasmanian press that a syndicate proposes to build forty wooden vessels in Tasmania.
– I have only seen the programme put forward by the Assistant Minister (Mr. Poynton), and he said that the Government intended to have steel vessels built at Devonport. I think a great mistake has been made by commencing to build these vessels all over the place. There is not sufficient skilled labour in Australia to spread itself to such an extent. There are only about 1,500 skilled steel shipbuilders in the Commonwealth, and they are mostly to be found in Victoria and New South Wales. There are very few of them in Tasmania; and I do not know how the Devonport builders propose to get the skilled labour from the mainland, seeing that every skilled artisan that it is possible to secure will be engaged in the two States in which steel vessels are to be built. All this will retard the progress of the work. It will be impossible to get on with the vessels without skilled labour, and we cannot get any men from other countries, because shipbuilding is proceeding in those places and absorbing all the labour available.
I give the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) every credit for his big ideas in saying that we will build our own vessels, and carry away our own wheat ; but he has forgotten the details or left them to some one else. He blames the trade unions for the delay, but the unions would have fallen into line and done anything to get the shipbuilding industry going. Agreements were made, but through want of foresight on the part of some one, no work has been done. The iron shipbuilders cannot be blamed, and some other excuse must be found, and we are told that it was necessary to order a certain type of vessel. The other day J asked a question about this type, and I find that preparations were made here by our own men for a standardized steel cargo vessel, the plans for which cost between £4,000 and £5,000. I do not know the reason, but the arrangements in this regard were altered. A ship constructor was imported from England or America, and when he arrived he immediately got round, somebody in authority, with the result that the idea of building the vessels from the Australian design was abandoned. There was not a scrap of material in Australia necessary for the design subsequently adopted, while there was material to build the vessels according to the. plan made by our own naval expert. If the Australian design had been adopted, the ships would have been in frame to-day, and ready for the plates which have now arrived, but there are no frames on which to put them ; there are the plates, but no keels. Nothing has been done except a little- work in the drawing office, and some, other work which might have gone on while the ships were building. The vessels -it was proposed to build in Australia, were of wood with, according to the Minister, a speed of 8 knots. After the war we shall require ships, for then there will be a great demand for tonnage all over the world. Directly the neutral Powers, which are now building ships as fast as possible, get their vessels afloat, our ships will be useless, and will have tobe scrapped.
– Surely we shall have our own trade?
– We shall not, because those other ships will come in and take it, as they were doing for years before the war. The speed of those foreign vessels is 16 knots, and against these our 8-knot vessels will not be able to compete, and, therefore, must be scrapped as soon as the war is over.
As . soon as the shipbuilding proposals were made’, the New South Wales Government offered to construct composite ships, engines, and boilers for the Commonwealth, and if that offer had been accepted, the vessels would have been afloat to-day. The State Government made no fuss about bargaining with the trade unionists, but were perfectly willing to proceed with the work, for they knew full well that the men would fall into line. Then the Broken Hill Proprietary Company also offered to roll the plates and all the steel frames, and build vessels, but the offer was turned down; God knows why. I am not in favour of monopoly of any kind, and, no doubt, this presented an opportunity for the creation of one; but at the time we required vessels as quickly as possible to carry our wheat away, and every encouragement should have been given to private firms willing to do the work.
Mr. Rees, M.L.C., of Victoria, who has been to America and Canada, is thus reported in the newspapers -
He has just returned from Canada, where he “saw four ships building on the Welland Canal without any sort of shipyard whatever. At Vancouver he saw three ships building side by side under much the same conditions, and the whole administrative business was carried on in one small room. Here,” he adds, “ it is all talk and preparation.” But, then, in Canada they want to build ships. In Australia there are people who want to damn the unions, wherefore they manoeuvre to get no ships built, and fasten the responsibility for it on to the unions.
In Australia we send to England or elsewhere for a man to superintend theshipbuilding, and think it necessary to have . a special staff, with huge offices in the States, whereas in America the work is done, and done quickly. Our position at the present moment is entirely due to our lagging behind the times - to our inaptitude in the starting of the work.
I should now like to say a word in reference to the style of ship that has been adopted. A Minister in another place gave a great advertising boom to the Isherwood patent,, though I do not know that it is the function of the Government to boost any patent in shipbuilding or in any other connexion. In my opinion, the Government are wrong in adopting this styleof vessel, not so much from the point of view of efficiency, as because of the delay in providing vessels for our requirements. I condemn them for entertaining for one moment the Isherwood patent, which is only in its infancy and on its trial, and a trial that has not proved altogether satisfactory. It is said that many thousands, of tons have been built on this plan this year, but every shipyard has been busy with every style of ship. Neither the British Government nor the American Government has adopted the Isherwood patent, though a few mercantile firms have done so. As I say, this style of vessel is only in its initial stage, and this is not the time for experiment, but for work. For that reason the British and American Governments stick to the old style of shipbuilding, which has been the pride of the British shipyards for so many years. Most of the Isherwood vessels are built in America, and have every qualificationfor the carriage of oil cargoes that is so much required there. There is undoubtedly a saving in weight, but against that has to be set the loss of utility. In the vessel that was designed by our own men. a saving could be obtained in the same way ; but we require strong vessels on this coast - vessels capable of doing our work,, and which, when damaged, can be easily repaired. These qualifications are not possessed by the Isherwood vessels, and in a description of them it is stated -
The invention relates to certain improvements in the construction of floating vessels of whatever type, from the largest warship, liner, or cargo vessel, to the smallest craft, and it is designed .to combine lightness of construction with great strength and resistance to any tendency to longitudinal bending or buckling which attaches to the present method of construction.
It is contended that the Isherwood style prevents buckling, but practical men declare that it lends itself to this fault a great deal more than does the old style of ship. The Isherwood vessel, instead of having ribs or frame like the old style, 2 feet or 2 ft. 6 in. apart, are constructed on huge girders to mould the whole side of the vessel, and are 12 feet to 14 feet apart. Between these girders there are angle-bars on which the plating is fastened, . and it is here that there is a tendency to buckling. Although they give great cargo-carrying space, utility and strength are sacrificed to lightness. I do not think that that is the sort of vessel we desire to have here, and it is no time, as I say, for experiments, when ships are so badly wanted. The shipbuilding scheme has been put back twelve months by the importation of a ship constructor, and the adoption of a new style of vessel; and, further, we shall have to pay to the patentee 3s. 4d. a ton royalty on every ton built, meaning £500 or £600 a vessel. Of course, I do not object to a man receiving a proper award for his invention, but had we adopted the British style for shipping we should not have been compelled to- give a bonus on a patent only in the primary stage. The delay is also due to the necessity for sending abroad for material, while the material necessary for the old style could have been provided in Australia -
The general - practice, however, in shipbuilding is to provide for the necessary support of the sides of the vessels and deck by means of a number of closely spaced transverse frames [i.e., supports to which the plating is closely fitted and directly attached) and transverse beams.
That is going exactly in the opposite direction; at all events, it is against shipbuilding precedent in Britain, which is the best shipbuilding country in the world. Germany attempted in vain to approach England in this connexion, but, though she built bigger vessels, she could not build better ones -
The main feature of an Isherwood ship is that her principal framing is longitudinally throughout. The shell tank top and deck plat- ing is all built on a framework of chiefly longitudinal frames. . . . From the shipyard’s stand-point, the Isherwood system has many disadvantages.
I admit the Isherwood vessel has many advantages, as shown by Mr. Poynton, in the saving of space and in lightness, but it also has disadvantages -
In the mould loft, unequal spacing of transverse frames throughout the ship and varied pitches of rivets make shell and frame development and the use of universal moulds and punches (especially multiple punches) exceedingly complicated.
I was at the Williamstown yards the other day, and found that they are very deficient in machinery. They have not even a multiple punch, which is necessary for efficient working. Even if we had the best machinery in the multiple work, it could not be applied to the Isherwood style of vessel as it can be applied to the old style of British ship. The longitudinal frames of the Isherwood vessel are heavy-built girders, of steel plate and frame, and very awkward to put into place. They are very difficult to handle, and the trouble of placing them in position is a bar to rapid progress of the work. They would be found to be a disadvantage also in many of our ports. If we take such a place as Byron Bay or Coffs Harbor, where our vessels go alongside the wharfs in the open sea, it will be impossible for these vessels to do so, because the space between these huge girder frames will not stand the bumping and will buckle. That is an objection taken by experts to the Isherwood vessel. There is, no doubt, an increased capacity for cargo, and the Isherwood principle is useful for the stowing of certain classes of goods. Honorable senators can understand that with the frames 12 feet apart space is left that is useful for stowing baled goods. The Isherwood principle has advantages as far as the ballast tank work is concerned, but that could be easily provided for if necessary in the building of the old style of vessel. There is no doubt that under the Isherwood principle ventilation may be improved, but the maintenance of these vessels would be greater than that of the old style of ship. It is claimed that under the Isherwood principle vibration is reduced, but shipbuilding experts say, on the other hand, that vibration is increased.
We have never yet had an opportunity in any part of the world to learn what the advantage or disadvantage of the Isherwood principle would be if vessels built on that principle were damaged, as is often the case with vessels on our coast, and, if it became necessary to repair them. From the owners’ point of view it is claimed that the Isherwood principle adds to the earning capacity of the ship. No doubt that is correct; but again I point out that, should it become necessary to renew any structural part, the repair bill in the case of such vessels would be very large. I believe the opinion is held amongst shipowners that Isherwood ships require more repairs, and are shorter lived, than are vessels of the old style. I have mentioned objections to the Isherwood principle raised by practical men. The Shipping Record, of New York, on Sth November, 1917, mentions a vessel built by the New York Shipbuilding Company for the ocean trade of the Gulf Refining Company, of Pittsburg, and classed “ 100A1 “ in Lloyd’s register, length between perpendiculars, 392 feet; beam, moulded, 51 feet; carrying capacity on draught, 23 ft. 6 in., 7,275 tons. The saving in weight in this case through the Isherwood system is claimed to be 230 tons beyond what would be obtained in a ship of the same dimensions built under the ordinary transverse frame system. However, much weight can be saved in the ordinary transverse system if drastic means be. adopted, such as by snapping ends of bars and lightening generally, without jeopardizing strength, so these figures must be judged accordingly.
The same saving in weight could be effected in the British style of vessel. Great delay in our shipbuilding has been caused by the adoption of the Isherwood principle. It has delayed us for twelve months in getting our ships into commission. The inevitable delay due to the adoption of that principle should have been taken into consideration. “We are proposing to build wooden vessels where we should build steel vessels, and steel vessels where we should build wooden vessels. A mistake has been -made in giving each State some share in the work of shipbuilding. I should have no objection to that being done if private contractors in the difFerent States tendered for vessels and could find the necessary labour and material to carry out their contracts. But when the Government were undertaking the work they should have established one central yard. I do not care where it is established; but there should have been one yard established, in which it would have been possible to lay down nine, ten, or a dozen of these vessels at one time. If that course had been followed, the same templates could have been used for each vessel. Instead of making one part from a template a dozen might have been made. Under the system adopted we must have two sets of templates for use in New South Wales and Victoria, and another for use in Tasmania, and this will greatly increase the cost of the vessels built. It is almost impossible to carry out the work expeditiously under the present system. We should have gone on with our own model of shipbuilding, and if we had done so we would have been further advanced than we are to-day. I understand that at the Cockatoo Dock they are going to build a collier of certain dimensions and carrying capacity, and two Isherwood ships.. The three ships might have been built on the one pattern, and that would have saved a large sum of money, whilst the work would have been a greater success.
To-day shipbuilding in Australia is little more than a dream, and the probability is that a number of us will be dead and gone before a ship built here is sailing. In dealing with this matter, as a practical shipbuilder, I know what I am talking about. I have kept in touch with the shipbuilding of the world for many years. I had the pleasure of going through most of the shipbuilding yards in Britain two years ngo, and I know something of the improvements that have been made in shipbuilding. I put the blame for what has been done here upon those who have had control of the work, and who have attempted to do in one place what they should do in another. I know that an attempt has been made to blame the unions for the delay in starting work. To-day no men are working at Walsh Island on these vessels, and very few at “Williamstown. The reason for that is that the Isherwood system does not give the same opportunity for the employment of skilled labour in early periods of construction. It is only when ships built on the Isherwood system reach a certain stage that any considerable staff of labour is required. It may be that vessels built on this principle can be put together more rapidly after a certain stage, but I say that the time that has been lost can never be recovered, and if it had been saved our ships would have been carrying wheat across the ocean to-day.
I want to say a word or two now with reference to our white elephant, the East and West Railway.
– White elephant?
– Yes; we are losing money on it every day.
– But for it Western Australia would be isolated.
– Western Australia is isolated now, because the railway is no good. It is a farce and a sham.
– There are three trains a week on it.
– If the honorable senator will permit me, I propose to prove what I say, and then to suggest a remedy. I have nothing against the construction of the railway, but I say that it should be a better line than it is. If any business man had a huge concern that was not paying he would try to discover the reason why it was not paying and provide a remedy. In my humble way that is what I propose to do in referring to this railway. I have nothing whatever to say against its construction. I voted for it, and I think we should have the iron road from east to west for military purposes. But for that purpose the present railway is an absolute sham, and a waste of money. The fault, as every one knows, lies in the frequent breaks of gauge. From Fremantle to Kalgoorlie there is a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta a 4-ft. 8&-in. gauge, from Port Augusta to Terowie a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, from Terowie to Albury a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, from Albury to Sydney and from Sydney to the Queensland border a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge, and there is then again a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. I have heard that it is the intention of the Government to give a bonus of 9d. per case to apple growers in Western Australia to enable them to place their products on the market in Sydney. I do not know if the statement is true, but that is what I have been told by apple growers in Sydney. The present east-west railway is useless for such a purpose because of the frequent transhipment, owing to the breaks of gauge. It is impossible and absurd to talk about transporting goods by this railway. If by war we were cut off for a time from ocean transport Western Australia would have to depend upon herself, because it would be impossible to get supplies across from the eastern States. A stranger coming to Australia stands aghast when he considers these breaks of gauge. He is unable ta understand why such a state of things should have been allowed to exist, until he discovers that the Commonwealth iscut up into different States. The Statesthat are directly interested in the eastwest railway are South Australia and Western Australia, and neither of them has attempted to improve the railway journey. When the Bill for the construction of the line was before Parliament the Western Australian Government promised to change the gauge of the line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle to the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. The Government of South Australia offered to connect their 5-ft. 3-in. gauge with the line at Port Augusta, These promises have not materialized, and they never will so long as State control of the railways continues. My remedy for the ,present position is that the Commonwealth Government should take the eastwest railway over from end to end. They should make the line from east to west by the best route, permitting of the journey being made in the quickest possible time. The Commonwealth should build a 4-ft. 8^-in. line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. It has been surveyed, and can be made very much shorter than the present route.
If the Government wish to make the east-west railway pay they must adopt some scheme of that kind. Then they must build a line on the 4 ft. 8£ in. gauge from Port Augusta into Broken Hill. Thence a line to Condobolin is in course of construction, and by means of it one will be able to cross to the New South Wales coast. The Queensland Government have already surveyed and made arrangements for linking up the railway from Brisbane to the New South Wales border with a line on the 4 ft. 81/2 in. gauge. The Kalgoorlie-Fremantle broad gauge will require to be undertaken sooner or later; the sooner the better. The South Australian Government have surveyed, and were on the eve of constructing a railway from Somerset to Port Augusta. That would be a very great improvement on the existing route, and would cut out the terrible journey on the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge from Terowie to Port Augusta. I have read, however, that the South Australian Government have decided not to proceed with this line. The Commonwealth Government must undertake this work so that the passengers from the eastern States, where the greater portion of Australia’s population resides, will be able to travel on the one gauge from Brisbane to Fremantle, and there embark on the ocean-going vessels. If that scheme is carried out the transcontinental railway will pay, because of the saving of four days in the journey, and because the big ocean-going vessels will land their passengers at Fremantle, allowing them to travel by rail to the eastern States, and thus save four days, whilst the vessels may steam from port to port at a slower pace.
– Hasten the construction of the railway to Broken Hill.
– I hope that the Government will do something to remove the break of gauge difficulties. Lord Kitchener, on his visit to Australia, saw the disadvantages of the break of gauge, and recommended the construction of the east-west railway. The Commonwealth Government built the line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta for the purposes of defence, but from the point of view of defence and convenience, the line is an absurdity. It does not pay, and as the whole people of the Commonwealth are putting their hands into their pockets in order to meet the losses on the line, we must discover some means of making it return the interest on the money we borrowed for its construction, and the other money we shall require to raise in order to have a uniform gauge from one side of the continent to the other. I see no difficulty in raising the necessary money. Years ago, when we wanted to raise money for progressive works, we were told that the money was not available in Australia, but the war has opened our eyes to the fact that we have only scratched the riches of this country, and that we can get sufficient money to carry on development without borrowing abroad. Financial experts, writing before the outbreak of war, said that if was unwise to borrow money for the purposes ofwar, and that war expenditure should be met by taxation. The possibility of doing that has ‘ been proved by the huge amounts that have been disgorged for war loans at from 41/2 per cent, up to 10 per cent. The money is in the country, and we ought to be able to get it by taxation. The interest that is earned by locally raised loans is spent in the country. The loan makes the country no richer and no poorer, and it provides the medium of exchange that is necessary to carry on the services of the country. But money that can be raised ‘in such large amounts for war loans can be tapped by taxation. There are few men who would not be willing to surrender a certain amount of their wealth in order to assist in the war. Certainly there are some companies which are managed by directors, whose instructions are to make profits, but the profits are distributed in dividends, and are invested in the war loan; thus the money goes back into circulation along the old channels. At this time in our history, the Government should attempt to raise money to make the Port Augusta-Kalgoorlie railway a reality, instead of the farce it is to-day. I do not care how they get the money, but if they establish a uniform gauge from east to west I have not the slightest doubt the line will pay.
I rose only to refer to the two national questions of shipbuilding and the break of gauge. I have shown that shipbuilding has not progressed as it should have done, owing to the lack of a man at the head of affairs who would not buckle down to somebody who desires Government patronage for a particular patent. The Government should build the ships as quickly as possible, and I am not concerned as to where they are built, so long as the Government do not attempt to build them where they cannot get the labour required. I trust that my remarks, coming from a practical shipbuilder, will do some good. My advice is available to the Government at any time, but I have never yet been consulted by them. Some time ago 1 waited on the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook), and placedmy suggestions before him, and offered my services in any way that he might choose to utilize them. My offer was not accepted. But there are other Australian shipbuilders who view with horror the slow progress of the shipbuilding scheme. A company that desired to start shipbuilding was prevented from doing so. The New South Wales Government offered to build ships, but were blocked. Why? Because there was an intention on the part of somebody to introduce another system ‘ of shipbuilding that is quite foreign to Australian requirements. Australia needs the ships, but, as a practical, man, I believe that if the Government continue along the lines they are now adopting they will not have one ship afloat after two years.
– I do not make any apology for offering some observations on matters of Imperial and, in fact, world-wide interest at the present juncture, having regard to the fact that probably this will be the only opportunity that will be available for two or three months. Before that period comes to a close all may be lost or all may be won in connexion with the terrific struggle in which we, in common with many other countries, are engaged. Senator Gardiner laid particular stress upon the fateful nature of the struggle. Although there may be legitimate differences of opinion in regard to how Australia may best contribute its maximum effort to bring the war to a successful conclusion from our stand-point, it struck me that his attitude was that which is familiarly described as “Yes-no.” He would have peace, and yet he would have war. Unfortunately that attitude is of no practical avail at this juncture.
From time to time in this Senate I have spoken of the misconception that existed in the minds of many of the most important peoples of the world and their governing leaders in regard to the German people. We are told that militarism is abhorrentto the German people in the mass, and that it only exists because it is grateful to the governing class in Germany. A more fallacious idea anybody opposed to German rule and misrule could not pos sibly entertain. Militarism in Germany is to a large extent beloved of the German people, because they believe it to have been the instrument that has gained for them, to use their own phrase, “ a place in the sun.” I happened to discover the other day a very old bound copy of MacMillan’s Magazine, and the most recent number in the volume did not extend beyond 1852. In that volume was an article referring to the ideals which were undoubtedly the inheritance of the German people, and which were held by the great majority of them. It made particular allusion to the fact that in Germany there was an ever-growing opinion that the German people had a great future, with which they might ally a very great increase in German prosperity. And the German slogan was alluded to as illustrating the peculiar frame of mind into which the German people were getting - “ Das Vaterland muss grosser sein.”
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - Order!
– I am not particularly familiar with the German language, but I think I am justified in freely interpreting that as “ The Fatherland must become greater.”
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- It is not in order for an honorable senator to speak gibberish that is not intelligible to the Chair.
– At any rate, it is the gibberish that is being indulged in at the present time by the German people.
– I rise to a point of order. Are you, sir, in order in describing from the Chair the language of an honorable senator as gibberish ?
TEe DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - If it is something I cannot understand, yes.
– We know that at the present time the Germans are continually stimulating themselves to greater efforts in this war by saying that it is the destiny of Germany to rule the whole world. Senator Gardiner, representing in this Chamber a very great political party, actually invites us to enter into negotiations with a people whose rulers have quite recently done - what ? With the neighbouring and partly Germanic Empire of Austria they have entered into an alliance to consolidate the armies of the two Empires for the next quarter of a century. They are making arrangements, and have entered into a treaty with Austria which will insure training in common, the interchange of munitions, the interchange of officers, and the interchange of divisions; so that when the next European war comes along, which they definitely allude to in these treaties and negotiations, they may be prepared to deal a blow to the other peoples of the world which may, perhaps, not be too successfully delivered on this occasion. What will you get in the way of negotiation with such a people ? I read, on one occasion, the life of Pompey the Great. He had occasion to invade Sicily, to reduce to subjection a city that had revolted against the Roman rule. The inhabitants of the city desired to escape pains and penalties, and protested about their laws and their privileges, which the Romans ought to respect. Pompey said to their representatives, “ When will you people ever learn that you must cease talking about your rights and privileges to men who wear swords?” That is the German attitude towards the rest of. the world. So long as Germany has power, so long will she seek to impose German ideals, and German interests, on the rest of mankind. It is well for the rest of mankind to recognise that fully.
Senator Gardiner and myself exchanged some semijocular remarks about the necessity for people to think. I do not believe people can think to any great advantage unless they read a good deal. What do a great many people who speak about the necessity for entering into negotiations for peace know about the actual ideals and intentions of the German people? Let them read an article in one of the most important of the European magazines, written by Sir William Ramsay, who has been diplomat, explorer, and searcher for objects of antiquarian interest in countries that are engaged in this war. He tells us that in Germany, four and five years before the war, there were to be found in eating-houses, hotels, and other places of public resort, theoretical maps indicating the territorial gains which the German people might naturally expect to obtain from the next war that they undoubtedly had in projection at the time. All men whose perspective was not distorted by being too close to Germany, had no doubt whatever that, eventually, there’ would be a clash between the German Empire and those other peoples who represent tlie best- side of European civilization as we understand it. Lord Roberts had no doubt of what the ultimate issue would be in regard to the differences between the peoples of the West. A man so differing from Lord Roberts in opinion as Robert Blatchford, had no doubt as to the impending conflict; and I, insignificant individual in this remote Dominion of His Majesty, expressed myself three or four years before the war to the effect that a conflict with Germany was inevitable, because it was, undoubtedly, the design and intention of the rulers of Germany to force it at an hour which they deemed auspicious to their Imperial fortunes.
Senator Gardiner has protested, “methinks too much,” about the loyalty of the Labour party. I believe that, properly led, properly guided, properly instructed, the heart of the labour population of Australia - I am speaking of them from the political stand-point - is sound. Their numerical contribution to the Australian Forces which have gone to fight the battles of the Empire, is very considerable. I believe that all classes of the community have, proportionately, done very well; and, undoubtedly, the rank and file of Labour is represented by nearly every household throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. But a very intelligent people is sometimes misguided, and sometimes ^ a very patriotic people may not be very intelligent, and may lend themselves very readily to misguidance. Will Senator Gardiner affirm that, not perhaps so much in the ranks of the Labour party as in those executives and staffs which are directing the Labour movement, there is that unanimity of intention and of loyal feeling in regard to the prosecution of Australia’s effort in this war that there ought to be?
– I affirm that they are absolutely loyal.
– I have no hesitation in charging them with being disloyal in intention to the best interests of the Empire.
– Who should know more about them, you or I?
– ‘I am outside tlie movement, and can see the trend of their utterances an’d their expressed intentions translated into practice. I am probably as unbiased a judge - for I have no illfeeling against Labour - as any man in
Australia.Will Senator Gardiner cast his mind back to the double dissolution election which transpired after the declaration of war?
There has been -a marked deterioration in the attitude and policy of the leaders of Labour since Mr. Fisher made that historic and proper declaration of Labour policy which . Senator Gardiner himself has quoted. That deterioration has extended beyond the official heads, and, to a certain extent, has permeated the rank and file of Labour. Otherwise delegates to the Labour Conference which is about to sit in Perth would not have the commissions that, in several instances, have been given to them. The declaration of war came in August, 1914, and the double dissolution occurred some time in September. In that campaign the stick used by the Labour party throughout the Commonwealth to beat the Liberal dog with was a war argument, as follows : - ‘’ To whom oan you better intrust Australia’s effort in the war than to the party which placed on the statute-book our Citizen Defence Act, and the arrangements for the inception of the Australian Navy?” The Labour party erroneously claimed credit for those two things.
– Do you remember that the Labour attitude on that occasion was the cessation of hostilities, withdrawal of the writs, and no election?
– I am talking of the attitude of the Labour party towards the war, not towards the election. The representatives, of the Labour party told the people throughout Australia that they alone should have the credit of . placing on the statute-book the Defence Act, and of having instituted the Commonwealth Navy, both notoriously politically unfair assertions, and markedly fake ones. As a matter of fact, in connexion with the institution of the Commonwealth Navy, the minority vote on the resolution in another place was largely constituted of members of the Labour party. The truth was that both political parties can have credit ascribed to them for having joined in a common effort to provide what was believed to be a satisfactory scheme of national defence. The people of Australia gave the Labour party credit for the military and naval schemes, and re turned them with a majority which has sensibly affected the political situation ever since the outbreak of the war. The Citizen Defence Act contains the principle of compulsory service for the defence of the Commonwealth. Yet, to justify my charge that the Labour party is deteriorating, many of the delegates tothe Perth Conference-
– You have said they are disloyal. I want you to prove it.
– Most decidedly.
– I will hold you to that challenge.
– The honorable senator may do so, and I justify it by saying that the officials or members of any league which declines to support recruiting, either voluntary or compulsory at present, are, in effect, disloyal.
– Do not qualify it You say they are disloyal.
– I do. The honorable senator may have it without any qualification.
– You have said it.
– I have. What I have said I have said.
Compulsory service is on the National statute-book, and the credit for placing it there was claimed by the original Labour party, whose legitimate descendants the Official Labour party claims to be. What are the instructions that have been issued to quite a number of the delegates who have proceeded to the Conference that is about to sit in Perth? They are to delete the principle of compulsory service for even the defence, of Australia within . its own borders from the national statute-book. Is not this evidence of a marked deterioration in the Labour party? I am not saying it will be carried, I . hope for the honour of Australia that it will not ; but it is to the eternal dishonour of those men who claim credit for having put the Defence Act there, that now, because they have discovered the one-sided and illogical natureof the position they have taken up, they turn round and advocate that the defence of this thinly-peopled continent should be intrusted to the undisciplined levies that may be made at a time of national stress. Whatcould they do in these days of scientific warfare? No compulsory training, no compulsory enlistment, and the enemy perhaps at our gates, perhaps landing on our shores! What could we do then if we hadgiven our national adherence to the principle of voluntary service? Therefore, without the qualification which Senator Needham insisted on my deleting from my remarks, without any qualification at all, I say that men who, advocate that action, men who decry even the system of voluntary recruiting, who are not prepared to give assistance to this movement for the benefit of humanity and the protection of our national and Imperial liberties, are, in effect, disloyal. I withdraw not one syllable of my remarks.
I offer no apology for speaking at some length upon the national situation. This is the only Legislature that is intrusted with the government of a continent. Surely, a Legislature intrusted with the government of a continent, and whose people are participating in the war, should, give some consideration to the all-round and proper discussion of matters of worldwide importance. I have told honorable senators of the expressed intentions of the” German people, and how they have definitely taken up a line of policy that has again led them into that position they occupied before the battle of Jena. Germany had been humiliated a good deal by the wars that arose out of the French Revolution. Remember that she had reorganized herself from within to meet the condition of things that had been brought about by the substantial defeats which she sustained at . the hands of Napoleon and the armies which he led. Now contrast the position of Prussia after the battle of Jena with the condition of Germany at the present time, and we can begin to understand why the German people, generally believed to be so homely, so peaceful, and so law abiding, have embraced a military and political philosophy which has brought about this great world-wide convulsion.
SenatorDe Largie. - The Prussians have always been of the same character.
– They have always been a military people, from the days of JuliusCaesar, and perhaps from an earlier period, but for some considerable time in Europe the Germans had established themselves as a rather peace- loving people particularly those who are not Prussians. Undoubtedly the whole of the German people became well affected towards that policy, which raised their country, so to speak, from the dust to what it is to-day, and I have no idle hope or belief that they will throw asideas some hastily played with toy - a policy which has made them what they are. It is a fallacious belief to hold. Therefore let us address ourselves to the task of breaking down the arrogance of this stiff-necked people, whose national temper has been brought to its present pitch by a century of stern disciplining, and whose national abilities have been brought to a high standard by a system of education which has been most closely conscious of the necessity in modern times of having investigations in science and discoveries in industry. I have alluded previously to the fact that I am afraid the British people undervalued the German science, tenacity, organization, and resolution. There is no escape for us unless we face these people with their own weapons, and to the greatest of our power do all we can to defeat them, as they hope to defeat - and, indeed - destroy us. If these people who are making sacrifices of blood and treasure, which are indeed appalling, even approached from their own stand-point, in order to defeatus - these people whose cause has the reprobation of practically the civilized world - are capable of doing these things, should not we, if we believe our cause is right, do as much, or more, if more is necessary, in order to defeat them? Judged at the bar of the nations, Germany’s cause must be wrong. The Empire and its Allies practically include the whole of the civilized world, excluding our enemies, and such neutrals as the Scandinavian Kingdoms and Spain. This great jury of nations cannot be wrong. Our cause must be right. What countries are allied to Germany? Austria’s sympathies are naturally with Germany, because Austria-Hungary is an Empire which is bound to Germany by common ties of race, blood, and language. Turkey has been permeated by German influence for some time. Bulgaria is governed by a prince of German extraction. We can understand the alliance between Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, and Turkey; but let us attack her iu regard to the justice of our cause from the fact that practically every other civilized nation in the world, and many that are only semi-civilized, may be included in the alliance against this great coalition which is so inimical to the interests of humanity. If these terribly scientific people are prepared to shed rivers of blood, and exert themselves to their utmost in order to defeat us, surely it is incumbent upon us as men, individually, collectively, racially, and nationally, to do all we can to bring them to the ground, with the hope, not as they say of annihilating or exterminating them, but of bringing home to them a sense of their racial and national crimes, and a sense of that defeat, which is absolutely necessary before we can hope for any peace in this troubled world.
I recognise that criticism of the Allied* efforts at this terrible and, indeed, tremendous moment, as Pitt called another occasion in our national history, cannot be of very much avail. If we survive the struggle during this summer, I believe that victory will ultimately be certain for us, but I warned the people of Tasmania and the people of Australia, as far as my voice could reach and my pen command any influence, that the best American military writers did not hold out any hope of really substantial assistance coming from their Republic until 1919. Yet America was used as a stick, so to speak, to frighten people away from their manifest duty to vote “ Yes “ at the ballot-box a few months ago. America is in the struggle, and I believe that her great weight will be brought to bear, perhaps, in the summer of 1919. Of course, every year has been critical, but this year is undoubtedly the supremely critical period for our Allies, -and nf we, through the mercy of God and bravery of our soldiers, can live through this summer, I believe that that victory, which will bring with it a satisfactory peace, may be, perhaps, descried by no very acute vision in the offing. It is by no means certain that these people may not break the Allied line and win victory for themselves during this summer. Great though the strength of the transAtlantic Republic may be, it will be a hard thing indeed to reconstitute the position if during the summer the British armies are driven off French soil and the
French armies are dissipated. I do not hold out the hope that a policy of landing troops on a French shore fortified by German skill and science will bring about the victory which we hope to see. Absolute disaster may not ensue to us, we may still be able to retain our supremacy on the seas, but it will be a terrible thing if under our eyes continental Europe has extended over its whole area the terrific power of Germany. I am not a very pious man, I do- not frequently make allusions to sacred matters, but I do hope that the God to whom we pray every day at the commencement of our deliberations will see fit to confound the efforts of the enemy, and bring us that victory which is absolutely essential to our cause.
I have said that I do not propose to speak very much in criticism ; but at this distance from the United Kingdom some things do seem remarkable, and I cannot understand why men who claim to be Imperial statesmen make statements that cannot be dovetailed into each other when viewed from this distance with any degree of satisfaction. No “doubt honorable senators have read from time to time the deliverances of the Imperial Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George). Undoubtedly he is a man of very great ability, but I am afraid that he has not that great prevision which is the essential of a -first-class statesman. I do not forget that a very little time before this war commenced he was an advocate for the serious reduction of the attenuated British Army, yet tlie other day I read in the December number of *The. Sphere - a well-established publication, published in the metropolis of the Empire, and, presumably, censored - that he had stated that we had 6,000,000 men on the Western Front. M. Tardieu, a notable Frenchman, indorsed the statement, and it was made the subject of remarks by the military correspondent of The Outlook, who said that, according to the Prime Minister’s deliverance, we had 6,000,000 men against 2,500,000 men which the Germans had. The statement can be seen in our Library. I have a copy of the paper at home. It seems to have been a real deliverance by the Imperial Prime Minister, but it squares very imperfectly with the assertions that are now being made to the effect that our troops are absolutely outnumbered by four and five to one.
– We do not know that the latter statement is correct.
– For a long time past we have been worried by “references to unity of command, the Hindenburg spear-thrust, the tremendously novel tactics of Ludendorff, and so on. These things have been referred to in the press ad nauseam, as if they were entirely new discoveries, but the men who have so described them must be the merest tyros in military matters. These things were old in the days when Hannibal was a boy. In any decent Life of Napoleon, one may read that he ascribed his victories in Austria to having unity of command. The very phrase finds expression in one book, He said, “ The Austrians had about thirty generals, and I controlled the whole of the French Army. Hence I won.” The Hindenburg spear-thrust is merely one of the most ordinary of Napoleon’s military operations. Get your organization well advanced, accumulate your forces, and penetrate the enemy’s line at one point, and his defence completely crumples up. That is the Hindenburg spear-thrust, and the elementary feature of Ludendorff’s tactics.
In regard to Senator Millen’s interjection, Mr. Bonar Law, who is not a military man, said on the 7th May that we had superiority of men and guns, and were waiting for the much-vaunted German offensive, yet before the month was out, and that German offensive in fact started, he said it was not expected. These are things that I cannot dovetail from this distance. It was the most pitiful deliverance of a representative statesman that I have ever heard of, or read - that he, after all his statements in regard to preparations, should say that the German attack was a surprise. When the much-vaunted offensive actually took place, for which the whole world was waiting, we were “surprised!” If so, then something is wrong - something was wrong. I hope for victory, and, after four years of war, neither our military commanders nor our statesmen should he surprised. This is not the time to be surprised by any action of the enemy. 1 am confirmed in my opinion, formed at the time of the visit of the Imperial Parliamentary Delegation, that many of the men on whom the Empire depends are - well, comparatively mediocre. We have unprepared statesmen without prevision, and an army led, not as it should be, but by men who do not take those necessary precautions against surprises which may be expected from people like the Germans. It is evident that the Allies were driven over country in which nothing like sufficient defence preparations had been made. I am not saying, something in the Senate which is not. available to the outside public, for it waspractically shadowed forth in a statement from an authorized correspondent in the Herald of last Saturday. -We are told that the Allies commenced to prepare defence positions after the retreat had been; forced on them. How many defence- positions do honorable senators think there are between the German lines and: the Rhine ? Do they think that once we- pierce- the Hindenburg line the Germans will be driven over open country? We shall find position after position on which the Germans will fall back unless we break their morale by defeat on the soil of France. Something of the spirit which obtained at the time of the French Revolution- is necessary now in the case of those- who command the Imperial Army. A general’ who makes a mistake, or a statesman who fails, must be told to get out of the waybe scrapped even as unnecessary or obsolete machinery - to make way for some one better, who will do what is necessary to meet the occasion. I hope that, later on, when the issues of the war can be calmly discussed, those seeming incompatibilities in the remarks of Imperial statesmen, and the seeming mischances oil the field, will be explained satisfactorily. But I am tremendously disappointed when, after four years ‘ of war. statesmen like Mr. Bonar Law can get up in the House of Commons, and, in view of his previously expressed opinions, confess that the Germans have taught nothing to our leaders and those responsible for the Imperial preparations.
I now wish to refer to a matter which I believe to be first in the rank of secondary Australian objectives. All objectives of the front rank must have some very direct reference and application to our war efforts; but there are many other thing* which are contributory to, war efforts ir what I may call the second degree. Oi these is the representation of the Commonwealth in the Republic of the United States of America. It will be remembered that very soon after my advent to a seat in this honorable Chamber, I put a motion on the paper suggesting that the Senate should commit itself to an indorsement of the policy of an Australian representative at Washington. Honorable senators do not get many opportunities to debate motions which embody their ideas, but a few months ago the Chamber was wise enough to accept the motion of which I was the author. Anybody will understand that our hope of victory at the present time rests almost solely on the -efforts, actual and projected, of the people of the United States. We are told that colossal things are being done there iu regard to the building of aeroplanes and ships; and, undoubtedly, notwithstanding the genius of the American people for advertising their own efforts, much is being done on a large scale, which, I hope, will be markedly contributory to victory. Should we not have in America at the present time - not later on, but now, and /-.s we ought to have had at the beginning of the war - a trusted representative to keep us in touch with all the variations of American opinions? We should have had a representative there to keep us informed of all that was confirmatory of America’s intentions, and of her conciliatory and friendly attitude in this war.
– There is the British Ambassador.
– The Ambassador, does not deal with many things which the Australian people ought to know.
– He ought to.
– We have an Australian Legislature, and’ I am sure the honorable senator would not like the United Kingdom to exclusively legislate for us. We require, the representation of Australian interests in the great Republic, the people of which speak the same language as ourselves, and whose shores are washed by the same waters. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has been to America en route to the Old Country, and has made a particular point in his addresses there of the necessity of this representation. To me, to use an ordinary colloquialism, that “was “ duck’s news.” The honorable gentleman seems to have developed a very recent ardour in connexion with this matter.
– It may have been news to his audience.
– It was not news to the Americans. I believe that a telegram, which appeared in the American press consequent on the debate on my motion, came to the knowledge of Lord Northcliffe. Evidently America hasgood newspaper correspondents here, and Lord Northcliffe saw the press reference to the fact that a debate had taken place in the Australian Parliament on the subject, and remarked that it was one of the steps necessary to bring together different sections of the Anglo-Saxon race. That expression of opinion had, I believe, a marked effect here on the attitude of honorable senators towards the motion.
– Had the Prime Minister seen Lord Northcliffe before he spoke ?
– I do not know; but it seems to me that the Prime Minister’s ardour, as I say, is a recent development. But did the Prime Minister do anything in the matter when in Australia? The resolution of the Senate has been on the business-paper of the House of Representatives ever since its adoption here, placed there at the instance of a private member. Had the Prime Minister realized its importance he could very readily and easily have had it adopted by the other Chamber, but it is still on the notice-paper. This is not the time for inquiry; the necessity for this representation is evident. There should be a trusted representative of the Australian people, with the privileges necessary to enable him to advise us of everything the American people are doing in the way of effort to save the liberty, not only of themselves, but of us. . It would seem as though it were necessary for the waters of defeat to clear the vision and to cleanse the ears of some politicians before they realize the necessity for a step of such vital interest and importance to Australia.
I am now going to say something about the necessity for Australia being represented in that part of the world that is called the East, but which is really north of us. I know something of what I am speaking. I happen to be able to speak one Oriental language with particular fluency - indeed, much better than I speak English - and I also speak more or less satisfactorily two or three other Eastern tongues. I can tell the Senate something which it ought to know, and which it would be well for the statesmen of the British Empire to know, as well as traders and merchants, and men of commercial enterprise - the latter with a note of interrogation. I was in China just before the war started. Much of what I learned there I cannot disclose to honorable senators, for it would be injudicious to do so at this juncture. 1 did learn something about German methods of commercial penetration of foreign countries. 1 also found that some of our most successful merchants in the East - that is, successful _ according to methods and on lines that have become obsolete - prided themselves on being unable to speak a word of any Oriental language. I thought this was very wrong, for I saw many opportunities for Australian trade in the East. For instance, the Chinese, in Southern China at least, who do not regard flour as their staple food, are considerable consumers of a flour which they use for their pastry and confectionery, and which, in fact, is entering fairly largely into their diet. A very large quantity of this flour is exported to Southern China from Vancouver; and, after very careful inquiry, which was only incidental to the general object of my visit, I found that this flour has certain properties which particularly recommend it to the Chinese as fitted for their cooking methods. The flour is got up in a fashion suitable to the Chinese trade, which is a very considerable one. Australia exports flour to Manila ; and I have no doubt that this particular variety of flour could be easily milled in Australia. We might, if prepared to enter into energetic competition with America, develop a most lucrative trade to the benefit of our millers and primary producers.
– Do you know the character of the wheat?
– It is a very hard wheat. I am speaking of what might be done by the adoption of an -energetic policy subsequent to the war period if we lay the foundations in due time. I travelled by the railway from Kowloon to Canton, and let me tell honorable senators that while we boast of the railways of Australia, there are railways in China built by Chinese engineers, with engines driven by Chinese engine-drivers, and stoked by Chinese firemen, that in their appointments are not one whit inferior to the railways we have here. You may sit down in a Chinese railway carriage and push a button and a man will come along and bring you beer, Chinese wine, fruit, curries, chickens, and articles of Chinese and foreign cookery ad lib. Of course, you must pay for these things as you must in every other part of the world ; but I can assure honorable senators that there are railways in China which would” be a credit to any civilized country, and which are run and managed wholly by Chinese.
In my journeys up and down the southern provinces of China, I have encountered a good many Europeans. One day I heard two young fellows speaking Chinese to the conductor of a train. They spoke it very well, but with a German accent. I wanted a drink myself at the time, and as I do not care to drink alone, I asked them if they would join me” in a bottle of beer. They said, “ Thank you.” They were young men of twenty-one or twenty-two years of age: I congratulated them upon being able to speak Chinese so well, and said that I guessed they were Germans. They acknowledged that they were. I asked them whether they were Germans who had been born in China, since they spoke the language so well, or whether they had come to China when they were very young. One of them said, “ We have been here only two years.” I asked them how it was that they could speak colloquial Chinese so well, and they then outlined to me the policy that is followed in Germany. We will say, for instance, that my friend, Senator Earle, is a German merchant residing in China. I, too, am a German,. we will say, and I have a son ten or eleven years of age, and it is my parental duty to look out for a career for him. I bethink myself of my old school-fellow, and write to him telling him that I have a son, and asking whether he can find an opening for him. He writes back, “ Send him along in a year or two when he is old enough, and I will give him a billet in my warehouse or counting-house.” The father in Germany, at once sends the son to a school where he is taught Chinese. There are such institutions in Germany. The youth is not taught to speak Chinese colloquially very well, but he gets a grounding in the language, understands its principles, construction, and idioms, and later on is sent to China. The acquisition of Chinese is then a comparatively easy matter for him. Hence in a couple of years we find Germans animated with the spirit of extending German industry and commerce, who - unlike the British merchant, who prides himself upon having been for thirty years ;,n the East, and being still unable to speak a word of the language of the country in which he is trading - are able and anxious to converse with the natives, and to thus extend amongst them the influence of German trade, and German ideas!
If we are going to participate in the trade that is undoubtedly available to the north of us, we must follow the German method in this regard. I am glad that in Sydney the New South Wales Government have been wise enough to institute professorships, for the purpose of teaching the Japanese language to those who will learn.
– We are doing the same at the Military College.
– It is a very wise thing to do. The practice should be extended. Our commercial travellers must be polyglot. It will be of no use to send a traveller from Australia who can speak only English, to compete with a German traveller, who call speak three or four different languages. I travelled with a German who, I believe, was a German spy. He withdrew himself from Australia just before the war. When we came to Timor he addressed himself to Portuguese officials there. To those who could speak French he spoke French, to those who could speak only Portuguese he spoke Portuguese, *and in Manila .he spoke Spanish to the Spaniards there. These men are extending German influence. Although it is, comparatively speaking, only a few years ago since German merchants went to Colombo, Penang, and Hong Kong, there are in those places, fortunately at present in the possession nf the British, palatial club houses, established by the Germans, which must have cost anything from £40,000 to £50,000 each.
My disquisitions on this matter may be of real value to the Australian people if they will only give heed. It is of no use for us to contemplate sitting down with our hands folded in the commercial warfare which, we believe, will ensue after victory comes to our arms in the present struggle. If we are to achieve successwe must adopt scientific methods. We must send our men out armed with a proper education, and at least a speaking acquaintance with the languages’ of the various peoples amongst whom we look to find markets for Australian products.
There is one other Senate resolution which has shared the same fate up to the present as that in regard to the representation of Australia at Washington. I refer to the resolution dealing with the Senate’s attitude on the question of the German colonies in the Pacific conquered by the valour and address of Australia’s Forces. I want to be just to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook), and I am well aware that they have committed themselves to the policy of the non-retrocession of these colonies to Germany; But something more might have been done. Highly as we may estimate the prestige of this Chamber, I venture to say that an auxiliary expression of opinion by another place would have greatly strengthened the position we have taken up on this question of the retention or retrocession of -the Germ Hil colonies conquered by Australian arms. The resolution has been placed on the business-paper in another place by a private member, and I say that before the Prime Minister went away he should have taken the matter into consideration, and should have secured from another place a decision on this question buttressing the resolution of this Chamber.
Perhaps it is my temperament, but I am not by any means abashed by the quotations of the names of great men supposed to be of transcendent ability. I very readily give credit to men for the good things they perform, or intend to do, but while I claim that President Wilson is undoubtedly one of the great men of this epoch, I am certainly not going to subscribe to the policy he has enunciated of allowing the natives of the different colonies that have been captured from our foe to decide whether they shall come under our flag or go back to the flag of the enemy. Imagine the- cannibal natives of German New Guinea being consulted in regard to a matter that is of vital interest to our posterity. President Wilson does not “get any indorsement of such a policy from me. Let me tell honorable senators what these people are like. A very old friend of mine was at one time prospecting in New Guinea. He had three other white men with him, and they took their lives in their hands. . Tribal animosity was very rife in that country, and their bearers, coming to a hostile village, attacked the people of that village because of some ancient tribal ill-feeling. They set fire to the village, and killed many of the villagers.No persuasion on the part of the white men could induce them to proceed until they had, with the greatest expedition, dissected, cooked, and eaten several members of the tribe they had attacked. My friend said that sometimes in nightmares he recalled the devilish facility with which those savages dissected the bodies of those whom they had ‘slain, and the speed and address with which they cooked and ate them. Is it to people of that description that we are going to relegate the question of the retention or retrocession of lands, the possession of which will be vital to our posterity.
– President Wilson never suggested that.
– He suggested, something of the . sort, and I venture to say that Imperial statesmen, quite as foolishly, have spoken in the same strain. My sources of information on the happenings of the world are varied. Only the other day I was speaking to a Chinese who had been in German New Guinea during the revolt of the natives there some years ago. He told me that the natives had . committed most damnable outrages on German women missionaries, which, in the interests of decency, it is impossible for me to relate here. Again, I say, is it tosavages such as these that the question of the retention of German New Guinea is to be relegated?
– President Wilson never suggested that.
– The honorable senator knows that it has been most soberly discussed in the Old Country that the natives of the captured, countries should be consulted as to which flag they will come under.
– Not at all. The reference was to the people of places like Alsace and Lorraine.
– The honorable senator is wrong. I very rarely make statements which I cannot prove; and there are abundant references in the statements of Imperial leaders to show that there is some intention of relegating the question of the retention or retrocession of captured Possessions to the natives of those places.
I really believe that modern Australians are the equal of any people in the world in dealing justly with a coloured population. Although they are peculiar in temperament in some respects, they are, in the main, humanely disposed towards the coloured people over whom they rule. We may fearlessly say to the statesmen who will discuss these matters that the Australian people will - deal fairly with the coloured people of any countries that come under their control. If, as I hope will be the case, the leaders in the Old Country decide that Australians are right in seeking the retention of the Possessions we have captured, it may be readily asserted that we shall do justice to thenative populations of those lands.
Letme tell honorable senators that the Japanese have not the slightest intention to give back the islands which they garrison at the present time. The native children of the Caroline and Marshall Islands are being taught to-day the Japanese language and literature by Japanese schoolmasters. They are being taught such modern science as they are able to absorb, in the Japanese language. Is that indicative of- any intention on the part of our Allies to surrender the German colonies that were captured? The Japanese Government have decided that it is essential for the safety of the Japanese Empire that those islands shall be retained, and it is sound philosophy and good practice for the Australian people to keep all they have captured, because, undoubtedly, if these islands are returned to the Germans they will become nests of mischief in the future.
– But Mr. Hughes says there is an Australian Monroe doctrine, “ Hands off the Pacific.”
– But that does not deny to the peoples whose influences are situated in Pacific waters the right to- enforce their policy. Does America intend to withdraw from the Philippines or Hawaii? Not much. If it were good before the war in American interests for the Sandwich Islands to be taken over and for the Philippine Islands to be governed by the. Republic, it is good in the interests of Australia that we should continue to govern the captured German colonies. That is my opinion, and not even the dictum of Imperial statesmenwill swerve me from it. It is essential in Australia’s interest that the captured German colonies shall be retained, and I hope that if we secure victory and Imperial Conferences are called to decide these matters from time to time, they will fall in with the vi ews I have expressed, and which have been so wisely indorsed by the members of this Chamber.
There is another matter that is very pertinent to the war. It is with no idea of glorifying my own prevision- that I allude to it. But it is my duty to employ my thoughts from time to time in thinking out policies which I believe to be in the interests of the Australian people. Honorable senators will recollect that for a long time I had upon the noticepaper a motion that we should prepare an Australian Standing Army, and that such an Army should have permanently attached to it a staff of scientists. But the election of a new Parliament and the legislative confusion and Ministerial changes consequent upon the defeat of the referendum, led to the disappearance of that notice of motion from the business-paper. However, the principle which I sought to enunciate then is as sound to-day as ever it was; in fact, it is more clamorous than ever for adoption. I tell the people of Australia that if the regular Army of Great Britain had numbered half a million men, in all probability, in the early days of the war, the German forces would have been thrown back defeated and broken through Belgium to the banks of the Rhine. Unfortunately, the British Army, so well trained professionally that by the good shooting of the individual soldier, it was able to counteract the lamentable deficiency of machine-guns, comparing British battalions with German battalions,- numbered only 120,000. If it had been 500,000 it would have secured to us victory in the. first two or three months of the war. With all due respect to the raw levy - his value is increased to a large extent nowadays by the fact that the war is largely becoming a chemical war, and the training, once so necessary, is not so useful now - the professional army, whether it be of scientists or of soldiers, will always stand in value, as compared with the raw or semiraw levy, in the ratio of five to one.
– Even in a gas attack.
– Yes. The barrackyard discipline is necessary to maintain the esprit de corps of troops, especially when great losses are being inflicted upon them. It was the steadiness and training of the Roman soldier that made him die at his post when the ashes and lava of Vesuvius were flowing over Pompeii. The convulsions of nature could not subdue him. .He stood at his post and died there, even though the forces of the universe seemed to be leagued against him in malevolent intention. Even as the great peaceful republic of the United States maintained a professional army of 100,000 men, so must we make an effort of that kind, commensurate with the population of the Commonwealth. And we must attach to our .regular Army astaff of scientists. I do not know whether I shall be speaking injudiciously, in referring to the gas business. These poisonous gases were, primarily, the production of German chemists, at the instance of German military men; and having regard to the fact that the publication can be read in Australia, I do not think I am doing wrong in saying that it is alleged, on the best evidence, that when the Germans first employed gas, the British Commander-in-Chief telegraphed to the Imperial Government that if relief were not afforded against this new weapon within three days, the whole British line would have to retire in defeat. And this authority says, to the credit of British scientists, supported by the Government, that within thirty-six hours 1,500,000 improvised gas masks were forwarded to the Front. So perilous is the position, notwithstanding the valour of soldiers and the efforts of airmen, that the scientists on both sides are with feverish energy and tireless application endeavouring to discover a gas which they may employ before their opponents can discover a satisfactory protection. The side that succeeds in doing this will achieve victory, for no human courage and no fortitude avail against deadly gases, as honorable senators who have worked in mines are aware.
– Are these scientists walking about Bourke-street?
– No*; but I hope the time will come when they will take their recreation in Bourke-street after they have left their laboratories. That is why I am urging action. by the Government. War is becoming a matter of rivalry between chemists, and one-fifth of the projectiles that are being rained upon our unfortunate soldiers to-day contain, not shrapnel, but gas. Honorable senators who know that numbers on the Western Front are practically equal - there cannot be any great disparity - must reflect on the fact that it is probably because the Germans have been drenching our heroic battalions with gases that they have been driven back. It is not, perhaps, because of any lack of generalship, and certainly not of courage; but simply because mortal man cannot endure the discoveries of science when they are of a noxious character. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) knows that there is something in what I- am saying, seeing that a very large proportion of Australian casualties of recent date have been occasioned by gas. On the table, honorable senators may read lists which will supply overwhelming evidence in support of my statements. A standing army we must have for the protection of this country, and we require also a staff of scientists who will be able to give those who invade our country and violate our liberties the medicine they require.
The entry of America into the war has been already of vital value to us, for, fortunately, the American Fleet contained a very large proportion - of destroyers, which have, been of the greatest importance and value in connexion with the anti-submarine campaign. Indeed, it is believed that if America had not come into the war with her destroyer fleet at the time she did, the anti-submarine campaign might not have been successful, and Germany’s intentions in that respect might have been realized in practice. It is believed that, at the time America entered the war, the submarine campaign was steadily tending to a German victory. Many of the British destroyers had been at sea since the commencement of the war, and had had no opportunity of docking and refitting. But tlie advent of the American destroyers enabled some of the longest service vessels to go into dock, and receive the necessary overhaul.
There is another matter to which allusion is necessary. I remember a great deal of controversy taking pi aca at about the time the ship Cumberland struck a mine. If was not definitely known at that time that the vessel had struck a mine, but it is evident now that a mine field did exist off Cape Howe, and that the Cumberland was sunk by contact with a German laid mine. I remember asking a question in the Senate in regard to the matter, because I felt convinced that a German-laid mine had been responsible for the destruction of that vessel.
– It is pretty clear, too, that the mine was laid by the raider Wolf.
– I asked in the Senate if a search would be made of the most important trade routes along the Australian coast in order to see if there were any enemy laid or drifting mines. I was asked to give notice of the question, and later, I was told that the Navy authorities had already taken action. But three days after I asked the question, I read in the newspapers that certain vessels had’ been requisitioned at Port Jackson, and sent to Gabo Island for the purpose of sweeping for mines. It is unnecessary for camouflage of that character to be indulged in by any Department.
– I assure the honorable senator that action was “taken before that date.
– I cannot understand why more publicity is not given to the fact that enemy mines’ have been discovered along the coast of Australia and its Dependencies. Near the district in which I lived in Tasmania for a number of years a mine drifted ashore. A soldier with a machine gun was sent from Claremont Camp, and he fired fifty or sixty rounds at the mine before exploding it. When the explosion did take place, the violence of it was such that it overthrew spectators standing 200 or 300 yards away. The report of it was heard throughout the northern districts of Tasmania, and the fact that a mine had been discovered was common talk throughout the State within forty-eight hours. Pieces of the mine -were handed from person to person, and photographs of it could be seen almost anywhere, yet the Tasmanian papers were forbidden to publish the fact that it had come ashore and been exploded. I cannot understand the necessity for shunning publicity in such a manner. I am sure the German navigators know the currents that flow towards Australian shores quite as well as our own do. The fact that they could lay mines in certain spots where they would do damage is a proof of that. It would have been in the interests of our navigators, and of shipping generally, to give the fullest publicity to the fact that mines had been discovered on Australian shores. It is a mystery to me why the information was withheld from the public, and completely inexplicable toa commonsense mind, not to speak of members of Parliament, who, in matters of common sense, are, of course, supermen.
I listened with pleasure to Senator McDougall speaking on shipbuilding, on which he is an authority. I regret that the Commonwealth has not undertaken a much more vigorous shipbuilding policy than has been the case up to the present. The Prime Minister, without parliamentary sanction - I am not going to criticise the administrative act, which was a good one - has ordered wooden ships in America. I understand fourteen are building there, and it has been stated that they are being built, to a large extent, of Australian wood, which, therefore, must have been sent from here to America to be built into ships which- will become the property of the Commonwealth Government. That is all right up to a certain point. Ifthey were building there while we were building ships here, I could understand it, but the Prime Minister practically forbade the building of wooden ships in Australia. I accompanied Mr. King Salter to Tasmania. The instructions were that only steel or composite ships were to be built, and wooden ships were anathema. I pointed out that Australia was a continent, and ought to be expected to have continental resources, but in Tasmania we are prohibited from building wooden ships as portion of a subsidized Government scheme. So suitable is Tasmania, and for the matter of that, other parts of Australia, for the building of wooden ships, that a company was prepared, in Hobart, to enter upon the shipbuilding enterprise, presumably with the sanction and assistance of the Government. In the broadest national sense, shipbuilding ought to be an Australian policy, yet it took four months for permission to be obtained for. the flotation of the company, and then, after permission had been obtained, it was qualified by the reservation that the circulation of the prospectus must be private ! Why ? Is not the building of ships necessary to achieve victory ? Do we not find magazines here, with Ships, and Ships, and again Ships, as the frontispiece ? Is not our only hope of victory “the building of sufficient ships to keep the people of the United Kingdom and our Allies on the Continent supplied with food ? Are not ships necesary to carry to the Front the Americans ‘ who are going to bear the banner of victory ? We want ships for our Inter-State trade. Ships of any sort will be valuable for years after this war is ended; yet, not only was Government assistance withheld from the people who desired to build ships in Tasmania, but it was four months before permission was given them to float a company, with the reservation that the circulation of the prospectus must be private.
– How long has the company been in existence?
– I cannot tell the honorable senator if it is actually in existence, so unsatisfactory are the conditions attached to the policy of shipbuilding.
We are spending money at the rate of pretty well £1,000,000 a week in Australia in connexion with the war. If we were to spend £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 on . a vigorous shipbuilding policy it would not be incompatible with the national interests and destinies of a people inhabiting an island continent which has a coastline of thousands of miles, and railways across whose arid interior can be a means of conveying only passengers, and hardly the vehicle of a large goods traffic. We are bound to be a maritime people. One of our States is insular as well as the continent itself. Our Dependency, Papua, is insular, and, therefore, a sea-faring people we are pre-destined to be. Why, then, should we be so slothful to accept the incidence of our destiny? Why should we not at once announce to the people of Australia that ships are essential, and call on them to build - them as they are. being built in America? The Government say to the people of a town in America which offers to build a ship, “ Build it, in God’s name. We will help you to get the material, and subsidize you, and see that you do not lose on your enterprise.” That is the way to initiate a shipbuilding policy. There are men in Australia who can build ships. There is the timber here with which to build them, and there are iron ores which could be smelted and rolled into plates, so that we can build steel ships if necessary. If we can find- the money to prosecute the war at the rate of £1,000,000 a week, we can find £8,000,000 or. £10,000,000 more to introduce, not the shadow of a shipbuilding policy, but a policy with body and vigour in it, which will promote the best of our national interests in war or in peace. Therefore, it is with very grave and incisive regret that I must say the policy of the Administration, the policy for which the Prime Minister, now in England, is principally responsible, cannot be regarded as nationally satisfactory.
– We could spend the £10,000,000 all right.
– And we would have the ships. It is ships we want. If we have surplus primary products after the war, what are we to do with them if we do not ship them to the populations of Europe and the East? Are we to send them away in flying machines? We certainly want skilled labour, and we want energy, to undertake shipbuilding. Did not England build ships with a population numerically inferior to that of Australia to-day? The fleet with which England established the beginnings of her present maritime supremacy was a wooden fleet. She warded off the dangers which threatened her commerce in the wars with France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by having a fleet to convoy her East Indiamen as far as the equator, and to go down there and bring them back, so that they should be safe from the ravages of French privateers and the Barbary pirates. Theconvoying of merchantmen is as old as the days of Noah. The methods that are being employed to defeat the submarine campaign, and secure the satisfactory transit of men and materials, are quite elemental, “and must be observed. We are a population of only 5,000,000, but we are about one-eleventh of the whole of the white population of the British Empire. This great Empire of ours, if we are not careful, may dissolve in a night. A very great writer on this particular question before the war said, r’ We may, an unworthy people, awake to find ourselves, on a savage dawn, stripped and desolate.” That may be our destiny if we do not wake up to a proper sense of our responsibilities. This Empire contains nearly 500,000,000 beings, but the white population of it is inferior in numbers to the German population of Germany. We in Australia are wholly British. There is no country in the world in which the people are so homogeneously representative of their ancestors as we are. We speak the English language. One honorable senator refers to America, but America is not nearly so British in racial extraction ‘as Australia is. Statistics will prove that 97 per cent, of the people of Australia are British in extraction, and on us rests, in vigour and in every qualification, at least one-eleventh of the responsibility of maintaining the British Empire, in which we can only be regarded as being an Imperial people if we show ourselves worthy of our heritage.
– I doubt the oneeleventh.
– There are only 67,000,000 white people in the whole of the British Empire, including the French Canadians, the Dutch Boors, the French Boers, and the population of New Zealand, which is not wholly British. We are close on 5,000,000 wholly British, and it is of no use to quote the paucity of our population as an apology for any limitation of our efforts. We can build ships, train men, train chemists in our universities, and in our commercial schools train men to go out as travellers to extend our trade and other interests in foreign countries. All these things must he done, because we are the only people in the world who have a continent for their heritage.
I wish to speak of price fixing. No member of a party whose general principles he believes in, and with the members of which he does not often differ, cares to make deliverances hostile to the policy adopted by the Ministry of which” he is a more or less satisfactory supporter; but I must say I am opposed to the whole policy of price fixing. Mankind seems to be for ever travelling in a circle, and after the lapse of a certain number of years it is bound to reattempt what has often been unsuccessfully attempted before. It is not contravening any natural law in that regard, but price fixing has been unsatisfactory in its commercial incidence throughout history. I am not denying that we submit to many things in tune of Avar which we would not tolerate in times of peace. We are submitting at present to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, because that is really what it means, seeing that the Minister for Defence can order the internment of anybody in Australia if he thinks it necessary, and may not be called to account for his action in any Court of Justice. We would not by any means subscribe to the doctrine that that Act ought to be suspended in time of peace, but many things are pardonable in war time which are commercially and economically unsound at other times. I have opposed price fixing all along. The present Prime Minister was very insistent some years ago in his attempts to amend the Constitution, and gave as a reason that the amendments were necessary in peace time in order that prices might be fixed. I am very glad to say that I always opposed these amendments to the Constitution, and did so successfully, but the war has brought about this possibility that the Commonwealth Government have the power to fix prices. The whole position in this regard is unsatisfactory. I do not think that it satisfies any one.
– T - The prices are unsatisfactory to the consumers.
– Australia’s interests at the present time, and also those of the Empire, are largely bound up in the encouragement of the producer. That is the true pedestal of a properly national policy for Australia. Has the consumer a very great disadvantage in this terribly harassed Commonwealth that is, so to speak, in the still waters of a lagoon as regards the world war ? Except in the case of those families who have lost members, unfortunately gone never to return, or who have members who have returned incapacitated, or, who have members at the Front exposed to all the vicissitudes of war, can Australia really be said to have suffered from the war? Is there any city in the world the population of which is enjoying such comforts, not to say luxury, as is the city of Melbourne at the present time, unless it be Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, or Perth?
– What about Hobart?
– They are not so badly off in Hobart, I am pleased to say. Outside Australia there is no people in the world enjoying the felicitous situation of the people in the cities of Australia. But it strikes me that in a country like this, where there is a disproportionate number of the population in the cities, there is always a danger of the primary producers being made the serfs of the rest of the population.
– The primary producer is also a consumer.
– But if he is anything of a producer on a large scale, his interests as a producer considerably overbalance his interests as a consumer. I am a Protectionist, but I believe that it is essential for a new country, such as” Australia is, especially when it is a continent, to produce all that may reasonably be expected to produce. Our continent does not endure any of the rigours of the Antarctic Circle. It has a temperate, a tropical, and a sub-tropical climate, and its insular position is an additional reason for making its population self-supporting, so far as general trade principles will permit. Australia should be selfsupporting to a very large extent, because, just as much as it is essential to make cartridges here for the purpose of defence,. although perhaps they might be more cheaply made overseas and brought out here, it is also essential that Australia should produce many of the commodities that are necessary in peace time. It is essential that industries should be established here. It is essential that primary production should be stimulated to such an extent that all which Australia will require in war time may be produced in peace time. Hence I am a Protectionist. But I am not a Protectionist who is a faddist. I am not going to deny that Free Trade may not be a very excellent policy for ‘ some countries. The financial strength and vigour of Great Britain are sufficient indication that, notwithstanding its disadvantages, there are elements of strength in a Free Trade policy which may naturally commend it to the people of certain countries. But I say that, in Australia, with all the resources of a continent at our disposal, but a continent in an isolated and insular position, it is essential for us to protect ourselves against the vicissitudes of war time by producing all that is necessary for our requirements in a time of peace. As a Protectionist I shall be pleased, if I remain in this Chamber, to vote for duties which will not be imposed for revenue purposes, but will be imposed for the purpose, so to speak, of creating and stimulating Australian industry. When I vote for duties I shall vote very largely in the interests of the urban manufacturer and the urban industrialist, but I am not going to vote for another kind of Protection, which says that the product of the man in the country shall have the price fixed, not in an upward direction, but in a downward direction. That will not be my policy. With the exception, perhaps, of some Asiatic countries that are not greatly affected by the war, and where the standard of exchange is naturally lower than it is here, and has .been for untold ages, there is not a country in the world where the people are so well off in regard to food supplies and food prices as is this country of ours. Yet a studied attack has been made at the instance of the urban population on the primary producers.
We are told that there are profiteers at work. This- talk is similar to the cries about the free circulation of grain that led to the French Revolution. The people of France were told stories about tremendous stores of grain being held in the houses of the aristocrats, and that this was causing a dearth of foodstuffs among the population, whereas, as a matter of fact, it was caused by a bad season, which happened to synchronize with the development of the revolutionary movement. Notwithstanding all the tremendous talk about the circulation of grain, as Carlyle calls it, when these alleged warehouses were opened, the discoveries of grain were so infinitesimal as to be of no value in adding to the general store.
Does profiteering exist in Australia? During the campaign on the proposals for the alteration of the Constitution in peace time, 1 went to a mining town where I was very well known, and where, as soon as I got on the platform,, and commenced to speak in opposition to the adoption of the proposals, I was greeted by yells about the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the price of sugar, the price of meat, and the prices of I do not know’ what else. It is human nature for every man to want the highest possible price for what he produces, and to exhibit a desire to force the other fellow to sell his product at as low a price as he can get him to sell it at. It happened that contemporary with the alleged manipulations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and the meat profiteers, and all the rest of those people, there was a very substantial rise in the price of tin on the London market. These men were nearly all tin miners. I said to them, “ Do you gentlemen believe in the recent rise in the price of tin on the London market?” Of course they did. Then I said, “ Will vor kindly tell me what trust or profiteer has put up that price? Do you want the price of tin fixed in the interest of the Launceston plumbers, who say that solder is too dear, and that the price of tin should be fixed lower than the price placed upon it by the Trust? Do you agree with that policy?” There was absolute silence in the hall after I said this, and in that town there was a solid vote for the “ Noes “ when the referendum was taken.
It is to the primary industries of Australia that we owe our present prosperity. To them, with the assistance of the mining industry, we owe the development of Australia. We know the vicissitudes through which the sheep-raising industry has passed. “We know that there have been periods in the history of Australia when the graziers have had to boil down their sheep for tallow. I have purchased meat in Sydney at11/2d. per lb. Was there any agitation in Sydney for the State Government of the day - ‘the Commonwealth was not then established - to give a bonus to the harried and droughtstricken producers?
– T - Their rents were remitted.
– What a wonderful concession. Did they give them a bonus or a paying price for their meat? The other day my landlady informed me that she was paying about1s. for 28 lbs: of potatoes. When the retailer’s profit has been taken, I do not think that it is a particularly good price for the potatogrower. Potatoes are often sold at £2 or £3 a ton. Is there any outcry in Mel- bourne, Collingwood, or Footscray on behalf of the farmer, urging the Government to at once take action, and give him an additional £2 or £3 per ton, or a paying price for his potatoes? In all these agitations against the primary producer for fixing the price, the request is to fix it in a downward direction. But the cry on behalf of the industrialists in the city, and the employees of the protected manufacturer is ever increasing for the imposition of duties so that prices may be made - lower? Oh, no. So that they may be made higher in order to enable the industries to exist. It is for this reason that I will not give my adhesion to a price-fixing policy. How is it that if meat is sold wholesale to the Imperial Government at a price lower than the price at which it is sold wholesale to the retailers of the Commonwealth, it is sold retail in the United Kingdom at a price very much in advance of that at which it is sold retail in the Commonwealth? Do profiteers intervene? Freights intervene, but even if the freight to the United Kingdom be £10 or £20 per ton, that would not mean more than 2d. per lb. at the outside to be added to the retail value of meat sold in the United Kingdom. Yet, according to letters which I have received, it is being sold there at 2s.8d. and 3s. per lb.
– W - What is the honorable senator’s explanation?
– I would have to indulge in a discourse on economics and war-time profits taxation, and many other matters to explain the reason.
– D - Does not the honorable senator think that they need a little price-fixing in the Old Country ?
– I understand that they are rationing out the meat, and that it is a very small ration. Are all the producers of meat in Australia big men? Do they all belong to the hated family of the squatter. Are there not any small men producing meat in Australia? The other day there was a letter in the Argus, written by a lady who had, like so many of the mothers of Australia, gone through the vicissitudes of a settler’s life in Gippsland. Her family had abandoned farming life. It is not an attractive life with the tallow candle or the kerosene lamp, and without the convenience of a telephone, and often without a water supply. But the cry is, “ Go on the land, young man; produce, and then what you produce will have its price fixed in a downward direction for the benefit of the man in the city.” The Minister’s repatriation policy discloses the same element in regard to the settlement of returned soldiers. The cry is, “Go on the land, returned soldiers; get your experience, produce a beast or two, learn how to fatten it, irrigate, raise a few sheep.” To this one might add, “ Then you will have the price fixed. In an upward direction ? Not at all . If the price goes up naturally you will be denounced, and be told about the high price of meat; any action taken in the matter of price will be in a downward direction.” Am I a grazier ? No. Do I own one cow ? Not one - not even “ three acres and a cow.” Do I own a horse ? No.’ Do I own a pig ? No. I do not even own a dog at the present moment. If I get up here to say a word on behalf of the unfortunate licensed victuallers, is it because I own shares in breweries or hotel property ? No. I try, as is my duty, to hold the balance fairly; and, in the first instance, I wish to see that the producers of Australia - because on them we must greatly rely at the present time - have no limitations imposed on them which will be inimical to the ‘exercise of their best energies. Therefore, until I hear more about this price-fixing business, I inform the Administration that 1 am, as I always have been, an opponent of it.
– You limit the labourer’s wages.
– When have I limited the labourer’s wages?
– You support a Government that does so.
– If any legal limit is placed on labourers’ wages it is to fix a minimum. If I happen to be an employer, and under an Arbitration Court award I am called upon to pay 12s. per day, is there anything in the legislation passed by the honorable member’s party, and supported by myself, to prevent me paying a man 15s. or 16s. aday 1
– Fix wages, but not prices!
– The honorable senator is confusing the minimum and the maximum. I could quote from literature, voluminous enough to fill a library, showing the fallacy of price fixing. There is, however, one thing I am prepared to do. We are in a time of war ; and if the Government likes to say that, in the interests of the. nation, it is necessary to constitute itself the monopolist owner of all that is produced in Australia, I shall, in the exigencies of the case, support them, for everything must be subordinate to the winning of the war. But I will not support a policy which, from time to time, singles out one set of producers for the operation of price fixing, and allows others to escape.
– H - Have you read the report of the Inter-State Commission !
– Yes; and I have heard allegations from the other side as to the existence of Kings and Trusts. Has the Inter-State Commission declared, in its reports, that there is any Meat Ring or Trust?
– That does not prevent the Opposition from affirming that a King exists.
– As a matter of fact, nearly all the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission are in operation to-day.
– I venture tosay that many of those recommendations are disregarded as impracticable. They may theoretically be in operation, but in the majority of instances they are disregarded, as such recommendations always will be.
It is within the power of the Government to constitute itself the owner of all the commodities in the country, and retail them at prices satisfactory to all concerned; but no price fixing can be satis-, factory until the State becomes wholly Socialistic and the owner of all the means of production and all that is produced. It is possible that some waste of energy and produce might be eliminated by the initiation of such a policy, but it might also prove detrimental to the national interests in other regards. That is a matter I am not called upon to debate; but until the State becomes the owner of all that is produced, or of some particular article produced, it cannot satisfactorily fix prices - it cannot, even as an agent, fix prices, with satisfaction to all concerned without probably limiting production to a very great extent,so that the ultimate disastrous effects may be greater than the temporary, ephemeral benefits. It is well to understand this matter. The InterState Commission, as I understand the Constitution, was created with the purpose of interpreting the provisions of the Constitution, and deciding trade matters as between State and State. But to the Commission has been relegated the performance of duties, which, according to the Constitution and the Inter-State Commission Act, do not come within its ambit. I do not suppose that Mr. Lockyer owns any more stock than I do, though Mr. Swinburne has been “connected with irrigation, and may be a farmer.
– T - The Commission acts on evidence, like a Judge.
– But a Judge decides on law; he does not recommend a policy to a Government. Wouldthis Parliament take its’ policy from the Supreme Court of Victoria or the High Court bench!No. Judges are appointed to interpret laws which wo pass; but the Government has made, the Interstate Commission a body which is practically dictating the Government policy. With all due respect to the members of the Inter-State Commission, who, as valued citizens, have at times performed . various useful functions, I do not take their dictum on this matter as conclusive. At this late hour I , ask to continue my remarks to-morrow.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 11.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 June 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180613_senate_7_85/>.