19 June 1918

7th Parliament · 2nd Session

The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 6235


Assent to the following ‘ Bills reported: -

Australian Soldiers Repatriation Bill (No. 2).

Defence Bill (No. 2).

Defence (Civil Employment) Bill.

Income Tax Assessment Bill.

Supply Bill (No. 1) 1918-19.

Appropriation Bill 1917-18.

Apple Bounty Bill.

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Senator NEEDHAM:

– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster- General if his attention has been called to, or if he has- seen, a booklet entitled “ Three Years of Postal Administration in Australia “? If so, will the Government recommend, that it be reproduced as a film picture, somewhat on the lines of Gerard’s “Pour Years in Germany,” and ‘under the title “ My Three Years as PostmasterGeneral, by William Webster,” the proceeds to be devoted to the Commonwealth Exchequer in order to defray the cost of the preparation and printing of the booklet ?

Senator MILLEN:
Minister for Repatriation · NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– In the absence of my colleague, who represents the PostmasterGeneral, I am unable to answer the honorable senator’s question, but, personally, I may say that he seems to have made an excellent suggestion.

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Blue Bands

Senator McDOUGALL:

– I ask the Minister for Defence whether the returned soldier who was sentenced to forty-two days’ detention for removing the blue bands from his arms will lose pay for. those days? . If so,-‘ does the Minister not consider that the- penalty imposed is rather severe).

Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · NAT

– I have no knowledge of the particular case referred to. If the honorable senator will give me the name of the returnedsoldier mentioned I shall make inquiries.

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The following papers were presented : -

Cyclone devastation in North Queensland. - Report by Senator T. W. Crawford and Hon: F. W. Bamford, M.P.

Wool. - Statement re purchase by Imperial Government, through Commonwealth Government, . of. Australian Wool Clip for season ‘ 1917-18.

Papers presented, to British Parliament -

Commercial and Industrial Policy.-

Treatment of Exports from United Kingdom and British Overseas Possessions, and Conservation of Resources . of the Empire during the transitional period after the war. - Interim Report of Committee.

Departmental Committees appointed by Board of Trade to consider position after the war. - Reports on -

Engineering Trades.

Electrical Trades.

Shipping and Shipbuilding Industries.

Textile Trades.

Irish Convention. - Report of Proceedings. Proportional Representation. - Report of Royal Commission.

Second Chamber Reform Conference.: -

Letter from Viscount Bryce to Prime Minister.

TheWar -

Cement. - Report on export from United

Kingdom to Holland.

Prisoners of War. - British Prisoners behind firing lines in France and Belgium. - Report on Treatment by Enemy.

Prisoners of War and Civilians. -

Agreement between British ‘and Ottoman Governments.

Shipping -

Requisitioning of Dutch Ships by As sociated Governments. - Correspondence with Netherlands Government.

Belligerent Merchant Vessels whose status has been changed as the result of an Act of War. - Correspondence with Netherlands Government.

Railways. - Report of Board of Commonwealth and State Engineers on Break of Gauge Devices.

Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911 -

Awards of Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and other documents, in connexion with plaints submitted by-.

Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association (Award dated 28th June, 1918).

Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association (Award dated 14th August, ‘ 1918).

Commonwealth Railways Act 1917. - By-law No. 6.

Commerce (Trade Descriptions’) Act 1905. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1918, No. 217.

Customs Act 1901-1916 -

Proclamation, dated 10th July, 1918, revoking previous proclamation relative to exportation of goods to Liberia.

Proclamations prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of -

Butter (dated 28th August, 1918).

Broom Millet (dated 4th September, 1918).

Honey (dated 4th September, 1918),

Phosphorus, Strychnine and its Salts, and Arsenic and its WatersolubleSalts (dated 31st July, 1918).

Red Lead and White Lead (dated 14th August, 1918).

Sausage Casings (dated 14th August,


Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 216, 226, and 230.

Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1918.- Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1918, . Nos. 94, 126, 127, 136, 139, 158, 162, 176, 182, 189, 220, and 223.

Seamen’s Compensation Act 1911. - Regulations amended &c. - Statutory Rules 1918) Nos. 163 and 198.

Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1916. - Land acquired under at -

Broken Hill, New South Wales- For Defence purposes.

Caulfield, Victoria - For Defence purposes.

Drummoyne, New South Wales - For. Defence purposes.

Hobart, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.

Maryborough, Queensland - For Defence purposes.

North Sydney, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Randwick, New South Wlales - For’ Defence purposes.

Rutherglen, Victoria- For Defence . purposes.

Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1914. -

Schedule showing relief from tax granted to taxpayers under Section 66 of the Act.

Northern Territory -

Ordinance No. 10 of 1918. - Stock Diseases. Public Service Ordinance, Regulations 1913.

Papua.-Ordinanccs of 1918 -

No. 6. - Superannuation.

No. 7. - Ordinance” Interpretation.

No. 8. - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1), 1917-1918.

No. 10. - Native Crown Servants.

Public Service Act 1902-1917. - Promotions -

Prime Minister’s Department. - J. L. McC. Brain, F. T. Cull, L. G. I. French, J. M. A. Gough, M. C, Meeking, C. MacNamara, P. J. McCormack, P. L. Johnston, M. H. Simpkins, and J. H. Starling.

Department of the Treasury. - M. T. Keely, J . E. Martin, and D. C. Stevenson.

Home and Territories Department. - J. F. Murphy and A. B. Smith.

Postmaster-General’s Department. - J. S. Buchanan, R. White, T. G. Leece, C. C. McGarry, E. Claremont, F. V. Becke, M. B. Harry, J. R. Jackson, W. B. Sheridan, W. E. Bradshaw, C. F. Robinson, W. Reid, W. G. C. L. Dix, H. W. Germon, and R. W. Lloyd.

Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Pules 1918, Nos. 174, 177, 188, 194, 196, 218, 221, and 228.

Defence Act 1903-1917. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 144, 145, 148, 149,’ 150, 151, 152, 157, 160, 161, 166, 167, 168, 169, 183, 184, 201, 202, 203, 204, 210, 212, 213, 214, 225, 231, and 232.

Naval Defence Act 1910-1912. - Regulations amended,- Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 180, 181, 209, and 234.

War Precautions Act 1914-1916. - Regulations amended, Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 89, 108, 111, 146, 147, 154, 170, 178, 195, 219, and 224.

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Accredited Representative in Australia.

Senator LYNCH:

– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister if the attention of the Government has been directed to a statement appearing in yesterday’s press to the effect that the United States Committee on Public Information had released for publication the following particulars gleaned from official documents which passed between the German Government, the Bolshevik Government, and the Bolsheviks themselves, viz., that M. Lenin and M. Trotsky are German agents; that the

Bolshevik revolution was arranged by the German Government and financed by the German Imperial Bank; that a German picked commander was appointed to defend Petrograd against the Germans: that the Bolshevik Government is not a Russian Government at all, but a German Government acting in the interests of the Germans ? Also, to a further statement in this morning’s press to the effect that Mr. Henderson, M.P., chairman of the Inter-Allied Labour Conference, now sitting in London, announced that he had received the following message from the Russian Labour delegates, now on their way to the Conference: - “The Russian people are subjected to insupportable sufferings under the Bolsheviks. We appeal to the Western World to send Commissions to Russia to investigate the policy of the Soviet Government. Unless the Western Powers take these steps, the Russian proletariat will hold you responsible for treachery to their most vital interests “ ? I desire to know whether, in view of these authenticated statements, and the further fact that the Bolshevik Government is at present at war with the Allies and this country, and has) or had, an accredited agent here who is a member of this Parliament, viz. , “ Mr. Considine, member for the Barrier, the Government will take immediate measures to discover the relationship of Mr. Considine with the Bolshevik Government; and if the fact is established that Mr. Considine is still its credentialled representative, then what action the Government propose to take in the matter ?

Senator MILLEN:

– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.


– In view of the question submitted by Senator Lynch, 1 ask the Minister if it is not a fact that, immediately after the Russian revolution, the British Government Tecognised the revolutionaries as- the Government of Russia ?

Senator MILLEN:

– I think it is correct that, at some time or other, the Imperial Government made a statement of that character, but I am more concerned aJbout the attitude of the British Government to-day towards the Russian Government.

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Senator PRATTEN:

– I ask the Leader of the Senate if a new agreement has been made recently between the Central WoolCommittee and Messrs. Whiddon Brothers, wool-top manufacturers, of Sydney; and, if so, whether he will lay the agreement on the table of the Senate ?

Senator MILLEN:

– Speaking with some reservation, I think a new agreement hasbeen completed; but, if the honorable senator will resubmit the question at the next day of sitting, I shall be able to speak more definitely on the subject.

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Senator FOLL:

– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories if inquiries have been made regarding statements that were made in this chamber prior to the adjournment concerning the manner in which hotels in the Northern Territory are managed; and, if so, is he in a position to state the result of those inquiries?

Senator MILLEN:

– Owing to the absence, through indisposition, of the Minister representing that Department, I am -unable to speak authoritatively to-day; but, if the honorable senator will resubmit his question, I shall endeavour to furnish him with the information required.

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Lithgow Housing Scheme

Senator NEWLAND presented the report of the Public Works Committee, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed scheme for housing Commonwealthworkmen at Lithgow.

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Senator MILLEN:
New South WalesMinister for Repatriation · NAT

.- I ask permission to make a statement, which I will follow with a motion for the printing of a paper, which will outline the proposals of the Government for the present session.

Leave granted.

Senator MILLEN:
New South WalesMinister for Repatriation · NAT

– Recent information concerning the progress of the war has been of the most encouraging character.- During the past month rapid and important advances have been made by theForces of Freedom on the Western Front, justifying the expressions, of hope and confidence which have been uttered by the civil and military authorities of Britain and the allied nations. The Government observes with pride the important part played by our Australian soldiers in these historic movements, and it congratulates the nation on the cheering fact that the casualties amongst our troops have been comparatively light.

Notwithstanding this grateful change in- the military outlook, the Government trusts that there will be no slackening of war efforts amongst the people.

The prosecution of the war to a victorious end is still the prime duty of Parliament and the nation.

During the adjournment the manpower problem has received careful attention.

The arrangements for the voluntary recruiting ballot are nearing completion, and the campaign will be launched in a few days.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) are still in Britain. Their work at the War Cabinet and the Empire Conference has been of the utmost consequence to the future of the Commonwealth. They are at present endeavouring to remove the great and- increasing difficulties surrounding the sale and shipment of our products, upon which so much depends for the preservation of our prosperity.

The members of the National French Mission,, headed by General Pau, have arrived in Australia, and are the welcome guests of the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States.

Everywhere they are received with popular enthusiasm, and the Government trusts that the visit will cement enduring ties between the people of this country and the great’ Republic of France.

It is not proposed at this stage to describe the work of . administration since Parliament rose. That will be outlined in the Budget, which will be presented next week.

But the Government desires to record its pleasure at the success which has attended its efforts to secure the return on furlough of the veteran Australian troops who embarked for service in 1914.

It is the intention of the Government to make the present session essentially a business one.

The Government invites the cooperation of honorable senators in the consideration and passage of important legislative measures between now and the end of the year.

Our growing financial burdens arising out of the war will necessitate additional taxation. Proposals for raising the revenue required will be- described and submitted in the financial statement.

In fulfilment of the repatriation policy of the Government, a Bill to provide for the housing of returned soldiers will be introduced.

An extensive Electoral Bill will also be brought in, which will co-ordinate the electoral machinery of the Commonwealth and the States, consolidate the many existing Electoral Acts, provide for preferential voting for the election of members to the House of Representatives, restore a modified form of postal voting, and remedy other defects shown by experience to exist in the present electoral machinery.

A Bill making provision for the statutory management of the Government line of steamers will be introduced.

To secure equitable contributions by the people to the war loans, in accordance with their means, a measure has been framed, and will be presented for consideration.

Price-fixing has now assumed considerable proportions, and it is felt that the time has arrived to place this upon a more satisfactory basis during the war than that of a war precautions regulation. Steps having that end in view will accordingly be taken.

To establish conditions essential to the conduct of continuous and economical operation of ship-building, the Government entered into agreements with a number of Industrial Unions. A Bill will be introduced to give effect to the promise made to the Conference, and to the provisions of the agreements with the Unions.

Action has been taken for the creation of an Institute of Science and Industry.

A Bill will be submitted to give effect to this scheme. The intention is to secure full co-operation between the Commonwealth and States in this important matter.

Legislation will be introduced providing for the adequate control of waters in the vicinity of Naval Establishments, Arsenals, Dockyards, &c.

A measure to encourage the manufacture of black steel sheets and galvanized sheets in the Commonwealth has also been framed.

Other measures ready for your consideration are Bills to amend the Defence Act, the Naval Defence Act, the Maternity Allowance Act, the Service and Execution of Process Act, as well as Bills for the purpose of administrative amendments to the Customs Act, the Distillation Act, the Excise Act, and the Spirits Act. These, with proposals for which leave to introduce has already been given, will be the subjects of deliberation before Parliament again rises.

I move -

That the paper be printed.

Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.

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Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on Wednesday next.

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Select Committee on IntoxicantsFurlough for Anzacs - War Precautions Act : Internments : Soldiers and Hotel Hours in Queensland.

Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Senator THOMAS:

– There is just one little matter to which I would like to draw your personal attention, Mr. President. On 18th April last you were good enough to state in the Senate -

I remember reading some time ago that Senator Thomas, who attaches wonderful importance to this Committee of which he was the originator, was adversely criticised for originating this Committee by a leading temperance newspaper which usually supports him, on the score that he was merely . trying to save his face because he had supported the Government in the suppression of The Fiddlers and Defeat, two pamphlets which had been suppressed by the Government censor.

Some time ago I thanked you, in anticipation, for letting me know the name of that temperance newspaper, as I desired to write in order, if possible, to explain to it what happened.

Senator Gardiner:

– I think I can supply it to you.

Senator THOMAS:

– In the Senate I asked you for the name of the newspaper, and at the same time - thinking that I would get it - I thanked you in anticipation for the name. Time had gone on, however, and I had received no answer; so I communicated with you in a letter stating that as I had received no reply, and knowing that you were busy and so on, and that probably you had overlooked it, I would esteem it a favour if you would let me have the name at your earliest convenience, as during the recess I would be probably dealing with the matter. That letter was written on the 12th June. Up to the 22nd June I had received no reply from you, so I wrote another letter, as follows: -

On the 12th June I forwarded to you the enclosed letter. As it is now the 22nd of the month and I have received from you no reply, not even an acknowledgment of its receipt, I take it for granted that you have not received the letter.

The inclosed letter speaks for itself, and at your earliest convenience I should like supplied to me the information asked for.

Now I simply ask, as I think I am entitled to ask, for the name of that temperance newspaper, which has spoken, I think, somewhat disparagingly of myself. If I were supplied with the name of the newspaper in question, I would be in a position to communicate with it; and, as far as possible, put the case from my point of view. I asked you, sir, in a courteous manner, for the name of that newspaper, but, up to the present, I have not received it. I should be very glad if you would be good enough to furnish me with the information that I seek.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens:

– As the Senate appears to be interested in this matter, I may, for the information of honorable senators, explain that Senator Thomas did send me the letters which he has indicated. Ordinarily, there should not be any need for any honorable senator to forward me letters upon such a matter, because I am usually available to honorable senators in the Parliamentary Buildings. When I saw that the letters in question Telated to a private matter, and one which was not connected with my official duties, I tore them up and threw them into the- wastepaper basket. I did so for the reason that onlya week or so previously I met Senator Thomas in the corridor of this building, and, as I passed him, I saluted him courteously. But he passed me by with his nose in the air, and refused to speak to me. I therefore refused to waste my time by having - any communication in writing with a man who refused to have any communication with me verbally.

New South Wales

– I wish to help Senator Thomas. I think I oan put him on the track of the temperance newspaper the name of which he is so desirous of learn- ing. The only temperance newspaper, so far as I am aware, in which the statement appeared that Senator Pearce and Senator Thomas -were endeavouring to put themselves right with the Temperance party is known as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates. The statement which probably stuck, in the President’s mind was one which I made to the effect that both Senator Thomas and Senator Pearce were evidently endeavouring to get into touch with the Temperance organizations, ‘in view of the attitude they had taken up on a previous occasion.

Senator THOMAS:

– But the honorable senator did not say that- the statement appeared in a temperance newspaper.


– I would advise the honorable senator to turn to the official report of the debates of this Chamber, and he will there find the statement to which I refer. That is the only temperance publication in which, so far as I am aware, it did appear.

Senator Millen:

– Would not the honorable senator be more accurate if he referred toHansardas a sometimes temperate publication?


– Probably.

Senator THOMAS:

– The President makes a statement publicly and then refuses to supply the nameof his alleged authority for it. .


– As Hansard is the only publication in which I saw the statement to which Senator Thomas has referred, it is quite possible that you, sir, read it there and confused it with some statement in a temperance journal. I think these matters, if looked into, can be very easily explained. But it will be interesting to know what the temperance publication which I have mentioned will be like, if the Government can get through this Chamber a standing order which will enable the President to cut out from the reports of our proceedings here anything that he thinks ought not to appear in them.

Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Aus tralia

– I should like to know whether the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) can inform the Senate when the labours of the Select Committeepresided over by Senator Thomas will come to an end. I am anxious to learn whether this body is going to be of a Kathleen Mavourneen nature. In other words, is itto be a Committee which may continue in existence for days, or may be for years, or may be for ever? I would like the Minister to inform the Senate whether it is to be a Kathleen Mavourneen Committee or otherwise.

Senator LONG:

.- The outside public would be very grateful if the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) could say definitely whether arrangements are to be concluded which will permit of the original Anzacs being returned to Australia in time to reach their homes before Christmas. I am aware that the honorable gentleman ‘has given this question . a great deal of sympathetic consideration for many months past, and, consequently, I thought that he might be in a position to-day to say ‘ definitely whether the relatives of these boys may reasonably look forward to seeing the men, who have done so much for Australia, back in our midst in time for the Christmas festivities. If the Minister is not now able to give the Senate definite information on the point, he will be conferring a great favour on the public if, before this Chamber reassembles next week, he will make that information available through the press of this country.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– There is just one matter upon which I desire to obtain a little information from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) if he is able to supply it. It relates to the internment of a man named Kiely, who was arrested on the north coast of Tasmania some two or three months ago. I propose briefly to relate the facts as they have been given to me. I am assured that this man, who is a citizen of Victoria, and who had gone to the north coast of Tasmania for the benefit of his health, was arrested under the War Precautions Act - I believe, in Devonport - and taken, I presume, by the military service police, to Hobart, whence he was sent somewhere. - his friends and relatives do not know where - probably to some internment camp on the mainland”, without being told the charge upon which he had been arrested. He was thus denied any opportunity of answering in the open Courts of this country whatever charge may have been preferred against him. If the facts are as stated, it does seem remarkable that, notwithstanding that the law provides for the adequate punishment of any citizen who is guilty of disloyal utterances, this particular individual should have been arrested and denied any opportunity of disproving the accusation laid against him. If he had an opportunity of defending himself,- if his defence were not considered sufficientby the authorities before whom he appears, he may be punished; and there are laws quite sufficient to punish any man without taking him from one State to another, not telling him on what charge he is arrested, and not giving him a chance to . answer that charge in openCourt. I hope the Minister will be able to clear away the doubts which exist in the minds of some of this man’s friends and acquaintances in Tasmania. I hold no brief for the man, and have never seen him. I am simply making this statement as it was made to me by some who say they were in the locality where he was arrested. The Minister knows that I asked for information from his Department when I was here some weeks ago. Hewas very busy, on other matters, and I asked the ‘Secretary for Defence, iby telephone, to communicate with me, as I was leaving that day for Tasmania. Next day I received from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) a reply to this effect : “ Kiely was arrested under the War Precautions Act as a precautionary measure. Any request for an investigation will be dealt -with on its merits.” That seems a remarkable answer for any Minister to give. The bare fact that any man is arrested throws on the Department responsible the onus of giving him an opportunity to have his case investigated. It is certainly mot a matter of any request for an investigation being dealt with on its merits.

Senator Gardiner:

– Are you not aware that the sum of £20 has been sent to Frisco by an organization to buy battle- ships, submarines, field-pieces, and small arms to conduct a revolution in Australia*

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I was not aware of it ; but I recognise that the interjection is humorous.

Senator Gardiner:

– The Crown Solicitor in the recent case in Sydney made that statement.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I do not hold the Minister for Defence or his Department responsible for what the Crown Solicitor in Sydney may say. It seems remarkable that in a country which has generally been held up to the ‘world as a country of free men, living under a free government, any man may put his hand on your shoulder and say, “ Come with me.”

Senator Millen:

– Any man cannot.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– Any officer of the Secret Service Department may say, “ Come along with, me.” If you ask on what .authority, he may reply, “Never mind what the authority is; you are arrested under the War Precautions Act as ;i precautionary measure.” The Minister and his Department may have ample reasons for taking a course which seems drastic to the ordinary citizen; but, if so, those reasons should be given in open Court, so that the individual who has been deprived of his liberty may be able to put forward his defence.- I hold no brief for men who make these disloyal statements. I believe some other men in Tasmania have been arrested under the same Act, and for the same reason.

Senator Pratten:

– What is his nationality?

Senator O’KEEFE:

- His name is Kiely. I leave the honorable senator to say what his nationality is. Joking apart,, it seems to m’e that one nationality is handicapped under the War Precautions Act as at present administered, because quite a number of people whose names bear the impress .of that nationality seem to have been arrested without sufficient reason. Probably , the Minister will be able to put forward ample reasons to satisfy the ‘Senate and the country why these arrests have been made. It does not matter what the man’s nationality was-

Senator THOMAS:

– Supposing he passed the officer .with his nose in the air, what would you do with him then?

Senator O’KEEFE:

– He may have done that, or he may have been guilty of some even more heinous offence under the War Precautions Act. I had a chat with the Commandant of Tasmania on the case. He met me with his usual courtesy, but said he was not at liberty to give me any information on the subject, as I told him I might go to the length of bringing the matter up in the Senate. He said in that case it might place him or the Minister in an embarrassing position if he gave me any further information. But from what I was able to gather from the ‘Commandant, this man was supposed to have made a disloyal statement. I heard from quite another source that whatever he said, whether it was disloyal on* not, was said in an hotel, perhaps after he had looked upon the wine when it was red. Soon after he made the statement, so I am informed, an officer of the Defence Department appeared on the scene - probably some one went out and told him - and made inquiries, and within a few days the man was arrested. I am not stating anything which should be kept secret when I say that he “was arrested on the advice of the Commandant of Tasmania, because the Commandant admitted that to me himself. I” do not think any man, no matter what his political views, stands for the sort of thing which has happened in this case in Tasmania, unless there is very strong reason !behind it. If the reason is there, the Minister for Defence should be prepared to give it. I do not believe any member of this Parliament stands for the sudden arrest of a man on the bare word of somebody else that he has made a disloyal statement, and that it is necessary, in the interests of the safety of the country, that he should be arrested and sent somewhere, without being given the opportunity of knowing and answering the charge against ‘him in open Court. If then his answer is not sufficient to satisfy those sitting in authority in the Court, he will get his punishment, and deserve it.

Senator FOLL:

– T. wish to refer briefly to a regulation recoiltly passed by the Government under the War Precautions Act, so far as Queensland is concerned. It prevents -any man in uniform, whether a soldier returned from the Front, a man who has not gone away, or a home service man, from entering an hotel after 6 o’clock. Yet every civilian may go into any hotel and get as much liquor as he pleases, up to 11 o’clock. For the Government to place a restriction on the liberty of the soldier, and let everybody else .go free, will not encourage recruiting. A Select Committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Thomas, in its recent visit to Brisbane, examined a number of witnesses from the Defence Department, and among them was the Commandant, BrigadierGeneral Irving, who made it clear that there had been practically no trouble in Queensland with regard to excessive drinking on the part of soldiers, and stated quite definitely that, in his opinion, the Queensland recruits were the best behaved of any in Australia. I firmly believe in the truth of his statement, and in the interests of recruiting and of the soldiers themselves I maintain that, unless the Government are prepared to deal with the whole question, they should not tinker with it, as they have done in this case, by depriving the soldiers of certain rights -which the civilian enjoys. I ask the Minister for Defence to reconsider the question with a view of treating soldiers just as civilians are treated.

Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [3.52]. - A case has occurred in South Australia exactly similar to that to which Senator. O’Keefe has just drawn attention; and when the Minister for Defence is examining the matter I would like him at the same time to make inquiries into the case of Mr. J. S. Scott.

Senator O’Keefe:

– A different nation- ality !

Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.Mr. Scott is an Australian, and the son of Australian parents. His forefathers have been British for many generations. He is the author of a well-known pamphlet, The Circulating Sovereign, which has had a bigger circulation in Australia than that secured by any other book. He professes to be an expert in .finance and banking, and has been lecturing on the question in South Australia. He was arrested in similar circumstances to those mentioned by Senator O’Keefe, and I believe that he is now interned in New South “Wales without having the opportunity of answering any charge. Senator O’Keefe has been more fortunate than I have been by getting a reply from the Defence .Department in regard to an inquiry into the case he has brought under notice. I wrote to the Minister for Defence immediately after the arrest of Mr. Scott, which took, place several months ago, and so far I have not even received - the courtesy of an acknowledgment to my letter. When the Minister is investigating the case referred to by Senator O’Keefe I hope that he will also make inquiries into the case of Mr. Scott.

Senator PEARCE:
(Western AustraliaMinister for Defence · NAT

– In reference to the matter raised by Senator Long regarding the return of Anzacs on furlough to Australia, there is an obvious reason why we cannot disclose at the present juncture the dates on which the vessels will leave Great Britain, but I can give the assurance that some of these men will arrive in Australia before Christmas. I cannot say that the whole of them will be here by Christmas, because it takes a certain number of ships to bring them; but, judging by the dates supplied to the Department,- some part of them will arrive in Australia before Christmas.

In regard to the internment in Tasmania of a man named Kiely, I may .say that the Government have good grounds for the action they have taken, and that they do not propose to discuss in Parliament the -merits or demerits of cases of internment. All applications for inquiry into these cases will come before the Government, and be considered by them on their merits.

Senator O’Keefe:

– That means that the Government can take away the liberty of any one without giving him the opportunity of answering a charge.

Senator PEARCE:

– The Government are entrusted with the responsibility of preserving the safety of the Commonwealth, and they intend to act on that responsibility with the powers with which they have been clothed by. this Parliament. They have been clothed by this Parliament with the power to take the action which they have taken. Applications have been made for inquiry into cases of internment, and some have’ been granted, and inquiries have been held and action has been taken as the result of inquiries. The same course will be adhered to in the future.

Senator O’Keefe:

– If an application for an inquiry were granted, would the inquiry be held in open Court, or would it be a military investigation held in secret?

Senator PEARCE:

– That also is a matter which the Government must take the responsibility of determining on the facts. I ask Senator O’Loghlin to take what I have said in reference to the case of the man Kiely as a reply to his remarks, except that I regret to hear that his letter has not been acknowledged. I will certainly see that an acknowledgment is sent. I know that his letter has been received, because I have seen it; and the question of holding an inquiry into the case is at present under consideration. However,. I do not propose to discuss either of these cases. I have given the position of the Government. As far as my memory serves me, no application for inquiry has been received in regard to the case of Kiely.

Senator O’Keefe:

– I believe that he has no relatives ‘and no friends who would ask for an inquiry. “Would a lawyer be allowed to see him and get his side of the case, so that at an’ inquiry the defendant’s side could also be put forward?

Senator PEARCE:

– Any person who is interned is entitled to ask that his representatives should be allowed to see him. No application of the kind has been made in Kiely’s case.

Senator Ferricks:

– fs it not a fact that a man may be arrested, interned, and perhaps deported, without being told what charge has been laid against him?

Senator PEARCE:

– As I have already said, the Government do not propose to discuss in Parliament the merits or demerits of these internments. Senator O’Keefe has made a statement which might create misapprehension - I do not suppose that he did it with that intention - in saying that, apparently, an officer of the secret service could arrest any one. No person can arrest any one under the War Precautions Act unless he first possesses the warrant of the Minister for Defence, and no person of British nationality can be arrested unless the case has first been brought by the Minister for Defence to Cabinet with the facts, and the full consent of Cabinet has been obtained.

In regard to the matter raised by Senator Foll - the placing of hotels in Queensland out of bounds to soldiers - that question arose from a report from the Commandant in that State, which represented that considerable damage was being done to the soldiers by reason of the fact that, through drink, a certain number of them did not return to camp at the hour fixed for their return, resulting in their being “ crimed “ for absence without leave, causing unnecessary distress to relatives and danger to themselves. The Government took into consideration that report from the State Commandant, and decided that the hotels in Queensland should be placed out of bounds to soldiers during certain hours. It then became- necessary to determine what hours should be fixed. As in the other States, by reason o£ State legislation, the hotels were closed at 6 p.m., and soldiers in those States were under the disability,’ if it be a disability, of being unable to obtain liquor after 6 p.m., it was decided that the position of soldiers -in the matter should be made uniform throughout the Commonwealth by closing hotels to them after 6 p.m. in Queensland also. The question of the closing of hotels to civilians is not one for the Commonwealth Government to decide. It is within the province and powers of the State Legislatures. The Federal Government have dealt with the soldiers, as they are charged with legislation affecting them, under their powers under the War Precautions Act and the Defence Act. That is the reason why the action affecting soldiers in Queensland to which 1 have referred was taken.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 4.2 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 June 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.