7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented -
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1917. Statement re Pensions for the twelve months ended 30th June, 1918.
Northern Territory. - Ordinance No. 11 of 1918- Liquor (No. 3).
The Budget1918-19- Papers presented by the Honorable W. A. Watt, Treasurer, on the occasion of opening the Budget of 1918-19.
War Precautions Act 1914-1918.- Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 171 and 186.
Return of Anzacs : Punishment of Deserters
SenatorFOLL.- In connexion with the return of 1914 Anzacs, I ask the Minister for Defence whether the Government propose to’ enable men- who have done a large amount of fighting to return before those who have not been engaged in actual warfare to the same extent? Willthe Minister say generally what the Government proposal is in regard to the return of the Anzacs ?
– The arrangement is that all who are being sent out to Australia are being sent out on furlough, and none for discharge, and the honorable senator’s question, therefore, does not arise under those conditions.
– Arising out of the Minister’s answer to my question, I wish to say that I was not referring to men coming back for discharge. What I desire to know is whether those men who have done a large amount of fighting will be given preference, in the return of the Anzacs, to those who have filled staff jobs in London, but who also .embarked in 1914?
– Our information is that furlough is being given to those who embarked in 1914. I understand that it is irrespective of where they have been engaged.
– Will the Minister consider the advisability “bf communicating with the Imperial authorities in order to secure priority in furlough for the men who embarked in 1914 and have actually seen a lot of fighting?
– I .understand that the whole of those who embarked in 1914 are to have furlough, so I do not see any necessity to ask that distinction shall he made between any of them. The furlough to be granted covers the whole of the men. I understand that the honorable senator is asking that those who have done a lot of fighting, but who embarked in 1915, should have leave.
– No; I am asking that those who embarked in 1914 and who have seen a lot of fighting should be granted furlough before those who embarked in’ that year but have not seen a lot of fighting.
– They are all men who have seen a good deal of fighting, and I understand that the only preference to be shown is in the case of married over single men.
– Can the Minister for Defence say if the Acting Prime Minister was correctly reported in the press a day ot two ago that the leave to Anzacs would apply only to those men who had embarked in 1914, and not to those who had enlisted in that- year? If so, will the Minister take into consideration the fact that such a policy will possibly inflict a great injustice upon a large number of men who had enlisted several months before the’ termination of 1914, but who were not permitted to leave Australia in that year? . Will- the Minister see that some consideration is given to those men who, through no fault of their own, were not allowed to depart from Australia on active service in 1914?
– As I have already stated this afternoon, the privilege of furlough is being conferred upon those who actually embarked in 1914. It is obvious that the line must be drawn somewhere, and that wherever it is drawn there will undoubtedly be cases of men whose claims for consideration are almost equal in strength to those .to whom furlough has been conceded. The regret of the Government is that, owing to the shortage of reinforcements, it is not possible to extend leave beyond the arrangements already made.
– Has the Minister for Defence any objection to publishing the names of men against whom sentences have been pronounced for deserting from the firing line where, if in any case, they have deserted to the enemy? The Minister will be aware that many lists have been published in the newspapers, as advertisements, of the name’s of men who have received sentences for having deserted from the firing line, and, as there are degrees of culpability connected with even such an offence, I wish to know whether the Minister has any objection to state whether any of these sentences have been pronounced against men for having deserted to the enemy!
– I am able to inform the honorable senator that in no case so far published has- the sentence been imposed because of desertion to the enemy.
– Following on the Minister’s reply, will he inform the Senate whether the sentences, notices of which we have seen published in the newspapers, were imposed by Australian or Imperial officers ?
– In the Australian Imperial Force at the present time, with the exception of about a dozen or fifteen officers, the whole are Australian officers, so that there is now no trouble in arranging that all courts martial shall be constituted entirely of Australian officers. But a detachment of Australiana, may bo associated with some other British units, and, in that event, the court martial may be composed partly of British officers. In all cases, some Australian officers are on the court martial; and always, when an Australian officer sentences men, the sentence must come before the General Officer Commanding of the Australian Imperial Force before it is promulgated.
Pensions to Incapacitated Soldiers and Dependants
– I ask* the Minister for Defence whether the statement published, in last night’s Herald as to the intention of the Government to increase the pensions to soldiers permanently and entirely incapacitated, and to the dependants of soldiers who are killed, is correct? Will the honorable senator ‘ also say whether the scale of increased allowances published by the Herald is correct?
– The question is one for the Minister for Repatriation, and, as he will be here to-morrow, I ask the honorable senator to give notice of his question for Friday.
Proposed Deportation to Australia
– Has the Minister for Defence any information regarding the internment in Australia of Germans transported to this country from China ?
– I ask permission of the Senate to read a statement on the subject.
– On the 10th Sep”tember, 1917, a cable was received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies stating that the Government of China had under consideration the question of deporting -all enemy subjects resident in that country. In” view of these facts the Secretary of State desired to be informed whether the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia would be willing to intern- these people in Australia, and stated that the number to be deported was approximately 3,000. On the 21st September a reply was forwarded to the Secretary of State to the effect that the Commonwealth Government was prepared to receive these German prisoners, provided that the Chinese Government would pay the cost of transport and all other expenses entailed by interning these people in Australia. On the 7th February, 1918, a further telegram was received from the Secretary of State informing the Commonwealth Government that the Chinese Government had decided to deport all enemy subjects, and was agreeable to their removal to Australia, and the Secretary of State requested that Immediate arrangements be made by the Commonwealth Government for the reception and internment of these deportees.” The cost of transport and the cost of internment in Australia was to be shaved between the Allied Governments. In pursuance of these arrangements steps were’ immediately taken to provide the necessary accommodation, and to make all necessary provision for the reception of these prisoners of war, a camp was erected in the Federal Capital territory near Canberra. A considerable delay in the negotiations then took place on account of the fact that the deportation of these persons was brought up as a matter for argument at The Hague Conference in 1918. Apparently, some arrangement . was come to at this Conference, the details of which’ are not known at present to this Department, for on the 3rd August, 1918, a cable was received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies stating that the deportation of enemy subjects from China to Australia had been definitely abandoned.
– Was the expenditure at the Federal Capital a considerable sum in connexion with the proposed internment of Germans from China; and,” if so, will the Federal Government be recouped for that?
– It did amount to a considerable sum, and the Australian Government has an intimation that it is to be recouped that expenditure.
– The report by Mr. Justice Harvey has reached the Commonwealth Government, and is now under consideration. An announcement will be made . shortly.
– Will the report of Mr. Justice Harvey be placed on the tables of both Houses of Parliament prior to its release to the press of Australia ?
– I cannot say what will be done with the report until the Government has registered its decision thereon.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Was a vessel called the Francisca purchased by the Navy Department for work at the Henderson Naval Base; and, if so -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster- General, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Library the report of the Board of Inquiry which sat in Sydney, commencing on 15th July, and concluding on 18th July, 1918, to inquire into the question whether Robert Svendsen, lineman, Electrical Branch, Postmaster-General’s Department, was unfit to discharge, or incapable’ of discharging, the duties of his office efficiently ?
– A copy of the report in question has been forwarded to the Librarian, Parliamentary Library, to be laid on the table thereof.
Agency of Messrs Gordon and Gotch
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I rise to a point of order. My point is that this question is inadmissible. according to your ruling;, Mr. President, on a question asked by myself some time ago, when you ruled as toa matter of opinion and not of fact. I refer you to item No. 5 of the question on the noticepaper.
– No. 3 states a fact also.
– My practice always has been that before questions are permitted to be placed upon the noticepaper they should undergo the scrutiny of the officers of the House, the Clerk, and the Assistant Clerk; and anything which, in their opinion, is doubtful, is referred to me for my decision. Honorable senators will remember that when the Senate adjourned last Thursday the Clerk of the Senate was laid up with influenza; and the Assistant Clerk, Mr. Monahan, unfortunately, had to catch the 5 o’clock train that afternoon to go to Sydney on the sad mission of burying his father. Consequently the questions of which notice had been given did not come before me in the usual manner until some considerable time later than ordinarily would have been the’ case, and there was no opportunity to give effect to the customary scrutiny. That is the only reason why some of the questions have been allowed upon the notice-paper in the form in which they appear. “Under the circumstances, however, I think that they might well be answered.
– The answers are -
Administration and Judiciary: State Hotels
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1”: Yes. ‘
Tenders were called for the work, and a contract was let for placing in order the track from Alice Springs to Newcastle Waters et a cost for the 494 miles of £394. The anecdote regarding the reconstruction of the ant-hill is new to the Department. On no trip of the Administrator has anything approaching £300 been spent on petrol alone.
asked the. Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Have any inquiries been made by the Government regarding statements made in the Senate some months ago in connexion with the manner in which hotels are conducted and accommodation provided in the Northern Territory?
– An inquiry into matters connected with the administration of the liquor ordinance and with Government hotels in the Northern Territory has been made by a departmental
Board appointed by the Administrator, and the reports of the inquiry have been received by the Minister. After carefully reading the reports the Minister is of the opinion that the inquiry has been exhaustive and judicial. He will be glad to afford members an opportunity of perusing the report should they desire to do so. It may be mentioned that since the Government assumed control of the hotels no less than £9,000 has been spent in enlarging, altering, and extending of premises. Of this amount £8,370 has been expended on two hotels generally patronised by artisans and labourers. The complaints about the quality of liquor supplied were proved to be without foundation.
– Cannot the Minister see his way clear to make that report public?
– I will have inquiries made.
Agreement withwhiddon Brothers.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has a new agreement been made by the Government . with Whiddon Bros., wool top manufacturers, Sydney; and, if so, will he place a copy of the agreement upon the table of the Senate?’
– The agreement is in the course of preparation by the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor, and, when completed, will be laid on the table of the Senate.
asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice -
What is the method of procedure to be followed to secure the discharge from the Australian Imperial Force of youths. under nineteen years enlisting without the consent of their parents ?
– The answer is -
Accredited Representative in Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
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 : -
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 Ger- ‘ mans ?
Also, in this morning’s press to a further statement to the effect that Mr. Henderson, M.P., chairman of the InterAllied Labour Conference, now sitting in London, announced that he had received the following message from theRussian 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 “ ?
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 accredited representative, then what action does the Government propose to take in the matter?
– On behalf of the Minister for Repatriation,I wish tosay that the answers are as follow : -
Report of Royal Commission
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Has a progress report by the Royal Commission on Navy Matters been received by the Government; if so, when will it be available for the perusal of honorable senators?
– The answer to the question is as follows: -
Yes. The usual procedure willbe followed in regard to this report. When the Minister in charge of the Department has had an opportunity of submitting it to Cabinet it will be perused by Ministers, and then presented to the House. That, I expect, will be this week.
Motion (by Senator Pearce, for Senator Millen) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Service and Execution of Process Act 1901-1912.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Defence Act 1903-1918.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to control of Naval Waters.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Naval Defence Act 1910- 1912.
Omissions from “Hansard.”
– In the absence of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), and at his request, I ask the leave of the Senate to amend the motion standing in his name by leaving out the words “ cause for which the Allied Powers are fighting “ and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ successful prosecution of the war.”
– I move -
That, during the progress of the present war, Mr. President be and is hereby authorized, at his discretion, to direct the omission from Hansard of any remarks made in the Senate in the course of debate, or in any other proceedings in the Senate, to which his attention may be directed by the law officers of the Crown as being calculated to prejudice His Majesty’s relations with a foreign Power, or the successful prosecution of the war, or to imperil the safety of the Commonwealth.
– I rise to a point of order. When this notice of motion was called upon- earlier, I understood that it was objected to as not being of a formal character.
– I would point out that the only effect of an honorable senator calling “not formal “ to any motion is that such motion cannot be taken without discussion. This motion is the first Government business on the notice-paper, and the Minister has a right to proceed with it.
– I, too, called “ not formal ‘’ to the motion in order that there should be discussion upon it. The Government have not submitted this proposal with any idea of interfering with the liberty of honorable senators to fully and properly discuss all matters which they may deem fit to discuss. But we are at war, and quite unwittingly, honorable senators may, at times, disclose information of value to the enemy without any idea either of assisting him or of militating in any way against the successful prosecution of the war. Quite unwittingly they may make statements that it is extremely undesirable should go forth to the outside world, especially in . the form of a publication such asHansard, which carries with it a certain amount of official recognition.I have no hesitation in saying that it is wise that such a power should repose somewhere, and in this Parliament there has been occasions when this power has had. to be exercised. There is no doubt whatever that at the present juncture the Commonwealth Government possess this power. They possess, through their war powers, the power to prevent any publication, including Hansard, disseminating statements which are of a harmful character to the Allies, and which are calculated to affect detrimentallythe successful prosecution of the war. But there are objections to the method by which this end may be achieved when that power has to be exercised.
In our opinion, the method proposed is much more in consonance with the principles of parliamentary government and less open to the objection that has been urged in the past to the method that has had to be adopted. It may be asked: Why not leave matters as they are? When such statements are made unwittingly - I do not say they are made for any wrong purpose - what happens now is this : Ministers may not be following every word said in either House, and sometimes the statements reach Hansard before Ministers are aware of them. When attention is drawn to them the Minister has to go to the member who has made them, and get his consent to go with him to the President or Speaker, as the case may be, to have them excised from Hansard.
– Has that ever really happened ?
– Yes, there have been instances in both Houses where I have done it. I am glad to say that in each case I have obtained the consent of the member, when I have pointed out to him that a certain statement was likely to have a bad effect, to its excision from Hansard. Another case occurred in this Chamber. Certain statements were made by Senator Gardiner.I approached him, and pointed out that some of them might have an undesirable effect. I had to move a motion in this Chamber for their excision, but I was in this predicament, that in moving the motionfor the excision of the words I had to repeat them. It was only with your assistance, Mr. President, and that of Senator Gardiner, that a motion was ultimately framed which omitted the words referred to, not only from the honorable senator’s remarks, but also from mine. That is a very clumsy way of achieving the end in view.
– You got over the difficulty by omitting the whole debate dealing with the question.
– I think that was so. I am not sure that Senator Long did not make the suggestion to get over the difficulty. It is of value to the enemy, especially when the enemy is arranging to prey upon our commerce, to know the location of our ships. There is a case on record, not in this House, but in another branch of this Legislature, of a member, in a question, disclosing the location on a given date of a British cruiser and a Japanese cruiser on the east coast of Australia. I do not believe that honorable member asked the question to give the information to the enemy, because he was directing it at some actionof the Government, and incidentally mentioned that the two cruiserswere at a given place at a certain time, but, quite unknown to that honorable member, the Government at that time were in possession of information that led them to believe there was a raider operating on the coast of Australia. If that raider was here - and circumstantial evidence seemed to indicate that she was - nothing came of the visit. She got none of our ships, but the fact I spoke of would have been most valuable information to her.
– Do not you thinkthe enemy knew ?
SenatorPEARCE. - Hemight have other means of knowing, but there is no reason why we should make him a present of the knowledge. On a prior occasion the raider Wolf visited our coasts, and as the. result at least four vessels of Australia’s mercantile marine are to-day at the bottom of the sea. The object of the question referred to could have been just as well obtained if Mr. Speaker, when he saw it. had omitted the names of the cruisers and all mention of the date when they were in a certain place. Under this motion that is what the President or Speaker would do.
– You are asking for greater powers for the President under this motion. Are you not asking for power to make the President and the
Crown Law officers really the censors of Hansard?
– Yes, because we cannot fix the exact statements on which the motion will operate in the future. If we knew that in a fortnight’s time some honorable member was going to ask a particular question which would disclose certain information, we could word the motion specifically to meet that case. The object of the motion is to . meet hypothetical cases . that will arise in the future based on our experience of the past. If ‘ the motion is carried, when the report of what takes place in Parliament goes to the Crown Law officers, who are in touch with the Naval and Military authorities as to what is or is not within the category of information of value to the enemy, likely to prejudice our relations with an Allied Power, or to interfere with the successful prosecution of the war, they will represent to the President or the Speaker that certain excisions ‘ should be made. There is no doubt the President . or Speaker will do just as Ministers have had to do in the past. They will draw the honorable member’s attention to what he has done, and, no doubt, in most cases the honorable member will agree to the excision. This will be a recognised piece ofmachinery, and will work automatically whenever occasion arises. In the past there has been no machinery to deal with such cases, and the proceedings have not been automatic .
– If the honorable member did not give his consent it would not matter; the stuff would be taken out without his consent.
– If he did not give his consent, certainly the matter would have to go out.
– On your own showing there has been no conflict up to now.
– So far there has been none.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - Then there should be no need for the motion.
– I have shown that there is need for it.
– It makes the Crown Law officers and the President the censors of what honorable members say.
– The honorable senator can put that construction on it if he wishes, but Ministers are the censors at present. That is surely more objectionable to Parliament than for the President and Speaker to be the censors.
– No, it is not.
– Because they would act only on the advice of the Crown Law ‘ officers. The Government are responsible for carrying on the business of this country during the war, and. must take that responsibility until Parliament relieves them of it. In pursuance of it, we must treat Hansard in exactly the same way as any other publication. We could not permit an honorable senator to do through Hansard what we would not allow him to do through a newspaper, in contravening any one of the principles laid down in this motion. Therefore, any discussion as to the advisability of the Government having this power is quite beside the question, because they already have the power; they have exercised it, and they are prepared, when necessary, to exercise it in the future. But I point out that to exercise the power without any procedure laid down is clumsy, and not always effective. I have no doubt at all that, unless we adopt some procedure, it is quite probable that, while the power may be exercised in some cases, in other cases where its exercise would be more important the opportunity for it may be missed. We believe that we should ask Parliament to say that this is a necessary precaution. Honorable ‘ senators are, of course, subject to public opinion, and are frequently called upon to do or say things in Parliament at the request of their constituents. It may happen again, as it has happened in the past, that a member of the public outside, finding that he cannot do a certain thing, may write to a member of this . Parliament, and that member may do here what the man outside could not do.
– Does not the honorable member think that that is a proper safeguard?
– Some honorable senators appear to think that the Government are bringing this proposal forward without any cause whatever, but I can give them a case in point.
– The very power to call upon the assistance of members of Parliament has meant much to the freedom of the people of our country.
– Surely the Government will not do away with that power !
– We are at present fighting for that freedom, and, in order that we may retain it, it is necessary that the people of this country should not he divided into a number of different sections warring against each other. The enemy know that just as well cas we do, and to-day, as always, they have been endeavouring to sow the seeds of dissension amongst us. I was going to mention a case in point. There is an urgent necessity, a2id always has been during the war, to prevent the enemy sowing the seeds of dissension amongst the Allies. There have been attempts, and apparently organized attempts, throughout this country to sow those seeds of dissension, particularly in regard to one of our Allies. It came to the notice of the Intelligence Branch of the Defence Department that determined attempts were being made throughout this country to. circulate a statement in regard to that Ally that we knew with absolute certainty was of German origin, because we had the original sent out by the German Secret Service Department. We found that attempts were being made all over this country to have that statement published in various forms, so a prohibition had to be sent out. That prohibition, like the thing itself, had to be made secret ‘and confidential, because we might otherwise just as well have permitted the publication of the thing prohibited. Prohibitions issued by the censor, marked “ secret and confidential,” were read in the House of Representatives, and are to-day in Hansard. No Minister noticed it at the time, as they were read during a. very long sitting when every one was tired out. The thing slipped through, and was embodied in Hansard. It was there for some time before it came under the notice of the Defence Department.
– The terms of the motion leave it. entirely to the discretion of the President to take action.
– He takes action under the motion on any proceeding to which his attention may be directed by the law officers of the Crown.
– But at his discretion.
– That is so. It will not, I take it, be the duty of the President or Mr. Speaker to originate action. The Crown Law officers will direct their attention to any matter in the proceedings of Parliament or in our debates contravening the principles set out in this motion.
– Could, not the President originate action in connexion with a discussion if supported by the Senate?
– If supported by the Senate, the President could certainly do so, even in time of peace. He might, even in time of peace, bring under the notice of the Senate some statement appearing in the report of our proceedings in Hansard that he considered detrimental to the well-being of Parliament, and if the Senate, by motion, authorized him to expunge it from the record, it would be expunged.
– What I wish to make clear is that the motion is not absolutely mandatory as regards the President’s action. The opinion of the law officers of the Crown may be- expressed to him, but it is to be left to his discretion to take action.
– That is SO. I take it that the President will regard the motion, if carried by the Senate, as binding upon him. He will not regard it as merely a pious expression of opinion, but as a direction to him, given by the Senate and not by. the Government.
– To exercise his discretion.
– I take it that the President might’ say that, in his opinion, it was not necessary that his discretion to direct the omission of the matter to which his attention was directed should be exercised.
– What would happen then ?
– That would not relieve the Government of their responsibility. The Senate, by this motion, is asked to give the President a certain discretion upon matters which may be brought to his notice by the law officers of the Crown. At his discretion he may direct the omission of a statement in the Hansard report, or he may decide not to do so. If he does not exercise his discretion to direct’ the omission from Hansard of remarks made in the course of debate, or other proceedings of the Senate, to which his attention is directed by the law officers of the Crown, that will not relieve the Government of their responsibility in the matter, and they may have to take other action. I wish honorable senators to recognise that this motion has not been brought forward lightly by the Government, but after due consideration.
– Was it placed before the Caucus and agreed to?
– I cannot give Senator Grant that consoling assurance. I am asking the Senate, and not the Caucus, to agree to it, but I hope it will include the Caucus as well.
– I meant the National Caucus.
– This matter has been pressing upon the attention of the Government for some time, and it was intended to bring it forward during our last sittings. On more than one occasion during the last sittings of this Parliament action had to be taken. On a number of occasions since this Parliament commenced its sittings, action has been necessary. I ask honorable senators to agree to the motion, assuring them that, so far as the Government are concerned, they have no intention to unduly interfere with freedom of speech consistent with the principles laid down in the motion. I ask the Senateto realize that there never was a time when such a motion was more essential than now, when the only chance of ourdefeat in the war lies in a break-up among the Allies. The thing, therefore, for us to’ do is to see that no opportunity will be afforded in this country for creating division amongst us.
– Before putting the motion for the consideration of the Senate, I desire, as it affects myself personally and officially, to briefly inform honorable senators as to what my view of it is, in order that they may know exactly what they will be doing in passing it. It was pointed out by Senators Bakhap and Long that the motion gives a discretionary power to the President. The only authority which I, as presiding officer of the Senate, have hitherto had with regard to Hansard has been to see that it was a correct record of the proceedings of the Senate. That I have always striven to do. If this motion is carried, I shall regard it as mandatory upon myself, except that, if some matter to which my attention may be directed by the law officers of the Crown as relating to the war obviously does not relate to the war, and it appears to me that an attempt is being made to use thepower given under this motion for political or other than war purposes, I shall feel that I am bound to exercise my discretion in the matter in such a way as not to allow a provision intended for a good purpose to be used for quite another purpose. If the Senate passes the motion, I shall feel in honour bound to carry out the expressed mandate of the Senate, and in every case to which my attention is directed by the law officers of the Crown, unless the statement referred to is obviously not connected with the war, I shall feel it my duty to give effect” to the intention of the motion. I say this because I recognise that the responsibility for the conduct of the war and the carrying on of the government of the country during the war lies upon the Government, and not upon me. I have no desire to influence honorable senators in regard to the way in which they shall vote upon the motion, but I think it right to inform them of my view of the course which I consider itwould be my bounden duty to take should the motion be passed.
Debate (on motion by Senator McDougall) adjourned.
– I lay on the table of the Senate copies of the Budget papers presented by the Hon. W. A. Watt, M.P., in the House of Representatives, and the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1918, and move -
That the papers be printed.
I may say for the information of honorable senators who may be new to our practice that we do not usually get these papers for consideration until some months of the financial year have elapsed. We have, consequently, frequently adopted the practice of submitting a motion for the printing of thepapers in order that honorable senators may have an opportunity to discuss the financial proposals of the Government prior to the time when the Estimates formally come up for the consideration of the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McDougall) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 19th September (vide page 6239), on motion by Senator Millen -
That the paper be printed.
SenatorMcDOUGALL (New South Wales) [4.3]. - As the leader of the party on this side (Senator Gardiner) is not present, and he was given the. adjournment of the debate, I propose to say very little on the motion. Every honorable senator on this side is here to assist the Government between this and Christmas to get their business through.I, for one, have no intention to take part in a long debate on the printing of this paper. The Government have in another place intimated their desire to cut down the length of honorable members’ speeches on important matters. With that proposal I do not agree; but I do agree that the Government should do away with some of the old stereotyped methods of debate in this and in another place, which I regard as absolutely useless. We have to-day had the Budget papers and the Estimates submitted, and the Government have given notice of certain Bills, but I say . that we cannot discuss any measure at all until we know what is contained in it. For that reason I am not going to take up any time, but will assist the Government to get their business, through.
SenatorEARLE (Tasmania) [4.5].- I am a little surprised that honorable members of the Opposition, if I may term them such, have not given greater consideration to the importantstatement which was made by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) last week, because, in my judgment, a statement like that should command attention from honorable senators, not so much, perhaps, in the way of criticism as for suggestions which might be made with regard to Ministerial policy. I do not think that the demand for the whole of the wisdom of Australia’s legislators has ever been so great or so urgent as at the present time, and I feel that the Government might reasonably ask for any. suggestions for the good of the nation.
I join with the Minister for Repatriation in expressing my pleasure at the indications of the success of our arms, both on the Western Front and in Mesopotamia. It is very cheering indeed, after four years of aggressive warfare on the part of our enemies, to find that at last the tide has turned ; and that, so far as we can see, the world has escaped that calamity which threatened it only a few months ago. I am also pleased to know that the Government, largely through the instrumentality of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has been able to secure the return to Australia on an extended furlough of those men - the Anzacs - who embarked for service in 1914. I am only sorry that the rate of enlistment in Australia has not been such as to enable them to return earlier, and to provide also for the return on furlough of a number of other men who enlisted subsequent to 1914, and- who, for two or three years, have endured all the hardships of war. However, that is not practicable, we are given to understand, so we can only rejoice that so many of them as did embark in 1914 will be permitted to return to their homes and friends. I sincerely hope that the progress of the Allies may be such that it will not be necessary to ask these men to re-embark for the scene of battle. But, while I express that devout hope, I think it is not wise that the people of Australia, or the people of any of the Allied countries, should be optimistic regarding this conflict. There is a great deal of fighting to be done yet. Although the Allies have been successful of late on the Western Front and elsewhere, I am convinced that many obstacles must be overcome before the German people are made to realize the enormity of their attempted crime upon humanity. Every inch of the way will have to be contested. Not until the Allied armies set foot upon German territory will the people of the Central Empire realize how they have been misled, and how they have been fooled into participating in an attempt to commit the greatest outrage upon humanity in the history of the world. Therefore, I want, in my humble way, to enjoin the people of Australia to set their minds with unswerving determination to make any sacrifice that may. be necessary to see this war through to a successful issue, not to be disheartened if reverses recur, and to bear their successes with moderation and due humility until, at all events, they are complete in every respect.
I want now to make reference to the position of those men about whom some questions have been asked in the Senate. I allude to those who’ have deserted, or who have been declared absent without leave, and have been punished accordingly. It has come under my notice at different times that considerable hardship has’been inflicted upon the dependants of these men as the result of the discontinuance by the Department of payments after the lapse of a certain period from the time of their declared absence without leave. If these men had been deserters from the outset, if they had not seen battle, and if they had not to a great extent done their part - and a great deal more than thousands of others have done - I would have no sympathy with them at all’; but I find that a number of those men who have been sentenced have actually had approaching two years’ service.
– The statement was published, I think, in the Melbourne Herald. ,
– On whose authority?
– Well, I conclude that, as the regimental numbers of the men were given, as well as the corps to which they belonged, the date of their embarkation, and the date upon which they deserted, the statement would be on the authority of- the Defence Department.
– It was not.
– It seems very remarkable, then, that this position should have arisen. Here is the case of one man - “No. 4415, 5th Company of Engineers, embarked 8.8.15; deserted 3.5.17.” There are fifteen or twenty of these men whose records were thus’ published, and if the Minister for Defence says that the statement is not correct, and that those men-
– All I can say is that those facts were not given out by the Department. Therefore I cannot substantiate them at all. They were published on the authority of the newspaper.
– But, it had to pass the censor, I presume.
– It was not submitted to the censor.
– The paper says -
It is interesting to note that the majority of the men posted as deserters have seen considerable service in the field. A group taken haphazard from the files of the State War Council reveals the following record. The names of the men have been omitted: -
Evidently the statement was taken from a file in the possession of the State War Council of. Victoria, and I think I am justified in» concluding that the file record is approximately, correct. Assuming that it is, and that these men have undergone considerable service, I say that the nation is under an obligation to see that no hardship is inflicted upon their dependants. It is just possible that the men are mentally abnormal, and that they have not deserted in the ordinary sense of the word at all. So far as we know, some of them may be dead. Some may have met with accidents in the great city of London or other places. It is quite possible that some men had no intention whatever of permanently deserting the Army, but through accident had not been heard of, and though they enlisted with the object of serving their country, their families in some cases have now become destitute through the action of the Department in discontinuing payments. I want to bring under the notice of the Ministry the claims of these dependants, for it is reasonable to assume that if the men had not enlisted in the service of their country, they would have continued to support their families in comfort. It is not creditable to us that those families should now be in a state of deprivation in consequence of an act on the part of their breadwinners for which those men may not be altogether responsible.
I desire also to commend the Government for its indicated action with regard to waT loans. I am an out-and-out believer in compulsory service applied to every branch when a nation is at war. I am convinced that no nation can successfully conduct war unless by universal service in every direction. War is abhorrent to us all. There is no greater demonstration of human stupidity than the terrible conflagration now raging; but if we are going to extinguish it, we must be united and universal in our services in that direction. On the files of the Prime Minister’s Department will be found a letter written by myself - I think, in 1915 - when the first war loan was suggested. In the humble capacity that I then held, I advised the Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher) in that letter to at once introduce a Bill to provide for compulsory contributions to the war Joan. My idea was that a war loan should . be opened and voluntary contributions invited for some ten or fourteen days at a given percentage of, say, 4 or 4£ per cent., when it would then be competent for the Govern- i ment, under- a measure providing for compulsory contributions, and after having taken a wealth census of the nation, to call upon those who had not voluntarily contributed to lend an amount based upon a percentage of their wealth, at 3 or 3$ pei” cent. I believe such a scheme would have brought in ample money, without the necessity for applying compulsion. If it became necessary, however, there need have been no compunction in the matter of compelling persons possessed of wealth to contribute towards the defence of their country. I may have some objection to a military shirker; but I have nothing but contempt for the financial shirker - and we have them both in Australia. There are many reasons which prevent men from rendering military service in defence of their country. In numbers’ of cases it i3 selfishness. They refuse to endure the hardships or to make the sacrifices necessary. In other instances it is a matter of pure cowardice. Men are afraid to enlist; they cannot fight, they will not fight. ‘Many honorable senators, no doubt, in their youth have had willing “scraps” in defence of just this class of individual - lads’ of weak spirit, unfit and unprepared to defend themselves when imposed upon by bullying companions. We have seen examples of that nature in childhood, and the characteristics have remained with them up to manhood. In certain cases we may he sure such unfortunate men have evinced a high degree of courage in enlisting and plunging into the fray. But what can we say of the financial shirker? He, at least, has not the excuse of natural fear. He depends for his continued financial well-being upon the successes of the men who are risking their lives for him; but he will not allow his money to be used for the benefit of those men, at a little less interest than could be secured, perhaps, in the realms of private enterprise. Such a man deserves to’ lose all he has. I have no sympathy with him.
– Some people ‘have assets which are not readily converted into currency.
– The banks are always willing to make advances, so that such a situation as that can always be overcome. That is not an obstacle ; it is . a mere -trifle in comparison with the diffi culties that many men have had -to overcome in order to enlist.
– But though a bank may be patriotic, it is not exactly a benevolent society.
– That is right; but there are scores of men who, without any sacrifice, could freely contribute their money to the nation, but who, so far, have lent practically nothing. I trust, therefore, that the Government will be successful in securing power to compel such persons to do their share towards the financing of the war.
One more matter to which I desire to refer is not distinctly mentioned in the Ministerial statement; except that it may be embodied under the intimation that a Bill is to be introduced dealing with science and industry. I refer to the creation in Australia of a fuel oil source for the use of this nation.. I regret that more definite steps have not been taken to exploit our shale deposits’ in order to bring about that self-reliance’ which would follow upon a certain supply of fuel oil. With the exception of the iron industry, I know of nothing of such importance to the Commonwealth to-day. If the supply of oil were shut off to-day, scores of our industries would be rendered impotent. There are several deposits of kerosene shale throughout Australia, from which almost unlimited quantities of fuel oil could be extracted. I believe that, so far as exploratory work has gone, my own State possesses the best deposit known. The thickness of the seam, the matter of distance from a seaport, and of the altitude of the formation to provide for the gravitation of the oil to the port, are ideal ; while I understand that the average richness of the shale is everything that could be desired so far as retorting is concerned.
I regret that the Commonwealth Government under the present Constitution cannot enter upon any trading enterprise. I hope early opportunity will be taken to submit to the . people a referendum for the amendment of the Constitution to provide that the Government may, in cases like this, undertake the development of such an industry, and, if necessary, become a trading concern. From a monetary point of view the extraction of fuel oil or petrol is merely one detail in connexion with the industry. There are so many byproducts that a great deal more money and much of the success of such enterprises depend upon them. Under our present Constitution, of course, the Government could only extract from a mine those products which it required to use for itself. It could not sell to other customers.
– That is not so.
– Under the Constitution the Commonwealth Government cannot he a trading concern.
– Yes, it can.
– No. It was for that purpose that the amendments to the Constitution dealing with trade and commerce were submitted to the people.
– Mr. Deakin, as Attorney-General, said it was not so.
– If the honorable senator is right, and the Commonwealth Government has power to start a shale oil works and to sei! to the public fuel oil, kerosene, lubricating oils, medicinal oils, and all the by-products of such a mine, then it is a step which the Government should immediately take. There have been exhaustive inquiries with respect to the deposit in Tasmania. At the present time, quite a host of our industries in Australia are dependent for the power which they consume upon the importation of oil from -Borneo and other places. Our Navy is just now absent from our territorial waters, but when the war is over and it returns to Australia, the vessels comprising it will also be entirely dependent upon the supply of imported oil.
Reference is made in the Ministerial statement to the iron industry, and we are assured that the Government intend to encourage the manufacture of sheet iron. I recollect that it was reported in the press a little time ago, that the Government had secured an option over a very well known iron deposit on the north-west coast . of Tasmania. I hope that there is something more than idle rumour at the bottom of that statement. If there is one industry which ought to be in the hands- of the nation, it is that of the manufacture of iron and steel, because there are no other products upon which the welfare of the nation is so absolutely, dependent.
– It is just as well for. a nation to possess the coal.
– - In Tasmania, we have water-power available, so that we do not require coal. When the Tasmanian Government undertook the harnessing of the water-power of that State, one of the first things which it did was to offer to the Commonwealth the equivalent of 10,000-horse-power of electrical energy at £2 per horse-power, or its cost price, whichever proved to be the cheaper. It did so to encourage the Commonwealth to establish iron and steel works there. I am sorry, indeed, that advantage was not taken of that offer to get the industry started, no matter in how small a way. Under the thermal process of iron smelting, it is contended that large quantities of coal and coke are not required; and if that system has now advanced beyond the experimental stage - which I believe it has - I know of no place in which the industry can be better established than in the State which I have the honour to represent.
– Tasmania certainly possesses a good climate for the iron and steel industry.
– Tasmania is unsurpassed from the stand-point of climate. It possesses the requisite water-power, a splendid climate, and deep-water harbors - three essentials to industrial enterprise. I sincerely hope that the Government will prosecute this proposition to the very fullest extent; and if there is any foundation for the suggestion that they intend to establish iron and steel works in the island State, I am confident that they will receive the fullest cooperation on the part of the Tasmanian Government in the matter of supplying. to them electrical energy at the smallest possible cost.
– Hear, hear ! That is better business than dealing with kerosene shale.
– But we must have both. I hope that honorable members will not imagine that I am endeavouring to boost my own State. If there is “a better deposit of kerosene shale in any part of Australia than exists in Tasmania, by all means let us establish the industry there. I merely desire to see the Government take the necessary steps to obtain this basic product, without which it is impossible for the Commonwealth to become self-contained.
– But we cannot afford., to take over these industries.
– I do not suggest that the Government should do that. But there are certain essential commodities that they should control, and I believe that the supply of fuel oil is one of them.
I wish now to refer to the matter which is absorbing all our attention at the present time, namely, the general conduct of the war. In view of all the surroundings of this colossal struggle, I think that tremendous credit is due both to the Allied generals and the Allied statesmen for the successes which . we have achieved. If I were asked to say to whom the greatest credit in connexion with this war is due, if I were asked to mention the one man who stands out most conspicuously for the service which he has rendered to the Allies and the civilized world, I should certainly reply that he was the Prime Minister of England, Mr. Lloyd George. He is the man who, by some means or other -I do not know how - induced the Allies to accept the principle of a centralized command. That has been the greatest achievement of the war, and, without it, it is marvellous to me how the Allies held their own so long.
– The stern voice of disaster helped him.
– I suppose that the other Allied Powers saw the writing on the wall, and were forced to realize the sound judgment of Mr. Lloyd George.
– There is another Welshman whom the honorable senator might mention.
– I have nothing but the highest praise for the other Welshman to whom Senator de Largie refers. He is doing excellent work in London today. I refer, of course, to the Eight Honorable William Morris Hughes. When we see the enormous Power that the Allies are confronting - a Power that is concentrated and unified to a man - and when we realize that for years the Allied nations acted on their own initiative, we must admit that it is marvellous they were not defeated long ago. War is very much like a game of chess so far as strategy and development are concerned. I am not much of a chess player, but I believe I could defeat anyhalf-dozen of the best players in this Chamber, provided that each of them would act on his own initiative and play his own game; whereas I suppose that any one of them,’ with full command of the game, could defeat me. So it is in the conduct of the war. To me it is a marvel that the Central Powers, with their wonderful unity and their great numerical strength, have been kept in check so long.
I wish also to allude to the very satisfactory conditions which obtain in regard to our oversea mail service. Quite recently honorable senators received a little reminder of the genesis of postal reform. I observe that the personal pronoun “ I “ occurs no less than twenty-two times on four sheets of paper, and that fact, I believe, jars a little upon the sensibilities of certain honorable senators who have long been members of this Parliament, and who have taken some share in bringing about this reform. But we have to recognise that, considering the magnitude of the operations of the Postal Department, the mail service provided between Australia and our oversea troops is one of which we have every reason to be proud. I needonly quote two instances to justify my contention. I know of one lady who wrote to her husband, who is on service abroad, no less than 143 letters, the whole of which, with the exception of two or three which went to the bottom of the ocean owing to a submarine attack upon the vessels carrying them, were delivered. I have also been assured by Mr. Charlton that the members of his family have written more than 100 letters to his boy, who is at the Front, and every one of these communications has been delivered. Quite recently I had an opportunity of inspecting the working conditions which obtain in the Postal Department in Melbourne and Sydney, and I have ho hesitation in saying that, having regard to the enormous quantity of mail matter that is handled and the difficult addresses which have to be deciphered, the work accomplished by that Department is little short of wonderful.
It would be interesting, I think, if one attempted to bring home to the people more forcibly than it has yet been brought home, the magnitude of the war which is now in progress. We all know that the struggle is world-wide, but very few of us realize the significance of that announcement. One statement, which I make on reliable authority, is that amongst the Allies engaged in the present war no less than seventy-four languages or dialects are spoken. I am informed that the British Bible Society, in order that the Bible may reach the whole of the Allied Forces and be understandable to them, has had that book printed in no less than seventy-four different languages. The figures I am about to give may be considered somewhat antiquated, because one cannot get a uniform censusreturn taken later than 1911. Many of them were taken in 1910. These figures, therefore, will be about eight years old; but the natural increase in population in different countries will be reasonably uniform. As a matter of fact, it will be larger in the German Empire than anywhere else, so that in the comparison the figures I am using would really tell in favour of the Central Powers. The following table gives the complete figures available: -
Thus, at the timethose figures were taken, the population of the world was 1,648,542,000. The white people numbered 560,294,000, and the coloured 881,171,000; and, in addition, there are not stated the number of people in the nineteen neutral States, and in some other’s among the Allies as to which precise information cannot be obtained. These number, altogether, 207,070,000. Out of the 1,648,542,000, there are 1,505,311,000 people at war to-day. In the whole population of the world, there are only 143,231,000 not at war; the rest of the world is at war.
– They had better all come in.
– Perhaps, as the honorable senator suggests, some of these ought to be at war. Those figures give some idea of the enormous proportions of this world struggle. Never in the history of the world has there been anything approaching what we are going through now. History shows that great wars have been conducted ; but the biggest wars that have ever been waged in the past are mere skirmishes compared with this conflict. The populations may be divided in this way - Allies: white, 414,570,000; coloured, 869,129,000. Those are the populations of the countries that have declared war on the Central Powers; but many of them have not taken part in the war, or have done so only to a very small degree. The total of the Allied peoples is 1,283,699,000. The Central Powers comprise 145,724,000 whites; but, in estimating the fighting strength of each side, it must be remembered that the military preparedness of the Central Powers rendered a vastly greater proportion of their population capable of taking up arms than was the case among the other nations. Although they are in a very substantial minority, according to the above figures, their fighting strength is much greater than appears on the surface. The coloured people among the Central Powers total only 12,041,000, making the total population of the Central Powers 157,765,000, while the population whose . colour is not stated numbers 63,845,000. There are nineteen neutral States, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark; Holland and her Colonies, Spain, Switzerland,
Mexico, Chili, Argentine, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Guatemala, Salvador, Jamaica, Abyssinia, Afghanistan, and Persia, and they number in all a population of 143,231,000.
It is a fair thing in. making a comparison, in order that we may recognise the enormous task before the Allies today, to remember that Russia, with he”r 174,000,000 of people, is now useless, so far as assistance to the Allies is concerned. Unfortunately, the people of that great country -are now busy destroying themselves. Consequently the white strength of the Allies by .the number of the population of Russia was brought down to some 340,570,000. It must also be remembered that -prior to America coming in with her population of approximately 100,000,000, the white strength of the Allies was reduced by that number. So that we find that for a considerable period of the war, and during all the time that the fate of the world was practically in the balance, the white population of the scattered Allies did not exceed to any very great extent the white population of the united Central Powers. When, therefore, we take everything into consideration, we are justified in saying that it is little short of marvellous that we should find ourselves in the position in which we are to-day.
The effective strength of the Allies, taking the white population of those countries closely participating in the war, including the United Kingdom, with a population of 46,064,738; ‘Canada, 8,252,000; Africa, 1,276,242; Australia, 4,940,952; New Zealand, 1,099,000; France, 39,600,000; Italy, 36,120,000; Belgium, 7,424,000.; Servia, 4,548,000; Rumania, 7,508,000; and the United States, 89,000,000, gives a total white population, of 245,832,932. (I am not unmindful of the great assistance, by convoys, and the patrol of the seas, rendered by the Japanese nation, but it must be remembered that .between the time when Russia went out of the war and the time the Americans came in the actual strength of the Allied countries actively participating in the war was only 156,832,000.
It must be considered that in these countries there were necessities for defence and precautions for the nation’s safety which did not arise in the countries of the Central Powers. In America there are large numbers of Germans and of men of enemy origin, and a large number of others anything but friendly to the American nation. In England the. condition was much the same, and in Australia the same to a lesser extent ; whereas, so far .as I can learn, none, of these dangers existed in the countries of the Central Powers. On the declaration of war they ‘became absolutely united and solid. Of course, we know that the conditions of life in the countries of the Central Powers do not conduce to an extended immigration policy from other’ centres of the world. We know that it has been the custom of Germany - and from a national stand-point I suppose it is a good custom - to carry out her work by Germans. That has not ‘been the custom of the British Empire. If a German ship came to a port in Australia we should find her manned by Germans. German workshops were manned by Germans. I am sorry to say that Great Britain and other of the Allied nations did not follow- that example. So that when it came to the time when the nations were pitted against each other for their very existence, while the Central Powers were solid and united, with their 157,000,000 of people, the Allied nations at the time to which I refer, although they had a population of 156,832,000, were not united and not solid. Hence I repeat that the success that has been achieved by the Allied forces -is little short of marvellous.
It was well known when Germany set about this war that she did so upon a policy comprising different phases. Germany did not depend altogether upon her military strength to conquer the world. She depended also on the creation of discord amongst her enemies to assist her in accomplishing her design. We all know that the experience of America has been that Germany expended enormous sums of money in the propagation of campaigns for peace among the American people, for industrial discord, religious discord, and campaigns to produce racial discord amongst that cosmopolitan people. Had the Allies attempted the same policy in Germany it could not possibly havesucceeded, because of the united nature of the German people. But the policy did succeed amongst the peoples of many of the Allied countries. To-day in Australia, amongst other countries, there are large numbers of people playing this game of Germany and doing Germany’s work, little dreaming that they are the tools of that nation.
People are advocating peace by negotiation with a country which perpetrated every atrocity that could possibly be conceived by the mind of a fiend, and which up to a month ago seemed to be on the very threshold of success. The very idea of suggesting negotiations for peace with such a country is stamped, without any consideration, as being absolutely absurd. Yet we find numbers of people, conscientiously I. believe, advocating a movement for the enforcement by the Allies of an offer to negotiate for peace with this nation. Some go so far as to advise that there should be no bitterness; that there should be no penalties;- that there should be no annexation of territory and no indemnity; that the war should be called off, and the hand of friendship should be extended to this people, who officiallycommitted the murder of Nurse Cavell, Captain Fryatt, and scores of the women and children of Belgium and France; who bombed hospitals, and torpedoed hospital ships, and committed every atrocity that can possibly be conceived. -People suggest that there should be negotiations for peace with this nation. These movements are the work of enemy agents, and those who are carrying them out little dream that they are doing the work of those agents. I say, and I think any thoughtful man would say that, no matter how devoutly we may long for it, were peace to -be brought about upon the conditions outlined by some of these people, we would be participators in the murder of the boys who have died for the world’s, welfare. Those men would then have been sacrificed. For what? In order that the Central Powers which sought, by Prussian militarism, the subjugation of the whole civilized world, might again return to conditions of comfort aDd be permitted to re-organize their machinery so as to be more successful on the next occasion.
I desire now to quote from a very interesting address which came under my notice recently. It is a statement made by the chairman and secretary of a Social
Democratic League of America and the Jewish Socialist League of that country. I want to say -that I am a Socialist myself. We are all Socialists. It is only a matter how far we are prepared to go in our advocacy of this1 policy to be termed either moderate or extreme Socialists. The address, issued by the* two organizations, I refer to, shows the attitude taken up by the Democrats in America to-day. The following are extracts from the address : -
We declare ‘ it to be the first duty of all “ Socialists everywhere - a duty implicit in our internationalist faith - to find the causes of this war and to place the responsibility for its occurrence where it justly belongs. We cannot evade the challenge and be loyal to Socialist internationalism. With our comrades of the Socialist party of France, .we declare that we cannot accept the hypocritical statement that all the Governments of the belligerent nations are equally responsible for the war …
Nor can we stultify ourselves by offering as an explanation of the war the silly hypothesis that it came as the logical and inevitable result of the capitalist system. The facts do not support this theory. We are not unmindful that capitalism tends to the development of national commercial rivalries, which provoke hatred and thus sow seeds of war. Nevertheless, remembering this fact, we insist that the outbreak of the present war in 1914 was not due to the capitalist system, but to the madness of dynastic imperialism . . .
We assert that, the war was caused by the Imperialist vision of the Hohenzollern dynasty, using the worm-eaten Hapsburg dynasty as its wretched tool. This is the verdict likewise of the Socialists of all lands.- Thus declared the Socialists of Great Britain, Belgium, - France, and Russia, at the conference of the Socialist and Labour parties of the allied nations on February 14, 1915. The United Socialist party of France so declared in its reply to the Dutch and Scandinavian comrades in connexion with the abortive Germaninspired Stockholm Conference last year. The Italian Socialist party, in its memorable rebuke to the German Socialist “ comrades “ who sought to corrupt them, squarely placed the responsibility for war upon the Austrian and German Empires - “ the rampart of European reaction.” It is well known that on tha very eve of the actual outbreak of hostilities, Vorwarts, the leading organ of the German Social Democratic party, took the same view. Finally, the proclamation issued by the German Social Democratic party, on the 25th of July, 1914, plainly declared that the war fury was unchained by Austrian imperialism, and that its demands upon Serbia, “ more brutal than have ever been put to an independentState in the world’s history,” were “ intended deliberately to provoke war. . . .”
The invasion of Belgium and. Luxemburg by the German Armies, and the savage barbarism with which the heroic defenders of Belgian neutrality and independence were crushed, rank among the greatest crimes of history. For these crimes, which menaced the whole fabric of internationalism, no one worthy of being called a Socialist can find palliation or excuse. If the power responsible for the crimes should triumph, the cause of Socialist internationalism would be crushed to earth.
The conduct of the Socialist parties of Germany and Austria-Hungary cannot be passed over in silence. Wo must demand that at the first general International Socialist Congress which is convened that conduct be exposed and fittingly condemned. Bytheir support of their Governments the Socialist parties of the Central Empires became the co-partners of the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs, accessories to their infamous crimes against mankind. They betrayed the cause of international Socialism, betrayed all the small nations to the despotism of the arrogant sword-rattling autocracies, and constituted themselves part of the most brutal, reactionary, and lawless imperialism in modern history. Such men cannot rightly hold any place in the Socialist International.
The part played by the German Social Democracy cannot be described as other than infamous. The only Germans worthy to bear the name of Socialists are the members of the small but courageous minority represented by such comrades as Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, and George Ledebour. For the majority, led by such men as Scheidemann, Sudekum, David, Legien, and others, no condemnation can be too severe. This majority has been the willing and servile toolof the Government, and the accomplice of the assassins of Potsdam.
Its leaders have even stooped so low as to play the despicable part of bribing and corrupting agents of their Government. The attempts to buy the support of the Italian Socialists, indignantly exposed and condemned by the Italian comrades, is one example of the depth to which they have descended. The despicable role of “ Comrade Helfand,” internationally famous under his pseudonym, “ Parvus,” is likewise well known. German imperial autocracy found its most unscrupulous agents amongst the trusted leaders of German Social Democracy !
Even more sinister than such conduct as we have referred to has been the part which the German Socialists have played as propagandists of anti-militarism. For years they have urged upon the Socialists of other lands, particularly of England, France, and Russia, the duty of vigorously opposing militarism and military preparedness. Never have they seriously asserted themselves against these things in Germany, however. On the eve of the outbreak of the war, when the issue of war or peace hung in the balance, the German party sent Herr Muller, of the PartieVorstand at the head of a delegation to the French Socialist parliamentary group to beg the French comrades to vote against all military appropriations, or at least absent themselves, and thus manifest their opposition to their Government.
The French Socialists - be it said to their eternal honour - readily pledged themselves not to vote any war credits until the French Government should provide them with absolutely satisfactory proof of its sincere efforts to main tain peace and prevent war. They undertook not to vote for any appropriation for offensive war of any kind. They made it quite clear to Muller and his associates, and to Comrade
Huysmans, secretary of the InternationalSocialist Bureau, who accompanied the delegation, that they would not withhold their support from their Government if France were attacked by Germany and invaded. In that case they would fight. The French comrades thus took their stand upon the established and cherished principles of Socialist internationalism.
It is well known that when Jaures returned to Paris after the extraordinary meeting of the International Socialist Bureau, held at Brussels on the 29th of July, 1914, he was heartbroken because of his failure to obtain from the German leaders a satisfactory pledge that they would refuse to support their Government in the event of its making an aggressive war on Belgium or France. He realized then that his heroic efforts for peace, his wonderful campaign against military preparedness, had served only too well the cause of Prussian militarism - thanks to the treachery of the German “ comrades.”
In every country the German Socialist propagandists have gone, insidiously serving military absolutism. Their intrigues in Switzerland, Holland, and the Scandinavian countries have been notorious. They have undermined the new Socialist Republic of Russia, delivering it as a prize to their Kaiser. Long before the war started they were engaged in this nefarious work; there is little reason to doubt that the visit of Scheidemann to this country the year before the war began had for its real object an “ understanding “ with prominent members of the Socialist party on the subject of the attitude to be taken by the party in the event of a war in which Germany would be engaged. The German Crown Prince, General von Hindenburg, and Admiral von Tirpitz have as much right to participate in the congress of the Socialist International as have such “ Socialists “ as Scheidemann, Sudekum, and David.
In all the cynical and brutal literature of Prussian imperialism there is nothing more shameful than the speech by David in the Reichstag, soon after the war began, in which he stated the function of the Socialists. He said : - “ Germany must squeeze her enemies with a pair of pincers, namely, the military pincer and the pacifist pincer. The German armies must continue tofight vigorously whilst the German Socialists encourage and stimulate pacifism among Germany’s enemies.”
For such “Socialists” we have onlyan inexpressible contempt and loathing. . . .
For reasons already set forth, we cannot approve of any conference with representatives of the German or Austrian Socialist organizations until the end of the war. We wholeheartedly approve of the action of the executive council of the American Federation of Labour in this particular. The German and Austrian Socialists are such in name only. They are not our comrades. They are traitors to pur cause. When the war is ended and Kaiserism overthrown, there must be a frank judgment of the German and Austrian Socialist movements by the International. Judged by its conduct during the war, and especially byits base betrayal of the Russian Revolution, the German Social Democracy must be branded as an enemy of the working classes of the world, including the working class of Germany. We are compelled to judge it by its deeds and not by its declarations. Indeed, the German Social Democracy was a full and active partner of the Hohenzollerns. and the junkers in all their crimes against mankind. This applies with full force to the Austrian Social Democracy also, except that the oppressed nonGerman nationalities of Austria are free from guilt. Neither the German nor the Austrian Socialist parties should be admitted to a Socialist International until they have emancipated themselves and given satisfactory evidence of loyalty to Socialist internationalism. By admitting them earlier and giving them countenance the International would become a sharer in their treason.
We believe that there should be a constant - interchange of opinion by the Socialists of the Allied nations through conferences and’ otherwise; but not with those who have betrayed our common cause. We believe that there should be consistent energetic action for the furtherance of our Socialist aims in our respective countries as far as that can be done without impairing our military efficiency.
We send our fraternal salutations to our comrades in all the allied nations and to the faithful battling minority comrades in the enemy countries, and pledge ourselves that we will not withhold from the -allied cause any service or sacrifice that may be required of us as our part of the price of human, freedom.
That address is a very strong substantiation of the statement I have previously made, that one of Germany’s most successful methods of conducting warfare has been by means of her effort to promulgate peace, to destroy the morale and unity of the Allied forces, and, at the same time, to create dissatisfaction among the Allied peoples. One phase of this means of warfare has come under my notice in Australia. That is in respect to racial feeling recently generated here. Honorable senators have observed from time to time that considerable hostility has been created in respect of the Irish people. It is part of Germany’s tactics, but is not only carried out by German people. It is conducted by numbers of other people, who have resented very strongly certain acts of treachery and disloyalty perpetrated by people from Ireland. But’ when we hold the whole of a race responsible for the actions of a few of its members - and such a race as the Irish have proved themselves - it is unjust, unBritish, and altogether cruel. If we search the p°ages of history we shall find that there is no race which has rendered greater service tq the British Empire than the Irish. Either as soldiers or as colonists the Irish have alwa’ys played an important part. I know that many of the Irish people are of highly emotional temperament. Their feelings can be easily played upon. Their country has suffered heavily at the hands of England in the past. Many of them, therefore, are ready victims of the intrigues of our enemy to-day. Some of them are educated men, who have come to Australia and promulgated these phases of Germany’s warfare. For them I offer no palliation or excuse. No matter how bitter they may be against England, in consequence of England’s past treatment, there can be no excuse for their seeking to-day to sacrifice the British Empire, of which Australia is a part, in order to take vengeance for some national wrong, real or imaginary, it- is no large mass of the Irish people who have proved themselves disloyal. We have found among disloyal organizations men of Irish name and origin ; and we know’ that there are many “disturbances in Ireland to-day which are requiring considerable care, and the utmost precautions. But I refuse to believe that there are large bodies of the Irish people in sympathy with the Central Powers. I know that there are large bodies of Irish, indeed, who are taking part in the conflict in defence of our Empire, and the part they are playing as a race redounds to their credit to a degree not reached by many other people. Look at our honour rolls; look at our lists of winners of the Victoria Cross and other military awards, and many familiar Irish names will be noted. -A short while ago, in my own State, I participated in the planting of an avenue of trees to do honour to soldiers from a certain town who had fallen at the Front. There were some 400 trees, and among the 400 names attached to them there were forty-seven which were distinctly Irish. The same thing goes on throughout Australia, and I deprecate the effort which has been successfully made amongst a great many people of the Commonwealth to create a “ set “ against the Irish people.
There is one other organization with which I have to deal, and that is the Official Labour party. I know of no organization in Australia to-day that has more effectually carried out certain phases of the enemy’s warfare than has the executive controlling the Official Labour party.
– Which Official Labour party do you speak of - the one led by Mr. Tudor or that led by Senator McDougall ?
– The one led by a secret junta, which meets on certain occasions and whose members have no responsibility such as rests upon Mr. Tudor and on the honorable senator referred to. On a previous occasion, when I was deposed from a position which I held in the State branch of the Australian Labour party for the reason that I had taken a certain stand upon the compulsory service referendum, I subsequently tendered my resignation to the executive body of that organization in Tasmania. In doing so I said it was because I was convinced that the organization had got into the hands of a body of men who constituted a greater menace to the national life of Australia than did the Hun himself. That was considered a very strong statement. I made it because I felt sure that those men were seeking to undermine our national life, and were hiding behind their positions, and refusing to take the responsibility of their actions. The Hun we have to fight. We know him as an open enemy, and, consequently, can meet him on fair ground. But the men who seek by subtle intrigue to undermine the national^ life of the country are a far greater menace than an open enemy. The Official Labour party - and that part of it to which I am now’ referring - held a Conference in Perth in June last. I shall quote from a report of that Conference which appeared in the then Daily Post, the official organ of the party. The dates are June 25 and 26. I do not think I can be charged with unfairly laying the proceedings of this Conference before the Senate, in view of their publication in the Daily Post, now known as the World, which was the official journal of the Labour party. I am also of opinion that I shall ‘be. exempt from attack on the ground that I am referring to a body which does not fully represent the movement known as the Official Labour movement. These Conferences are held triennially, and all the best brains of the party attend them. in order to decide the policy and platform of the organization. It is, therefore, reasonable to suppose that when the recent Conference was held so far afield as the capital of Western Australia, the very best men in the movement attended it as delegates. Now, the first matter with which the Conference dealt was that of peace. It adopted a resolution which reads -
That as the Governments of Europe, founded on class rule, and adopting the methods of secret diplomacy, have failed utterly to preserve peace or to bring the present war within a measurable distance of a conclusion, and whereas the existing capitalistic system of production for profit compels every nation constantly to seek new markets to exploit, inevitably leading to a periodic clash of rival interests, we contend that only by an organized system of production for use, under democratic control, can a recurrence of such calamities be permanently avoided. “The present system, by fostering commercial rivalry and territorial greed and dynastic ambition, has created an atmosphere of mutual fear and distrust among the great Powers, which was the immediate cause of the present colossal struggle.
That sounds very much like a statement made by the Socialists of Germany to whom I have already referred. It sounds very much as if it had been dictated by a progagandist from Germany, such as Scheidemann or David. The language is very similar. The resolution’ of the Conference proceeds -
We therefore rejoice over the revolution in Russia, and congratulate the people of that country upon their efforts to abolish despotic power and class privilege, and urge the workers of every land, where similar conditions exist, to follow their example, with the same magnificent courage and determination.
These congratulatory sentiments were expressed about the 20th June last, subsequent to the chaotic condition in which the Bolsheviks of Russia had plunged that country. The Conference resolution continues -
We are of opinion that a complete military victory by the Allies over the Central Powers can only be accomplished by the further sacrifice of millions of human lives, the infliction of incalculable misery and suffering upon the survivors, and the creation of an intolerable burden of debt, to the further impoverishment of the workers, who must bear such burdens, and the practical destruction of civilization among the white races of the world. We, therefore, urge that immediate negotiations be initiated for an international conference, for the purpose of arranging equitable terms of peace.
I have spoken at some length concerning the propaganda work which is carried out by the German Socialists in the interests of German, militarism, of the properganda work among the Australians, the
English, the Italians, and the Americans - propaganda which is designed to create dissatisfaction amongst the people of those countries, and to break their unity and morale by an agitation for peace. Yet Australians went to this Conference and demanded that negotiations for peace should at once be opened up with a country such as I have described. There was, it is true, a minority who attended that Conference with whom Ihave no quarrel, save that theyhave not sufficient courage to get out of the movement and to create a clean and responsible party. The majority of the delegates who composed the Conference consisted of fools and traitors combined. (But the work of the Conference was not all the work of fools. There were some delegates who were led away by the intrigues of others. But the majority of its members consisted ofmen who were not loyal to the Labour movement, who were not loyal to Australia, and who were not loyal to the Empire, and these were supported by others who were incapable ofseeing their subtle intrigues. These two elements constituted the majority ofthe Conference which adopted these resolutions. Now let us look at the work of this gathering in regard to recruiting. In this connexion I shall not quote from a Labour newspaper, and, consequently, my statements are open to correction if they are wrong. But in one journal I find the following : -
Referendum on Resolution of Inter-State Conference, 1918. ballot-paper.
The following resolution, after careful consideration, was carried by the Inter-State Conference of the Australian Labour party meeting at Perth, June, 1918. It was decided to refer to the organization membership for approval, and the Conference earnestly recommends you to vote “ Yes.” If you wish to vote “Yes,” put a cross (x) in the square opposite the word “Yes.” Ifyou wish to vote “No,” put a cross (x) in the square opposite the word “No” below.
Then comes the explanation -
Further participation in recruiting shall be subject to the following conditions: -
That the Australian requirements in man power be ascertained and met with respect to -
An immediate inquiry, upon which the Aus tralian Labour party shall be adequately and efficiently represented, shall be held, and its decisions be immediately given effect to. Co you approve of this resolution?
The statement continues -
Carefully read the whole paper before voting. Note the ballot closes on 1st November, 1918.
If ever there has been a deliberate attempt to act on behalf of Germany by any body of men in any of the Allied countries, other than Australia, I have not heard of it. What would be the effect of these resolutions? In the first place, they would stop recruiting until the 1st November, a period of approximately five months. Then, if the Allied Powers recognised the right of the Official Labour party of Australia to demand from them a statement of their war aims, and agreed to accede to that demand, it would not be possible for their reply to be available for several more months. If the Commonwealth Government also recognised the right of the Conference to demand a statement from it, concerning our home defence and industrial requirements, a considerable time would necessarily be occupied in the preparation of that statement. Theresult would be that if the workers throughout the Commonwealth voted “Yes” on the referendum now “being taken, they would absolutely stop recruiting for at least eight or nine months.
– I cannot even imagine the feelings of loyal Labourites when they get this ballot-paper. The man who has a son, a brother, or a comrade at the Front will certainly realize at once thata deliberate attemptis being made to prevent voluntary recruits going forward to his assistance. If he votes “Yes” he absolutely prevents recruits going; if he votes “No” he leaves the position as it is.
– Where is it?
– The position is that the officials of the organization have done nothing to aid recruiting. As a matter of fact, they have discouraged it.
– It will be interesting’ to hear what Senators Needham and O’Keefe have to say.
– I am not saying anything about senators. I am dealing with the executive side of the organization. In to-night’s newspaper I notice that one official tries to explain things away. The gist of what he says is that the ballot would prevent a number of -men asking other men to go to do something which they cannot or will not do themselves. The attitude of some of the members of the organization seems to be, “ I will not ask another man to go and do what, I am not going to do myself.” Then, when another man, too old or otherwise ineligible to go to the Front, advocates recruiting, they say, “ You have a cheek to ask anybody to go and do a thing which you cannot do yourself.” That is their argument.
– There must be no conscription.
– There must be no conscription, and, according to them, there must be no advocacy of voluntarism. It is of no use to mince the matter. These people are absolutely against Australia taking part in the defence of the Allied cause. They do not seem, to recognise that all Australia is, all that she hopes to have and be, depends on the success of the Allied arms in this fight. I am not a believer in war. I hate war, and look upon it as the very height of human stupidity, but if we have any hope of relieving this country of war, it must be through success in this struggle. A newspaper handed to me shows that at a recent meeting in connexion with the Sydney Labour party the following motion was carried: “We recommend the Australian Labour party to withdraw their war ballot, owing to the Government interfering with the ballot by instructing Mr. D. K. Picken, Director of War Propaganda, to issue, leaflets to all .unions and leagues.” I can quite understand these men being ashamed of the position they have got into, and endeavouring to find some excuse to get out.
Let me examine the suggestions of the Australian Labour Conference concerning the Defence Act. They did not trust themselves to deal as a conference with this important matter, but appointed a committee of six. That committee’s report was adopted by the Conference. The report of the Conference says -
A committee of six was then appointed to make recommendations on the steps necessary to democratize the defence system and to safeguard civil’ liberties and -rights of conscience and the industrial organization. The committee reported that to democratize the Defence Act the committee recommended the adoption of the following proposals as planks of the general platform: - That the Defence Act be amended to provide and secure (o) no military training for persons not entitled to vote;
What is the object here ? In the first place they would refuse to ‘train the youth when he- is most amenable to training, that is, at the cadet stage, when the work is most congenial to him, and at a time when his labours as a producer of wealth are of least value to” the community. But when he becomes a matured man, probably when he becomes! the head of a household - for I do not suppose they intend to lower the voting age to’ seventeen - they propose to take him into camp, and train him until he is twenty-five. “ They will take him from industry when his value to the nation as a producer of wealth is greatest. That, in itself, stamps the proposal as an absurdity. But they go further, and say the employer should pay him full wages while he is undergoing training. What argument can be advanced in favour of that? Why should the employer have to keep the Defence Force of this country ? . Why should one man, or one class of men, be called on to pay a phenomenal amount more than the other classes of the community who receive the same advantages from the defence of the country, and are equally able to pay their share?
– Have you noticed that the proposal is that the trainee shall receive double payment? He is to receive payment from his employer, and then the Government are to pay him full trade union rates as well.
– I had not noticed it. The inevitable effect of such a policy would be that every employer ‘would avoid employing “men during the military age. For his own protection an employer would have to avoid employing men who would be taken away periodically by the
Government for military training. That class of man .would be. to a certain degree, thrown out of employment. This is paragraph / : “ All intended regulations to be publicly advertised, and the regulations to have no effect till placed before both Houses, either of which may exercise a veto thereon.” If the Minister for Defence found it necessary to submit to the Governor-General in Councils regulation for the conduct of his part of the war, he would not be. able, if that proposal became law, to put that regulation into operation until it had been considered by both Houses of .Parliament. It does not require much consideration to see the absurdity of such a proposition. Another resolution favours the abolition of the military oath. Why do they object to a man taking the oath of allegiance when he1 becomes a unit of the defence army of his .country ? Surely they do not want to make it easy for a man to act the traitor ? I cannot understand what objection there is to a man taking the oath of allegiance when he becomes a servant of his King, which is only a figurative way of saying that he is a servant of his country, and takes up arms in defence of it. Paragraph ; is as follows : - “ The recognition of the principle of .the election of qualified candidates as officers.” They are going to elect the men who are to lead our boys into battle, on a popular vote.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - That is how all the Boer leaders were elected, and they did very well.
– Is that’ soT Does the honorable senator say it would be a good thing in the present war ?
– I am . in favour of ‘ the principle under certain conditions.
– Does the honorable senator say the officers of the Allies should be elected on the popular vote of the Army ?
– It would take explanation to put my position on that matter, but I am in favour of the principle under certain conditions.
– The honorable senator, who has had military experience, knows that strategy and tactics ~ in a modern war are such that the responsible officers could not be elected on a popular Vote.
– Capable ones could. The French revolutionary leaders were’ elected by their soldiers. It is not a new idea.
– Paragraph I provides - “No employment of, or interference by, soldiers in connexion with industrial disputes, with punishment of Ministers or other persons responsible for any breach of this provision.” That is one of those peculiar old ideas, that any disturbance that may occur under the name of an industrial dispute should Be immune from suppression by the military forces. Men who come to a decision like that do not realize that a sword of that nature may be double-edged. Even if they are willing to concede to a body of unionists, or others, the right to create a disturbance,’ and take command of a town or country, with immunity from military interference, there is another phase of the question which was demonstrated in the maritime strike of 1890. A young farmer, or station owner, or buccaneer, of New South Wales, undertook to organize 500 Light Horse, and proceed to Sydney to “ blow the strikers out.” If this law were enacted, and another such man turned up and insisted on coming, and if the police of the town could not resist him, be could charge the strikers, those with- him could -mow them down with their- cavalry swords, and .the military would be unable to interfere Apart from ‘ that, altogether, honorable senators some little time ago had a demonstration of what might occur, when the very foolish strike which was started over the introduction of the card system was on. We saw here raids of thousands of people, and we know that windows were broken in the city, and that it required only a little more to cause serious riots, not by the strikers only, and probably not by them at all, but by the riffraff of th,e town, who followed them, up. Such occasions are the holiday of that class of people. I venture to hazard the opinion, although I cannot prove it, that much- of the damage done. on the occasion to which I refer was caused by stones thrown, not by unionists or men on strike, but by the rabble who joined in and associated themselves with an industrial dispute. If such ari industrial dispute of greater dimensions occurred in any. town in Australia, and the police were unable to deal with .it, then, according- to the opinion expressed at the Western Australian Conference, the military should not take any part in the matter. . As it has been intimated to me that’ the Minister for De- fence wishes to make a statement, and desires that the Senate should adjourn at the dinner hour, I ask leave to continue my speech to-morrow.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia-
Minister for Defence) [6.25]. - I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I do not intend to ask honorable senators to meet after dinner to-night, as I understand there is a general wish that we should not sit this evening. To-morrow, the first business taken will be the resumption of the debate on the motion submitted in regard to the powers proposed to be conferred on the President. That will be followed by the resumption of the debate on the Ministerial statement, and subsequently by the moving of second readings of the various Bills, the first readings of which were taken to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at6.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 June 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180625_senate_7_85/>.