7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I regret I am not ableto satisfy the curiosity of my honorable friend.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Defence if he has given consideration to the matter of the armed guard on the Bahia Castillo. If so, will he issue instructions for the removal of the guard, as that may help to secure the return of the munition workers to their homes as early as possible?
– I have just received information through the Department which indicates that there is every hope of a satisfactory settlement of the difficulty. I should like to consider it again, and hope to be able to make a complete statement dealing with the guard on the adjournment.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate, whether, in view of the announcement in this morning’s press that the Government yesterday celebrated the 3,000th anniversary of the birth of Nebuchadnezzar, they did so because he was turned out to grass and they anticipate a similar fate for themselves ?
Question not answered.
War Service Homes
– On the 17th September, I asked the Minister for Repatriation for some information with regard to applications for homes, and the number of homes built under the War Service Homes Act. Has the Minister the information for which I sought ?
– The honorable senator asked the following questions: -
I am now able to supply the following information in answer to the questions: -
The following additional tenders have been invited: -
– In view of the unparalleled high cost of living in the State of Queensland, the sequence to the untrammelled freedom; given to . profiteers in that State, is there any extra constitutional authority remaining with the Government to deal with the scourge? If not, could the present tick line be adopted for the purpose of keeping these two pests in Queensland, and preserving the cleaner portions of Australia?
– Speaking with only a layman’s knowledge of the Constitution, I believe that any action taken by the Federal authority must fall, like the rain, upon the just and the unjust alike. There can be no discrimination between one State and another, though, obviously, any beneficial measures that might be introduced would be more effective in a State that is backward in this respect, like Queensland, than in any of the other States.
– Arising out of the question asked by Senator Lynch, I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he has observed, by reference to the last publication of Mr. Knibbs, for the month of August, and as mentioned in the daily press last week, that the increase in the cost of living in Western Australia for that month was 30.5 per cent., or just about double what the increase was in Queensland ?
– That was due to the shipping strike.
– Has this fact been brought under the notice of the Minister ?
– I have many facts connected with these figures brought under my notice; but I suggest to Senator Ferricks that if he is looking for comfort, so far as the position in Queensland is concerned, he will not get it from. me.
– I can get it from Knibbs, who is a better authority.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the Wheat Pool, whether the figures with respect to the uncashed certificates for the 1918-19 crop are yet available ?
– I may inform the honorable senator that, at the present time, a complete survey of the stocks in Australia is being made, and I shall let him have the figures as early as possible.
– Arising out of the answer to my question, let me say that the stocks of wheat have nothing at all to do with the question I asked. My question was as to the number of uncashed certificates, in the Pool for the 1918-19 crop.
– I misunderstood the honorable senator’s Question. I have asked for the necessary information from each of the States, and as soon as it is to hand, I shall let him have it.
– Have the Government yet decided when they will issue the two proclamations necessary to bring the Navigation Act into force ?
– The Government have not up to the present decided the date on which those proclamations shall issue.
Senate r GRANT. - I ask the Minister in charge of shipping whether, in the event of the establishment of a line of steamers between Launceston and the mainland, passengers by vessels of that line will be exempt from the poll tax levied upon Australians now visiting Tasmania ?
– The imposition of the poll tax is due to the action of the Tasmanian Government, and, in that case, all that the Commonwealth Government could do in the matter would be to make representations for its removal.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Pearce, absent on aecount of urgent public business.
Debate resumed from 24th September (vide page 12664), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Senate approves of the Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, signed at Versailles, on the 28th June, 1919.
– I welcome the motion which has been submitted for the approval of the Treaty of Peace more because of the possibilities of the Treaty than for any concrete advantages which it secures. I think that universal satisfaction is felt at the prospect of some advance towards bringing to an end. the world’s turmoil. Whilst the bodies provided for in the Treaty, and the covenants it embraces, may not secure all the advantages to which some people are looking forward, the possibilities anticipated are there. We of the Labour party have for many years promulgated the idea of an international tribunal for the settlement of disputes, and consequently the proposal for the formation of a League of Nations is in consonance with Labour’s preaching in Australia for many years past.
– And some have gone for direct action all the time. .
-Yes, and while the present methods of our Arbitration Courts and associated tribunals are continued, there are bound to be spasmodic recurrences of direct action. I hope, however, that the basis upon which the League of Nations has been founded will prove more equitable than the principles governing the operations and awards of our arbitration tribunals. That subject, however, will be a more appropriate matter for discussion on another occasion.
I have been pleased to observe that one of the conditions imposed upon Germany’ at an early stage in the negotiations for peacewas the abolition of compulsory military service. The fact that that condition is contained within the Treaty is. very gratifying to those of us who opposed the imposition of conscription in Australia.. Realizing that the abolition of compulsory military service is laid down in Article 173 of the Peace Treaty, it will be hard for those honorable senators and their supporters who advocated conscription in Australia to satisfactorily explain their enthusiasm over this document. Under the heading of “Recruiting and Military Training,” Article 173 sets out -
Universal compulsory military service shall be abolished in Germany.
The German Army may only be constituted and recruited by means of voluntary enlistments.
That being the case, how can honorable senators who, even during the progress of this debate, have referred to conscription as the essence of Democracy, assert that; the articles of the Treaty also are democratic? If they believe in conscription for Australia, they must, to be consistent, object to the abolition of military conscription in Germany.
-You cannot compare the system of conscription in Germany with Australia’s principle of universal training.
– We can compare the two. And we can compare the operations of compulsory military service in Germany with the methods of conducting universal training in Australia, and what Australia would have been under conscription.
– But the circumstances are entirely different.
– There can be no difference in regard to the principle. The honorable senator himself, I believe, has said that the principle underlying conscription is democratic. That this Peace Treaty, upon which honorable senators opposite hold such enthusiastic views, enforces the abolition of conscription in Germany, should, at any rate, sound the deathknell to any projected revival of conscription in Australia. The principle is democratic when honorable senators advocate it for Australia; but when it is to be applied to “ the other fellow,” the principle is arbitrary and undemocratic!
– Its application here was proposed to save our country.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has said that we have nothing to be ashamed of in regard to our efforts under the system of voluntary recruiting.
– If you want conscription with a vengeance, go to Russia today.
– I am talking of conscription in Germany, or, rather, of its enforced abolition; and the honorable senator will support that enforcement if he agrees with the whole of the articles contained within the Peace Treaty. While Australia was participating in the war we were frequently reminded of the sacrifices of gallant France and noble little Belgium. Senator Gardiner, the other day, quotedfigures which indicated that the losses suffered by Australians were about four times the total of Belgian fatalities, and twice the number of the soldiers of the United States who lost their lives. Yet we were told that Australia was shaming herself because she would not adopt conscription.
– Hear, hear !
– Does the honorable senator still hold that view?
– I do!
– In view of the fact that the sacrifices of Australian lives numbered four times the losses of Belgian soldiers, and were twice the number of fatalities among the troops of the United States?
– That has nothing to do with the principle of conscription.
– It indicates what Australia did under the voluntary system. If the honorable senator claims that Australia has shamed herself, I can only say that he is far from keen in perception.
Now that Australia has emerged from her warlike operations, and has suffered the loss of many thousands of the best of her manhood, the usual aftermath of war is with us. Our warlike efforts having ended, we are now faced with a less serious responsibility, and a sordid one; I refer to our financial position. We have emerged from the struggle with a war debt of about £350,000,000, and with an anticipated, or, rather, a certain, expenditure for the provision of pensions and so forth, which, if capitalized, would amount to £100,000,000. Apart from the sacrifices at the scene of war, the people of Australia are entitled to review their efforts in the light of the sacrifices which were made with respect to the sales of their wheat, their wool, their metals, and other products. It has been indisputably proved that Australian wheat, while it was sold at the nominal figure of 4s. 9d. a bushel, did not actually realize that price; and that Canadian and United States wheat ranged from 9s. to 10s. a bushel. Even with regard to the sale of our wool, the Prime Minister has now admitted that if he had known as much when the contracts were drawn as he does to-day he would not have extended the periods of those contracts to such lengths. That indicates that the Australian wool producer has not received returns commensurate with the value of his products. The argument may be advanced that freightage upon wheat made up the difference between the prices paid for Australian and for Canadian wheat; but it must be remembered that the Imperial Government received a portion of that difference in freight, first, by way of its excess profit taxation, and, then, by the double-banking of income tax collection.
I differ from those who regard as important the fact that Australia has been raised to diplomatic status ; that Australia has been recognised as a nation, raised to a plane where she may take part in worldwide agreements. I have a suspicion that there is a danger attachable to our new status; that is, if we are to participate in the continuation of those diplomatic councils, exchanges, intrigues, and contracts which have been the cause of so many wars in the past. If Australia builds up her naval and military defences to the degree which may be called for by the recognition of our new status, I fear that it will be a matter of comparatively few years before the Commonwealth may be looked upon as important enough, in a military sense, to become embroiled in a war on her own account. I do not think I am drawing the long bow when I express the fear that if we have a man like
Mr. Hughes at the head of affairs for the next twenty years this continent, by his actions, may be drawn into a dispute with some other country. Mr. Hughes is so constituted that there is more than a possibility of such an evil coming to pass. Therefore, my view with respect to the alleged enhanced status of Australia is that such promotion may entail enhanced dangers.
The fears expressed by honorable senators during the present debate, regarding the financial burden imposed upon Australia, are not altogether shared by myself. As an Australian, I have sufficient faith in my country to fervently believe that our war burden can be borne, and very materially lightened; that is, if we are providentially favoured by ordinary seasonal conditions in the years immediately ahead. I am firmly convinced that we shall have no difficulty in weathering the present financial storms. The Australian workman does so much in comparison with the toilers of other parts of the world that I have every faith that we shall recover from financial depression. While it may be contended that anybody who can see consolation in the fact that Australia must bear a war hurden of about £454,000,000 should be described as a one-hundred-per-cent. optimist, I confess that I do find a consolation in the fact that that huge debt exists. My consolation is founded upon the belief that this great responsibility- ‘-which the daily press itself is now admitting to be serious - will have a very steadying effect in ‘more ways than one. It will mark the death of the “ stinkingfish” industry in Australia. Up to recent times we were repeatedly told that Australia was a land of industrial turmoil. Now we learn from the daily press that, after all, it is not such a bad country, and that an. equal amount of industrial unrest is to be found in all other portions of the world. Consequently, if the capitalist withdraws his capital from Australia, in what country will he be able to invest it with a greater degree of security? It is, therefore, for those who own the wealth of Australia to abandon the “ stinkingfish” cry which they have so frequently exploited. But the chief consolation which I have derived from a perusal of the Peace Treaty is the knowledge that the heavy financial responsibilities which Aus- tralia will have to carry in the future must have the effect of curbing the military spirit here. In the absence of some such salutary curb a position would eventually have been reached when Australia could not have withstood the strain to which she would have been subjected. We know that Lord Jellicoe has propounded a policy under which ships like H.M.A.S. Australia, which cost about £1,250,000, are regarded as obsolete, and under which battleships to supersede them will cost £2,250,000 each. The opinion has also been expressed by military authorities, who presumably did not consult the Minister for Defence or the Department over which he presides, but rushed into print on their own account, that’ military training in Australia should be compressed into one period of the year instead of being distributed over various periods, and that an immediate amendment of the Defence Act is necessary to provide for compulsory military service outside the Commonwealth in the event of future wars. Had Australia received an indemnity of £450,000,000 to cover her total war expenditure, I am constrained to wonder whether, eventually, it would have been a good thing for her. In such circumstances, there would have been no holding the gentlemen who have put forward the policy which I have outlined. They would have advocated the building of arsenals, the establishment of naval bases, the construction of warships in comparison to which H.M.A.S. Australia would have been an. obsolete toy, and they would have withdrawn our young men from production for increased periods of the year in order that those young men might undergo a longer compulsory military training. Had that position been brought about, it might have proved a very expensive one for us in the years to come. Had no steadying influence been created to compel us to viewthings financially with that seriousness which should always be exhibited by a young country, we cannot say what might have happened. To those persons who, during the course of the war, were inclined to think that the club should be driven home with its full weight, that the instrument of destruction should be put into our enemies up to the hilt, and that the latter should be compelled to recoup
Australia every penny of her war expenditure, the settlement which has been arrived at in the Peace Treaty cannot be regarded as a very satisfactory one. After all, what will Australia get out of the war ? To those who have held up to the public visions of full recompense by way of indemnity, it must be disappointing to observe that the word “ indemnity “ is not even used in this historic document. Therefore, I question whether it is not better for Australia to append her signature to the conditions which have been arrived at through the instrumentality of the President of the United States of America in consonance with the policy laid down in his fourteen points - a policy which practically differs very little from that laid down by the Australian Labour party in State and Federal Conferences. Here I should like to remind those persons who differed from us during the progress of the war, who were so intolerant when we even dared to express an opinion respecting it, that the terms relating to reparation by the enemy, as provided by Article 235, page 47, of the Treaty, set out that the payment by Germany of the first £1,000,000,000 is to be made on 31st May, 1921, that it is to be followed by the issue of bonds to the value of £2,000,000,000 bearing interest at2½ per cent. up to the year 1926, and 5 per cent. thereafter, and that a further £2,000,000,000 is to be paid by Germany at a later date, such payment being made up of marks, bearer bonds, &c., with interest at 5 per cent. The dates of these later payments are to be determined by the Reparation Committee. I wish to specially stress the point that all these payments are to be made by Germany by means of the issue of bonds. Now, during the currency of the war, we heard quite a lot about German “scraps ofpaper.” Yet, under this Treaty, all that Australia will receive by way of reparation will be a payment of about one-third of the capitalization of its war pensions, and we are content to accept an undertaking on paper by Germany, to meet this payment. I only hope that this undertaking will be honoured. I believe that it will be. But this portion of the Treaty is a “ scrap of paper,” nevertheless, and Mr. Hughes, when he tells the people of this country what he achieved at the Peace Conference, should be reminded of that fact.
– If one section of the Peace Treaty is “ a scrap of paper,” the whole of it must be a scrap of paper.
– We have agreed to accept German bonds in payment of our claims for reparation. In other words, we have accepted the word of the German community, as expressed through its representatives. There is another phase of this question to which I invite attention. Speaking at the Melbourne Town Hall shortly after his return to this country, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) stated that Germany was now the best organized country in the world for the commercial war that is to be, and that, so far as he is concerned, if the people of Australia wish to trade with Germany, they must put somebody else at the head of affairs. Now, if Germany is the best organized country in the world for a commercial war, we may well ask, “What was the war ailabout?”
– It has not been a trade war, has it?
– I think that it has. In the circumstances, well may the German people exclaim, “ Allied Supremacy ! Where is thy victory?” If, as is claimed by Mr. Hughes, Germany is the best organized country in the world commercially, her people are entitled to ask, “ Defeat, where is thy sting ? “ If the Prime Minister is not going to trade with Germany, or if Germany is to be ostracized commercially, what will be the value of its bonds which are to be given to the Allies as promissory notes? Honorable senators are at liberty to express their own views in regard to ostracizing Germany commercially, but I think most persons hold that now the war is over a trade war against that country should not be undertaken. Those who differ from that view wish to stifle German trade, whilst accepting German bonds which are to be redeemed in gold as the result of the expansion and success of German trading operations. Surely their attitude is an extremely inconsistent one. Again, payments by Germany under this Treaty are to extend over a period of thirty years, and are to be made at times to be fixed by the Reparation Committee. This circumstance recalls a thought which presented itself to me the other day when
Senator Millen was paying a very eloquent tribute to the late General Botha, of South Africa. In view of the sadness of the occasion, I could not express the idea at the time, but the thought occurred to me then, “ What were the views of Senator Millen and many other persons of the same class who are to-day mourning the death of General Botha, regarding that distinguished soldier statesman and his fellow Boers, not thirty years ago, but only ‘about fifteen years prior to the commencement of the war?” Why, General Botha and his compatriots were described then as the lowest of the low. They were alleged to be guilty of every crime in the calendar by persons who entertained narrow views, and who were most prejudiced and intolerant. Yet only a brief fifteen years later, these people were falling on the necks of General Botha and his countrymen.
– The Boer war was twenty years ago.
– It was not twenty years ago at the commencement of the recent war.
– It began in- 1899.
– Yes; but it is five years since the recent war started. It has occurred to me, therefore, “ What will some of the persons who now hold such strong views regarding Germany be saying about the Germans thirty years hence?” I have read that the Commercial Travellers Association, a body which, in its blatant and intolerable jingoism, is second only to the Stock Exchanges in the various States, has requested the Government to inform it of their intentions in regard to German commercial travellers.
– Every man who dared to condemn the Boer war at the time of its outbreak was ‘bounded down. Senator Earle was attacked because of his views on the matter. Every person who opposed that war was branded as a disloyalist.
– Exactly. The Commercial Travellers Association has pointed out in a letter to the Government that it has issued honorary tickets to these German commercial travellers. It has granted them rooms for the display of goods, and they want to know what the Government intend doing, showing that the continuance of the payments from
Germany to be decided by the Reparation Committee depends very largely on the frame of mind of the people of the various nations in the future. Already the Melbourne Commercial Travellers Association is moving in the matter, and if the Government are prepared to admit German goods into Australia, the Commercial Travellers Association, presumably or inferentially, is prepared to have their travellers practically on the old lines. I am justified in saying that before the reparation payments are made there will be many changes. The portion of the Treaty of the greatest concern to Australia is that relating to the Pacific Islands. During the war I was one of those who advocated no annexation.
– Hear, hear!
– Senator Reid says. “Hear, hear,” but he now favours a policy of annexation.
– It was not a war for the acquirement of territory.
– But the honorable senator now advocates it. While I am glad Australia has not annexed the German Pacific possessions, I would have viewed the internationalization of ‘that territory as even preferable to a mandate. I regard the exercise of a mandate by Australia over these Pacific possessions as one of less responsibility and danger to Australia than actual annexation or attachment. Therefore, not having advocated annexation, I can view the mandate with more ease than, perhaps, can honorable senators who advocated that policy. Nevertheless, the responsibility devolving upon Australia will be very great. In part 4 of the document Ger-many renounces all claims to her possessions abroad, including the islands, and, in addition, all her right, title, and interest therein. Australia has been given a mandate in the exercise of which she can govern that territory in the direction, and under the conditions, which she thinks best, and that being so, honorable senators should accept the responsibility from the Australian stand-point. In the past, British settlement in the Pacific has been very successful in regard to the protection afforded the natives. Under British control the care of the native population has always been the first consideration, and rightly so, too. In exercising control, particularly in what was German New Guinea, the care of the natives must be our first consideration. The. natives of the islands possess many good characteristics, which should be developed, and if the natives are well treated they will naturally become more civilized. On the other hand, if they are bullied, they will have revenge on every occasion that presents itself.
My attention has been drawn to the excellent quality of the soil and the general conditions existing in these islands, particularly in German New Guinea, by a series of articles written bv Lieutenant Leach, and recently published in the Brisbane Courier. Lieutenant Leach was occupying a responsible position in German New Guinea for three years during the occupation of the possession, and has also had extensive experience of the Pacific, which he has visited several times. Prior to the outbreak of war I discussed the question of the productivity of the islands with him on several occasions, and was. therefore, deeply interested in his articles. He points out that German New Guinea is. very fertile, and is capable of great productivity. The copra it produces tops the market of the world. Sugar cane is natural to the soil, and tobacco, coffee, and rice are grown on a commercial scale. In addition to these commodities, almost anything produced in tropical territory can be successfully raised there. Beche de mer is lying practically untouched, and the burghas and trochus shell is in sufficient quantities to influence the button market of the world. It is an immensely rich territory, and Lieutenant Leach predicts a great future for it. The general conditions of German New. Guinea, he says, are similar’ to those of Java, and the high commercial achievements of Java, from a productive point of view, may be anticipated with every confidence in German New Guinea if successfully developed. He expresses the fear, and I believe there is something in his contention, that the present holdings of large companies, like the German New Guinea Company - which, I believe, is one of many, and controls forty-two plantations, comprising an area’ of 357,500 acres - may be acquired by big British and Australian companies, which are anxious to get a footing in the territory. It is feared that the big plantations may be acquired by big company interests formed in the southern States. It is pointed out that when the German New Guinea Company’s plantations are acquired, there will be an area of 17,305 acres under cocoanut palms, 2,568 acres under rubber, 713 acres under cocoa, and 152 acres under mixed crops ; and thi6 company is only one of many. The primary development of the Queensland pastoral industry was on a large scale; but when the large areas are subdivided into grazing farms or small sheep-raising propositions ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 acres, both production and population increase.
– An area of 5,000 acres is no good. The last drought proved that.
– Still , some of the holdings are no larger than that. The production that follows the subdivision of large estates is usually ten times greater than that from the original areas. I do not wish to make a comparison between the wool and copra industries, but the keener attention which would be given to the smaller plantations would result in better returns. If the plantations were under the control of a large company, they would employ several overseers ; but . if the plantations were subdivided, they could be utilized for the settlement of returned soldiers, each of whom could have an aTea of about 250 acres. Such a policy would be infinitely better than- giving one or more companies a monopoly over the existing German plantations when they have been acquired in terms of the Treaty. We know that interests are at work to obtain a monopoly of the plantations in the Pacific Islands when these have been acquired by the Commonwealth Government. If the land were allotted in the way I have indicated, returned soldiers would go there to stay, and to work their holdings to the best advantage. They would have a personal and permanent interest in making a success of their WOrk ; but if men are merely there as overseers representing the interests of monopolies, they will have only a tentative or passing interest in the success of the undertaking. Their number would be small in comparison with the number who would go there if the territory were divided into small areas of, say, 250 acres. If the land were under the control of large companies, the repre- sentatives of the companies would seldom bother to go there. The company directors who have their eyes on the islands at present would be only concerned in the production of dividends. If monopolistic rights are given to companies while men, who have returned from the war, desire to go there, it will be a scandalous act on the part of the Government, and will show once more that, after the tumult of war has subsided, very little consideration is given to the returned soldier. I know I am speaking in anticipation in mentioning this fear.
A Commission of investigation has recently gone to the islands, and when the personnel of the Commission was published, I glanced at it once or twice. The Commission consists of Judge Murray - who I will leave right out of the question, not knowing the gentleman or anything of his official capacity; Mr. Lucas, who, I believe, is the managing director of Burns, Philp and Company, a company which has always had big interests in the Pacific; and Mr. Atlee Hunt. Honorable senators doubtless realize by this time that I have not very much faith in Mr. Atlee Hunt, when I remember his acquiescence in certain things associated with the administration of the Northern Territory during the last four or five years. The fact that Mr. Atlee Hunt, and Mr. Lucas, of Burns, Philp and Company, are members of that Commission to report on the Pacific Islands, fills my mind with suspicion. I want to know if these big companies, which we are authoritatively informed have their eyes on the islands, secure a footing, what is to become of the professions of people and institutions in this country, particularly the press, which promised so -much to the soldiers when they were going away?
– There should be ample room for all who care to go there.
– There are plenty of men at present out of employment who would be prepared to go there. But if big companies are allowed to control the plantations in the Pacific Islands, I fear that they will get the preference.
– Do you not think it would be better to do something to keep our returned soldiers in Australia?
– In this document Australia accepts responsibility for the commercial development of the
Pacific islands, and if returned soldiers desire to go there I am prepared to give them an opportunity of doing so. I believe that they are ready to go to the islands.
– It would not be a kindness to let them go.
– No doubt the honorable senator, with others, thought it a greater kindness to send them compulsorily 14,000 miles away to fight. Let him ask the returned soldiers whether it is a greater kindness to give them an opportunity of going to New Guinea to take up cocoanut growing on 250-acre plantations, perhaps with ‘trees in bearing, or to send them, by the method of conscription, to fight in other parts of the world.
– Have you ever been to New Guinea?
– No. My fear is that these big companies will get a monopoly of the opportunities in the Pacific islands’, and if any proposal is made to grant concessions to them I shall make my protest upon, every possible occasion.
Recently I asked the Acting Minister for Defence (Senator Russell) whether the late General Pethebridge’s recommendations concerning the control and development of the Pacific islands could be laid on the table of the Senate, and I was informed that the Defence Department had no knowledge of any such report. It seems strange that there should be any confusion about the matter. The answer to my question was not a direct refusal, but merely an intimation that the Department had no knowledge of any report. It did not state that no such report had been presented to the Minister. I want to impress upon the Minister the absolute necessity of ascertaining if the late General Pethebridge did make any recommendations, if not a report, to the Government or to- the Minister for Defence on this subject.
– I understand his report was not completed when he died, and so had not been presented. It may be possible to get hold of a portion of it.
– I understand the late Administrator had drafted some recommendations on this subject, and that he was opposed to the operations of big companies. Therefore I ask the Government not to do anything without consulting Parliament. If contracts are entered into, everything should be done in the full light of day. I realize that I am speaking in anticipation of something which might be done, but I think I have good grounds for my fears.
– The honorable senator, of course, recognises the value of the developmental work already done by the big companies in the South Pacific?
– Yes : but I point out that the Peace Treaty provides that plantations owned- by German nationals are to be acquired by the Commonwealth Government.
– I understand the Germans may retain their own property.
– Only if they are naturalized. If the honorable senator will look at the Treaty he will find that when their property is taken over they have to be compensated, and that the Commonwealth Government may then sell their plantations to somebody else.
– You do not suggest that the Treaty confiscates those properties ?
– No. The Commonwealth Government will have to pay for them, and the amount paid will be credited against the German liability.
– Then, in the long run, the Germans will have to pay for them.
-Yes. My fear is that the Government will sell these plantations to big companies or combinations of companies, and I contend that, in justice to the soldiers who went away 14,000 miles to fight for the protection of Australia, everything should be done in the full light of day.
Something has been said, also, regarding the attitude of those who fought for us and made it possible for Australia to be in her present position. Senator Bakhap, I think, said in effect, that he was not going to promise too much to the soldiers. In the absence of that honorable senator from the chamber I shall not say anything further, than that my attitude is entirely different from his. I did not urge anybody to go to the war. Senator Bakhap did. He urged them to go at European conscription rates of ls. Id. per day, or something like that, and now they are back he is afraid that they are going to be coddled. As I have already said, I did not ask anybody to go to the war.
– You ought to be ashamed of yourself, then.
– 1 did not urge anybody to go, because I was not going myself.
– That has nothing to do with the question.
– It has everything to do with it. If the honorable senator was not prepared to go himself he should not have endeavoured to force others to go. Now that our soldiers have returned to Australia my voice and vote on every occasion will be used to see that the lavish promises made to them before they went away are carried out. The people who roared loudest in their protestations about the future welfare of the soldier before he went away are those best able to pay now for the redemption of their promises, and if the screw of taxation wants an extra twist upon those who are more wealthily endowed, in order that those promises may be carried out, I shall be prepared to give it that extra twist. During the absence of our soldiers rauch wealth has been accumulated in Australia, very often by the exploitation of their wives or dependants. Millions have been piled up by this means, and now. we hear talk about soldiers being spoiled by Government patronage or public concern for their welfare. I shall not seek the votes of any section of the community by this means, but I shall do my best to see that the promises made to our soldiers are carried out to the fullest extent. I hope that when our party comes back to power-
– That will be at the next election.
– Without endeavouring to voice my honorable friend’s contention, which I indorse, I may say that I fee] confident our party will be returned to power in the fullness of time and our policy will be to make those who are best able to pay - those who accumulated so much wealth during the war - find the money in order that 7our soldiers may be properly cared for. I shall not forget to tell the people that.
– You are concerned about the soldiers now.
– I am concerned to see that those who were so intolerant when we were expressing: our views during the war shall not now be allowed to shelve their responsibilities by failing to carry out the promises made.
– We will se© to that.
– You have not done it so far. I am going to make my position quite clear. Without “ kowtowing “ to any section of the community, I say, concerning Australia’s participation in the war, that she occupies a proud position - a position achieved under the voluntary system - and, so far as I and my party are concerned, I am very proud of what I did during the war for Australia. I did my little bit. and my best to keep the curse of conscription from being planted in this native land of mine. I am proud of what I did - prouder, perhaps, than are honorable senators opposite of what they did during the war.
.- As has been .pointed out already by several honorable senators, the document which we are now considering is one of the most momentous that could come before any deliberative assembly, and I regret that I have not at my disposal language with which fittingly to describe all that I feel about it. Looking back upon all that we have gone through, and knowing something about the history of Europe and the materialistic spirit which has been at work for many generations, leading up to the most barbarous war it is possible for the human mind to conceive, I regard this document with’ feelings of gratitude, because it is evidence that the forces for good have triumphed over the forces for evil. The material and spiritual welfare of the world is now assured, because the Treaty is the foundation of national security. I take second place to no one in my attitude concerning the part played by Australia in this world t crisis. I feel extremely grateful to all of our men who volunteered to go to the old countries of the world and there fight for our liberty, thus saving us from devastation and ruin, and all the evils that have been brought upon many of those lands. At the same time I recognise that the dangers to Australia were just as great as to the people’ in Europe, and we should indeed be thankful that the issues were decided on other than Australian soil. This document protects our liberty and makes our future secure. While our friends opposite have a great deal to say about Australia -and I am not imputing to them that they do not love this country as much as any other section does - it seems to me that during the war they lacked imagination, and do not now realize what this country has gained by the sacrifices of our soldiers, as well as by the great work, which our Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and his colleague (Sir Joseph Cook) performed in Europe, by reason of which we are now called upon, as a nation within the greatest Empire in the world, to place our signatures to this historic document. We have been lifted up into a position of equality with other nations of the world. I used often to ponder over the position which Australia would secure in the future, and what she might have to go through to attain it; because history proves that there has never been a nation in the world that has made a name for itself as a nation which has not been called upon to sacrifice the blood of its people. I am glad to-day to be in a position to assert that the sons of Australia have freely given their blood to make a name for her which could never be blotted out. Australia has been engaged in no trade war, and in no war for her own advantage, but on behalf of human liberty and high ideals ; and I have no doubt that the spirit displayed by her sons in this war will animate her people in the future, and enable them to overcome any difficulties against which they may have to contend. I believe that the British people, as a race, have a duty to perform for the world, not only to preserve the principles of Democracy, and the self-government of people within the Empire, but to set an example to those without. I believe that, as a race, the British people are more capable of undertaking this great work than are the people of any other race; and in this regard, in my opinion, the British Empire and Australia stand unique in history to-day.
It was very gratifying to learn that General Smuts and the1 much -regretted General Botha, when they returned to South Africa from the Peace Conference, admitted that they had never realized the position which the British Empire occupied until they attended the Conference, and had noted there, not only its strength, but its influence amongst the nations of the world. Although a few years ago these’ distinguished men were opponents of the British Empire, they admitted, on their recent return to South Africa, that they had never realized its greatness until they had seen it displayed at the PeaceConference table.
It is especially gratifying to Australians to know that they were represented at the Conference by Mr. Hughes. We have been informedby the statesmen of the South African Union, to whom I have just referred, and by others representing sister Dominions, that it is to Mr. Hughes we owe the fact that the overseas Dominions ‘of the Empire are to-day recognised as separate nations, and have the privilege of joining the League of Nations on an equality with the other nations of the world. We, as Britishers and Australians, owe him our eternal gratitude for securing for us that position.
I regret very much that our friends on the other side have never in this chamber in another place, or in any of their public utterances outside, recognised the great fight which our Prime Minister put up on behalf of the White Australia policy. I do not think that their failure to do so will be of the slightest service to them politically in the future.
– He only pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for America.
– He pulled no chestnuts out of the fire for anybody; and I am sorry that Senator Ferricks should make such a statement. I do not quite see the application of his remark, but I know that there is a sneer behind it, and it is that sneer to which I object. I do not see how it can be contended that Mr.. Hughes, by upholding the policy which was laid down by the vast majority of our people, pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for any one but the people of Australia.
– I differ from the honorable senator materially.
SenatorREID. - I regret that very much;but it only shows the honorable senator’s want of sense and lack of imagination, which is the curse of the party to which life belongs.
– President Wilson used Mr. Hughes to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for him. He sat back all the time, though America was as much interested in the matter as is Australia.
SenatorREID. - I agree that America is interested in the matter; but there was no attempt to make use of Mr.
Hughes. Any one who has a knowledge of the history of Great Britain will know that statesmen permeated with the policy of Free Trade have long taken pride in the fact that as soon as aman puts his foot on British soil he becomes free.
– Men are the more free the further they are away from Great Britain.
– Senator Needham’s statement is quite unnecessary. I say that it has always been recognised that the moment a man set foot on British soil he secured his liberty. Bearing this in mind, the policy of a White Australia is not understood by the people of Great Britain. That is the point I desire to emphasize. It is extremely difficult for the people of Great Britain to understand our keenness on this question of a White Australia. If honorable senators will consider the history of France, Italy, and, in fact, of all the Continental nations, and what must have been the feelings of the representatives of those nations at the Peace Conference, they will recognise how difficult it must have been for them to understand why Australia, considering the immense continent we possess, and our very small population, should be so very keen about the preservation of that policy. We have to consider these things to grasp the situation which confronted Mr. Hughes, and to estimate the fight which he had to put up in the face of practically the rest of the world to secure to us the continuation of the policy which our people have adopted. It has been said that he was made use of in this connexion by others. I do not credit that statement; and I say that the fight he made on behalf of Australia for the preservation of the White Australia policy must stand to his eternal credit with those who believe in that policy. We have toremember that British statesmen at the Peace Conference represented millions more of coloured people than of white people. India is an important part of the British Empire, and that country alone has a population of 317,000,000 of coloured people. In South Africa, and in Canada also, there are coloured populations, and, in the circumstances, the representatives of Great Britain at the Peace Conference could not be expected to support the White Australia policy. It was left to Mr. Hughes alone to contend for that policy against all the Powers of the world. Pressure was exerted by China and by Japan, and it should be remembered that Japan was one of the five big Powers which practically controlled the Peace Conference. In spite of all this opposition, Mr. Hughes was successful in preserving that policy for Australia. In all the circumstances, it is astonishing that honorable senators opposite, who make such a mouthful of the White Australia policy when addressing the public, have failed to recognise the great work which Mr. Hughes has done in preserving that policy for Australia. In view of what Mr. Hughes has done for them in the past, I am sorry that their personal bitterness against him at the present time has prevented them from being sufficiently magnanimous to recognise fully and freely the great fight which he put up for a White Australia.
– The honorable senator should not ask honorable senators opposite to do the impossible.
– It must be impossible for them to be magnanimous, or they would have made some acknowledgment of the services of Mr. Hughes in this regard bef ore now.
I am sorry that Senator Ferricks has left the chamber, but it is his own fault that he is not present when I desire to refer to something that he has said. He appears to be quite proud that he did not ask any one to go to the war, because he would not go himself. I do not know whether he was physically fit to go or not, but I rather question his fitness, because, unfortunately, I believe that he is not physically fit for active service. He takes up the attitude that he would not go to the Front himself, and would not advise any one else to go, and that he served Australia by being an anticonscriptionist. I fully indorse the satisfaction he expressed at Germany being clipped of her power of conscription. Any one who desires the welfare of the human race must favour the abolition of conscription in countries in which it is used as a military instrument to aid in dominating the people of other countries. That was the object of the conscription policy in Germany, and it is, on that account, satisfactory to know that it can be no longer continued there. In common with many others, I take pride in having believed in, and having advocated, conscription for Australia. I say now, as I have said before, that the one blot upon Australia is that she did not adopt conscription. That is the only thing that can be brought against her. Her record otherwise is, perhaps, superior to that of any other country that took part in the war.
I think that when the history of the war comes to be written, it will be shown very clearly that, from the point of view of the Allies, it was not a trade war or a commercial war, but a fight between the democratic forces and the forces of autocracy. Any one who looks out upon the world must recognise the uprising of the forces of the people amongst all nations. As soon as the war closed Russia was rent from end to end, and a similar uprising of the people took place in Germany. This has been the experience of almost every country engaged in the war, with the exception of the Allied countries, in which there were more or less liberal constitutions in operation. All the autocracies of the world have been rent from end to end. We have reached the stage in human evolution when the people are taking advantage of their power. We know that in their ignorance and lack of experience they will probably make some dreadful mistakes; but we know also that the principles of Democracy must make for human liberty. The sacrifices of Australia and of the Allies have been sacrifices for Democracy throughout the world. The war has been waged against the militarism represented by autocracy. We know that a large section of the commercial and capitalistic class in Germany looked upon the German army as the instrument by which they held what they had, and hoped to capture more. We have had evidence that the German financiers were brought together prior to the war, and were quite prepared to go into the struggle. By defeating the German army, we have killed, not only the spirit of militarism in that country, but the capitalism which used militarism to further its own ends. Germany has been saved from herself; and in the future I believe that no people will be more ready than will the German people to recognise what they have been saved from. It may take some time for them to realize it, but I believe that they will eventually realize it.
So far as annexations in the Pacific are concerned, our opponents speak of the mandatory powers which are to be given to us as if they were to be used for trade purposes. Honorable senators opposite know that Australia did not go to war to annex the islands of the Pacific. They must realize, however, that it would have been suicidal to permit any other Power to gain a footing in those waters., and that it would have been particularly dangerous, and, in fact, tragic, if we had allowed Germany to get her island territories back. Who would have taken over German New Guinea if Australia had not done so? Who among the nations is so capable of administering those Pacific territories as is the Commonwealth ? We have any amount of room in this continent, but we owe a duty to the helpless inhabitants of the islands lying near our northern coasts. From the view-point of defence alone, wisdom dictates that Australia should accept the mandate. We have to thank Mr. Hughes that he laid it down so energetically and unequivocally that our man.datory Dowers should be clear and full, and not merely farcical. He made a big fight for that objective, despite the peculiar views held by President Wilson. The result of his efforts is that Australia has been given what may be termed the freehold of those island territories. The mandate grants us, in effect, full possession ; but on one condition, namely, that we do not misuse our powers. Appreciating the democratic spirit of Australia as I do. the possible misuse of our powers does not trouble me. We should look upon the’ mandate as a sacred trust. We owe that as a duty to our own Democracy. We owe something, also, to the native peonies of those islands. They are totally unfitted to govern themselves. It is our responsibility to act towards them as though they were grown-up children. In savin.? th n t, I am expressing my feelings in regard to the sneer uttered by Senator Ferricks with respect to annexation. I do not know of any one in Australia who would favour the annexation of those islands except upon a basis of trust, and in the best interests of their inhabitants. I hope that the islands will be developed upon proper lines; but they must be held, not only for the benefit of their inhabitants, but with a keen eye to the security of Australia. I am convinced that the terms of the mandate will not he abused.
I am not particularly strong upon the worship of the individual, but it seems almost impossible that Mr. Hughes could have accomplished so much for Australia as fie has done. I do not say that in any spirit of mere’ adulation, for that would be rather insulting to the Prime Minister. But I realize that he fought a magnificent fight; and, further, that he did so not only for Australia, but for the Empire. So far as I can gather from people in an influential position in the Old Country, Mr. Hughes is looked upon as having represented the spirit of the British people themselves; his views and expressions more fully approximated to the ideals of the citizens of the Empire than the actions and utterances of any of the other British statesmen at the Peace Conference. Mr. Hughes was regarded, in fact, as the embodiment of the spirit “ of the British people. He did a magnificent thing in securing the recognition of the British Dominions as separate nations. I notice, by the way, that the Republican party in the United States of America is now trying to rob us of that distinction. Mr. Hughes achieved a magnificent performance in bringing back to us world-wide recognition df our ideal of a White Australia. We realize how easy it might have been to introduce a phrase into one of the articles of the Peace Treaty which would have conferred upon all nations equal right of entry into the territories of all other nations.
– The United States of America would have had something to say if such an article had been included.
– The United States of America has been faced with a problem in relation to its Chinese citizens. She overcame that problem ; but now she is handling a greater difficulty with respect to the immigration of Japanese. I was speaking, a little while ago, with an influential Californian, who referred to the number of Japanese who had settled in that State. He alluded to the danger which they were deemed to constitute, and to the fight which has followed upon the refusal of the United States of America to permit Japanese children to enter the national schools. It must be remembered, in that regard, that American negro children may not enter the schools where the white American children are educated. In no way is equality’ conceded to the American negro. But the Japanese have- demanded equality in respect of educational facilities..
– The class of Japanese who are migrating to California are permanent settlers. They are taking their wives and children. The Japanese who are seeking to come into Australia are of the coolie type. They’ do not bring their families with them, with the idea, of settling. Japan views California in a sense of closer relationship than Australia.
– The Chinese who entered America in large numbers did not generally take their families with them, and it was relatively easy to send them back to their own country. Rut the Japanese have permanently established themselves; they have settled in districts where there are no inhabitants but Japanese, and where no language but Japanese is spoken. They have no intention of returning to Japan. One can appreciate that the people of California should take exception, just as Australians would do, to the settlement of thousands of people of another race in their midst. With respect to the prohibition against Japanese children attending American schools, the Califfornian Legislature’ defied the American Senate, and very acute feeling was engendered. I could never understand why President Wilson appeared to hang back and leave the fighting to Mr. Hughes.
– Mr. Hughes pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for him.
– He was not doing that, but was fighting for our ideal of a White Australia; even fighting against one who should -have been with him upon that principle.
– My interjection was based upon the very issue which you now raise.
– We have no evidence that President Wilson backed up Mr. Hughes until he was compelled to take a stand as the result of pressure from California; and it is all the more to the credit of Mr. Hughes, therefore, that he should have brought back with him the nations’ recognition of the White Australia policy.
– The whole attention of Japan was focussed upon Australia, instead of oh America.
– I know it was.
– Because Mr. Hughes pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for President Wilson.
– All the more credit to Mr. Hughes! .
– President Wilson was using him for his own ends.
– I can only repeat the expression of my regret that my Labour friends have not recognised the services of Mr. Hughes to Australia in this regard.
– I cannot agree with the honorable senator at all.
– It was for that reason that I. rose to speak.
One of the greatest achievements of the League of Nations will be the reduction of armaments. The importance of the matter is realized by those, at any. rate, who have been aware of the many millions of pounds wasted on the building up of armaments, and who have realized the bitterness- of the feelings engendered among the nations - a bitterness which finally plunged the world into war. My view is that, despite the enormous losses occasioned by the struggle, Europe will be better off if, as an outcome of this war, and of the foundation of the League of Nations, huge armaments disappear from the earth. No matter how great may be the sum total of the nations’ war indebtedness, Europe in a relatively little while should be able to wipe out that cost. I do not say that in a flippant way. I da not suggest that the debt is such that it can be swiftly brushed aside. But I am thinking of the enormous sums of money which have been spent upon armaments, and of the millions of people whose labour has been unproductively employed in the creation of armaments. If the work of those millions of people, and those huge sums of money, are now directed into peaceful channels, under the sway of the League of Nations, then Europe, with her newfound freedom, will occupy but a comparatively brief period in wiping out the tremendous costs of war. This Treaty lays- the foundation-stone of completefuture liberty for Australia, and, of course, not for Australia alone. Here is the foundation of a system whereby all nations may be drawn together, and as an outcome of which warfare should cease.
I desire to conclude with, a few remarks with respect to the Labour Charter embodied in the Treaty of Peace. To one who knows something of the varied standards of living in the older countries of the world, and to one who is aware of the lack of consideration accorded to labour in the past, it is wonderful to realize that in this charter such tremendously wide recognition has been accorded to labour. It is an international recognition, and one which will, I hope, bring all nations together into closer- communion. As an outcome of this Peace Treaty - including, as it does, a charter of labour - it appears to me that .’the future welfare of the world may be secured, and that war will have become a thing of the past.
– We are asked to ratify the Treaty of Peace which has been arrived at between the Allied Powers .and Germany. This document was signed at Versailles on 28th June last. That circumstance reminds me that only a year previously - in June, 1918 - a Conference representing at least a- section of the people of Australia was held at Perth.
– The honorable senator ought to forget that.
– I do not desire to forget the decisions which were arrived at by that body. Rather do I intend to place upon record certain facts with a view to refuting the absurd misrepresentations that have been made by the daily press and by supporters of the Government, including Senator de Largie, regarding what that Conference did, and what were its aims and objects. As a member of that Conference, it is my duty, on behalf of those who were associated with me, and in justice to the movement to which I have the honour to belong, to cite a few facts in refutation of the silly calumnies and lies which have been broad-casted regarding the ideals of the Labour party as expressed in the resolutions of that body. These lies and misrepresentations have, for party purposes only, been indorsed by the .antiLabour press of Australia from that date, onwards. I have here a document carefully prepared by one of the ablest Labour men of Australia, in which the opinions of four eminent authorities are placed side by side in parallel columns. These authorities are the Perth Labour
Congress, Mr. Lloyd George, President Wilson, and the British Labour party. My object in directing attention to this matter is to show that, on all the essential points which were considered by the Perth Labour Conference, very little difference of opinion existed between the views of that body, those of Mr. Lloyd George, of President Wilson, and of the British Labour party. Take the first question involved - that of the right of small, nations - including Ireland - to political independence. The Perth Labour Conference affirmed that right. Mr. Lloyd George, in a speech on 5th January, 1918, in alluding to the same question, said -
The first requirement of Great Britain and the Allies is the complete restoration of the political, territorial, and economic independence of Belgium. Arabia, Armenia, and Mesopotamia are, in our judgment, entitled to the recognition of their separate national conditions.
President Wilson, on the Sth January, 1918, said-
Roumania, Servia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Servia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan States to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic dependence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan States.
The British Labour party, on 17th December, 1917, laid down the proposition that-
The people ( of the Balkans and Poland should decide their own future, irrespective of Austrian, Turkish, or other foreign domination.
Is there any vital .difference between those four expressions of opinion? Coming to the next point, the Perth Conference carried this resolution -
That the European countries invaded during the present war be immediately evacuated, and their future territorial integrity guaranteed, provided that the ownership ot disputed territories shall be determined by a plebiscite of the inhabitants under the protection of an international Commission. This course would dispose of Alsace-Lorraine, Poland, and similar cases on the democratic principle that all just Governments must rest on the consent of the governed._
What was Mr. Lloyd George’s opinion on the same matter? He said -
We feel that government with the consent of the governed must be the basis of any territorial settlement after the war.
I have no need to go any farther than that.
– He wishes to go farther in giving effect to that principle.
– Then I will go farther. Mr. Lloyd George continued -
None of those territories (the German Colonies) is inhabited by Europeans: therefore, the governing consideration in all these cases must be that the inhabitants should be placed under the control of an administration acceptable to themselves.
President Wilson, in expressing his opinion on the same great subject, said that there must be -
The evacuationof all Russian territory. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated. All French territory should be freed.
The British Labour party affirmed -
The British Labour movement has no sympathy with the attempts made, now in this quarter and now in that, to convert this war into a war of conquest, whether whatis sought to be acquired by force is territory or wealth; neither should the struggle be prolonged for a single day, once the condition’s of a permanent peace can be secured, merely for the sake of extending the boundaries of any State. But it is impossible to ignore the fact that, not only restitution and reparation, but also certain territorial adjustments are required. These adjustments can be arrived at by common agreement on the general principle of allowing all peoples to settle their own destinies.
I come now to the next point. The Perth Conference resolved -
That, prior to the protest of disbandment of the combatant armies, the soldiers shall be voluntarily utilized, under international control, for the restoration of the devastated territories, at the expense of the invaders.
Mr. Lloyd George declared for ;
Reparation for the devastation of its (Belgium’s) towns and provinces.
President Wilson affirmed -
Belgium must be evacuated and restored.
The British Labour party declared that-
The restoration of the devastated areas of France, Belgium, Italy, East Prussia, Poland, and Russia must cover the peasantry.
On the next great point, regarding arbitration in international disputes, the Perth Conference agreed -
That, where an amicable arrangement cannot be reached by the Peace Conference in regard to captured Colonies and Dependencies, such territories shall be placed provisionally under international control.
Mr. Lloyd George said ;
The German Colonies’ are held at the disposal of a conference, whose decisions must have primary regard to the wishes and interests of the native inhabitants.
President Wilson favoured -
Free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims with the interests of the population concerned, having equal weight with the claims of the Government.
The British Labour party declared -
All disputes must be submitted to an international High Court. All States must enter into a solemn agreement to make common cause against any State failing to adhere to this agreement.
There we have four practically similar declarations.
– Let me point out a great difference between them. The Labour Conference spoke of “ an amicable arrangement,” meaning, obviously, an arrangement to which Germany would consent. Germany never consented to such anarrangement.
– That may be Senator Millen’s idea.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - But the honorable senator himself was present at the Perth Labour Conference, and, therefore, ought to know.
– I know exactly what was in the mind of that body. I was present every moment that the Conference was in session during the first five days of its meetings. Upon the question of the freedom of the seas there was almost absolute unanimity between the four authorities which I have quoted. Upon the vital question of the manufacture by private individuals or firms of implements of war, the Perth Conference laid it down that there should be -
The abolition of trading in armaments, and the prohibition of the private manufacture thereof.
Speaking on the same subject, about the same time, Mr. Lloyd George said -
We must seek, by the creation of some international organization, to limit the burden of armaments and diminish the probability of war. The crushing weight of modern armaments, &c., are blots on our civilization, of which every thinking individual must be ashamed.
President Wilson said that there should be -
Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
Tlie British Labour party affirmed -
There must be a common limitation of armaments; the abolition of profit-making by armament firms.
On the question of conscription, what were the principles enunciated by the same four authorities? The British Labour party and the Perth Labour Con- ference both favoured the abolition of conscription in all countries simultaneously. Mr. Lloyd George said -
The increasing evils of compulsory military, service, &c, are blots on our civilization, of which every thinking individual must be ashamed.
– And he passed conscription.
– Mr. Lloyd George insisted on the abolition of conscription. This is what he said : - -
The increasing evils of compulsory military service are blots on our civilization of which every thinking individual must be ashamed
I admit that after Britain had raised « something like 5,000,000 men by voluntary effort, Mr. Lloyd ‘George favoured conscription for the remainder of the war.
Sitting suspended from 1.2 to 2.S0 p.m.
– From the particulars I have given, it will be apparent that the declarations of the Australian Labour party at the Perth Labour Conference agreed, in the main, with the opinions of Mr. Lloyd .George, President Wilson, and the British Labour party. On the question of conscription the Australian Labour party declared, at the Perth Conference, in favour of its simultaneous abolition in all countries. I have given Mr. Lloyd George’s opinion; that of President Wilson is not shown. The opinion of the British Labour party was -
There must be universal abolition of compulsory military service in all countries.
The opinion of the Australian Labour party favours -
The control of foreign relations under a Democratic system, based upon publicity, in lieu of the present methods of secret diplomacy.
A great deal of discussion has taken place since the beginning of the war, and there has been more since the Peace Conference h’as been in session, which tends to show that, mainly owing to international disputes being settled by secret diplomacy, many wars have occurred. We know there is an. unanimous feeling that future international disputes should be settled in open conference, instead of by secret diplomacy. The opinions of the Perth Conference were expressed in the words I have just read. Mr. Lloyd George’s opinion on the same subject is -
A great attempt must be made to establish, by some international organization, an alternative to war as a means of settling international disputes.
President Wilson’s declaration was -
Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
The British’ Labour party’s views are in accord with those I have mentioned. Finally the Australian Labour party declared -
That the existing machinery for international arbitration be expanded to embrace a concert of Europe, ultimately merging into a world-wide parliament, as advocated by President Wilson in a recent message to the American Congress.
I have already quoted Mr. Lloyd George’s opinion on that question. President Wilson’s opinion on it has been given in another form to the effect that a general association of nations must be formed for the purpose of establishing international arbitration and enforcing it. The British Labour party said : -
A super-national authority of a League of Nations must be established, composed of the present belligerents, while neutrals should also join.
So much for the opinions of those authorities on those great principles which are so vital to the world, and to Australia as part of the British Empire.
Looking at the Treaty in connexion with these points one has only to read Article after Article to find in this document as it finally left the Conference those principles, in a general way, which were enunciated by the authorities quoted, and laid down and accepted as the basis of the Treaty. What was wrong with the Perth Labour Conference?
– We had not won the war when its resolutions were passed.
– Within twelve months after the vital principles which were supported at the Perth Conference had crystallized into resolutions and were published throughout Australia, those principles, if not in the same words, were practically agreed to as the basis of the Peace Treaty which is now before us.
On the question of armaments Article 8 of the Treaty reads: -
The Members of the League recognise that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common’ action of international obligations.
The Council, taking account of the geographical situation and circumstances of each State, shall formulate plans for such reduction for the consideration and action of the several Governments.
Another paragraph in the same Article states -
The Members of the League agree that the manufacture by private enterprise of munitions and implements of war is open to grave objections. The Council shall advise how the evil effects attendant upon such manufacture can be prevented, due regard being had to the necessities of those Members of the League which are not able to manufacture the munitions and implements of war necessary for their safety.
The Members of the League undertake to interchange full and frank information as to ] the scale of their armaments, their military, naval, and air programmes and the condition of such of their industries as are adaptable to war-like purposes.
That is similar to the resolution, of the Perth Conference in connexion with the private manufacture of implements of -war. Articles 9, 10, 11, and 12, dealing with all these big questions, show a wonderful unanimity of opinion on the great questions that were submitted at the Perth Conference in the form of resolutions and which were -adopted by a large majority. On the question of arbitration Article 11 reads -
Any war or threat of war, whether immediately affecting any of the Members of the League or not, is hereby declared a matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations. In case any such emergency should arise the Secretary General shall on the request of any Member of the League forthwith summon a meeting of the Council.
It is also declared to be the friendly right of each Member of the League to bring to the attention of the Assembly or of the Council any circumstance whatever affecting international relations which threatens to disturb international peace or the good understanding between nations upon which peace depends.
Article 12 states -
The Members of the League agree that if there should arise between them any dispute likely to lead to a rupture, they will submit the matter either to arbitration or to inquiry by the Council, and they agree in no case to resort to war until three months after the award by the arbitrators, or the report by the Council.
In any case under this Article the award of the arbitrators shall be made within a reasonable time, and the report of the Council shall be made within six months after the submission of the dispute.
I could go on quoting paragraph after paragraph’ and Article after Article of the ‘ Peace Treaty to show that on all these big questions the opinions of the Labour movement, as crystallized by the Perth Conference in 1918, will bear favorable comparison with the opinions expressed by the representatives of these great nations at the greatest meeting of statesmen ‘that the world has ever seen. In spite of the fact that President Wilson, Mr. Lloyd George, and the British Labour party agreed, in the. main, with the resolutions passed at the Perth Conference, those who took part in the Conference, and the members of the Australian Labour party generally, have been subjected to abuse right up to the present time. I make no apology for occupying the time of the Senate in placing upon record the opinions I have quoted to show how closely they agree with the resolutions of the Perth Conference. The Perth Labour Conference declared that it would be in the interests of the world to have an early peace, and five months after the Perth Conference concluded its work an armistice was arranged. Why was the armistice agreed upon? It must not be forgotten that in June the outlook for the Allies was very grave, but five months later, when the position had been considerably improved, and when, apparently, it -would not have been much trouble for the Allies to pursue the Germans to Berlin, those in control of the Allied forces agreed to an armistice. A great deal has been said about the Perth Conference and its attitude on the question of indemnities. The Conference was not in- favour of penal indemnities. Will any one say that those in charge of the Allied operations expected to receive indemnities when the armistice was signed. They knew as well then as they did when the Conference sat and the Treaty was signed that they would not receive the indemnity they would like Germany to pay. Why was the armistice agreed upon ? It was simply to stop the slaughter. If Australia never recovers £1 of her share of the indemnities she should receive under this Treaty, the cessation of hostilities was more than justified. I am not only echoing my opinions, but those, of the party to which I belong. Grave as the position may have been at the time the armistice was signed, it needs no stretch of imagination to realize what they .would have been had hostilities continued. Approximately 58,000 of the best of our men lost their lives in the war, and, generally speaking, more than double that number have been incapacitated. We know that there are large numbers of cripples to be seen in every capital city of the Commonwealth, and there would have been greater sacrifice of life and heavier expenditure if the conflict had continued. There comes a time when money does count if the prosperity of a country is to continue. Owing to the enormous number of young men who went out of Australia to take part in the war, industry was, to some extent, stagnant, and if it had continued, there would have been a great deal more stagnation of industry and a much heavier burden of debt than that which we have to shoulder at present, which, the Prime Minister declares, is beyond our ability to bear unless we make superhuman efforts to increase production. That is why I say that if we never get one sovereign out of the war by way of indemnity, it was a good thing for Australia that hostilities ceased in November last; because, had it been otherwise, there would have been an increase not only in the loss of Australian life, but also in our
Avar expenditure, and, consequently, in the. yearly interest on our national debt.
We know the price we have been called upon to pay for the war in men, and we know, to a certain extent, what Ave have to pay in hard cash. Against that we have to put in the balance the probable advantages to Australia out of the Peace Treaty. I welcome the Treaty, because it seems to me to be at least an honest attempt to get nearer to the day when the hellish game of man-killing shall give way to the principle of international arbitration. I am” not looking at the Treaty with any prejudiced eye. I admit, also, that I am not taking as absolute fact the truth of criticisms that have been levied at the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in certain quarters concerning his actions at the Peace Conference. The Prime Minister and some honorable senators opposite claim that he did splendid work there, especially in safeguarding the principle of a White Australia. I cheer fully admit that I believe he worked hard in advocacy of that policy, which most of us hold dear. It has been claimed by some of his friends that because of his almost superhuman efforts this policy has received recognition in the Treaty itself. On the other hand, a very severe critic in another branch of this Legislature, in the course of a speech which, whether honorable senators agree with it or not, should be read by them, ‘declared that the Prime Minister, during the war period, really endangered this policy.
– Whose speech do you refer to?
– The speech made by Mr. Catts. I am not asking honorable senators to agree to his views; but I say that, in common fairness to a politicalopponent, they should place Mr. Catts’ speech side by side with those delivered by the Prime Minister and Sir Joseph Cook in regard to the enormous amount of research it involved. I am not saying that his statements are correct. I am merely stating that a speech which required such an enormous amount of research, in order to put the other side ofthe question, should be read by every member of this Parliament. The Prime Minister and his friends claim that his attitude at the Peace Conference safeguarded the White Australia policy, but his chief critic in another place claimed that the present Prime Minister and Mr. Fisher in 1915, when, either willingly or otherwise, they agreed to a certain secret treaty between the Imperial Government and Japan, really endangered the principle of a White Australia to a much greater extent than the Prime Minister was able to safeguard it at the Peace Conference. There are the two statements, and I say that in dealing with a big question like this, both sides are worthy of consideration.
– Do you indorse Mr. Catts’ statements?
– I will not say that I do or that I do not indorse them; for this reason- ‘
– Does the honorable senator mean that I am talking humbug? Senator de Largie may be a pretty fair judge of humbug; but, anyhow, he might get on a little better if he were a little more courteous in bis interjections.
– If I were quoting an authority, I would not take Jimmy Catts.
– I am quoting what authority I choose. If Senator de Largie were diligent enough to make the same amount of research on this or any other question, as Mr. Catts evidently has made on this subject, I would be quite willing to quote the honorable senator as an authority. The Prime Minister was not present for the whole of the time that Mr. Catts was delivering his speech and Teading extracts, which he claimed to be authoritative, but evidently Sir Joseph Cook was in the chamber throughout the speech, and any unbiased judge must come to the conclusion that his interjections were not convincing.
I welcome this Treaty, in spite of the conflict of opinion as to whether it is going to be beneficial to Australia or not. I accept it mainly because of the outstanding feature that for the first time, I believe, in the history of the nations an attempt is being made to give effect to the humanitarian ideals of the Labour party, including proper conditions of labour for women and children in all countries affected by it. These subjects have received earnest consideration by the Labour movement ever since it sprang into existence in Australia, and, by a recognition in the Treaty of these principles, the nations of the world have made a remarkable advance. In Article 23 there appears the following agreement : -
Subject to and in accordance with the provisions of international conventions existing or hereafter to be agreed upon, the members of the League -
Will endeavour to secure and maintain fair and humane conditions of labour for men, women, and children, both in their own countries and in all countries to which their commercial and industrial relations extend, and for that purpose will establish and maintain the necessary national organizations;
Will intrust the League with the general supervision over the execution of agreements with regard to the traffic in women and children, and the traffic in opium and other dangerous drugs.
To me, and from a Labour stand-point, this is one of the most valuable portions of the Peace Treaty.
– So far as professions are concerned.
– Yes, so far as professions go. Whether the signatories to the Treaty will translate their pious professions into legislative action is a matter for the future; but we may, I think, take it that these professions have been genuinely made, and that international affairs are moving in the direction indicated. We have to consider the Treaty as it is, and either agree to, or disagree, with it. I am going to agree to it.
– It does not matter much.
– I admit that; but we have to express our views upon it, and I agree with it, because it represents a wonderful advance in many respects; that it is a step in the direction of the peaceful settlement of international disputes over territory, trade, or other questions, and, consequently, will help to lighten the tremendous burden at present sustained by the people of the world in the upkeep of military and naval forces. The ideals outlined in the Treaty may be difficult to realize, but there is eveTy likelihood of some good being the outcome, and I welcome it, because it represents an endeavour to get rid of the burdens of taxation upon the revenueearners, who are, in the main, the workers of all those countries affected by it. Hitherto the workers have been the sufferers by war, in a three-fold sense. In the first place, they have been the sufferers prior to the outbreak of war, owing to the enormous expenditure necessary for the upkeep of military and naval establishments. Consequently, they have been obliged to deny themselves all the luxuries, and, in many cases, the necessaries of life. In the second place, the workers constitute the bone and sinew of a war campaign, and the loss of life is chiefly in their ranks; and in the third place, they are the chief sufferers after a war, because the burden of debt falls mainly on their shoulders. They have to pay for preparations for war; they have to pay in maimed limbs and loss of life for the waging of war; and they have to pay the debts incurred in the prosecution of war when it has come to an end. Far removed as Australia was from the scene of conflict, very many of her people are suffering today as the result of it. They have to suffer from the enormous increases in the cost of living which most people attribute to the cost of the war; which some attribute to the greed and profiteering of those engaged in business; and which others say is due, not solely to profiteering, but in addition, to other causes over which we have no control, but which arose out of the war.
I have been reading during the last few days, in the daily newspapers published in Hobart, of the appalling condition of things which prevails in the hovels of the slums of the capital of Tasmania. I have denounced those conditions for years past from dozens of platforms in that State, but their existence seems to have become known to the general public only of late because a Committee has been engaged in inquiring into cases of hardship resulting from the influenza epidemic. Those conditions are merely typical of conditions existing iri the slums of all the big cities of Australia, and they have been made ‘worse because of the war.
I repeat that I welcome the fact that such a Treaty as this has been signed, because I believe it brings us nearer to the day when arbitration will take the place of war; when the workers of the world will have an opportunity, on an equal franchise, for the election of the Parliaments of their respective countries, to instruct the representatives of their various nations in the event of international disagreement, to go into a quiet room, and settle the questions in dispute by arbitration instead of by the obsolete, savage method of warfare, which, during the last four or five years, has deluged the world with blood. I believe this Treaty brings us nearer to the day when force will give way to reason, and common- sense will take the place of those considerations which have impelled the leaders of the various countries of the world in the past to settle their disputes by sending the masses of their people to cut each other’s throats. The workers of one country, whether under the system of conscription, or as volunteers imbued with the spirit that impels them to stand by their county right or wrong, have in- the past done their best to kill the workers of other countries, against whom, individually, they have no complaint, and who have done them no harm, but because the leaders of the countries concerned have declared them to be at war. This Treaty brings us nearer to, the day when such appeals to force must give way to the appeals to reason, and I therefore heartily support it.
– The Treaty of Peace which at present is before the Senate is, in appearance, very much the same as many other documents which have been presented for our consideration previously, but in importance and significance it is vastly different from any which has previously been considered in the history of this Chamber. If we regard it from the historic, economic, or politic aspect, it is the most far-reaching and important document that has ever been discussed in this Chamber.
I should like to remind honorable senators of the fact that, ever since this country was first taken possession of by white men, we have lived a secluded, peaceful, and safe existence. In- fact, up to five years ago, our career as a nation can be most appropriately compared to the voyage of a ship which starts in fair weather, and continues under similar conditions. For the last 100 years, it may be said that we have enjoyed the sleep of peace, whilst at the same time, with merely a handful of a population, we have made marvellous progress in bringing under subjection the resources of this vast island continent. During that period, whilst our safety hae not depended so much upon our own efforts, we have been safe all the same. After going through that fair weather period of our voyage, our ship of state, five years ago, came suddenly under the influence of a howling, blithering hurricane. All at one© the people of this country were called upon to consider what was best to be done, not only to safeguard Australia, but to take their proper share in the common fight for freedom throughout the world. We had to see what might be dome in the organization of our forces physical and moral, in order that we might take a fitting part in the fight for freedom. Our good ship has passed through the hurricane in which we have had to contend to the uttermost with all the forces of evil for the freedom of our people. The forces upon which we could call for the saving of our ship of state were mustered, although not as fully as, in my opinion, they might and should have been, and we are glad to think that the combined efforts of the moral and physical forces of ourselves and our Allies have succeeded in beating down the. contending elements, protecting from destruction our good ship of State, and maintaining the freedom ofour people, and of those of the other countries who were battling with us in the same fight for the same cause.
The Peace Treaty now under consideration is the issue of the successful titanic efforts of our comrade nations along with our own. The effort was widespread, world wide, as no such effort hitherto. All nations have lost their isolation, and are more bound up and interwoven with the affairs and. welfare of other nations than ever before. It is as well for us to consider what this apparently simple document means, not only to our welfare, but to the welf are of the other nations which have been engaged with us in the same fight. Five years ago the world was said to be at peace. There was then an international order, which gave to individual nations the right to govern themselves. But at that time also there had arisen a force which set out to disturb the international equilibrium then existing by depriving other nations of the inherent rights which they had enjoyed down the centuries. I should not object to the arising of that force if it could be proved that, as a result of its operations, the world would be made better, brighter, and more enlightened than could have been the ease without its interference. But we know that the power which arose five years ago was designed to give the nations of the world not more freedom, but less freedom. We know that it was a Power whose purpose was to aggrandize itself at the expense of other nations, and to restrict the charter of human freedom the world over. No one who desired international wellbeing can fail to be pleased and gratified at the result of the war, which has brought that power to the dust, and’ which has made it clear that the nations of the earth are still to have the right to govern their own affairs according to their own lights.
As a further result of the great war, of which, this document tells the story, the people who were struggling in chains in lowly circumstances, subject to the rule of tyrants, have been raised from their lowly position. Their chains have been stricken off, and for the first time they are allowed to breathe the air of freedom, because the power which kept them in. bondage and which set out to limit freedomhas been brought to the dust as a result of the common efforts of the Allied nations. We have reason to be grateful, therefore, because the lowly have been raised to a higher station and significance in the process, and those who were struggling in bondage have been set free; and, above all, the mighty ones of the earth, who had polluted and dishonoured their high places, have been ruthlessly hurled from their high stations, and consigned to an ignominious fate. Looking round the world, we have every reason to be proud that this document brings to us such a bright and hopeful message as it does.
As far as Australia is concerned, we have reason to be thankful in a special sense, because of at least two great agencies. That is to say,the Allied nations have first of all reason to thank the Most High for guiding their destiniesto the safe and certain victory achieved by the sacrifices they have made. We have reason in the second place to be thankful from the innermost recesses of our heart to the stout hearts and strong arms of the Allied soldiers, amongst whom, let it never be forgotten, the sons of Australia played no mean part. That Australia’s sons were the men in the gap can best be gauged by the published admissions of German military leaders. But for the efforts of the men of the Allied nations in the field, and the moral forces sustaining them in their respective countries,we could never have secured the glorious, unequalled, and unchallenged victory which we now enjoy.
So far as Australia is concerned, when her soldiers and her sailors had completed their good work there was still other work to be done. That was, the labour to be accomplished in the diplomatic field ; and, however well the heroes of our country may have done their part in the arena of physical endeavour, we could not have finally and fully secured our national rights unless there had been at the diplomatic table such champions as we fortunately had there. We are indebted to our two chosen representatives who so ably and successfully stated Australia’s case. Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook are entitled to the thanks’ of the nation. I do not reflect on Sir Joseph Cook when I remark that the statesman responsible for having knocked hard, and effectively, at the doors of the nations in Australia’s behalf, for having made the Peace delegates sit up and listen to Australia’s claims to fair play and the right to advance her own ideals, is Mr. Hughes. Among those claims was the right to maintain our White Australia policy. It is too soon to declare upon the relative efforts of our representatives and those of the delegates of other nations. But, when the history of these negotiations comes to be written, it will be found that the efforts of Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook were almost superhuman, in that they gained, against almost overwhelming hostility - ‘the recognition of our ideal of a White Australia. Future generations, if not the “present generation, will be thankful for the parts which those two men played. Through their efforts the Peace Conference was brought to recognise ‘that Australia should be absolute mistress in her own household.
What does this document mean, so far as Australia is concerned ? What message doe3 the Treaty of Peace bear to this country? What story does it tell? It tells us that Australia, so f ar as the power which resides in the League of Nations is concerned, stands inviolate against external attacks for generations to come. That alone is sufficient to warrant, on the part of this Parliament and people, an outbreak of fresh enthusiasm and gratification. We have celebrated the cessation of hostilities; we have signalized the declaration of Peace. The tumult and the shouting- have . died. But, when it comes to be. set down in black and white,, when the bond is signed and sealed, the fact of our representatives having won for this country the right to govern itself - the inviolable right to defend and control its own shores - will evoke a recurring gladness of heart. We are face to face with the fruits of our efforts on the field, and upon the seas, and within the arena of diplomacy; and we should be proud of Australia’s representatives in every one of those activities.
During the last hundred years Australia lias had that ever reliable bulwark, the British Navy, to defend it. That Navy lias warded off all dangers. We have waxed fat, in a land of security, behind an impenetrable and ever dependable barrier. To-day, not only is that same protection retained intact, but we have, in addition, all the guaranteed power which the League of Nations can muster on our behalf. When we look upon this vast continent, with its handful of population, and with all its allurements to congested nations to enter and interfere with our polity - with the management of our own household - we cannot express too highly our appreciation of that new and additional security, lt is a security .which has been gained for us by virtue of this document: it is the unchallengeable safeguard of all the force and suasion which the League of Nations can weave about this island continent. If one desired to set forth the position in terms of figures, they are ready to hand. We have only 5,000,000 of people with whom to defend ourselves. But. by virtue of this document, our 5,000,000 are reinforced to the extent of 500,000,000 of those who fought on our side and with whom we stand; who are ready, and bound, to come to the aid of this almost empty land should any nation with sinister designs descend upon us. We are safe for generations to. come.
The honorable senator who last spoke referred to the Conference held in Perth as though it were all-important to exalt sectional or party interests over national. If ever there was a time in our history when interest in party and sections should have been sunk a thousand fathoms deep, it was during those dark days when the Perth Conference was sitting. The honorable senator compared the Perth Conference, held in the Savoy Hotel, with the historic gathering in France. He went so far in his comparisons that he left the impression, on my mind at least, that the Savoy” Conference was the. source and. fount of inspiration for those delegates of the peoples of the earth who came together at Versailles, “and who, by their combined wisdom, founded the Treaty of a world’s peace. But there are points of similarity as well as of dissimilarity between the two Conferences. The similarity lies in the fact that both were held behind closed doors. . One other point of likeness is in the fact that the Savoy Conference has been associated with the policy of head-cutting, and that the historic building at Versailles has also been connected with similar enterprises. Several honorable senators seated around me at this moment are, as an outcome of the Savoy Conference, in the awkward position of having no heads upon their political shoulders, though they are still’ alive - very much alive. Their heads, and those of other politicians of like opinions, are, metaphorically speaking, to be found in the sawdust’ baskets of all the Trades Halls of Australia. Points of dissimilarity are these: While the Savoy Conference was held at the safe distance of 12;000 miles behind the fighting lines - and 12,000 miles is a comfortable distance from which to settle the war - the Versailles Conference was verily held upon the field of conflict. It was composed of men who stood close behind the united and steadfast efforts of their fellowcountrymen in the fight to a victorious finish. The Savoy Conference entertained no such ideals; had no such thoughts in its collective mind. The difference between the two Conferences was this: The Conference at this end of the world wanted peace without victory, while the Versailles delegates would, not have peace without, first, victory. The delegates to. the Conference in Western Australia said they would sue for a peace by negotiation. I have read of the doings of delegates to that Conference, and I have noticed that there was not one word uttered in condemnation of that Power which was seeking to deprive the nations of their freedom. This tender feeling for the Kaiser ; with all his works and pomps, was the outstanding feature of the Savoy “ Peace” Conference. The party in Germany which corresponds with the Labour party of this country, instead of decrying its country’s efforts in the war, was solid, and united in its endeavours toward a victorious German conclusion. There was no party in Germany more German, more loyal, more enthusiastic than the Socialist, party. They ranked themselves behind the Kaiser’s legions; and while yet a chance remained that victory might be snatched for the German standards, they spurred on ‘Germany’s fighting men. The corresponding party in this country, with all the freedom they could ask for and enjoy, but with the menace of that freedom being taken from them, raised not a word at the Savoy Conference by way of condemnation, root and branch, stem and keel, of that power which were out to deprive the world, and their own country in particular, of freedom. Therein is indicated the main point of dissimilarity between the Savoy and the Versailles Conferences. The one was determined upon a victorious ending while the other was agreeable to a peace by negotiation, which was nothing short of a peace in favour of Germany. What would have been the outcome of such a Peace? What would ha.ve been the nature of a Treaty of Peace based upon such a principle? It would have made vastly different reading from that contained in the document which is now before honorable senators. Who can recall the fateful days of March and April last year without being inclined to go down on one’s knees to thank the Most High Power for averting an awful calamity ? Who can recall those weeks of blackest outlook when, as Haig said, the British Army was fighting with its back to the wall ; when the tide of battle was at the balance, when it was possible that it might ebb or flow upon either contestant; when the Allied line was pushed and pressed and twisted back as so. much hot wire by the overwhelming legions of the Kaiser? Who can remember the tremendous dangers of those days without expressing deepest gratitude that an’ awful disaster has been turned aside and the destroying power brought to the ground ? But we have not heard a word of condemnation from the party which sought peace by negotiation, and which now has the hardihood to seek to institute analogies between its own views and those expressed by President Wilson,, as if there existed some subterranean means of communication between the Savoy Conference and President Wilson at the White House, Washington. I dwell upon this matter only for the purpose of extracting from it a lesson for future guidance. The men who composed the Perth Labour Conference should not be so conceited as to endeavour to centre public attention upon their impossible, illogical, and unpatriotic attitude during the war. I use the word “ unpatriotic” advisedly, because, while every nation in the world was struggling, with all the force at its command, this timorous, halting, squeamish, false proposal emanated from a coterie of gentlemen 12,000 miles behind the firing line - peace by negotiation. They were prepared to “ negotiate” with an incarnate fiend who was out to destroy civilization. Yet this soft-hearted party did not scruple to cut off the political
Lead of this man or that throughout the country for daring to speak as he felt when his country was in deadly peril. It is very difficult to contain oneself in face of such babbling hypocrisy. But we are now through the hurricane. The welter of blood, we hope, is over. The fruits which are to be gathered, I trust, will be gathered with care, and with such good purpose as will enable us to draw salutary lessons from the war, notwithstanding the awful sacrifices which have been made. As a parting word to this phase of my remarks, I desire to recall what Mr. Lloyd George said in the House of Commons when America entered the struggle. He said -
Now that America is in this fight, victory for the Allies is certain.
These were terrible words to be used by the foremost mouth-piece of the British nation. It is far from the duty of the mouth-piece or the leader of any nation concerned in a life or death struggle to utter words which are calculated in any sense to weaken the moral fibre of the people behind him. When, therefore, Mr. Lloyd George was compelled to declare that until America came into the struggle, victory might incline to our enemies, we have additional cause for thanksgiving at the glorious result achieved by the Powers united against Germany.
I do not know whether the Peace imposed under this Treaty will prove to be a lasting one. But if anything is likely to rouse the moral sense of the world to a keener perception of the folly of indulging in any wild and barbarous pranks in. the future, it is a means by which the nations of the earth may come together in conference and seek a via media in preference to the arbitrament of war. But when we ask ourselves, in view of our own experience, whether there is any hope of this Treaty proving a guarantee of the permanent Peace of the world, I admit that I have -my doubts. I believe that there will be peace “for years and years, but it is very doubtful whether this Treaty will guarantee that enduring peace for which so many people yearn. I cannot forget that the world has previously been blackened and scarred by the agency of war, and that the nations concerned in the cataclysm came together and made a compact. But finally they broke away from the pious hope in which they had indulged at that time. I recall the concert of Europe of recent times and the Holy Alliance which was brought about when the European area was seared and scarred by the horrible Moloch of war. That alliance was brought about by a union of the Russian, Prussian, and Austrian rulers, who were bound together in a solemn deed of contract to resist any attempt to break the peace of Europe in the future. It is worth while recalling one of the chief articles of the Holy Alliance. It reads -
That is Article 1 of the Alliance which’ was executed in 1815 - just about 100 years ago. Every nation in Europe, with the exception of Britain and Turkey, were signatories to that compact, and we must recall the lamentable fact that, instead of standing firmly by their protestations and resolutions, they gradually broke away from one another till the very nations which were supposed to be united in a bond of brotherhood became deadly antagonists on the field of battle. We cannot have too large a faith in the new League of Nations as a charter of the world’s Peace. When the. Holy Alliance was crumbling, a British Prime Minister, with some degree of satisfaction, said: -
We are getting back to our original position. Now each nation can revolve on its own axis. 1 do hope that the League of Nations, evolved out of this bloody conflict, will not share a similar fate. Yet history has a strange knack of repeating itself, and my only hope that it will not do so is that wiser counsels will prevail by reason of the democracies of the world having come into their own - supplanted the effete and degenerate autocracies that played false with their trust. My only hope of the League of Nations becoming a permanent charter of peace and amity throughout the world, rests upon the fact that democracies will be true to their trust, will be true to themselves, and will not allow the villainous- agencies which are inherent in a Democracy to bring them down. I have no faith in Democracy as an ever enduring world power, or as a lasting social state. I have read sufficient of the world’s history to believe, with Plato, that man’s social state, no more than physical nature, can ever be stationary. When we find that the nations of 100 years ago were broken into smithereens, notwithstanding that they were all pledged to uphold the principles, for which the Holy Alliance stood, it seems to me that there- is very little hope for the League of Nations unless Democracy is alive to its duties and responsibilities, and comes down with a heavy hand upon those mischievous elements which are always to be found in a democratic community, and which either unwittingly or deliberately pave the way for a dictator. Byron, the robust exponent of advanced thought, has said -
Democracy is only an association of blackguards.
What did Mazzini say? He said -
Democracy is the progress of all, through all, under the leadership of the wisest and best.
Centuries before, Aristotle had told us that the bane of Democracy are not the tyrants, but the demagogues of a country. In Australia, we ought to see that the power of these demagogues is reduced to a minimum, if it be not entirely uprooted, because there is no hope for Democracy unless it is guided and directed under the rule of the wisest and best.
The bill that we shall have to pay for this weir is indeed a stupendous one. It has been-, described as an unproductive debt, but I do not hold with that view of the matter for a moment. Although the £400,000,000 indebtedness which has been incurred by the mere handful of our population is something very substantial, although it is not represented in a. railway system, or in harbor improvements, or -in water-works, or any other form of tangible wealth’, I believe that the results which will follow from the war are inestimable, and will prove to be invaluable so far as this country is concerned. What is the priceless thing which we have won as. the outcome of the struggle? It is our inviolable liberty against all-comers and all designing enemies. Liberty bears the same relation to a country as the foundation of a ten-story building bears to its superstructure. Undermine the foundation, and where is your’ building? Undermine or take away national liberty, and where is your country? Party interests count for nothing as compared with the first essential of a nation’s existence. Talk about party interests ! Why, a nation’s freedom must exist first, ‘ just as the foundation for a building must exist before the superstructure can be erected. Without a country’s liberty, where are its party or sectional interests ? What would the human body be without life? We know that this physical body is capable of vast and potential advancement. We can imagine a human being bordering almost on the basest line of animal existence, and we can also imagine him towering to the ethereal height pictured by Shakspeare when he described him as “ the paragon of animals.” What life is to the individual, liberty is to the nation. Without life, the individual is nothing but inanimate matter, and a nation, robbed of its liberty, as our nation would have been had the Kaiser’s armies triumphed and the two-headed eagle of Germany, with its cruel beak and talons, been planted upon the capi-t,als of the countries that opposed her, would have become but socially inani-mate in comparison. Fortunately, Germany’s might was opposed by a steel, human wall, against which it beat in vain. We may talk of party aims and sectional advantages; but, as the essen’tial of a human, being is life, so is the essential of national being liberty. We know that, when the soul is lost all is lost. When a nation loses its liberty it is com-‘ parable with the individual who has lost his soul. If our nation had been robbed of its freedom by the legions of the Kaiser, or if our freedom had been made subject to his autocratic rule,, we. would have lost everything worthy of’ possession. We should, therefore,, feel grateful, first to the Almighty for the happy consummation of the. efforts of the Allied Forces, and secondly to those whose sacrifices and heroism won our battles.. Not. all’ the gold that has been mined, since the days of Solomon would weighdown the balance against the liberties of this country.
The cost of the war approximates to £400,000,000, which is a formidable debt; for a country with a scanty population.. But our financial position is not worse than that of other countries at other times.. However, as my remarks will more than occupy the time usually allotted to a Friday sitting, I ask leave to continue when the debate is again resumed.
Leave granted-; debate adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
The following paper was presented : -
Public Service Act 1902-1918.- iPromotion of G. J. P. Tily; Postmaster-General’s De partment.
SenatorRUSSELL(Victoria - VicePresident of the Executive Council aud Acting Minister for Defence) [3.50]. - I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I promised Senator Needham early in the day to make a statement in regard to the BahiaCastillo. I am glad to say that the actual number of persons concerned is not anything like that reported in the press. The boat is practically under the control of the Navy until such time as the voyage is completed, but there is an obligation on the Defence Department in connexion with the members of the Australian Imperial Force and the munition workers on board the vessel. I do not desire to go into the merits or demerits of the question at this stage, although Ihave all the telegrams and cables before me. In view of the fact that a full inquiry has been promised, I do not think it would be wise to read the messages at this stage, as that might prejudice some of the persons affected. I will refrain, therefore, from dealing with the matter until the inquiry is held.
Senator Needham was particularly anxious to obtain some information in connexion with the armed guard. This is a matter of negotiation between the Navy Department and the passengers’ committee elected on the boat, and I am hopeful that the result will be satisfactory. When a decision has been arrived at, I shall communicate it to the Senate. Honorable senators realize that it would be inadvisable to deal with the reports I havereceived, as any action taken might prejudice certain persons who may appear before the inquiry. We are doing all we possibly can, and the persons concerned are being adequately provided for.
– My inquiry to the Minister was in connexion with the armed guard ; and I desire to ask if it is possible to complete the negotiations in time to enable those who left the boat at Fremantle to join her at Albany ? I also desire to know whether the inquiry to be held will be of a civil nature and open to the public.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [3.55]. - I believe it is generally understood that the Leader of the Government in this Chamber (Senator Millen) will not be in attendance for some weeks. In the absence of the Leader of the Opposition, I desire to say, on behalf of the honorable senators on this side, that we hope that he will have a very pleasant holiday after his arduous labours. We all appreciate the courtesy and consideration hehas always shown to honorable senators on both sides of the House. I also wish to refer to the conspicuous ability, judgment, and tact he displayed in dealing with somewhat embarrassing questions in settling the seamen’s dispute. . The parties concerned in that dispute also acknowledge the display of those qualities by the honorable senator. I hope he will have a very pleasant holiday, and will return to us in the best of health.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. In speaking on the Supply Bill, I referred to the works that were undertaken at the Federal Capital, and the report submitted by a Royal Commission which inquired into those works. Probably I was not as clear as I might have been. The report in Hansard credits me with using certain words, which I may have used, and as I do not. anticipate being present next week, I wish to take this opportunity of making the corrections. The real position was - whether I made it clear or not - that Mr. King O’Malley was Minister for Home Affairs in the Fisher Ministry from the 30th April, 1910, to the 25th June, 1913, when certain preliminary work was carried out under his administration. From the 25th June, 1913, to the 20th September, 1914, Mr. Cook (now Sir Joseph) was Minister, and Mr. Kelly Assistant Minister. On the 20th
September, 1914, Mr. Archibald became Minister, and continued in office until the 27th October, 1915, when Mr. King O’Malley again became Minister. After visiting the Territory, he made a statement to the press to the effect that, between the period of his going out of office and returning, £600,000 had been thrown into the gutter. In the meantime, Mr. Webster had also visited the Capital Bite, and he confirmed Mr. O’Malley’s statement in an attack he made on Mr. Archibald in the House of Representatives, when he said that most of the waste had occurred while Mr. Archibald was Minister for Home Affairs. Mr. O’Malley at once stopped all works under Mr Griffin’s advice, and the Government, of which Mr. Hughes was Prime Minister, and Mr. King O’Malley Minister for Home Affairs, appointed a Commission to inquire into the matter. That Commission brought up the report to which I alluded in speaking on the Supply Bill last week.
– I cannot give a direct answer to Senator Needham’s inquiry, because two Departments are involved, and it will he necessary for me to confer with the Department for the Navy. I shall do the best to arrange for the fullest possible inquiry, after conferring with the Departments concerned.
In regard to the armed guard, I intend to go into the matter after the adjournment of the Senate, and will endeavour to have it finalized at the earliest possible moment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 September 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19190926_senate_7_89/>.