8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. Golding’s Report
– I ask the Minis- ter representing the Postmaster-General will the report of Mr. Golding, furnished to the Postal Department, be presented to Parliament? Ifso, will it he presented before the Estimates-in-chief are dealt with ? When did Mr. Golding hand in his report to the Postal Department?
– The honorable senator intimated that he desired to ask these questions, and the Post m aster- General has provided the following answers: -
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Aggregate BalanceBheet of Commonwealth Bank of Australia at 30th June, 1922, together with Auditor-General’s Report thereon.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 122, 123, 124, 125.
Northern Territory - Foreign Marriage Ordinance - Regulations.
. - (By leave.) - I shall not pay members of this Chamber, so poor a compliment as to assume that anything I have to say will be in the nature of information to them. They will have kept themselves posted with the events of which the press has informed them during the last two or three days, and, no doubt, will also have made themselves familiar with the important utterance delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in another place yesterday. But in order that the matter may be formally brought to the notice of the Senate and to afford members of this Chamber an opportunity, if they so desire, to formulate their views and opinions regarding it, I am taking the step which they have granted me leave to take,. and I shall conclude with a motion for the printing of a document.
On Sunday last, late in the afternoon, the Prime Minister received a cable from the Imperial Government. That cable, set out that Great Britain had decided to resist possible Turkish aggression against the freedom of the Straits of the Dardanelles, and the neutral zone created in connexion therewith. It stated that the French Government had agreed with the British Government as to informing Mustaphai Kem al that he must not violate the neutral zone. The Italian Government also concurred generally in that policy. The British Government had placed themselves in communication with Roumania, £ervia, and Greece, with- a view to securing their military participation in defence of the neutral zone. The cable also stated that the British Government were proposing a Conference with a view to arriving at a peaceful solution of the difficulty. Covering the period that must elapse before peace with Turkey could be arranged, the British Government were’ placing a British division under orders to reinforce Sir Charles Harrington, commander of the Allied Forces at Constantinople, and the British Navy also would co-operate to the fullest extent. The cable went on to point out the gravity of the position, and the possible consequences to the Empire, and the Imperial Government desired to know if Australia wished to associate herself with the action they had taken, and whether we desired to be represented by a contingent. It suggested further that evidence of the co-operation of the Dominions would exercise a potent influence in preventing hostilities.
On the receipt of that cable, the Prime Minister- gathered together such of his colleagues as were- present in Melbourne, and as a result of their deliberations, he issued the following statement to the press, which appeared next morning. This is the document which I propose to move shall be printed -
I have received a cable message from Mr. Lloyd George informing me that the British Cabinet has decided that the situation in Turkey demands prompt action, and asking whether the Commonwealth Government desired to be associated with the steps Britain is taking, and whether we desire to be represented by a contingent.
Mir. Lloyd George, in his telegram, emphasized the gravity of the position, pointing out that, altogether apart from the freedom of the Straits, for which such immense sacrifices were made in the war, Britain could not forget that the Gallipoli Peninsula contained more than 20,000 British and Anzac graves. That these should fall into the ruthless hands of the Kemalists would be an abiding source of grief to the Empire.
The announcement that all or any of the Dominions were prepared to send contingents, even of moderate size, would, he said, in itself undoubtedly exercise a most favorable influence on the situation, and might conceivably be a potent factor in preventing actual hostilities.
Immediately on receipt of the message I consulted all of my colleagues whom I coUld reach, and the Government has decided to notify Mr. Lloyd George that it desires to associate itself with the British Government in whatever action is deemed necessary to insure the freedom of the Straits and the sanctity of the Gallipoli Peninsula, and would be prepared, df circumstances required, to send a contingent of Australian troops.
I have informed Mr. Lloyd George that the matter will be brought before the Parliament of the Commonwealth on Tuesday (to-morrow ) , in. order that it might express ita opinion on the whole matter.
The statement issued by the Prime Minister to the press ends there, but, perhaps, I may add a few words as to the view which -the Executive takes generally concerning the position. While it is regarded as undoubtedly grave, it is necessary to point out that hostilities have not been commenced or declared. The position is that the British’ Government have notified Kemal Pasha that they will resist any attempted invasion of the neutral zone. It must be borne in mind that no such invasion has so far been proclaimed. Indeed, according to the press, Kemal Pasha has notified that he has no intention of invading that zone.
The Government desire, and every one will share that desire, that the matter should’ be adjusted without resort to the arbitrament of arms. Hence, though the position is undoubtedly grave, it is not necessary at this juncture to do more than declare that Australia, associates herself with the steps proposed to be taken to maintain the freedom of the Straits, which, in view of their relation to the Suez Canal, is of paramount importance to the Empire and Australia. The Government view with the gravest- misgiving the possibilities of another conflict with all its attendant horrors, and therefore trust that every possible effort to maintain peace will be made. One means to that end they have suggested is a reference to the League of Nations. They are also asking the Imperial Government that they should be informed, and kept informed, as to the British policy, and the British objective, and also as to the developments which, from time to time, may take place which bear upon the position.
We -think that the Government in taking these steps rightly (interpret the sentiments of Australia. While desiring peace as she does, we have no doubt that Australia will range herself side by side with Great Britain in the defence of their position, and the maintenance - of the Empire. I move -
That the statement of the Prime Minister published on 18th September, 1922, be printed.
– I am very glad that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has officially put before the Senate the papers relating to this matter. To my mind, the most serious aspect of the attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and of the Government, is that Off his own bat, or off the Government’s own bat, Australia stands pledged to war. While Parliament exists no such condition of things should obtain. If ‘one were to refer to the attitude assumed by Mr. Asquith and Sir Edward Grey, on the eve of the Great War, one would be struck forcibly by the care they took that no utterances of theirs should pledge Great Britain to war. Their care, in some cases, has been blamed. Some people think that had they been more outspoken Germany might have hesitated about declaring war, but we can at least take guidance from them in that in all their utterances they said that Parliament should decide whether Great Britain should declare war. As between war and no war, it is quite safe to decide in favour of war, because the people will have it, for they dearly love a “ scrap.” A Government which interprets the feelings of Australia as being willing to engage in war with Great Britain, whether the last war, this war, or the next war, will not be far wrong. Aa an Australian I think there are very grave reasons why we should not go to war.
– Every honorable senator agrees with that statement.
– I am glad of that. There are many grave reasons’ not only why Australia should not go to war, but why Australia should discourage the idea that this country is at the beck of any Prime Minister of England whenever he likes to call. What is the position of Australia, to-day, after the last war? I do not say that our resources are not sufficiently strong to recover from the effects of that war, but we have a burden of debt which, according to the utterances of members on the other side of the Chamber, will require all our caro to carry successfully.
– Could we have avoided it?
– I do not believe we could, but the question we are now confronted with is, can we avoid an added burden? Hope as we may, I do not think any one of us can watch European developments, as we in this Chamber have to watch them, and be sanguine of a long-continued peace. I cannot, and I am one of the most optimistic of men. Then what is the duty of the Government at the present time? Is it the duty of the Government to say immediately, “Yes, we will send you a contingent.” I venture to say, and I think I speak for the Australian people, that if we send one contingent Australia will,- in the words of Mr. Andrew Fisher, be in the fight “ to the last man and the last shilling.” Then comes the question whether we, at the very first blush of war, should take the initial step that would compel this country to continue in the war. If I may be permitted to advise the Government, I would suggest that they should endeavour to realize, for we are of the Empire, and our responsibilities belong te” the Empire, that war will be practically the everyday business of Great Britain. To my mind, we cannot have any lengthened period of peace. When I look back as long as I can remember, I cannot recall any lengthened period when Great Britain was not at war. The Government of this country should first put its own house in order, so that we may be in a financial position to: meet any conditions that may arise in the future. What steps ought the Government to take ? They ought to pay off the last war debt immediately. That is not a very difficult matter, and I think they should do it. It is no use leaving that debt to posterity, particularly if we are going to- incur a great deal more debt before posterity gets a chance to deal with it. Let the Government con-; si.der the £400,000,000 of debt that we are carrying at the present time and say what steps they have taken during the last four years to put Australia in a financial position which will enable it, if the occasion’ arises, to do what the sentiment of the people demands that it should do. Before promising future contingents the Government should pay for the work of past contingents. I believe that from one end of the country to the other the wealthy and profiteering classes are eating their hearts out because they have never been given an opportunity of paying for the last war ! I think they feel that the other fellows did the fighting, and ‘ that they urged them on,, but when, it came to a question of paying, the Government gave them no opportunity ! I think that ought to be remedied. The Government should point out to the wealthy classes that Australia is rich enough to wipe off its debt, and that having been done, if the Empire was engaged, in a struggle and a few hundred thousand men would weigh the balance down, we would be in a position to render effective service.
I do not know what the members of the Government think, but I do not look upon a war at its commencement any less seriously than I would look at a match applied to dry grass in a paddock. One never knows where such things will end. What might be the magnitude of a war started against Turkey? To realize the seriousness of the position one has only to look at the combinations of nations that have been formed since the last war. When the Conference of the League of Nations was meeting at Genoa an agreement was entered into between Russia and Germany, much to the annoyance of the British and French delegates, and to-day it looks as if there is an understanding between Russia and Turkey. What sort of a war would it be against a combination of three nations like Russia, Germany and Turkey, without any great combination of nations against them, such as we had on the last occasion? It must be remembered that during the firsttwo years of the last war Russia did valiant work with the Allies, and that, even when the turning-point came, the Allies were united and organized, and the money power and men of America were coming in to bring about a conclusion. All these facts have to be considered when we are proposing to go into war.
The grave aspect of the Prime Minister’s statement is that Parliament should have been provided with an opportunity to deliberate on the whole business before anything was said by way of pledging Australia to war. I realize that any man in public life who speaks against war is_ likely to be branded as disloyal, but if to” be true to Australia is to be disloyal to Great Britain, then I am disloyal. My duty here is to look after Australia’s interests. If one expresses views against war, and against the attitude of the Prime Minister, it is said that it is easy to see where he stands. No greater mistake could ever be made in this country than to divide the people into camps, one of which would be composed of loyalists, who favoured war, and the other of those who believe in Australia, and -who oppose war.
– Who wants war?
– The people who rush headlong into it whenever the. opportunity offers.
– What reply does the honorable senator suggest should have been sent to Mr. Lloyd George?
– I think that with great dignity Parliament could have been called together to consider the situation.
– And within thirty-six hours Parliament was consulted.
– Yes ; but the reply had been sent then.
– If the reply is unsatisfactory, the honorable senator should point out in which way it should be amended.
– Parliament can alter it.
– It would be putting Parliament in an unenviable position, and would be discrediting ‘the Prime Minister if we were to alter what we have already done.
– The honorable senator would not object to doing that.
– The Minister knows perfectly well that no one has supported as I nave what the country has pledged itself to do. I may have even supported the Government by maintaining silence, and the statement of the Minister is most ungenerous.
– Mr. Andrew Fisher pledged the last man and the last shilling, and the Labour party repudiated it.
– They did not do anything of the kind, and although they sent nearly the last available man, the other chaps took care that the Government did not secure the -middle shilling, quite apart from the last one. There can be no exception taken to the manner in. which Mr. Andrew Fisher’s promise was honoured, because during the two years his Government were in office, and the two years during which the succeeding Government were in control, nearly 300,000 men were equipped, trained, and sent across the seas on active service.
– Despite the decisions of the Perth Conference.
– I can see that the honorable senator wishes to repeat the mouthings of some persons who are employed only for party advantage. The Fisher Government carried out their promise so far as they were permitted, and the men went of their own free will. As far as the last shilling waa concerned, I venture to say that there are men who became extremely wealthy during the war, and who amassed greater fortunes during that period than would otherwise have been possible of attainment by therm in fifty years. Notwithstanding that, their shillings have not been called up, and we are now on the verge of entering another conflict.
The attitude of the Government - I am not disputing that possibly they correctly interpret the feelings of the country - leaves Australia in the unfortunate position that we may be called upon to participate in a war which we have had no voice in the making.
– Does not the honorable senator think that Australia is involved ?
– Probably the troubles between Greece and Turkey are of great importance to Australia, but there have been similar conflicts in the same theatre before, and we have not been called upon to worry in the slightest degree. I do not like speaking disparagingly of any nation, but the action of the Greeks, particularly at the time when Australian contingents were proceeding from. Egypt to Gallipoli, has not caused me to look favorably upon that nation. It appears to me from the information, received that the Turks are armed with! war material made in France and that, possibly, the Greeks are being supplied -with war material by Great Britain.
– It may have been sold to them as ordinary articles of merchandise, and if they have the money to pay why should it not be sold to them ?
– Possibly it waa purely a business transaction, as probably half of the wars in which the world has been engaged have been entirely business propositions.
– If Great Britain or. France did not sell such material some other nation would. ‘
– That may be a practical stand-point from which to view it; but I would like the Senate to take the stand that it is here to look after Australia’s interests and to realize that its particular and peculiar business is to guard the welfare of the Australian people. To-day, Australia is in such a tight financial corner that we scarcely know whether we are going to pull through successfully or not.
– Is that the only argument the honorable senator can adduce ?
– No, that is the first.
– Why not deal with the most important phase of the question?
– The financial aspect of war is the most important, and one which should be considered by every honorable senator and every other member of the community. I would like the Government, realizing as they do that we might be hurried into war, to put their house in order .by paying off our old war debts.
– Does the honorable senator advocate repudiation?
– From a personal stand-point, certainly not. Why should we talk about repudiation when the wealthy and prospering class who did so well out of the last war are not paying enough’. The graziers received 4s. and 5a. per lb. for their wool when it waa worth only ls. 3d.
– They received ls.
– At any rate, they have never been given an opportunity by this Parliament of paying their share of the cost of the war.
– Have they not had to contribute in the form’ of the wartime profits tax?
– A few shillings were collected in that way.
– If the honorable senator refers to the Taxation Commissioner’s report he will see who is paying the bill.
– The working classes are paying proportionately more out of their meagre earnings than are the wealthy, who are, I think, just looking for an opportunity to increase heir contributions in order- to pay for the last war. We are on the eve of another conflict, and I pray - I use that word in all sincerity and earnestness - that war will not come. If.it does, however, the step which has now been taken by this Government must be followed to its logical conclusion ; but the Government should, first of all, settle their accounts in connexion with the last war before undertaking additional obligations. We should pay as we go, and the tax on all incomes over £500 per annum should be utilized in paying our Forces while fighting. It has been suggested that £800 a year is a sufficient salary for members of this Parliament. If so, it should be sufficient for every other man. in the community. In war-time it could be cut down to £500, and then it would be to the interest of no one in the community during war to force up the cost of living, because all incomes in excess of £500 a year would go into the war fund. The only condition under which I would favour entering upon another war would be on a pay-as-we-go principle. So far as I am concerned, we are not going to be the playthings of speculators.
– We all hope that there will be no war.
– Yes, we all hope that.
– We have to pay, and if not in money, in suffering.
– But, unfortunately, this business of paying is spread over such a long period that the burden is falling on the workers. Already we have the incidence of the income tax advanced as a reason why the Arbitration Court should reduce wages, and already Arbitration Court Judges are intimating that there is a reasonable claim. All this proves that it is the workers who pay. If another war is. to be entered upon, I hope that the Government will see that our financial burdens are not heaped up as they have been in the past. I have as keen an appreciation ,of my responsibility as any other man in the community for the burden under which we are at present staggering, but I was looking forward to the time when we could, without disaster to the community, impose sufficient taxation to make those who have money pay for the last war, and that we ‘would have an opportunity of clearing off our war debts within a reasonable period.
War at all times is to be abhorred. It is a matter for serious concern for any people, and of the utmost concern for any Parliament. Therefore, I appreciate the action of the Government in giving the Senate an opportunity of speaking, upon this momentous question. I am glad1 to think that the matter has been placed1 before us in sack a way that we may give expression to oau- opinions , and I hope £he Australian people will awaken to the fact that to remain within., and loyal to the Empire,, presupposes their readiness to participate in any war in which Britain asks for our assistance.
– Do you suggest, then, that we should “ cut the painter”?
– Why do we want to rush-
– That is .the natural conclusion from the honorable senator’s remarks.
– The honorable senator knows me well enough to realize that I know only one country, and that is Australia. I am endeavouring to put my position clearly. Australia, at the present time, is represented in Parliament, and, shall I say, also outside, by a sentiment that puts Britain first. While that sentiment prevails, we must be prepared to face the possibility of participating in every war in. which Britain may be engaged. We now appear to be on the eve of another war.. Can we afford it?
– Do you think a Republic would be cheaper ?
– Much cheaper, because then we would develop as the United States developed. We should be left to our own resources, We should be obliged to defend ourselves, and we would cultivate that spirit of independence that is so necessary for the progress of any nation.
– For how long?
– I have sufficient confidence in the people of this country to say, for all time, and I have sufficient confidence in the , rapidity of our growth-
– And the British Navy-
– What part did the British Navy play in the last war ?
– It was the greatest factor in the success of the Allies.
– It kept the seas free and enabled us to transport our troops.
– It bottled up the German fleet, anyhow.
– I am glad to hear these interjections. We are told that the British Navy bottled up the German fleet and kept the seas free. Apparently, then, it was the equal of the German fleet.
– ‘It wast have, been superior, or it could not have bottled up the German fleet.
– -Well, let us say it was superior to the German fleet, and that it enabled our troops ‘to be sent overseas. But I was going to allow some little credit to: be given to the fleets of other nations, such as those of Italy and France
– That does not detract from the merit due to the British Navy.
– To my mind, the last war was won when the Empire’s land forces-I am. not speaking of the Allies’ land forces- - equalled the land forces of Germany.
– Which they never would have done, but for the British fleet.
– The honorable senator can put it that way if. he likes. I am putting the position from my point of view. I repeat that the war was won when the Empire’s land forces equalled the land forces of Germany, and the sooner we realize that the defence of this country will be secure when .the land forces of the Commonwealth equal those of the most powerful fighting forces that a potential enemy can land, the better, because that is the position. Consider also what a great relief it would be if the Mother Country were freed of the burden of preparing and maintaining, a navy to defend this portion of the Empire. How much stronger would be her position if she were not called upon to defend the coastline of Australia.
– She has done that for a hundred years:
– Yes, and I suppose the coastline of the United States of America has been defended for a hundred years- without a British Navy.
War is a costly business. Notwithstanding the more recent cable news, we must consider the present position as if we were on tha eve of another conflict, one that perhaps, will be more disastrous than the last war, in which 60,000 of our men lost their lives during the fighting. I do not know how many have died since, but I should say that the total of Australian lives lost as a result of the last war was 100,000, and that another 50,000 or 100,000 men’ were p.ut out of action. And yet we are eagerly looking forward to another war.
– I mean those who are backing the Prime Minister when he jumps in at the first whisper of an invitation to send a contingent. Perhaps
I am also speaking for Senator Cox, whohas already volunteered his services.
– Yes, I have, and I arn’ proud: of it.
– Did not our Prime Minister approach the League of Nations ?
– Yes, and the League of Nations is a most excellent body to deal with this question. If the League of Nations were composed of men sufficiently strong ‘to take a definite stand and call upon both parties to the dispute to place the matter before the League, civilization would gain a great deal more than by our willingness to fight. Those who believe that willingness to fight is a test of Empire solidarity have scarcely commenced to think. They are totally ignorant of the real forces that hold the Empire together. The Government feel it necessary to- make a declaration that Australia is willing to fight in order to prove that it remains loyal to the Empire. If that is not what they mean by saying that they are willing to send a contingent, I would be pleased to be informed what their words do convey.
– Read the whole sentence in reference to the contingent. It says - “ If circumstances require it.”
– Britain will be the judge of those circumstances, but we in Australia, looking after the interests of this country, are perfectly justified in assuming the right tei be the judge as to whether Great Britain needs troops from Australia for the purposes of a threatened war;, particularly where Turkey and Greece are concerned. It does not tend to maintain the strength of the Empire if it is expected that whenever any little “ scrap “’ occurs we should send troops to prove our loyalty.
– I did not think you were a man who would throw in the towel.
– That i3 the attitude I would expect the honorable senator to adopt. I am endeavouring to point out that there is- a great moral force throughout .the world that is absolutely opposed to war, and that that force could be used to prevent war if men would only have enough moral courage to speak against it.
– If that force is inoperative, and other people are prepared to use force to do certain things, what should we do?
– I suppose the Turks are prepared to use such force as they possess to regain possession of territories that they have governed in the past, though I do not say they have governed them well.
– They governed Athens a century ago. Should we give them Athens .back f
– No, and because they did “not get Athens back, I suppose they are now prepared to fight in the hope that no more will be taken from them. But what has the. division of the Turks’ territory to do with us in Australia ?
– Has not theprotection of the Dardanelles anything to do with Australia?
– I have not heard of any great injury being caused to Australia because of the Turkish control there.
– Do you not think that British rights in the Suez Canal would be threatened if this war took place?
– If a general war took place they would. But that is where the mistake is being made. We are endeavouring to precipitate a general War.
– Quite the. opposite.
– In the event of such a war, the whole of Britain’s Eastern interests would be endangered. Britain’s attitude is that of a powerful nation that says in plain language to Turkey, “ Another step forward and we fight,” I do not say that from Britain’s view-point that is a wrong attitude, but we in Australia, few in numbers, and overloaded with debt, have to, consider our own position. The national debt of Australia is greater than Britain’s was before the late war, despite the tremendous difference between our population and that of the old country.
– We have some wonderful assets.
– Yes, but we should not be so ready to send our men away. We should develop our assets. If we are to proclaim that we have become a military nation, and that our young men are ready to fight whenever the Empire calls, we shall not develop our resources as we should. Think of whatwe might have accomplished if one-half of the money spent in the late war had been devoted to Australia’s development. Our losses have been so great that our wounds are not yet healed. Our debts have been allowed to drag on, and now we are threatened with another catastrophe which would’ mean doubling our present debt. Thousands of men would be engaged in work that is not only unproductive but is the most objectionable occupation imaginable - that of killing their fellow men.
– Would you rather lie down and be destroyed than use force!
– I was brought up on Christian principles, and was taught that if an enemy struck me on the one cheek I should turn to him the other. It may yet be found that that is the most effective way of dealing with an enemy. I do not know that we should not, even on the present occasion, adopt that attitude.
– I would not like to smack the honorable senator on one cheek.
– The honorable senator would be fairly safe in doing it, if I had the Evil One fairly under control. I do not know whether the world is not even now ahead of its rulers, and prepared to say that international differences shall be settled .without war.
– Does the honorable senator include the Kemalists in that observation? He ought to be talking to Kemal Pasha, but the Kemalists would not allow him to talk for long.
– No, I suppose they are a little more tyrannical than the honorable senator, who will permit me to talk for one hour and no longer. Though it may be suggested that they would not let me talk for one minute, I think that, possibly, they would. We need not say much about tyranny, because, after all, it is exemplified in many places in Australia. Wherever men secure power they use it for their own purposes. I express the opinion that the effect of the years of Christianity has been to convert the world, but not its leaders, to that faith. The gods of its leaders are the gods of -wealth. They assume their positions and hold them, and: they are far behind the van of real progress. The world, speaking generally, and including even the people of Turkey, wants no war. I cannot attribute the advance of the Turks in this regard to Christianity, but
I suppose that the principles of their religion approximate very closely to ours.
I am against war, and against a Government, or any one member of a Government, now or at any other time, doing or saying anything that will practically ‘ place this Parliament and the people of the Commonwealth in the position of having to repudiate the Leader of the Government if they desire to do the right thing. I say that the action taken by Mr. Hughes has placed us in that position. It would have been moore dignified and more in keeping with the position which, he occupies if he had said that the position was sufficiently serious to warrant him in calling Parliament together, and bad then taken the steps to do so. I believe that the answer which would then have been sent by Parliament to the cable received from the British Government would have been as the Government have interpreted it. I do> not accuse them of having misinterpreted public opinion. I say that, while it ia the opinion of the majority of the people of Australia that Britain should he put before Australia, the Government are properly interpreting the opinions of the Australian people. The further they proceed along that track the more quickly will Australians realize, as Australian Parliaments will have .to do, that for Australians Australia must be first.
– The honorable senator was a member of a party whose Leader said that the Empire should be protected by Australia to the last man and the last shilling.
– And that party gave effect to the sentiment with regard to the last man, whilst the party to which Senator Duncan belongs repudiated the sentiment with regard to the last shilling. The Fisher Government gave effect to the sentiment he had expressed, in securing the service of the last man.
– Then, why does the) honorable senator go back to it now?
– The honorable senator has taken me back, and I want to ask him, when it came to providing the last shilling, what about the last shilling from the side to which he belongs ?
– When it came to a question of universal service for wealth they were not prepared to go in for that.
– They were willing to conscript men but not wealth. Thousands of men died, and a great many . became impoverished during the war, but how many rich men are poorer to-day because of it?
– I am. I am poverty-stricken to-day because of it.
– When one ia met with a statement like that from Senator ‘Drake-‘Brockman - that he is impoverished because of the war - I have only to say that there are (hundreds of thousands of our working classes who would imagine that they had reached the limit of wealth and luxury, if they had even the honorable senator’s salary of £1,000 a year, as a member of this Parliament, to say nothing of the fact that he has a professional practice, which probably brings him in a similar income. To suggest that the honorable senator’s condition is one of impoverishment is to suggest .something remarkable.
I do not wish to prolong the debate. I have occupied longer than I intended, but I have not said more than I intended to say. I have uttered my protest against war, and I say as clearly as a man can that if when the Empire is at war, Australia must also be at war, we shall have to take into consideration whether we can afford it. It is evident that that is the Government’s interpretation of the position, and I say that Australia should take up a different attitude. Australians should say, “ So far as we see this Near Eastern Question, it is a fight between Greece and Turkey over territory, and let them fight it out between themselves.” I do not think that Australia will be any worse off if they do.
– We have just listened to a remarkable speech from Senator Gardiner. Personally, I prefer to believe that the earlier portion of his remarks express his own feelings on this matter, and that the latter portion of his remarks were dictated rather by the people who are behind him misrepresenting Australia and misrepresenting the workers of this country. I am glad that the members of this Chamber have been given the opportunity to express their views on, this subject. I hold the opinion that our views on the matter are of more importance, and deserve to carry greater weight than do the views of individual members of another place, because we in this Chamber represent States and not merely electoral divisions of States. When wo speak we should speak with due regard to that fact. We should endeavour to interpret the feelings, sentiments, and determinations of the people we represent; in other words, the whole of the people of the State, and not merely sections of them. The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has not taken that lofty point of view of his responsibilities. He has endeavoured to express what he thinks are the feelings of a small section in the community which he represents here. In this respect he is not representing the State of New South Wales, but merely a portion of the noisy, and disloyal element in the Labour ranks of that State. I claim to speak to-day in common with other honorable senators from Western Australia, who will, I am sure, indorse my views, for the great overwhelming mass of public opinion in Western Australia. Their creed is quite simple. They loathe and abhor war. They would be glad never to take part in any future war. But they are also loyal members of the British Empire, and if the honour or the safety of that Empire is in any way involved, then the last man and the last shilling of the State of Western Australia is available to the Empire, in the maintenance of its interests. That is the simple faith of the people of Western Australia, and they have demonstrated it before.
– And it is not confined to any class either.
– As the right honorable gentleman says, it is not confined to any class. In this matter there is no class in Western Australia. That was demonstrated in the last war, and if necessary - and I pray to God it will not be necessary - it will be demonstrated again in any future war, in which the Empire is involved.
If this quarrel between Turkey and Greece were purely a matter of Turkey and Greece, I should say, “ By all means let them fight it out, and kill each other if they wish to do so.” But it is not a matter that affects only Turkey and Greece; it vitally affects the Empire, and because of that it vitally affects Australia.
– More than any other of the Dominions.
– A great deal more. If Senator Gardiner knew something of international politics, something of what is going on in the world to-day, he would realize that it is only teo true that this disturbance in the Near East vitally affects not only the Empire and Australia, but the whole of the white people of the world. This is a business which cannot be confined to Turkey and Greece. I despise the Greeks, and I do not mind saying so. I have a certain respect for many qualities of the Turks, and again I do not mind paying so. In the interests of the Empire, I have had the opportunity of fighting against the Turk, and he fights like a gentleman. I have also, in a small way, associated with the Greek, and I do not want- him for an ally.
– That is a very candid opinion.
– It is a definite and a candid opinion, and I am not ashamed to express it. I have said that I despise one of these nations in a certain sense, and I respect the other in another sense, though with its morals, national aspirations, and attitude I do not agree. If it could be left to these nations to fight their differences out amongst themselves, it would be the quintessence of folly for Australia or any portion of the Empire to ‘have anything to do with it. But it is not a matter of that sort. It is one which goes to the root of ‘the existence of the Empire, and even further, to the root of the existence of the white races of the world.
If we go back far enough into the history of the matter, honorable senators will remember that, when the Japanese defeated the Russians in the RussoJapanese war, an extraordinary effect was at once apparent throughout the whole of the coloured races of the world. The result of that struggle brought into being the spirit of antagonism of the coloured races against the white races. It brought into being once more the great Pan-Islamic movement, and that is where this disturbance vitally concerns us. That movement which was brought into being was controlled by the head of the Senussi, somewhere in the Sahara Desert. It was organized on masonic lines, and spread throughout the coloured races of the world, and particularly the coloured races of Africa at the present time. It once more aroused their enthusiasm for war. We must remember that the Mohammedans include in their religion the same spirit of respect for fighting and for war that we Christians have for peace.
Without going into the whole history of the matter, it is sufficient to say that it will be impossible to confine this war, should it take place, to merely a war between Turkey and Greece. It is almost bound in its consequences to involve all the Mohammedans in the world, and a great many of them are under the control and direction of the British. Government. It is because of this that the matter is not one which concerns only the Turks and the Greeks, but is one which vitally affects the British Empire and Australia.
Ignoring, all these things, and the great feeling of hostility to the white people of the world that exists amongst the coloured races, Senator Gardiner seriously asserts that it would be better for Australia if the Commonwealth were a Republic outside the Empire, responsible for her own defence, and the maintenance of her own existence and development.
– She could not carry that responsibility for long.
– I am perfectly certain she could not. Australia, as a white man’s country, would not continue in existence for a year, in circumstances such as that. It is only because we are a portion of the British Empire that we are able to maintain Australia as a white man’s country. My honorable friend also said that we could not keep and develop this country if the young men in it were always ready to fight when the Empire called. My belief is that if the young men in this community are not ready to fight when the Empire calls, we shall certainly not be able to keep and maintain this country as a white man’s country, as a free and independent country, excluding members of the “black and all the coloured races. My personal belief is that, if the Empire needs it, it is the duty of every man in Australia to do his bit again, and go forth to assist the Empire. It is my experience that the people who talk most about the rights, duties, and priviliges of Australia are those who are prepared to do the “least for the Empire, and, consequently, for Australia. My creed is .a perfectly simple one, and it is not merely my creed, but it is the creed of the people who sent me here, and for whom I speak today - the people of Western Australia. The whole of the young manhood of Western Australia, and the whole of the weal thi of that State, are available to the Empire if the Empire requires them’.
– When we are faced with such a serious contingency as we find in front of us, there is abundantly illustrated the fact that it is a stupendous task to govern such a world-wide, far-flung Empire as that of Great Britain and her Dominions. We must, in the first place, remember that the governing races of European origin in this great Empire number, probably, less than 70,000,000 souls. Seeing that this is an Empire, although an Empire of a very particular and peculiar kind, if Great Britain is to decide questions of war and peace, the white races must be the sole arbiters. For a considerable time to come, seeing that a majority of the white population of the Empire reside in the United Kingdom, their opinions, and the opinions of their leaders must constitute majority opinion. In that case, majority opinion must have the weight which always attaches to it. . In other words, were all the white races of the’ Empire, through their leaders, to assemble in consultation to decide the question of war or peace, the decision would naturally rest in the hands of those who were the leaders of the greatest section of the white races of the Empire, and that greatest section, it could be proved to demonstration, resides, at the present time, in the United Kingdom. A time may probably come when the bulk of the white population of the Empire will reside, for instance, in the Continent of Australia, if our future is such as we hope it will be. In that case, we here in Australia might constitute the majority section, and then questions of war and peace would be more entirely. at our disposal than they are at present.
The British Empire is a very peculiar Empire. It is a platitude to say that. Notwithstanding that we call ourselves British subjects, there is not, in substance, in this Empire a Treaty of defence or offence. We are not even in defensive or offensive alliance; so much so that when a ques- tion of war or peace has to be decided, we are consulted, and it is admitted that we are free to refrain from even defensive hostility if another portion of the Empire is attacked. It would be very injudicious for us to take up that attitude, but it is conceded by the Mother Country, if not openly and literally, at least practically, that we must be consulted before we can enter into any war, whether offensive or defensive. I do not, for a moment, assume that Great Britain is likely to engage, at any period in her history, in anything like an offensive war. She will no doubt, if she is wise, be prepared to take up arms in defence, of her own interests, and also if she is wise will always be ready to take up arms for the preservation of agreements to which other nations have been signatories. All that Great Britain is assuming the right to do in connexion with this matter is to take up arms to resist any contemplated violation of a neutral zone, which has been defined by an agreement to which nearly all the civilized nations of the world, including Australia, were signatories. For the first time in history we became a signatory to a Treaty by virtue of which this neutral zone was constituted. If the neutrality of that zone is forcibly breached, if its integrity is violated, it is surely incumbent upon the signatories to the Treaty to resent such violation. That is precisely what Great Britain is doing at the present time, and we would be singularly recreant to our recently signed and undertaken obligations if we refused to support the Mother Country in resisting the violation of the agreement.
I do not intend, any more than ‘do other honorable senators, to enter into a discussion of the merits of the struggle between the Greeks and the Turks, although I differ from the expressed opinion that the result of such struggle does not matter much. Let me say that the status of Greek communities in Asia Minor has been a bone of contention for the last 2,500 years at least. Recorded history tells us that the status of Greeks in Asia Minor has caused wars as far back as 2,500 years ago, in the time of that individual known as the Great King of Persia, for Persia waa a great Power in those days. That civilization which, despite their latter day degeneracy, we owe to the Greeks was endangered by an at- tack from Asia, and the Greek cities established in this very locality were burned, attacked, and took sides for and against the Greeks of Hellas and the Persians of the Persian Empire. They have been a bone of contention, and their status has been questioned, right through the centuries. This question is by no means a new one. The Greeks have come in for a good deal of recrimination in regard to this matter, and I certainly do not think that their conduct has been worthy of admiration or the slightest meed of praise, yet they have their excuses to offer. They say that very large communities of Greeks outside the zone allotted to them in Asia Minor by the Treaty, the breach of which will constitute an act of war, were in danger of massacre by the Turks. They claim that this justified them in sending their troops farther into the interior of Asia Minor for the protection of men of their own race and religion. We all know that there have been attributed to the Turks immense massacres of Armenians, and certainly the Greeks and other Christians have not escaped. On the other side it is alleged that the Greeks have massacred the Turks by thousands. In all probability, the, charges by both races and both nations’ are correct. Those nations - the Greeks, the Turks, and the people of the Balkans - have undoubtedly suffered a great deal of moral degeneracy since the first days of Turkish supremacy, and although the modern Greek is not, perhaps, the embodiment of the best qualities of humanity, let us remember what a Greek has said in defence of his people, who belong to a race to which European civilization owes so much. He said that during the time of Turkish supremacy over the Greek race, which lasted for many centuries, any man who “ stood upright,” who failed to resort to subterfuge, who did not cringe before the Oriental Powers - for the Turks were Orientals in everything during the first years of their occupation of Europe, although they have since been considerably modified by intermarriage with Europeans - or who showed airy qualities of manliness or courage, was subjected to some form of Oriental mutilation and death penalty. The Greeks for centuries had to cultivate those qualities which are amongst the most unlovely in the human character. Otherwise they would not have survived. As the Greek to whom I have referred properly said, we cannot expect them to show all those qualities of manhood and of uprightness, free from Oriental dissimulation, which we, who possess, perhaps, the more manly qualities of the more manly races of the world, expect them to show. They have only recently been released from slavery. Athens was in Turkish occupation a century ago, and well within the memory of ourselves the Greeks were a very small European nation. England, Russia, and other European Powers have sympathized with the Greeks because of their glorious plat, and have called the modern Greek nation into existence by defeating their Turkish oppressors at Navarino, and when we are told that our country has backed Greece, let us remember that Byron backed Greece. The agreement was not an agreement to back Greece. She professes to hold the principles of Western civilization. I repudiate the idea that the British Government, as a Government, supplied any arms to Greece, nor do I believe that the French Government, as a Government, supplied any arms to the staff of Kemal Pasha. It has probably happened that these people had money to pay for arms, and they obtained them, in some instances, from British firms, in some instances from French firms, in some instances, perhaps, from American . firms, and, in other openly-confessed instances, from the magazines of the Bolsheviks. In a world such as this, I am’ not going to regard it as a crime on the part of British gunmakers to sell guns to the Greeks if they have the money with which to pay for these weapons of war. The Turks, during the massacres at Adana, in Asia Minor, are accused of killing 40,000 to 50,000 Armenians with staves and sticks. These people will murder each other, because they have it in their blood. They do it with daggers, spears, lances, and billets of wood, so infuriated are they against each other because of religious intolerance.
I am going to make a few prosaic remarks which, perhaps, may be a little out of tone, but at the same time I will make them because, as long as I am in this Senate, I shall please myself what I say - with du© regard, of course, to the rules of the Chamber - in the interests of the nation. We cannot be in the Empire and out of it at the same time, notwithstanding that it is a remarkable Empire, and almost permits us that discretion. It is true that the immediate interest of Australia, in some questions which may vitally concern the people of the United Kingdom, may not be great; but if we refrain from assisting Britain when embroiled in war, what is going to happen if our claim to the exclusive possession of this continent, which concerns us, and, perhaps, does not greatly concern - according to the weight of thought of some - many people in the United Kingdom, is disputed? What’ if our policy in these seas is challenged? What if the British people, I mean the inhabitants of the United Kingdom said, “ You people have brought , this on yourselves with your White Australia policy. We do not believe in that, and we are going to refrain from sending assistance.” How would we like it? I am prepared to support the British (Empire, even if the people of the United (Kingdom think that the freedom of the Straits near Baffin’s Bay is an important matter .to them. While I am in this (Empire I shall support any policy which is of vital concern to any great section of the people comprising the Empire; but I also expect in return, and I believe we would get it, from the people of the United Kingdom, the assistance of their manhood and financial backing should the need and occasion for assistance unfortunately arise. If our national ideals are endangered we should expect, support from the Motherland; but I am not, at this juncture, to be drawn into a discussion, on fine points at to whether we should support the British Empire in this contingency. Mustapha Kemal is a man of undoubted ability, and I cannot believe for one moment that he will avowedly enter the neutral zone. If he does not commit that last violent act which would most undoubtedly precipitate war, I believe that an accommodation will be arrived at. If he does, in consequence of being intoxicated by his triumphs, or by the fanatacism of his people, let the Empire resist his armies with the whole of the forces at its disposal, and I trust that, in such a contingency, Australia will not shirk her duty.
Honorable senators know that I have, at times, carefully attempted to show the people of Australia that we should: be the connecting link between the great republic of the- “West and the British Empire. No one has remarked upon the vast interests of the American people in Asia Minor, notwithstanding that no people of European extraction have spent more money in Asia Minor in endeavoring to uphold the credit of the country, the principles of Christianity, and theeducation of the people on European lines, than have the Americans. We have heard very little of the possible action of the United States of America, but I believe that, before the matter is very much further advanced, we shall hear more concerning the attitude of (that great republic. Failing a declaration, the. Americans will be displaying a singular weakness, especially if they allow American citizens, particularly women and children, to be slaughtered, medical institutions to be burned down by the score, and women educated by Americans to be violated and carried away. If American opinion- can stand that, very long I shall be grievously disappointed. I say, without fear of logical contradiction, that the direct financial interests of America, in the promotion of all tha’4 is called European civilization in Asia Minor, is greater than is- the case in. connexion with any other European Power, and I earnestly trust that the wisest counsels will prevail in. this great crisis.
Let it be clearly understood that a Moslem success would cause such, feelings of enthusiasm throughout Islam and the countries under Islam’s sway that we would have to meet such a position as would make the retention of our Empire in India a most difficult proceeding. If the great commercial highway to Australia, namely,, the Suez Canal, ds in any way ‘ endangered, as at was during the recent great war, the future of Australia is vitally involved. If British rule were ‘ unhappily to disappear from India, Australia would have to face a great contingency, and our direct and indirect interests in this matter are’ not as small1 as- some- people imagine. They are of great consequence to the Commonwealth of. Australia..
Perhaps I may be pardoned’ for concluding in a somewhat prosaic strain. Senator Fairbairn,, who may be regarded as one of the- strongest Imperialists in this
Chamber, only two or three days ago referred to the fact that owing to certain exigencies of the last great war-, Australia did not get out of it commercially all that she might reasonably have anticipated. On the occasion to which I refer we were discussing the Meat Export Bounties Bill, when it was urged that very much to the disadvantage of Australia, meat was obtained from the Argentine instead of. from Australia for supplying the requirements’ of the Allied armies. Australia, as a member of the Imperial firing is recognising its. responsibilities, and I do’ not disavow one tittle of. that responsibility j but as it is a matter of great interest to the Empire as a whole,, when supplies of food have to be obtained, to meet the requirements of the armies, the Governmen’t, in the most friendly manner, should suggest to Great Britain: that the producers in Australia, ought tobe considered before those in foreign countries.
– Is not that strikinga rather low note?
– It is not a low note, Abut is a very practical suggestion, and. one which was given expression in this Chamber by Senator Fairbairn, who is certainly a strong Imperialist. We* could easily inform Great Britain that it. is essential, if a war is to be fought to a successful conclusion, that the producing- interests of Australia should be considered by the Imperial authorities, as that matter is very closely related to our financial, position. I have not theslightest doubt that consideration would be forthcoming if such a suggestion were made, because from, the financial aspect alone it is of material interest. If war should unhappily eventuate in this instance, a Moslem Power cannot challenge our command of the seas, and Australia, which must be ready to respond to the call in the hour of danger, should have her material interests considered in every possible way.
I sincerely trust, that the threatened conflict will be averted. I do not attribute to- Mustapha Kemal those.qualities of f foolhardiness of temperament which would1 bring about not only his destruction, but the destruction of the Turkish people. I believe at heart that tie Turkish leader is a fairly honorable*- and brainy man, and I am very hopeful that a satisfactory accommodation can still be made. If Europe is invaded by a Moslem Power, because of the momentary waxing of the Moslem Crescent, it will only be because the people have become intoxicated with minor victories, and if an attempt is made to push the Moslem armies to the gates of Vienna, as was done once before, all I can say is that we had better arm ourselves and speak, as Kipling spoke when he said -
Though all we have depart,
Those old commandments stand -
In courage hold your heart,
In strength lift up your hand.
– I would not have spoken on this motion had it not been for the manner in which the debatehas been conducted. According to the information which appeared in last evening’sand this morning’s papers, the trouble between Turkey and Greece, which has so suddenly and startlingly been thrust upon us, is the result of a little hysteria on the part of the British Prime Minister. That fact has undoubtedly been made plain to us by the information cabled as to London newspaper opinions, and it is fortunate for Australia that there are newspapers in London which express an independent opinion, and which do. not follow the dictates of a coterie of capitalists. According to the opinion expressed by the London ‘Hominy Post, the British Prime Minister has seriously blundered inconnexion with the position in Asia Minor. I may also refer to a view expressed by the London Daily Herald, and I dare say that if the opinions of the twenty daily London journals were cabled to Australia we should have still more enlightenment, and that it would be found that others have criticised the British Government in this matter. We have on the one hand the opinion of a Conservative journal such as the London Morning Post, and on the other the views of a Radical publication, the Daily Herald. I know a good deal concerning the policies supported by the London journals, and any one who has carefully criticised the cabled opinionson this subject must come to the conclusion that somebody in authority, probably Mr. Winston Churchill, the “ unsinable “poli tician, has blundered in this matter. Evidently some one rushed in and did a foolish thing by cabling what has been described as a manifesto to the Dominions. This hysteria, apparently, was communicated to our Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), whose statement, appearing in the press on Monday morning, was tantamount to an offer to send a contingent. At all events that was the general impression conveyed to the public of Australia. No man in this country, not even the Prime Minister, and no Cabinet, should take it upon himself or itself at a moment’s notice, to offer the blood and treasure of this country in any quarrel, although this course may be considered necessary by the British Government.
– Do you repudiate, then, Mr. Fisher’s offer of the last man and the last shilling in the recent war?
– I am coming, to that matter; I am glad the honorable senator made the interjection. I did not contest that statement at the time, and, what I may have to say in regard to that matter will apply equally to the present position. We should notfollow blindly. We should be progressively intelligent, and guided by the facts and the progress of events. I am satisfied that if the Australian people were now appealed to by way of referendum they would not view this struggle in the same light as they did the German menace in 1914. As for the offer made by Mr. Fisher - I hope the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) is listening, because of certain interjections he made on one occasion - I remind the Senate that both Mr. Fisher and Mr. Watkins, who was secretary of the party at the time are members of the Labour party to-day. Despite the criticism that we have heard, Mr. Fisher is with the Labour party today.
– How do you know ?
– When last he was in Australia he declared that he would not be seen in a 40-acre paddock with opponents of the Labour party.
– But in Sydney they turned him down in favour of Lambert.
– He is still with the Labour party, and has offered himself as a candidate for the party in Scotland. In 1914, there was reason for supporting Britain, because there waa no doubt about the German menace at that time. My contention is that if we become associated in any war, we should have the right to adjust our attitude from time ta time and say when the war should cease, especially if the nations opposed to us in the conflict show the white flag as Germany certainly did in 1917. In regard to life and labour, which is part of the economic forces of this country which I represent, when once we were in ‘the quarrel, if the principle of universal service, which had been advocated but afterwards repudiated, [had been adopted, we should not have objected to the sacrifice of life that was entailed. I am not one of those who say that life is sacred, but so far as the agitation for conscription of labour in the last war was concerned, it was put out of- court from a moral stand-point when the wealth owners of the community ran away from the principle of universal service, and from conscription of wealth.
In regard to this new threat of war, I am not an old man, but during my lifetime I have listened to quite a number of similar threats. I can well remember, in the late eighties, hearing about th« Russian menace. We have had menace after menace - not only the Bolshevik menace that we hear so much about today. There was once a belief that Russia was coming down through- India. We know that Great Britain has been at war, at one period or another, in almost every corner of the globe, and if we become associated in this pending conflict, we should have the right to deal with our participation in a progressive and intelligent way. There is reason to believe that Great Britain has blundered in the conduct of these negotiations and that, in sporting parlance, she has “backed the wrong horse.” This is another result of too much secret diplomacy. The trouble between Turkey and Greece, which has been in existence for some considerable time, should certainly have been referred to the League of Nations. While the Grecian forces were threatening the Angora Government, nothing was heard about the matter sa far as the British Empire is concerned, but now that the Turkish forces have entered Smyrna and, possibly, although we do not know, are threatening other points, we are told of the imminent danger to the Empire and- asked to participate with Great Britain in meeting it. Before Australia enters another war and adds to her already heavy burden of debt, we should be acquainted with the whole of the facts. Many aspects of the trouble have not been properly brought out yet.
Senator Drake-Brockman touched upon what he regarded as our inability to defend ourselves unless we keep within the Empire. I should like to remind him that the United States- of America., with but half our population, made a verygood showing in the eighteenth century. While I happen to be of as good British descent as any other honorable senator, I think we can take a walleyed view of -the present trouble, and before I resume my seat I hope to develop my argument as to Australia’s position within the Empire, and the position of the Empire with regard to the world. I am of Australian birth. I understand, also, that Senator Gardiner is a descendant of men who have lived for a long time in this country. He expressed certain views to-day. I do not necessarily indorse all that he said, but I should like to remind honorable senators of a statement that was once made by one of the members of this Parliament -
The destiny of this country is a Republic. When that day comes I shall welcome it.
– You will not live to see that.
– They are not my words, and they are not my sentiments. They were words uttered by the Right Honorable Sir Joseph Cook at an early period in his political life in this country, and judging by what has happened to Sir Joseph Cook, I fear for Senator Gardiner, because I can see that, in the days to come, he will probably be elevated by the wealth holding classes to that high and honorable position in London, the High Commissionership of Australia. On this question of republicanism I am content to allow the British people in the Old Land to decide. We are told by those who attempt to defend the limited monarchy that we are under a crowned Republic, and, therefore, it does not matter. To me the manner in which we are governed is not of the utmost importance. While we stand to our rights as a component part of the Empire, I do not believe we must necessarily be thrust out of existence because of something that may happen to the British Empire. While the Empire stands, I personally - and I think the attitude of the Labour movement is the same - hope that we shall remain a member of it; but we do not intend to renounce our rights to criticise the Old Country, or to say clearly what should be the Australian policy. As for the future, if the British Empire sticks together, and it will only be able to do that by adherence to those strong principles of right and justice which make for permanence, Australia should go with it.
– But as soon as trouble looms up you think we should desort her
– The honorable senator, as usual, has been listening for only about two minutes, and, of course, he does not understand what I have been saying. I am affirming that in case of Empire trouble the Australian people should have the right to say how far Australia should go.
Senator Drake-Brockman, in the course of his remarks, developed the argument about Pan-Islamic machinations.
– I did not develop it; I only touched upon it.
– Well, the honorable senator introduced the subject, and said a good deal about the Senussi and their relations with the Islamic combination in India. We could certainly find trouble in almost every part of the world every year or two if we allowed ourselves to be guided entirely by members of the British Cabinet. We know that very often the British Cabinet itself is not unanimous on questions of foreign policy. It was only a section of the Cabinet that favoured military action in regard to the Russian Government since the big war ended, another section being inclined to take the more reasonable view that- that country should be allowed to carve out its own destiny. We might be sending contingents away every few years, if there were Prime Ministers in England and Australia such as we have at present. We could have sent troops to the Soudan in 1896, as we did in the eighties. On these matters the Australian people have a right to express their opinion by a referendum before this young country is forced into heavy debt and loss of life.
It has often been said that Australia is practically defenceless, so far as its own strength is concerned. While I feel that we owe a great deal to the British Empire, and whilst I would not desert Britain in her hour of need, I claim that Australia is not entirely without means of defence. In the event of an invasion of our shores, we should be dependent most of all, as Senator Gardiner has pointed out, on the capacity of the young manhood of this country to defend our hearths and homes. I have never claimed that Australia should break away from the British Empire, but if the British Isles were suddenly to disappear under the sea, Australia would not be altogether defenceless. Even with the threat of an invasion by a coloured race, we would not be without friends. The United States of America was not without friends on such an occasion. If Australia were attacked b.v a country prompted by imperialistic motives, it would not be alone. History shows that. There are a number of small States that stand to-day not by virtue of their own man-power or their quality . as soldiers, but because the material interests of other nations have stood as a barrier between them and their foes. These small States have remained for centuries in the same position.
– Your idea is that some other nation should do the fighting for us.
– Not at all. If the occasion arose, Australia would make the same stand as the United States of America did in the eighteenth century, and no doubt, just as successfully, and I do not think this country should be cringing or dependent on others.
I have tried to make the attitude of the Australian Labour party clear. Australians are cf the same blood as the, people in the Old Country, and whilst desirous of remaining within the British Empire, we still hope to be allowed to have a little say as to when we shall be led into war, how it shall be waged, and when peace shall be concluded. A bad peace treaty is accountable for the present trouble in Asia Minor. It is most instructive to know that the two Powers at the back of that trouble were the two dearly beloved Allies - France and Britain. They lost 2,000,000 men between them in the late war, and they are certainly on different sides in the present dispute. I do not wish to throw mud at any country. France and Great Britain are in the vanguard of civilization to-day, but we find them still struggling along the same old path that ultimately leads to war. The attitude of the Australian Labour party may not be a wise one, and it may not represent the highest form of patriotism, but there is such a thing as being overcharged with patriotic sentiment in regard to the Old Land.
Senator -Guthrie. - Oan one be overcharged with it?
– Some people in Great Britain were so little charged with it that their main business in the late war was to make money. One can be so overcharged with patriotism as to lose all regard for the interests of his own people, and to neglect those objectives that ought to be clearly followed for the benefit of the human race. ‘The subdued attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in the debate in another place yesterday was suggestive of the fact that for some reason, not altogether clear, the gravity of the position was overestimated. Probably some individual member of the British Cabinet, a little more mercurial in disposition than the others, was seized with the idea that he had to save the British Empire and Democracy, and so he hastily issued the invitation to the Dominions to send troops.
Debate interrupted under standing order 127.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That Orders of the Day be postponed until the conclusion of the debate that has just been interrupted.
– I am grate: f.ul for the opportunity to continue my remarks. I am sorry if I have harrowed the feelings of some of my fellow senators, but I think that I have expressed the view of the majority of .members of the Australian Labour party, and sooner or later I believe that that feeling will be reinforced by having a greater body of public opinion behind it. The Labour party has no ill-will towards the Empire. There are some sections of people that may have such ill-will.
– They do.
– Well, say they do. I was regarded by some as disloyal for opposing conscription, but when, on reading the London daily press, I found that at the annual congresses, representing 3,000,000 English, Scotch, and Welsh workers, opposition to conscription was expressed, arid when this happened year after year, I thought to myself that,, if I was disloyal, those workers must be ten times more so, because, after all, Australia is a long way from the heart of the Empire, and our people do not know all that takes place in regard to the origin of wars. We learn a good deal when secret Treaties are revealed. We know now why Italy came into the war. It was because it expected to increase its territory. We found out other matters which, if disclosed earlier, would have intensified the desire for peace. We did not support peace at any price, but peace by negotiation, and I may remind honorable senators that when the war waa finished that was the course followed. While the war was in progress many leaders of public opinion said that there should be no peace until the German military forces were crushed and the Allies reached Berlin. ,
– It is a pity they did not reach Berlin. We should probably not have had this trouble to-day if they had done so.
– Senator Vardon says it is a pity that the Allies did not reach Berlin, and he is logical enough. I am one of those who would stop a quarrel as soon as it could be done with honour and decency.
– As soon as we have flogged the other fellow.
– As soon as he has been calmed and brought to a reasonable state of mind, and I say that the Germans were calmed in 1917. The German Reichstag, representing the manhood suffrage of the country, in defiance of Kaiserism and Prussian. Junkerism said distinctly that the German people were in favour of overtures for peace.
– At their own price.
– At a price certainly, just as other, countries involved had to be satisfied. France had to be satisfied, and with all due respect to her claim for Alsace-Lorraine, honorable senators will find if they look up the authorities that in the tenth century AlsaceLorraine belonged to Germany.
– There was no German Empire in the tenth century.
– T have not said .that there was. The modern German Empire was the creation of Bismarck, but the people of Alsace-Lorraine were largely of Germanic origin and spoke the German tongue. I believe’ that it was under Louis XIV. of France that AlsaceLorraine was made French territory, and it remained under French dominion for something like 150 years. I do not wish to pursue that matter further, because it is somewhat beside the question. The fact remains that France had to be satisfied, and Italy also had to be satisfied. It may be logical when fighting to desire to crush the other fellow, The Prussians represented the great strength of the German people, and when they saw their soldiers coming back claiming to ‘be victorious, they had reason to believe that they were victorious, ‘because there were no invading forces to give them proof of the opposite.
– This is a new version of the history of the war.
– The honorable senator should read a little, and, he would know that what I have said has been printed in the London press.
– The honorable senator should read Owen Wister’s book to learn what England did in the War1.
– I have read a good deal of what England and other countries did in the war. I have read, and I have been told, that Australia won the war. While I claim to be an Australian I do not. say that Australia won the war. She did her share, but it is ridiculous to say of any of the Allies in that gigantic struggle, which involved armies on both sides numbering .scores of millions of men, that their share in the struggle decided the issue. I think I have fairly put the position of the Australian Labour movement to-day. I regret if I have hurt the feelings of any honorable senators. Some of them have invited me to say what I have said, and if they are perturbed about it I cannot help it. I say that the attitude of the Australian Labour movement is that if Australia must join in ft war in conjunction with Great Britain in other parts of the world the reasons for the war should be reviewed, and the question whether Australia should, be involved should be referred to the Parliaments of this country.
– Would the honorable senator have a referendum on the question?
– We would not have had a referendum on the question of conscription had ft not been for the action taken by the Labour representatives in the Senate. That referendum would not have been given to the Australian people by those who control the actions of honorable senators opposite. It was forced .upon the Government of the day because of the fact that the Labour majority in the Senate could not be got round in any way.
– That is nothing to be proud of.
– I again remind the honorable senator that in congresses representing 3,000,000 of the British Democracy resolutions were passed, year after year, expressing their unalterable opposition to the principle of conscription. In view of that fact, it can be claimed that the attitude towards con,scription of the Australian Labour movement was entirely justified.
Peace by negotiation was the policy adopted by President Wilson at a certain stage of the straggle, but I say that when the German people sent out peace overtures, there might have been an effort made to conclude peace. A nation of 70,000,000 people cannot be wiped out, and an effort should have been made to meet some of the legitimate aspirations of the German people. Behind all war there is a sense of wrong, and if people are suffering or there is some right denied them which should be granted to them, an effort to redress wrongs’ would enable peace tol be maintained. Even though the Turks were against us in the Great War, it cannot be denied that it was a dastardly thing for the Greeks to advance right into their territory and attempt to advance into their national capital. They were prepared to wipe Turkish’ nationality out of existence. Some of us make great affirmation of the importance of the principle of nationalism’, and we should try to look at the matter from the point of view of the Turk.
– We are Britishers, and not Greeks or Turks. I am proud to be a Britisher.
– The honorable senator should remember that the British
Government are supporting the Greeks today, and I ask him where the Greeks were a few years ago when the Great War was on ?
– That is what many people desire to know.
SenatorFoll. - They were selling steak and oysters.
– Probably some of them were. We know how the present trouble was brought about. We were led to believe that Britain andFrance were two Allies whom nothing could sunder. We were invited to believe that for centuries they would live in amity and support each other, and yet we find, sad to say, that they are in different camps today.
– If they are in different camps, how is it that the troops of both countries are under the one commander ?
– In what camp?
– I refer to the Allied troops at Constantinople.
– It is quite amusing to hear the Leader of the Government in the Senate advance that argument.
– I am still waiting for the honorable senator’s answer to it.
– It may be that they are united in Constantinople; but that does not say they are united in Anatolia or out here in the New Hebrides.
– The honorable senator seems rather pleased about that.
– I am not nearly so pleased as the Minister for Home and Territories has shown himself to be to-day.
When this S.O.S. signal came from over the waters there was a considerable feeling as to the effect it might have on the minds of the electors of this country.
Honorable Senators. - No, no.
– I am notaltogetherblind. It is a sorry thing that it should exercise such an influence, but we know that if we go back for a hundred or a thousand years wars have been engaged in, time and again, for political and social reasons. We know that dreadful as war is to the ordinary man, to some people it is nothing, so long as it can serve their purpose. So far as the threat of this war is concerned, I have not the slightest reason to doubt that it has not been received altogether with disgust. There has certainly been a reflection that it might result in political advantage for a particular party. It may happen that in the coming elections there will be a return to the sentiment of patriotism which previously had its effect in this country. It had an important influence then with some reason, because the German menace was an entirely different thing from what we are confronted with to-day. It accounted for Mr. Andrew Fisher and Mr. David Watkins composing the manifesto which promised the last man and the. last shilling. I remind honorable senators that those gentlemen are still with us in the Labour movement, and that fact supports my main contention to-day that, in connexion with any struggle in which it is suggested that Australia should engage, an opportunity should be given to the people of Australia to express their opinions about it. If it should last for four, five, or ten years, then during the progress of the war opportunity should be afforded us to adjust our views, and we should have some say in the conduct of the war. We should not be towed at the coat-tails of a Power at the other end of the world that is entirely away from Australia, which may not care very much about this country, or what the struggle may mean to us in loss of life or treasure.
I do not wish to proceed any further.
– The honorable senator has said that several times.
– That is so; but the interjections have shown the need for moreenlightenment, and I have endeavoured to supply it. I have made some contribution to the debate in support of reasons why Australia on every occasion of this kind should have the right to consider any suggestion that we should engage in another war, and if we do enter into it, should have some voice as to how it should be conducted, and as to the terms of ultimate peace.
– I should ‘be very sorry indeed if the debate upon this formal motion were unnecessarily protracted, and for my part I shall endeavour to do nothing that will have that effect. I should also regret very much if, in the course of the debate, there was apparent any discordant note, or anything that might be construed or distorted into evidence that there was a lack of unanimity on the part of Australia in its attitude in the face of the possible emergency with which the .Empire ie now confronted.
– It is scarcely possible to avoid that impression after the speech of Senator MacDonald.
– If I can say it without disrespect, I think the honorable senator was drawn into perhaps exaggerations of statement as a result of interjections. I do not intend to enter into a detailed discussion of the war from which we have just emerged, further than to say that it was stated of the war, truthfully and hopefully, that it was a “ war to end war.” I believe, with one honorable senator who interjected during the course of the last speaker’s remarks, that if the Allies had marched on to Berlin, the war might have achieved that result in a much larger measure, and the Empire to-day might not be confronted with the circumstances which have occasioned this debate.
Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister of Australia, received an important message from- the Prime Minister of Great Britain at the beginning of this week. He replied to that message, and as soon as the House of Representatives met yesterday he read to the House the message he had received and the reply he had forwarded. He had previously communicated to the public, . through the press on Monday morning, the terms of both those messages, and he consulted those .of his colleagues with whom he could get into personal contact, and communicated by other means with those with whom, owing to their absence from the State, he could not get into personal contact. I ask each and every honorable senator, in the light of all that has been put before him, to ask himself, calmly and coolly, if he was in the same position that Mr. Hughes was in last Sunday, what other reply than that sent by Mr. Hughes could he have sent to Mr. Lloyd George? “What better reply could he have sent? What other action could he have taken? What better action could he have taken? Calmly considered and read, the conduct and messages of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth are, in the circumstances, beyond criticism. I do not know that it has been suggested, here or elsewhere, that his reply could have been improved, upon, or that his conduct, in all the circumstances, could have been better. As Senator Gardiner has said, he rightly interpreted the feeling of Australia in the matter. There has been about the utterances of Mr. Hughes . in Australia, and about his message to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and about his conduct, nothing at all in the way of blatant jingoism. There has been nothing that would suggest that he, or anybody with whom he is associated - his party, or anybody in the country - welcomes the message that was received from the Prime Minister of Great Britain, or welcomes the possibility of war. Everything points to the contrary. As to the suggestion that the message had something to do with the forthcoming election, I think that,’ upon the shortest consideration, it can be dismissed as unworthy. Is it to be believed for one moment that Kemal Pasha, or the Turks in Asia Minor approaching the neutral zone, were aware that there was a possible impending election in Australia at the end of this year or the beginning of next year? Is it to be assumed that those who were responsible for the burnings in Smyrna, or the deportation or expulsion of people of other nationalities, were aware that there was a possibility of an- election in Australia; and are not those circumstances the prime and original cause of the position in which we now find ourselves? Did they not occasion the message from the Prime Minister of Great Britain to the Prime Minister of Australia That message was no fictitious invention- of the Prime Minister of Great Britain. The last speaker has said that certain London journals have criticised the Prime Minister of Great Britain and some of his colleagues, and have suggested that what they did in communicating with the Dominions was in the nature of hysteria. Let that pass as even reasonable political criticism by journals hostile to the general policy of the Government, but the fact remains that the message came here; and was it for Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, intrusted as he was with the responsibility of answering the message at once om behalf of this Dominion, to say, “ Go on !. You are suffering, from hysteria “ ? He knew the message was going to every other Dominion, and his answer was in accord with the sentiments of the people of Australia and. of the various Dominions that appreciate their position as Dominions of the Empire, are proud of it, and are determined for all time to remain a portion of the Empire.
If we were to take up the attitude that Senator Gardiner and Senator MacDonald have suggested, and. hold aloof, it would become a question, if the Empire went down, of ‘ ‘ our turn next.” Is it suggested for one moment that in these days of moderndevelopments Australia, situated as she is at one end of the world, and farthest away from Great Britain, would . be able to meet every possible emergency occasioning the defence of her own integrity if she were unhelped and unaided’ by Great Britain? Much as I believe in the resourcefulness of Australia and. Australians,, and much as I believe in their capacity and ability to meet all circumstances as well as, if not better than, the people of. any other part of the world, I still doubt very much whether we are sufficiently strong in numbers’ and. sufficiently well equipped to maintain our own integrity and our own nationality if we attempt to “ paddle our own canoe.” Looked at even from that low standard, I think the suggestion of Senator Gardiner is not one that will meet with much indorsement from the people of Australia. I think the Australian people abhor war as much as any people upon the face of the earth. It has been rightly said by Senator Gardiner that Australiahas not yet recovered from the wounds experienced in the last war. Our finances, too, have been ‘disorganized. We see nothing- in war to glory in, but war- is a stem necessity,’ sometimes, when it meansdefending one’s honour, one’s principles, and one’s legitimate aspirations. Those of us who have had an opportunity of studying the bi-monthly magazine dealing with foreign affairs issued by the Empire Parliamentary Association have learned the full significance of the movement in Asia Minor, and not merely in Asia Minor, but right through a belt of territory that runs across’ Western Africa, through Asia, into China. We know very well that if the Empire becomes’ involved in the- war, it will not be at the seeking of the Empire or of the authorities in London. If the Empire does become involved in war, it will be a war that will very directly touch Australia, because, apart from the Dardanelles, the littoral of the Mediterranean, and thecoast of Asia Minor, there will be the question of the Suez Canal, the Persian, Gulf, India, and Egypt. . All these particular geographical aspects of the war will tell upon Australia perhaps morethan upon any other part of the civilized globe; certainly they will tell more upon us than upon any other British speaking people. ll do not propose to follow the example that has been set of entering into a discussion of the detail’s of the last war, or of the circumstances in detail which have occasioned the present message from the Prime Minister of Great Britain to the Prime Minister of. Australia;. All I know is- that the message came, whether it was the result, of hysteria or not, although I do not for a moment entertain such an idea. The message that went from our Prime Minister was a proper and appropriate reply, and his action was a proper and appropriate action. I think it wall be made clear tothe immediate participants in the presentwar - the Greeks and the Turks, and to those who may be behind Turkey - that should a war occur, much as we abhor and reprobate war, should the Empirebecome involved in war “ Australia will be there.”
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) r5 321.- The Senate is grateful tothe Leader of this Chamber (Senator E. D. Millen) for permitting the debate to> extend beyond the time allotted by the Standing - Orders. The more we . think over this matter the more we shall realize^ that it is one of the most important subjects that is likely to come before theSenate, or,, in fact, has come before the Senate during the life of the present Parliament. We cannot at the present time forecast the result of the war. No onecan forecast how far it will go. Consequently, I think it is the duty of every honorable senator to make his position quite plain, so that there may be no playing of the ‘* after game “ later on. I’ indorse the statement of Senator DrakeBrockman1 that this subject is much moreimportant to honorable senators than to members of the House of Representatives, for we each speak for a whole State, which is a much larger constituency than that represented by any member of the House of Representatives. That being so, it is a pity that there should be any difference of opinion at this stage among honorable senators. If we look back to the commencement of the Great War, we will recall the admirable spirit manifested by Australia, .and the unanimity that was shown on that occasion, when all political parties were apparently as one. I am sorry that Senator MacDonald should introduce anything in the nature of electioneering into the present debate, or should try to construe the action of the Government as being in any way associated with the impending election. His remarks would suggest that something of that kind had been done in the past, even by his own party. When the then Leader of his own party, Mr. Andrew Fisher, who is still a member of that party, issued his declaration that Australia would give the “ last man and the last shilling,” would Senator MacDonald say that was an electioneering cry? Senator MacDonald said that it was put forward as an electioneering cry, and we must remember that an election campaign was in progress at the time.
– A suggestion of electioneering enters into the whole business, and it cannot be helped at present.
– Fisher’s statement was good electioneering stuff.
– It was a patriotic and proper statement to make by the Leader of a party which had had compulsory military training on its’ platform for eight or nine years. Any one who recalls what occurred at the Brisbane Conference in 1908 cannot but be struck with the harmony between Mr. Andrew Fisher’s statement and the fifth plank of the Labour party at that time. Mr. Fisher was acting strictly in accord with the principles of the Labour party when he made that offer, and it was only those who disputed the attitude of the old Labour party who found themselves out of touch with the spirit and policy of the party at that time.
It should be ‘clearly understood by all sections of the -community that so long as we ‘are part and parcel of the British Empire, and trouble of any magnitude arises, we must be prepared to render assistance. Even Senator Gardiner admitted our responsibility, al though he endeavoured to qualify his statement by some little asides which did not affect the main principle in the slightest degree. Situated .as we are, with a small population in comparison with other (countries, with a small fighting force when compared with the mighty armies which others can put in the field, and remembering the pressure of population in other parts of the world, which is regarded as one of the future difficulties, can we forget our position and expect to withhold assistance from. Great Britain in time of danger? Frequent reference is made to the need of immigrants in Australia. The type of immigrants we get is of greater importance than, the number. We could get large numbers if we accepted them from all parts of the world. We have to recognise the outstanding fact that we cannot keep out of ( difficulties of this kind when they arise, and it is useless endeavouring to play a game of hide and seek in international affairs. Such a policy would never suit Australia, and Senator MacDonald must recognise the utter futility of asking the people to decide whether we should participate in a conflict or not. The honorable senator referred to the position in 1917. Germany was never more triumphant than at that time.
– Her people did not think so when they made peace overtures.
– The German people did not have an .opportunity of expressing an opinion.
– It was expressed in the Reichstag.
– The general opinion at that time was that the Central Powers were in a stronger position than they had been at any time previously.
– In 1917 Germany wa3 in occupation of a larger area of territory than she had previously held.
– Yes, the German Army was within 60 miles of Paris. Have we forgotten that the first battle on .the Marne was fought -early in September, 1914, and that from that date until .1918., -the German .forces were entrenched within 60 or .70 miles of Paris ? It was not .until a few weeks (before the Armistice that the German troops were driven back.
– Was not the blockade, of the seas affecting them ?
– It was affecting us, as our wheat ‘and wool was going to waste, because we could not get it overseas. We cannot get away from the fact that we have certain responsibilities, and it is useless to suggest thai we can avoid our obligations by taking a referendum. We must face our duty, and honorable senators would be unworthy of their position in this Chamber if they did not support the Government in the action which has been taken.
There are some striking parallels in connexion with the present position and the recent Great War. It will be remembered that in 1914 the British authorities considered that the best way of preventing hostilitieswould be by taking as little prominence’ as possible in the matter and causing as little provocation as possible to the enemy. Later, however, German propagandists announced that if Britain had declared her intention of entering on the side of France war would probably not have eventuated. The position to-day is somewhat similar, because according to the cables published yesterday the French have ordered their forces in Asia Minor to fall back, in order to avoid provocation to the Turkish leaders. Similar action was taken in the late war, as the French leaders ordered their troops to retire so that there would not be any skirmishes between the French and German troops; but immediately the French retired the German troops seized the territory which was most valuable to them from a strategic point of view, and also the territory in which the coal and iron mines were situated, and were thus placed in a better position to effectively conduct an extended campaign. ATT we can do is to let Great Britain know where we stand in this matter. We should make the Australian people realize that we cannot keep out of a perilous situation when Great Britain is involved. If we were faced with danger it would be impossible for us to defend Australia with our limited resources for more than twenty-four hours. If we were to place gratitude and blood relationship out of consideration and attempt to stand alone we would surely fail. For these reasons, I support the action taken by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) on behalf of the Government.
.- No one regrets more than I do the necessity for this discussion, especially when we remember the tremendous efforts which, have been put forward since the termination of the Great War to bring about peace in the world and to make it difficult for war to occur in the future. We have to decide if the Senate approves of the action taken by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), as the representative of the people of the Commonwealth, in communicating as he did with the British Prime Minister. I contend’ that the Prime Minister has done only what should have been expected of him by the people of the Commonwealth, and if he .had failed in acting promptly when the call came from the Old Land, he would have been deserving of severe criticism at the hands of the Australian people.
– And he would have got it.
– Yes. It has been; said by some honorable senators that, in all probability, the British Prime Minister and his Cabinet are eager for war, but we know that is mere piffle. We are quite satisfied that there is no Government in the world more anxious for peace than the British Government, but, there is a difference in displaying a desire for peace and a desire to avoid war at any cost. Although it has been said by some to-day that we are not- justified in assisting the Mother Country in hostilities in which she may be engaged, it has been pointed out iri another place, and in this Chamber, that it is not a question of war between Turkey and Greece, .but the possible invasion of a neutral zone which was proclaimed neutral by a Treaty to which Australia is a signatory. How can we escape our responsibility in that regard ? Those who have studied the question even cursorily realize that it is not one of assisting in a conflict be tween Turkey and Greece, but of protecting neutral territory. We shall always, I hope, be ready to respond to’ the call when it comes from the Old Land, because we owe all that we possess to Great Britain. When the call came ‘in 1914 Australia did her duty by quickly responding, and now we are asked to state whether, if a certain contingency should arise, Australia can be relied upon to render some assistance. I am glad to know that so far hostilities have not actually commenced, and that there is some prospect of war being avoided. I am also glad to know that the Prime Min’ister immediately communicated with the
High Commissioner in London, and urged him to assist in bringing the matter before the. League of Nations in an endeavour to avoid hostilities. What more could the Prime Minister do? I stand behind the Prime Minister, as I believe a great majority of the people of Australia are doing, I rose not only to express my opinions on this question, but to resent the suggestions made in certain directions by two honorable senators. Senator MacDonald had the audacity to suggest that the Prime Minister transmitted that cablegram with the idea of securing political advantage. Anything so reprehensible should not have been uttered during this debate, and at such a serious juncture.
– Have you read the Sydney Morning Herald of Monday?
– I have not. I do not wish to take my views from the Sydney Morning Herald, or any other paper. I have sufficient confidence in the Prime Minister, and those associated with him, to know that they would never stoop to such a thing as that.
– All the Herald did was to consider what would happen in the event of an election.
– We have been told by Senator Gardiner that we should never contemplate going to the assistance of the Old Country, no matter how great the need, until we have paid off our present war debt.
– Our capitalists are dying for an opportunity to pay it off!
– Senator Gardiner knows as well as I do that if the Government were to call upon the capitalists of Australia to liquidate the whole of the war debt immediately, the wheels of industry in Australia would cease to turn. Where would his supporters be then ? Where would they get their relief or Government aid? There would be nothing available at all. The suggestion is ludicrous and should never have been made. We believe, or at all events a majority of us believe, that .the greatefforts that are at present being made to insure the world’s peace must succeed. We do not contemplate being drawn into another war, but we should always remember that it is wise to make preparations so that should the time ever come when we may be called upon to take up arms again, we may have the men and the money available. But if we depleted our financial resources by calling upon the moneyed people of Australia to liquidate the present war debt immediately, we should not be in a position to meet other obligations should they occur at any time. I know a good many of the brave men who did their bit in the last war and who, thank God, returned to us safely. 1 make bold to say that if we could gather those men together anywhere and ask them if they were anxious for another war, not one voice would be raised in the affirmative. Every man is anxious to avoid war if possible. It is absurd to suggest that the capitalists of Britain have been urging the British Government to appeal to the Dominions for assistance. The statement is hardly worthy of notice. I heartily indorse the action taken by the Prime Minister and the Government, but I sincerely hope that wise counsels will prevail, and that as a result of unity of effort on the part of the larger nations of Europe this terrible threat of war will disappear within the next few days, and that we shall be able to go about our avocations in peace and confidence.
– As one who believes very strongly that the British Empire has a mission to fulfil, and that Australia, as part of the Empire, has a great future, I am glad to know .that the Prime Minister (Mr Hughes) has taken this step. I am as much opposed to war as any person in Australia. Every honorable senator, I am sure, has no desire for wa*r. We have to remember, however, that in relation to this trouble, our Empire occupies a very difficult position, and it ought to be discussed entirely from a non-partisan standpoint. I am sorry that Senators Gardiner and MacDonald have both taken such a narrow view of what I consider to be the duty of Australia within the Empire. Senator Gardiner, it is true, is not averse from “ cutting the painter,” and to that extent his speech was logical enough. I hold an entirely different view. I believe that Australia has a great purpose to fulfil within the Empire, and because of this belief I indorse the action taken by the Government. -Both Australia and New Zealand are strongly British in their racial characteristics. I have no desire to cast any reflection on the people of the other Dominions, because I recognise that with diverse populations their position is somewhat difficult, and they have hesitated, up to the present, in making any definite pronouncement upon the situation. I am sorry that any of the British Dominions should he in that position, because a ready response would probably have had an important effect upon the Kemalists. In connexion with this matter there is one view which, so far, has been untouched in this debate. I refer to the nonconformist conscience, or Christian feeling, which has been predominant in the Old Country over such an extended period of time, and which has ‘always been exercising pressure upon the Government to drive the Turk out of Europe. That has been the underlying sentiment in Great Britain ever since I can remember..
– To drive out the Turk “ bag and baggage.”
– Yea, I remember Gladstone using that phrase. British policy in regard to Turkey was, unfortunately, responsible for German influence becoming effective in Constantinople, and as a result, in the recent war the Turks threw their weight in with Germany. That complicated the position of the British Empire very seriously. And then there was the fact that our Australian troops in that great conflict were principally responsible for knocking the Turk to pieces, not only at Gallipoli, but elsewhere. Thus, from the Mohammedan or Moslem point of view, the difficulties of the Empire were very considerably increased. Adrianople and Constantinople, which, in the eyes of Moslems, are holy places, have been taken from Turkey. It was this that enabled Mustapha Kemal to exploit the Nationalist feeling throughout the Turkish Empire with the object of regaining possession of those cities and that territory. It is always wise, I think, to endeavour to get your opponent’s point of view. The Crusades in the early part of English history were conducted for the purpose of rescuing Jerusalem from the Mohammedans. Thousands of people sacrificed themselves in the struggles to get possession of the Christian Holy City. The Mohammedans within the British Empire - and this, of course, includes India - regard Constantinople as the city of the Caliphate, or the Pope of Mohammedanism, and Adrianople as one of their holy cities, and I fear that their national aspirations will never be satisfied until they regain possession of these places.
I have no desire to criticise British policy, but from my knowledge of this complicated subject I think the Government of the Mother Country acted hastily in taking the part of Greece as against Turkey or Mohammedanism. I refer to that section of the British people led by the Liberal party, whose cry always has been that we should drive the Turks out of Europe.
We must look at this question from an Empire point of view. Our returned soldiers speak of the Turk as a gentleman soldier, but we know that a track of bloodshed and slaughter runs right through his history. The Sevres Treaty, which had the effect of driving Turkey out of European Turkey and Constantinople will, in my opinion, have to be revised, because of its effect upon the Mohammedans throughout the world, and we must remember that, there are millions of them within the British Empire. Unless we come to understand their point of view we shall continue to have trouble.
– You mean that before we go to war we should understand the Turks’ position.
– It is advisable to get their point of view. I do not say it is right. Just as the Christians, in the Middle Ages, were prepared to sacrifice everything for the possession of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and, indeed, many of them are prepared to do that now, so also are the Moslems willing to sacrifice everything to regain possession of their Holy City. This is a religious issue to a large extent, and, until the Treaty is revised and that territory is restored to Turkey, under proper safeguards, of course, for the Christian population, I do not know how we are going to rid ourselves of this trouble. My personal feeling is as much against the Turk being in Europe as is that of any other member of this Chamber. That also is the feeling of many, people in Great Britain, particularly since the time when Gladstone so strongly denounced the atrocities of the Turks. But as the British Empire includes so many millions of Mohammedans, we have to view this matter impersonally. Vital Empire interests are at stake, because of the millions of Mohammedans in India and Egypt, all at present under British rule. Until Great Britain grants India the same status in the Empire as is enjoyed by Australia and the other Dominions, the Empire will never have peace.
In answering the call from the British Government, the Prime Minister did the right thing, and I believe the people of Australia are behind him. There is no occasion to suggest that Australia is being dragged behind the British Government, right or wrong. Great Britain consulted us, and our Prime Minister took Parliament into his confidence straight away. As soon as he had sent the message to Great Britain assuring it of support, he took the next step in the right direction by asking the High Commissioner for Australia (Sir Joseph Cook) to bring the matter before the League of Nations, which I regard as the one body that may be able to mediate in this crisis and show its value to civilization. We must recognise the great burdens of the Empire, but the Treaty has been signed, and it must be upheld until the dispute is settled on a proper basis. I hope that the Treaty will be revised in a way that will bring peace to Europe and to the British Empire.
Senator Drake-Brockman expressed a fear that the dispute might develop into a fight between the coloured and the white races. I differ from that view, and I trust that by the wisdom of the best brains on both sides such a calamity will be averted. The way to prevent it is to bring India within the Empire on the same basis as Australia. Then India would speak for Asia as the mother of Asia, and, I may say, as the mother of our own race. The millions of Mohammedans in India, having the full freedom of other citizens of the Empire, would then be with us in circumventing what would be the most dreadful thing that could happen to civilization - a struggle between the white and coloured races. Australia and New Zealand, in responding to Britain’s call, have taken the best course possible to show their determination to assist in fulfilling the Empire’s high mission of assisting to suppress tyranny. I believe that Australia will in future play as important a part in events in the Southern Pacific as Great Britain has taken in directing the affairs of the rest of the world.
– I much appreciate the action of the Government in giving the Senate an opportunity to express its opinion on this great question. The manner in which it has been discussed must be gratifying to the Leader of the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen). I look upon the message received by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) last Sunday from the Prime Minister of Great Britain as the most important one that has reached Australia since the momentous news came through on the 4th August, 1914, that Great Britain had declared war against Germany. One can easily imagine that the present crisis, if it develops into hostilities, may have consequences to Australia as great as those arising from the late war. Mr. Andrew Fisher, who was Prime Minister in 1914, promised “ the last man and the last shilling “ in the defence of the Empire. The present Prime Minister has been blamed because he did not take a referendum of the people before he replied to Mr. Lloyd George that Australia would co-operate with Great Britain in any action deemed necessary. I would remind honorable senators that Mr. Fisher neither consulted Parliament nor took a referendum, but no word of condemnation was uttered on that occasion. As the spokesman of a great party in those days, Mr. Fisher interpreted the feelings of the people of Australia just as correctly as did Mr. Hughes when he sent his reply to the Prime Minister of Great Britain. The best proof we can have as to the correctness of that interpretation is furnished by the sentiments expressed in another place yesterday, and echoed here to-day. Those sentiments have been voiced by the whole of the press of Australia, and the greatest testimony of all is the manner in which the returned soldiers are rallying to the call of Empire. Ninety-nine per cent, of them, know perfectly well that their services are not needed yet. They do not like war, but their love for the Empire and for Australia is so strong that they have demonstrated their readiness to respond to the call in a way that must be very gratifying to the Prime Minister, to the Government as a whole, and to the people of the Commonwealth. The prompt action taken by the Prime Minister, and the sentiments expressed by the Parliament and the returned soldiers, will, I have no doubt, have greater consequences in the East than we can yet realize. Once again the unity of the Empire is being demonstrated in no uncertain way to our enemies overseas, and once again that will be our greatest guarantee of peace, because it will check the ardour of the Turkish leader and his followers.
I doubt whether Australia has been wise in going so far as it has in the policy of retrenchment in connexion with the Defence Department, although I know that the community generally does not view the matter as I do.
– We still have eight generals at head-quarters, Melbourne.
– The general is just as necessary in a war as the private soldier. If we attempt to pick out the great and distinguished men in the late war, it is difficult to separate the general from the private soldier. A very simple incident may in a few days involve the whole world in war. I wonder, therefore, whether Australia should have broken up its military machine to such an extent as to place itself at the mercy of the first aggressor who chooses to attack us.
I cannot refrain from referring to the remark of Senator Gardiner, who advises the people to pay their present war debts before engaging in another war. t can think of no greater safeguard, apart’ from a good army and navy, than a large’ debt, and if we owed the money to another country it would be all” the better. I have always held the opinion that a good solid debt, whether it be a war debt or a peace debt, may be a great factor in the salvation of a nation when the war dogs are let loose. Apart altogether from the practical impossibility of our paying off our debt, which, if attempted, would bring ruin and destruction on Australia within a few .years, I think it would not be a wise course to adopt. The fact that posterity will have to pay its share of the war debt may make it chary about quarrelling with its neighbours, and more keen for peace than it would, be if there were no war debt to be paid.
I have had very grave doubts since its establishment whether the League of Nations has behind it the power to enforce peace. I was of the opinion that, in the event of war breaking out, the League of Nations, without being called upon to do so by any country, would have the right to intervene to prevent war. The present is the very first occasion upon which the League of Nations could be put to the test, and we have learned through various representatives and our own ambassador in London, that the League must be called upon to take action before it can intervene. I had hoped that the League of Nations would take action as soon as war threatened without having to be called upon by any country to do so.
– Turkey is not a member of the League.
– That does not matter. The general impression when the League of Nations was formed was that it could interfere in regard to any country that wanted to go to war.
– How could it do so?
-That is just the point. We have found out that it cannot do so without being called upon to act by some country. We have found that the League of Nations represents but a small factor in the maintenance of the peace of the world.
– If the League of Nations had called upon us for a Division, does the honorable senator think we would have a greater objection to supply a Division at its call than at the call of the Empire?
– That might depend on circumstances, and the honorable senator has submitted to me a hypothetical case. I am dealing with a case that has actually occurred. We may be on the threshold of a fearful war, and we find that the League of Nations, before it can intervene, must be moved by some outside authority.
I have expressed my opinion with respect to what was done at the Washington Conference which led to the reduction in our Defence Force, and it seems to me that the proposals of that Conference and the operations of the League of Nations oan be regarded merely as possible palliatives, and I have become more convinced than ever that the peace of the world can only be maintained by a very strong nation, or combination of nations, controlling the strongest army and navy, and insisting on the maintenance of peace by the force and power of arms. Generally speaking, I think the best security for peace would be a combination of the Great Powers able to enforce its terms upon would-be belligerents who might, because of comparatively trifling differences, desire to go to war with each other.
It has been mentioned to-day that France has been supplying arms and munitions to the Greeks, and I would like to remind honorable senators that the same charge might have been made against Australia. Before the Great War we sold spelter and lead to the Germans, and no doubt they used those materials for the manufacture of munitions of war.
– We are selling our wool to them now.
– That is so. Prior to the last war Australians were quite willing to sell their products to Germany, although they knew that they would be used in the manufacture of munitions of war which in all probability were subsequently employed to destroy our own soldiers, the soldiers of Great Britain, and of our Allies. So that the same charge might be made against Australia that is now being made against France. I believe the explanation may be found in the remark of Senator Bakhap, that manufacturers of munitions had the right to sell them to whoever wanted to purchase them.
– Let us hope it is so.
– France, in supplying the Greeks with munitions, may not have had any idea that they would be used in a war shortly to break out. I look upon the present war between Greece and Turkey as an aftermath of the Great War, from which we have only so recently emerged.
– I think it is a continuation of that war.
– I have no doubt that the whole spirit behind the present disturbance has been encouraged and fostered by German propaganda. I have no more faith in Germany as’ a nation to-day than I had when the Great War was started. All my reading leads me to believe that the Germans have never hesitated to spread their propaganda of hatred towards Great Britain in Greece, Turkey, India, and in every country where British rule or interests axe paramount. We know that if the war now threatened is gone on with it may spread throughout the whole of Asia, India, and Egypt, and it might easily become even a greater war than that which we have just come through. So it is essential that no moment should be lost by the Imperial Government and their Allies in stopping the advance of the Turks into the neutral zone that was proclaimed and the proclamation of which was agreed to by the representatives of the people of Australia. This threatened war, if it actually takes place, will be as much against Australia as against any other country in the world, because we, as. Australians, are. parties to the agreement which defined the neutral zone which the Turks threaten to invade.
I have very much pleasure in indorsing the action of the Government in sending a cable to the Prime Minister of Great Britain signifying the willingness of the people of this country to take part in the threatened war. Much as we hate war, much, as we have suffered during the recent war, and sincerely as we hope that no war will break out at the present time, we must commend the Prime Minister for his action in so promptly replying to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and signifying to him that the people of Australia are as ready to stand behind the British Empire to-day as they were in August, 1914, when the Great War broke out.
Sitting suspended from, 7. SO to 8 p.m.
– The debate that is occupying the attention of the Senate to-day is one that opens up a very wide field, and it seems to me that it is absolutely necessary that every senator should express freely his opinion and foreshadow the position which he, as a representative of the people, will take up with regard to it. The question is of too great importance to be passed by without serious thought, and, in using those words, I do not for one moment wish to convey the idea that there is any hesitancy in my own mind as to which side I should take. We cannot look upon it as a trivial matter. We are tc-day, for aught we know to the contrary, on the verge of what may be one of the most terrific wars that the world has ever seen ; and although the hope may be in our breasts, and we may earnestly wish that diplomacy may triumph, if it should not we ought to make our position plain to the public as men who recognise the responsibility cast upon Australia as a nation. Australia does not stand to-day where she stood in 1914, and even if the same question had arisen then, I think there are few senators present to-day who would hesitate for one moment as to which side they would be on. Exception has been taken to the reply sent by the Prime Minister of <the Commonwealth (Mr. Hughes) to the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Two things are emphatically accentuated in .that reply. The first is the necessity for doing everything that will bring about a peaceful settlement of the trouble. When members of the Opposition speak of having a referendum, they lose sight of the fact that the Prime Minister recognises that Australia will stand behind England in any diplomacy that will bring about a peaceful settlement, and, personally, I do not think the time has gone by when diplomacy can triumph. Should diplomacy fail, then Australia must stand Behind Great Britain. She can do no other. It seems to me to be almost unreasonable, unthinkable, that Australia should take up any other position, ‘Great Britain being not only the mother of Australia, but the mother also of the great British Commonwealth. One honorable senator this afternoon, who spoke as if he represented a large proportion of the people, used arguments which seemed to indicate that we were unwilling, or that at least a section of the people were unwilling, that Australia should undertake her responsibilities as a nation. I do not think for a moment that that statement vocalizes the feelings or aspirations of the people of Australia. I am far from indorsing anything like ,a jingoistic attitude, but if trouble has to come, then, by all means, we should meet it firmly. That does not say .that we should create trouble, but whilst we linger the opportunity may go by for doing anything.
A request has been made for a referendum. I ask those honorable senators who have spoken about a referendum to call to mind two things. When the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher pledged the Labour party “ to the last man and the last shilling,” he did not take a referendum to ascertain the will of the people. I honestly believe that he did not consult his party as >a whole, or eventhe representatives of his party. He certainly did not consult Australia, but he pledged Australia as well as his party. Was he wrong? Not by any means. I have never heard a .single individual question that utterance, or allege that it was not a correct expression of the spirit and the determination of the people of Australia. Suppose the argument had been brought up that Mr.
Fisher should have taken a referendum. Would that have retarded Germany from going forward ? Would it not have left the way open for that nation to march straight to Paris while the referendum was being taken? It would be all very well, in the present instance, to suggest a referendum if we could get Turkey to wait while we took it. If we should wait, would it not be a good thing to postpone the referendum to a future time, so that she might have to wait a long while? The thing seems to me to be absurd. Either we do not recognise the position that we occupy or we are throwing dust in the eyes of those who sent us here.
The wish has been expressed that the League of Nations should bring its influence to bear on Turkey. We must remember that Turkey is not within the League, and that the League has, therefore, no power of compulsion, other than moral compulsion, unless it takes up the sword. We are dealing, not with a partner inside a confederation, but distinctly with some one who is outside, and who is responsible to no one inside the League. When speaking on the subject of the League of Nations, I remember quite well pointing out that one of its weaknesses, as a factor in securing the universal peace of the world, was1 the fact that four nations- L nations which, at that time, were large and powerful - Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Russia - were outside the League, and that so long as they remained outside they would be a source of weakness to the pact and a danger to the peace of the world. Until they are within the circle of the League there is no power, other than that of force of arms, to compel Turkey to hold back if she wishes to go forward. There is the fact, however, that with such a pact as exists in the League to-day Turkey might feel that it was a very dangerous thing to go forward, and might decide that discretion was the better part of valour. Obviously the League cannot enforce its will on .a non-member, but >can only take up -arms against that nation.
It has been suggested this afternoon that the present decision was reached very rapidly. There are times in our lives, however, when we have to make a decision very rapidly. This is not a courtship in which we can postpone the marriage for a long while; we have to decide what we will do at once. The man who is Prime Minister at the moment, whoever he may be, in a case like this, must necessarily make a rapid decision. We have learned from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) that the Prime Minister called as many Ministers together as he could possibly reach before a decision was arrived at. Therefore, one can scarcely charge him with haste. Then, too, it would have looked exceedingly bad on the part of Australia, and would have been a disgrace to us, if the Prime Minister, the Ministry, or Parliament, had hesitated regarding the side on which they would stand, or had postponed the decision until after the elections in order to be able to tell Mr. Lloyd George what Australia thought. It would not have been treating a perilous position like this with the care and thought that it really deserved. A decision had to be arrived at speedily. The comparative haste does not mean that due care was not taken in the matter. It was not one of those questions which arise in a man’s life when second thoughts are best. It was not as though Australia had to bear the whole brunt of it. It was not as though we were called upon to do something which was not really incidental to our pact with the British Commonwealth. If we have the privileges of a nation, we must also take up the responsibilities that accompany those privileges. Having been endowed with nationhood, we must not act the part of children and hesitate in an endeavour to find an easy way out of a difficulty. We must not look, for some avenue of escape which would enable us to enjoy our. privileges and avoid our responsibilities. It is, perhaps, unthinkable that we would refuse our assistance, but if we had done so, what would have been the position of Australia in the eyes of the other nations? What would have been our position if, as an integral part of the Empire, we had hesitated in responding to the call? Our decision would have been recorded to our eternal disgrace.
– What is Canada’s position to-day?
– Canada must look after herself. The two cases are not parallel. Let me remind the honorable senator that Turkey lies in the pathway between Great Britain and Australia, and between Great Britain ‘ and India.
If that pathway were blocked, and the route through the Suez Canal closed, what would be the position pf Australia, of our merchandise, of our commerce, of our primary producers,- and of our people, if other dangers threatened us, as they might do in the circumstances ? Canada’s position is entirely different. No attack could be made on, Canada, even by Turkey. We have to take up immediately a position of action. The Dominion of Canada is a portion of the great continent of America, and an attack could not be made on Canada without America being involved. It must be remembered that there is a close religious relationship between Turkey and India, and if a disturbance of this character is not met firmly it might possibly lead to. a great struggle resulting in the loss of British territory in India. , In Australia we have to do our part, and do it at once. It has been suggested that Australia could stand alone, but how could she continue to exist even without the protection of Great Britain? Whilst Australia is a sea-girt continent, the . sea does not render it impregnable, ‘ and is not the source’ of protection it was some years ago, because in consequence of the rapidity of transport there is a greater possibility of the vessels of opposing nations landing troops on Australian shores. Our safety is as greatly dependent upon Great Britain as it was when the British flag was first unfurled on Australian territory. We have, however, more to lose, because our resources are greater, and in Australia many millions of the British race will eventually establish homes and increase their opportunities as they can- not do in the comparatively small seagirt isles of Britain. Our danger is in not realizing what lies before us. The nations of the world are being brought closer together, and in consequence of more rapid communication . and transit are now, realizing- that their points of difference are less than their points of agreement. . What has taken place since the declaration of peace assures us. in an unmistakable manner ‘that other nations are gathering round that great Mother of nations, the British Empire”, not only for protection, but in order to learn from her the lessons of nationhood which must result in greater solidarity. The most pleasing feature of this unfortunate development is: that to which Senator Newland directed attention. Those who have been in the fierce fires of war are amongst the first to volunteer if their services are required in any possible future military action. It speaks well for those men, and it is grand to realize that whenever a call comes the heart of Australia beats true to the great Motherland.
.- I have listened to the criticisms of the Government’s action in this connexion, and it seems to me that they are based on the belief that the BritishGovernment is not to be trusted in such matters, and that that Government does not realize its responsibility to the Empire. On what grounds is such belief based ? On three different occasions Australia has furnished troops for thedefence of the Empire. Long before I can remember a small contingent was despatched for service in the Soudan, in the South African war a small force was furnished, whilst in the Great War we supplied a very large number of fighting men. These are the only occasions on which we have been called upon to assist, notwithstanding the numerous wars in which Great Britain has been engaged during the period of our existence. Why, then, should critics assume, from the response of the prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), that the British Government would think that we Were willing to be drawn into a quarrel, however trivial and unimportant. As a fact, since the conclusion of hostilities the British Government have been maintaining huge forces in more or less hostile territories. They have retained considerable numbers in German territory on the Rhine, also in Mesopotamia, and in India, where hostile tribes on the north-eastern frontier took advantage of the unsettled state of affairs. In none of these cases have the British Government considered it right to call upon Australia to supply troops, and only when confronted with a situation which might have developed into an important international crisis has any mention been made of seeking the help of the Dominions. It was at once seen by the British authorities that the circumstances which have developed in Turkey might easily lead, as Senator Drake-Brockman mentioned, to a war of Pan-Islam against Christianity. It is idle to suggest that it is a mere local quarrel between the Turks and the Greeks in which we have been asked to assist. If that were all, we could allow them to fight it out. When a bush fire starts in the back country the settlers in the adjoining territory do not wait until it reaches their holdings before they attempt to render assistance, but immediately start for the scene and help in subduing it. In this instance we nave up to the present not been asked to assist in a conflict, but to associate ourselves with Great Britain in an endeavour to avoid a conflict. The recent Great War sprang from an insignificant cause - the murder of a prince in Serbia. But what did it lead to? If one, or even a dozen, foreign princes were murdered there would be no occasion for us to interfere. It is the possible result which has to be considered.
It has been suggested that this is a matter with which the League of Nations should deal, but I want to remind honorable senators who have adduced such arguments that the League of Nations is powerless unless it has under its control troops which it could use to prevent any threatened outbreak of war. Should we be in any happier position if we had to obey a direct call from the League of Nations? If the League asked for a division from this country should we be any better off? I venture to say that we feel more comfortable when our fate is in the hands of Great Britain.
-brockman. Presumably, the Labour party would still want to take a referendum.
-Of course. At the commencement of the recent war, Germany was under the impression that the British Dominions would take the opportunity of declaring their independence, and had they known that Australia would place 300,000 men in the field, and Canada a similar number of troops, which they had labelled in their staff books as the members of an inefficient militia that would not stand up for halfanhour before the trained troops of Europe, they would probably have acted differently. The Germans had calculated that Australia could raise only 30,000 men, and did not think that the Dominions could place in the field more than 500,000 troops which their best could not defeat. The Turks have great re- spect for our Australian soldiers, particularly the light horsemen, with whom they had a good deal to do in the Palestine campaign, and if they are assured that the troops who fought under General Allenby are again available to descend on their rear from Palestine or Mesopotamia, if they are engaged on the Balkan Front, they will pause before taking such action as will provoke war. It has been suggested that, before committing Australia, the Government should take a referendum. We know what goes on in one’s own country by means of enemy agents. If it were known outside that Australia could not move either hand or foot in connexion with war without a referendum, a potential enemy would make elaborate preparations before commencing hostilities to pour money into Australia, and secure an adverse verdict from the people.
– Some of their agents might even conduct the referendum.
– Exactly. The suggestion cannot, from this point of view, be regarded as serious, unless it is made by people who hope to handle enemy money.
– Do you know any one who handled enemy money in the recent war? You had plenty of opportunities to find out, but I have not heard of a single case.
-A good number of spies were shot during the latewar for handling enemy gold.
– And a good many got away, too,
– The suggestion has been made that the wealthy classes did not play their part in the late war. In this matter I can only speak of the men under my own command. I know that one of my sergeants who was killed in our first battle in France was a wealthy man, because some months afterwards I saw, in the Victorian press, a statement that he left an estate of £120,000. He was quite content to serve in the ranks, and even I, his commanding officer, had no idea then that he could have bought and sold me three or four times over.
– In a Light Horse camp in Queensland there were eight men, not one of whom had incomes of less than £5,000 a year.
– I can quite believe that.I know of another man who rose from the ranks and became an officer. He was killed in the last battle of the war. His estate in the Western District was worth £5,000 a. year. ‘ I know of another man who practically lost the use of his feet through trench fever during the Somme winter. He sent me a cheque for £200 to provide extra comforts for his comrades. There was not a single wealthy family in Victoria that did not have some representatives at the war.
– That was the case right through Australia.
– I speak only for my own State, but I should imagine that the same applied throughout Australia, as the honorable senator says. I may also remind honorable senators that very many of the aristocratic families of Great Britain were brought to the verge of ruin through one heir after another - in some cases three or four heirs in successionbeing killed. It was necessary to pass a special Act through the British Parliament to relieve them from the ruinous consequences of the successive succession and probate duties levied on their estates. Why this continual preaching of class hatred and dissension when it is known that every class came forward with the utmost readiness, as they should in any Democracy, to do their bit?
A complaint has been made that while we desired to enforce the conscription of men there was no conscription of wealth. On that point I can only say that when I went away to the war, I had no experience of Federal probate duties and Federal income taxation. Both these measures of taxation were introduced during the war and they are operating to-day, although the war has been over for some years. There was no conscription of men, but this conscription of wealth, for that is what it amounts to, continues, and must continue for many years in order that the cost of the war may be met. Again, why this continual carping and these continual attempts to create dissension?
– There is nothing voluntary about the payment of taxation. It is conscription of wealth, and it has to be paid.
– Unfortunately we have to pay the taxation.
We who support the Government in this matter are being accused of a desire to plunge this country into another disastrous war involving, the sacrifice of thousands of our brothers’ lives, and the maiming of thousands more. We who served in the late war know something of what war means. Take Lone Pine as one illustration. I had command of that post for some considerable- time after we had subdued the Turks’ attempt to recapture it, and I know that one of our first jobs was to get rid of our own dead. There were 1,000 dead bodies in 500 yards of trench. The only communication was through a tunnel connecting the lines, for the open country was :so swept by the enemy’s cross-fire that it was impossible to cross it. On the first day we managed to get fifty ‘bodies back from the lines. As it was midsummer and the temperature was 104- degrees, we had .to adopt some other means. We found some abortive tunnels that had been driven out to our lines, and these we filled with the bodies of our dead. Then we dug the firing line down some 10 feet, and placed the remainder of the bodies there, putting earth above them. When the situation settled down a bit we found that we had to make a new trench, and so we had to cut it through our comrades’ bodies in order to cope with the new situation. We had to eat, live, and sleep amongst those conditions, and so we know what it means. Yet we support the Government. Do we support the Government because we love those things ? Nd. We abhor them with every fibre of our being, and yet we must face a renewal of those conditions with what nerve we can muster, In my. own case I need .only mention that in the third battle of Ypres I- lost any brother, and within a few. days my wife’s only brother was also killed. Is it likely that we who have been through such a war welcome a renewal of that sort of thing? I do not, and apart altogether from the painful feelings that have to be faced, there are my private business interests to consider. I would regard it as an absolute calamity if I were to be taken away from my business affairs again, because, after an absence of five years, I have been laboriously endeavouring to put things into some sort of order. And yet if the Government call upon us for our assistance once more, what can any of us who served in any sort of official position in the recent war do bub place our services for what they are worth at the disposal of the Government?. Would we do this with any feelings of joy 1 I should imagine that would be very far from our thoughts. I speak to-night with very mixed feelings indeed, but in the great hope that no call will be necessary, either from the British Government to our Government, or from the Commonwealth Government to the men of Australia, to go out once more. Nevertheless I must support the Government, and I ask the people of Australia to join with me in supporting the Prime Minister in his present attitude, which has’ the indorsement of the Cabinet.
Senator VARDON (South Australia) £8.40]. - I do not wish this motion to pass without saying a few words in support of the Government. As a senator of the Commonwealth and a representative of South Australia, I want to express my entire approval of the reply sent by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to the Prime Minister of Great Britain. There are times, in the lives of men and nations when instant decisions are essential. I believe the present occasion to be one of them. In my opinion, the prompt statement by Mr. Lloyd George and the prompt response by the Dominions have had a good deal to do with the improved position recorded in the press this afternoon. We have heard it said that the hesitancy of Great Britain in the early days of the recent war probably influenced ‘Germany in the step which she took; .that if Great Britain had come out and declared that if France were attacked she would be in the war, Germany would have hesitated. We are part of the British Empire which, I believe, is a great moral force in the world to-day. If Great Britain is attacked we are attacked. If she is in danger so are we. No one can really appreciate wha’t a ‘ war of this kind, if it is to be a religious war1, really means. I am sure none of us want it. I am very glad indeed at the response from the Returned Soldiers’ Association, because it has been asserted, from time to time, that if another war broke out very few returned soldiers would respond to the call.Their action in the present circumstances is an answer to that statement. We do not want war, but if the British Empire is attacked Australia will be in it to the bitter end. I support the Government.
.- I desire, in a few words, to support the action of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in sending his reply to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, in connexion with what is known as the crisis in the Near East. I was rather surprised by the comments made by Senators Gardiner and MacDonald with regard to the cable message from the British Government to the Prime Ministers of the Dominions, because if there is one thing that the Official Labour party have complained about in the past, it is the fact that the Dominions have not been consulted in’ matters of Empire concern. The heroic sacrifices made by Australia, in common with all parts of the British Empire, in the recent Great War, gained for this country the status of a nation in the eyes of the world. Instead of being regarded as a dependant of the Mother Country we now practically take our place as a nation in the great British Commonwealth. The cable message from the British Prime Minister was a recognition of our status as a separate nation entitled to have some voice in a crisis of this nature. Those who are crying out for a referendum are not the only people who abhor war. The men who abhor war most are those who know what it really means. The ready response made by many exmembers of the Australian Imperial Force is a clear indication that they regard as. sacred the ideal fought for and gained by the sacrifice of thousands of the best of Britain’s manhood. It is not likely that those who know what war really means would be prepared to take part in further war unless they believed that their cause was a righteous one. The response made throughout the Empire immediately the cablegram was sent by the Prime Minister of Great Britain is a clear indication that the British lion and its cubs are still ready to show their teeth if the occasion demands it. Australia’s reply, together with that from other parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations, has had a good effect already. The message was not sent to the Dominions as the result of any panic; it was realized that the Dominions had a right to be consulted, and that their voice would give weight to any Notes issued by Great Britain. We should be proud of the fact that on such occasions we are taken into the confidence of the British authorities, and given an opportunity to express ap proval or otherwise of their action. There was no other answer possible than that sent by the Australian Prime Minister. To whom else in Australia could the appeal have been addressed? Senator Gardiner has referred sneeringly to the attitude of the Prime Minister; but the Prime Minister represents an overwhelming majority of the people of Australia, and he has acted in accordance with the will of the majority.
.- It is lamentable that one should have to rise to combat some of the astounding misstatements made in this Chamber by gentlemen who are supposed to be leaders of the Labour party. Unfortunately, the Labour party in Australia to-day is sadly misled. I was grieved to hear the extraordinary statements made by Senator Gardiner, who belittled what Great. Britain had done in the late war. He made almost sneering references to the British Navy, and he insinuated that the’ British Fleet was not of assistance to Australia. He actually suggested that Australia should become a Republic - meaning that we should “ cut the painter.” We might as well cut our own throats as do that. Australia, our great heritage, has been handed down to us by Great Britain, who discovered it, peopled it, financed it, and protected it, simply because the British Navy was supreme, and because the British Government were just. If the Labour party showed as much fervour in keeping enemies out of Australia as they do in attempting to keep British emigrants out, all would be well; but, unfortunately, it is not within their power to prevent aggression by an enemy. We are and always should be, proud that we are Britishers, and that we intend to remain Britishers. The vast majority of the people of Australia intend to give the Mother Country what she always gives us - a straight deal. I do not presume to be a judge as to whether diplomatically, or from a naval or military stand-point the British Government are right or wrong in their attitude over this present threatened calamity, but as a proud portion of our far-flung Empire, if the Empire is menaced, it is our duty to rally to her assistance, as the Australians so valiantly did in the late war, when they flocked in hundreds of thousands to Britain’s aid, and fought for right against might in the cause of humanity and freedom, with such conspicuous bravery and success.
When Mr. Lloyd George sent the important cablegram to the Prime Minister of Australia last Sunday, and the Prime Minister forwarded his well-considered reply - the only conceivable one that, he, as the representative of the Australian people, the vast majority of whom, thank God,, are loyal, could have forwarded - he said that Australia would stand behind the Mother Country. It is most significant that the returned soldiers who have so recently been freed from the horrors of war - men like Senators DrakeBrockman and Elliott and other worthy senators who have seen their brothers and other loved’ comrades shot down and lying rotting on the fields of Gallipoli and France, and also men who have been badly injured and will never be right again - have actually been accused this afternoon by certain members of the Senate of representing a class of people who try to precipitate war. Scoffing remarks were made to the effect that the Nationalist party represented the class who desired war for profit-making purposes. I am sure the honorable senators who made that cowardly, stupid suggestion do. not do themselves justice, nor do they do m justice to the class they claim to represent, because I know ihat the Labour section of Australia is as loyal and true to the Empire as any other section of the community. When we see members of the Senate who have experienced the horrors of war, and the Returned Soldiers League of Australia unitedly standing behind the Government in the reply sent to Great Britain, what an answer it is to those who belittle the Empire and the attempts of our great leaders to prevent war - who belittle the men who are game enough to stand behind the Empire when the necessity arises!
I propose to read a few extracts from a great work by the famous American author, Owen’ Wister, who has set out the extraordinary effort made by the British Empire in the late war. It would not have been necessary to do this had it not been for the amazing utterances Ja this Chamber this afternoon. In the United States of America, it was asked, by the ignorant and pro-Germans,
Senator Guthrie. “ What did England do in the war, anyhow?” Owen Wister says -
Tell them that in May, 1918, England was sending men of fifty and boys of eighteen and a half to the Front; that in August, 1918, every third male available between those years was fighting, that 8,500,000 men for the Army and Navy were raised by the British Empire. . . . The casualties in the British Army were 3,049,971 - a million more than America sent- and of these 658,704 were killed. Of her Navy, 33,361 were killed, 6,405 wounded and missing; of her mercantile marine, 14,661 were killed: a total of 48,000 killed, or 10 per cent, of all in active service. Some of those of the merchant marine who escaped drowning through torpedoes and mines were sent back to sea after being torpedoed five, six, and seven times. What did England do in the war, anyhow? Through four frightful years she fought with splendour, she suffered with splendour, she held on with splendour.
Those are the words of an unbiased American critic who thinks more of the British Army’s efforts in the war than some honorable senators who claim to represent a section of the people of Australia. I say that they do not represent any material . section of the people of this Commonwealth. The writer goes on to tell the story of the ferry-boats of the Thames. He says -
There is the great story of the little penny steamers of the- Thames - a story lost amid the gigantic whole. Who will tell it right? Who will make this drop of .perfect valour shine in prose or verse for future eyes to see? Imagine a ferry-boat, ‘because the country needed her, starting from San Francisco around Cape Horn and getting there. Some ten or eleven penny steamers, -under their own steam, started from the Thames down the Channel, across the Bay of Biscay, past’ Gibraltar, and through the submarined Mediterranean for the River Tigris. Boats of shallow draught were urgently needed on the River Tigris. Four or five reached their destination. Where are the rest?
This writer further says -
During 1917-1918 Britain’s armies held the enemy on three continents and on six fronts, and co-operated with her Allies on two more fronts. . . . Britain cleared 1,200,000 square miles of the enemy in German colonies. While fighting in Mesopotamia, her soldiers were reconstructing at the same time. They reclaimed and- cultivated more than 1,100 square miles of land there, which produced in consequence enough food to save 2,000,000 tons of shipping annually for the Allies. In Palestine and Mesopotamia alone, British troops in 1917 took 23,590 prisoners. In 1918 in Palestine, from 18th September to 7th October, they took 79,000 prisoners. With “French’s contemptible little army “ she saved France at the start - but I’ll skip that - except to mention that one division lost 10,000 out of 12,000 men, and 350 out of 400 officers.
Certain honorable senators are sometimes prone to belittle what they call the “ brass hats “ and the officer class,but here is an instance of 350 out of 400 officersbeing lost. Owen Wister also says -
At Zeebrugge and Ostend - do not forget the’ Vindictive - she dealt with submarines in April, 1918. I cannot set down all that she did, either at the start or nearing the finish, or at any particular moment during those four years and threemonthsthat she was helping to hold Germany offfrom the throat of the world; it would make a very thick book. But I am giving you enough, I think, wherewith to answer the ignorant, and the frauds,and the fools. Tell them that from 1910 to 1918 Great Britain increased ‘her tillage area by 4,000,000 acres. . . . She used wounded soldiers, college boys and girls, boy scouts, refugees, and she produced the biggest grain crop in fifty years. She started 1,400,000 new war gardens. . . Fifteen thousand of the boy scouts joined the colours, and over 50,000 of the younger members served in various ways at home.
Of England’s women, 7,000,000 were engaged in work on munitions and other necessaries and apparatus’ of war. …
While the Fleet had increased its personnel from 136,000 to about 400,000, and 2,000,000 men by July, 1915, had voluntarily enlisted in the Army, thewomen of England left their ordinary lives to fabricate the necessaries of war.
He explains that these 7,000,000 women included the daughters of Barons and Dukes downwards. There was no class specially predominating in the war; many of the best families of Britain were “ wiped out.” Disparaging remarks have been made about the wealthy classes and their association with the war, but I can speak from personal experience of one wealthy family known to me.
The family is a wealthy squatting one in the Western District of Victoria. The three sons went to the war, and two lost their lives there. Our instructions from the family were that, during the war period, the bulk of the net proceeds of the properties of these men should be paid to the Bed Cross and such societies. This is one instance to show what those on the land did for the Empire in the war. Practically every medically-fit squatter’s son in this State rushed to the colours.Referring again to the 7,000,000 women mentioned, Mr. Owen Wister further says that 700,000 of these were en gaged on munition work proper. They did from 60 to 70 per cent. of all the machine work on shells, and the chemical work for which they were physically capable. He further says -
On 8th August, 1914, Lord Kitchener asked for 100,000 volunteers. He had them within fourteen days. In the first week of September, 175,000 men enrolled-30,000 in a single day. Eleven months later, 2,000,000 had enlisted. Ten months later, 5,041,000 had voluntarily enrolled in the Army and Navy.
Besides financing her own war costs, Britain had, by October, 1917, loaned $800,000,000 to the Dominions, and $5,500,000,000 to the Allies. She raised $5,000,000,000 in thirty days. In the first eight months of 1918, she contributed to the various forms of war loan atthe average rate of $124,800,000 a week. . . . The facts and figures have been compiled, arranged, and published in accessible and convenient form, and cannot be disputed.
As regards the Navy, Owen Wister goes on to say that we may tell the ignorant for his benefit that Admiral Mahan said, in his book, that at all times the British Navy has been responsible for upholding the Monroe doctrine. Honorable senators who speak of the Monroe doctrine and the part that America is taking in world affairs, do not realize that the Monroe doctrine was suggested by an English statesman, and was upheld entirely owing to the support of the British Navy. Admiral Sims, in his great book, The Victory at Sea, the second instalment of which was published in the World’s Work for October, 1919, says -
Let us suppose for a moment that an earthquake, or some other great national disturbance, had engulfed the British Fleet. The world would then have been at Germany’s mercy, and all the destroyers the Allies could have put upon the sea would have availed them nothing. . . Allied commerce would have been the prey, not only of the submarines, which could have operated with the utmost freedom, but of the German surface craft as well. In a few weeks, the British food supplies would have been exhausted. There would have been an early end to the soldiers and munitions which Britain was constantly sending to France. The United States could have sent no forces to the Western Front, and the result would have been the surrender which the Allies themselves, in the spring of 1917, regarded as a not remote possibility.
Admiral Sims says that, but for the action of the British Fleet, the Americans could not have sent one man to France. Yet, we have had the British Navy belittled here this afternoon. It has been clearly chown that the British Navy was the saviour of the world’s freedom. Admiral Sims says, further-
The world was preserved from all these calamities because the destroyer and the con- :voy solved the problem of the submarine, and because, back of these agencies of victory, lay Admiral Beatty’s Squadron, holding at arm’s length the German surface ships, while these comparatively fragile craft were saving’ the liberties of the world. … Two million oversea Huns, of fighting age, were hindered from joining the enemy. Ocean commerce and communication were stopped for the Huns and secured to the Allies. In 1916, 2,100 mines were swept up, and 89 minesweepers lost. These mine-sweepers and patrol boats numbered 12 in 1914, and 3,300 by 191S. To patrol the seas, British ships had to steam 8,000,000 miles in a single month.
Yet we are told that the British Navy is of no moment to Australia. What a brainless assertion!
During the four years of the war, they transported overseas more than 13,000,1)00 men (losing but 2,700 through enemy action), as well as transporting 2,000,000 horses and mules, “600,000 vehicles, 25,000,000 tons of explosives, 61,000,000 tons of oil and fuel, 130,000,000 -tons of -food and other materials for the use of the Allies. In one month, 350,000 men were carried from England to France. . . .
Finally, in th© opinion of that great American, Admiral Sims -
The British Grand Fleet is the foundation- stone of the cause of “the whole of the Allies and of humanity. .
I have read for honorable senators the opinions expressed by unbiased Americans - Admiral Mahan, Admiral Sims, and Mr. Owen Wister. The book, A Straight Seal, or The. Ancient Grudge, from which I have quoted is available to honorable senators and I wish they would read it. Senator MacDonald accused me of not having read much about the war. I invite him to read the book from which I have quoted, and particularly the chapter entitled “England the Slacker.” I will make it available to him, and to as many of hia friends as he pleases. I think that if they read it it will do something towards making them better Britishers and therefore better Australians.
– The honorable senator is wrong as usual. What I said was that he had not read the latest about current events.
– I have read sufficient to know where I stand as a Britisher, and where Australia stands as part of our great and- glorious British Empire.
.- I have listened with very great interest to this debate. I have come to the conclusion that the Senate is practically unanimous in supporting the action of the Government in this matter. With regard to our honorable friends who represent the Opposition in this Chamber, I will do them the honour of saying that I believe they do not really mean half that they say.
– That is the kindest thing the honorable senator could say of them.
– All men and women and all the schoolboys in Australia know at the back of- their minds that without the protection of the power and prestige of the British Empire there is no hope for Australia, and no hope particularly for the class represented by the two honorable senators who stand for the Official .Labour party in the Senate.
I think that Senator Keating put the position very clearly and left practically little to be said when he stated that the power and prestige of the British Empire had .been challenged, and there was no’ other, reply possible than the one which was sent by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to the Prime Minister of Great Britain. No other reply would have been compatible with our responsibilities or our record of the last few years.
A reference has been made to the response of the returned soldiers. One of the three leading principles laid down in the constitution of the Australian Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League indicates that the organization is established to maintain that Empire spirit which sent some 400,000 men from Australia to fight for the Empire overseas. I want to congratulate the officials of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia on their action. There was no hesitation about it, and at the moment when it was required they gave their assurance to the Government of the support of the organization. I wish to add that I personally appreciate and support the reply sent by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Knowing fully the dreadful consequences of war, I believe that that reply expresses the feeling of an over- whelming majority df the people of Australia. I thank the Leader ‘ df the Government in the Senate for giving hon>orable senators an opportunity to show that the Senate is practically unanimous in its support of the action which- has been taken.
Senator WILSON (South Australia) [9.141. - In a very few words I want to say that this is one of the occasions when I think the Commonwealth Parliament should be almost unanimous in its support and indorsement of the action of the Government. I felt to-day that my honorable friend Senator Gardiner had not done himself justice in the speech he made. He must realize that Australia’s safety does lie in the British Navy. So far as I am personally concerned, I agree with the honorable senator in expressing the hope, at this eleventh hour, that there will be no occasion foc bloodshed, and that every possible means will be resorted to before there is an entrance upon hostilities.
The Prime Minister has very wisely communicated with the League of Nations. I hope we shall have much better reports, and that at a very early hour we may feel again that war has been put off for many years to come. I congratulate the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in the Senate on the action taken by the Government. I hope that the Senate will be unanimous in supporting that action, and in assuring the British Imperial authorities that if. they so desire they will receive support and assistance from the Australian people.
– In view of the debate which has taken place, and which has revealed a very gratifying and reassuring unanimity on’ the part of honorable senators, it is not necessary for me to detain the Senate for more than a very few moments. If I turn from those words of commendation it is not because I do not appreciate them, or because they are not accepted by myself and my colleagues as being extremely gratifying in the circumstances in which we find ourselves to-day. I turn from them because there are certain other reasons which have induced me to make a few comments on some adverse criticism uttered here this afternoon. If honorable senators will recall the general tenor >of that criticism, I’ think they will concur with me in saying that it revealed, in a most startling fashion, a willingness to wound but a fear .to strike. Not in one single line was there a sentiment of either hearty appreciation of the difficulties confronting the Empire, or of Australia’s duty, but there was a tendency to find fault, with England and with this Government. It is true that there were protestations .of loyalty, but those protestations must surely count for very little when they come from men who showed, line after line, reasons for not doing things at a, time when something ought to be done:
I want, first of all, to direct attention to a remark made by Senator MacDonald. In common with every other honorable member of this Senate, I resent that remark. Senator MacDonald, with an audacity that has scarcely been equalled in this Chamber, even although he had many predecessors, affirmed that he could visualize the satisfaction with which members of the Government received the British Government’s cablegram notifying them of the possibility of war. He pictured members of the Government receiving that intimation with gratification, because they were bearing in mind its possible effect on the coming election.
– The Minister may see it in the press which supports his party. _ Senator E. D. MILLEN. - I should like to know when the honorable member became such a fervent believer in what he sees in the press. I think he has written too much in the press to believe in it. Some honorable senators who have been through the painful experience of the last war have lifted the curtain tq-night, and revealed to us who were fortunately able to stay at home some of the scenes which they witnessed, and some of the experiences through which they passed. Those of us who have not had that experience surely have the common instincts of human nature, and for one to stand up, as the honorable . senator did, and accuse us of welcoming the possibility of war, with its horrors ‘ its assured deaths, counted by thousands, its maimed men, its additional burdens thrown upon the whole community, and a multiplicity of developments’, the end of which no man can foresee - to say that we -could - welcome, that because of some supposed political advantage is to give vent to a thought which can only represent the poisoned emanation of a diseased mind.
– I referred to the threat of war, not to actual war. The Minister should not misrepresent me.
– Misrepresent the honorable senator! I could not do it. The most severe way in which I can handle him is to represent him as he is. The honorable senator made that statement, and I appeal to the Senate to say whether I have correctly represented him or not. If he did make that statement, let him withdraw it now. With much pain and tribulation, I listened to him for an hour. Will he listen to . me now for twenty minutes without interjecting!
– Speak the truth.
– I cannot ask the honorable gentleman to do that. It would be a useless request.
– Like the old woman, the Minister is very good at retorts.
– And the honorable senator is very bad at interjections. I now want to turn to the remarks which the Deputy Leader of the Labour party, Senator Gardiner, with more discretion than Senator MaeDonald, ventured to make. My little quarrel wirth him is that he came here and said that he was the friend of peace. No one will quarrel with him fori that, but underlying his reiterated statement was the suggestion that the Government, by reason of the message which it sent, and the honorable senators who supported that message, are the friends of war. There was a suggestion that no one in this Chamber is as much opposed to war as he. When he asserts himself and says, “ I am superior to you mortals; I ami the friend of peace; I hate war,” what is his purpose? His purpose is to convey the idea, that those who are loyal to the Empire are swashbucklers, and are seeking to return to the condition of war from’ which we have emerged. I repudiate for this Senate, and for, this country, the thought that any party, because of its wholesome loyalty, is open to the accusation of being favorable to war, and would hesitate to take any steps to escape from that ordeal. The honorable senator went on to say that it was urged against him and his friends that because they were against war they were disloyal. No one has accused a lover of peace of being a disloyalist, but where the charge pf disloyalty comes in is that on every occasion when it is necessary, out of loyalty to the Empire, to engage in war, these gentlemen come forward and say, “ I am against war,” even though upon that war might depend the integrity of the Empire itself. There have been no single occasions when criticism of this kind has not been indulged in, and when these gentlemen have not said, “ We are against war.” What they mean, when they say that, is, “ We are against doing that which is necessary to save the Empire.” From this arises the charge of disloyalty.
The Government has been pictured as being rather desirous of indulging in a reckless expedition. Let me refer to its actions. I submit that its actions’ speak louder, and carry much more conviction, than the thoughtless utterances of my friends opposite. The Government has announced its desire for peace; and it has urged the British Government to pursue every avenue which will lead there, not that it thinks the” British Government needs that urging, but in order to make its own position clear. In addition, it instructed its delegates at the League of Nations to bring the matter before that body. ‘ I must confess that I entertain no great hope that good- will result from that, but still, the Government has sought to obtain whatever relief can be obtained* in that quarter. That is the action of those who want peace, and not of those who are creating war. Let me refer to the statement of the Government. In that document the assurance of support of the British Government is qualified, and the qualification indicates clearly the thoughts that -are in the minds of members of the Government. It says:
This Government desires to associate itself with the British Government in whatever action is deemed necessary-
For what purpose? There is a qualifying purpose, and it is - to insure the freedom of the Straits and the sanctity of the Gallipoli Peninsula and would be prepared, if circumstances required, to send a contingent of Australian troops.
If Senator Gardiner finds fault with that, if he disagrees! with that answer, would he word it in this way : -
If circumstances require it, Australia will not send a contingent of. troops.
That is the logical statement he must make if he objects to the action the Government has taken. We say, “ If circumstances require it a contingent will be sent.’’ Senator Gardiner says, “ If circumstances require it we will not send a contingent.” That is the position, and I leave him with it, but it is not the position of Australia. The Government, in taking up the attitude which it did, acted as I think any self-respecting Government would have acted in the circumstances. It took the responsibility of making the pronouncement, and any Government worth its salt, and faced with a crisis, would do that ; but the Go- <vernment was emboldened, and was supported by the belief that its statement correctly interpreted the sentiments of the people of this country. If there is one thing upon which we can be clear, it is that, if circumstances require it, now or at any time, Australia will be ready to send that contingent. On that I have not the slightest shadow of a doubt.
A further effort has been made to misrepresent the position, not for the purpose of confusing members of this Chamber, for they are too well informed, but to confuse the minds of the people outside, and to create an impression that the Government is not acting in the interests of the Empire, but in a spirit of jingoism, Further misrepresentations have been made in trying to depict, as the cause of this trouble, the war between Greece and Turkey. It had no more to do with it than the frustrated display of the children on the cricket ground last Saturday. The war between Turkey and Greece preceded the trouble, but Great Britain has not notified Kemal Pasha that if he injures the Greeks it will’ interfere. On the contrary, it has said, “ If you break the Treaty to which Great .Britain, ‘Turkey^ and Australia are parties, we shall tate action.”
– Has one cause of the trouble not been that the Turks well know that there is dissension between Great Britain and France?
– I answered that point this afternoon in an interjection to which my honorable friend declined to reply. I would remind him that the Allied troops at Constantinople are under one commander. There is no sign of division there. If his purpose this afternoon was to convey to Kemal Pasha that there were divided forces in Australia, and that a section of the Australian people was opposed to Australia interfering at this time, he may possibly /succeed, but it is not an object which will carry the commendation of the people of this country.
– It is a fact that there has been dissension.
– As long as there are independent men and nations with varying interests, there will be differences of opinion.
– I was only (stating the fact.
– And every fact the honorable member states is against his own country.
– Against France, as well.
– Against France ais well as England - that is true. I am not suggesting that the honorable member would spare France if he could damage Britain. His main object is to point to something which will weaken the position of his own country.
– To show why we should hesitate in embarking upon another war.
– We have not embarked upon another war. Nobody wants to. The Government, as far as lies in its power, is making every effort to avoid war.
– We hope so.
– I doubt whether the honorable senator does hope so. We have a right, in seeking for peace, to make it abundantly clear that if the vital interests of the Empire are attacked, we will not shrink from war.
Something has been said about the Government speaking without first having consulted Parliament. In that connexion, I need hardly do more than repeat a phrase I have already used, and say that any Government with a conception of its responsibilities and its duties, when faced by a crisis and a set of circumstances which require an immediate answer, would not be worth its salt if it did not take action and trust to the indorsement of Parliament afterwards. This Government has done what was required at the moment ; but it did not commit Australia beyond that. As soon as it had the opportunity, it came down to Parliament, and it is a source of satisfaction to the Government that, with one or two remarkable exceptions, Parliament has indorsed the action taken. Before I pass from that subject, may I ask my honorable .friends of the Opposition, who- have been so suddenly fired with this fervour for parliamentary approval, whom did Mr. Andrew Fisher consult before he made his declaration at the commencement of the recent waT ? He did not even consult Senator Gardiner and Senator Thomas. That was the most unpardonable sin of . all! He was met by a reporter at the railway station, and he did not say “Par-don me; but I must talk to Senator Gardiner and Senator MacDonald, and must consult the Caucus and Parliament.” No ; he said that “ the last man and the last chilling” were at the service of the Empire; and, although it might be said, and was said by interjection, that Mr. Fisher could not commit anybody, I never heard any member of his party repudiate that statement, or take Mr. Fisher to task for having dared to speak, in a moment of supreme crisis, without consulting his party. What Mr. Fisher did then was what every Leader in his position, with a conception of his duty and firmness of mind, would have done.
– Without any qualifications whatever.
– Without any.
Senator Gardiner was, of course, not in earnest when he said that we should discharge our liabilities in connexion with the last great war before entering into another conflict, and I can only express surprise and regret that in a matter so serious as this he should have ventured to indulge in such buffoonery. I am, however, going to take his argument seriously. We are in this Empire, or we are out of it. Whether we want to be in it or not, we have to. realize that we are at present a part of it. I desire to resent and repudiate the idea expressed by some that we are in the Empire only for what we can get out of it. The privileges must be accompanied by the attendant responsibilities. I shall for the moment reverse the position. Some honorable senators suggested that we should meet our present obligations before we participate in another war, and those honorable senators have also suggested that we should take a referendum as to whether Australia, which is a part of the Empire, should assist Great Britain. We are perfectly free to stand out if we- like. Let us reverse the situation!, and assume that as a result of ‘some serious complication Australia is threatened, and we naturally look to the Empire for help. Britain says, ‘“Well, our Ministers have been reading your Hansard reports, and they are struck with a doctrine enunciated by some who put forward the principle that any portion of the Empire has a right to come in or stay out when it likes. Our debts are very much greater than yours, and we feel, therefore, as this is a matter which1 does not materially concern us, that we should not assist. We will stand out, even though it is a question of Empire, until we have paid off our debts, or have had sufficient time in which to take a referendum.” Our White Australia policy would then be gone for ever. No one here expects for one moment that Great Britain would act in that way, and if. it were conceivable Senator Gardiner and his supporter would be the first to rise and denounce Great Britain as a fair-weather partner, and one which was claiming to derive all the benefits and to repudiate all the obligations. Might I also direct attention to the fact that, while it is perfectly true that Australia has the right to stand out of any international trouble in which Great Britain is involved, it does not mean that we would reap any material advantage if we did so ? Suppose we had not participated in the war against the Central Powers, and Germany had won, would that have saved Australia? Germany would probably have said that they had noticed that we had not been participants, but we would have had to pay the penalty imposed on the losers. A nation which was in a position to attack or injure Australia would not care a snap of the fingers whether we declared war or not if she had designs on our territory. Legally we are a part of the Empire, and legally when Great Britain is at war we are at w:*r. Are we to be shirkers in any great conflict in which the Empire is engaged ? When we do take part in these troubles, do not let us run away with the idea that we are fighting for something which does not affect us. So long as we are a part of the Empire we must necessarily be involved in any international troubles which arise. The question is whether it is better and safer for us to help to secure a victory instead of resting on our oars, or merely sitting in the grand stand as idle observers. Australia has recognised long ago what her obligations are, and has also realized the benefits which she enjoys in security from possible attacks. I can only repeat that this Government is a believer in, and longs for, peace, and if there is any possible means by which Ave can attain that much desired object, we shall put forward every effort to that end. No sane man can be anything but a believer in peace; but there is something more awful even than war, and that is . to possess a spirit so craven as to accept peace at any price. This country has not come to that. It is characteristic of the race to do all it can, and the Government has decided, and very rightly, too, that if Great Britain is embroiled in war we must do our share as a member of that great family of nations known as the British Empire.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Standing Orders Committee from sitting during the sittings of the Senate for the remainder of the current session.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had made amendments in the Bill requested by the Senate.
Bill (on motion by Senator Millen) read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators will realize the object of this measure; but there are one or two matters connected with it which I might, with advantage, place before the Senate. In 1910, a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into any losses which the State of Tasmania had suffered since the advent of Federation, including losses incurred through Customs leakage. It was found by the Commission that such losses were practically nominal; but the Commission recommended that a grant of £900,000 be made to Tasmania in accordance with section 96 of the Constitution, which reads -
During the period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
In conformity with the spirit of that section the Government, in 1912, introduced a Bill to make a special grant to Tasmania of £500,000. In the following year a grant of £400,000 was made, making a total of £900,000, which was paid over a period of ten years. The last of these payments, namely, £85,000, was made during the last financial year. It was, perhaps, unfortunate that when this special grant was made to Tasmania the arrangements did not provide for the annual payments to taper off to the disappearing point, so that the State Treasurer would have been able, as the grants diminished in value, to adjust his financial arrangements to meet the gradual shrinkage. The payments were continued at the usual rate, so that when they stopped, Tasmania was confronted with a sudden loss of £85,000.
– Is there any truth in the statement that Tasmania remitted some of its taxation as soon as it received this grant?
– What is truth ? It is generally admitted that the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States are not entirely satisfactory, and as the necessity for reviewing them will arise very shortly the Government have felt disinclined to dislocate Tasmanian finances, which would be the result if this amount were withheld. We, therefore, propose under this Bill to ask Parliament to sanction the continuance of the payments for another year2 -during which time the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States will be reviewed.
– It is a sudden demand, on one’s memory ‘to go back a few years and recall what has happened since 1912. In the Bill then passed, Parliament provided exactly what the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) has just suggested, by passing a measure to appropriate £500,000 for assisting Tasmania by making grants on a sliding scale which should commence at £85,000 or £90,000, and gradually diminish until a final payment of £5,000 would be made ten years afterwards. A year later, however, another Government came into office and reversed the position.
– Because a general election was approaching.
– Yes; and brought about the position which the Minister now deplores. I am anxious to know when Tasmania is likely to do her share and shoulder her responsibilities. Tasmania is a State where the climatic conditions are exceptionally favorable, where the Government is controlled by Conservatives, and where the wages paid are the lowest in the Commonwealth.
– That is not so.
– At any rate Tasmania has advantages which are not possessed by other States in the Commonwealth, although her territory is not so extensive as that of Queensland, New South Wales, or Western Australia. The State of which I am one of the representatives i3 in the happy position of being one of the wealthiest in the Commonwealth. I am not far wide of the mark when I say that when payments of this kind have to be made the taxpayers of New South Wales have to foot the bill for about 50 per cent, of the amount. Therefore, it is of more importance to New South Wales than, perhaps, -to some pf the other States, how our finances are managed, because when financial difficulties confront us, as at present, the taxpayers of my State are called upon to make big sacrifices. Financially we are not in the position we occupied in 1912-13, when this grant was first approved. At that time we were a rich Commonwealth, with practically no debt, so a matter of £100,000 extra expenditure here or there made very little difference. Since then, however, a disastrous war has left the Commonwealth with a war debt of between £300,000,000 and £400,000,000, and in spite of these difficulties we have this demand from a wealthy little State for assistance to carry on its own Government.
– Tasmania has to pay her share of the Commonwealth indebtedness.
– And Tasmania can very well afford to do that, if we give her a bonus of £85,000.
– But the trouble is that we have been paying more than our share.
– The Commission did not say that.
– No, but the Commission did not know everything. “ They don’t know everything down in Judee,” you know. (Senator GARDINER. - Evidently the Commission did not know everything, and I repeat that we are not in such a favorable position to-day to provide this money. The Treasurer is at his wits’ end to finance the Commonwealth, and still Tasmania .comes along with a request for .a bonus of £85,000. Surely her people are wealthy enough to find the money to govern themselves. They enjoy the privileges of selfgovernment, and surely they can afford to pay for it instead of asking New South Wales, Victoria, and the other larger States to contribute. I realize, of course, that Tasmania has to pay her share of the cost of developing Australia, but is that any reason why the other States should pay a share of the cost of governing Tasmania? Instead of giving money away in the form of bonuses to Tasmania or any other State, the per capita grant of 25s. per head should be set aside and earmarked at once for the purpose of wiping off our war debt. That would give us a fund of about £7,000,000 a year, which could very well be applied to the purpose I have mentioned, because every one acknowledges that the war debt is a burden. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), I believe, when speaking of our financial position, declared that we were walking on the edge of a volcano, and Mr. Pratten, a member of another place, said that we were staggering under a load that was likely to overwhelm us.
– What does Senator Gardiner say?
– I say the Government should realize that this is no time to throw away £85,000 to a State that is rich enough to pay for its own cost of government.
– If Tasmania can keep Tattersalls going, surely she ought to be able to pay her own debts ?
– But Tattersalls has always been conducted for the benefit of the rest of Australia.
– I am not so sure that, in the conduct of Tattersalls sweeps, the Government of Tasmania are not levying a little extra taxation upon the people of the rest of Australia. But I am speaking quite earnestly about this proposed grant for Tasmania. Any Government, seized of the difficulties of the Commonwealth, should immediately consider the wisdom of setting aside the per capita grant of 25s. per head for the reduction of our war debt. I have never been one to mouth a great deal about economy, but I think that the Senate should set’ an example by refusing to vote this grant. No good reason has been advanced why it should be paid. During the past ten years Tasmania has had £900,000 in this way from the taxpayers of the rest of Australia, and, as Senator Thomas remarked a little while ago, by way of interjection, as soon as she got it she set about remitting her own taxation. No good case has been made out why the grant should be paid. I see no reason why, if we pay this sum to Tasmania, Western Australia should not ask for a similar concession. I wonder what would be said if Queensland asked for it? Not a member of this Chamber, with, perhaps, one exception, would vote for such a proposal to help a State Labour Government. However, I am not speaking in this way because there is an antiLabour Government in Tasmania at the present time, but because I think the money should not be paid. New South Wales will have to contribute at least 45 per cent, of the money. She has diffi culties enough of her own, and in finding the taxation necessary for the Federal Government, without an additional levy for the. benefit of Tasmania. .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
– I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a measure for the purpose of appropriating the sum of £10,000,000 which will be paid into the Trust Fund, War Pensions Account. The Bill does not affect the pensions at all, but is for the, purpose of enabling the Treasurer, when he has surplus revenue available, to pay it into the Trust Account from ‘ which pensions payments are subsequently drawn. It may interest honorable senators to know that the peak of pensions payments was reached in the financial year 1920-21. The amount paid in 1915-16 was £129,273. It grew rapidly until 1920-21, when it reached £7,389,739, and last financial year it dropped to £7,028,379. The total pensions paid up to the 30th J une, 1922, was £28,959,039, and the estimated expenditure for the current year is £6,750,000. The total actual and estimated expenditure to 30th June, 1923, is £35,709,039. The total number of pensions granted to the 30th June last was 306,495, and the number of pensions actually in force on that date was: 225,372, being a reduction in pensions granted of more than 81,000. At the beginning of this financial year there was available, out of the £10,000,000 appropriated in October, 1921, the sum of £5,172,243, and as the expenditure estimated for the current year is £6,750,000, there will be a shortage of appropriation of £1,577,757. In addition to providing for this shortage, it is desirable that the Treasury should have a balance” of appropriation available to enable it to set aside in this Trust Fund, War Pensions Account, a portion of the surplus in the Consolidated Revenue Fund at the close of the financial year. The Budget Estimates of this surplus is £3,703,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative. ‘
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Before 1910, the Northern Territory was represented in the South Australian Parliament hy two members. At the 1901 Federal election, the Northern Territory electors had a right to vote for a Federal member for South Australia. In 1911, when the Commonwealth assumed control, all citizenship in South Australia on the part of electors in the Territory ceased. In 1920, a Bill was introduced to give the Territory representation in the Senate. No vote was taken on the principle of the Bill ; but an amendment had been moved to attach the Territory, for electoral pur- poses, to South Australia. That amendment was carried, and it resulted in ,the defeat of the Bill. The Solicitor-General points out. that, according to his reading of the Constitution, it does not permit the people of a Territory to be grouped with the people of a State; and so the Government have brought the present proposal forward to give the Territory representation in the House of Representatives, without the representative having the right to vote. A similar course was followed by the United States of America in regard to Alaska and Hawaii.
– Have you any idea of their population?
– Hawaii has about 500,000.
– Mostly coloured people.
– ‘There are 50,000 or 60,000 whites. The total population of the Northern Territory, .exclusive of full-blooded aboriginals, is 3,867, which includes ‘ 3,155 persons, of British nationality. “The total number of adults is 2,665, including 2,174 persons of British nationality. It is only fair to say that, since the 1921 census was taken, there has been a decrease in the population of the Territory. The total number of names comprised in lists recently compiled of residents of the Territory who would be qualified for enrolment as electors if the Bill passed, is 1,608. In anticipation of the Bill being agreed to, electoral claim cards have been forwarded to the Territory to enable enrolment to be speedily carried out. This will be done under the same conditions .ais obtain under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
It is proposed to divide the Territory into three subdivisions for the purposes of enrolment and voting. One subdivision would consist of the Hundred of Bagot,, including the towns of Darwin and Parap, the electors resident in which would vote as ordinary voters, that is, at a polling- booth in Darwin. The other two Subdivisions would consist of - (a) the northern half of the Territory, exclusive of the Hundred of Bagot; and (6) the southern half of the Territory. The electors in these subdivisions would vote by post, as on the occasions of the Military Service Referenda of 1916 and 1917. Enrolment would be compulsory, and otherwise similar, as regards franchise, &c, to enrolment under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
It’ may be said that such a small number of people are hardly entitled to representation; but it is an axiom of British rule that there should be no taxation without representation; and it is undoubtedly a grievance with the residentsof the Northern Territory that, whilst they have to pay taxes: to the Commonwealth, they have no representation in Parliament. Although their numbersare too small to give them a right to vote, it would be advantageous and satisfactory to them to have a member here who would voice their views and make the Parliament acquainted with what they desire to be done for the Territory. I am not without hope that the Territory may yet be developed, and perhaps one day take its place in the Commonwealth as a State. That may seem an ambitious view at present, but there are prospects of development that make this result appear feasible.
– Are there not almost as many adult whites in Papua ?
– There are 800 or 900, I believe.
– Is not their claim quite as good ?
– I think not. Papua has a local Executive Council that makes ite own Ordinances; whereas Northern Territory Ordinances are pro,mulgated hy the Minister for Home and Territories for the time being. This is a small step to give the people of the Northern Territory a .voice in Parliament ; and, while there may he some who would oppose granting the Territory a voice in the Senate, I trust that this Bill will be more successful than the last. A great deal of ignorance exists in regard to the Territory. It is bo isolated that’ very few people in the south have an opportunity of visiting it. I have never been there, although I have had twenty years’ association with the Federal Parliament. If we had a representative from the Territory who had the confidence of the people there, it would be helpful to the Commonwealth in shaping its policy for the future of the Territory. I, therefore, ask the Senate to agree to this email measure of representation, in the hope that, with later developments, we may be able before long to give the Territory a fuller voice and an effective vote in’ the affairs of the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Senator Thomas) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 September 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19220920_senate_8_100/>.