9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– -Has the attention of the Government been directed to the threatened boycott of Queensland by the money-lenders of ‘London? If such a boycott takes place, will the Fede ral Government introduce legislation to tax all British financial and trading companies doing business here, so that we may raise a fund for the relief of necessitous States?
– I have not seen a statement relating to a threatened boycott. I have read in the press that Mr. Theodore, the Premier of Queensland, is at present in London, endeavouring to raise money to meet certain obligations of that State, and that he is trying to make some adjustments in regard to certain legislation passed by the Queensland Parliament. It is said that if the adjustments are satisfactory, he hopes to raise the required money.
– Has the Government noticed statements in the press to the effect that a number of people in this country intend to leave it and go to Russia? In view of that announcement, will the Government take steps to facilitate the passage of these people out of the country as soon as possible, and will it display conspicuous public notices stating that it will provide facilities for all other people to leave this country who are not willing to live here and obey its laws ?
– The Government will give early and serious consideration to the matter.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 2 of 1924 - Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association.
Postmaster-General’s Department - Thirteenth Annual Report, 1922-1923.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act- Determination by the Arbitrator, He- No. 1 of 1924 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Attack by Natives - Expropriation Board.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice-
– The: answers are -
Senate* GRANT asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is a financial statement available showing Hie’ operations of the. New Guinea Expropriation Board; and’,, if. so,, will the Minister’ Toy same on the table of the Senate ?
– A statement showing the results of the operations of the Board to date is in course of” preparation, and an early opportunity will be taken of making the information available to Parliament.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked’ the Minister representing tha Postmaster-General, upon notice. -*
-.- The PostmasterGeneral has: supplied the following answers : -
Losses, on Timber Bea-is in Queensland - Number and Cost of Homes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for- Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice-
– The answers are -
Determination of Arbitrator
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice- -
Will lie cause to be placed on the table of both houses of the Parliament the award of the Public Service Arbitrator in connexion with the plaint of the Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association, delivered some time ago ?
– The determination referred to was tabled yesterday.
Recovery of Bunker Coal
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
Government Assistance for Wheat Growers
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Government is keeping itself informed in regard to the assistance to marketing operations in other parts of the world. It is fully alive to the importance of the question under notice, and is giving urgent consideration to the matter.
Cablegrams from Mr. Ramsar Macdonald.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– I refer the honorable senator to the reply given yesterday to a similar question in another place by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The gold medallion railway passes arc issued by, and are the property of, the Associated Railway Commissioners, who withdrew the old design and substituted the new one. The Commonwealth is not in any way responsible for the design which is used for passes for either State or Federal members.
– Why was the old medallion withdrawn? Rumours are current that it was because the old passes were being used by persons who were not entitled to use them. Was that so; and were the new medallions substituted for that reason?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of that question.
Motion (by Senator Guthrie) agreed to-
T’hat six mouths’ leave of absence bc granted to Senator Russell, on account of ill-health.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Herbert Hays be appointed to fill the vacancies now existing on the Standing Orders Committee.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall cease to take precedence of private business on Thursdays after- S p.m.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That, unless otherwise ordered, Tuesday shall cease to bc a meeting day of the Senate.
Debate resumed from 27th March (vide page 22), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Senate approves of the conclusions of the Imperial Conference, as set out in the summary of proceedings relating to -
That this Senate approves of the resolutions of the Imperial Economic Conference relating to -
– I very much regret that the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) gave us no information yesterday regarding the proposed establishment of a naval base at Singapore, which would, apparently, be a very costly undertaking to Australia. I’ waited patiently during his speech, and, when it appeared that he was about to sit down, 1 asked him if he could say what would be Australia’s share of the cost of that work, should it be undertaken. The Minister replied -
No; but speaking for myself, I would be prepared to advocate in my own electorate, and on every platform throughout the Commonwealth, that Australia should contribute on a population basis to the expenditure that the establishment of such a base would involve. That is not the view of this Government. The Cabinet has not considered what should be the proportionate payment, but we did intimate to the British Government that we were prepared to ask Parliament to make a substantial contribution to the cost of the base.
Is this Senate prepared to agree to any proposal of. which it knows nothing ? I shall submit an alternative proposition which, I think honorable senators will agree, would be in the interests of the Empire. I move -
That in paragraph 1. all the words after “ That “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ the Senate approves of the foreign policy of His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain as indorsed by a majority’ of the representatives of the British people m the House of Commons; aiming, as such policy does, to bring about goodwill between nations and advance the peace of the world.”
I have submitted my amendment for the purpose of giving honorable senators an opportunity to say whether they stand far the conservative proposal emanating from the Conference called by Mr. Baldwin, or. whether they support what the British Parliament has done within the last week. All our constitutional authorities recognise that the most powerful authority in’ Great’ Britain is the House of Commons fresh from a general election, and that powerful authority has laid down the Empire’s policy. Here in Australia we have a’ Tory section which desires to buttress Mr. Baldwin by a false pretence that Australia is favorable to the proposed huge expenditure on the Singapore naval base, about which we are told nothing. There is a difference between the position in Britain and Australia in that while Mr. Baldwin took his proposals to the people, asked for their approval, and got a rebuff, the Government of Australia have done no such thing, and I challenge them to do the same as Mr. Baldwin did. To carry out the Singapore project might easily involve Australia in a total expenditure of some £25,000,000 within a very brief period. In my judgment, that sum of money devoted to the development of Australia would be of infinitely greatervalue in the defence of the Empire than if expended on a naval base at .Singapore. If it is desired to have such a base, why not build it in Australia’? Surely a base in this country for the defence of the trade routes would be as effective as a base at Singapore for the defence of Australia.
.- I did not intend to address the Senate on this occasion, but in view of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), and in view of the fact that I have to depart this afternoon for my own State, it intend to offer a few brief remarks. Notwithstanding the fact that there seems to be in this Chamber, and in another House, a conspiracy of silence, I feel that there are times when one ought to speak if one feels that owe’.s dirty demands it. I regard it as my duty to my constituents upon this occasion, to indicate my .attitude towards the proposals brought under our notice. I do not desire to introduce a-ny question which would cause acrimony or personal feeling, nor shall I attempt to discuss the questions of trade preference and the Imperial Economic Committee. I intend anare especially to address myself to the subject of defence, which in my opinion, is the most important on« that was discussed at the Imperial ‘Conference. I believe, -whether it is called Tory or Democratic, in an adequate system of defence for Australia, and I am also prepared to go further and advocate some co-ordination between the defence systems of the Empire. The question of the ‘Singapore Naval Base is, 1 understand, an open one so. far as the Labour party’s platform is concerned. The Labour movement permits freedom of opinion on such questions. At any rate ft did, and I hope it remains still possible for a member of the Labour party to differ from his colleagues on such an important issue. Whether the question remains an open one or not does not worry me, because if I feel’ that I ought to give an expression of my opinion on such an important issue, 1 shall do so no matter what may be the result to myself. I do not agree with the decision of ‘the Labour Government in Great Britain. I am glad to know that there is a Labour Government in the Old Country, but I do not approve of its policy of abandoning the Singapore
Base proposal. It is a pity, from the Empire point of view, that it has been temporarily abandoned by the Macdonald Government. Personally, I should have been prepared to vote in this Senate for a contribution towards the construction of the Singapore Base, believing that it would possibly be one of the cheapest and most effective contributions that Australia could make towards the naval defence of these shores. There are some who say that Australia is in no fear of foreign aggression. That may be so, but .at the same time it is agreed on all sides that we must have some system of defence. There are others who say that we should preach peace and good will, and attempt to abolish the fear of war. Although I subscribe to that doctrine, I have yet to be convinced that human nature is so constituted that we can ever hope to abolish altogether the fear of war. Having that opinion, I am prepared .to give my vote for a naval contribution for the purpose of Australian defence, or for participation in some greater scheme of co-ordination between the various parts of the British Empire. I cannot vote for the amendment, and I have risen more to make this explanation than to deal with the merits of the case. I believe there are very few people in Australia who desire that we should separate from the Empire altogether, -and if there are any honorable senators who hold that view, I think the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) would like a declaration from them. .For myself, I believe that unity is strength, and that it is preposterous in the extreme to say that Australia is in a position to defend these shores without the assistance of the British Navy.. For the next fifty years, Australia will be faced with critical problems, and perhaps the most critical will arise for solution before another fifty years have elapsed. We cannot adequately defend these shares from maritime powers without the help of ‘the British Navy. A strong base at Singapore, right at our back door, is what we require. I am not an -expert, but looking at the map I should say that there is no more suitable place than that from which Australia could be defended. It would mean that we should have a mobile fleet ready to defend us from invasion. If we do not participate in the construction of this base, we shall have to expend many millions in building, somewhere in Australia, a base that might not be so effective as one- at Singapore- would be. I regret that I shall have to oppose the amendment’. I hope, not that the ]Labour Government in Great Britain will’ be defeated1, but that it will1 reconsid’er thismatter, and- decide to construct the Singapore Base, which is so material to the defence of Australia, and, indeed, the Empire.
Senator- GUTHRIE’ (Victoria) [:11>.3<0). - I congratulate the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Sena-tor Pearce) on- the’ splendid speech’ which lie- made in this Chamber yesterday in relation to the Imperial and’ Economic Conferences, and particulary on his clear and definite statement with regard’ to the necessity for the establishment of the Singapore B’ase in the interests of the peace of the world, and. especially the adequate defence of Australia. I desire alSO to congratulate Senator Ogden on the broadmind’ed views- which he has expressed and- the courageous and fair attitude- which he has adapted in- the discussion of this question, affecting, as- it does>. the British Empire in all- its ramificaitions. Everybody who has- studied, the- position- knows that all the go-eat authorities have- time and, again pointed, out in ac very definite and clear manner, tlie necessity for.’ ai base at Singapore, which is the gateway between- the west and the east. It is at the very throat oil the great Pacific Ocean,, and strategically is. a position of great importance, to the Empire, its situation rendering it admirably suitable for utilization in preserving peace in the Pacific-. We can say without fear of contradiction that past
British Governments have favoured ‘the establishment of a base at Singapore for protective, not aggressive, purposes. Senator Pearce pointed’ out very clearly yesterday that the desire of the authorities was to ha>ve at Singapore a base from which to defend and not to strike. Ever since Calhoun wrote Tlie Mastery of the Pacific, over twenty years ago, all authorities of note have been, unanimous in stating that it is absolutely necessary that a Singapore Base should- be- established for protective purposes. That statement has been clearly made by Earl Beatty, and by Lord Jellicoe, who led the British
Navy during the World War .and* is . now Governor-General of New Zealand. Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Field-, who recently visited? these shores iticharge of the Special Service- Squadron, also has voiced that opinion. What is the position of Australia in the Pacific ? This is a vast, rich continent, with au undefended coast line of over 9,000 miles, and. a population of only 5£ million people, whilst the waters of the Pacific wash, the shores of countries that contain a> population: of hundreds of’ millions and in. which the- net- annual increase is greater than- the total population of Australia’. It is- most regrettable’ that officially the Labour party has shown st. lamentable- lack of interest regaining Empire affairs- and the defence of Australia. Senator Gardiner has quoted some fantastic figures-) running into something1 like £25,000^000, as the cost to Australia of a base at Singapore. I do not think anybody knows the source from which he obtain ed them.
– I estimate the cost of a battleship at £5.000,000.
– All authorities have pointed out that it would be very much cheaper to have- a base at Singapore, than to arrange for the defence of Australia by the provision of land batteries or tha upkeep of a large Navy of our own. I believe in an Australian Navy, but we cannot afford to build and equip the- expensive battleships which would be necessary to adequately defend our own shores if we were not part of the British Empire. ! trust that we shall always remain a part of that Empire and work in closest, co-operation with it.
– Would the honorable senator favour the imposition of a land value tax of. ls. in the £1 to pay for adequate defensive preparations ?
– We already ha,ve a sufficiently heavy land tax.
– The Admiralty estimated (hat the total cost of the base would be between £10.000,000 and £11,000,000..
– The Admiralty are more fully acquainted with the- position than is the Leader of the Opposition.
– In addition bo that sum there is the, cost, of the, ships.
– Britain already Iia & the- ships-,, but at present she has nowhere in these waters to dock’ them. If anything happened to the Hood, or any other capital ship, there .is no place in the Pacific at which it could be docked. Without a base for docking or for taking in coal or oil fuel they would not be in a position to adequately protect us. It would be a great deal cheaper, and better in. every way, for Australia to pay her fair share - and nothing more has been asked of us - of the cost of the establishment of the Singapore Base, rather than to spend millions of pounds in inadequate attempts to protect our coast with land batteries or battleships of our own. The so-called Labour Government in England have in their ranks some good men. The Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber referred to the bolstering up of the Tories. I doubt whether there has ever been in England a Government containing so many Tories as are in the present Government. It probably contains more earls, baronets, and titled people than any Government that has been in power in the Old Country for many years.
– Yet they turned down the base.
– Mr. Ramsay Macdonald has not turned down the base; he has simply postponed its construction, largely on the plea of economy. He has said time and again that the Singapore Base is necessary, but that at the present time they do not consider that they have the funds to go on with it. We all know that, as a result of the war, the Old Country is passing through a very bad time - trade is languishing, and there is, unfortunately, a great deal of unemployment. Despite the advent to power of a Labour Government apparently there are as many strikes and as much unemployment as ever in the Old Country. I also regret the attitude of official Labour in taking so little interest in the adequate protection of Australia and the development of Australian trade. Reference has been made to the preferences that were asked for by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). Attempts have been made to misconstrue the position and to make, it appear that the preferences suggested by Mr. Bruce, if granted, would have the effect of increasing the cost of living in
Great Britain, whereas exactly the reverse is the case. Instead of advocating extra duties, Mr. Bruce advocated their removal, as within the Empire, in order that’ the people of the Empire should be encouraged to consume Empire goods and to purchase the canned and dried fruits of Australia, rather than those produced by a foreign country. The reduction of duties on foodstuffs and on other commodities naturally would tend to reduce the cost of living, not to increase it, as some honorable senators have tried to make out. It is very regrettable that the Australian Labour party should adopt this attitude, and should try to put aside any suggestion that Australia should share in the defence of the Empire or the encouragement of Empire trade. I strongly believe that we should do all we can to encourage trade within the Empire. This great Empire, of which we are proud to be a very important part, produces everything required in the way of food, clothing, and other commodities. Instead of dealing so freely with foreign countries, I should like to see trade within the Empire fostered in every possible way. On that account I believe that Mr. Bruce did splendid work. He was very highly thought of at Home, and was well received everywhere. He was described by some of the leading men in Britain, and by the newspapers, as one of the best statesmen who have ever visited the Old Land.
– What about *Mr. ** Hughes ? Was not he a better statesman ?
– I doubt very much whether he was. I have a great respect for Mr. Hughes and for Mr. Bruce. I think that every Australian should be proud of the efforts and the conduct of Mr. Bruce, and of what he has accomplished up-to-date. He has done remarkably well. He is a true Australian, and alao a good Britisher to the backbone. I believe that his visit will subsequently bear fruit, and that before long Australia will be granted those preferences for which he fought. The result will be that the returned soldiers and others who have been settled on the land in Australia will secure, both in England and elsewhere, bigger markets for the consumption of what they produce.
– The people of Britain will not use our dried fruits; they say they are no good.
– The people of the Empire are using our fruits at the present time. The cost of production is greater here, because we have a higher standard of living, which we want to maintain. Mr. Bruce was entitled to ask for those preferences, considering the huge preference which our Tariff gives to British manufacturers.
– They have refused to give us those preferences.
– The present Labour Government have refused. But no human being can ever predict what Labour Governments will do from day to day. I am a strong advocate of the unity of the British Empire, the development of Empire trade, and the adequate protection of Australia. Therefore, I support the suggestion that Australia should shoulder a fair share of the cost of establishing the Singapore Base, which all authorities say is essential for the maintenance of peace in the Pacific, where future naval supremacy must be decided, and for the adequate protection of this great, rich, and relatively empty continent.
– I welcome this opportunity to say a word or two on the very important subjects with which the Minister (Senator Pearce) dealt yesterday. I feared that the poor contribution I desired to make to the debate would be crowded out, but, fortunately and happily,I am given the chance to express a few stray thoughts. What is the position? We sent cur Prime Minister overseas to hold a Conference with the representatives of the sister nations in the Empire on very many important subjects. These subjects include among others the economic development of this country. Proposals were submitted for controlling and marketing the products of our industries in order to give our producers greater opportunities of achieving success. There was also listed for discussion the subject of defence, which is of the greatest importance to Australia. In a consideration of the defence of the Commonwealth, the question of securing, as early as possible, a reconciliation of all the nations of the earth is closely involved.
It is the desire of all to bring about some measure of peace and a better understanding between the nations. Surely if thereis anything which warrants attention, discussion, dissection, . and criticism, it is the Prime Minister’s speech on the question of defence which he delivered yesterday. Although universal peace, which, we all hope, will some day be obtained, seems to be temporarily postponed, it is the most important subject which could engage the attention of the nations to-day. Imperial Conferences have been heldin the past with that object, and we have seen, in the League of Nations, representatives of the different nations brought together from the ends of the earth with the object of arriving at a better understanding between the peoples of the world, and the possible ushering in of the millennium, concerning which I have great doubts, but which is, nevertheless, something for which we should strive. The Washington Disarmament Conference was convened for the same purpose. Universal peace is, as I have said, apparently not within measurable distance, but certain proposals have been laid before this Parliament, and should be fully discussed at this juncture. Happily, we are having an opportunity to debate the resolutions of the Imperial Conference, and incidentally I might state that it is very remarkable that the privilege to discuss international questions is not more largely availed of in this Chamber and also in another place. We have heard a good deal from time to time concerning the necessity of freedom of speech, and I cannot understand why men’s tongues should be tied, and that they should not be allowed to utter a word on this important topic. The liberty of our. people and our chances of holding this great country inviolate are surely worthy of our closest attention. Notwithstanding this, honorable senators opposite are silent, although they are not noted for any lack of verbosity. Hours and hours have been devoted by them to most trifling subjects, sometimes merely a motion for the introduction of a Bill. I was anxious to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) deal fully with this question, but, unfortunately, instead of engaging our attention, enlightening ‘ us and electrifying this Chamber as he frequently does, he refused to discuss it. I can recall an occasion when he occupied move than <eight hours on >a motion for ‘the introduction <of a Bill; !but when, the safety and preservation of the Commonwealth are involved hia tongue is -tied. ‘His attitude is -a. mystery to me, particularly ‘since ‘he ‘has on other occasions so strongly urged the necessity for ‘freedom -of speech on all public questions. When a vital subject like this is raised, however, the party to which he belongs remains silent. Honorable senators on this side are not likely to remain silent. I shall show that I am prepared to offer healthy criticism, and in doing so, shall display the marked difference ‘which -exists between the party to which I belong and that with which the Leader of the Opposition ds associated. ‘On previous occasions I. have freely criticised the actions of .the Government. I am .sure the Leader of the Opposition will not say that I have ever failed to do so when I thought the occasion demanded it. In such circumstances I have never reached the level of a member of the chain gang, and refrained from uttering a word of condemnation. Honorable senators opposite, I .am sure, aa-e straining at the . leash. and would be glad to break that . tyrannical seal which,, for reasons which no one knows, has been placed upon their -lips. I am sure, however, that -they will be judged by the .electors later.. We must assume from .their .actions .that something kas been .done .of which they -approve, but which they will not admit, or that the proceedings of the -Conferences have outpaced their imagination., and that they cannot ex-press their opinions without compromising themselves in <©ne w<ay or .another. The <only objection we have heard officially is that Ae .Imperial and Economic Conferences have been a failure; that time has been wasted, awl that, incidentaly, the recess has been too long. I am tempted very much, in view of Senator Gardiner’s indorsement -of this statement, bo recall what happened on .the past, an -order to -show the relative posi- tions of members of the Commonwealth Parliament., wi a similar occasion -some years :ago. We well (remember that Senator Gardiner was in this Chamber in l;9id, .-and was not fey -any means -a docile supporter of the ‘Government to -which he belonged when an Imperial Conference -was held an London. The Prime Minister of that day was sent to Great Britain, together with the late Hon. -E.. L. [Batchelor., and -the present Minister far Home and Terri tories (Senator Pearce) ito submit certain propositions to ian Imperial Conference. But what happened”? Very few of the proposals submitted were agreed to, and those that were adopted were only formally accepted, and were never .carried out by the Imperial Government. Senator Gardiner wishes lis to believe -that the Conference .held in 1911 was a monumental success, whereas the one that has just terminated was an absolute failure. Nothing has been said of the results of the 1911 Conference.
– It has ta’ken the honorable senator a, long time to ‘ascertain that the 1911 Coherence -was a failure. I hope the Minister (Senator Pearce) will agree ‘with Senator Lynch *s statement that it -was.
– -Senator Gardiner had no fault to find with that Conference.
– It was a great success. Our present Navigation .Act is a result o’f that gathering.
– li was trait the failure of our representatives on that occasion that should be .commented upon. They =were up against .a strong head of opposition, and could not «get (their v.ay. The Opposition in Parliament, represented by the late Mr. Alfred Deakin eulogized the representatives for what was done, whereas the “Opposition ‘in this case. - t”he latter-day .Labour party - is fu’ll of condemnation.
– -‘Condemnation .which they will not express. A forthcoming event in .South Australia has probably something to do with their .silence.
– That may .be so,. I went to ‘ some considerable .trouble to compare -the two Conferences, .and I find that .although .at .the Conference of 1911 .eight -or nine proposals were submitted by the Labour ‘Government crf the ‘slay, six M them were turned down. Buit that ‘.Conference., in the words of the late Mr.” Deakin., -who was then Leader of ‘the. Opposition, was a success., That ‘shows the difference between the Leader of the Opposition at that time and the gentleman who is at present ec.cupying that position.. I shall mention from .memory :<ane ox .two (matters to which the Labour ‘Government failed to get the Imperial Conference of 1911 to agree. There was the nationalizing of the Atlantic ‘Cable, which was turned down, as also was the proposal for an Appellate Court for the whole of the Dominions. Lord - Mr. - Haldane undertook to prepare a /memorandum on the latter subject for submission to the Dominions, but from that day to this nothing further has been heard on the matter.. There was also the question of naturalization within the Empire, which was vetoed by the Imperial Conference. 1 find that six of the nine proposals were not accepted by the Conference, but when our representatives returned to Australia, their supporters applauded them for what they had done. It was said that they did their best, .and I 1believe that .such was the case. The Leader of the Opposition and his supporters did not ,say at that time that it would fee a waste of time discussing the matter, hint Mr. Deakin eulogized the Conference in these word’s -
I ‘believe it is sufficiently plain till at the last Conference will add to the confidence of all these who have supported the institution in previous meetings, and will induce them to end ‘a most willing and cheerful aid to our Ministers in any and every effort they may make to keep up the work authorized by the Conference to the full plan outlined and accepted in London.
Mir. Andrew Fisher, following the Leader of the Opposition, said- - “ I appreciate the manner in which the (honorable member for Ballarat approached the proceedings of the Imperial Conference.” T. have mentioned this an order to show that there is a vast difference ‘between the Opposition of to-day and that of 1911. The ‘Opposition of mat day was generous awd appreciative, while that of to-day is quite the reverse. Senator Gardiner, in support of the statement of the Leader of the Opposition in another place, believes that time has been wasted, and that Parliament has been in recess too long. We have not been longer in recess than was a Labour Government of which Senator Gardiner was a supporter.
– Will the honorable senator .give the dates.
– I shall give the dates later, contenting myself for the present by saying that the charge laid by the Leader of the Opposition is a hollow one when the present is compared with the previous experience of the party of which he was ‘a member.
– That long recess took place ‘because of the coronation of King ‘George. A large parliamentary party went to England.
– The recess on that occasion was a few days short of ten months, whereas on this occasion it has lasted for about seven months. But while we find the Labour Opposition of to-day complaining of the length of a short recess, so far as I have read, the Opposition in 1911 had no fault to find with a recess which extended for three months longer.
The defence of Australia turns largely upon the recent decision of the British Labour “Government in regard to Singapore, which, as we know, was intended to’ be a base from which capital ships could operate’. But while the British Labour Government, in keeping with a spirit that is animating many men in all parts of the .world., have turned down the proposal for a base at Singapore, they have at the same time increased the vote for home defence. That is to say. they have increased the vote for the aerial defence of Great Britain, and the Labour Opposition in Australia, which eulogizes the Labour Government of Great Britain upon its foreign policy, has not a word to say upon the home policy of that Government in that respect. While naturally home defence is wisely looked after by the British Labour Government, and should rightly be its first attention, it certainly should not be carried out to the exclusion of measures for safeguarding the outposts of the Empire : but in Australia we do not hear on that head any words of condemnation from those who keep their tongues in their cheeks. As a matter of fact, the British Labour Government, while rightly pursuing a policy of looking after the heart of the Empire, are neglecting the outposts. At any rate the fact remains that the British Government have provided for air defence more than was provided by any previous Government. If we are to remain an Empire those who claim to be the chief exponents of the doctrine of the brotherhood of mau should make some effort to apply that doctrine to the Dominions and the people who compose the Empire. If the Empire is to remain one, and whole and united, it is just as important to safeguard its meanest outpost as it is to afford ‘ security to the heart of the Empire. There is no justification for the British Labour Government declaring that the heart of the Empire should have more protection than, its outposts. Australia’s defence lies in the construction of a base’ at Singapore. We are influenced in arriving at that conclusion by those whose opinions are worth following, and have studied the question of defence, particularly «sea defence, for many years. It is quite true that there is one naval opponent of the base who supports the action of the Labour Government in Great Britain. I refer to Admiral Sir Percy Scott, but I do not know what value may be placed upon his opinion as compared with the views of his brethren in the naval sphere. He supports the British Labour Government’s action in abandoning temporarily the Singapore base, whereas there are many other men advising that Government in naval matters who are of quite the opposite opinion. Such men as Earl Beatty, Admiral Sturdee, Viscount Jellicoe, and recently Admiral Field, have expressed the belief that the construction of a base at Singapore is absolutely necessary for Empire defence, and particularly for the protection of its trade and for the guarding of the commerce of Australia. Admiral Sir Percy Scott has declared that the abandonment of the Singapore Base will insure that the people of New Zealand and Australia will spend more of their own money in their own defence. Whether the Labour party are prepared to1 increase the vote on the Estimates for the Army and Navy, and support such increased expenditure upon defence as an alternative to the construction of the Singapore .Base, is for them to declare upon
– They have declared that they are against increased expenditure on defence.
– I know it. It puts them into a cleft stick. If they abandon the Singapore Base they throw upon the Commonwealth and New Zealand the necessity for spending more money on defence. Admiral Sir Percy Scott says it is the only alternative. We shall test them on that point later on, but in the meantime they are apparently content to say nothing, although there is nos alternative to the action of the Labour Government in Great Britain, but for us to increase our expenditure by a substantial sum for the purpose of insuring the security of Australia.
Let me say a word now upon the changing opinion in Australia concerning the Mother Country. So far as I can see, the spirit of the political times seems to change with any change in the fortunes of political parties in Great Britain. The Labour party in Australia is quite cool in ite attitude to the Old Country whenever a political party not of its own complexion is in power; but when there happens to be in power a party of its own political creed, it displays the most abject reverence for anything for which previously it had no time. We now find many men in this country, who never had a kindly word for any action taken by a British Government, falling down on their knees in worship of the present British Labour Administration. Members of the National party in Australia have never been abject worshippers of all the actions of British Governments, but the records show that, so far as defence is concerned, they have always stood firmly wedded to the principle of raising within our own. boundary forces that will co-operate with those of the Old Country whenever their services are required in defending Australia and the Empire. I object to this change of feeling in regard to the Old Country merely because the wheel of political fortune happens to give an erratic turn. The safety of this country is all-important, and under no circumstances should it be influenced by political party considerations. We have a country worthy of being defended; it is a country which, had it not been for the British power in the past, would not be the inviting place it is to-day. When we recall the pretensions of other countries particularly during last century, . we realize full well that, were it not for the power then possessed and enjoyed by the British Navy, there might have been a different, flag flying over this country to-day, and we might not have had the great freedom we now enjoy. Had Nelson gone down to the French at Trafalgar, the tricolour might now be flying here; and, so far as my knowledge of French possessions goes, I prefer to be under the British flag. What is our position to-day? The liberty we enjoy, and the chances there are “for people of good character, honest intentions, and industrious habits, to make headway are preserved to us, because in the past the British power has been sufficiently strong to enable us to retain Australia. If this self-same power had not existed there would have been clanger, not only to Australia, but also to other countries. Take the case of New Guinea: Nothing could have saved Australia from becoming a German possession but for the power that Britain enjoyed to overcome her enemies. It will be remembered that the late Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, when Premier of Queensland, sent Mr. Chester to New Guinea to hoist the British flag there and take possession” of the whole island, but whether it was due to faulty diplomacy, or, as some people state, to the weakness of the British monarch .at the time, the result of the negotiations which followed was that the British flag was hauled down over a large portion of New Guinea, and the control of it was handed over to Germany. The point I make is this : that had the British Navy not been strong enough to stand up against the growing power of Germany, that country, instead of merely claiming the ownership of New Guinea, would have set up a claim for the domination of Australia. Such an incident should generate in our minds a feeling of gratitude for the maintenance of those conditions of immunity which we enjoy to-day. They are conditions not equalled in any other part of the world. Senator Gardiner would not, I am sure, be anxious to swap the conditions he enjoys here for those he might secure in any other part of the world.
– Not even in Russia.
– I am sure he would not. I have some pictures of the conditions of affairs in that country which is holding out the olive branch to other countries that will become Soviet and adopt its ruinous policy. These pictures indicate that the Bolsheviks are training children from ten to twelve years of age in the use of arms. Such a thing is not happening in any other country. At the sam* moment, the Bolsheviks are seeking to undermine the splendid freedom and social order we have in Australia. Does any other country possess the privileges we enjoy ? Take for instance, the United States. “Would Senator Gardiner exchange the conditions prevailing in Aus tralia for those he would find there? Would he say that America was a better place to live in ? He would not, because his readings have shown him that those who reside in Australia have infinitely more liberty and more opportunities every day of their’ lives than can be enjoyed elsewhere, even in America. Where in the impoverished countries of Europe is there anything to compare with the freedom of Australia 1 Take England, with its slum life, its congested population, and its cribbed and cramped rural areas, where millions of money are being doled out for relief. Do the conditions the people of England enjoy compare with those in this country ? This is the best place in the world, bar none. We are enjoying that paradise because we are under the protecting wing of Great Britain. If honorable senators prefer it, I will say “ of the British Empire,” or if members of the Opposition prefer it, “of the British Labour’ party.” The phrase “British Empire” has been used in a way that is calculated to poison the minds of the people. In the minds of some people it signifies bondage or servitude. “ British Empire “ is a misnomer. It has been borrowed from Empires of the past in which existed no such freedom as the British Empire provides ‘ to-day. The Roman Empire gave no such freedom to its OUt.posts as Australia enjoys to-day; ‘ I notice that some prejudiced people are trying to leave this country for Russia. I have been looking for a legitimate grievance among the element that finds fault with “this country. So far from our having too little liberty, I would say that we have too much for our own good. A person can.be made subservient and subject to tyranny other than by a King, a ruling power, or a man-made invention. He can be, for instance, the slave of his own passions. Habits are coming into existence that are positively undermining our national stamina, and are not operating to build up the race. Those habits are the product of the last word in freedom that Ave enjoy. In our coast towns mixed-bathing is carried on to an unlimited extent, while social habits and practices unknown to our forefathers are developing and eating into the very vitals of our manhood. On the Yarra Bank, that classic centre for the expression of public opinion, I have heard mon voicing opinions that made me think that there was no law in this country limiting the freedom of the subject, but that on the other hand there was a law awarding a £50-prize to the person who could say the most outrageous things, particularly about the social order and those who control it, from the King downwards.
The burden of strengthening the Imperial tie should not rest upon one section of the community only. Much good was expected from the economic preference sought from the Old Country. The subject, however, was not approached in the right way. We have an immense area of land to develop, and there is nothing wrong in asking for the same form of protection for our primary industries as is given to our secondary industries. We collect £30,000,000 from duties imposed upon articles similar to those produced by our secondary industries, but nothing has been done in that direction for our primary industries. An effort was made to induce the people of Great Britain to pay an increased price for our surplus products. It is no use beating about the bush, for that is what economic preference, if I understand it, means. GreatBritain was asked to place a heavier duty upon the .products of other countries than upon the products of Australia. To that extent an advantage was sought for the products of this country. I see nothing wrong with that except that it asks the consumers of those products to carry the whole burden of strengthening the Imperial tie and developing the overseas Dominions. If preference in the form of an increased price is desired, it should be provided by the Government granting a shipping subsidy. This would place the burden up.ou the broad’ shoulders of tlie taxpayers generally. The proposal for economic preference has been rejected in Great Britain for a sufficient reason. I can quite understand it. The people in- a country where millions of pounds are being doled out to them to keep their bodies and soul’s together cannet be expected; to tax- themselves by agreeing to pay- more for their foodstuffs. They are justified in saying that the duty- of strengthening- the Empire does not devolve entirely upon them. Therefore the Government made a mistake in asking the bread-winners of the Old Country to levy upon themselves for the purpose of benefiting this country, the people of which, by comparison with those of Great Britain, are far happier and wealthier.
– The Government has never asked for a duty on wheat.
– If nothing has been done for the wheat-growers in the past there is all the more reason why something should be done now. I include them among those who deserve attention. We cannot hope to develop our vast empty spaces, particularly the wheat-growing areas, unless more favorable conditions than those which operate to-day are provided for the ‘wheatgrower. He is compelled to pay model wages, excessive duties, and top prices for everything he needs. He is also called upon to support the secondary industries of this country, and is, in fact, their main prop. He cannot be expected always to keep his back bent under that unwieldy burden, and remain content. The reason why 3,000,000 acres of land in this country have gone out of cultivation, and are now producing saplings, is that the primary producer is dissatisfied, and is making for the cities at every opportunity.’ The Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the Imperial Government, could say to the wheatgrower, “The freight is now 3Os. We will carry your wheat for you. for 25s., or 20s.” If the Commonwealth Government would approach the Imperial Government with a proposal to put £1,000,000 into this venture for carrying our surplus products cheaply, it would be taking the first steps to make this Commonwealth strong and prosperous, and would benefit the Old Country by assisting to place’ u3 in a position to lend a helping hand- in her hour of trouble. We. would be opening. up/ am- country for- the settlement of her surplus- population, who- would be able to. develop, their manhood: here instead of remaining in congested areas, and receiving pauper doles-. If the Commonwealth Government would- provide £1,000,000, and the Imperial! Government £3,000,000 or £4, 000/, 000 for this purpose-, it. would be a. good bargain far both countries-. I can understand! the people of- England refusing- to- pay more than- they have to- pay for our products-.
My proposal’ would be a, definite move towards developing the outposts of the Empire and relieving the congestion at its heart on just lines to. all sect-ions of both peoples. If Mr. Bruce failed, it. was not for the want of trying. His failure, however, is only temporary, because the pendulum of political fate will some day swing in the other direction. It has swung the Labour party temporarily to the top. I find no fault with the members of that party so< long as they behave, themselves.. I am earnestly in favour of all that is good in the Labour movement and policy. I am as staunch a supporter of the good in that movement, as I. am a stubborn opponent and detester of ali that is bad in it. The present policy of the Labour party will lead to the ruin of, not only that party,, but also this country. Our ambassador has been more, successful than- were the representatives of a former Australian Labour Government. Neither his failure nor theirs, was. due. to want of. trying., Mr. Deakin, that cultured and high-minded, sample of our race, rose, to the occasion, and complimented the Labour Government upon- its. good work.. The Labour Opposition to-day has. not even a kind word to say for that policy. On the. contrary, it says that the Government has wasted: time in a long recess, but that recess was. not so long as the recess of the Labour Government in 1911. As far as. our relationship to the Imperial power in- concerned, I repeat that if J thought another part of the earth’s crust would be better for me and mine than Australia,. I would go there; but, feeling that I am in the part that gives to me maximum freedom and the- best opportunities of life, I should be wanting in those qualities, that go to make a good1 man and a good citizen if I was not. appreciative of the conditions and of those, who are responsible for bringing them, within my grasp. Is the brother ^ hood of man within reasonable measure of realization ? What is wrong in saying to the British Government, which, whether Liberal or Labour, is- the- representative of Democracy, tEat what suits Great Britain suits Australia.?’ If the Old Country goes down in- the final struggle-, nothing can keep- this- country afloat We cannot, develop this- country and retain our freedom- .and the- unequalled conditions of to-day without the. protecting arm of the British Navy ; but the* British Navy’ cannot exercise its utmost strength unless it has the means and the power to do it. If ships of the Hood class when in these waters have to be sent to Rosyth, Scotland,, for repairs, what can Australia do1 in. the meantime ? The Singapore Baseis, a direct way of bringing Rosyth close to Australia. Our immense coast-line cannot be. defended except by capital ships, and if we do< not provide means for our capital ships to do their utmost, we shall take a short cut to our own undoing. If Scotland is; near enough for repairing this: class* of ship, then we can indorse the policy of tha British Labour Government in abandoning the Singapore Base. If it is. note, then we- ought to be up and at work. I believe in strengthening the British Navy, which is oar shield,, hope, and protection:. I commend the effort of the Prime Minister, and although he- did not. succeed completely at the Imperial Conferences ho did his best, and. represented, this country as weft, as any main has ever done-.
– I congratulate Senator Ogden upon his excellent and fearless speech, but I point out that some of his comments were, in the circumstances, rather misdirected.. The amendment as actually submitted by Senator Gardiner was that, in paragraph 2 of the motion, certain words, should be omitted and others- inserted in their stead’. One must judge, by the terms of the amendment that Senator Gardiner approves of all that was- done by the Prime Minister with reference to defence.
– That was a- mistake in. drafting the amendment. 1 referred to: what was. paragraph 2 of the motion as, it was- originally put before the, Senate.
The- PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T’. Givens). - In justice te Senator. Gardiner I should point out that I drew his attention to the error immediately the amendment- had been, moved. I made the correction myself, because it. -was. merely a verbal one,, and I asked Senator Gardiner to initial it. Possibly I should, have asked the- consent of the Sen-ate. to the alteration, although it- is. usual to- correct mere verbal errors that- are obvious to, me at the time they are tabled .
– Then one can assume that the action of Senator Gardiner on this- occasion is indicative of the extraordinary discipline that exists in his party. He is the most loquacious man in Parliament; yet we have the pitiful spectacle of the honorable Senator and the other loquacious gentlemen associated with him - particularly the one on his immediate left (Senator Grant) - sitting here in silence, although burning to speak. This is done at the instruction of their Caucus, at whose behest, also, they have moved the amendment. It is identical with that proposed in another Chamber. Their attitude is indicative of the unthinking way in which they carry out their instructions. Senator Gardiner was told by his Caucus to submit the amendment, and he did so, regardless of what it meant. In carrying cut his instructions to the very letter, and contrary to’ the intentions of his party, he has unwittingly, no doubt, given commendation and approval to the conclusions arrived at on the Defence question by the Imperial Conference in London. Honorable senators opposite have always to carry out the instructions they receive from their party.
– Ask Senator Ogden if I gave him any instructions.
– Senator Ogden probably did not receive any instructions, because he would not obey them. He is the one man who is fearless and independent in the ranks of the Labour party to-day.
– The honorable senator is obeying instructions now. Senator Pearce has told him to talk.
– My honorable friend knows perfectly well that every member of the Nationalist party is free to say what he likes in Parliament and out of it, and is not fettered by extraordinary restrictions such as are placed on members of the Opposition.
– I know nothing of the sort.
– It is so. One is constantly amazed at the ignorance displayed by the Opposition in regard to world affairs. While they are the outstanding examples of this astounding ignorance, there is nevertheless a regrettable lack of knowledge in the whole community in regard to foreign affairs. Some rather false impressions gained ground throughout the world as to what was accomplished at the Washington Conference. The first idea we all got was that Naval armaments were limited in a. much greater degree than in fact they are. What we should remember is that the limitation applied only to capital ships, and that ‘it was agreed upon with regard to the capital ships of the three great Naval Powers, Britain,. United States of America, and Japan that the proportion to be maintained should be 5 : 5 : 3. The limitation was imposed only for a period of ten years, at the end of which time the arrangement might be reconsidered and extended, or brought to an end. Newspapers, public men, and people who consider this subject at all, are still rather obsessed with the notion that was gained at the time of the Conference, and they are apt to overlook the fact that the limitation applies only for a period of ten years. Afterwards the three nations concerned may be at liberty to resume the construction of capital ships to any extent desired. Then the old rivalry would be rekindled, and any country that wished it could build capital ships without limitation at all. In considering the situation in the’ Pacific, what is ten years in the life of a nation? We should look ahead further than ten or even 100 years. We should try to visualize this continent’ filled with white people striving to maintain the traditions of the white people of the world, and to attain to that status and power, particularly in the Pacific, which we hope Australia will ultimately reach. If these great ideals are to be attained, the first thing necessary is to have sufficient power, either within ourselves or within the Empire, to maintain first of all the White Australia, policy’. This is the only country in the world that has within its borders a white race of pure origin. All other countries, including the United States of America, have a mixture of races - even England itself is acquiring a mixture of races - and, consequently, in due course of tame there must be deterioration of the peoples in these several countries. Ours is the one nation that has maintained purity of race, and as a result of a good deal of thought and reading on this subject, I say deliberately that Australia, represents the hope of the white races. It is, therefore, the duty of every Australian to “see that everything is done to maintain our ideal of racial purity. This necessitates the existence of power. At present we have only a small population of between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000. Obviously .we. have not sufficient power within ourselves to maintain our ideals, and, therefore, we must look elsewhere for the assistance that is imperatively necessary. The most desirable help on which we can rely is that of the British Empire. If we cannot get that, we shall have to look to the United States of America, because there is no other country outside our own Empire that has any particular interest in maintaining the security, purity, and integrity of Australia. For over 100 years we have relied on the British Navy for the protection of our shores. On one occasion when Senator Guthrie was speaking, Senator Gardiner interjected, “ What has the British Navy ever done for us?”
– What speech was that, may I ask?
– It was when Mr. Lloyd George sent a cable to Australia about the Turkish trouble.
– The honorable senator advocated that Australia should be a republic. I asked how long we could last without the protection of the British Navy, and the honorable senator wanted to know what the British Navy had ever done for us.
– I shall be very glad to hear what it has done for us.
– I remember perfectly well the interjection of the honorable senator, and I thought it indicated an extraordinary attitude on the part of himself and the party he led. I believed, and I still believe, that he was giving utterance to the considered opinions of his party.
– Oh, no. I wanted some information, from Senator Guthrie, particularly.
– How could Australia have existed for the last 100 years had it not been for the British Navy? Australia, during that period, has been the greatest, the richest, and the’ moat easily acquired prize in the history of the world. Nations possessing militaristic ideas have from time to time cast covetous eyes on Australia, but they have always been restrained by the existence of a powerful British Navy. For 100 years the British Navy has dominated the whole world ; bub. nobody can point to any action on the” part of Great Britain, during that period showing that, for her own gain, she has ever taken advantage of the dominance she possessed in the oceans of the world. Her actions have always been just; they have always been dictated by a desire to protect the smaller nations. As a matter of fact, the British Navy has existed for the protection of the nations bordering on the oceans. British battleships have been the police of the world and have maintained peace on the oceans. We hear a great deal regarding the Monroe doctrine, which says, “ America for the Americans, and no interference with outsiders.” That doctrine was conceived in the brain of a British statesman. It was suggested to .the then President of the United States, and has been maintained by the British Navy ever since. When the United States had no navy of its own, when it had no power to enforce that doctrine, or to protect even its own shores against foreign aggression, it was always the British Navy which maintained that doctrine and preserved America; in fact, it preserved the integrity of all the Americas and of all countries including Australia which border on the sea. It is still preserving Australia, even though its relative strength is not as great to-day as it has been. Senator Gardiner asks what has this Navy done for Australia?
– Would the honorable senator mind telling us in definite terms what it has done?
– I have endeavoured to give the honorable senator some indication of what the Navy has done for other countries, and for Australia. I shall endeavour to enlarge on my statement/ in view of that amazing and colossal ignorance to which I referred earlier in my speech. If the honorable senator will read some of the propaganda that is going on in Japan to-day, and that went on during the war, he will, perhaps, have some knowledge of the reason why we, in Australia, are still a white and an independent community. I say unhesitatingly that if it had not been for the existence of the British Navy -
– The British nation.
– The British nation, too, because the British nation has always been behind the
British Navy, and has always determined to possess. -the <most powerful navy .in ‘the world; it ‘is because of -the existence of that Navy to-day : that we tare still a free British dependency within the commonwealth of British nations.
– -We have dome more in regard to defence than any other settled portion of *he British Empire.
-BROCKMAN .-I am not questioning that for a moment. We have done more than any other Dominion of ‘the Empire, but we have done nothing like as much ;as Great Britain herself has done. We have recognised our obligations to a -greater extent than has ‘any other portion of the -British Empire. The -Government at present in power in Australia are still recognising that ‘obligation ; but if one may judge ‘the. ‘Opposition by their utterances, ‘should .it ever be the misfortune of Australia to have them occupying the benches on this side of the chamber, presumably they will ignore it.
– The honorable senator cannot’ truthfully say that.
– Let honorable senators opposite read their own platform. ‘There was not imposed by the Washington ‘Treaty any limitation upon the number of cruisers, submarines, and -naval vessels, mother than capital ships, that may be constructed by any nation -which signed those treaties. Therefore, -alii the nations -of the world, including *he three great naval powers, are at liberty to ‘Construct as many cruisers as they feel inclined to construct up to a tonnage of IC/GOO. If (honorable senators investigate the maya! .construction that lis proceeding am -the world to-day, they will find that both the United States and J.apan are building extensively (fast and heavily armed cruisers of that tonnage.
– We oan dock such cruisers, iia .a private dock im Sydney.
-BROCKMAN AN.- I .am not talking .about docks for the moment. I am endeavouring to get -the honorable senator to understand that while .we ai:e limited -in regard to capital ships, ‘there is no limit with relation, .to ‘cruisers tor other classes of ships. We agreed to a limitation of .armaments within the Pacific itself in order .that -the -radius of activity by Britain., America, and Japan, should be .not greater than ~the radius -.o£ these smaller .classes .of vessels. So :it was agreed .that east of a certain line there should be no fortifications. Senator P-ear-ce “correctly .pointed out yesterday that at *he Washington ^Conference it vw.as felly understood >that Britain contemplated building a base latt Singapore.
Wto suggest now that a base there would be a breach of the Washington agreement is the quintessence of .absurdity. It waa known to -everybody that at ‘the v.cry earliest moment possible Britain w>as going to establish .-a base at Singapore for .the purpose of protecting the trade routes of the Empire. (One has only to look : alt .the sea trade .of the Empire to realize ‘how .essential for the purpose -of def fence, not aggression, a base at Singapore is. .The two greatest .customers t,na, Great -Britain *has to-day, ‘or has had for w,ry many years, are India and Australia. What defence haw they without Singapore ;? Without ^Singapore there is nothing available (east <of -Suez. Putting aside for the moment the effect -upon Australia, look at the matter as it affects Great Britain. Her two greatest customers will fee left .absolutely unprotected unless we have a base at Singapore or ‘fit some place adjacent to Singapore. That, is what -the Labour party of Great Britain propose for Australia and for the Empire. Their view is «e limit/ed that they can see only their own backyards. They kaye no Empire vision1; they , can,not see beyond England. They m’-e able to appreciate the -effect -of the building -‘of a large .air force .by Stance, and they realize -that it is necessary to 4o -something in England itself to counteract .1/b.a-t move. Therefore they are building in Britain a’t the present time an air force that will be capable of .competing with that of France. But *hey are doing nothing to protect the trade routes of the Empire: they a-r.e doing nothing ito protect Aus.tralia India, -or the vest of the Empire whose territory ‘abuts ‘®n *le Indian and Pacific- Oceans. Their vision is so narrow, their education is so .limited, .that they are unable t© see anything -outside Great Britain. These idealists who are in charge in Britain at “Che present -time are apparently prepared to -sacrifice Australia and =the other parts’ of the Empire to their ideals: - delightful ideals, it is true, based upon Che theory of the ‘brotherhood of man. Personally, I prefer to rely for the protection of Australia upon the strong Navy and the strongdefences of the Empire as a whole.
– There were in that division two ex-Prime Ministers who favoured the abandonment of the Singapore base project - Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd-George;.
-I want to deal with the defences of Australia as they exist to-day. Wehavehad placed uponthe table of the Senatea report of the Inspector-General of the AustralianMilitary Forces as made on 23rd May, 1923. It is a most interesting document, and conveys a very grave warning to what is happening in Australia in regard to matters of defence. It states-
Curing the past twelve months drasticre- trenchments havebeencarriedout inthe Australian Permanent andCitizenForces, themain reasonsforwhichwere basedon thehopethat thefulfilment of the termsof theConference held at Washington, andthe general stabilization of theworld situation, wouldtender such measuresjustifiable. It ishardly necessary for meto point outthat suchhopeshavenot been fulfilled . Nevertheless, the people of Australia have accepted, andstill accept, the denudingof their defences,with acomplacency which wouldbe difficult to comprehendwere itnotthatthe factorsindueing such com- placencyare well known. Thosefactorsare shortly,asfollows: - 1.The geographical isolation of Australia and thethefactthatinallherhistory shehasneverbeeneventhreatened withinvasion;
Asublimefaith in thepowersofthe British Navy; 3.Animpression, for which thetraditions established by the Australian ImperialForce in the late warare entirely responsible, thatthe Australian mouth canbetransformed intoan efficientsoldierin a few weeks.;
Anequallyerroneousimpression that the 3,00,000men whocomprisedthe Australian Imperial Force arestill available;
Theuniversal feeling that the late war was a “warto end wars,” and, as itwaswon, there is nothing further to fear.
Thatsublimefaith in the powers of the BritishNavywhich has always existed in. theheartsof the Australian people -and withjustification, - is no longer justified. Britain is nolongerthe greatest naval power in the world.Certainly shehasa navy equal to that of anyotherpower, but theUnited States of America has an equally powerful navy.
– I do not think we have anything to fear from that country.
SenatorDRAKE-BROCKMAN. - I believe we have nothing to fear from the United States. Nevertheless, we do not possess that great navy, and in looking to the defences of a country onemust alwaysregard every foreign nation as a potential enemy. So long as they are all armedtheyare all potential enemies, and until we canbring about the total disarmament of all the nations,we cannot justify the complacency which exists today. We know that this reduction of armaments isnotgoing on. We know perfectly well that there are more men under arms in the world to-day than there were in 1914.
Sitting suspended from, 1 to . 2.30 p.m.
– I referred just now to the apathy , of the people of Autralia in regard to foreign affairs, and stated that this is due in a great measure to the sublime faithwhich we have always had in the British Navy. Apathy is due also to some extent to the feeling thatwasbrought about particularlyby propagandaduringthegreat war - thatthe last war was a wartoend all wars. As we were victorious in that conflict is it to be assumed that wearenow to standby and decline to do anythingat all ?
SenatorGrant. - Who said that it was awartoendwar?
– That isa statement which wasrepeatedly made, particularly during the later stages of theworld war. Unfortunatelysome peoplestill believe that such is the case. That istheonlyexplanation I canoffer for theextraordinary attitudeofthe members of theLabour party in regard toforeignaffairs. Theirattitude is indicatedbytheiraction to-day, and at the next generalelectionsthey willbe asking the peopleof this great Commonwealth to returnthem to power.To-day theyremain silent, when a matter that interests Australia more, perhaps, than any other subject, is being discussed. They havenoobservations to makeon foreign, policy. They seem tobeliving -in anatmosphere in which they can quite ignore international relations. They believe that theyshouldnot associate themselves with what is happening inother partsof the world. Such an attitude is utterly absurd, becausewhat is occurring in Europe affects us most materially. What is happening in’ Asia and in America will also have the greatest possible influence on the future of Australia. Honorable senators opposite have no comments to make, and so far as one can judge the party to which they belong has no de-fence policy. They are prepared to completely ignore matters of defence; notwithstanding this, the)’ will seriously ask the people of Australia to return their party to power. The question of defence is of transcending importance to the people of Australia, but the representatives of the Labour party have nothing to offer to the people. They adhere to the ideal that the world should disarm. It is a desirable ideal, but for Great Britain to lead the way and depend upon the good faith of other nations is so ridiculous as to leave one almost without the power of expression.
– If the honorable senator continues in that strain, Mr. President will call him to order for tedious repetition.
– Itmay be tedious for the honorable senator to have to listen when he is debarred by his party, the right to reply. What I have already stated I am prepared to repeat here and elsewhere. Honorable members opposite believe that all is well, and that we can depend upon the good faith of our neighbours, particularly Japan. They say that Japan is a Democracy, that we, as the people of an Australian Democracy, are their brothers, and, that, therefore, there is nothing ‘to fear. It is entirely erroneous to say the Japanese Empire is a Democracy. Perhaps they cherish the hope that the Japanese people are Democratic, but they are not. The Japanese form of government is more autocratic than was that of Germany before the war. Is more absolute than any other form of government that exists to-day, since out of a population of 80,000,000 people, only 2,000,000 are electors. It may be news to honorable senators opposite to know that those electors have no control over military cr defence preparations. Even if the Japanese Parliament desired to reduce or amend the military expenditure of that nation it could not do so to the slightest extent. I advise honorable senators opposite to consider the constitution of* Japan and the effect the opinions of the masses of the Japanese people have upon its military policy.
– The honorable senator should not introduce Japan into these debates at all. He is always doing it.
Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.People who are prepared to bury their heads, so to speak, in the sand and ignore what is going on elsewhere deserve all that will come to them in due course. The proper attitude to adopt is to regard every foreign nation as a potential enemy. When we consider whether we are to disarm we should also remember what other nations are doing. If we are to be defenceless we should disarm simultaneously with other nations. To suggest that we should give a lead in this matter is at least very dangerous. We should certainly counsel disarmament. We could urge other people to disarm, and assert that we were prepared to disarm simultaneously. Such a policy would be a sound and correct one, but to adopt the attitude that we will disarm, give up the Singapore project, reduce our armies and navies, and place ourselves in a position where we would be unable to “ talk back “ in a case of necessity would be to incur a great and grave risk. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) pointed out yesterday that at the Washington Conference the Naval Agreement in regard to the Pacific was drawn up by three nations, but they were not the only three nations interested in the Pacific. Others were interested, but these three arrogated to themselves the right to formulate a policy for the Pacific, because they had the power behind them. If we are to dictate to the’ world in the matter of disarmament, we must first have a defence force available so that we may say that we will disarm if other nations will do likewise. To lay ourselves open to attack, and then ask other nations to do likewise, would be unreasonable. What is the greatest and richest prize in the world? It is Australia, and in the event of another great international conflict it would probably fall to the first nation that cared to take it. We are invited to ignore what is happening in Europe, and the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles. We are asked to ignore what France is doing in Europe to-day, and the inability of Great Britain to control the European situation. I do not wish to go into the whole of the consequences of the Peace Treaty, which is a most unfortunate document, and which has enabled one nation in Europe to assume a dominating power and in its domination to drag the great British Empire at its tail. Of course, when the Treaty of Versailles was adopted, it was thought that the United States of America was to be a party to it, and that America and. Great Britain together should control the European situation. The United States, however, has stood aloof, and France has been able to dominate the situation in Europe. France has not followed what we consider to be the correct interpretation of the treaty. In consequence of the interpretations given to it by France, and which Britain cannot control, a situation has been created which has produced five or six Alsace-Lorraines that are almost certain in the future to lead to war. Just as surely as France resented the taking of Alsace-Lorraine in 1871, so do the Germans resent the occupation of the Saar “Valley, Silesia, and the Ruhr, which are essentially German possessions. We are asked to ignore the possibility of future wars, and to so reduce our armaments that, in due course, we cannot exert the power that the Empire should wield in world affairs. It would be very easy to spend hours in discussing the Treaty of Versailles, its consequences to the world, to portray the injustices which this treaty has imposed, and the deplorable consequences which have arisen in Europe. I merely invite honorable senators to study the treaty and the books which have been written on its consequences, particularly those written by ex-Prime Ministers of Italy, France, and Great Britain.
– Two British exPrime Ministers are with us in this matter.
- Mr. Lloyd. George certainly is not in agreement with the policy of France in regard to tlie Treaty of Versailles.
– The Conservative section in the House of Commons saved the Macdonald Government on the question of laying down new cruisers.
– I do not desire to be drawn into a full discussion of the Versailles Treaty, and
I have merely mentioned it because we are invited to ignore the consequences of that treaty and to disregard the foreign affairs of England. We are invited not to take a keen interest in foreign affairs, because they do not concern us. As a matter of fact, they concern us most materially. What is happening in Europe to-day is of vital importance to Australia. What is happening in Asia is equally of vital importance to Australia. What is happening in the black world and in the yellow world is also of vital importance to us. I regret to say there are very few of us who are thoroughly au fait with, these matters. There is no secretariat in the Commonwealth to handle them. I hope that before long some such secretariat will be set up in some branch of the Department of the Prime Minister, whose business it will be to become acquainted with what is taking place in the world and be in a position to advise the Ministers of the day of what in foreign matters really does concern Australia. Such a department should be able to place in our hands full and complete information of what is happening in” the outside world. At the present time those who are interested in these matters have to range over very wide fields, and make discoveries for themselves, and I regret to say that even parliamentarians, who are the leaders of public thought, are very ill-informed upon foreign affairs. I hope that, partly as a result of the Conferences which have recently been held in England between the Prime Ministers of the Dominions and the British Government, our knowledge will be improved and the curiosity of the public mind of Australia in regard to foreign affairs excited. I trust that at- a very early date some body will be set up in Australia to collect and co-ordinate and place before Parliament all information as to. such matters as really do affect the Commonwealth. The defences of Australia are at the. moment in a very deplorable condition. Although the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) smiles, I believe that he agrees with me. It may not be his public policy to agree with me, but I believe he personally does. We have recently reduced the number of men in training from 140,000 to 31,000, and cut down the period- o£ training- to ten days a year and. for two years, only. All this has come .limit as a result of our belief that the Washington Conference had done away wilh any immediate necessity for the defence of Australia, and that the last war, which was to be a war to end all wars, had achieved that purpose.. Consequently, we have allowed our defence forces to. become negligible. It is fondly believed by many people in Australia that after the last war Australia was provided with sufficient equipment to equip another force equivalent to the Australian Imperial Force. It is Une that we brought out from England - at least we thought we did - all the arms, munitions, and impedimenta required for such a force and stored it in various places, but it is very disturbing to read in the la3t report of the Inspector-General of Forces that at least £1,500,000 is required to- bring munitions up to date. Indeed, from my own personal investigation - because as a member of the Commonwealth Forces I have been dealing with these matters - I can say that at the moment Australia, could not equip one division, let alone five.. As. a matter of fact, if we desired to put a- division in the field in Australia to-day, we could not find sufficient equipment for it.
– I have never said anything so damaging as that. Australia has spent £25,000,000 on its defence forces, and that is all that can be shown for it !
– This condition of affairs has been brought about by the cutting down of the Defence Estimates, and if the Opposition geta control1 of the Treasury bench, and maintains its present attitude towards expenditure upon defence, the deplorable condition of our Forces will be perpetuated. There is also in existence in Australia the belief that there are available some 300,000 highly-trained soldiers who> formerly belonged to. the Australian Imperial Force. and who could be called upon at a moment’s notice to take the field. The truth is that even if we could call upon them we. have not the arms- or equipment for them, and that of 339,000- men who were demobilized five years ago only 14’0,000; of them were declared medically fit for active service.
Then, again, the. average age- of those 140,000 men five years ago was thirty. Their average age to-day is thirty-six, and by the time- they are, forty years of age they will, generally speaking, have become, unfit for service in the rank and file of a military force. Furthermore, taking into consideration, the natural wastagethrough death and such causes as. automatically each year render men unfit for military .service, the probability is that the assertion which is con.stantly made in Australia, that a’ force ©f 300,000 men is available for thedefence of the Commonwealth whenever it is required for that purpose, has no real foundation, and that at the most we at the present moment’ could not find more than 50,000 men available and fit to- take the field. In any case, we could not equip them. This condition of affairshas been brought about by a false appreciation of what, is happening in the world, and a false appreciation of the result of the Versailles Treaty, and of what hasbeen accomplished by the Washington Conference. I regret to say that even the public men of Australia are not taking that interest in these matters that they certainly demand. Now, for the first time in the last five years, we are having a public discussion which may lead to some result. The visit of the British Fleet may have started people thinking once more- about naval affairs. I believe it has. At any rate,. I hope thatit has, because we must realize that the same deplorable condition of affairs which exists in regard to the land forces exists also in relation to the sea forces, so that at. present Australia is almost as unprotected as she could possibly be. This regrettable state of affairs has been brought about because Governments, in the face of public opinion, were unable to do anything,, and when there was a demand in Parliament for a reduction of the defence “vote, such a demand was acceded to. The Government knew perfectly well, that in view of public opinion throughout- Australia in regard to this question, they could not combat such a demand. It is true we ha ve succeeded! in keeping together a small staff of permanent officers. It is a most, excellent and efficient staff, but these officers are also getting older every day, and very little is being, done’ to replace them. There is not sufficient money available ta induce the. Australian Imperial Force officers to remain in the Defence
Forces. They have been gradually drifting out until only a very small sprinkling of them remains in the Citizen Forces of Australia. Those of us who know anything about the matter know perfectly well that an army cannot be created unless there is an efficient highly-trained staff. It is a myth that a man can be made a soldier by putting a rifle in his hands. It is a wonder to me that people constantly repeat that ludicrous assertion on the ground, as they declare, that it was done in the case of the Australian Expeditionary Force.
– What am I to believe ? We were told that the Australian troops were superior to the German Imperial Guard.
– BROCKMAN . - There have never been any better troops in the world than were the Australian Imperial Force, but the honorable senator ignores the fact that when the first division was equipped and sailed from Australia in 1914, it withdrew from Australia practically all the efficient officers the Commonwealth possessed, and took out of Australia the whole of the equipment we had. After that division left here it went into training - a very intensive training - for six months before going into action. The result was that when that division, with such magnificent material, went into action it was as complete and efficient a fighting force as could possibly be found. But the point is that, although the best officers were withdrawn from Australia for the purpose of commanding that division, the men when they left Australia were untrained. I know it because I was one of them. Subsequently the survivors of that division were withdrawn and distributed over other divisions which were created, and those other divisions were thus trained and commanded by men who from three to five years had the most intensive training that has existed in the history of soldiering. It was no wonder that the troops of the Australian Imperial Force in such circumstances were the finest in the world. But it is one thing to take 1,000 men. and call them a battalion by putting arms in their hands, and it is another thing to put 100 or 200 nien with 500 or 600 others who are thoroughly trained. A few men put among a larger number are absorbed, and gradually acquire the knowledge, information, and esprit de corps of the others who go to make up the unit. It is a most unfortunate thing that the belief should be general that we are able in five minutes bo create, out of the ordinary citizens of Australia, troops who would be the equivalent of the exGerman Guard merely by arming them and equipping them. It is the quintessence of absurdity, and is utterly untrue.
– Why does not the honorable senator bring about the efficiency about which he is talking ?
– The honorable senator knows that Parliament has not voted sufficient money to enable it to be done. The Australian Parliament, backed up by public opinion, which I ani now trying to educate, has refused to give the money. I am still in command of -a brigade of infantry in Australia, and I am endeavouring to train officers. I cannot train the men. I can only get them in camp for six days in each year, and, splendid lads though they are, I cannot do much with them in the time. But what I am endeavouring bo do, because like many others I regard ib as my duty to do so, for the good of Australia, is to pass on bo the younger officers the knowledge that I have acquired. All the money I could get this year for ihe training of the officers of my brigade was £15. The Government has been unable to give me more because public opinion in Australia would not allow it to do so. It has now set out on a campaign bo educate the people, and I am giving it some assistance. I am endeavouring bo point out the deplorable condition of the defences of Australia.
– That condition is due to the Nationalist Government.
– It is due to the public opinion of Australia, which has been fostered and fathered by the people who adorn the Opposition benches, and who constantly declare that there is no need to spend money on the defence of Australia. They contend that all -that it is necessary bo do is bo rely on the brotherhood of man and the goodwill of other nations. (Extension -of lime granted. ]
– Does the Government represent the opinion of the people of Australia ?
– BROCKMAN.Past Governments have carried out what was undoubtedly the opinion of the people, but the people were misled by propaganda during the war period, and have been most materially misled since the war by the speeches of members of the Opposition. Those honorable members describe men of my type, who are prepared to give up the whole of their spare time, and a great deal that is not spare time, to the instruction of officers and the command of units, as “ militarists.” AVe are “ brass hats “ - something to be scorned ‘ and spurned. They attach to us any term of opprobrium they can think of . It is owing to these statements, which have been made in public and in the press, that the land and sea defences of Australia have been allowed to drift into their present deplorable condition. Wo are not able to-day to provide munitions of war. If we were suddenly called upon to defend ourselves, we would not have enough munitions, war equipment, and the things necessary, to maintain an army for twenty-four - hours. The people and members of the Opposition constantly tell us that we do not need any more money for defence purposes, and that the defence expenditure is too much.
– The Government has wasted millions of pounds and has nothing to show for it. Why waste any more, when we have a Government without a system?
– At the present time, we are not getting full value for the money we are spending. Add 50 per cent, to that money, however, and we will add 200 per cent, to the value obtained for it. With the limited amount of money at our disposal, we are keeping together a defence nucleus upon which we will be able to build when we have sufficiently educated public opinion to permit Parliament to give us the increased amount of money necessary. The sooner the people of Australia come to realize the true position the better it will be for them. We will nob then have people talking about abolishing the limited defences that we now have. Even some of the people of Australia applaud the British Government in abandoning the. Singapore Base. We do not want a base ‘at Singapore for the purpose of aggression, but for de fence. If we do not obtain a base at Singapore, we must have one elsewhere.
– What about the Henderson Naval Base ?
– BROCKMAN.One expert told us that we ought to have a base at .Fremantle, and another on the eastern side of Australia. A Labour Government was in power at that time, but the advice was not adopted. Since then there has been a very material change in the world’s affairs. The strategic centre, which was formerly in European waters, has suddenly moved to Eastern waters, and the future of the world probably depends upon what happens in the Pacific. The British Empire has its richest possessions bordering on the Pacific; it has its greatest trade routes running out to the East, and its greatest customers in India and Australia. Yet we are told by the people who preach “ peace at any price “ that proper defences for the Dominions are not justified.
– Who has said that ?
– BROCKMAN.The honorable senator and those associated with him. The people who preach these pernicious doctrines are those who occupy the Opposition benches.
– That is a lie.
– The honorable senator knows very well that his interjection is unparliamentary. I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it.
– We are told that we do not require any further money for the defence of Australia or the Empire. I am more concerned at the present moment with the defence of Australia, both internal and external. The defensive measures we can provide in Australia are not sufficient. We must have the assistance of the whole Empire. The strength of the Empire lies in this, that when the whole of it, or any portion of it is in trouble, we are all parties to the quarrel, and are prepared to contribute our share towards the general protection. Provided that is the opinion of all portions “of. the Empire, none of us will be crippled in an endeavour to protect ourselves. If the indication that has been given by the abandonment of Singapore is to be followed to its natural conclusion ; Australia will be left to look after herself. Australia, I regret, has such a small population that it cannot be done. It can only be done in conjunction with the rest of the Empire, and provided Ave maintain ourselves within the Empire. Therefore, the attitude and action of our Prime Minister when he was in England are to be highly commended by every one who thinks about these matters. I maintain that the conclusions of the Imperial Conferences should be indorsed by Australia. We should endeavour to give a lead to the people of the Old Country in this matter. We should try to remind them that England is not the whole Empire, for, although at the moment it may be the most important portion of the Empire, it is destined in years to come to be, comparatively speaking, only a small part of the Empire. We should remind them that this great continent of ours is probably destined to be the leading and most important factor “ in the British Empire; and that, consequently, Britain itself cannot afford to abandon Australia to the tender mercies of any potential enemy. Every outside nation must be regarded by Australia as a potential enemy. We cannot afford to say that Japan or any other nation that happens to have been our honorable ally will never be Britain’s foe. Japan has a population of 80,000,000 people in small islands, with no coal, no iron, and no possibility of industrial expansion. The population increases by nearly S00,000 a year. They have very imperialistic ideas about finding an outlet for their population. What is more natural than that they should look ‘ to Australia? How can we maintain our White Australia policy, and say that we will not allow the people of Japan, or anywhere else, into this country without our consent, unless we are a portion of the British Empire, and unless that Empire continues to be the powerful force it always has been, with a powerful Navy backed by adequate bases? I am well aware that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) would dearly love to have an opportunity to speak on this subject, if he were not so well controlled by his party. He has my utmost sympathy, as have also his followers in this Chamber. They have accepted the dictation of people elsewhere, and have to remain silent when subjects of vital importance to Australia, which affect the ultimate destiny of Australia, are under consideration. The actions that follow these discussions must have a most material bearing on the future of Australia and the Empire. At the dictation of same outside body, members of the Opposition have to sit in silence, listening to everything we have to say, but without offering any critcisam. They have my deep sympathy in the deplorable and ‘ unfortunate position in which they find themselves.
.- After the scathing indictment by Senator Drake-Brockman of the heterogenous collection of mentally deficient mediocrities who occupy the Opposition benches, very little is left for any one else to say : but I feel that there is sufficient in the motion to occupy honorable senators for some time in considering the position in which Australia finds herself to-day. I am sorry that members of the Opposition have used this motion for the purpose of endeavouring to make political capital, because it can hardly be considered to be a party one. It provides ample scope for honorable senators opposite to give us, and the people of Australia generally, their views. They have an opportunity to let the world see where they stand in relation to Imperial affairs. They have, however, elected to remain silent when their criticism might be helpful, not only to* the Australian, but also to the Imperial Government. I have no difficulty in coming to a conclusion as to why honorable senators opposite have- chosen to remain silent. Senator Gardiner, who is the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber, and Mr. Charlton, who occupies a similar position in the other House, are men of considerable ability, and they are known throughout Australia as moderate Labour men. They have in the- ranks of their party, however, men of extreme Labour views, and even anti-Imperialists. They are afraid that if the extremist speakers in their ranks give voice in this Parliament to the opinions they have expressed in the last few years it will have a prejudicial effect on the electoral contest shortly to be waged in South Australia. I regret that this great party has descended to such steps as to brush aside Imperial politics because of a paltry election in another State. Senator Gardiner is probably the sorriest man in this Chamber to-day. Since the Caucus has spoken he is prevented from giving vent to his eloquence. No doubt on some future occasion he and his followers will give us the benefit of their views on Empire questions. The matters indicated in the motion before the Senate could very well be separately discussed and dealt with.,, and it seems too much to ask honorable senators to register- a vote for or against the decisions of the Imperial and Economic Conferences in globo. The motion “ That the papers be printed “ having been agreed to yesterday without a division, discussion on the main issue has to some extent been restricted, but, of course, the terms of the present motion are sufficiently wide to allow honorable senators to deal with the various subjects to which reference is made. I do not view the defence policy of Australia in the same light, possibly* as some of my colleagues do. I regret that the Imperial Government has abandoned the project to establish a naval base at Singapore. At the same time, I realize that owing to the divided opinion among Imperial statesmen in the House of Commons as to the advisability of the base, we in Australia, are at a disadvantage in coming to a determination! of the important issue raised. Irrespective of our party opinions, and regarding the question from a purely Australian point of view, we should be mad if we did not urge the British Government to go on. with the Singapore project. It is, not my intention to criticize the present Prime Minister of England, and those supporting him. We have enough troubles of our own in Aus: tralia without showing preference for any. particular party that happens to. be in power in the House of Commons. In full sincerity,, I believe that the. advent of Mr. Macdonald to the Treasury bench in Great. Britain will, in certain, directions, do much good,, because, his Government will be able to do certain, things that tradition has prevented the Conservative and liberal parties, from doing. Supporting that Government to-day are men. who played a. prominent part its bringing, the- late war- to a successful conclusion.. They are thewatchdogs, of- Great Britain: at present, seeing1, that the Labour Government can exist only so long as; they care to- continue their present attitude. I have not sufficient knowledge of the urgency of the construction, of the Singapore Base to be able to. say whether or not the decision of the British Government is detrimental to the best interests of the Empire. But speaking as a. representative of Queensland,, and as one who desires, to see Australia adequately protected, I cannot do less than protest against the. abandonment of the base, and ask the Government of Great: Britain to re-open the question. The difference of opinion existing between not only tha various political parties in the House of Commons, but also prominent naval and military authorities in the Old Country, on. the importance. of this Base, makes it most difficult for a representative of the. people in Australia to. decide what attitude he should adopt. I cannot refrain from commenting on the difference between the present.. tactics of the Opposition and the stand taken by them on. the question of Australian; defence when they first came into power in the Federal arena under the leadership of Mr. Andrew Fisher.
– Since then we have had a war- to end. wars-
– Unfortunately, the hope that the last war would put an end to international strife has not been realized. When Mr. Fisher became Prime Minister, one of the first subjects to which the> Labour- party gave attention was; the defence of Australia, and I give that party every credit for what it did. in those early days. But where do we’ now find the prominent members of the party who1 were seated behind Mr. Fisher at that time? They are. mostly in the Nationalist party. They were driven out of the Labour party Tiecause they endeavour edi to continue to expound the. views they held under Mr. Fisher/s leadership., in favour of providing: adequately for the defence of Australis. Senator Pearce, who.’ is now the Leader- of the Nationalist party in this Chamber, played a prominent part in- the organization of the- defences’ of this country.. The party opposites has gol into- a sorry state. When a discussion is. launched in the Commonwealth. Parliament, on the defence of Australias,, not one member of that party is prepared to say whether he has any defence policy at all… Those honorable senators belong to what is- called by them the
Great Labour Party., and yet tha party is not great enough to allow one. of its representatives to speak on. the subject of the defence of. the country.. . This is the. first occasion since I have been in. the. Senate when an important matter has been debated without Senator Gardiner giving us the benefit of his. views. When an insignificant electoral Bill” was under consideration some time ago, Senator Gardiner spoke for something like fourteen hours, but when- the great question of Australia’s defence calls for discussion, the honorable senator remains silent because his party will not allow him to speak.
– Let the. honorable senator sit down and then see whether a Labour senator will rise to speak.
– I am. prepared at once bo resume my seat if Senator Gardiner will follow; me. No doubt honorable, senators opposite feel their position just as, keenly as do their colleagues in another place. How are the1 mighty fallen. Not. one of their number is allowed to offer his views on this momentous issue ! Seeing that honorable senators opposite cannot tell us anything’ regarding their defence- policy, we must come to the conclusion that they have none. The policy of the partyat the present moment, so far as Kew South Wales, at any rate, is concerned,, is confined to finding out whether or not sliding panels were used in the ballot-boxes at the last pre-sel’ection ballots.
– That Brennan incident in Queensland is worthy of comparison with our ballot-box incident.
– A question’ of vital importance to- the Empire generally, and to Australia in particular, is, what voice are’ the Dominions to have in Empire foreign- affairs. Only a few weeks ago Mr. W. M. Hughes, speaking at a luncheon; at the Millions Club, in- Sydney, referred to the facet that in spite of the holding of’ Imperial Conferences, in spite1 of our having a High Commissioner in London at the present time, Australia, in common with other parts of the Empire, has practically no voice in Imperial affairs. I do not think there is much doubt about that. There was one point in Mr. Hughes? speech that appealed very strongly to me. The political, situation- in, Britain at; present is. such that a change of Government may take place at any moment. There are three parties, each having an entirely different. foreign policy. I think that the policy of the Labour Government somewhat approaches’ that of the party led’; by Mr. Asquith. Governments may come and go within a few months, and. as. the British foreign policy changes Australia will be committed to it without having any voice in its formation or being’ able* to protest against: it. At the. outbreak of wai- in 1914 Australia, was engaged in a general election.. Sir. Joseph Cook, who was Prime Minister at the head of the Liberal party, stated that if the Empire went to war- with Germany, Australia would’ automatically become involved; in that war: Mr. Fisher,, the Leader, of the Labour party, adopted exactly the same: attitude. But if war were brought about by a party in Great Britain with which the majority of the people of this country had. no: sympathy what would happen ? Had the Labour party in Australia been in power’ during the South African War ‘no troops: would have been sent from Australia to take part’ in that campaign. Senator Gardiner on that occasion’ wast opposed to- the- action taken by Great Britain.
– Oh, no; do not accuse me of anything for which I was not responsible. T was not in public life at the time of the South African War.
– I think that Senator Gardiner said “ Although I do not believe in. it,. th& Empire is in it, and vue-, will have to stand with, the rest.” Nevertheless, a very large section of the people- of Australia was not in favour of sending troops to take part in the South African War.
– Senator Pearce said that too many troops were sent at that time..
– Senator Pearce took up an. attitude that was indorsed by a. very large section of the people of Australia. There were other men. who opposed the Boer War, men such, as Mr. Lloyd George, because* they regarded it as a purely political conflict. When, later on, the Empire was threatened with destruction, a different attitude- was taken, up by some of those men.- Leaders of public opinion in this country like Senator Pearce^ Mr. W. M. Hughes, and others, took up the attitude that Australia must go into the war to the extent of the last man and the last shilling. But what would be Australia’s position to-day were she to be involved by Britain in a war with which she had no sympathy ? It may be said that we have sufficient freedom to enable” us in such circumstances to decline to send troops; but if we did stand aside, our action would shake very seriously the solidarity of the British Empire. Consequently, I contend that every member of this Parliament, and every man in public life, should urge upon the British Government the advisability of giving us the fullest possible representation in relation to Empire foreign affairs. We are so vitally affected by Britain’s foreign policy that we should hav6 a voice commensurate with the responsibility we have to carry. Senator Pearce yesterday said that the Government had considered various means by which Australia and the other Dominions could be represented in matters of foreign policy. An ex-Prime Minister of this country, when in office, advocated that a Minister of the Government in power at the time should be continually resident in England. To a certain extent I am in sympathy with that proposal, but I realize that it possesses many disadvantages. So we have to look for some other means by which we can take our place in Empire foreign affairs. We have a High Commissioner in London, but he is merely a glorified public servant who has no executive authority. I saw the other day a statement that the Secretary of State for the Colonies had effected certain reforms in his office whereby the Agents-General of the Dominions would be given greater privileges at public functions in London. We have to consider whether or not we are satisfied with the voice that we have at present in the foreign policy of the Empire, and if the present system of having _ a High Commissioner and Agents-General is not satisfactory, what we should substitute for it. I say in all sincerity that when one considers the tremendous sacrifices in men, material, and money made by Australia during the last conflict, it is only reasonable to ask that we should be given an opportunity to express our views before we are involved in any other conflict. I think that that is the attitude of the Empire generally to-day, and I believe it is being recognised as a reasonable one by those in power in Great Britain. We are not privileged to know, probably we never shall know, what cables passed between the Governments of Great Britain and the Dominions prior to the declaration of war in 1914. We do know, however, that whatever could have been said or done by us on that occasion would have made very little difference to the result. Senator Pearce asked honorable senators on both sides to give him, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, an indication of their opinions. He pointed out - and wisely, too - that if we accepted the responsibility of exercising a voice in Empire foreign affairs, that responsibility would carry with it certain obligations.
– What price is the honorable senator prepared to pay per annum for our participation ? Put it in actual figures.
– If the honorable senator is talking purely in money values, I am not prepared to state now any particular price. But I venture to say that the price we paid in the last war has entitled us to have quite a substantial voice in future foreign relationships.
– If the Singapore Base is gone on with how much would the honorable senator favour Australia paying’?
– It is very difficult to state an actual amount. I am not at present ‘sufficiently au fait with the desirability or otherwise of establishing a base at Singapore to say definitely whether the Imperial Government are right or wrong in the action they have taken; but “speaking from the point of view of the protection and preservation of Australia, which is a big continent containing a small number of people, I say that if we were asked to vote on the question of the establishment of a Singapore base By the Imperial Government it would be madness to vote other than in the affirmative.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to advocate the expenditure of £25,000,000?
– We have not been asked to do that.
– The honorable senator should go into the figures. It will cost £5,000,000 for each battleship.
– Senator Gardiner knows that, in expressing our views on the Singapore base, wo are not committing Australia to any expenditure in the matter. A grant for this project cannot be made without the authority of Parliament, and when authority is sought, there will be ample scope for discussion on the advisableness of the base, and as to the amount which Australia should contribute.
– It would cost £25.000,000 within the next ten years if the work were proceeded with.
– That is merely the honorable senator’s opinion, and one which needs verification. The Leader of the Opposition is apparently basing his statement on the cost of warships. It was generally admitted by honorable senators, during the discussion on the ratification of the Peace Treaty, that naval supremacy would in future be decided in Pacific and not in European waters. The Minister (Senator Pearce) pointed out that, at the Washington Disarmament Conference, the three great naval Powers which were asked to confer on Pacific questions were Great Britain, the United States of America, and Japan, because they were the nations which were most vitally interested.
– -Naval supremacy will be decided in the English Channel.
– .Neither the United States of America nor Japan is likely to engage in a naval conflict with Great Britain in the English Channel. Europe is in such a state to-day that-, in my opinion, a European conflict is unlikely for some years to come. The Minister directed special attention to the project of constructing a base at Singapore, and said, I think, that it was acceptable to the United States and Japan. As a result of the Washington Conference, naval disarmament was agreed upon, and one could infer from the statement of the Minister that the representatives of the United States of America and Japan at the Washington Conference were prepared to reduce armaments even if a base at Singapore were constructed by Great Britain. I regret that that Conference did not produce even greater results. Prior to the war, Germany and Great Britain were competing in naval construction, and after the Peace Treaty was signed, the United States of America and Japan were making a bold bid for supremacy. We should pay everlasting tribute to the late President Harding, who convened the Washington Conference, since, although it did not produce the results which some desired, it was responsible for a reduction in the naval armament of three powerful nations. Smaller nations can now follow their example. Prior to 1914, there was a longer period of international peace than had existed for a long time, due largely to the fact that Britain had command of the seas, and that the late King Edward, who was always regarded as Edward the peacemaker, was anxious to preserve international harmony. I can quite understand Senator Gardiner indulging in idiotic giggling when international questions are being considered. Although he has not contributed to this debate as he should have, he will, in all probability, be telling the residents of Adelaide who congregate in Botanic Park on Sunday afternoon how we endeavour to restrict discussion in the Senate on mutters of defence. He will tell them that he is a member of a party which advocates peace. The Labour party advocated peace by negotiation when Great Britain had her back to the wall and was fighting for its very existence. The representatives of the Labour party gathered together in Perth when Germany was in a position to dictate terms, and said, “ Now is the time for peace by negotiation.” Later, when Great Britain was in a dominating position, Senator Gardiner and others suddenly made up their minds to go on the platform and ask for recruits. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Lithgow Housing Scheme. Senator NEEDHAM brought up the report of tlie Joint Committee of Public Accounts on the Lithgow Housing Scheme,
Senate adjourned at 3.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 March 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240328_senate_9_106/>.