9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Newland) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
. -(By leave.) - I desire to announce to the Senate that Mr. Hill, member of the House of Representatives, has been appointed. Minister for Works and Railways in place of Mir. Stewart, resigned.
-Can the Leader of the Senate inform honorable senators if the Auditor-General’s report will be made available before the discussion on the budget-papers and Estimates takea place?
– I will have inquiries made and let the honorable senator know.
Bill presented by Senator Gardiner, and read a first time.
The following papers were presented : -
Advances to Settlers Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 114.
Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 99.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Statement re Pensions for the twelve months ended 30th June, 1924.
Lands Acquisition Act - Notification of land acquired for Postal purposes at South Launceston, Tasmania.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Does the Government intend, during the present session, to introduce bills unifying the law in the Commonwealth relating to -
If not, why not?
– The matters referred to are under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Consideration has already been given to the question of a general banking law, but the Government is not in a position to say when legislation concerning it will be introduced.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister supplies the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The result of the commission’s investigations will be applicable to all cases.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
Debate resumed from 7th August (vide page 2929), on motion by Senator Wilson -
Th at the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Needham had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted: - “as efforts are being made by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain to convene another conference to deal with the question of further disarmament, and in view of the early sitting of the League of Nations, it is the opinion of this Senate that expenditure upon naval construction should be deferred for the present.”
– I was not surprised to find that the Labour party had ranked itself in opposition to the measure that is now under consideration. If this debate has revealed nothing else, it has at least indicated the enormous gulf that stretches between the Labour party of to-day and the Labour party as it used to be constituted. The old Labour party was a fighting party. It believed in effective measures for defence, and was prepared to fight for them. The party -pulsated with what may be termed the virile red blood of patriotism. It was determined that Australia should be adequately defended. Underlying its defence proposals of that time was the true spirit of Australian nationalism. If one thing more than another won support for the Labour party throughout Australia, it was the fact that the party realized the necessity for an adequate defence scheme for Australia, and was resolved that , Australia .should pay for it. But the present Labour party, since its inoculation with the microbe of internationalism, has become merely an anaemic shadow of its former self, preaching a gospel of sickly sentimentality that is abhorrent to every true Australian instinct. ‘To-day the Labour party is opposed to any measure calculated to make for an effective defence system. As I have already mentioned, the old party was entirely in favour of effective measures of defence, and it preached throughout Australia the necessity to adequately defend this country.
– On a point of order, I should like to know which clause of the bill has relation to’ the old Labour party of Australia? Is the honorable senator in order in discussing that matter ?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator is entirely in order.
– Then I shall be able to follow up his remarks in speaking to the amendment.
– I certainly hope that the honorable senator will attempt to explain why Labour has turned its back on its previously held policy. He, above all others, does not seem to know whither it is going. Formerly the Labour party stood for an effective defence system. It had already popularized the idea of an
Australian navy, and it inaugurated the compulsory training system from one end of Australia to the other. I well remember a certain famous election, following the outbreak of the war, when one of the strongest arguments by the Labour candidates throughout Australia as to why they should be returned to office was that a Labour member, Senator Pearce, then Minister for Defence, was primarily responsible for the effective defence measures that had been adopted, and that he alone should direct Australia’s military activities during the years of war. The people listened to the party at that time, and it was returned with a large majority, but since then a strange change has come over the scene. Since the amendment now before the .Senate- has been moved by the Labour Whip in this chamber, I take it that it is officially inspired, and that the Labour party is now prepared to place Australia’s future in the hands of the League of Nations, or any other body, rather than that we should face the issue squarely for ourselves. “We were told in effect by certain Labour members in another place that, failing the assistance of the League of Nations, there was no necessity for us to worry about our defence, inasmuch as, since £500,000,000 of British capital was invested in Australia, the British Navy would defend us against aggression. When the late war broke out, Australia responded with pride to the famous declaration of Mr. Andrew Fisher, who at that time was the Leader of the Labour party, that the Commonwealth was with Britain to “ the last man and the last shilling.” The Labour party of to-day seems to have amended that slogan, if we are to take cognizance of the remarks of a certain Labour member. It now says that Australia is with the Motherland to Britain’s last man and Britain’s last shilling. Nothing whatever is .said about Australia’s responsibility.. I intend to read an utterance by Mr. Fisher to show the difference between the Labour party of to-day and the Labour party of his time. I refer honorable senators to the report of the debate on the Naval Loan Repeal Act of 1910, which is to be found in Hansard of -28th July, 1910, page 822. Honorable senators will remember that Britain had offered £250,000 per annum to assist us in’ providing for our naval defence. The Government of which Mr. Fisher was the head- declined that offer, and when he was attacked for his attitude he replied -
It is not a question of declining the offer of the Imperial Government. It is a question of the Australian people providing for their own defence, and by that means carrying out the policy of this party, at any rate, to protect this part of the Empire to the best of our ability, and to relieve the Mother Country from any embarrassing expenditure on account of this end of the world.
How different the outlook of Mr. Fisher, supported by the Labour party of that day, from the outlook of the present party ! One of its members in another place tells us that there is no need for us to worry about the defence of Australia, since Britain has £500,000,000 invested here, and there are, therefore, 500,000,000 golden reasons, why Britain should not let Australia go down. Such a sentiment is abhorrent to Australian instincts. I recoil from it, and I feel sure that every honorable senator on this side of the chamber also recoils from it. If- there is one thing that is primarily the business of Australia it is the provision of its own defence. Mr. Fisher and the Labour party of his day recognized that fact, but to-day we are told by honorable senators opposite that weshould rely for our defence on the League of Nations. They say that if the League of Nations fails, Britain will stand by us. But I ask, if Britain fails us, what then ? No alternative is offered by those who advocate this contemptible policy. Surely the words of Mr. Fisher - that Australia’s defence was our business, and that it was our duty to relieve Britain as far as possible of the burden, of providing for the defence of this part of the Empire - will bear repetition. I believe that Australia has the means to enable it to provide the necessary measures of defence, and the present Government has put before Parliament an adequate defence programme, of which the present bill is the first instalment. Of course, it would be foolish to say that what is proposed in this particular bill is adequate for the defence of this country.
– It has not yet been submitted to the Public Works Committee.
– Nor do I imagine that it will be, but certain aspects will, I suppose, be submitted to the committee. The Government’s proposals, if acted upon, will give Australia at least some hope of being able to defend itself in time of crisis. To many people it is astounding that the party that once stood above all for the adequate defence of Australia now takes an opposite view, but it is not surprising to those of us who know the change that has come over the party. We know that it has gone back on many of the old planks of its platform. Those members of the party who assisted in fighting for the principles for which it once stood occupy a most invidious position when they are required to stand behind a proposal such as that submitted by Senator Needham. The Labour party to-day says that all Ave have to do is ‘ to trust to . the c Washington Conference, the League of Nations, or some other authority to pull us out of the- fire should we find ourselves in trouble. I cannot endorse that policy. I hope that the Senate will carry the Government’s proposals, and that the programme which it has laid down will be proceeded with. If that is done, it will eventually place us in the fortunate position of being able * to stand “ four square to all the winds that blow “ so far as the defence of our own country is concerned. We would, of course, be backed up all the time by Britain, and could rely on her assistance. I do not believe that the Government’s programme would place Australia in a position to defend herself against the world, without the assistance of Britain. There is no need for us to place ourselves in that position, but there is a moral obligation upon us to do the best that we can with the material and the resources which we have in Australia. That is what the Government proposes to do. On the other hand, the Labour party declares that we should leave everything to the League of Nations. Another aspect of the question appeals* to me, and I believe it should appeal also to the members of the Opposition. Man for man, Australia is infinitely wealthier than are the workers of Britain ; but the proposal, as put forward on behalf of the Labour party in another place, means that we should leave our defence to those who on other occasions have been referred to as “ the down-trodden workers of Britain.” We all know unemployment is rife in the Old Country, and that industries there are not in aflourishing condition. Britain is faced with the necessity of meeting keen competition in both naval and military affairs, yet it is proposed that we in Australia should leave our defence to the workers of that country, who are not so well paid as are the workers of Australia. Senator Needham’s amendment means that we are to rely either upon the unfortunate workers of Britain - who, after all, are those who have to bear Britain’s burden - orupon the goodwill of the other nations of the world. In the utterances of the leaders of the Labour party, we have the very strongest argument against the amendment which has been moved by Senator Needham. During the debate that ensued on the return of our delegate, Senator Pearce, from the Washington Conference, and the presentation of his report to Parliament, Mr. Charlton, the Leader of the Labour party, as reported in Hansard, August 2, 1922, page 1001, spoke of the ineffectiveness of conferences to settle international problems. He said that there were certain problems which could not be said to have been successfully solved. He had in mind the proposal for the abolition of submarines, and pointed out how barbarous submarine warfare was. He expressed regret that that conference had been unable to restrict the use of such craft. SenatorGardiner, in speaking to the second reading of this measure, said that Australia should see to its future defence by the provision of aircraft. He said that aircraft would provide a better defence than any other means which could be devised, and that cruisers such as those contemplated by the Government could not be anything but ineffective. Mr. Charlton, speaking on this subject, s aid -
I am disappointed also with respect to the limitation of the use of aircraft. It is almost unbelievable that the conference should have disagreed upon the matter of the abolition of aircraft in warfare.
On the one hand, we have Mr. Charlton, the Leader of the Labour party in another place, condemning the use of aircraft in warfare, whilst, on the other hand, Senator Gardiner, the Leader of that party in this chamber, says that we should provide for the defence of Australia by building aircraft. Mr. Charlton also said -
I do not know whether we are not spending money unnecessarily upon our aerial services.
Mr. Charlton was not in favour of the extension of our aircraftservices, or of the provision of additional submarines. We have, therefore, the Labour party speaking with two voices. Senator Gardiner, in his general condemnation of this bill, spoke of the sinking of the Australia. If my memory serves me rightly, he spoke of it as an iniquitous thing. He said that we never should have sunk the Australia, that a vessel capable of doing such magnificent service should have been retained. He said that her days of usefulness were not over, and ridiculed the proposal of the Government to build two 10,000-ton cruisers. What does Mr. Charlton say about the sinking of that vessel? -
No one can take rauch exception to the destruction of warships. It is said that the rights of property should be preserved, but in this instance we lose nothing by the destruction of property, for it is of no use to the community. It is no use to keep up property of a kind that will only result in costing us a great deal more money. If these ships could be used for any other purpose, well and good, but I have nothing to say against the decision of the conference to sink or destroy.
If that is not an effective answer to Senator Gardiner, I do not know what is. It is not necessary for honorable senators on this side to provide arguments to combat those of the party opposite. They themselves supply the refutation of their own arguments. One has only to search the records to reveal the shallowness and the hyprocisy of their arguments to-day. Senator Needham now pins his faith to conferences, such as the conference of the League of Nations, or the Washington Conference, the ineffectiveness of which was pointed out by Mr. Charlton. Mr. Charlton said that as far as land armaments were concerned that conference accomplished nothing. Is it nothing to Senator Needham that Mr. Charlton has no faith in these conferences, or that he considers them ineffective and incapable of accomplishing anything for the protection of Australia in the future ? The remarks of the great leader of the old Labour party, Mr. Andrew Fisher, had in them a true ring when he said that it was Australia’s duty to provide for her own defence. I venture to say that Mr. Andrew Fisher, and the other Labour giants of that day, would not have been prepared to trust Australia’sfuture to a Washington Conference composed of delegates some of whom might be antagonistic to ourselves, jealous of our territory, and also to some extent angered against us because of racial prejudice. If we are to trust our future to conferences such as these, what is to become of our great ideal - the maintenance of racial purity in Australia? Can we depend for its maintenance upon conferences composed very largely of men who are opposed to that ideal ? I refer not only to the representatives of Japan and other eastern nations, but also to representatives of France and other nations who have not the same ideas upon the subject that we have. Can we rely for the maintenance of our racial purity on conferences composed of such delegates? Personally, I do not think that we can. At the Peace Conference the right honorable William Morris Hughes engaged in a stupendous fight so that Australia should retain her racial purity. It was then a big issue, and it will be raised again at no distant date.
– And but forthe intervention of the American President the issue would have been carried against us.
– Yes. This great issue will again be raised, and having regard to the future of Australia, her defence, the maintenance of racial purity, and every great national ideal to which we hold fast, we should not leave matters such as these to the decision of a conference, composed of delegates from all over the world, many of whom would be in bitter opposition to our ideals, without at the same time showing them that we were prepared to fight for their maintenance and to provide some adequate method of defence. Unless we do that our last position will be infinitely worse than any other in which we have been. Has the Labour party abandoned this ideal ? Does it declare to-day that the maintenance of racial purity is not worth fighting for?
– It has removed it from its policy.
– Yes. The members of that party now believe in internationalism, and the old Labour’s party’s policy of Australian nationalism has been abandoned. The members of the Australian Labour party stand for internationalism and brotherly love. I am not prepared to endorse their doctrine of brotherly love, which means that we should admit coloured races into our country, and allow them to inter-marry with our own people. That is the logical conclusion of the policy of the Labour party of to-day; but it was not the gospel of the old Labour party. I wish now to quote the remarks of another Labour leader in relation to the value of a conference such as that to which Senator Needham has referred. The Deputy Leader of the Labour party in another place (Mr. Anstey), inspeaking on the same question, said, as reported on page 1033 of Hansard- “ There never was anything in the Washington or any like conference. The conference from beginning to end was a farce. War will continue in spite of everything.” “ Australia has no guarantee of peace from any treaty. When any nation desires to invade our shores, and considers that it is strong enough to do so, it will. Treaties, after all, are mere scraps of paper. They always have been, and always will be, so long as there remain warring classes and warring interests in the nations of the world.”
To-day that gentleman is behind the proposal which Senator Needham has submitted on behalf of the Labour party in this chamber. The honorable senator believes in entrusting our future to a conference which the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) declares to be a farce.
– That honorable member moved a similar amendment in another place.
– Yes, but he declared that such a conference would be of no value in guaranteeing peace. To me it seems most extraordinary that the party which at one time so strongly advocated the naval and military defence of Australia should to-day in bitter terms declare that the whole business ought to be delayed until a conference, that is still in the air, has had an opportunity of depiding whether it will defend Australia, or whether war ships shall be put out of commission. I cannot see any future for Australia if effect is to be given to the policy of the Labour party. I can only hope that some Labour members in this chamber will adopt the attitude of an honorable member of the party in another place - that they will say that the present policy of the Labour party has not their approval, and that they prefer to stand by the old policy of the party, which would at least ensure the adequate defence of Australia. I could continue to quote the utterances of Labour men upon other occasions, but I have given sufficient to show that the members of the Labour party in this chamber are more inconsistent on this occasion than they perhaps have ever been.
– They do not know where they are.
– No; as Senator Greene has said, they do not know where they are. That is the truth of the whole position. They wish to support this proposal, but they find themselves opposing it. They do not want Cockatoo Island Dockyard to be closed down, but if effect be given to their policy the probability is: that that will have to be done, and many hundreds of men will be thrown on the labour market. Have the supporters of the Labour party no compassion for the workers?
– Of course they have not.
– It is extremely hard to believe that they have, when I find an amendment coming from the Labour party to defer this matter, perhaps for years, until some conference not yet decided upon is convened to consider whether we shall provide an adequate system of defence.
– Then they will confer with their black and yellow brothers.
– Yes, they will embrace them, but they do not wish to have any regard for their fellow-workers at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. The attitude of the Labour party upon this question reveals a strikingly callous disregard for those whom they claim to represent. I am one of those who have, without hesitation, at all times publicly declared that the two cruisers should be built at Cockatoo Island. If the two cannot be built in Australia within the required time, at least one should be constructed, and a start made at the earliest possible date. I have been working in that direction in season and out of season, but I find that the men who should be publicly supporting such a proposal are actually moving in this Senate to indefinitely defer construction.I am well aware that in another place an amendment was moved to the effect that if it were decided that two cruisers should be built, the work should be undertaken at Cockatoo Island; but that was only in the event of the construction having been definitely decided upon. The real attitude of the Labour party is that these cruisers should not be built at all. But if the Government, by sheer weight of numbers in this chamber and in another place, are able to lay down the policy that they shall be built in spite of the Labour party, the members of that party say they should be built at Cockatoo Island. I should have imagined that the full strengthof the Labour party would be behind the Government in this connexion. As I pointed out in my opening remarks, it appears that a constructive policy of defence, covering a term of years, must be undertaken. That is the only policy worth considering. Spasmodic efforts are of no use whatever. We should be able to say, “ This is our policy, embracing an adequate defence programme, and one upon which we shall bend our energies.” We should have a defence policy acceptable to all parties, irrespective of governments, and be able to say fearlessly, “This is our policy; we intend to maintain racial purity; we stand for a White Australia, and we believe in the development of the Commonwealth by white men and women.” But if the policy of the Labour party, as enunciated by representatives of Labour in the Commonwealth Parliament, is to prevail, we shall in effect say to other countries, “ Here is a rich, juicy plum, ripe for the plucking. Come and pluck it. We shall not prevent you ; on the contrary we will welcome you with open arms, as brothers.” That is what is implied by the doctrine of brotherly love and internationalism. That doctrine lays it down that no man is better than his fellow, that no one shall have a privilege above that of another, no matter what his race, his breed, or his condition in life may be. I do not contend that an Australian is better than anybody else. I do not object to Japanese or to other members of the Asiatic races, but I do object to mongrels - to half-breeds- -who possess the bad qualities of each race and none of the good qualities of either. We do not want those persons in Australia. . “We find the Labour party resorting to every device open to them under the Standing Orders :to prevent the carrying out of this programme for the construction of two cruisers. They haveadopted every means imaginable to place the Government in the position of having to shut down Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and thus throw thousands of men on the unemployed market. Yet they pose as the champions of the workers ! They claim to be Labour men . They are vastly different from the men who made the Labour party what it formerly was, not what it is to-day.
– If Parliament decides that the cruisers shall be constructed, and the Government proposes to have them built in England, what then will the honorable senator have to say in defence of the workless men of Cockatoo Island Dockyard ?
– I shall have the courage to protest most strongly, in this Senate and ‘outside it.
– And at the same time the honorable senator will vote for the Government’s proposals.
– I .shall not vote for such a proposal as that. My votes in this Senate have shown that I am prepared to act in accordance with my convictions. Honorable senators opposite, on the contrary, always obey the crack of the whip; they vote in a body, irrespective “of their personal opinions on any matter. I was asked to address a meeting that was advertised to take place last Sunday in Sydney to lu-ge that the construction of these cruisers should be undertaken in - Australia, and T agreed to do so. That meeting was to be held under the auspices of the workers of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, in conjunction with the Australian-made Preference League. At the last moment, when the arrangements were complete, a member of the executive of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour party visited the dockyard, addressed the men, and induced them to withdraw from the project. That action was a further demonstration of the fact that the Labour party is opposed to the construction of cruisers in Great Britain, Australia, or anywhere else. I hope that the second reading of the bill will be carried, and . that the Government will go ahead with the good work to which it has put its hand - the effective defence of Australia. I sincerely trust that if time does not permit of the construction of both vessels in Australia, at least one will be built here, thus giving employment to Australian workmen and ensuring that our naval dockyards shall be kept going, so that when trouble arises they will be ready to undertake repair and other work. Action along those lines would be in the best interests of Australia. I hope that at all times we shall be able to prevent the Opposition from breaking down our policy for the effective defence of Australia, and also that admirable Australian sentiment which members of the Labour party formerly fought so valiantly to build up.
– I have been greatly surprised by statements that have been made by Senator Duncan. He has asserted that the Labour party advocates the doctrine of internationalism, and believes in encouraging the members of coloured races to come to Australia and inter-marry with members of the white race.
– Does not the honorable senator believe in the doctrine of internationalism ?
– Certainly. Advocacy of that doctrine will -not prevent us (from raising the standard of the coloured races in their own country. without resorting to immigration. What -cabases people to migrate? It is because they feel assured of living under better conditions in other countries than their own We want to see a nation such as India raised from the mire of destitution, misery, and despair that it occupies today, without encouraging its . people to seek their fortunes in any other part of the world. Our idea of internationalism is to raise to our level those who are lower than us, not to allow an inferior race to drag us down to their level. Senator Duncan also said that we favoured abiding by the decisions of the League of Nations. Our idea is to defer the construction of these cruisers until the League of Nations has met and considered the matter. The Washington Conference decided upon a certain measure of disarmament. The League of Nations will probably be the body to deal with such a matter in the future, and it may decide upon further disarmament. That would furnish a justification for our attitude in advocating delay in this matter. Senator Duncan apparently considers that the Labour party is absolutely opposed to any system of defence. I dr.aw his attention to the following statement that was made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Charlton), in 1923 -
The Labour party’s policy is to promote world peace, and consistently with Australia’s good-will to its kindred overseas, declares its readiness to take full responsibilty for Australia’s defence.
We in the Labour movement stand behind our leader in that declaration, but we appear. to differ from honorable senators opposite regarding the means that should be adopted to secure the defence of Australia. Senator Wilson, when introducing the bill, stated that Mr. Ramsay MacDonald attended a Court function with a sword dangling at his side instead of having a plough share under his arm, and that that was opposed to the ideas of his supporters. The. honorable gentleman was probably referring to the rank and file of the Labour movement. If Mr. Ramsay MacDonald had carried a plough share instead of a sword, it would have been more in keeping with his sentiments as a pacifist. I remind the honorable senator that “ All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Mr. Ramsay MacDonald is numbered among those- who look forward to the day when the swords of the nations shall be “ beaten into plough shares,” and be used for. useful, productive work.
– I agree with the honorable senator, and many other people expect him to do something to that end.
– Including Senator Hoare.
– Quite so. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald recognizes that there never was a good war or a bad peace. During the war he was a pacifist. He was courageous enough to give expression to his opinion. He fought an election as a pacifist and lost his seat. He faced the electors again, still as a pacifist, and won. Now he is the Prime Minister of Great Britain. There has been a good deal of talk about patriotism. Apparently different people have different ideas on this subject. Patriotism, I take it, means love of one’s country; and love of one’s country means love for the people in it. Those who shouted the loudest about patriotism during the war were the ship-owners and persons most directly interested in the financial institutions of England and elsewhere. British shipowners, be it said to their disgrace, whilst they boast of patriotism,, send their ships from their home ports manned, not by British sailors, but by coloured seamen. They care not what the colour so long as the labour is cheap. Senator Duncan just now talked about the Labour party’s sympathies with internationalism. What has he to say of the British ship-owners who man their vessels with coloured crews whilst white seamen, including probably many who fought for the old flag during the war, are left standing on the wharfs unemployed ?
– Is not the attitude of British ship-owners consistent with the policy of brotherly love endorsed by the honorable senator’s party ?
– The honorable senator is going from the sublime to the ridiculous. I merely referred to this as an example of the patriotism of British ship-owners. In Germany, prior to the war, every ship on the German register was obliged to carry a full German crew. The British ship-owners should be compelled to carry in every instance a full British crew. The first step for a nation desiring to insure its defence is to become self-reliant. Accordingly, the Labour party stands for the building, in Australia, of ‘.the two proposed cruisers mentioned in the Government programme. A member of another place, and of the same brand of politics as Senator Duncan, declared during the debate there, that one of the vessels was already on the slips in England.
– The honorable senator knows quite well that that statement was denied by the Minister in this chamber.
– Whether true or not, it was not denied at the time. We say that if the cruisers are to be built, the work should be done in Australia.
– In order that Australia may become self-reliant in the matter of building warships. If the construction of these cruisers is undertaken in Australia, our workmen will become more efficient, and probably the time will not be far distant when we shall be able to build warships in Australia as cheaply as in other ship-yards.
– I understand that the honorable senator and his party are against the building of these vessels in any case.
– We are opposed to their construction until the League of Nations has met.
– -If I were to give the honorable senator an assurance that only in the event of the League of Nations’ deliberations not being satisfactory from the Australian point of view would these vessels be built, would the honorable senator’s party then support the bill?
– Probably we would.
– I advise the honorable senator not to commit himself too far.
– The difference between the British estimate for the construction of one of these cruisers and the Australian cost is, approximately, £900,000. I presume that, if the vessels were built in Australia, at least £500,000 would be spent in wages to shipbuilders, and, in addition, a very large sum would be expended in the raising and smelting of the ore for the steel, the rolling of the steel plates, and in many ‘ other industries associated with shipbuilding.’ Thus an enormous sum of money would be circulated in Australia. In all probability the increased spending power of the people employed in this particular work would mean additional revenue to the Government through Customs duties, and by way of income tax. Therefore,, the case for the construction of the vessels in Australia is a strong one. I listened with interest to the speech delivered by Senator Millen on Thursday evening last. There was a ring of sincerity about his remarks that must have impressed honorable senators. I believe the honorable senator is prepared to stand to his statements irrespective of friend or foe. He expressed the fear that one day Japan would seek to invade Australia. On this question I remind honorable senators that not so long ago it was stated by Mr. H. S. Gullett, who spent four months in Japan as a special commissioner for the Melbourne Herald, and who had unique opportunities for studying Japanese problems and conditions from the Australian point of view, that -
– The fact remains that Japan is spending 42 per cent., of her total revenue on military and naval projects.
– Senator Millen expressed the fear that the White Australia policy was in. danger. I go further and say that the whole of the white races of the world are in danger. Their position is such that it was folly on their part to war with each other a few years ago. The coloured races must have viewed with much complacency the trend of events in Europe which gave rise to the war that shattered western civilization. In all probability there is now approaching a war even greater than was the last - a war between the coloured and the white races of the world. Therefore, the white races should come to a common understanding, and present a united front to the potential- enemies. We say that the policy of a White Australia is worth defending, and we are prepared to defend it. ,
– Come over here.
– If the honorable senator is not careful he will be dealt with as Mr. Gabb was dealt with recently.
– In speaking thus of a White Australia, I am well within my rights as a member of the Labour party. I repeat that the White Australia policy is worth defending, and that we are prepared to defend it.
– Give us some concrete proposal for its defence.
– We believe that Australia may best be defended by submarines and aeroplanes. They arecheaper than cruisers,, and within the limits of our resources. Senator Payne, a day or two ago, by way of interjection, declared that the. proposed cruisers were necessary for the protection of our trade routes in time of war. We need no protection for our trade routes in time of peace, and if the United States of America and Japan were at war, the onusof keeping our trade routes open, would be on the United States of America, because, in all probability, the government of the republic would look to Australia for the clothing of its people. Senator Duncan painted out that it had been said by a member of the Labour party in another place that since upwards of £500,000,000 of British capital had been invested in Australia, Great Britain would keep our trade routes open, and would fight for Australia. No doubt the British capitalists would endeavour to keep the trade routes open, for the simple reason that if their commodities could not be carried to other parts of the world they wouldbe useless, and I take it that we would do our best to protect Australia by themeans I hav&” already indicated. The honorable member for1 Calare (Sir Neville Howse) stated in another place that it would require an expenditure of. £50,000,000 per annum foa: the next tenyears to provide- adequately for the defence of. this country. No doubt the honorable member’s opinion is worthy of respect, for he should know something, about defence. Since- Australia has a. war debt of £400,000,000’, and a general indebtedness of £916,000,000, one can readily see that it cannot, seriously consider entering upon an expenditure of many millions more on defence. In 1917 our coin, bullion, and notes amounted to £53,777,126, and Australia had on loan from, the: banks £300,000,000.. For the first time in our history the credit of Australia was put to use, and we financed the war by borrowing hundreds of millions of pounds. And yet,, as. I have said, all the money in Australia amounted to only £53,777,126. This demonstrates the fact that banking is a matter of credit, confidence, and mere figures in books. As the figures were juggled, so were the millions loaned to the people. Every time- that the figures were juggled our indebtedness increased, and was added to the burden of taxation which the people of Australia- had. to. carry. The Prime Minister (Mr.. Bruce), speaking at a. meeting of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce last year,, remarked that the development of” our industries,, trade, and commerce was of more importance to Australia than armies in the matter of defence. I entirely agree with him, but if that is so, why did the party opposite dispose of the_ Commonwealth Woollen Mill, after it had made a gross profit of £347,543, on the ground that the mill had served its purpose’. On the other hand, it comes1 forward with a proposal to construct two cruisers’, for the next possible war, which shows, that it was illogical to dispose of the woollen mill.
– The mill can. be used;; it ia still available-..
– -But if was- practically given, away. According’ to- the. Prime Minister, we should spend. £2,500,000 on building up our primary and secondary industries, and then, wo should make the Empire more sellreliant. Therefore, I ask, why should we not proceed with, the construction, of the North-South railway, which. would greatly assist in our defence should we be. attacked from the north by Japan*. Such a railway would not only be- of value from, a defence point of view, but it would help also to open up the centre of Australia and’ assist in decentralizing the population. If the northern portion of Australia’ is to be settled, the development should! be commenced from the southern side. .Settlement will’ follow a railway,, but we cannot expect theNorthern Territory to be populated before railway communication with the south is provided. If we were able to construct the East- West line on the profits from the note issue, why should we not build the North-South line by the same means. The health’ and welfare of the people would be a valuable- means of Australian defence. To have- as. virile nation we must give- the- peopl’e good housing conditions. Although we have one of the healthiest countries in theworld, there is no reason why the living’ conditions1 of the people should not be improved’. Senator Duncan was inclined to question’ the value of the League of Nations.
– I say it may be most useful, but we must not expect from it as much as the honorable senator does.
– I pin my faith to the League of Nations. It is tlie ‘ world’s main hope of peace. “What is won by force must be held by force, and therefore,. I do not think that military or naval victories can bring, peace to the world. We cannot expect military-ridden nations to suddenly discard all armies. We must rely for peace upon the education of the people throughout the civilized world. As nations become more peaceful in character, the League of Nations will be strengthened, and will eventually be able to bring about world peace. Education is knowledge; knowledge is power; power is victory; victory iii progress-; and progress means breaking away the “fears that imprison the souls and lives, of mankind. When the League of Nations1 becomes anti-military, and more democratic than it is at the- present time, we shadE be able; to/ re-echo the message of the great Prince- of. Peace— “ On earth peace ; goodwill toward men.”
.- I have listened attentively te the criticism levelled at the’ measure by honorable senators opposite, and I must deplore the fact that every speaker cm that side has carefully ref sained from recognizing in any way what is the bounden duty of Australia as part of. the British) Empire. The whole trend of the debate would lead a stranger to think, that Australia was a self -supporting country, able to stand alone without help from the Mother Country, and that there was no need to look to the possibility of this land being in danger at any tibiae. It ought to be patent to- every one that Australia hass only attained its present proud position by reason of the wonderful care and1 protection given it by the Old1 Lan’d, mainly through the- instrumentality of its’ wonderful navy.. Australia1 has been, nurtured! so> carefully that it should be prepared t©> i& its- part not only to> protect its Own, possessions, but also to’ help- to protect the Empire as a whole. I take it that this bill represents our. first instalment of am expenditure which has the object of strengthening the Empire from the defence point of view. The Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Sena.tor Gardiner)’ made an eloquent speech from his stand-point, and he enlarged! on’ the statement 1 tha* Australa’ could supply all its’ needs from within its own’ borders. We, as Australians, should consider more than that ; we should remember that Great Britain has to supply its needs from, beyond its own borders. It has to look to the British dominions for foodstuffs and raw materials for its manufactures. If we ever become selfish enough to ignore the fact that, , as an outlying, portion of the British Empire, we should assist the Motherland with foodstuffs and raw materials, it will be a sorry day for Australia and for the Empire. Only a few years ago we passed through ‘ a very critical stage in our history, and during that period we had vividly brought home to us what might happen if we did not in peace time adopt the measures necessary to ensure our defence in time of war. We remember the havoc that was caused by one enemy cruiser which operated along, our trade1 routes-. Although I have not with, me particulars- of the number of vessels sunk, by the Emden, I believe that 70,000 tons of. British shipping were destroyed by her in” seven weeks. In. addition to the- depredations- of- the Emden, the Wolf and the Moewe also operated to the great disadvantage of our shipping. Honorable senators may also remember that the Matunga,, with. Australian reinforcements for New Guinea,, was- captured within a week’s steaming, of New South Wales.- Senator Gardiner, appears, to pin his- faith to submarines’ and aircraft operating, within a radius of at least 200 miles, for the defence of Australia.. If we had tor depend for Our defence’ entirely upon aircraft with a radius of 20’0 miles’, the danger to our shipping along, the ordinary trade routes to the Old Country would not in any way be diminished. All’ the destruction caused by” the Emden and’ other en’emy ships- during the war period took place beyond 2’00” miles from the- coast of Australia. The1 decision of the British Government n’ot to proceed -with the construction of a’ naval base at Singapore should cause” the Australian people’ to consider seriously the proposal of the Government for the’ defence” of this country.. When if is- recognized’ that Singapore is at the gateway to- the Pacific and1 Indian’ ©agains,, its importance to’ the’ def ence’* of’. Australia, is apparent. An enormous shipping tonnage’ passes” through that port. Three-fourths of the- shipping necessary to provide Great Britain’ with foodstuffs and raw material passes alon’g the routes to which Singapore is the key. Looking through a pamphlet which was sent to me a few days ago, I found that men whose opinions were worth having all regretted that the proposal to. construct a naval base at Singapore was rejected by the British Government. They are all sufficiently optimistic, however, to believe that before long better counsels will prevail, and that the base will be provided. The bill before us provides for an expenditure of £2,500,000, of . which £2,000,000 is to be used towards the construction of two fast cruisers. Regarding the construction of these vessels, there has been already a good deal of discussion in this chamber. Senator Hoare and others have expressed the opinion that the vessels, if built, should be constructed in Australia. I give place to no honorable senator in my desire to see as much employment provided for Australian people as is possible, but we must realize that in the matter of defence time is the essence of the contract. If it can be shown that it will take twice as long to build the cruisers in Australia as to construct them in Great Britain, and that the cost of building them in Britain will be one-half only of their cost in Australia, it must be manifest that to insist upon carrying out the work in Australia, merely to provide employment for our own people, is a suicidal policy. Senator Gardiner made an extraordinary statement, which is worth quoting -
On this question of naval defence, I say that if the cruisers could be built in Great Britain for £2,000,000, and if built in Australia they cost £10,000,000, I would prefer paving the £10,000,000.
– The honorable senator delivered the best protectionist speech I have heard in this chamber.
– Senator Gardiner said that if to build the vessels in Australia would cost £10,000,000, as against £2,000,000 if built in Britain, he would prefer that the cruisers should be built in Australia. He said that to spend £4,500,000 on building cruisers for our defence was equivalent to throwing money into the sea, becausethey would not be completed for two years, and would have to be scrapped in ten years. Let us read that in conjunction with the honorable senator’s former statement: He has expressed the hope that the time is not far distant when his party will occupy the Ministerial benches. Should that be the case, then God help Australia if the. honorable senator’s policy is the policy of the Labour party ! I cannot understand any honorable senator suggesting such a policy, especially in view of the financial difficulties which are likely to arise in the future. Men like Admiral Field - that efficient officer who commanded the Special Service Squadron which recently visited Australia - and Lord Jellicoe, who should know what they are talking about, have expressed the opinion that, so far as our finances will permit, adequate defence measures are absolutely necessary for the protection of Australasia. They pointed out that Australasia could not bear the cost of the fleet that would be necessary for defence purposes without the co-operation of the parent fleet of the Empire, but that we should do all that was in our power to assist in the defence of Australasia and the Empire. When such men are so firm on this question, and. point out the dangers of permitting any other Power to have a free run of the Pacific and Indian Oceans in time of peace, without any preparations being made by us for a possible war, it is suicidal for us to neglect their advice. We can all expect good results from the operations of the League of Nations. Already good work has been done, but when we consider the varying and conflicting interests of the different nations, and the difficult process involved in bringing those nations together, we must realize that the day when we need no longer contemplate war is still afar off. I feel sure that the League of Nations has the support of every public man who takes the slightest interest in the welfare of his country, but we should not close our eyes to the developments in the world to-day. It is in time of peace that preparations for war must be made. I do not believe in doing anything to cultivate a jingoistic spirit among our people, but in a country like Australia, with her wonderful assets and possibilities of future development, which will make her in the years to come one of the leading nations of the world, we should fail in our duty if we neglected now to do everything possible, within our financial resources, to defend ourselves. I am anxious to see our land defence scheme made much more effective than it is, and feel that the compulsory provisions of our
Defence Act are essential to our welfare. I sincerely hope that, whatever differences of opinion we may have regarding details, when it comes to a question of deciding whether or not we shall accept our fair share of responsibility for the defence of the Empire, the Parliament of Australia will do its duty.
.. - I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech by Senator John D. Millen, and was surprised to hear him say that Singapore was required not only as a naval base, but also for oil storage purposes. There is a good deal of conflict regarding the best means of defending the Australian coast. Seeing that we have about 12,000 miles of coastline to be defended, , and that the League of Nations is considering whether or not it is possible to further reduce armaments throughout the world, I am of the opinion that we are not justified in spending £4,000,000, at the present time, to build two cruisers. The money could be spent to much better advantage. These two cruisers will not be sufficient to protect our extensive coastline. Some may say that their construction is a step in the right direction, as they could co-operate with the vessels of the British fleet in policing the seas and keeping clear the trade routes from Australia to England. Senator Wilson said that if one cruiser were built in Britain, its construction would occupy 27 months. Since then we have heard that there are vessels’ on the slips at Home which will meet the requirements of the Commonwealth. I do not know whether that is so or not. It is amazing to realize the difference between the estimated cost of constructing cruisers in Great Britain and in Australia. We have been informed that it would cost £1,900,000. to build a cruiser in Great Britain, and that the expenditure on a similar vessel built in Australia would be, approximately, £3,000,000. It would be interesting to know in what direction the extra expenditure would be incurred. Would it be due to increased labour costs, the’ purchase of material at the top of the market, or to unnecessary administrative expenses? Notwithstanding what honorable senators have said, I believe we should provide for our defence ; but I do not agree that it should be in the manner proposed by the Government. If cruisers are to be built as a means of assisting in the defence of Australia, the work should be undertaken in Australia, so that the Australian people would benefit. Senator Payne emphasized the necessity of keeping open our trade routes, and agreed with the opinion expressed by Senator Gardiner that, as we produced all we required and had a surplus for export, we were a self-contained nation. Although we produce more than sufficient to meet our own requirements, it is incumbent upon Great Britain to protect our trade routes so that the requirements of the British people in the event of war may be supplied at least in part by us. According to the opinion of experts, no less than £50,000,000 would be required, annually, to maintain an adequate defence scheme for Australia, but if such expenditure had to#be met taxation would have to be increased, and the people who are already overburdened would be unduly penalized. Instead of spending, money in the direction proposed, it would be better to open up undeveloped country, and establish new industries, as by doing so we should be creating employment, making room for new settlers, and generally providing a means whereby we could defend ourselves. If Australia were attacked, the two cruisers which it is proposed to construct would be faced with tremendous difficulties, because with such an extensive- coast-line the number of fuel, provision and ammunition bases would be inadequate. With seaplanes, which can travel at 150 miles an hour, some advantage would be gained.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the advisors of the Government have considered that aspect of the question?
– Possibly they have, but I am showing how two cruisers would be of little use in protecting Australia’s extensive coast-line. If the money which it is proposed to expend were to be devoted to the construction -of submarines, seaplanes, aeroplanes, and the provision of mines, some protection would be assured. If these cruisers are constructed, they will .be quite obsolete in the course of a few years, and the whole expenditure will thus be futile. In common with you; Mr. Deputy President, I was strongly opposed to the sinking of the battleship Australia, and I believe that if these vessels are constructed it will only be a few years before they will be of little use to the Commonwealth. In the event of invasion our means of railway transport would be entirely inadequate. With four breaks of gauge between Western Australia and the eastern states, one can readily see the delay which would occur in transporting troops and supplies. If the money were expended in unifying the gauges of the main lines we should- derive a lasting benefit. Further consideration should also be given to the extension of existing factories in which munitions can be manufactured, as that would. not only be the means of providing employment for our people in time of peace, but would also be of great assistance in the event of war. According to the records, no less than £18,000,000 has been spent on defence during the last five years for which there is nothing to show. Sir John Monash, who is regarded, I atn sure, as an authority on defence, has stated that we are not in as favorable a position as we were in 1914. For the information of honorable senators I shall quote the opinions of leading naval experts to show that consideration should be given to this question from a different angle. Admiral Sir Percy Scott states -
Another bogy put before the Australians is that on account of their enormous coast-line they must have battleships. That is just what they do not want. If the waters of all countries are protected by submarines, all waters will be wrong waters for battleships.
Honorable senators opposite have quoted the opinions of other naval authorities, but I am prepared to be guided by the opinion of Admiral Sir Percy Scott, who also states-
When Australia and New Zealand are properly defended with aeroplanes, submarines and destroyers (as regards invasion), they will have nothing to fear.
If there is anything in the contention of such an eminent authority, one wonders why it is not the policy of the present Government to institute a system of defence on such a basis. The same authority continues -
For the protection of, or the destruction of, sea-going commerce, fast light cruisers are required. This fact is apparently recognized by the Japanese, as they are building them as fast as they oan. They will soon dominate the world in this class qf vessel, which means they will command the commerce of the Eastern seas.
Admiral Kerr, of the British navy, states - . . . the Australian line of defence, obviously comprised of aeroplanes, submarines, and torpedo boats, against which no hostile fleet dare approach within 200 miles.
In recording my vote on this important measure, I have to consider the interests of the people whom I represent. If honorable senators opposite are to be guided in their decisions by the opinions of certain experts, I, too, am justified in being influenced by the views of men equally competent. Mr. Pembroke Billing states -
A battleship is as much use to Australia as a sick headache. I cannot emphasize too strongly that if Australia was prepared to devote the money she intends spending on cruisers to the development of a powerful naval air force, no one in this country need ever fear an invasion.
I am quite content to be guided by the opinions of experts such as those I have quoted. Although I intend to oppose the bill, it must be understood that I believe in arl adequate defence for Australia, and am prepared at all times to support a policy which I believe to be in the interests of the whole of the Australian people.
– This has been a most interesting debate, firstly on account of the extreme diversity of opinion expressed, and secondly because of its apparent irrelevancy. I have carefully read the bill, and I cannot find the word “ cruiser “ in it. Honorable senators opposite seem to be under the impression that certain cruisers are to be built, bub, in fact, a certain amount has been mentioned for armaments and munitions, and money is to be appropriated for that purpose. In that direction, the Government have my hearty support. I trust, however, that if I refer to cruisers it will be remembered that I am only following the example set by honorable members on both- sides of this chamber, and in another place. One of the most interesting speeches to which I have listened was that of the honorable senator who leads the Opposition. I do not agree with the sentiments expressed in that speech. I do not anticipate that the honorable senator will be either surprised or concerned at my disagreement, although he resents disagreement very much more when it emanates from unfortunate honorable senators on this side - who, he ought to remember, are ignorant upon many subjects - and appears to regard with equanimity differences of opinion among honorable senators on his own side. In the’ first place, I do not agree with his standard of measuring the defence capabilities of a country by its coast-line. That, I think he will admit on further reflection, is an absolutely fallacious standard to set up. Let us consider the defence of Singapore on such a basis. It is an island possessing a coast-line of about 150 miles. Judged by Senator Gardner’s standard. the defence necessary for Singapore would be infinitesimal. That is not so. There are trade routes - there are other interests to consider - that far outweigh the consideration merely of a country’s coastline. The situation of Australia at one end of the world, while it constitutes a weakness in some ways, is a source of strength in others. I do not propose to look upon this bill as a measure which will provide for the defence of either the Empire or Australia. It will not do that. Furthermore, I do not propose to do as the honorable senator did - look upon England as a foreign country. As the honorable senator said, although it did not influence his argument, Australia is a part of the commonwealth of nations. If the Government of the Commonwealth thinks that we should bear a proportion of the cost of the defence of the Empire, in return for which we shall receive from the Empire very much greater facilities in regard to defence, I am thoroughly in accord with it. If that involves the building of two cruisers they should, undoubtedly, be built. Senator Gardiner also said that because one part of our defence scheme is useless or defective we should- scrap the lot. That is a peculiar argument. It would have its parallel in the action of a man who, having discovered that he had holes in his coat, registered an inflexible resolve to discontinue the wearing of trousers. Any gentleman who adopted that drastic remedy would find that he had rendered himself extremely conspicuous, and made himself an object of unfavorable criticism, in addition to making himself particularly vulnerable to attacks from outside. I am unable to endorse for a moment any proposition df that kind, and I am surprised that the honorable senator should put it forward. I am aware, of course, that the honorable senator does not always speak as seriously as one would be likely to conclude from his apparent earnestness. There is a considerable difference of opinion as to where these cruisers should be built. Senator Gardiner said that, even though they cost £10,000,000, they should be built in Australia. I think he was in earnest when he made that statement, and in certain portions of Australia it will be accounted unto him for righteousness. I look at the matter in an entirely different way, perhaps because I com’e from a different part of Australia. I think that the honorable senator ought to be a little more moderate. Although statements that are sometimes made in this chamber may create the contrary impression, the fact is that the Commonwealth has only a limited amount of money with which <to fulfil its obligations, and we have to make the best use wo can of that money. It certainly does not appear to me that we should be putting our money to the best use if we spent a very great deal more in building these cruisers in Australia than they would cost in Great Britain. I do not want to argue from a sentimental point of view. I desire to be guided by the facts of the past, and by the cold logic of experience. Quite a considerable time ago, thinking that an occasion of this sort might arise, I wrote to the Defence Department asking to be supplied with certain facts. After a. reasonable interval had elapsed - which’ is always necessary when one is seeking information - I received a very illuminating answer with regard to Australia’s experience in the construction of cruisers and destroyers. The particulars I have relate to three destroyers and two cruisers. Those vessels were not built according to any fixed estimate; their construction was, apparently, guided a good deal by the law of chance. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden), whose signature appears at the bottom of the document, states -
As to whether the cost has been above or below the original estimate I have to inform you that there was no contract price for building the vessels. They were built in the government yard at Cockatoo Island, Sydney. The estimated price for building similar vesselsin England was -
Honorable senators will, of course, realize that those figures have no direct bearing upon the probable cost of constructing cruisers at the present time; they simply give an indication of the comparative cost in England and Australia at that date. A very important item in the cost is the time occupied in building. Apart altogether from considerations of convenience or safety, the interest on the money expended during the period of construction, and up to the time that the vessels are ready to go to sea, plays a very important part in this discussion. That matter, however, I do not propose to debate. The estimated price in England for a destroyer was £80,000. Let us see what these destroyers, built at Cockatoo, actually cost. The destroyer Torrens cost £158,621, or £78,621 more than the English estimate. The Swan cost £160,989, or £80,989 more than the estimate. The Huon’’ cost £148,315, or £68,315 more than the estimate.
– Does the English estimate include the cost of delivering the vessels in Australia?
– I cannot say; possibly it does not. The light cruiser Brisbane cost £746,624, or £346,624 more than the estimate. The Adelaide cost £1,271,781, or £821,751 more than the estimate. I understand that it is stated in some quarters that the extra cost of building these vessels in Australia was due, not to the high cost of material or the inefficiency of Australian labour, but to ineptitude in supervision.
– In regard to the Adelaide, it is only fair to say that, when completed, she was a very different vessel from that originally planned.
– Quite so; I intended to say that. That, I think, was due largely to the fact that she took so long to build. If we follow that argument to its logical conclusion and admit that these vessels become obsolete while they are being built, we must see that it provides the most effective process of disarmament that could be evolved. No one would ever think of commencing the construction of a vessel under those conditions, because it would not be possible to have an up-to-date cruiser or destroyer when it was completed. We can take some comfort from the fact that other nations are similarly affected. If by the rubbing of some naval department’s Aladdin’s lamp we could bring a cruiser into existence it would be very easy for us to keep up to date in naval armament. Unfortunately we cannot do that, and we must take things as they are. As I have said, other nations are suffering from disabilities similar to those which affect us.
– To the same extent?
– I think so. The more quickly cruisers are built, the less obsolete they are when finished. Having shown that the Australian costs are in every case practically double, - in some instances more than double - the English estimate, I propose now to show the time occupied in construction in England compared with the time in Australia. The estimated time for building a destroyer in England was fourteen months, and for a light cruiser 21 months. The Torrens was laid down oil the 25th January, 1913, and completed on 15th July, 1916, a period of 42 months compared with the estimate of fourteen months in England. The Swan occupied a period of 43 months. The Huon was much more quickly built; it took only 37 months. The Brisbane was laid down on the 25th January, 1913, and was completed on the 9th December, 1916, a period of 47 months compared with the English estimate of 21 months. The Adelaide was laid down on the 20th November, 1917, and was completed on the 21st July, 1922, a period of 56 months.
– How often were the plans altered during that time? Senator KINGSMILL.- I admit that alterations were made in the plans. In a period of 56 months, it is almost inevitable that plans must be altered very considerably. I do not ask honorable senators to be affected by what I “say, but I have adduced sufficient evidence to satisfy myself that I should be very foolish if I supported any proposal to build either of these cruisers in Australia. I am very sorry that it is so. I am prepared - nobody more so - other things being anywhere near equal, -to support the building of these vessels in Australia. Unfortunately, there is a frightful disparity between the estimates of costs. If this state of affairs were getting any better, I should be prepared to give the policy another chance; but, instead of getting better, it is getting worse. As time goes on, the disparities become greater. I have extracted, again after a great deal of difficulty from an extremely reluctant department, certain information with regard to other vessels. In this connexion let me say that apparently the time occupied in the construction of thesevessels is in keeping with the time it takes to extract information from the departments concerned. In addition to the vessels being excessively costly, they have taken an unconscionable time in the building. I am not now referring to warships, but to other vessels. However, I will not pursue that subject further just now, because I shall be able to say something about it later. When the time comes for these cruisers toleave the port of obscurity, and put out into the open sea of debate, I cannot see how it will be possible for me, at all events, to support a proposal for their construction in Australia. Far better, in my opinion, would it be to put the money which we might legitimately expect to save by the construction of the vessels in Great Britain into the provision of efficient repairing facilities, as, for instance, a floating dock, for vessels of the Australian and British Navies at some suitable place on the Australian coast. Let me now for a moment touch upon a matter which really is mentioned in this bill, namely, the proposed survey of the Barrier Reef. To me that is a very interesting project. I am sorry that the Minister who introduced the bill did not give us a little more information with regard to the proposed survey, but I hope he will be able to do so when we reach the committee stage of the measure. In the first place, I want to know whether the survey is to be purely topographical, or whether it is to be regarded as an economic survey.
– I think it will be purely topographical.
– I fear it will. I have at varioustimes in this chamber advocated the need for the Commonwealth Government engaging in an examination of our coastal, marine, and maritime industries. This would afford usan opportunity of ascertaining the approximate value to the Commonwealth of some portion of the Australian coast-line. There is no doubt whatever that in the past it has been too easy to make money in Australia, with the result that only the obvious industries have been considered.
In other countries of the world the people derive pretty nearly as much revenue, and provide nearly as much employment for their citizens, from their coastal, their maritime, industries as they do from their business enterprises on the land. I firmly believe, having taken a very keen interest in this matter for very many years, that the same will be true of Australia in the future. Those honorable senators who followed the naval operations of the Great War will appreciate to what an immeasurable extent the defence of Britain depended on those men who, from their childhood, had been engaged in the coastal industries of the Mother Country. I do not think there were any greater examples of gallantry than the work performed under awful conditions by the men employed in the auxiliary naval operations. I need cite only one instance - that of mine sweeping by British trawlers. It was an unobtrusive, unostentatious form of defence, but when we remember the immense risks taken, and willingly taken, by the men engaged in it, we must realize how greatly the maritime industries of the Mother Country contributed to the successful outcome of that titanic struggle. That being so, does it not behove Australia, whose young men unfortunately seem to find very great difficulty in settling down to a life on the sea, toencourage the establishment of industries that will give our young men this very necessary experience? So little has been done in that direction that even at this late hour, if the topographical survey of the Barrier Reef could have in it some little element of an economic survey, the spending of the money would be even more willingly assented to by me, and, I am sure, by other honorable senators. In the circumstances, I am almost inclined to regret that the proposal is not more definite, but I suppose that we shall reach a stage when, perhaps, honorable senators will be more justified in expressing opinions, or rather in amplifying opinions that have been expressed during this debate with regard to where the cruisers should be built. I support the second reading of the bill.
– The bill simply provides that a certain sum of money - £2,500,000 - shall be placed to the credit of trust funds to be used for naval construction or the building up of armaments, munitions, &c., for the defence of Australia. Notwithstanding the diatribe in which Senator Duncan and others have indulged as to the inconsistency of the Labour party and its alleged desire to leave Australia entirely defenceless, I think we are all agreed as to the desirableness of providing for the adequate defence of this continent. We differ only as to the best means of accomplishing that object. Senator Duncan mentioned the ideals of the old Labour party, the genuine Labour party, as he called it, and suggested that there had been some change in its views on this subject. As a matter of fact, the ideals of the Labour party as to the defence of Australia are the same as they were when Senator Duncan was a member of it. Our desire is to encourage the cultivation of an Australian sentiment, and to make Australia a self-reliant nation.. This ideal is in the forefront of the Labour movement at the present time. If we were convinced that tha construction of two cruisers - because that is the main point of this discussion - would provide the best means for the defence of Australia, for the cultivation of an Australian sentiment, and for the building up of a self-reliant nation, we would support the proposal. We, however, take the view, and in this respect the strength of our position is admitted by certain honorable senators opposite, that two cruisers cannot adequately defend Australia.. There has been reference already to our immense coast-line of 12,000 miles, and the necessity for the protection of our coastal and overseas trade.It is simply preposterous to suggest that two cruisers could do that effectively. It is, I think, admitted that the proposed cruisers, in the defence of Australia, would co-operate with the British Navy. Duringthe debate last year on the Imperial Conference resolutions, it was stated that having depended entirely for our existence upon the power of Britain and the British Navy, it was now our bounden duty, as members of the British Empire, to help the British Navy in the defence of these shores. In my remarks uponthis subject I said that we had never beenin any way indebted for our existence to the British Navy, or to any outside power. I took the viewthat Australia had been built upby her pioneer settlers, and by the energy and industry of her people. I do not doubt for a moment that, had the emergency arisen, and had our independence or existence been challenged by any foreign power, we should have had the support of the British Navy. I am quite sure that we should have had that support, because Great Britain recognized her responsibility for the defence of, not only Australia, but all portions of the Empire. It. is a fact, however, that our position was never challenged. We have never at any time needed the defence of the British Navy or any outside assistance in maintaining our independence. If in the early fifties, when the colonies, as they were then known, acquired selfgovernment, they had decided to set up as independent states, I am confident that Great Britain would not have attempted, by force of arms, to prevent them. In fact, I believe that at that time there was a feeling in the Old Country- given expression to by a prominent statesman - that the colonies were a millstone round the neck of the Mother Country, and that it would probably be a very good thing if they were cut off. Suppose we had adopted that course - I think we are allpleased that we did not - and had set up as an independent nation in the fif ties, can any one tell me of anything that has occurred, in the 70 years that have since elapsed, in our international relations that for one moment endangered the existence of Australia as an independent state ?
– What was that?
– The declaration of the White Australia policy.
– It is true that that declaration created a. little dissatisfaction in Asiatic countries,but does the honorable senator believe it would have been made the occasion for aggressive action on the part of a foreign power ?
– I do not think it would have been, and I do not believe we should have had much sympathy or assistance from Great Britain, because on the other side of the world there is very little sympathy with our ideals of a White Australia. But there is another nation that stands for this policy; that is opposed to the admixture of the coloured and white races. Probably we could have looked toits people for support.
– To what nation does the honorable senator refer ?
– It is one of the ideals of the United States of America. The principle is upheld throughout the whole of the North. American continent, because Canada is in sympathy with the United States of America in that respect. In no case, so far asI know, would Australia’s status have been challenged if we had set up as an. independent state when self-government was first granted to the colonies. Since then, instead of relying on Great Britain or any outside power for the maintenance of an independent Australia, we have gone to the assistance of the Mother Country on two or three occasions. The help of Australia and the other dominions was of the greatest assistance to the Mother Country in the struggle that was only recently terminated. The attitude of the Labour party to-day is still to co-operate with the Mother Country, but to say to her, “ As far as the defence of this distant outpost of the Empireisconcerned, we are prepared to accept the whole of the responsibility. You may concentrate your naval forces in the North Sea or the Indian Ocean, or wherever you think the fleet may be needed; but, as far as Australia is concerned, we are prepared, and it is our duty to see that it is adequately defended.” Certainly the Labour party haschanged its attitude regarding the defence of Australia, but circumstances also have changed. I was one of the strong advocates, in 1913-14, of compulsory military service, and of the establishment of an Australian navy. You, Mr. Deputy President, and I were colleagues in that respecton many platforms.
– The honorable senator slipped, but the Deputy President did not.
– I admit that the ideas of the Labour party with regard to defence have changed, and I contend that the altered circumstances justify its present attitude. What were the circumstances at that time? The greatest military power in the world was established in New Guinea, right at our doors, and that power was competing with the Mother Country for her trade and also in regard to sea power. Germany was then proposing, and indeed had started to build up, a navy with the avowed intention of disputing with Great Britain the command of the seas. Under those circumstances it was the duty of the Labour party to see that every citizen was trained . and ready to defend Australia in case of need. Since then, however, there has been a great war, and Australia now has at least 200,000men who, having been through that terrible ordeal, are trained soldiers. Having graduated in the best school - the school of experience - they are able to do their share in the training of men and in the defence of Australia. That body of experienced men will, of course, gradually be reduced in. number, but that is the position at the present time. Furthermore, the Washington. Treaty guaranteed.peace in the Pacific for ten years, and eight or nine years of that period are still before us. The circumstances, therefore, are very different from what they were nine or ten years ago, when the policy of the Labour party was compulsory service and the building up of an Australian navy. At the same time, the attitude which the Labour party adopted at that period with regard to an Australian navy was in opposition to the idea held by honorable senators opposite.
– Some honorable senators opposite.
– The honorable senator who interjects was not “ opposite “ in those days; he was on the Labour side. Instead of building up a force in Australia, some honorable senator favoured an increase in the subsidy to the British Navy. One proposal made at that time by Little Australians was the presentation to the Old Country of a Dreadnought, or two. if necessary. To enable Australia to make that presentation we were to go to John Bull and ask him to lend us the necessary money. The Labour party opposed that policy, and declared that whatever naval defence was required should be provided in. Australia. We said that we were in favour of an Australian Navy built and manned by Australians, and paid for with Australian money. It will be remembered that before the Labour party Game into power at that period our opponents carried a proposal for borrowing, I think, £3,000,000 for naval defence. So determined was the Labour party that when it got into power it repealed that measure and decided that whatever Australian defence was required should be entirely Australian and provided by Australian money. When the war broke out the Australian Navy was small, no doubt, but it was all we had with which to defend ourselves, since the British fleet was thousands of miles away and was unable to come to our aid. I have given some reasons why the Labour party has altered its views on the defence question, but it still advocates the principle of maintaining an Australian sentiment and building up a defence system within these shores.
– I think it is mostly sentiment.
– My honorable friend, Senator Hoare, in his excellent speech made a quotation which is worth repeating. He referred to the policy enunciated by the Leader of the Labour party only last year in the debate on the Imperial Conference resolutions, when our leader said -
The Labour party’s policy is to promote world peace, and, consistently with Australia’s goodwill to her kindred overseas, declares its readiness to take full responsibility for Australia’s defence.
That is our policy. Why distort or misrepresent it?
– What does it mean? How would the honorable senator translate that into deeds?
– It means that we do not consider the building of cruisers the best way to provide for the defence of Australia, but rather advocate the establishment within the Commonwealth of munition factories.
– This bill provides for that.
– There is £2,000,000 towards the cost of cruisers, and half a million only to provide adequate defence within Australia. The allocation should have been reversed. The developments in modern methods of warfare, both on sea and on land, we are told by naval and military authorities, are very much in favour of the weaker powers. It is now impossible for huge armies to be transported long distances across the seas for the purpose of attacking even the weaker nations. I intend to quote one to two competent authorities on this view of the matter. According to them it is practically impossible for a fleet of ships to proceed across the seas for any distance to transport armies and supplies, and make an effective landing on the shores of a country so distant as Australia. Rear.Admiral Fullam, who had command of the Pacific Squadron of the United States Navy during the late war, sums up the position in the following words : -
Reviewing the subject briefly, we may say: - First, a battle fleet cannot carry an attack across the ocean; second, a great army cannot be sent oversea; third, a base 5,000 miles from home, surrounded by enemy bases, is no base at all; fourth, submarines, air forces, mines, and torpedoes suffice to defend a. coast; fifth, sea-coast forts are useless; sixth, it is only by transporting overseas an overwhelming air force to seize and control the air that one. continent can attack another; .seventh, each continent will control its own destiny if it arms itself with modern weapons.
– Does the honorable senator believe the statement that it is impossible to transport a great army across the seas?
– I do.
– Did not the honorable senator in the late war go with a transport overseas?
– Of course, I include the condition that the coast to be attacked is’ adequately defended. I am not so foolish as to suggest that it is impossible to transport a large force across the seas if there is a friendly coast on which to land the troops. I have not forgotten the transport of the American troops to France. I am however, directing my attention to Australia, and I say it is impossible to transport a large force several thousands of miles across the seas and to make an effective landing here. Under modern conditions any permanent landing or effective attack on our coast is impossible.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that Australia alone could defend its 12,000 miles of coastline’
– I do not think that we have that length of coastline that needs to be defended. No enemy would dream of landing on a part of our coast where there was nothing worth capturing and no means of subsistence. That part of our coast is rather a defence than a weakness, as it is of no use to any enemy. We should defend our vulnerable points - our big cities and coal mines and our ports that are open to attack. There is no need to defend a large part of our coastline where there is no settlement. If an enemy did land there it would be glad to get away again as soon as possible.
– How does the honorable senator suggest that we should defend our big cities?
– I stated previously that our main means of defence should be the provision of aeroplanes, submarines, mines, and torpedoes, all of which should be manufactured in Australia. I said, further, that we should take adequate steps to provide them with the least nossible delay.
– Would the honorable senator protect every harbour on the coast, from Sydney to Perth?
– The honorable senator knows that submarines are mobile and need not be confined to one place. The provision of mines should not be an expensive item. In any case, there are not many places which it is absolutely necessary to defend. It is possible that some coastal towns might be raided, but we would have to put up with that, as wo could not provide against every possible contingency. All we can do is to provide for a reasonable measure of defence of our vulnerable places.
– Does the honorable senator imply that those portions of Australia which are not inhabited are not worth protecting?
– No enemy would attempt to attack such places. What would they do with them?
– Brockman. - They would take possession of them.
– They would find difficulty in providing for their own requirements. They would have to preserve their communications and obtain supplies, possibly 4,000 or 5,000 miles from a base, in order to maintain their landing on a barren coast which would be no use to it.
– From that point of view, the original landing at Sydney was futile.
– I have quoted from an article in Maclure’s Magazine, which gives the opinions of a number of naval authorities, among them being
Admiral Sims, of the navy of the United States of America, and Admiral von Scheer, the commander of the German navy at the battle of Jutland. Dealing with the impotency of battleships when attacked by aeroplanes and submarines, Admiral von Scheer said -
A battleship is exposed to dangers beneath the waters and from the air, and has no absolute security against them. The air plane is swifter, its eyes see farther, and thus it may be said to furnish better service than large and expensive battleships.
– Who, in Australia, does the honorable senator suggest would be competent to advise the Government in these matters?
– The Labour party is offering some advice now.
– I spoke of a competent authority.
– Opinions as to what constitutes a competent authority differ greatly. The authorities I have quoted are men of some standing. Many of them fought in the recent great war.
– The British Admiralty are opposed to those views.
– Probably the honorable senator has read the statement made by Admiral Field, when at Hobart with the Special Service Squadron. He then made a speech in which he said that, owing to the necessity of operating away from its base and the difficulty of maintaining communications therewith, it was practically impossible for any foreign fleet to make an effective landing on the coast of Australia.
– That was because the British Fleet would soon be on the spot.
– Prior to the recent visit of the Special Service Squadron no number of vessels belonging to the British Navy had visited Australia for many years. We were able to get along without them.
– We should be thankful that we have not needed the British Navy to defend us.
– We have never needed their assistance. On the contrary, our vessels and. our soldiers went to the assistance of Britain.
– Whilst that is true, our ships and our men were sent there to defendourselves. The honorable senator must recognize that.
– That is the point which I am emphasizing. I maintain that we should take steps to defend ourselves, and not be dependent on some one else, as the honorable senator and those behind him desire. I want Australia to be self-reliant. Admiral Sims, of the Navy of theUnited States of America, when he visited London in 1917, said-
There will never again be in naval history one of the Simon Pure naval expeditions, carried across the sea to an enemy’s port, the defeat of an enemy’s fleet, the establishmentof an advanced base of his coast, and the pouring in of soldiers and supplies. This has been for ever rendered impossible against any country that has adequate air and submarine forces.
Australia can provide for her own defence. I do not advocate that we should take no action whatever. We should provide for our internal defence, by establishing factories for the manufacture of submarines, aircraft, and torpedoes, and we should also provide for our coastal defence; but it is utterly futile to attempt to defend Australia by constructing two cruisers.
– Does the honorable senator imagine that the Government thinks that by building two cruisers it is doing all that is necessary.
- Senator Gardiner said that to adequately defend Australia £100,000,000 would probably be required for this purpose. I agree that to provide a navy capable of competing with the navies of any of the other great powers nothing less than that sum would be sufficient. As that is beyond our means, it is futile for us to attempt it.We should concentrate on the building of submarines, aeroplanes, and torpedoes, and not waste our money in the building of cruisers which will provide no adequatedefence for Australia or our trade routes. Apart altogether from the effectiveness of cruisers as a means of defending our trade routes, the question ofnaval and military defence is at present in a state of flux. Very great differences of opinion exist as to the best methods to pursue. The amendment by Senator Needham, if carried, would enable the League of Nations to consider the matter before we took definite action. There is also the possibility that the United States of America may take the lead in convening another conference to deal with the question of further dis armament. Should such a conference take place, action will be taken in the immediate future. In those circumstances, it is surely not unreasonable toask the Government to hold its hand, and not spend several million pounds in the building of two cruisers. It is possible that as the result of such a conference we shall be required to sink one, or both, of the cruisers, as was done with the Australia.
– If further disarmament were decided upon, we should be delighted to do so.
– By reason of the Washington conference we are assured of peace in the Pacific for a further eight or nine years, and by the time that security is removed, and there is the possibility of further complications in the Pacific, the two cruisers, if constructed, will be obsolete, and consigned to the scrap heap.
– If we give an undertaking on behalf of the Government that, in the event of anything happening at the League of Nations to make the building of the two cruisers unnecessary, the Government will not construct them, will the honorable senator support the bill? The meeting of the League of Nations will be over in the course of a few weeks. I am accepting the honorable senator’s own statement, and challenging him on it.
– I was stressing the point that the United States of America might convene a further disarmament conference. If that took place, and there was a further scrapping and sinking of vessels, it is quite possible that these two cruisers might be ordered to be sunk, as was done in the case of the Australia. I listened with great interest to the remarks of Senator Millen, and would be glad to hear him more frequently. He gave a very logical and effective speech from his point of view. While he was referring to a statement made by Lord Jellicoe, that the results of the battle of Jutland were not as effective as they might have been because the British fleet had to operate 500 miles from its base, I interjected, “ Is there any hostile base within 500 miles of Australia?” Honorable senators know that there is no such base within 4,000 or 5,000 miles of Australia. If the fact that the British fleet having to operate 400 or 500 miles from its base rendered its operations less effective than they otherwise would have been, what would be the position of an enemy attempting to attack Australia with its nearest base 4,000 or 5,000 miles away ?
– Admiral Sturdee^
– The range of the guns on the vessels comprising Admiral Sturdee’s fleet was 4 or 5 miles greater than those of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and, consequently, the German vessels, when engaged off the Falkland Island, were easily destroyed by that fleet. A landing on a hostile shore was not effected, but Admiral Sturdee’s vessels easily overpowered those under the German command, owing to the range of the guns. The German vessels on that occasion had no more chance of success than did the Emden when attacked by the Sydney off Cocos Island, when, owing to the range of the Sydney’s guns being greater than those of the Emden, she was able to practically blow the Emden out of the water.
– How far was the Sydney from a base?
– Not so far as the Emden was from a German base. I believe the Sydney had 6-in. guns, whilst those of the Emden were 4-in., and as the range of a gun is about 1 mile ‘to 1-in. calibre, a 6-in. gun would have a range of about 6 miles, whilst a 4-in. gun would, of course, be correspondingly less. I have brought these points before the Senate in order to remove some of the misapprehension in the minds of honorable senators opposite concerning the policy of the Australian Labour party. I desire to say most emphatically, that we are not in favour of leaving Australia defenceless, but believe in providing adequate defence so as to render it impossible for any hostile fleet or raiding force to make an effective landing. We believe that the best way in which to do that, judging by the experience of modern warfare, is to provide an air force, submarines, torpedoes, and mines, and adequate munitions and weapons for our soldiers. What is the use of compulsory defence proposals, and of training men to bear arms, if we have not arms with which to provide them.? We are informed by our best naval and military authorities that that is the position to-day. In the opinion of General Chauvel and others, the present defence provisions are an absolute farce, and £4,000,000 a year is being absolutely wasted. We believe in spending as little as possible on defence, because we favour a world peace. Expenditure should be incurred in such a way that it will provide for the effective defence of Australia, and for maintaining our present relations with the British Fleet. We are also desirous of co-operating with the British Fleet as far as our means will allow. Our motto is - “Australia first.” Our first consideration is Australia’s defence, and it is on that principle our policy is based. I intend to support the amendment submitted . by Senator Needham. If the proposal to build two cruisers is carried, I believe an amendment similar to that submitted in another place to provide that the work shall be done in Australia will also be moved here. If such an amendment is brought forward I shall support it, even, if the construction of these vessels in Australia will cost more, as no doubt it will, because it will be a means of training those engaged in naval construction in the building of vessels for our defence, which is entirely in accord with the Labour policy to make Australia a self-reliant nation.
.: - I listened to Senator O’Loghlin with a great deal of interest, and when we critically examine his speech we find the true meaning of the definite change that has taken place in the attitude of the Labour party in regard to defence questions. I regret exceedingly that the defence- of the Commonwealth should have become the plaything of party politics. It is an infinite pity that it is notpossible for honorable members in this and another place to draw up a united defence policy, embodying a definite programme for years ahead, to which both parties would be irretrievably committed so long as we had the money to give effect to it. I am afraid, however, that owing to the conditions of political’ warfare and the changes which come and go in Parliaments, such a thing is impossible. Consequently, it becomes the direct responsibility of the Government of the day to lay down a policy, give effect to it, and endeavour so far as is possible to ensure its continuance by their successors. I could not help listening to the honorable senator this afternoon with feelings of great regret. It was not very long ago that he and his colleagues strenuously contested, throughout the length and breadth of Australia, that the party to which he belongs were responsible for the creation of the Australian Navy.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad that Senator Gardiner admits that that is so. The bill, which laid the foundations of the Australian Navy, introduced in another place some years ago had its origin in the consultations which took place on the other side of the world when that great Australian statesman, the late Mr. Alfred Deakin, represented Australia at an Imperial Conference at which the conception of an Imperial Navy was first mentioned. This is not a new idea. It springs not from any recent conference, although this particular proposal arose at a recent Imperial Conference - charged with responsibilities as wide as the world itself - at which the necessity of an Imperial Navy was again stressed. The birth of the Australian Navy arose out of the deliberations of an Imperial Conference held in 1909. If honorable senators will refer to the debates at that time, they will see that the proposal was Empire-wide, that the amounts allocated to Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia were definitely laid down, and that it was Australia of all the dominions which immediately and effectively carried out its programme. The enormous advantage of that policy, which included the construction of the Australia, and which was given effect to by the late Mr. Deakin, is apparent to every one. It is a matter of history. In listening to the honorable senator I wondered why, in laying down the basis of his logical speech, he stressed the point that not at any time in Australia’s history had we owed anything to the British Navy and the shadowing protection which the British flag affords. He said that we owed everything we possessed in this country to the fact that we were here, and that our protection was due to our own efforts.
– I particularly referred to the period since 1850 - since we have had self-government.
– I admit that the honorable senator referred particularly to that period. I have no special reason to refer to those times before 1850, when we did not possess self-government, and when Australia was simply regarded as a Crown colony. Senator O’Loghlin asked if any honorable senator could give a definite example of a period when such protection was of any use to us, and I said that the declaration of the White Australia policy was an instance. Does the honorable senator believe for one moment that it would have been possible for Australia to effectively carry out such a policy if she had not been under the protection of the British flag?
– It was a great principle extending beyond Australia.
– It would not only have been impossible then, but absolutely impossible to-day, and nobody knows it better than the honorable senator.
– I do not admit that.
– Just as to-day we owe our immunity from attack to the fact that we belong to the British Empire, of which we form a part and parcel, so we have from the day Governor Phillip first landed here, owed our protection to the British flag.
– Are we still to be regarded as children hanging to our mother’s apron-strings ?
– I am not yet ashamed to own that Australia is to a large extent still dependent upon the protection of that country from which either we or our parents have come. Much as I believe in Australian nationalism, I have no time for that type of Australian nationalism which insists on every possible occasion on the Australian flag being hoisted and refuses to fly the Union Jack beside it.
– The Australian flag is our flag.
– Certainly it is, and so is the Union Jack. One of our greatest boasts is that the Union Jack is as muchour flag as the Australian flag.
– Australia has only one flag.
– As I listened to this strange reversal of form on the part of honorable senators opposite, I thought of the familiar lines -
O, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive.
Not only have honorable senators opposite contradicted one another, but we have had the extraordinary spectacle of one part of their speeches contradicting another part. The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat was no exception to the rule. First of all, he contended that the magnitude of Australia’s coast-line did not constitute a reason for our having a big navy. He pointed out - with a good deal of justification, I think- that there were many parts of the Australian coast upon which it would not pay a hostile force to land. His’ leader (Senator Gardiner), on the other hand, argued that, because of the enormous extent of Australia’s coast, we should want a navy relatively very much greater than that of . , Great Britain to adequately defend it. In the concluding sentence of his speech, Senator O’Loghlin endorsed the very thing that Senator Gardiner had said. His speech contained an even greater contradiction. On the one hand, he told us that history did not afford a single instance of a necessity for the protection of Australia by Great Britain, and he immediately went on to say that, in the old days, when the Labour party stood solidly behind the defence policy of Australia, and imposed upon its manhood the system of universal military training, the introduction of that system was rendered necessary by the fact that, at our very threshold, stood one of the greatest military nations on the earth.
– We made provision to defend ourselves against it.
– Why did not that nation send a strong expeditionary force’ to take this country from us? Does Senator O’Loghlin say that, unaided and unprotected, Australia could have stood up against the greatest military nation on the earth? He well knows that Germany was prevented from setting foot in Australia not by the system of universal military training which Australia possessed - good as that was - but by the protection which was afforded us by the British flag. That alone rendered us immune from attack. In the great struggle, through which we have but recently passed, the honorable senator says that the manhood of Australia went to the assistance of Great Britain. That is true.
– It was not the first time they had done so.
– Wonderfully and manfully they did their part, and it was not the first time they had played such a part. Will Senator O’Loghlin say that the Australian forces were not one of the deciding factors in that struggle?
– Their assistance was valuable.
– Had the conflict been decided in favour of Germany, does the honorable senator imagine that we should have been left unfettered to discuss the defence of Australia to-day?
– I think that we are quite competent to defend ourselves against all-comers.
– That is not the question that I put to the honorable senator. Supposing Australia had not taken sides with Great Britain; supposing she had decided, as the honorable senator apparently wishes her henceforth to decide, to restrict her warlike operations to a defence of her own shores, thereby laying herself open to all the risks attendant upon invasion of a country, and the fortunes of war had favoured the enemy, does he believe that Germany would not now be in possession of this country?
– I think that we were quite right to assist Great Britain. I went myself.
– I know that the honorable senator did his share. That, however, is not an answer to my question. I am perfectly satisfied that if the war had been decided against us, Great Britain would have been stripped of her colonial, possessions in the same way that Germany has been stripped of hers.
– There is no doubt about that.
– As the brightest jewel in the British Crown, Australia would have been one of the first of Great Britain’s possessions to be demanded as the price of victory. When the honorable senator said that, in going to the assistance of Great Britain, Australia was not fighting her own battle and defending her own shores just as truly as she would be if she repelled invasion by a force that was attempting to land in Australia, he was denying one of the first precepts of military law.
– I did not say that.
– In effect that is what the honorable senator said. Is it not far better at all times, when .the opportunity arises, -to .meet one’s enemy outside rather than within one’s own country? Why does the honorable .senator insist that the only aspect of Australian defence that we have to consider is one that is limited to our own shores? Does he desire to see Australia invaded ? Does he want to be called upon, as every man would be, to defend .his own hearth and home within Australia?
– I endeavoured to show that invasion of Australia was impossible under modern conditions.
– There have been many people, who, in matters relating to defence, have attempted :to be prophets or the sons of prophets. A large number have been proved to be false prophets,. It is impossible for us to regard the defence of Australia entirely from a local stand-point. I have always regarded this problem as a dual one. It possesses two distinct sides. I agree entirely with honorable -senators opposite regarding one of those sides. I disagree with them in their determination to lose sight wholly of the other side. The logical sequence of Senator O’Loghlin’s speech was noticeable from the beginning to the end of it. Its object was to prove that the only responsibility which Australia had was that which she owed to herself to defend her own shores.
– To thine own self be true.
– Australia has another responsibility. She is still a part of the British Empire, and I hope that she will always remain so. The other side of our responsibility is the imperial side, of which we cannot lose sight. Senator O’Loghlin denied that there was any such responsibility. I do not think that we can afford to do that. We shall have a dual responsibility so long as we are part and parcel .of the British Empire. Whilst I am prepared to admit freely, fully, amd frankly, that one method pf giving effect to that imperial responsibility is as far as possible to render Australia immune from attack from outside, nevertheless we cannot and must not lose sight of the necessity for doing our share as the occa sion arises in the defence of the Empire; On what other ground can Australia and the other dominions insist that they shall ‘be consulted when matters of foreign policy are being considered by the Imperial Government? We could not possibly take 4hat stand if we were to adopt Senator O’Loghlin’s ideas regarding defence.. It is because we do not wish to become embroiled in international complications without our full knowledge and consent that to-day we are insisting that the British Government and the rest of the world shall recognize our right to be represented in the councils of the nations and have our voice heard. I think that we are adopting a rightful attitude, in view of all the circumstances. If the old flag that has protected us, for so many years is not in the future to ‘be lowered to a conquering foe the time will undoubtedly come when these great dominions of the British Empire will contain more people of the British race than are in , Urea Britain itself. We are within measurable distance of that time, and our right to a full participation in international affairs in which Great Britain is concerned cannot be questioned.
– We did not have a voice in the framing of the Russian treaty that was recently concluded.
– I have placed a question upon the notice-paper relating to that matter, upon which I feel strongly; first, because, as a part of the British Empire, we are inevitably linked up with its actions, and secondly, because Great Britain should not take the full responsibility in those matters without consulting vis. The one is the necessary corollary of the other. There can be no denial of the fact that we are a part and parcel of the British Empire. If we are to continue to belong to it we must have a voice in determining any matter which may make it incumbent upon us to share in the defence of the Empire. I desire now to deal briefly with the bill itself. I wish it had been possible for the Government to make a full declaration of its policy in matters relating to defence. Whilst. I am fully in accord with what the Government is doing to establish an Australian Navy, I am not satisfied as to (he financial ability of the Commonwealth to carry out the policy in its entirety. One. of our great difficulties in connexion with defence problems seems to have arisen largely from the fact that we have, more or less spasmodically, entered upon an extension of defence programmes without carefully estimating the ultimate cost. The Government of which Senator Gardiner was a member became committed to huge expenditure for the completionof its full programme, which was carried up to a certain point and then dropped, with the result that a great deal of money has been wasted.
– Mention some of those items.
– The establishment of naval bases was one. There were quite a number of other itemsof defence expenditure
– Naval bases are as necessary now as ever.
– I am aware of that. I am merely mentioning that the Government of that dayentered upon a programme involving the establishment of a number of naval bases, and, when faced with thetremendous expenditure which that work involved, discontinued the work. Of course, there was more than one reason for that abandonment of policy. One was the outbreak of war. When war came, naturally expenditure on such works had to be dropped. In quite a number of other directions there has been heavy expenditure of public money upon schemes the value of which to-day is very problematical. Take, for instance, the fixed defences of Australia. Everybody knows that the fortifications at our various ports are obsolete .
– How much would it take to put them in order ?
– An enormous sum of money. That is only one instance of expenditure on defence in regard to which it is doubtful if we are not wasting our money. I know it may be urged that, having the guns, we are enabled to keep a nucleus of highly-trained gunners ready for an emergency. Provided we had the guns to fire when the time came to use them, the fact that we had men trained in that work would be of immense advantage; but I am not at all satisfied that evennow it would not pay the Government to overhaul a considerable amount of our defence expenditure, with a view to putting it on a more satisfactory basis. We should go step by step along a certain definite course, not undertaking more in any one direction than the finances of the country would enable us to carry out, and lay down our programme in gradual successive stages, so that everything we did would be effective for the defence of Australia. I congratulate Senator Gardiner upon the admirable plea which he made for the encouragement of Australian industries, and the establishment in our midst of thosegreat industrial concerns which, from a defence point of view., would be invaluable in time of war. I very much doubt if I could have delivered nearly so convincing a speech as to the necessity of building up Australian industries. Senator Gardiner’s utterance was the finest protectionist appeal from a defence point of view that I have heard for a long time. But I should like to disabuse the honorable senator’s mind of the possibility of any factories which the Government might establish being sufficient to meet the defence needs of theCommonwealth in time of war. Whatthe Government is doing - and I think we must commend them for doing it - is to carry out a policy which has already been laid down of providing nucleus factories for the manufacture of munitions. These factories will form a centre upon which the whole industrial organization of the country will draw in time of war for trained artificers and special equipment necessary for the manufacture of munitions. What is being done at Maribyrnong, and to some extent also at Lithgow, is this: The Government is in some cases erecting, and in other cases utilizing factories on a nucleus basis ; that is to say, the machinery is there, or will be there, to enable us to manufacture a limited number of the various articles that may be required for defence purposes. In time of war, the factories will also manufacture gauges and tools for other manufacturers. It is intended to organize the various industrial concerns of Australia on this basis. I understand the proposal is to draft regularly a certain number of skilled men from outside industrial businesses to give them experience in these nucleus factories, so that in time of war they may act as instructors for other men in the manufacture of essential war equipment.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
-Prior to the adjournment I was endeavouring to show that it would be quite impossible for the Commonwealth to meet all the requirements of the nation in time of war by means of Government factories erected in time of peace.- The real use of those factories would be to provide the nucleus of a trained staff, and also for the training of men engaged in those particular branches of munition manufacture in which their services would be required in time of war. I was also proceeding to point out that one of the duties which would devolve on the department, when such munition factories were completed, would be the classification of the various industrial enterprises of Australia in the particular branches of munition making for which their works were most readily adapted. If all this work were done in time of peace, and if war broke out, making it necessary for Australia to depend on her own strength, there would, at all events, be the nucleus of an organization, and it would “» be possible for the whole of the resources of the nation to be marshalled. A scheme carried out on those lines would.. I have no doubt, play an important part in any emergency. Whilst it is of the highest importance that the Government should press on with this work, it is equally necessary that the industries of Australia should be developed along such lines as will enable the Government to make use of them should their services be required. That is one reason why I have regarded the development of our secondary industries as a matter of the greatest importance. Although. I definitely join issue with my honorable friends opposite in regard to the one aspect of Imperial defence, I- agree entirely with them that it is essential that as far as possible we should prepare for any emergency by organizing our industries. It is quite possible that, owing to some future combination of powers, Australia may be thrown back on her own resources, and may be called upon to defend her shores. That is why I regard the furtherance of the munitions programme of the Government as being of the first importance. At the same time, it is impossible for us to regard - ourselves as independent of the rest of the Empire. Suppose that the view held by Senator O’Loghlin were a correct one - although I do not regard it as such - and war broke out to-morrow between Great Britain and some other power, it would not then be much use saying that we would not take any part in the struggle. We should have to do so.
– Does the honorable senator think that a hostile power would try to draw more enemies upon its track?
– It would not be drawing more enemies in that case; it would be the same enemy.
– Not if Australia were standing out.
– The fact that we belong to the Empire and are part of it would be sufficient excuse for any nation in a position to do so to attack our shores. If Senator John D. Millen is right in his view, and if in future there is a combination between Japan, Russia and Germany, what would happen to Australia if war broke out between Britain and France and that combination 1 Does anybody think that whilst Austrafia was part of the Empire we should not be immediately involved? Can it be suggested for a moment that under those circumstances Japan would say that because Australia had not sent troops abroad her shores were not to be invaded ?
– We should be in it voluntarily in that case.
– My friend’s argument is an impossible one. The moment we bring him down to concrete facts, and suggest a possible combination of powers, he says, “ Of course, we would be in that.’’ It would be difficult to suggest any conflict of a major kind from which it would be possible for Australia to stand aloof, so long as she remained part of the Empire.
– The attempt by Mr. Lloyd George to embroil Australia in the dispute with Turkey was no affair of ours, and the British people turned it down, too.
– I join issue with my friend, even there. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Britain had gone to war with Turkey on that occasion and had lost, does Senator O’Loghlin mean to say that the loss of the control of the Suez Canal would not have been of first importance to Australia?
– The Suez Canal was not involved.
– But it very quickly would have been.
– I think it was. When brought down to concrete facts the honorable senator says either that the particular question was not involved or that Australia would have to enter the conflict.
– The British people have given their verdict on that matter.
– I do not press the subject further. From my point of view, it is impossible to ignore the dual character of Australia’s responsibility in regard to defence. There is first of all that responsibility which she owes to her people to endeavour by every means in her power, according to hor financial ability, to so arrange her defences that she will be able to keep her own shores inviolate, at all events, until such time as assistance can reach her. But there is the other greater responsibility - her liability to join in the general defence of the Empire to which we belong, and from which it is impossible to dissociate ourselves so long as we are part of the Empire. Long ago, with the support and assistance of Senator O’Loghlin and a number of his friends opposite, Australia started out deliberately to provide her share of Imperial defence on the water by adding an Australian unit to the British Navy. When we consider the genesis of that action - the Imperial Conference and its discussions - we realize that the Australian unit was to form only part of a great Pacific fleet to which Britain, Canada; New Zealand, and Australia were to supply their respective quotas.
-We find more for defence than all the other dominions put together.
– Although Australia has done her part to a greater extent than the other dominions that does not get us away from the fact that my honorable friends opposite, in their original conception of an Australian Navy, regarded it as part of the Pacific Fleet and part of the great Imperial Navy. That was the definite ground they took up at that time; but why is there now this change of front? Why are they running away from the responsibilities which they were then so glad to assume? What influences have been at work to destroy that definite view of which. Senator Duncan spoke a few hours ago and to compel them to adopt their half apolo getic attitude for any defence system? That is what we have had from honorable senators opposite.
– There has not been a clear and definite declaration along the lines on which the Labour party was content to proceed some years ago. When I first entered this Parliament, almost every week of the session, from one member or another of the Labour party, there was a definite declaration that they, and they alone, were responsible for the establishment of the Australian Navy and for the compulsory provisions of the Defence Act. They denied entirely that their political opponents had any part or lot in the matter. Now the tables are turned, and we on this side are pleading hard with honorable senators opposite to return to the same old view for which they formerly claimed credit. I have only to say, in conclusion, that I regret exceedingly that this vital matter of the defence of our country has been made the plaything of party politics. Surely on a matter that so vitally affects the future prosperity of this country - its defence - there should be no two opinions, not, perhaps, as to the exact lines on which it should be based, but, at all events, as to the necessity of our meeting our full responsibilities both to Australia and to the Empire to which we belong.
– I have listened with great interest to the speeches this afternoon, and many of them strike me as peculiar, coming as they do almost immediately after a struggle that was, we were told, a war to end wars.
– Brockman. - Who told the honorable senator that ?
– Some honorable senators on the other side of the House, including the Leader of the party to whichthe honorable senator belongs. Large advertisements were exhibited all over Australia inviting Australians to join up.
– Many of them did not go.
– Was the honorable senator one of those who went ?
– I was not. I did not go to the war, and do not wish to take credit for anything I did not do. In any case, it was my business whether
I went or not. If the honorable senator had had his way, he would have conscripted the men of this country.
– I would have had you there.
– The honorable senator did not have sufficient power. The difference between honorable senators opposite and members of the Labour party is that they are “ jingoists “ and we are not. Unfortunately, the same old war spirit is being fostered now as before the last war. When that spirit is bred, wars must result. Our policy is that, so far as we are able, we shall endeavour to promote world peace. We do not believe in wars. We say, further, that they are unnecessary, and that human life is of the very greatest value. Many honorable senators on the other side seem to place no value whatever on human life. They talk about a clash between nations at any moment, resulting in the destruction of millions of men. We, on this side, are against that kind of thing, as we belong to a humanitarian party. I do not know why we should continue to tell a nation now friendly towards us that we fear that she will swoop down on us at any moment. In this chamber, on many occasions, we have heard remarks of that nature, but I remind honorable senators that the march of democracy is going on in the country to which they refer, as in others, and I am of the opinion that when the war masters ask the workers of the world to again go to war, the workers will refuse to do so, just as the English workers refused to go into Russia.
– It was said before the last war that the German Socialists would not fight, but they went to war all right.
– They fought because there was a strong military power behind them which forced them to do so. That is what the party to which the honorable senator belongs is trying to build up in this country, and it is that very thing which we on this side are trying to prevent. We stand, not for militarism, but for peace, whereas the honorable senator stands for militarism. There has been a good deal of misrepresentation of the Labour party in connexion with defence matters. Labour is in favour of defending Australia, but our methods and those on the other side are different. One would think, from some of the speeches which have been delivered, that if these two cruisers were not built, the great commonwealth of nations would be broken up, and that the fate of the British Empire depended on their construction.
– It might.
– It cannot; and the Minister knows it.
– One ship made a great difference to us in 1915.
– This afternoon we listened to a tirade of abuse of the Labour party by Senator Duncan.
– Not of the Labour party, but of the so-called Labour party.
– The statements of the honorable senator were unworthy of him. Senator Duncan was at one time a member of the Labour party. It is peculiar that men who are most vituperative in their remarks concerning Labour are those who at one time belonged to the Labour party. I hope’ that Senator Duncan did not mean what he said, because we on this side, although we may have different views from those held by him, are just as sincere in our desire for the welfare of Australia as he is. We do not expect him to agree with all our ideas. His views and ours on defence matters do not coincide, any more than do his views on life generally coincide with ours. It is therefore unfair for the honorable senator, to publicly abuse the biggest political party in Australia. Take from our opponents their abuse of Labour, and they have lost one of their greatest weapons against us. Senator Greene, on the other hand, followed a logical line of thought, and abused no one. From his point of view, he put up a good argument, but Senator Duncan’s speech was abuse from one end to the other. There was not one constructive idea in it.
– I said that the Labour party once had a defence policy, but that now it had none. The honorable senator, in his speech, has admitted tha.t.
– Our Leader explained the defence policy of this party. There are authorities who say that the day of the capital ship has passed.
– These cruisers are not capital ships.
– There are authorities who tell us that the next war will be fought in the air. We would be justified in taking notice of them.
– I quoted the remarks of Mr. Charlton to show that he did not believe in air defence.
– This partybelieves in air defence and in the provision of mines. Senator Duncan, evidently, does not believe in them, but we are just as sincere in our belief in them as a means of defence as he is in his view as to the effectiveness of cruisers. In the course of his speech, the honorable senator said that as the cruisers were to be built, the work should be done at Cockatoo Island, but, notwithstanding his remarks, should the Government decide to obtain them overseas, he will vote in favour of the Government proposal. He will not vote against the Government, even to provide work for Australians. I can understand the action of the honorable senator in addressing a meeting of the men at Cockatoo Island, because some time next year there may be a Senate election. Senator Duncan accuses the Labour party of endeavouring to keep men out of work, and would take the opportunity to tell that to the men at Cockatoo Island. Our action in opposing the construction of these cruisers is not to keep men out of work, as we would spend the money in other directions. The honorable senator said that we on this side expected the workers in England to fight for us, but that is not so. Let us rather spend the money to place some of these workless men on the land, and so help to develop this country.
– The Labour party opposes immigration.
– We do not; but we say that provision should be made for the immigrants before they come here.
– We shall do that. I am delighted that the honorable member supports the Government’s policy.
– The Labour party recognizes that the country must be peopled, but it should not be peopled by persons brought out here under false pretences. In Adelaide last Sunday I saw a big meeting of unemployed, comprising many men who came here from the Old Country without provision being made for them. I hope that, even at this late hour, the Government will alter its decision to obtain these cruisers overseas. If we are to have them, they should be built in Australia. The money would then be circulated in Australia, and would provide further employment. If the amendment moved by Senator Needham is not carried, I shall vote for the cruisers to be built at Cockatoo Island.
– So shall I.
– If we are to become a naval power, why not start at home, even if it costs an extra million or two to get the plant here ? Let the vessels be built in Australia by Australian workmen; then, if our means of communication are cut off, we shall not be helpless, but shall be able to depend on ourselves.
– I shall enroll the honorable senator as a member of my party.
– I am a member of the Australian Labour party. I emphasize the word “ Australian.” I have faith in Australia. If these cruisers are to be obtained, they should be built in Australia, so as to build up the shipbuilding industry in this country, and employ Australian workmen, and, so far as possible, Australian material. Senator Greene made a logical speech, but he inclined too much to the imperialistic attitude. I think that Australia, as a selfcontained unit of the British Commonwealth of Nations, assisting Great Britain with supplies of raw material - wool, wheat, and so on - would be a better member of that commonwealth of nations than if she had a small fleet which could not possibly defend Australia. Even if we built 20 cruisers, we could not defend Australia against a first-class naval power. Internally we can defend Australia.
– The honorable senator knows nothing about it.
– Evidently, the honorable senator knows more than Earl Kitchener knew.
– I do just now.
– Earl Kitchener said that Australia could be defended with 180,000 trained men. He may not have been an authority, but, in my opinion, he was a greater authority than is General Cox.
– Did he tell you that ?
– He told it to Australia.
– Where is his statement to be found ?
– In a report which was published throughout Australia a few years ago. Surely the honorable senator has read it.
– I should like to see it.
– It took Great Britain a long time to overcome 40,000 Boers in South Africa, even with the assistance of General Cox and 250,000 troops. I do not pose as a military authority, but I have read reports from experts to the effect that it is very hard to invade a country, as to do so necessitates the employment of a great numberof transports. General Cox will be able to tell us later how many transports and convoy ships it would take to land half-a-million men in Australia, and what would be necessary to provision them. From my reading of the opinions of experts, I conclude that it would be almost impossible to successfully take Australia. I realize that a warship, standing outside, could blow our coastal cities to pieces, but that would not be taking the country. It would certainly mean the loss of much of our wealth, but it would not mean our defeat. We should still own the country. It would be possible, of course, for people to live outside our coastal cities, and if our principal cities and ports were bombarded Australia would not necessarily be in the hands of invaders.
– Does not the honorable senator think it desirable to prevent bombardment ?
– Yes. But does Senator Elliott think that two cruisers could prevent it ?
– They would be of some assistance.
– Very little. If a few modern guns were placed at the approaches to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and other capital cities, and an adequate air force such as we suggest was operating in conjunction with wellequipped submarines, a good defence could be offered; but two cruisers would not be of any use in endeavouring to combat the vessels of a first class naval power. As I have already stated, I think it would be impossible for Australia to be taken, and I should like Senator Cox to explain if he can how many transports would be required to land, say, 500,000 men in the Commonwealth. The Labour party believes in the establishment of arsenals and munition works, as expenditure in that direction is more likely to be effective than if incurred in the construction of cruisers. The money which it is proposed to spendcould also be effectively used in developing the country and in bringing settlers from overseas when provision had been made for their employment. I am hoping that the League of Nations will be able to achieve some good, and that there will be another conference convened similar to that which met at Washington some time ago. At that gathering it was decided that the battleship Australia, which cost approximately £1,800,000, should be sunk, and when it was asked this afternoon why thai; course had been adopted, it was said that it was because she was obsolete.
– Senator Gardiner condemned the sinking of the Australia, and I quoted the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Charlton), who said that, in his opinion, it was quite immaterial what became of her.
– The Australia was sunk in accordance with the terms of the Washington Treaty. If another disarmament conference is convened within the next year or two, and similar decisions are reached, it is quite possible that the vessels that it is now proposed to construct will either have to be sunk, or that if they are still on the stocks their construction will be discontinued.
SenatorReid. - It would pay us to do that if it were decided that naval construction by all parties should be suspended.
-If that is the case, why does not Australia use her influence in the direction of having another conference convened.. That would be better finance than to spend millions and then find that the work was unnecessary. During the visit of thevessels of the British Service Squadron, I was in conversation with some of the officer on the Hood, some of whom were of the opinion that that great vessel, which cost over £6,000,000 to construct and which has never fired a shot, would be out of date in four or five years. No one can reasonably anticipate that Australia is likely to be at war within the next few years, and that the work which the proposed cruisers would undertake in policing the Australian coast would be of such a character that the expenditure outlined would be justified. Everything points in the direction of international peace, and I do not think it wise for the
Senate of the Commonwealth o£ Australia to hurt the feelings of the representatives of other nations by engaging in naval construction. We are told that an eastern nation is spending large sums of money in armaments, and if that is the case, we should endeavour to influence that nation in the direction of suspending naval construction, either by urging the convening of . another conference or through the medium of the League of Nations. I believe that the League is capable of functioning successfully, and that the Commonwealth should at all times throw the whole of its weight behind it. While we adhere to the idea of war, we are likely to have war.
– What if a nation suggested that it would cease naval construction if we would forgo our White Australia policy?
– The White Australia policy is the settled policy of the Commonwealth, and one which I strongly support.
– It may be the settled policy of other countries to send their people here.
– What other countries ?
– Japan, for instance.
– In my schooldays, the bogy was Russia, a little later it was Germany, and now it is Japan. There is a revolution of thought even in Japan.
– Germany made a fair bid for Australia.
– I have never heard that such was the case, and the honorable senator cannot prove it. Senator Greene referred to the Commonwealth as the brightest gem in the Imperial Crown, and suggested that Germany had designs on Australia, but the honorable senator has no proof that, prior to the great war, Germany ever made a bid for Australia.
– Senator O’Loghlin pointed out this afternoon that she did, and said that the Labour party introduced compulsory military training because Germany had established a base off the north coast of Queensland.
– I did not say that Germany had designs on Australia.
– It is true that, in seeking to secure the world’s trade, Germany was commercially strong, and if the war had not eventuated she would probably have succeeded.From Germany’s point of view, she. was very foolish to have ever thought of. war, because she was building up her industries in an. extraordinary way, and her policy was developing to such an extent that, by a system of peaceful penetration, she was securing control of many industries, not only in Australia, but in other parts of the world. For the information of Senator Cox, I produce the late Earl Kitchener’s report, published in 1910, in which he says that, in his opinion, Australia could be successfully defended by 80,000 trained men, and not 180,000, as I previously stated. Conditions have changed since the Labour party enunciated its defence policy ten or twelve years ago, and the scientific policy which we are now advocating would be of greater benefit to the Australian people than that supported by honorable senators opposite.
– When the late Earl Kitchener stated that 80,000 trained men would be sufficient to defend Australia, it was intended that they should be trained as a part of a scheme of universal training.
– If 80,000 men could defend Australia at that time, 180,000 or 200,000 should be sufficient now.
– The honorable senator’s party is opposed to men being trained.
– We do not believe in conscripting men, as conscription is contrary to the policy of the Labour party and to the wish of the Australian people. Honorable senators opposite favour the construction of war-ships in order to provide good jobs for naval men. The Labour party stands for voluntarism, and not militarism.
– Why did the Labour party introduce compulsory military training ?
– I am not going to say that the Labour party has never made mistakes. When it does discover that it has made a mistake it is game enough to tell the people that it has been wrong. It is our desire to have a policy which will coincide with the conditions which prevail.
– We made a mistake in bringing in compulsory military training . .
– Yes, it is not now necessary. Senator Cox and other distinguished generals with whom he has been associated have said that the Australian troops were equal to any in the world. How much training did they receive? Virtually they did not have any training at all. The Australian environment, decent conditions of living, and the independent spirit was responsible for their great achievements during the great war. I am opposed to the free and independent spirit of the Australian people being broken by any form of militarism.
– If these vessels are not to be built until the conferences referred to in the amendment are held, what would the honorable senator do in the meantime with Cockatoo Island Dockyard ?
– Build vessels there for the mercantile marine. As the honorable senator knows, Australia could do with a few more of those vessels. The Government should accept the amendment in view of the fact that the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States of America are interesting themselves in disarmament. They are the heads of the two most powerful nations in the world, and if they get together they may be able to take action which will lead to further disarmament, f think that this outpost of the Empire should do all it can to promote peace by assisting the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States of America in their efforts to bring about, if possible, further disarmament.
– This bill provides us with an opportunity to debate a division of opinion that has lately arisen in this country on the all-important subject of defence. On previous occasions when a bill of this description has been introduced to the Senate all parties have joined in giving it hearty support. The division of opinion that has since arisen finds pronounced and articulate expression in this Parliament, and it is right that we should address ourselves to its origin and its justi fication, in the hope that those -who embrace certain views may be convinced of their folly. I am regretfully compelled to acknowledge that this matter is not entirely free from party politics, which seem to be a perpetual blight upon the conduct of affairs in every democracy. Whilst it is hard in a democracy to replace the party, system by anything better, it is a pity that on the paramount subject of a country’s defence the smear of party politics should be found. We can only hope that we shall be able to disentangle ourselves from the evil habit, and approach the consideration of this matter with perfectly free minds.
It is worth recalling briefly the origin of the sentiment of the people of Australia with regard to defence. It is within the memory of honorable senators that at one time there was a well-grounded belief that intsead of relying upon our own resources, and raising an arm of defence in Australia, we should contribute a sum to the Imperial Exchequer, and depend upon the Imperial power to care for the safety of Australia. That opinion was strongly, almost unanimously, held for years. It had to give” way, a3 we know, to the opinion that instead of contributing an annual subvention to the Imperial Exchequer we should from our own resources raise an arm of defence that would cooperate with the navy of the Mother Country, and have merits which would make it superior to the preceding policy. That belief in turn was superseded by the idea., that has been expressed many a time outside and inside this chamber, that, we should approach the matter with a shambling gait, and hesitate before giving ready adherence to the policy of raising and maintaining an Australian navy. The natural result of the adoption of such a policy would be that instead of relying upon ourselves, and having faith in ourselves, we should have to place our faith in foreigners, who in the future may be our enemies even if they are not now potential enemies of Australia. That is an extraordinary position to get into. I do not at all agree with that view. I believe that there is no reason to depart from the policy that was adopted in the past. Those who are endeavouring to induce us to make this change of front would have us believe that there is no necessity to prepare for the defence of Australia. If their view is to carry any weight, they must be able to show that there is no need to fear an outbreak of war in the future, and that no enemy lurks in the distance awaiting an opportunity to pounce upon this country. The question of whether there will be any more war is so vast and complicated that it is impossible to express a definite opinion concerning it in this time of peace. The only ground upon which members of the Commonwealth Parliament could justify the acceptance of the policy of relying upon others rather than upon ourselves, is that there is no enemy in existence or in prospect of which we need be afraid. I wish I could bring myself to believe that there is no enemy to fear. If I could, I should oppose as strenuously as any man, both in the Parliament and in the country, the proposal to spend this £2,000,000. Even though the League of Nations constitutes our one hope for the maintenance of universal peace, if we are to be true to ourselves, and to the trust that is reposed in us to pay proper regard to the welfare of our children, we must provide a second line of defence in the event of the League of Nations failing to inspire respect.
I do not join with those who claim that nothing but that which is bad can be said about war. Whilst I acknowledge that it is one of the most mischievous pastimes- if I may so term it - in which mankind has ever indulged, I still contend that something other than evil has come from war. Most of the privileges that we enjoy to-day because of the higher civilization in which we live have been the result of war, and war alone. European civilization has been threatened on several occasions, and very nearly overturned. _ I do not need to remind honorable senators of what took place at Marathon and Thermopylae, when foreign hordes made an onslaught upon what then stood for everything that was treasured in European civilization. They were repulsed and scattered. Later, what did Charlemagne do? With his embattled hosts he thrust back an attack upon European civilization. Were it not for war and the glorious fruits of war, where would European civilization be to-day? Attila and his savage hordes nearly brought down the walls of Rome, and were not checked until they met a solid barrier in the higher civilization that was then to be found in western Europe. Again, the Saracens came from the north of Africa, and got as far as Tours, in France, when ‘ the fight resolved itself into one between the Cross and the Crescent. What brought down the Crescent and made the Cross supreme ? It was the glorious results of a righteously waged war. Balancing the good with the bad, it goes to the credit of war that it has been the means of preserving and handing down all that is treasured and vital in European civilization to-day.
– It was by war thatGreat Britain abolished slavery.
– That is quite so. I am rather tired of this latter-day effort to show that war is engaged in only for an idle purpose, or because of misunderstanding, or for the mere glory of it. War, and the fruitful effects of victorious war, have been the means of bringing the tyrant to the dust, of establishing the sceptre of justice and freedom in his stead, and of preserving all that is best in European civilization.
If we cannot, in the fashion of the Book of Genesis, write, “ Let there be no more war,” the next thing is to find out what is the best substitute for it. The only substitute at present is the League of Nations. Let us examine the manner in which the League of Nations was brought into existence, and ask ourselves whether it is a suitable instrument for the prevention of war, and for guaranteeing the integrity of the contributory nations. I should like to believe that it is, but I cannot close my eyes and my mind- to potent facts. Turning to the experiences of the past we find that there was, in the years long gone by, just as intense and determined anxiety to put an end to war as there was when the last war was brought to a close. Honorable senators will remember what happened after the Napoleonic wars, when the nations of Europe conferred, and created what was known as the Holy Alliance. The purpose of that was to bring war to an end in Europe. It was brought into existence because the world was war-worn, utterly tired and disgusted, and desired to introduce better methods for the settlement of disputes. The Holy Alliance was signed by every great nation in Europe - Russia, Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, and France - all guaranteeing the integrity of each other’s territory, and resolved to preserve the peace of Europe. What was the result? As we all know,the Holy Alliance - or the Concert of Europe, as it was more generally called -lasted a certain time, and when it came to an end, the Prime Minister of England at the time (Mr. Canning) said, “ Now that the concert of the nations of Europe has been brought to an end, eachnation is free to revolve upon its own axis.” Reasoning from past experiences, and applying them to the present, we must ask ourselves if the League of Nations will have a better fate than befell the Holy Alliance. If it were to go the same way - which God forbid. - what would be left to this country to preserve that measure of freedom that we enjoy to-day ? It follows that as sensible, rational men we should pin our faith to a second line of defence, which will serve us in good stead if the hour of peril should ever strike for this country. I draw these deductions from my knowledge of history. Does the League of Nations expect Australia to take the stand which the opponents of. this bill want us to take? I do not think it does. I have not heard any intimation to that effect. I go further and. say that every civilized country in. the world is spending large sums of money to strengthen its position for the protection of its interests.
Can it be denied that France is not more strongly entrenched than ever for the defence of its liberties? Is the United States of America weakening in its policy for the adequate protection of its people and their interests? I do not think so. There is also that other type of democracy, Switzerland, that advanced home of an advanced social order. Is Switzerland easing in her efforts to provide for her defence? Indeed, can it be said that any country in Europe is adopting the course which opponents of this bill are advocating shall be taken by Australia ?
– Even the Labour Government in Great Britain is not doing that. On the contrary, it islaying down morecruisers.
-And the Soviet Government in Russia has thelargest standing army in the world.
– In the light of what is being done by other countries, should we take the advice that is being so foolishly tendered to this country by the Labour party?
– Does the honorable senator believe that they want us to take that advice ?
– I do not think they do, because if we rejected this bill they know that we should strip this country of. a very effective weapon of defence. No other civilized country is doing that. I hold in my hand some remarkable press illustrations of what is being done by the Soviet Government of Russia, just referred to, in order to preserve the existing social order of that country, which is so often held up by votaries in this country, and even by some members of this Parliament, as a good example of how a people should be governed. These illustrations show that schoolboys, from the age of six years upward, are being mustered by the Russian democracy to preserve the existing form of government from which capitalism has been banished, and to uphold the truculent declaration that it made to China in regard to the Manchurian border, and to Poland over the frontier question. If even Russia finds it necessary to train children of tender age for such a definite purpose should we not train our young men? No one suggests, of course, that we should resort to such a barbarous expedient as the training of our school children for such a purpose. What we want is a rational view of the defence of this country.
The bill proposes to set aside the sum of £2,000,000 to be expended on naval construction for the protection of our trade routes. I have heard it said, in the course of the debate, that provision for two warships is totally inadequate for that purpose. Opponents of the measure declare that they intend to vote against it because the means which it provides for the protection of Australia would be ineffective. My answer to that is that they are as much as this country can afford at the present time, and they are an earnest of our intention to co-operate with the British Navy, upon which, as we well know, we must depend for our protection. If we can strengthen that arm, and the
Government proposal is a step in that direction, then we shall be doing something for our own safety in the hour of danger. Unless the power’ that holds the encircling seas be the British Navy, then we shall lose our freedom. It stands to reason that a. naval power having command of the seas would hold this country in its grip. It is important, therefore, that that’ power should be the British Navy. It is equally important that- we should do what we can to strengthen it for the duty it has to perform.
The ostensible object of the measure is to ensure the protection of our trade routes. Owing to our isolated position, this is vital. Our external and internal trade is in the vicinity of £250,000,000 a year, and if we add to that the private wealth of Australia: - which, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, is approximately £2,500,000,000- we realize “how important it is to ensure the safety of both. If the war furnished any lesson., lc was that Germany, alt-hough a landlocked country, was absolutely dependent upon the seas. Germany, being unable to secure command of the seas, was forced eventually to regard the struggle against the allied armies as hopeless, because the morale of her people had been broken. Ludendorff himself acknowledges this. In his review of the war operations’ he confesses that the troops lost their morale because the morale of the people behind them in Germany had been broken beforehand by the privations imposed upon them through command of the sea being in the hands of the allied naval forces. Germany, though resourceful as a nation and all-powerful on land, was entirely dependent, during that great struggle, upon command of the sea. We know now the straits to which that country was reduced during the later stages of the war. She had to resort to the . use of substitutes for various war materials, and even for many foodstuffs of her people. The lesson furnished by Germany’s experience during the war justifies us in making every effort to ensure that the British Navy shall have command of the seas whenever trouble comes. This bill is a step in the direction of strengthening that arm to the extent of our resources land for our own benefit.
Something has been said .about the menace to Australia. “ Where is the enemy ?” ask opponents of this bill. That question has been constantly put during this debate. I do nae think a more foolish question could be asked by any responsible body of men with any pretence to intelligence. As Senator Greene has observed, when a big engagement is in progress no one can say where the spirit of retaliation will be displayed, or where re-percussion of action will occur. During the last big upheaval in Europe, people and territories in a wide-flung area had their destinies determined in a most surprising manner. At one stage of the conflict Poland, and the Italian states fronting the Adriatic^ might well have asked, “Where is our enemy?” If the war, instead of ending in our favour, had gone against- us, there would then have been no need for Australia to ask this question. When the United States came into the struggle, Mr.. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, declared that victory for the allies was then certain, lt is a fact, as .attested by the pregnant remarks of the general in command of the British forces, that- for a time in 1918 the fate of the allies was trembling in the balance. The British soldiers, he declared, were fighting with their backs to the wall, and there mustbe no further retirement. If the tide of war had turned against us, those people who now ask, “ Where is our enemy?” would have had the answer furnished te them in the persons of burgomasters appointed to the control of all our cities with armed forces to support their authority. But, fortunately, the tide did not so turn. The enemy to Australia would have come out of the Northern Hemisphere. I emphasize that, whenever a big engagement is in progress, it is impossible to say whence the enemy may come, or when he will appear. It is not safe for any nation to be unprepared, because no one can say what countries may be embroiled in a struggle. I ask those who are putting this question to supporters of the bill to turn to the map of the world and, blind-folded, place their finger upon any part of it. They will not be able to point to any country which has not, at one time or another in history, been challenged or had its freedom taken from it. Unless Australia is to be the one lone exception ‘ through all the ages, their challenge to supporters of the bill to find the enemy is so much empty vapouring. I say that we need to be prepared to defend ourselves, and this bill is a step in that direction. I ask honorable senators opposite why there has been this change of front on their part? So far as I am aware, nothing has happened to warrant it. I contend, on the other hand, that the very party that has changed its mind on this subject, if it declines to support the bill now before the Senate, will be violating a solemn pledge given by it to the people of this country. The policy upon Which the Labour party appealed to the people at the last election clearly stipulated that it stood for an “ Australianowned and controlled navy.” Honorable senators opposite were elected on the strength, among other things, of that declaration - that solemn pledge. The present proposal is made in order to replace two cruisers that are rapidly becoming obsolete. The Sydney and the Melbourne are twelve years old. By the time the proposed new vessels are in commission the present cruisers will have seen fourteen or fifteen years of service, which authorities agree is the extreme limit of a naval vessel’s usefulness. Even the Australia, young as she was at the time of the battle of J utland, was declared to be unfit in some respects for that encounter. For instance, she was too slow. One of the planks of the Labour party’s platform, adopted in June, 1915, is as follows : - “ Citizen defence force, with compulsory military training, and Australian-owned and controlled navy.” That is the fourth item under the heading, “ Planks made law, the principles of which we are pledged to maintain.” ‘ I ask honorable senators opposite how they can justify their present attitude when, according to their own platform, they are pledged to maintain the Australian Navy. Why are they not prepared to replace obsolete ships by new ones 1 I realize, of course, that they must accept the responsibility for their actions. Are they now prepared to reduce the strength of our navy by two important ships? In the policy adopted in 1919, when an alien element was introduced, the party went to the extent of advocating the abolition of compulsory military training. It desired to give recognition to the Soviet system, and ad- vacated amendment of the- Defence Act to secure, among other things -
Abolition of military oaths.
Abolition of distinction between commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
Recognition of the principle of election of qualified candidates as officers.
Salute and other useless discipline to be abolished.
No employment of, or interference by, soldiers in industrial disputes. Punishment of Ministers and other persons responsible for breach of this provision.
The most significant provision in the platform of 1919, when the new men directed the policy of the party that I. hope will re-assert itself after it has taken into its counsels again men of the type that created and fostered it, and nurtured it into the life it once enjoyed, was as follows : - ,
Citizens, on completion of training, to retain arms delivered to them during training.
Why does the party want the citizens to retain those arms ? Is it for killing opossums? Surely it would lead to a serious state of affairs if those weapons got into the hands of large numbers of industrialists.
– That is how they won in Russia.
– Apparently it is desired that the workers of Australia shall have arms in their possession. I should like the two cruisers to be built in Australia, if that were possible, now that we have adopted’ the principle of reciprocity with the Old Country in the exchange of officers. If it could be arranged for the British Government to build two of their cruisers in Australia, and for us to build ours in the Old Country, it would be a happy solution of the difficulty. The only party able to bring about that happy consummation is the party opposite, but here is an excellent opportunity to. prove to the Motherland the capacity of Australian workmen in the building of ships. It would enable us to give the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) a taste of what our industrialists can do. I object to paying an increase of something in the neighbourhood of 80 to 100 per cent, in order to have the cruisers built in Australia, and the remedy seems to lie in the hands of that section whose representatives desire to have the vessels built here in any circumstances. I am in favour of Australia paying an increase of up to 50 per cent., or perhaps a shade over it, on the cost of building a cruiser in Great Britain, in order to provide employment in Australia; but I object to the taxpayers being asked to place their hands in their pockets to pay for the building of a cruiser in Australia nearly double as much as it would cost in Great Britain. I object to assisting shipbuilders with favours that cannot be dealt out to every other section of the community. Let the ships be built in any case, whether in the Old Country or in Australia, because their construction will lead’ to greater safety than we enjoy at present. The taxpayers in the Old Country, whose case has been well stressed by Senator Duncan, will then see that we in Australia are prepared to bear our full share of the burden of our own defence. We could go a good deal further in the matter of bearing a proportion of the cost of the upkeep of the Empire’s defence, but that is a question that can better be debated when the budget comes before us.
.- I, too, have listened with interest to the previous speakers, and I have been impressed by the remarks of some honorable senators on the other side, particularly by the speech of Senator Duncan regarding the present attitude of the Australian Labour party as expressed by members of both branches of the legislature. The honorable senator drew a picture of Labour members in Parliament a few years ago enthusiastically supporting the establishment of an Australian Navy. When the Labour party was in power it heartily supported compulsory military training; and Senator Duncan asks the reason for its altered attitude on the subject of Australian defence. I, personally, make no apology, and will make none, for the attitude I adopt on this question. The stand taken by the Labour party today is consistent with the attitude of organized Labour throughout the world. It is true that the party enthusiastically advocated, and took a great deal of pride in, the ultimate establishment of what we term an Australian-owned and controlled navy. I was never an enthusiastic supporter of compulsory military training, although I supported it because it was part of the Labour party’s policy. As far as I am personally concerned, when the opportunity arises I shall record my vote for the abolition of that principle. I do not intend to be so presumptuous a? to express my own opinion as to the bes means of defending our country; I prefer rather to consult those naval and military authorities who are best able, from practical experience, to say on what lines our defence policy should be based. If an honorable senator quoted the opinion of a person of high authority in the British Admiralty I should not venture to express a contrary opinion. Nor should I set my views against those honorable senators who held high rank as officers in the Australian forces during the recent great war, and whose opinions regarding a system of defence for Australia, or military operations of any description, would, because of the position which they held and the actual war experience gained by them, far outweigh any opinion which I might express. I . believe, however, that the advent of the Labour Government to power in .Great Britain has done more for the peace of the world than the construction of ten capital ships could have done.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– The probable evacuation of the Buhr is the outcome of the influence of the British Government to-day. People sometimes ask how Labour can remain in power in Britain. Labour could be removed from office there within 24 hours; but there is no desire to put them out, as it is recognized by both the Liberal and the Conservative parties in the British House of Commons that there is only one party which, because of its tremendous influence, can assist to bring about peaceful conditions in Europe.
– Generally speaking, the Labour Government in Britain has done magnificent work.
– Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, a world-renowned pacifist, is in power to-day in Great Britain, and is supported by a pacifist party. In a short space of time his Government ha* done more for the re-establishment of Europe than could have been accomplished by any other party. Whether right or wrong, the Labour party throughout the world is to-day advocating peace and the abolition of war.
– Yet it continues to construct cruisers.
– Quite so. I take no exception to the action of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, supported by a majority of members who stand for peace rather than for war, in trying to improve, or, at least, to maintain, a certain standard of naval and military preparedness.
– Hear, hear!
– I think that most honorable senators opposite recognize the fact that if ever a great and powerful nation was rattling the sword, and practically challenging all others, France was doing so six months ago. I believe that Mr.. Ramsay MacDonald recognized the fact that, while he, as -the head of the British Government, had a certain power and influence, behind that power and influence he needed yet another driving force. As a member of the Australian Labour party, I support the amendment moved by Senator Needham. I have not yet definitely come to the conelusion that Australia, as a self-governing country, may not in the future have to decide upon a policy of naval construction. But this Parliament has recently deputed two representatives to attend an important world-wide gathering - the meeting of the League of Nations. The object of Senator Needham?s amendment is to defer the construction of these cruisers pending the return of those, two delegates. Personally, I believe that the proposal sub.mitted in. another place hy the Leader of the Labour party, and in this House by Senator Needham, is a reasonable one. I know what was the impelling force behind the Labour party a few years ago, when its members so enthusiastically advocated the establishment of a navy owned and controlled by Australia. We, s3 a party, desired to retain, on the statute-book a law which had for its object the maintenance of racial purity - I refer to the great White Australia policy. I have sufficient intelligence to know that in passing a law of that description we gave offence to some of the coloured peoples of the world. It was then realized that some day the time might arrive when the policy in which we took such a keen interest would be challenged by one or more of the nations whose people we were deliberately exclud ing from this country. I believe that that fear was responsible for the advocacy by members of the Labour party of the construction of an Australian Navy. For that same reason the Labour party felt justified in establishing a system of compulsory military training, and for advocating that policy the majority of the members of the party offered no apology. At the same time, it was always recognized that the party in taking that action did so purely for defence purposes. Senator Pearce was an enthusiastic supporter of compulsory military training for Australia, and also of the establishment of an Australian Navy, but that did not prevent him from attending the May Day celebrations, and moving a resolution in favour of disarmament, in the hope of bringing about the peace of the world. It is not quite correct for Senator Duncan to say that there is a great gulf between the Labour party of the past and the Labour party that I represent in this chamber to-day. While the old Labour party stood for naval construction ‘ and for compulsory military training’, Senator Duncan knows that for years past the Labour movement throughout the world has been continuously and consistently advocating disarmament in the desire to bring about world peace. Never yet has there been a country that was prepared to admit that it was preparing for war. Germany’s great military preparations were always justified on the ground of defence. When the Navy League of Germany was- instituted, and a campaign for the construction of a navy equal to that of Great Britain was begun, it was always sought to be justified on the same ground. France adopted the same attitude. That country has never constructed a ship, or manufactured a gun, and admitted that it was for offensive purposes. Such preparations have always been said to be for defensive purposes. The same remark applies to-day to Great Britain and to the United States of America. Germany - that nation which for many years was a menace to- the peace of the world, and which caused the recent great war - is to-day practically defenceless. The only effective nations, from a fighting point of view, are those which comprised the allied nations that brought about the defeat of Germany. In every one of those countries to-day the building of ships - the improvement of the nation’s fighting equipment - is going on, and each of them justifies its naval policy, as well as its extensive military preparations, on the ground of defence. History shows that the policy of constructing naval and military equipment for defence purposes has ultimately led to war. Within the last two years several great congresses of working-class people have been held in different parts of the world. Each of those conferences has concluded its sittings with a declaration on the part of the delegates that if the countries of which they were, citizens declared war, they would refuse to fight. Human nature is very peculiar. It is quite true, as Senator Pearce .said by interjection this afternoon, that, although the working classes of Germany had declared their intention of adopting the attitude of the folded arm in the event of their nation becoming involved in war, in the ranks of the German Army, just as in the ranks of the British Army during the late war, trade unionists and self-proclaimed Socialists could have been counted in their tens of thousands. In the armies of the world (heir numbers would have run into millions. History has shown us that immediately war is declared, racial hatred and prejudice rise above everything else. The Socialist puts aside his ideals for the time being, and fights against the Socialists of other ‘nations with just as great ferocity as does any one else.
– That has always been so, right down the ages.
– That will always be so when a nation is armed for defensive purposes and war is declared. While we are preparing for defence other nations will be doing likewise; and those nations which believe that the time has arrived to take advantage of another nation will strike the blow. All the implements of war which have been brought together presumably for defence will be used for purposes of aggression. The Labour movement offers the only hope of securing the peace of the world.
– It was stated before the last war that the Labour movement would save the world.
– Yes, and I repeat it now with greater emphasis. When the last war occurred there was among all the nations only one Labour Government in office, and that was in Australia. There was not one Labour
Government controlling the destinies of those nations which made such tremendous preparations for combat and whose diplomats carried out their work in such a way that war was ultimately declared.
– The Socialists had great power in the German Parliament, and what did they do?
– It is true thai the Socialists held a great deal of power in the Reichstag, but they were in. a. minority. The Socialists in the Reichstag were unable to exercise any more power and influence to prevent the great world tragedy than could honorable senators in this chamber. The German Socialists did their best in the Reichstag prior to the outbreak of the war to curb the authority of the Kaiser, and to prevent extensive military preparations being made.
– They voted for the increased naval expenditure.
– I remember reading in the press prior to the outbreak of war of the delight occasioned by the defeat of the German Socialists at the general elections. The German press gloried in the fact that the Socialists and the workers’ representatives were defeated at the elections, and they gloried in the success of the people who ultimately brought about that great catastrophe. The only thing that could have saved the world from the great tragedy which commenced in 1914 was the return of Socialists in a majority to the Reichstag. So long as governments remain under the influence of people whose business it is to assist to create wars we shall always have international conflicts, and not until the parliaments of the world are under the control of the workers or their representatives are we likely to have peace. The sentiments I am expressing to-night have been endorsed on many occasions by the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce). I am certain that, in his heart, he feels that the peace of the world can only be secured by the governments of the countries being drawn from the representatives of those who are called upon to make such tremendous sacrifices when war actually occurs. I intend to support the amendment submitted bySenator Needham, because I think the views of those gentlemen who have been selected to act as our representatives at the League of Nations should be heard before any definite step is taken in this direction. I do not wish to discuss at length the form of defence which Australia should adopt, but I believe that we should have a defence system. I want to know what our system is to be.
– We also want to know what it is.
– It was stated, in another place, that one authority had said that if Australia were to become involved in war to-morrow we should not have sufficient equipment to maintain an army in the field for 24 hours.
SenatorFoll. - Is not this bill to authorize the provision of equipment?
– The Labour party is not responsible for the present position.
– I am responsible for the statement which the honorable senator has just quoted concerning the lack of equipment.
– Governments which Senator Drake-Brockman has supported have been in office since 1916, and yet he has admitted that if Australia were to go to war to-morrow, we should not have sufficient equipment to maintain an army for 24 hours.
– And consequent upon that statement the Government are now doing something.
– It has frequently been stated, during this debate, that the members of the Labour party have lost their zeal for the protection of Australia, but notwithstanding thatantiLabour Governments have been in office since 1916, our defence equipment is in the deplorable condition which I have just mentioned.
– Because the Labour party and the Country party voted to reduce the Defence Estimates.
– The Country party and the Labour party, combined, were largely responsible.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - I ask honorable senators to assist me in maintaining order. If there are any further interjections, I shall be compelled to name the honorable senators responsible for them. Senator Hannan should be heard in silence.
– I only want the country to know the truth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT . -Order!
– I did not know that we were in such an unfortunate position until I read the statement in Hansard.
– I believe we are better equipped to-day than we have ever been.
– We are informed that there is a tremendous diversity of opinion amongst honorable senators on this side with regard to defence, but Senator Thompson’s interjection shows there is a great difference of opinion among honorable senators opposite.
– Senator Thompson’s statement is also true.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I remind honorable senators that it is usual to allow a new senator to be heard in silence. I must again ask honorable senators to refrain from interjecting, otherwise I shall have to take decisive steps to preserve order.
– If the Labour party has the opportunity, it will submit a practical defence policy. Senator Greene and Senator Duncan repeated, this afternoon, the old cry concerning the alleged disloyalty of members of the Labour party of which we heard so much during the war.
– I did not.
– Honorable senators opposite endeavour to make it appear that they are the super-patriots. When war was declared, an election was in progress, and a strong appeal was made to electors not to change horses in midstream. At the outbreak of war Sir Joseph Cook was Prime Minister, but after the election the Labour party was returned to power. The Minister (Senator Pearce) was then a member of the Labour party and he knows, as well as any one, that good work was accomplished by the party to which he then belonged. Charges of disloyalty were levelled against the Labour party when Mr. Fisher was leader, and when Mr. Hughes was his deputy. After the break away when certain members of our party joined what Mr. Hughes had previously referred to as the hereditary enemies of Labour, they became superloyalists and super-patriots, while those who remained, according to Mr. Hughes, were renegades to their country, and disloyalists. Honorable senators will remember the causes that were respon sible for the breakaway. A great issue was placed before the people of Australia, and Labour succeeded in defeating it. The new Government carried on until the termination of the war upon the policy that Labour had put into force. That was, that no man should be compelled to leave Australia against his will. Honorable senators are aware that the difficulties with which the Parliament and the country were faced were met and overcome, and the war machine worked well and smoothly, before Labour went out ofpower. When the Labour movement was smashed for the time being upon the conscription issue, and the national party carried on, it did not improve upon what Labour had already accomplished. Labour at that time held strong views regarding the peace of the world, but it adopted a certain course of action when the necessity arose. I have heard in this Senate to-day a repetition of statements that, at one time, were frequently made, charging the Labour party with disloyalty to the British Empire, and with a desire to pull down the Union Jack, and hoist in its place the Australian flag! It is stated that it is an insult to the Labour movement for the Union Jack to be hoisted. I tell honorable senators that the Labour movement does not concern itself with the Union Jack or any other flag. Certainly we have endeavoured to inspire in the people of Australia a love for their country and their flag. Numbers of supporters of honorable senators opposite have deliberately pulled down the Australian flag, and have hoisted the Union Jack in its stead, considering that by so doing they were performing a patriotic action, .and proving their loyalty to the British Empire. The working men of Australia before, during, and since the war have given the lie direct to statements regarding their disloyalty. Over 400,000 men left Australia of their own free will, and went overseas to take part in the world’s greatest war. Their performances were not excelled by any other troops that took part in that war. I believe that the time has arrived when these charges of disloyalty should be discontinued. An Australian shows his loyalty by being loyal to Australia, and, if there is a flag to be loved, by his love of the Australian flag. We in the Labour movement have endeavoured to cultivate that sentiment, and I believe that we shall continue to do so. Should the Australian Labour party again secure control of this country’s affairs, it will consider the question of defence from a practical point of view in the same manner as it is endeavouring to deal with every other great question. As a section of the great Labour movement of the world, its influence, wherever it can be felt, will be exerted towards the abolition of war. The Labour movement throughout the world is to-day pledged, to an extent that it has never been pledged before, to the abolition of war. That great event can be accomplished only by the Labour movement throughout the world. I willingly and loyally subscribe to that doctrine. I believe that the peace of the world has its greatest friend and its most powerful advocate in the present Prime Minister of Great Britain. I hope that he will continue in office. After the next elections, I hope .that Germany and France will have strong Labour governments, and that Labour will eventually secure control in every country, as it is now striving to take control in Russia to-day. Through the Labour movement only can the peace of the world be secured. When it gains control in every country, the time, of peace that we have all been hoping and praying for will arrive.
– During this debate I have heard a lot about peace and the manner in which it can be secured, but not one definite statement has been made by honorable senators opposite. My opinion is that a different race of men and women will have to be bred in order to .ensure universal peace. Human nature will have to be altered. Even brothers and sisters fight on the least provocation. My contention is supported by what is happening to-day in Sydney, where those who advocate the brotherhood of man are at one another’s throats like so many tigers. One can never tell what combinations of powers will be brought about if war is desired. They will not give us notice of their intention to strike; they will simply come down upon us like a thief in the night. There are in Australia many persons, who, when the troops were leaving, said, “ Go it, boys. We believe in peace at any price. You fight while we remain here, and reap the benefits of your efforts.” Then they endeavoured to prevent those unfortunate men who returned from obtaining employment. One honorable senator to-day referred to the fact that Australia went to the assistance of Great Britain. Australia has always helped Great Britain when her help has been needed. She is part and parcel of the great British Empire. We have been nursed and spoon-fed by Britain for 130 years, and it is true that in the late war we put our shoulders to the wheel and made some return. I am proud of the fact that when Australia went to the aid of Great Britain the world acclaimed the value of that assistance. We are descended from the British stock, which is the finest the world has ever known. Australia is more British than any other portion of the British Empire, and I sincerely hope that it will continue along those lines. I am afraid, however, that some honorable senators opposite are doing everything they can to prevent good British stock from entering Australia, whilst at the same time they are allowing foreigners to come in.
– The Government which the honorable senator supports is responsible for the entry of foreigners.
– The honorable senator, in his speech, referred to the threat of war between Turkey and Great Britain, and said that it had nothing to do with Australia. Any one who has a knowledge of the subject knows that the Suez Canal is all-important to Great Britain and to Australia, and that at one time Turkey was within striking distance of the canal. Fortunately the desert has proved to be an effective barrier. Aeroplanes have developed so rapidly, however, that that difficulty can now be overcome. The Suez Canal is the most important waterway so far as Australia ‘ is concerned. It is essential that it should always be controlled by .the British Navy. During the war British and Japanese naval vessels kept that waterway open. An immense number of ships was necessary. The Mediterranean Sea was infested with submarines of all descriptions. Occasionally within 6 miles of Port Said or Alexandria they were able to submarine vessels that were employed taking our foodstuffs to Gallipoli. Some of our friends opposite talk about the assistance given to us by the Labour party. I remember the rumours that came across to the effect that the Labour party was trying to stop rations from coming through.
– In 1917 hospital transports were held up in Sydney Harbour.
– Not only did they endeavour to prevent rations coming through, but they also stopped hospital ships, and endeavoured to prevent recruits from joining their comrades.
– Senator Pearce speaks of hospital ships being held up in 1917. Senator Cox was not then in Gallipoli.
– Those hospital ships were wanted for men who had been wounded .in Gallipoli, and were in hospitals in Egypt.
– It is amusing to .hear some people talk about peace at any price. If we are to have peace at any price, how are our men going to get their training? I understand that the earlier Australian defence proposals were based on Kitchener’s scheme. As a matter offact, the senior officers of the first 30,000 men that left Australia were all men who had had from 15 to 30 years’ training in the Citizen Forces, whilst practically every man in the first division underwent an intensive system of training ‘ from about August, 1914, to April, 1915. They were the most perfect body of men that ever went into a firing line. Australia had every reason to be proud of them, for they proved that nothing in the world could stand up to them. I appeal to all honorable senators to support the naval policy of the Government, and to continue our partnership with the British Empire in its naval defence scheme. Without the protection afforded by the British Navy Australia could not last for 48 hours. Germany, we have been told, was a peaceful nation prior to the war. All I can say is that all the evidence is opposed to that view. Almost everywhere in the different theatres of war we uncovered German schemes for offensive war operations. Within 20 miles of Cairo there was every provision in’ a German orchard scheme for the watering of from 50,000 to 60,000
German troops. Again,within 6 miles of Magdhaba, on the Sinai Desert, the Germans had a reservoir and wells prepared, if necessary, to supply water for 100,000 troops. We have German settlers in various parts of Australia. During the. war quite a number of them were not loyal to the country that fed them. I again appeal to honorable senators to support the bill, which makes provision for the construction of naval vessels to cooperate with the British Navy, the only power than can save us.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Needham’s amendment) - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate (on motion by Senator McDougall) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 August 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240813_senate_9_108/>.