6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented: -
Inter-State Commission Act -
Inter-State Commission - Tariff Investigation - Appendices to Reports : Statistical and other information, and Evidence -
Leatherware, viz. : - Harness; Travelling and Sporting Goods; Belting, &c. ; also similar goods in canvas and fibre.
Machinery, Electrical, and Electrical and Gas Appliances.
Manures, Native Sulphur, and Pyrites.
Printing Ink and Printers’ Boiler Composition.
Slate Slabs, Roofing Slates, and Roofing and other Tiles.
Stoves, Fuel and Gas, and Register Grates, &c.
Tin Ores and Unrefined Tin - Export Duty.
Miscellaneous Group I. - Arrowroot; Biscuits, Dog; Coffee; Fish, preserved; Foods, Infants’ and Invalids’; Game and Eggs; Isinglass; Jelly Crystals; Lemon Syrup Crystals; Nuts, Edible; Onions and Potatoes; Polish, Metal; Salt;’ Seed, Canary; Seeds of Plants for green Manures; Tamarinds; Yeast
Ordered to be printed.
Public Service Act -
Promotions of -
– As next week is to be devoted to the stimulation of recruiting, a work in which I hope every member will take part, I ask the Prime Minister if he will give us a holiday from parliamentary business during that time. There is nothing of consequence on the business-paper, certainly nothing that could not wait for a week. As many honorable members will be away, and as the right honorable gentleman has already agreed to take only non-contentious business during the week, what I suggest would be quite the proper thing to do under the circumstances, so that every member, in his own way, and in his own place, may assist a movement which is intended to give a fillip to recruiting. I ask him not to dismiss the matter, but to agree to the suggestion which I and many others are making. I am sure that it would be the popular and proper thing to do. I am equally certain that a great number of honorable members on his own side would gladly fall in with the proposal. I ask if he will let us devote our energies - next week entirely to the recruiting campaign by releasing us from attendance on Parliament.
– I take no exception to the question, nor to the tone in which it is asked. I believe that the right honorable member is correct in saying that what he suggests would be a popular move, but, in my opinion, it would be a wrong one.
– I said “proper.”
– It might be a popular, hut, in my opinion, it would be a wrong thing to adjourn this national Parliament as suggested. Victoria is only one of the States of the Commonwealth. The assumption is that, without an adjournment of this House, we cannot do what we ought to do. In my opinion, the Federal Parliament can do useful work each week.
– There are other States in which recruiting should be stimulated.
– Is it suggested that, should the Queensland Government determine to have a recruiting week, this Parliament should adjourn for that week, and so with the other States ?
– Why not have a combined movement, affecting all the States, and adjourn to carry it out?
– In my opinion - and this is the view that I adhere to- the business of the .National Parliament should go on. Recruiting must proceed this week and every ‘ other week of the war.
’ Alleged Treachery : Non-Delivery op Letters : Red Cross Funds : Deceases Soldiers’ Effects. Mr. W. ELLIOT JOHNSON. - I ask the Assistant Minister of Defence a question, without notice, and express the hope that the asking of it will not be considered a hostile act on my part. I must first draw attention, to a cable message received from Reuter’s correspondent at Cairo to the following effect: -
A most disconcerting instance of treachery is related about one of our own men, who enjoyed the reputation of being a first-class sniper. He used to go out every day to snipe the enemy. Some suspicion was finally aroused concerning him, and one day he was secretly followed, and it was discovered that he was sniping our own officers. The man in question was born in Australia of German parentage. It was known while the division was in Cairo that several men had been placed under suspicion as’ spies, but this particular man appears to nave cleverly disarmed all suspicion.
I ask the Assistant Minister if anything is known of this matter as far as the Defence Department is concerned, and whether steps are being taken by the Minister to guard against the repetition of similar treachery in the future? The Assistant Minister will see that it is a serious matter for our own men.
– I shall have the matter looked into, and shall make a statement regarding it on Wednesday next.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral why it is that proper ar7 rangements are not made to insure that those at the front shall get their correspondence. Two cases have been brought under my notice this week in which men have not received a line from their. friends in Australia since they left the country last year.
– Complete arrangements are made at this end for sending the correspondence on, and that is all we have control over.
– To put all doubts at rest, will the Minister of Defence issue an authoritative statement showing in what way the Red Cross Funds for wounded soldiers can be of real use to them?
– Yes, I have no objection to that.
– I should like to know whether adequate arrangements are being made for the return of the personal effects of soldiers who die at the front?
– I take it that it is the duty of the Department to look into this matter, and I think the honorable member may rely that those in charge at the other end will do everything possible to comply with the suggestion just made.
– Is it a fact that women telephonists will he required, in the very near future, to work. all night; and, if so, is the Postmaster-General aware of the frightful penalties he will have to suffer as a consequence of such action J
– There is really no proposal that the lady telephonists shall work all night. In Adelaide, at the present time, they are, at their own request, carrying on the whole of the work; but before steps are taken to make any change elsewhere, the young ladies themselves will h.e ‘ consulted ; indeed, they are being consulted at the present time. I may say that, even if this change were made, the young ladies in Sydney, for instance, would be called upon only about twice in the year for night duty.
– At whose suggestion were the lady telephonists asked to work all night in Adelaide?
– There was a petition signed by the telephonists themselves -it was at their own request.
– -Does the Prime Minister propose to make any representation <to the Imperial Government with a view to imposing a special Tariff against Germany and her Allies at the conclusion of the war?
– The Government have not considered that matter, and it does not present itself to my mind as one that we should consider.
ADJOURNMENT (Formal). Recruiting and Supply op Munitions. Mr. SPEAKER. - I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Flinders that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ The urgent necessity of a more definite and systematic basis of organization of recruiting and the supply of munitions.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places, Question proposed.
– I make no apology for intervening in this particular manner, though what I have to say it would have been possible to say, within the rules of the House, on the Appropriation Bill that is now before us. As I say, I make no excuse for the course I am now taking, because I am convinced that it will not waste time. I move in this way because I wish to give additional prominence to the matter, and to enable the debate, so long as it lasts - though I hope it will not last long - to be confined to the particular matter which is the subject of the motion. In Victoria we are about to enter upon a week of recruiting. I cordially indorse what was said by the Leader of the Opposition a few moments ago, namely, that it would have been most desirable could the Government have seen their way to invite the whole of Australia - every State of Australia - to take part in this week of recruiting. I am not going to take up much time. What I have first to say is that I am more convinced than ever I have been that a large section of the people in all parts of the Commonwealth have not yet been awakened to the peril which hangs over them. I was appalled, Mr. Speaker, recently, on reading a leading article in a newspaper which has a large circulation in Australia. I am not going to qiiote from the article, nor nm I going to mention the name of the paper. The important fact is that it has a large circulation, and in that article the view was deliberately put forward that what was called “ War against Capitalism “ is more vital and of more moment to the people of Australia than the war against Germany. That view was put forward in the strongest language. Mr. Speaker, will nobody tear the veil from the eyes of those blind people? However, I desire to make one or two practical suggestions in connexion with the great duty that now lies before all of us, and after I have made an appeal to the Prime Minister I shall sit down. The first practical suggestion I have to make is that we are inviting too young men to join our forces - that the men or boys of eighteen, whom we are allowing to- join, are, under existing circumstances, too young. Their constitutions are not formed,, their bones are not properly set, and yet we are asking these youths to do what ? Not to” go on a summer campaign such as is now proceeding, but to be prepared to enter on, I should say, the most destructive sort of campaign that there could be, from the rjoint of view of their health. Before many of those who are now enlisting can be actually made use of at the front, the European winter will be upon us. I have no hesitation in saying that it is cruel and wrong for us now to engage young men or boys of eighteen to take part in the trenches in the winter campaign that is impending. I say that the age of those who are allowed to enlist at the present time for immediate active service ought to be raised.
– How hi eh?
– I should say that the age ought not to be less than twenty. I do not believe that boys of eighteen, no matter how healthy or strong, even if they do survive the oerils of var, will survive the hardships of such a campaign as we may look forward to in the near future. I do not believe that they can come back with constitutions not seriously impaired. That is the suggestion I desire to put before the Government. There is another which I have no hesitation in urging on the attention of this House. I desire to say that, notwithstanding any interjections there may be from the other side, I absolutely reject the iratnitation that anything lam now saying has to do in any way whatever with party.
The view I am about to express is one that has weighed on my mind for months past. I gave expression to that opinion about a’ month ago, when I urged that there should be compulsory registration of the young men who are fit to be invited, to bear arms in the present strife.
– W - Why not register all men up to sixty years of age?
– Certainly. I was about to suggest that what this Parliament might do, and what I believe to he its duty, is to follow the lead recently given by the Parliament of Great Britain, and compel the registration of all men, not necessarily for military service, but for the purjmse of ascertaining what they are able to do in the great crisis that is now upon us.
– Is that with a view to compelling them to go out of Australia?
– With regard to those who are eligible for military service, I repeat what I said, before, that we are now giving of our very best. If the Avar were to last only a very short time, and were to be what most of us hoped such a war might be, a war of months instead of years, then I should say that we might rely solely upon the efforts of those men, the most courageous and public-spirited of our community, who of their own volition come to the aid of their country. But the war may last for years, and I say again that the fact that the small Australian community is being steadily and rapidly bled of its best cannot be regarded, with equanimity. Patriotic service cannot be left to the few who are possessed of a public spirit that prompts them to step forward and accept a duty of which all ought to bear a share. I, therefore, suggest for the consideration of the Prime Minister - and I hope he will not give expression to any opinion until he has had an opportunity of pondering over the proposal - that we should obtain a complete registration of the men of Australia, with a view to the organization of all forces, industrial as well as military, for the defence of the Commonwealth and the Empire now. If we cannot have a register of all the men between the ages of twenty and sixty, or whatever is the extreme military age, we should have, at all events, a register of the names of all men who are capable of bearing arms. The honorable member for Capricornia asks whether we should compel those men to go on foreign service. The time has not arrived for that, but it may arrive. There are certain aspects of this question about which we cannot speak in public. There are certain aspects of the relations between ourselves and our Allies which it is not wise to refer to except in the most guarded language ; but the time may come when we shall have to follow the lead of Prance and Belgium, and call to the colours all men of military age - a proceeding which has not meant; an invasion of the liberties of those people, but has resulted, in an immense enhancement of the patriotic spirit which dominates them. The time has not yet come for compulsion, but the stage has come at which the Government may say, “ We require so many men per month. We have the names of all eligible men on our register, and we shall select, by lot, those whom . we shall invite to join the colours. They need, not go against their will.” Many men may have valid reasons for not serving at all; many may be able to offer reasons why they cannot serve immediately without incurring practical ruin, although they may be able to servo a few months hence. We may allow every man the fullest liberty of stating why he should be absolved for the present, or, perhaps, altogether, from this public duty. But let those who are unable to prefer valid reasons take the responsibility of refusing to serve their country when it calls. We ar© about to enter upon a recruiting campaign in Victoria, and’ I hope that a great deal will result from it. But how ? Net by direct appeal to the men of the community, but by appealing to those who may be indirectly instrumental in organizing a response to the country’s call. The difficulty with all recruiting movements is that we are not able to reach the people whom we wish to reach. I read with tha utmost pleasure the speech of the Attorney-General at St. Kilda a few days ago, and also the remarks of the Prime Minister, because those utterances show that Ministers recognise the deadly peril in which Australia stands. I shall conclude by appealing te the Prime Minister to stand out above and beyond all questions of party, and lead Australia. Never since Australia has bean colonized has a man been in a position in which he bore such a tremendous responsibility, or had such a magnificent privilege as the Prime Minister has to-day.
– H - He will respond to it. Do not worry.
– I sincerely hope he will. I know that his heart is in this Defence movement. An appeal has recently been made to him from certain quarters that he should form a National Ministry, but I have never concealed the belief that such a thing is impossible. The right honorable gentleman is not called upon to take any such step.
– Why not?
– He cannot. We must recognise the conditions under which he holds office, and I, for one, have never asked him to take any such step. But I do appeal to him to allow every other consideration to go to the winds, and to stand forth as the leader of the Australian people, and create a definite basis of organization, not only for recruiting men, but for taking the steps necessary to create munitions. It is of no use other persons engaging in this work unless the Prime Minister leads. We look to him to lead us in this matter, and if he will lead us definitely with the whole force of the Government, and the Ministerial party behind him, in the one movement to secure strength to fight the foes that are threatening our existence, h’e will receive the support of every member on this side of the House.
– The speech of the honorable member for Flinders was unexceptionable, and strikes a new note in regard to the question we have been discussing. I understand the feelings of the honorable gentleman. For some time I have been aware privately of the views that he holds in regard to this war and its possible consequences. I held similar views prior to and immediately after the declaration of war, and if we differ as to the methods of putting the country in a stats of preparation for a protracted struggle, it is not because of difference of opinion on essential questions. It is because of differences in the opinions we have formed as to which is the safer and more effective way of bringing this great war to a successful conclusion. I am glad indeed that . it is beginning to dawn on the people generally that this trouble is not a passing one. There is no such thing as fighting our present enemies with our mouths. They must be fought with weapons; they must be fought by sacrifices, and by valour of every kind, here and everywhere. It seemed to me there was a lingering suggestion, not intentional I believe, in the honorable member’s speech that he had moved the adjournment in order to give prominence to the week’s recruiting in Victoria. I think that remark was unfortunate.
– What I meant to say was that I took this course in order to give prominence to views which I otherwise might have’ expressed on the Appropriation Bill
– I understood the honorable gentleman to say that he had moved the adjournment in order, to give prominence to the week’s recruiting in Victoria.
– I had no intention of conveying; that impression.
– I am quite sure, if the honorable member were allowed to explain, he would say that he had not that idea in his mind. The tenor and temper of his speech seemed to show clearly that his idea was not limited to this, week’s recruiting in Victoria. I think we ought to be very happy indeed that Victoria has been aroused, along with other parts of Australia. I am sure the people in Victoria, and the Victorian representatives in both Federal and State Parliaments, will, .with the assistance they get from the fact of the National Parliament meeting here, be able to do justice to this part of the Commonwealth. There is no harm in our saying that - we who know the circumstances; and I think I may leave the matter there.
The honorable member says he believes the Defence Department are taking recruits at too young an age–
– That they are too young, at the present time, for the purposes in view.
– And he argued that, in his opinion, there was a danger in that they might have to endure a winter campaign and suffer physically in consequence. I am unable to agree with the honorable member on that point. It is one that must be determined by the officers who have to command the troops, and by medical men whom the officers will have to consult and by whom they will be guided. I can only speak of my own experience, but my view is that young men from eighteen years upwards are quite as. strong as, and have greater recuperative powers and initiative, speaking generally, than their elders.
– They cannot stand the hardships.
– I only express my own opinion. The matter, as I said, must be settled, not by Parliament, but by the medical authorities and the men who have to do the fighting in the field. It must not be forgotten, also, that the consent of the parents is required before youths of that age are permitted to enlist ; but the point raised by the honorable member is as to whether youths in their nineteenth year are fit to undergo fighting in the cold weather that is likely to be experienced by them. It is an actual fact, which can be proved by circumstances - though I believe it cannot be demonstrated medically - that those who have lived in tropical countries can, at least during their first winter, stand the cold weather actually better than those who have been brought up in a colder climate. Strange as that may seem, it is an absolute fact which I can support from the absolute experience of my own family.
– The experience of the Mawson expedition tended to support that view.
– My own family experience was that my sister, who had lived in Scotland all her life, could not stand the cold there so well as my wife, who was born in Queensland, and had lived in Queensland all her life prior to visiting Scotland.
– That is the experience of a good many people.
– Therefore, I think that part of the honorable member’s argument cannot be sustained.
Now I will come to the question of compulsory registration throughout Australia. I have no qualms on that point; far otherwise. I think that as a democracy we have been proceeding on unscientific lines, not only in regard to war purposes, but also for civil purposes. There can be no reflection on any man or upon any family in their being asked to submit to a census for a particular purpose, apart from that of merely giving information as to the actual number of people there are, the number of the family, and where they live. The honorable member asked me not to condemn that suggestion without giving it consideration. I cannot speak for my colleagues; I cannot speak for this side of the House on a motion of this kind, but I see no insuperable difficulty in doing what the honorable member suggests for war purposes just as is done for general purposes. If I gathered the honorable member’s remarks correctly, I think the idea he had in his mind was that there should be a registration, not only for war purposes, but also for home purposes.
– There are thousands of people in this country who are hungering to do something, and who would do it if they were only shown how.
– That is so. But it has to be remembered, to the honour and credit of the Ministers of Defence who have occupied that office since the war began, that they have had no time to devote to anything other than the provision of soldiers for the front.
– Hear, hear! * That has been one of the difficulties.
– It is a fact that this country, although the most distant dominion with the exception of New Zealand, has sent more well-equipped assistance to the front in proportion to its population than any other. I do not know that we are entitled to any special commendation for that. Happily the. Commonwealth was in a better position at the time war broke out than other Dominions. In the course of the last two months 8,000 men per month have been sent, and that notwithstanding the great distance which separates us from Europe, which has militated considerably against what we might have done in other circumstances. Sad this international trouble broken out four years ago we should have been in a pitiful state so far as rendering assistance is concerned. I am sure we are all glad that we have been able to do so much. How much more we can do cannot be determined by any one, but I say to my own friends here, as I say to honorable members sitting opposite to me, that what we do cannot be done on political lines; nor may what we do in the future be done on political lines. Strong as ray views regarding defence matters in Australia have always been, I have never ceased to be associated with men who are diametrically opposed to me on political questions in the effort to bring to fruition an adequate scheme of defence for the Commonwealth.
– A joint Committee of this House might carry out the idea which the Prime Minister is suggesting and do very effective work.
– The same as is being done in New Zealand.
– “We are coming along. I have before me a veritable bundle of evidence as to the difficulties in the way of Governments in dealing with defence matters, but I do not propose to do more than read the following sentence, which I take from an article that appeared in a great leading journal in this country less than eighteen months ago, in order to emphasize this point -
We are indulging in an orgie of frenzied military preparation for a contingency more remote than the millennium.
– We have all been blind, but we ought not to be blind any longer.
– The difficulty to-day is not as great as it was two or three years ago when this war was pending and indeed was absolutely inevitable. As long as men are prepared to sacrifice themselves - no shorter time and no longer - so long shall we have uo need to fear. I can only say here, as I have said again and again, that the young men of Australia who are fit and free should offer themselves to the recruiting sergeant, and that if they are accepted as fit they should take their part with their mates in the fighting line. That is the point that has to be stressed. We may have public meetings and much enthusiasm, but unless we reach the young men of Australia with this message we cannot hope to do anything. I heartily approve the suggestion that the effective working forces of Australia, the engineering and every other branch of the industrial community, should be organized from top to bottom, and that those who control the financial machinery of Australia should likewise be organized, and be taken into the fullest confidence of the drovernment, so that we may be able to present a united front, co-ordinating in all things, to give the best possible effect to what I believe’ is a policy unanimously supported by the people of Australia - the policy that we should do our very utmost to bring this terrible war to a successful conclusion.
– I cordially re-echo one sentence in the address just made by the Prime Minister, and that is that we cannot properly conduct this war along political lines. I stand here this morning to say that I am not conscious of having obtruded politics into the consideration of these matters since the war broke out. I make that statement with all solemnity and in all seriousness. What is more, I should regard myself as a criminal if I were to make use cf the war for political purposes. That is the very last thing that any of us ought to think of importing into the consideration of this question. The ‘war is too serious to. permit of either one side or the other attempting to make political capital out of it. The business before us is far too serious, and every ounce of our energy, spirit and concentration should be devoted to its vigorous prosecution. Unless we do that we shall not win. Our enemy is devoting himself to the work of insuring thoroughness of preparation, and unless we do likewise I shall not say what will be the result. We cannot afford to play with this matter while our enemy is in deadly earnest. And here I come back to the question of politics. In no country other than our own is party political warfare being carried on side by side with war preparation. That is an outstanding fact. Germany does not consider that she can go on with her programme of social reform. Austria does not, neither does Great Britain, nor any of the Dominions of the Empire. It is only here in Australia that we think we can do so.
– Better leave that matter alone.
– I am making an appeal to the Government even now to reconsider their decision, and to work along the lines suggested a few moments ago by the Prime Minister. We should follow absolutely non-political lines. That is the first requisite to thorough efficiency and preparation. I come now to a practical suggestion. The Assistant Minister of Defence, I know, tries to make out the best case possible, but may I say that I doubt whether it helps on the work of recruiting to say, as he does, “Look how well we are doing.” It seems to me that such an attitude has rather the opposite effect. It causes a man to say, “Well, things are not going along so badly; we seem to be doing very well, and there is really no overpowering urgency that I should go. I had better, perhaps, stay at home to look after my own great responsibilities here.” That, I think, is the result of too much complacency shown in talking of the war. The honorable gentleman, the other day, for instance, said that we had been sending away 8,000 troops per month for the last two months. The explanation is that during that time we have sent away an expeditionary force of 10,000 men. There is no secret about the matter. We have despatched to the front from 62,000 to 63,000 men, and of that number there must be something like 15,000 out of action. If we allow for casualties due to sickness and every other cause since the outbreak of the war, I venture to say that it will be found that my estimate is not too large.
– Was it not shown yesterday that the casualties amounted to between 10,000 and 11,000?
– I am talking of the total wastage due to sickness and other causes since the outbreak of the war.
– The right honorable member may be right.
– I think it will be found that my figures are well within the mark. The wastage of this war from various causes is terrible.
– I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition is allowing in his computation for the number of men who have been wounded, but who have since returned to the firing line.
– Perhaps not; but I do not think my figures are inflated. We have to ask ourselves whether from 30,000 to 40,000 men on the Gallipoli Peninsula represent what is a sufficient force for Australia to send. The point is not how many men we have sent away in twelve months; that is nothing; the numbers are wasting all the time ; what we have to get into our minds is the number of men we have in the actual firing line. I venture to say that we ought to get’ into our minds a definite objective in this respect. It would help recruiting, and would also give us a clearer comprehension of the’ tremendous stake at issue in this war. I saw the other day that Mr. Holman had suggested that Australia’s proper quota was about 400,000 men; but I think that is an extreme number on the other side, as we cannot send 400,000 men - at least not for some time; neither do I think the general statement made by tne Prime Minister, that every man and every shilling are available, helps us. Can, we not get into our mind, -this objective, and aim at it, that we should keep two army corps in the field in full efficient fighting strength? That will mean 100,000 men in the. firing line, not on the water or in hospitals or anywhere else, but actually in the firing line. It would be a very fine contribution for Australia to make, but it means at least 12,000 a month in the way of reinforcements.
– If the wastage has been as you say, it would mean more than that.
– The recent casualties have been rather exceptional, I think. I think that I am not far out in putting down the wastage of war at 100 per cent, per annum, and that would necessitate 12,000 reinforcements per month in order to keep two army corps in the field, or roughly 100,000 men.
– In your calculation you are overlooking the fact that a number who receive casualties return to the firing line.
– The more the better. The minimum that we should aim at is two army corps.
– I hope that you are not forgetting what a big undertaking it is to provide transportation.
– I think that we can get the transports.
– Many of the ships that we have fitted up are retained by the Imperial authorities, and we cannot get possession of them, and in order to send more men we have to keep on fitting up other transports.
– I hope that we shall keep on doing so. We should get the troops there. If we are to get the big army that I suggest we shall have to stop some of the little “tiddly- win king” causes of rejection of volunteers. We shall not have to keep men back because they have lost some of their teeth. Loss of teeth is common to some of the” best and fittest men in Australia. I asked a question the other day as to whether the medical examination was uniform throughout Australia, and the Assistant Minister told me that it was, yet Colonel Fetherston has suggested that the reason for the large number of rejects in Victoria over aud above other States is that there may be a different standard of medical examination. Such ought not to be the case. The same medical standard should apply right throughout. There should be no difference, and this matter should be attended to at the earliest possible moment.
– Colonel Fetherston has had that statement corrected. I think that the instructions with regard to standardization are uniform throughout Australia.
– But the point is whether those instructions are carried out uniformly. I cannot bring myself to believe that men applying in Victoria are so much inferior to men in the other States, as is made out by these rejections. There must be some differentiation in the method of applying the standard, if not in the standard itself.
– I think it will be found that some doctors are stricter than others.
– Is that not an argument for having another Minister of Defence? I think that we should have another Minister of Defence, who can travel constantly throughout the country and among the camps, and see that things are done as they ought to be done. We need a travelling inspector in the shape of a responsible Minister, who can alter things that are wrong, and see that there is uniformity. One of the things we need most at the present time is the creation of another portfolio, but one which will not keep a man tied up in his office. We want nothing so much as inspection of what is going on. Only in that way can we hope to see the rectification of these many troubles. Notwithstanding what the Assistant Minister said yesterday, and what has been said this morning, the statements made by the honorable member for Nepean yesterday were in the main correct, and the trouble is that things are not being righted. We need some one to see that things are being righted, and it can only be done by having a responsible Minister to travel over the country and see that our preparations are progressing uniformly and efficiently. All these complaints show the need for close and minute’ personal inspection on the part of some one in responsibility. I am not so sure that we should not do something in another direction. After Marengo Napoleon struck a medal bearing on one side “Marengo,” and on the other side “I was there.” Something of the same kind might very easily be instituted here. It would be an added incentive to a man to go to the front if, on his return, sitting by his fireside, he could have something upon which he could look and which would prove a memento of the occasion when he freely offered his life for the service of his country. Above and beyond all, it seems to me that we need the personal touch in any recruiting campaign. We need to bring home to the young man in the street really what is at stake. I am not so sure that a few shells dropped in our streets would not do it better and more eloquently than all the oratorical efforts of the best orators in Australia. I believe that there would be an instant response. The strange thing is that whenever there is special trouble at the front, whenever anything happens to cause a shock to the public mind owing to the horrors of war, it proves the best recruiting agent we can get. We have to bring right home to the minds of these young men the fact that they are under an obligation to go and do their very best at this time of crisis. But all that we can do is insufficient. We are up against a foe that is thoroughly organized and thoroughly prepared, that is pressing every day into his preparations the latest results of science, that is ruthless beyond degree, and that is setting aside every rule of the game; and to think that we can beat that foe while we continue distracting our attention with party squabbles, party struggles, party pr<h grammes, and party warfare is, in my judgment, futile. I appeal again to this Government, with all the emphasis that I can command, and in all earnestness, to let us unite in a common effort, with one objective, namely, to put two army corps in the fighting line, and to keep, them there until this war is concluded.
.- I am heartily in accord with the sentiments that have been expressed by the mover of this motion. The whole question at issue is, “ Is the situation serious enough to warrant Australia in taking special pains - and this Parliament in making special efforts - to hasten the end of the war?” I say that it is. What can be more serious than for our brethren to be falling in thousands at the front today ? It seems to me that there are some persons in the community ‘whose imagination will not permit them to picture the quivering horrors of the battlefield. Surely we ought not to wait till the shadow of death is cast upon every home throughout the Commonwealth before making a special effort to insure a speedy victory. It is the duty of this Parliament to “ get a move on.” I have long contended that, with this object in view, a special Parliamentary Committee should be called into existence, and that each member of it should do what he can in his own electorate. As iv practical suggestion, I favour a Committee - the central body comprised chiefly of Victorian representatives, the other honorable members being iu touch with their electorates - to report, not only as to recruiting possibilities, but as to the economic resources of the Commonwealth. I know of dozens of men who are ardently desirous of doing something in the present emergency - old Navy man, and men who have been engaged in the manufacture of shells in other portions of the world. There is, however, nobody to whom these men can go for the purpose of rendering aid to the Empire at this critical juncture. I do not favour their going to the Defence Department, because if they did so, they would hear no more about it. “What we require is a Committee of Parliamentarians to deal with this matter. I am no alarmist. I have waited till the position is serious enough in all conscience to stimulate activity on the part of any man who has any imagination and any patriotism. In my judgment, the Prime Minister takes too common-sense, too calculated, and too cool-headed a view of the situation. Possibly he may think that I take an opposite view. But the inference to be drawn from his attitude is that extra powers are needed by the Commonwealth before we can move at all. I say that the action of the Government in respect of the supply of sugar, and the fact that we have in all the States, save Victoria, a. thoroughly Democratic Government, are sufficient to warrant us in dispensing for a time with any political effort, and in endeavouring to accomplish active work which will ease the minds of the people, who feel we ought to be giving them a lead. The moral effect of such action would be tremendous, apart from any practical good that might result from it. I have no doubt of the ultimate success of our arms, but it is our duty to hasten that success. The longer the conflict continues, the more of our own flesh and blood will be lost to us, and the more shall we sacrifice that splendid national asset, one which we can least afford to lose. Surely the end in view is worthy of a supreme effort! It seems to me that the obligation is largely cast upon Australia to see the Allies through the Dardanelles. “Until that narrow waterway is pierced Russia cannot have free communication with the other Powers who are fighting with us. She cannot supply them with foodstuffs, and they cannot supply her with munitions of war. Consequently it appears to me that the forcing of the Dardanelles is a matter of vital importance. It is absolutely essential to a speedy termination of hostilities. The duty of penetrating that waterway rests largely on Australia. Hence the great necessity which exists for some active work being undertaken on the lines I have indicated. We want such a fresh tribunal created as I have indicatecl, and that tribunal should consist of men who have been elected by the public of Australia, and who are virtually the economic generals of their respective constituencies. These are the men who are being called upon by the people to do something. The Prime Minister says that we have don© well. I admit that we have. But the fact that we have done well is only a further justification for making a special effort, seeing that we have so much at stake. Certainly we have done well. We have accepted a challenge, and we are discharging our obligation. But when we see practically a stalemate at the front in France, and a similar condition of affairs developing in Gallipoli, we ought surely to put forward strenuous efforts to ensure the triumph of our arms. I do not care what form our activities may take, but certainly something should be done in the direction. I have indicated.
– I am very pleased with the speech that has just been delivered by the honorable member for Macquarie. The motion for the adjournment of the House has been submitted for the purpose of focussing attention upon two specific matters. One is the need which exists for a more systematic recruiting effort ‘ being made throughout Australia, and the other ia the necessity which is apparent for the systematic organization for the supply of munitions and material. It is true that a large recruiting movement is in progress throughout Victoria at the present time. But I appeal to the Prime Minister to lift that movement beyond the boundaries of any State, and to make it a thoroughly national movement. In doing so, I speak as one who hails from a distant portion of the Commonwealth. I have observed that in my own constituency recruiting meetings have been held at which the question has been asked, “ How many men does the Defence Department desire for service at the front? “ These gatherings have also questioned the grounds for the rejection of quite a number of volunteers for enlistment. I ask the Prime Minister whether he cannot see his way to place himself in touch with the State Premiers with a view to setting apart a definite period - a fortnight at least - for the conduct of a great organizing movement throughout the length and breadth of Australia. I regard the suggestion of the honorable member for Macquarie as an exceedingly good one, and I say that any such organizing committee as he outlined should be constituted a body comprising representatives of both parties in this Parliament. It would be a wise step if, at every recruiting meeting held throughout the Commonwealth, two members of this Parliament at least - one from either side of the House - stood side by side on the same platform, so that the people might have tangible proof that the nation is absolutely united at this critical period in the Empire’s history. It is true that Australia has done a great deal since the outbreak of the war. But we have to look to a prolonged campaign. From the best advice available it appears certain that the struggle will continue beyond the next winter. Consequently, a systematic scheme for recruiting should be devised to insure the flow of a steady stream of troops to the front.
– We also require to organize all our industrial resources.
– I will deal with that aspect of the matter in a moment. It is not enough to hold patriotic meetings throughout Australia. I believe that the Government will have to go further; and that they will be obliged to organize a regular system of recruiting through the medium of recruiting officers’. It should not be necessary for this purpose to takemen of the younger generation away from the active duties in which they are employed at the present time. In Australia to-day there are many officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, who are not engaged in active duties for the Defence Department, but who have been s*> employed in the past, and who know what actual warfare is. They, I am sure,, would be willing to go into different districts in Australia and assist in this organized movement for recruiting. So far, attention has been directed rather too muoh to arousing the enthusiasm and energy of the people in Melbourne, Sydney, and other large centres of population, and I think that it is necessary ( that work of this kind should be done in the more remote districts of Queensland, New South Wales, and probably also Western Australia. Further, I believe that honorable members might do a great deal to assist recruiting if they addressed themselves. to the task of placing in proper perspective the seriousness of the war, and of our local conditions because of the war. I propose to read a few paragraphs from a recently published article, and I should like, at the outset, to say that I do not associate honorable members opposite with the ideas given expression to in these paragraphs. The following statements appeared in the article to which I refer -
Compared with the issues at stake in the struggle between the Labour party and the forces of Capitalism, the questions which are being decided in bloodshed and outrage on the fields of battle are of shockingly meagre importance.
Here is another paragraph from the same ‘ article -
The atrocities committed by the Huns of the nations on their enemies pale their ghastly fires compared with the horrors perpetrated by the Kurds of Capitalism on their own kith and kin.
Another sentence reads in this way -
The trenches in which bursting shells are rained, and poisonous gases are poured, are less fatal than the hells in which Capitalism grinds out its profits with a remorseless disregard for life and limb, and health and happiness.
– Surely that emanates from a lunatic asylum.
– Where did the honorable member get that?
– From an article published in the Australian Worker of 3rd June, 1915. I say that I do not associate honorable members opposite with these views. I do not believe that these are their views.
Mr. Fisher.^Is that the article quoted by the honorable member for Flinders?
– I dare say the honorable member had this article in view.
– The honorable gentleman is speaking in support of the honorable member for Flinders? I can give him some more from another source.
– I have said that I do not associate honorable members opposite in the slightest degree with the views expressed in this article.
– Then why bring it up?
– The party business again.
– No; it is not party business. I say that something should be done to counteract the dissemination of articles like that.
– We can give the honorable gentleman some statements from his own side.
– I say that an article like tnat places the position in an absolutely wrong perspective.
– Why bring it up here ?
– For the reason that I think that we have a duty, because of the publication of such opinions, to put forward correct views upon the situation. If these ideas are disseminated throughout Australia they may do serious injury.
– Then why disseminate them 1
– Because they have been disseminated, and my contention is that they must be combated, and the position placed in true perspective before the people. The article from which I have quoted indicates a complete failure to realize the seriousness of the position in which the nation -is placed at the present time. I again urge the Prime Minister to give effect to the suggestion which I have made to adjourn the House, at- a future date, for a fortnight, and get into touch with the Premiers of the States to forward the recruiting movement. It is necessary that some one in an official position should organize the movement in big States like Queensland, and carry out a campaign for recruiting purposes.
– Queensland is doing well.
– Queensland! is doing exceedingly well, and I may mention that some time ago steps were taken in that State to organize the supply of munitions and to have shells manufactured in Australia. The. movement is spreading, and I sincerely hope that more encouragement will be given to it. The difficulty in Queensland is that the people are working at a considerable distance from the centre. If, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, a Minister of Munitions was appointed it would be better that he should move about the Commonwealth, and get into close touch with the work being done in the different centres of population. I believe that in that way greater results could be accomplished.
– I have to congratulate the honorable and learned member for Flinders on the tone of his speech. No man who looks at the situation fairly can derive much encouragement from it. I do not for one moment admit this as a reason for despondency, but regard it rather as a spur urging us to do all things necessary to achieve success. The honorable and learned member for Flinders has made some suggestions pertinent to our present circumstances. With those covered by the Prime Minister I shall not attempt to deal further. I desire, however, to say a word or two upon certain phases of the subject with which the Prime Minister did not deal. In my opinion the part of the honorable and learned member’s speech that touched upon the necessity for organization was the most valuable. With his broad contention that we must organize I am In complete accord. I say emphatically that neither this nor any other country can hope to succeed against an organized nation unless it be itself organized. I said the other night at St. Kilda that for the first time in the history of civilization Germany presents to the world the’ spectacle.of.au organized nation. There never has been a nation so organized before, and the tremendous powers thus generated, and the manner in which these powers are gathered and thrown wi<v> irresistible force now in this direction and now in another, is beginning to impress itself deeply on the whole world. Unorganized, we perish. Organization, and organization alone, can help us. I should be the last to say-gne word against the efforts which members of this House aud our fellow citizens throughout the Commonwealth are making to promote recruiting. Recruiting is necessary, but recruiting is only one factor in organization, and bears to the whole problem the relation the spear head bears to the whole’ spear. Our fighting forces comprise the point of our battle spear, but it is the weight of the community behind the spear that lends to the point its penetrating and shattering power. Recruiting merely creates a weapon which must prove ineffective if our efforts at organization end with getting men to the front. The whole community must be organized, so that the full force of the nation be behind the blows of our fighting men. The community must be so organized that there shall be no waste of energy, and every effort shall be directed to the one purpose. An organized nation alone can generate the force necessary for that supreme effort of which it is capable and’ enables it to be so directed as to achieve the greatest results. Two examples will be enough to illustrate the difference between an organized nation and a nation such as we are, or Great Britain is, at the present time. Take an army and a mob. The difference between an army and a mob is not one of numbers. There is not an army in the world that is not outnumbered twenty to one by the rest of the community, nor has there ever been. It is not even the possession of weapons that gives an army its power over the rest of the community, for frequently the people in revolt have been armed. The power of an army lies in its discipline. It is organized. There is in an army a concentrated purpose moving in definite ways. And every movement is rhythmic and purposeful. It moves because some will has ordained it; but an unorganized populace sways as does this community - backwards and forwards like the waves of the ocean, its energies clashing one against the other, their potential power 1 dissipated and lost. So it is with us, and what is true here is true also of Groat Britain. There must be organization. Take another illustration: The difference between a trade union and a band of unconnected workmen is that one is organized, the other is not, and the result is the difference between success and failure. Whatever unionism has achieved it owes to organization. Without organization it would be surely lost. If organization is necessary in order to wage industrial conflict and achieve industrial success, surely it is a hundred times more necessary for us at this supreme crisis in our history. Organization which will include every activity is imperatively necessary for our national safety, and must be effected without delay. We cannot deal here with details, but the honorable and learned gentleman’s suggestion as to registration should come first. That is the alpha of the problem. First find out what you have, and then see how best you can utilize it. It is very obvious that what Britain Lacks is not men willing to offer their services for the front, but organization. It is a community utterly disorganized”, and therefore unable to keep the men at the front effectively employed. The spear point is blunted. It breaks off at the head. The unfortunate men in the trenches cry out for more shells. The community, willing, and feverishly anxious, wastes its energies in vain because there is no purposeful will directing it. The nation is unorganized and so cannot respond to any will. Organization is now imperatively called for, although I admit freely that organization such as I speak of is alien to the spirit of our nation. The Anglo-Saxon race does not lend itself to regimentation. The Teutonic race does. It can be ordered about. It lends itself to the purposes of organization, therefore, infinitely better than ours. Nevertheless, the circumstances demand organization with us now.
– It depends on the kind of organization.
– Of course. I do not contemplate organization for military purposes. I am speaking of the organization of society so that it may direct its energies at this time to the best advantage.
I cannot help contrasting the tone of the speech of the honorable and learned member for Flinders with that of the right honorable member for Parramatta. He said, and I believe him, that he is quite unconscious of party tone or spirit in any of his speeches or actions, and quite unconscious of approaching this or any other question from a party stand-point. I believe him, but if I had not known him for so many years I could not have believed him. Nor could anybody. I did* arid I do, believe that the honorable and learned member for Flinders did not approach the question from a party standpoint, and his speech was such that every man on this side of the House listened io what he had to say with a sincere desire to find out what he meant, to analyze it, to see if it was good, and if it was good to accept it irrespective of where it came from. His speech was free from party spirit. But mo one could say as much for his leader. The right honorable member for Parramatta, who, no doubt, means just as well as the honorable member for Flinders, contrived in the course of his speech to imply that it was through the attitude of this party that things were as they were - that w.e were hampering and hamstringing the nation at this critical juncture by the introduction of party warfare. I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman will accept my word or not. Some honorable members on that side will, at any rate, accept my assurance that I am quite unconscious of having introduced any party warfare in this House since the outbreak of war: We have endeavoured, at any rate, to refrain from doing so. I assume that what my right honorable friend alludes to is the proposal of the party to submit the referenda to the people. He calls this a party matter, but I oall it a national matter. It is quite impossible to organize society as it ought to be organized, to utilize those economic forces which are absolutely ‘essential for the success of this campaign, unless the Government have complete control over them. I do not hestitate to say that the corollary of
I registration and organization is the power to direct the forces of society, so marshalled for the protection of the people, to prevent their exploitation; to conserve as well as direct the energies of the community. We must have power to say to this man, “go”; to the other man, “come”; to the great uorporations, “you must do this”; to the workman, “you must do that”; and to insist upon industrial peace and economic efficiency. At present we are like men crying in the wilderness, able to do nothing. If we are to organize the community we must be given the necessary powers. We now legislate, at best, as my honorable and learned friend has said, by permission of the High Court, whenever we dare to transgress the narrow limits set down by the Constitution. The referenda are not party, but national questions. I say emphatically that if we were to use the referenda for party purposes we should deserve everything that could be said against us. But we desire to use them for national purposes. I say most emphatically that I do not regard the referenda as party measures, but for the purpose of protecting the welfare of the nation, with the definite object of prosecuting this great world conflict to the bitter end.
– I deeply regret the tone of the latter portion of the speech by the AttorneyGeneral.
– You must attack your own leader for that.
– It was very unfair.
– The latter portion of the Attorney-General’s speech was in striking contrast to the able and eloquent tone of his opening remarks, for towards the close the Minister, in the most specious manner possible, introduced matters of a party character, though he endeavoured to persuade himself that nothing that has been done by the Government is in the remotest degree connected with party strife. But the mere fact that honorable members on this side of the House resent the action of the Government in the introduction of certain measures is, I think an indication of the party character of those proposals. The honorable gentleman might try to persuade himself that he is engaged solely in the national interest in introducing the legislation referred to, but honorable members on this side cannot view the Bills from the same stand-point.
– Hear, hear !
– Nothing but the highest admiration can be entertained for that portion of the AttorneyGeneral’s speech in which he referred to the necessity, the imperative necessity, of organization in connexion with this war. and if my honorable and learned friend and those associated with him in the Government, would display an active intention to carry out those sentiments, they could rely upon the whole-hearted support from honorable members on this side of the House. The Attorney-General, I believe, is fully impressed with the necessity for organization. No man who has studied the condition of Germany at the present time can be other than deeply impressed with the effective value of organization as applied to a mighty nation engaged in war.
– We have been preaching that for years.
– I say we must be deeply impressed with the value of a complete system of organization such as that perfected by Germany. That power of concentration which has been so consummately achieved is something that we must not fail to admire, and it is also something which demands of us that we should at least attempt to emulate it. There we find that every man who is fit and capable of going to the front, or otherwise working in theinterests of the nation, is fully employed in the scheme of organization, and the industrial places of men so employed are taken by women. I believe there is not a family throughout the length and breadth of Germany which is not embraced in this system of organization, and if we realize how much can be achieved by it, surely there is but one national duty before honorable members of this House, and that is, to come together with the object of securing the most effective means to accomplish the ends which we know have already been achieved by our formidable enemies. That is all that is suggested by this motion. In passing I might say the AttorneyGeneral did a great injustice to the right honorable Leader of the Opposition just now when he suggested that the honorable member for Parramatta intended by his remarks to introduce party strife. In his own insinuating way the Attorney-General himself dealt with these matters of a controversial nature, and although he did it with apparent sincerity, the fact remains “that what he said introduced far -more controversial matter than could be suggested by the spesch of the Leader of the Opposition. Now, the object of this discussion, which I hope will maintain its calm and temperate note, is to endeavour at least to see how it is possible to bring about organization. It is to be regretted that we have had no suggestion from my honorable friends opposite as to how this desirable end is to be achieved. A Committee of Public Safety has been spoken of.
– Mr. Carr suggested that.
– Yes; the honorable member for Macquarie made a suggestion of that kind, and the idea should be encouraged by this House. Having regard to the experience of other nations, it is most desirable that something should be accomplished with the least possible delay. There is much to be regretted in the unpreparedness of Australia to deal with this crisis, though much of it was forecasted by General Ian Hamilton in his memorable report. He indicated that confusion would be incidental to the precipitation oi war under our present system, and that has been amply borne out by the events of the past few months. We should therefore bend our energies in the direction of organization, and especially to the stimulation of recruiting. I am sorry to think that the serious confusion which exists in our Defence Department is responsible to a very large extent for the lack of recruits. Personally, I can claim that I have done nothing to accentuate the troubles in this House.. Probably no man has heard more of the complaints against the Department than I have, and the Minister of Defence will be aware, from my correspondence, how I have brought these complaints under his notice, and urged that they should be remedied. I have not paraded them in this House, and I know . that, at the present time, the Minister is engaged in attending to these matters. I am convinced that most of the dissatisfaction which existed at Broadmeadows, and many of the complaints that have emanated from the Liverpool Camp, are seriously hampering the recruiting movement, and in this connexion the Defence Department must bear a grave responsibility. It has been suggested, and, I think, with justice, that recruits should have reasonable consideration in the local camps, particularly having regard to the hardships which they will have to encounter at the front, and no effort should be spared to remedy the state of affairs complained of. Surely at this juncture nothing could be more reasonable than the suggestion for the appointment of a Committee of Public Safety, and also to adjourn this Parliament for two or three weeks at least, in order to allow members to traverse the length and breadth of Australia in a recruiting campaign.
We cannot emphasize too much the necessity for this organization, and in this matter the Government can rely on the fullest co-operation of members on this side not to speak from any party stand-point. I am speaking just now in the presence of a supreme crisis, which must impress every member ‘ in this chamber. It is from that stand-point alone that I am urging the necessity of organization.
– Do you think that at this time we should close the House and leave the direction of all this business?
– I do indeed. I feel that with the great powers the Government have at the present moment they could more effectively discharge their duties than when they are burdened with the necessity of attendance in this House. I feel also that if they had a Committee of Public Safety, representative of both sides, they could get more help in that direction. Look at our munition movement. It is only now that we are beginning to realize the urgent necessity for such a movement. It is only now that we are endeavouring to organize the industrial resources of Australia. But what we are starting now should have been done many months ago. That effort, being in its inception, has to be developed, and it is only by effective development that we can attain our object.
– If you were to close Parliament, you could not make the suggestions which you are now making.
– My honorable friend will remember that I coupled the closing of Parliament with the creation of a Committee of Public Safety.
– But we are the Committee elected by the people.
– I have indicated how the most effective results can be achieved. Moreover, it is not suggested that Parliament should be closed for months and months together. All that is suggested for the present moment is the closing of Parliament for at least three or four weeks, to enable us to do more in the direction of organization, and especially in the matter of recruiting. Can my honorable friends on the other side make any reasonable objection to a course of that kind being taken? This is a means towards securing the organization which the Attorney-General told us is desirable and essential in the interests of Australia. In those circumstances, sir, we cannot but feel that we are failing in our duty; we cannot but feel that we are not doing justice to our own brave sons who are in the trenches. I consider that at this moment Australia should be sending its forces to the front in greater numbers than it is doing. But that is impossible unless we bring to bear upon the recruiting movement the united strength and power of the two Houses. Referring once more -to organization, Mr. Asquith said that what he wanted in Great Britain - and what, of course, is wanted here - is willing and organized help, and that should come from every Briton. I say, ou the other hand, that willing and ororganized help should come from every Australian. Mr. Asquith went on to say that there is not a home or a workshop throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain which is not deeply interested in the war, and which should not be making some effort towards the consummation of the organized system at which he was aiming. That is exactly the position of Australia, and I do urge on the Government to see their way to yield to the suggestions which have been made from this side. Eirst of all, I wish to develop the organization in connexion with which we had such an eloquent dissertation from the Attorney-General. What we want to do is to develop the ideas which he expressed.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
, - I regret that the honorable member for Flinders has left the Chamber, because I want to state publicly what I said to him privately just now, and that is, that had I known the full tenor of his remarks I would not have interjected as I did when he was speaking. The principal point of his advocacy, I think, was compulsory registration. I have never read of a country in which compulsory registration did not lead to conscription. But that would not alarm me if it was on an equal basis. We have compulsory registration throughout Australia in that every adult man and woman has to be registered for electoral purposes. Therefore the only extension, if the desire of the honorable member were adopted, would be a further registration of boys under the age of twenty-one years. I do not object to that. The , name of conscription will not frighten me, though I will vote against its introduction every time. But it recalls what a widow once said to me. Blessed as the mother df the Gracchi with two sons, one of whom had gone to the war, she said, “ Dr. Maloney, if I give half or all of my sons to fight the enemy, what are the rich going to do?” I answered in the same spirit. “Let the rich give half of their wealth to make silver bullets.” I have not heard from any honorable member who has spoken from the other side a reference to that matter.
– Are not the rich giving their sons as freely as other classes of society?
– The honorable member may state so. I differ from him.
– I think so.
– I think that the honorable member is wrong. The rich are not giving so freely. One has only to ask the ladies collecting shillings in the streets of Melbourne who give willingly, and they will tell you that it is the workers with the hard rough hands. They will tell you that their requests for contributions are not refused by the workers as they are refused by some of the swells in the offices’.
– Does my honorable friend forget what has been done by all the great public schools and universities in the Mother Country, and here too, of course?
– Surely the honorable member would not think that I wish to refuse them credit. What I say is that the rich here, as a class, are not giving their fair share. Why is not the imposition of a war tax suggested ? I do not wish to bring in any party issue. I simply say that when the question of conscription comes before the House we must see that it is applied to the wealthy as well as the poor, and that those gifted with the comforts of the world shall give in proportion to what they have.
– You appear not to be aware that you have proposed taxes since the war broke out.
– What small taxes have been collected? One tax has been collected from the dead, who cannot object, who have not advocates for them.
– I do not quite follow you.
– Then there is an increase in the land tax, but is it proportionate to the wealth of the landowner? I wish to indorse a few remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition. We need a greater supervision in the examination of men who volunteer. I maintain that with the greater knowledge of teeth that we have at this period of the world’s history, complete teeth are not necessary, that artificial teeth made better than at any previous period are quite sufficient to chew food with, that even men who may not have teeth have only to leave the hard portion of a biscuit in their mouth until it is almost dissolved by the saliva and their health will be improved by the better mastication.
– If men can scrape along in the bush without teeth, surely they can go to the front?
– Any man who can carry a humpy through the back-blocks of Australia, whether it is in the far west or in the far north, is. fit to go to the front and fight, and seeing that we are losing men by hundreds, and the chance of life is so little, what does it matter if a man has lost a few teeth? As to men who are half-an-inch short in their chest measurement, if they were sent to the schools of some of the splendid teachers of physical culture that we have in our midst, they would, within a week or a- fortnight, make good the deficiency. I do not think that the honorable member for Kooyong should say that there is any lack of volunteers. If he were to add the number of those who have been refused because of technical and trifling imperfections to the number accepted, he would find that, in proportion to the population, our people have volunteered very fairly. The Australian, as a rule, really loves a fight, but, as the Attorney-General eloquently put it, we are fighting now a nation that is organized and prepared for fighting - a nation that is like a boxer who goes into the ring trained to perfection. What chance have we against such an enemy unless we organize similarly? Victor Hugo gave to the German nation the greatest praise that, perhaps, it ever received when he said, “ When the genius of Germany says that poverty shall be no more, it will then begin to cease to exist.” Unfortunately, the cursed power of the Kaiser has turned the genius of the nation to the destruction of human life, for the .aggrandisement of his power. Would that the old Book of Samuel were preached far more often by our religious teachers and ministers. Then the people would see that the more strictly kingly and aristocratic power was limited, the better it would be for the nations. Why is it that our King is to-day so revered? Simply because his power is limited. One of the greatest legal authorities that Australia ever possessed once expressed the opinion that if the King wished to sell Australia for sixpence, the sale would be a legal one. I do not suppose that such a thing could occur. It would be bad for the King if it did. Out of this broth of hell - the war - will cone, I hope, a strengthening of Democracy, so that in future it will be for the neople, and not for kings and their circles of aristocrats and financiers, to say whether there shall be war. Every vote that I can give, and everything that I can say, to assist our organization at the resent time, will be given and said ; but let us have no party talk. The example of the honorable member for Flinders in speaking to the motion was not follow, d by the honorable member for Darling Downs. Neither the honorable member for Flinders nor the Prime Minister mentioned the newspaper ; but the honorable member for Darling Downs brought it here, and flourished it. After all, a newspaper statement is only the opinion’of one man. Will honorable members opposite vote to compel the signing of all newspaper articles, so that no one under the disguise of anonymity may publish a letter to which he would be ashamed to sign his name? The honorable member for Henty would, I believe, vote for that.
– What about the honorable member for Balaclava?
– The least said of him the better. His record in Essendon and Flemington answers the question. I think that compulsory registration will lead to conscription, and to that I do not object, if it be applied to the wealthy.
– It must be.
– Consider the wealth of a man who pays taxes on land in London up to 5s. an acre, which is now covered with houses of five and six storeys each, the tenants paying rates amounting to 12s. 6d. in the £1. Why was not Lloyd George given the power to do what was necessary ?
– Conscription would apply to the wealthy, in sending them to the front.
– Would the honorable member compare the wealth of the richest man in Australia as a sacrifice with that of the widow who gives her only son, and will have nothing but a small pension to live on should he die? Would it be more to take from a wealthy man the Avhole of his money with the exception of, say, £5,000 for his family, than to take from a widow her only child ? The honorable member talks to his companion on the bench, but will not answer that question. He knows that the sacrifice of the wealthy man would not be half that of the widow. I ask him again, does not a widow who gives her only son make a greater sacrifice than the millionaire who gives £900,000?
– Why raise that matter now?
– The honorable member for Wimmera catechized me, and I am trying to answer him. He would not dare to say on the platform that only the pauper’s or the poor widow’s son should go to the front. I do not desire injustice, but I am against hypocrisy. I contend that the Government can properly conduct our affairs at this juncture, and that the people have confidence in the Administration. I hope that before this session is over the people will have dominance over the honorable members of this House on both sides, and over the Ministry. When the time comes we shall see how many members of the Opposition, including the honorable member for Wimmera, will vote to give the people supreme power.
– I am so desirous to consider this question without regard to party politics that I am prepared, for the sake of argument, to accept the otherwise astonishing statement of the Attorney-General that the referendum proposals of the Government have a national and not a party aspect. Allowing that to be so, I seriously ask the honorable gentleman and his party what is the use of putting forward these proposals now, when they have not the slightest chance of being carried? Why spend ?80,000 on a referendum from which you will get no result, when the money could he put to much better purposes?
Debate interrupted under standing order 119.
Surveyors and Engineers: Construction of Tugboat. Mr. BT7RCHELL asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister supply the following information : -
The name of each surveyor and engineer employed at Henderson Naval Base?
The duties performed by each individual officer? (c) The salary paid in each case?
Mr. BTJRCHELL asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the tugboat to bo constructed for tlie Henderson Naval Base is to be built at Cockatoo Island Dockyard?
If so, has a commencement been made with the construction?
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If so, at what price in - (a) Brisbane,
In what way will this reported arrangement benefit the growers who supply the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s Mills in -
– The Attorney-General has this matter in hand, and he will make a statement to the House next week.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If he will have a list prepared for the information of the House showing all Commonwealth officers who are in receipt of regular payment from private employers, companies, or newspapers, for work outside the Department?
– Inquiry will be made with a view to securing the desired information.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will consider the advisability of offering trainees of eighteen years and upwards to the Imperial authorities for garrison duty in India or elsewhere, to relieve the permanent’ forces engaged in such duty for service at the front?
– Trainees of eighteen years and upwards are eligible for enlistment in the Australian Imperial Force for active service at the front. It is not proposed, therefore, that they should be offered for garrison duty in India or elsewhere.
. UNDER CONTRACT.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Railway Passes : Certificates for Rejects : Enlistment under Assumed Names.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Wliether any arrangements have been made with the Railway Commissioners in the various States with the object of securing a reduction in railway fares so as to enable members of the Expeditionary Forces on leave to .visit their homes?
– All members of the. Australian Imperial Forces are granted a free railway pass within the State in which they are training in order that they may visit their homes prior to embarkation.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon, notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
In the case of any soldiers seeking to escape their duties to their wives and children by enlisting under assumed names or initials, will the Department, upon proof being given, apportion part of their pay for the support of their dependants?
– Yes, provided there is no legal difficulty in the way.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the nonorable member’s questions are -
– In answer to a question by the honorable member for Batman yesterday .in regard to Mr. Henry Harris, boot manufacturer, of Fitzroy, I made a statement which was not in accordance with fact.- A wrong construction was placed on the question. The answer should have been that Mr. Harris’s application has been considered favorably, and he has received a contract for a large number of boots at an increase of 7£d. per pair.
– By way of personal explanation, I should like to say that the answer given by the Minister yesterday placed me in a false position, and Mr. Harris in an unfair light before the public. The answer referred to some other firm, and was not relevant to my question. The statement by the Minister today shows that the answer of yesterday was not justified.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed - “
That this Bill be now read a third time.
Honorable members of the Opposition having withdrawn,
.- From time to time urgent appeals have been made by the Opposition with regard to the obligations and duties of members of Parliament in relation to the present troubles abroad. But I have never previously known of a body of men representing a big section of the people walking out of a Legislative Chamber on every occasion when a great constitutional issue was brought under discussion. The responsibility of members of the Opposition in this matter is very great, and, although they may disclaim any partisan intent, their voices and their actions do not agree. It is obvious that their action in regard to this measure is inspired by something more than opposition to the referenda. We have not had an opportunity of discussing in this House what took place during the referenda campaign of 1913, but now that the proposals are brought forward again, the arguments that were used by members of the Opposition on the previous occasion may be emphasized, and should be met by honorable members in favour of these proposals.1 I do -not give way to any man in my patriotism or in my feelings towards the Empire, or towards the institutions of the Empire to which I belong. But whilst I owe a duty to that Empire, I also owe a duty to the constitutional position of the people I have the honour to represent. The people living in this country who are to-day suffering from the effects of the war, although they are not at the front, claim our attention as the men charged with the direction of the affairs of this country. Honorable members of the Opposition cry out for peace. “Let us have peace in politics,” they say. “ Let this party strife cease.” Yet, while th’ey cry “ Peace,” they are making war upon the housewives of the country, whose lives, under present circumstances, are as likely to be ended by starvation as they would be were they faced by the implements of actual warfare. Therefore, our duty does not altogether lie with the men who are away. We have some obligation in respect of those who are left behind. The Constitution is not broad enough to give us the opportunity we desire to safeguard these people, and yet we are asked, owing to the war, to cease our agitation for constitutional reform, and to cease making any effort to give relief to those people who are unable to help themselves, simply because it suits the political party opposite to make that request. It is suggested that this submission of the referenda will have an effect upon the war. I do not think it will have the slightest effect upon the war, or upon the conduct of the war. My view is that the Opposition are not sincere in their opposition to the referenda proposals, and they are not sincere in the action they have taken in the House today, or that they took last Friday. It is all a political placard intended-to make an impression upon the public mind at this juncture with the sole object of defeating the referenda, - of endeavouring to induce the people .to vote again’st what they nearly granted two years ago, and what they would have granted had the case against been presented as it should have been. I want to place before the House some evidence of the hollow mockery displayed in the case presented by the Opposition on the last occasion when these referenda proposals were before the people. As honorable members are well aware, the argument for the referenda was put in print. The Opposition were invited to place their case there also, and I never saw a more glaring exhibition of inconsistency, or of the absence of logical argument as was exhibited in that case against the referenda.
The probabilities are that the case against the referenda will be placed before the people again unless, of course, members of the Opposition adopt the same attitude outside that they have decided to adopt in this Chamber. I do not think they had a case to put, but in what they tried to do they failed woefully, and I think I can prove the case for the referenda out of their own words, as I did during the last Federal fight. I needed no other argument than that contained in their contribution against the referenda. I wanted no more. I do not think better argument is required to place before intelligent people. I look upon the referenda as the most serious business we have ever had to perform in this “Parliament. It strikes at the root of the prosperity, happiness, and comfort of our people. Viewing the subject in that light, I went so far in my campaign as to tell the people at every meeting I addressed - after I had shown the hollow mockery of the case presented on the other side, and explained, as well as I was able, what the probable effect of the referenda proposals would be - that if they could not vote for the referenda not to vote for me. I staked my political existence on the referenda at that time, and I do not think any man could better display his sincerity on any question than I displayed my sincerity towards the referenda then. But what do we find in the argument against the referenda proposals submitted on behalf of honorable gentlemen opposite ? The claim is made that the referenda, if carried, will have the effect of wrecking the Constitution. On page 45 of “ The case for and against,” it is stated -
Momentous public issues are involved. This is an appeal of citizens to fellow-citizens in their common interests and for the sake of Australia, against the rash, reckless, and unreasonable wrecking of the Federal Constitution, which must result unless the people’s auswer is a resounding “ No.”
At the commencement of their campaign against the referenda the opinion of .honorable gentlemen opposite, according to this official document, was that the referenda proposal’s if adopted would wreck the Constitution, and yet further along instances may be produced where it is admitted that the Constitution must be amended if we wish to make the Government in Australia possible on democratic lines. On page 47 of this precious docu- ment we find this, and I desire. that it shall be noted -
By the constitutional amendments now submitted the people of Australia are asked to divest their State Governments of a large portion of the power they now possess, and to transfer it to the Federal Government, already richly endowed. Had the proposals been limited to the transfer of power necessary to the proper and efficient working of the Federal Government, or to the powers that were national in character and scope, or which could be more effectively exercised by the central Government, there would be no peed to appeal to the citizens of Australia to reject them; But that they go beyond all that is either necessary or desirable can be proved out of the mouths of their sponsors.
That statement shows at once the attitude of the Opposition. Summed up it amounts to this : that the amendments proposed by the Labour party will have the effect of wrecking the Constitution instead of giving to the Commonwealth the power we think it should hay.e. They say by inference that some additional powers are necessary, but not those which the Labour party seek for the National Parliament. In one breath they assert that there is no need for an amendment of the Constitution ; in the next they begin to trim their sails in order that the way may be left clear to them to do something should they ever return to power. This preface to their argument is practically an apology for their attitude. It is the mere expression of a fear, and certainly no argument against the proposals that we put before the people. It is really such a statement as is made by a party that has no case, and I contend that the Liberal party has, in fact, presented no case against the amendments of the Constitution which we propose. A most striking part of their comments in the case against the referenda, as prepared by them, is that which deals with the trade and commerce amendment. Incidentally, I should like to say that the trade and commerce amendment of the Constitution is so interlaced with the other amendments that are proposed as to make it almost impossible to discuss one without making at least an incidental reference to the other. At page 52 of the Case for and against the Referenda, the Liberal party declare the Constitution as it stands to be perfect. What more could we have than a perfect Constitution ? This is what they say -
Still, the one outstanding fact, plain and palpable to all, is that the existing division of the power in the . Commonwealth Constitution is the clearest and most practical possible.
Nothing could be more definite than that -
With every year the boundary line will hecome clearer, and the possibilities of litigation less. On this plan the Commonwealth and the States have their responsibilities quite fair!)’.
What better could we have? In other words the Liberal party say that everything is all right, that the Constitution is operating quite fairly, and that from their point of view it is the clearest and most practical Constitution we could have. They go on to say -
Further, when it is remembered that the present division is Federal, while any alteration must be anti-Federal -
Anti-federal ! Imagine such a statement as that being made - its irresistible claims to permanence can no longer be set aside.
The Opposition then have said in their case against the referenda that the Constitution, as it stands, is the clearest and most practical that we could have, and that, in fact, it is so perfect that it should remain permanent. Any attempt to alter it, they declare, would be anti-Federal. In their judgment, it is capable of no alteration, and in dealing with the trade and commerce amendment, in this pamphlet, they assert that there is no room for amendment. At page 51 of the same pamphlet we have the further statement -
If we are to continue Federal, a marked border line must be drawn between the national and State spheres. Fortunately for us, the clearest dividing line possible is that already well defined in the Federal Constitution.
The Liberal party here declare that there is no need to take any powers from the States. There is no occasion to give any additional powers to the Federation. A perfect line of demarcation, according to them, was laid down by the framers of the Constitution, and no departure from it can be advocated by any body of men having the welfare of the people at heart. One would think it impossible to get away from such a statement. 1 do not know who was responsible for the preparation of the case against the referenda which was issued by the Liberal party, but we may safely assume that the political wisdom of the Opposition was concentrated in an effort to build up these so called arguments against our proposals. We may reasonably assume that among those consulted in its preparation were the honorable member for Flinders, Sir William Irvine; the honorable member for Angas, Mr. Glynn ; the honorable member for Darling Downs, Mr. Groom; the right honorable member for Swan, Sir John Forrest, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Joseph Cook; also Senator Millen. On the other hand we know that all these honorable members, notwithstanding the statements embodied in this pamphlet in opposition to the referenda, have admitted from time to time that amendments of the Constitution are absolutely necessary, and that Mr. Alfred Deakin himself advised the Government of South Africa not to follow the example of Australia in framing a Constitution for that Dominion. I put these men into the witness box to disprove their own case, and to prove the case for the Labour party’s proposals. The honorable member for Flinders has said -
It is just as impossible in commerce to draw a line of demarcation based on local geographical conditions as it would be to commit to the care of one physician a man’s body and .to the care of another physician his limbs. Each is really part of one organic whole; and the result of the attempts has been, as I say, perfectly endless litigation and uncertainty.
That is the statement of an honorable member who helped to frame the Liberal party’s case against the referenda in which it is declared that the Constitution is perfect and should be unalterable. The honorable member for Flinders gives us another cue. Speaking on the Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill of 1910, which went a good deal further than the present one, he said -
I have come to the conclusion that this amendment of the Constitution ought to be made. We should have complete power over trade and commerce.
Here we have the two voices. The honorable member for Flinders helped to build up the case against the Referenda Bills in which it is stated that the Constitution is perfect, and ought to be unalterable; yet, speaking in his calmer and more deliberate moments, he has declared that an alteration of the trade and commerce power is absolutely necessary, and should be made.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– The honorable member for Flinders, on page 35 of the pamphlet, emphatically indorsed his previous opinion. Speaking on the Referendum Bills in 1910, he said -
I have come to the conclusion that this amendment of the Constitution ought to be made. We should have complete power over trade and commerce.
Yet the party opposite claim that no amendment is necessary, that the Constitution is ample, and that any interference with it is anti-Federal. Let me show what was in the minds of Mr. Deakin, when ho was Prime Minister, and the honorable member for Darling Downs, the then Attorney-General, when the Premier of Natal inquired into the working of our Constitution. Mr. Deakin sent the following reply: -
The limitation to Inter-State and external commerce bisects the subject of trade and commerce, and makes a hard-and-fast division of jurisdiction, of which it is difficult to determine the boundaries, and which does not correspond with any natural distinction in the conduct of business. It would be more satisfactory, if feasible, to take power over trade and commerce generally.
That was the advice Mr. Deakin gave to the young country seeking to adopt a workable Constitution, and the honorable member for Darling Downs, who is so loud iu his condemnation of the Labour party, indorsed it in these words -
I have carefully perused the memorandum, and I fully agree with the views expressed.
There we have additional proof of the correctness of the argument of the Labour party that the Trade and Commerce provisions of the Constitution are inadequate. The question of new Protection is linked up with the Trade and Commerce powers, because the latter are necessary to provide the desired amendments on the lines of new Protection. These are Mr. Deakin’s words in that regard -
As the power to protect the manufacturer is national, it follows that, unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth also acquires power to secure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage-earners, the policy of Protection must remain incomplete. He recommended an amendment of the Constitution to give effect to this.
Though honorable members opposite say that no amendment of the Constitution is necessary, they have at different times favoured its amendment. What reliance can the people have in political advisers of this kind? Another question linked up with the Trade and Commerce powers is that of corporations. Without the
Trade and Commerce powers we ‘cannot - follow the different ramifications of corporations. On page 57 of the pamphlet the Fusion party say -
This tyrannical treatment of plain incontestible issues is the more indefensible because, as Liberal members have proved again and again, the present law affecting corporations is unsatisfactory. Two years ago the present Opposition offered their unanimous support to an amendment of the Constitution, which would have placed both the creation and dissolution of companies under the control of the Federal Parliament, leaving them to carry .on their various trading operations under the same State laws and conditions as those imposed upon firms and individuals - their competitors.
That is the proposal they put forward as an amendment of the Constitution, though in the preface to their arguments they say that the Constitution is in no need- of any alteration. We had other evidence in the early days of Federation to support our case. For instance, there is the opinion of Mr. Justice Higgins, who moved in this Parliament -
That the Parliament ought to have full power to make laws as to wages, hours, and conditions of labour for Australia.
Many of those who supported that motion, which was carried unanimously, are now sitting in Opposition in this Parliament, and were responsible for putting forward that mendacious case against the amendment of the Constitution which is found in portion of the pamphlet that I have been quoting. However, the fact remains that this Parliament unanimously resolved that an amendment of the Constitution was necessary to give full power to the Federal Parliament in the direction I have indicated. I put the honorable member for Flinders again in the witness-box to disprove the case the Liberals put to the neople. On page 35 of the pamphlet is this statement-
He supported the amendment to give the Parliament full power in regard to industrial matters, and said the Federal Parliament should have power to make laws that would override, where necessary, State industrial laws.
In regard to amendments of the Constitution in the matter of the Trade and Commerce powers, corporations and industrial laws, we have vindication from the most prominent men of the Opposition as to the necessity for the amendment of the Constitution. Railway matters are also linked up with the Trade and Commerce powers, because trade and com- merce cannot be worked unless we have some coutrol over the railways over which distribution takes place. In this connexion I can call as a witness the right honorable member for Parramatta, who is so violent in his attacks upon the constitutional proposals of the Government, and who is so outraged at what he regards as the impropriety of proceeding with thosa proposals at the present period that he has actually led his party out of the chamber in order to demonstrate his contempt of them. When the ReidMcLean Government were in power, he actually voted in favour of including railway employees within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Yet the honorable gentleman now tells us that there is no need for an amendment of the Constitution to achieve that very object. On page 62 of the pamphlet from which I have quoted, I find the following: -
On the other hand, the fact of the existence of a real industrial conflict extending’ over more than one State is not only a necessary occasion for Federal intervention, but is a demonstration of a community of interest, and Association, and sympathy, which justifies Federal intervention. Industrial matters which touch and concern the people of more than one State necessarily become Intcr-Stato, and therefore Federal, and within the Federal sphere, hut it can hardly be contended that such matters as an allowance for tea-money to the shop girls in Hobart, or holidays in Perth, or workmen’s liens in Adelaide, or the wages of day labourers in Sydney, or glass screens to protect tramway gripmen in Melbourne, properly come within the sphere of Federal politics.
That is typical of the tripe which is talked jibout these proposals. Obviously it is intended to appeal to the lower elements of the community. Honorable members opposite have descended to gutter politics, and have exaggerated the effect of the proposed constitutional amendments with ;a view to unfairly influencing the minds of the people. In order to show the inconsistency of these gentlemen, I would refer honorable members to page 64 of 41ie pamphlet in question, on which the following appears: -
It is a fatal mistake to treat the Australian people as being any longer ignorant of the fundamental principles of the Federal form of government. There are some who believe, for reasons of their own, that unification would he better than any Federation, but even these .people know that as long as the Federal form of government is retained it is essential that liotli the Federal Parliament and the State (Parliament should be left supreme within the domain allotted to each.
Allotted to whom ? They are the same people, and obviously the authority which can exercise these powers most effectively should be the authority which should be placed in possession of them. It cannot be seriously contended that the frarners of our Constitution could foresee all the dangers ahead. Yet, in spite of the economic changes which occur from year to year, we find the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Flinders indorsing the statement that no amendment of the Constitution is necessary. I desire to emphasize this point, because therein lies the whole of the weakness of their case. Upon page 67 of the same document, I find the following:
Liberalism holds it imperative that trusts should be controlled and regulated so as to prevent exploitation of the public…..
Speaking for the whole party, the then leader, Mr. Deakin, stated in the House, when dealing with the 1911 proposals, and repeating the same assurance in 1912, that the Opposition was willing to assist the Government in securing “ whatever power may he necessary to enable this Parliament to deal at once in the most thorough and complete manner with trusts and combines.”
Nothing more definite than that statement has ever been put forward by the Labour party. Yet honorable members opposite now urge that any such amendment of the Constitution is unnecessary. The pamphlet proceeds -
That declaration was repeated by other members of the Ministry. It is important in two particulars. It proves that the Government recognised it would be “ difficult, if not impossible,” to succeed under the 190(1 Act, and, further, that the people had a right to expect that the existing power should be thoroughly tested before other means were resorted to. In view of this, an explanation is necessary as to why the Government proceeded under the Act under which they declared success to be impossible, and left untouched and unenforced the Act which they themselves introduced, and which was designed to meet the very point upon which the earlier measure failed.
That statement was made with a view to deceiving the people. It is absolutely incorrect to say that the Labour Government refused to put the law in motion when they had an opportunity to do so. Honorable members opposite have said that we can dissolve the trusts in Australia, but to-day it is unnecessary that I should say anything on that point, since every one knows that we have not that power. They referred to the Trade and Commerce amendment as a drag-net, and invited the people to believe that under it the Federal Parliament would have power to interfere with small shopkeepers, the owners of lolly shops, peanut merchants, and people of that ‘ kind. They thought that by overdrawing the case in that extreme way they might be able to prejudice the public mind. But the people know well that the Federal Parliament would never dream of interfering in such matters when the greater problems connected with trade and commerce require to be solved in the interests of the community. I have already quoted what our opponents said at the beginning of their statement of the case with regard to the Constitution being unalterable. It is shown at page 39 of the pamphlet that the right honorable member for Swan was convinced by the honorable member for Flinders that an amendment of the Constitution was necessary in regard to trade and commeroe. The honorable member for Angas is quoted at page 29 as stating unhesitatingly that an amendment of the Constitution is necessary to enable us to deal with trusts, combines, and monopolies in restraint of trade in any State or part of the Commonwealth. He dealt with the powers that are necessary, as shown at page 36 of the pamphlet. Then, in summing up at page 80, our opponents give proof that in stating their case they were merely trying to deceive the people. In the early part of their statement they assert that the Constitution is perfect, that no amendment is therefore necessary, and that to alter it in any way would be anti-Federal. But in summing up their case at page 80, to save their faces, and in order that should they be returned to power before the proposed alterations were made, they might be in a position to say that they had favoured amendments of the Constitution, they make these statements -
Liberals are prepared to frame and support the amendments of the Constitution already offered by their leaders. To make these amendments has been, and will continue to be, the aim of all Liberals. They will be added to as experience proves their need.
So that it is the aim of all Liberals to make amendments in a Constitution that needs no amendment. The people are invited to believe that Liberals hav-a always desired, and still desire, to amend a Constitution that is perfect, and to amend which would be anti-Federal. They go so far as to say that the amendments they have proposed in this perfect Con- stitution will be added to as experience proves necessary. Because of existing conditions and the anxiety of honorable members to get to a vote, I regret that I have not had the opportunity to deal with this matter as exhaustively as I intended. I can say, as I said in the Federal campaign on the referenda proposals in 1913, that no one could have a better case in support of those proposals than to show the inconsistency of the case against them put forward by our political opponents. They were guilty of unadulterated presumption in thinking that the people could not see the hollow mockery and deception of the case they presented. We are told that this is not an opportune time to put our proposals before the people, but it is always opportune to do the right tiling, and to do what is needed by the country. In spite of all the efforts which have been made by the State Governments to regulate prices in piecemeal fashion, the conditions at present existing throughout Australia show the need for the amendments proposed by the Labour party to save the people from constantly rising prices, and from the oppression of men who, while preaching patriotism, are at the same time showing how hollow their professions are by dipping their hands into the people’s pockets and taking from them what they have no warrant to take. This is a condition of affairs which cannot be altered too early. I am ready to go on to the platform in support of the referenda proposals as safeguarding the interests of the people. I am ready to do all that can. be done to enable the war to be successfully prosecuted, but I can do the two things at one time. I can say that we must do all that can be done to uphold the independence and freedom of Australia, and I can say at the same time that we have to consider those who will not be going to the front, and do all that . is necessary to make the conditions of life in the Commonwealth better for them than they have hitherto been. I want to place before the people of Australia, and of the electorate of Gwydir, and of the back-blocks in particular, the case for the referenda proposals. I want to -.iiake it plain to them that the Opposiiiun have made a hash of their case, because they have had no case to put to the people. Their absence from this chamber at the present moment is a proof that . they cannot state’ a case against the pro- posals. They have left the chamber because they have no case. First of all, they said that we are against State rights ; secondly, they said that we are Unificationists; thirdly, the case they put themselves has been proved to be made up of deceptive and misleading arguments. Now they say that we should not put these proposals forward because the nation is at war, and there is tribulation, grief, and suffering in every home. There will be more grief if we do not carry them. To withdraw these Bills would not diminish the present tribulation and suffering by one iota. Bather, it would increase the burdens on the men who have gone to the front, by increasing their anxiety as to the welfare of those they have left behind them. Such a course of action would cause intense disappointment, and bring well deserved condemnation on the party to which we belong. I trust the Bills will be put through, and submitted to the people, and that the people will respond by giving us the powers asked for. If they do, I have no fear for the future of Australia so long as our party controls its destinies.
And no honorable members voting with the “ Noes,” and the following honorable members voting with the “Ayes”: -
Anstey, P. Archibald, W. O. Batnford, F. W. Brennan, Frank Burchell, R. J. Burns, G. M. Carr. E. S. Catts, J. H. Chanter, J. M. Charlton, M. Dankel, G. Fent.on, J. E. Fiiiliiyson, W. F. Fisher, A. llamnson A. J. Hi’igs, W. G Hushes, W. M. Jensen, J. A. Lvnch, J. Million, H.
Page, J. Hannan, J.
Mahony, W. G. Maloney, Dr. Mathews, J. McGrath, D. C. Moloney, Parker J. O’Malley, King Ozanne, A. T. Poynton, A. Ril’ev, E. Sh:irpu. J. B. Smith, Laird Spence^ W. G. Thomas, J. Tudor, F. G. Watkins, D. Webster, W. West, J. E. Wise, G. H. Yates, G. E.
Abbott, Lt.-Colonel Ryrie, Colonel
– There being thirtynine “ Ayes,” and no “ Noes,” I certify that the necessary statutory majority in favour of the motion is present, and I therefore declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Third Reading. Motion (by Mr. Hughes) put - That this Bill be now read a third time.
And no honorable members voting with the “ Noes,” and the following honorable members voting with the “ Ayes “ : -
Anstey, F. Archibald, W. O. Bamford, F. W. Brennan, Frank Burchell, R. J. Burns, G. M. Carr, E. S. Catts, J. H. Chanter, J. M. Charlton, M. Dankel, G. Fenton, J. E. Finlaysori, W. F. Fisher, A. Hampson, A. J. Higgs, W. G. Hughes, W. M. Jensen, J. A. Lynch, J. Mahon, H.
Mahony, W. G. Maloney, Dr. Mathews, J. McGrath, D. C. Moloney, Parker J. O’Malley. King Ozannt, A. T. Poynton, A. Riley, E. Sharpe, J. B. Smith, Laird Spence, W. G. Thomas, J. Tudor, F. G. Watkins, D. Webster, W. West, J. E. Wise, G. H. Yates, G. E.
Pa^e, J. Hannan, J. F.
Pairs. Abbott, Lt.-Colonel ! Eyrie, Colonel Mr. SPEAKER.- There being thirtynine “ Ayes,” and no “ Noes,” I certify that the necessary statutory majority in favour- of the motion is present, and I, therefore, declare the” question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a third time.
Third Reading. Motion (by Mr. Hughes) put - That this Bill be now read a third time. And no honorable members voting with the “ Noes,” and the following honorable members voting with the “ Ayes “ : - Ayes- 39.
Mihony, W. G.
Anstey, F. Archibald, W. O Bamford, F. W. Brennan, Frank Burchell, R. J. Burns, G. M. Carr, E. S. Cntts, J. H. Chanter, J. M. Charlton, M. Dankel, G. Fenton, J. E. Finlayson, W. F. Fisher, A. Hampson, A. J. Higgs, W. G. Hughes’, W. M. Jensen, J. A. Lynch, J. Mahon, H.
Maloney, Dr. Mathews, J. MeGrath, D. C. Moloney, Parker J. O’Malley, King Ozanne, A. T: Poynton, A. Riley, E. Sharpe, J. B. Smith, Laird Spence, W. G. Thomas, J. Tudor, F. G. Wsvtkins, D. Webster, W. West, J. E. Wise, G. H. Yates, G. E.
Page, J. I Abbott, Lt.-Colonel
Hannan, J. F. Eyrie, Colonel
– There being thirtynine “Ayes,” and no “Noes,” I certify that the necessary statutory majority in favour of the motion is present, and I, therefore, declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
When moving the second reading of this Bill I was prevented, owing to pressure of time, from dealing with au important phase of the measure; I refer to the regulation of prices. When these proposals were first submitted to this Chamber no suggestion was subjected to more hostile criticism than that which related to Governmental regulation of prices. What ridicule the Leader of the Opposition poured upon this proposal ! It is true he did not understand Avhat precisely was proposed, but he was bitterly opposed to it, and he even, went to the length of reading history to show how futile such a proposal must be. He told the country that the Roman Emperor Domitian had tried to do this absurd thing, and bitterly regretted it ; that King Henry of England had also tried it, and also had failed not less miserably. In short, the Leader of the Opposition said that wherever it had been tried it had always failed. Now, because my honorable friend did not understand it, he went about the country making grotesque misrepresentations of it. In spite of this, and much more, the people only rejected this proposal by a bare 8,000 votes, and there were 87,000 informal votes upon it. Since that time events have moved very rapidly, and public opinion with them, and that which the right honorable member a few months ago declared to be impossible is now an every-day occurrence. Eood Boards arc regulating prices. It is obvious, therefore, that whatever may be said of the project, at least it is not impossible. In 1913 the honorable member for Parramatta said, in a speech at Wagga-
As to regulating prices, that was impossible for any Government. To tinker with prices would not accomplish the object aimed at. It would be simply playing into the hands of the speculators.
But, as I have said, prices are now being regulated, and after more than six months’ experience it is evident that whatever .may be said as to the manner in which this has been done, no one can say it is impossible. Food Boards are reviewing prices, and in some States are effectively regulating them. I shall not deal with this matter at any great length, but bofore leaving it I desire to lay down ‘clearly what really is contained in our proposal, and what, in our opinion, ought to be done. In order that I may do that as shortly as possible, I propose to read an extract from my speech in introducing the referenda proposals in 1913. Oh that occasion I said -
We have adopted the principle that a fair and reasonable return must be given for labotir, embodied it in our legislation, and havo established State and Federal tribunals to regulate wages and conditions of work. These tribunals say to every man that comes before them, “ Your labour is worth, on the whole, so much, and you must be paid so much.” That is an interference with what is called the natural law of supply and demand…..
What does a man work for? Not for £2, or £3, or £4 a week - so many sovereigns placed in his hand - but for a given quantity of commodities; he sells his labour for what he requires to eat and wear, and what is necessary for the maintenance, education, and recreation of himself and family. If the prices of these essentials to civilized man are raised by persons who have absolute control of the supply of them, if there is no competition for the salu or supply of such things, what becomes of the policy which has received the benediction of the Opposition and the approval of every elector, or. 99 out of every 100 electors, in tlur country? If prices are fixed by rings, and wages by law, then to raise the wages helps very little, for increased prices will always absorb every increase of wages.
We have to lay down the principle that wherever the assurance of a fair and reasonable wage to all men is interfered with by anything which prevents the consumer getting the benefits of free competition, and by means of which the prices of the necessary commodities and services are fixed by private individuals for their own benelit, then this Parliament ought to have the power to remove therestrictions and insure either free. competition,, or, at any rate, fair prices. That is the principle and the position. When we interferewith the law of supply and demand in wages we must necessarily interfere with the law of supply and demand in other directions. Wages are only another side of prices. If I receives £3 a week when prices are 100, and .prices, increase to 120, my wage is no longer £3. It has been reduced by 20 per cent. So far from confining ourselves to monopolies in thismatter, I lay down the broad principle that where there ‘ is free competition there is no> necessity to attempt, and we ought not’ to attempt, to regulate prices, -which are then naturally, brought down to that margin of profit above the cost of production, which pays a man to engage in the business. Trusts and combines, as Hobaon has put it, are not satisfied with the fair profit received from a fair competitive price, but raise their prices so as to extort an excessive profit. There is just the difference between such exploitation of the public and fair profit that there is between interest and usury. We do not object to a man receiving a fair return on his capital any more than we object to a workman receiving a fair return for his labour; but when it is left to private individuals to fix the prices of the necessaries of life of every man, woman, and child in the community, is there to be no power to review, to consider, or even to inquire into the. circumstances under which they fix those prices? That is an intolerable and impossible state of affairs.
That statement, made in 1913, needs no amplification. It sets forth clearly what the position is: that where free competition exists prices will regulate themselves, but that where these prices are fixed by . combines and monopolies tribunals authorized by Government should have power to review, and, if necessary, regulate them. I may now say a word as to how far prices can be regulated. The limitations on the regulation of prices are obvious. By no device or expedient, legislative or” other-‘ wise, can prices be reduced below the average cost of production. .If an attempt is made to do this, although it may succeed as to goods already produced, it obviously can have no effect on future production, for it is clear that no men will produce goods if they .are to lose money for their pains. The producer, is entitled to a fair return for his labour and capital. But the trouble in the modern world, as Hobson points out, is that the Trust is not satisfied with this fair profit, but demands and gets_ more. The manner in which it operates is well known ; it limits output, waters capital, manipulates the market until the community is at its mercy. It is against these methods that the Labour party sets its face, and for this purpose, and to the extent I have pointed out, that we desire to have the power to review, and if necessary, regulate prices. Here, then, I have set forth clearly the position in regard to the exercise of the power under this proposal so far as it relates to the regulation of prices; what it is we propose to do, how far we think it desirable to go, and how far it is possible to go. These points having been made clear, I have now to submit the motion.
Question - put.
And no honorable members voting with the “ Noes,” and the following honorable members voting with the “ Ayes “ : -
– There being thirtynine “ Ayes,” and no “ Noes,” I certify that the necessary statutory majority in favour of the motion is present, and I; therefore, declare the question .resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Third Reading; Motion (by Mr. Hughes) put - That this’ Bill be now read a third time. And no honorable members voting with the “ Noes,” and the following honorable members voting with the “ Ayes “ : - Aybs- 38.
– There being thirtyeight “ Ayes,” and no “ Noes,” I certify that the necessary statutory majority ia favour of the motion is present, and I, therefore, declare the . question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Third Reading. Motion (by Mr! Hughes) put -
That this BiU be now read a third time.
And no honorable members voting with the “ Noes,” and the following honorable members voting with the “ Ayes “ : - Atbs - 39.
Mahony, W. G.
Anstey, F. Archibald, W. 0. Bamtoi-d, P. W. Brennan, Frank Bnrchell, B. J. Burns, G. M. Carr, E. S. Catts, J. H. Chanter, J. M. Charlton, M. Daukel, G. vFenton, J. IS. Pinlavaon, W. F. Fisher, A. ‘Hampson, A. J. HigKs, W. G. Hughss, W. M. Jensen, J. A. Lynch, J. Hnhon, E.
Maloney, Dr. Mathews, J. McGrath, D. C. Moloney, Parker J. O’Mnlley, King Ozanne, A. T. Poynton, A. Riley, E. Sharpe, J. B. Smith, Laird Spence, W. G. Thomas, J. Tudor, F. G. Watkins, D. Webstor, W. West, J. E. Wise, G. H. Yates, G. E.
Page, J. Abbott, Lt.-Colonel
Hannan, J. F. 1 Byrie, Colonel.
– There being thirtynine “ Ayes,” and no “ Noes,” I certify that -the necessary statutory majority in favour of the motion is present, and I, . therefore, .declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 3.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150702_reps_6_77/>.