6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know, from the Minister representing the Minister for Defence if the Government has reconsidered its attitude regarding the granting of separation allowances to the wives of members of the Imperial Force. I know of a case in which a wife, having been ill, remained temporarily in England, while her husband enlisted in Australia. The Department holds the view thatbecause the wife is residing in England, although only temporarily, she cannot be given the separation allowance.
– I shall bring the question under the notice of the Minister for Defence, and let the honorable member know his reply.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the speeches of the members cf the Legislative Assembly of Queensland dealing with the matter which is now so prominently before the country are being heavily censored, and that the question of reprinting the Hansard report has been referred to Melbourne, the speeches noi being allowed to be published in Queensland?
– I have no knowledge of the matters referred to, and am not aware that Parliamentary speeches are being censored anywhere. Mr. Speaker is alone responsible for any censoring that may be done in connexion with the reports of speeches delivered in this House, and the Speaker of the Queensland Legislative Assembly has a similar responsibility. I know of no other authority who can interfere. There is no censorship on publication now, except in regard to two restrictions which I have mentioned repeatedly in this Chamber, and bring under notice again now. They are these: Persons are not allowed to publicly refer in insulting terms to the Empire or to our Allies, and no resolution or statement inciting to or tending to incite to a breach of the law, by striking, or other active resistance, or in any other way, may be published.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the following order was issued to the press of Australia on the 2nd of this month : -
Itis not permissible to publish (1) the following question addressed by Mr. Cook to the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives yesterday : “ What would happen if the referendum failed ? The men would still have to be got somehow,’” and (2) the Prime Minister’s answer ending, “ Australia will not fail.” No reference may be made in the press to this question and answer.
Is the right honorable gentleman responsible for the issuing of that order?
– I think the question should be addressed to Mr. Speaker.
– I have had no communication of any sort with the censor.
– May I add that I have no objection to the publication of the statement referred to, and I have not given any order to prevent its publication.
SUBURBAN POSTAL DELIVERY.
– I ask the Postmaster-General if he will restore the Saturday afternoon delivery of letters in the suburbs of Sydney. If the honorable gentleman does not see his way to provide for the delivery of letters every Saturday afternoon, will he consider the possibility of delivering letters on Saturday afternoons when there is an English mail to hand, so that the relatives of soldiers at the front may not have to wait from the Saturday until the Monday for their correspondence.
– It was found on investigation that, as a general rule, the quantity of mail matter to be delivered on Saturday afternoons did not warrant the expense of a special delivery. The honorable member must realizethat we cannot meet the exigencies created by the war unless we scrutinize carefully every item of expense, and endeavour, so far as possible, to keep our expenditure within bounds.
– Will the Minister for Home Affairs lay on the table the report of the Engineer -in-Chief on the railways of the Commonwealth?
Mr.FLEMING. - I ask the Prime Min ister if it is a fact that demonstrations of any kind for the raising of funds for patriotic purposes connected with the war cannot be held until the sanction of the Parliamentary War Committee has been obtained?
– I have no knowledge of any such regulation. If the honorable member will let me have whatever information on the subject he may possess, I shall look into the matter.
SOLDIERS’ FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS.
-Will the Prime Minister take steps to prevent rapacious landlords from victimizing the wives and relatives of soldiers who are fighting at the front, by raising rents, and in other ways ?
– I am thoroughly in accord with the feeling that prompts the question, but I am not in a position to declare just now how far it is possible to do what is asked, or how it could be done,short of establishing rent courts. But, as the question has been asked, I take the opportunity to declare the decision of the Government on a cognate matter, a declaration which will help honorable members to know the minds of Ministers on this subject. If the present moratorium is insufficient to meet the cases of persons who have already volunteered, or may hereafter do so, or may be called up for military service under any law, and, by reason of such military service, may be unable to meet obligations arising out of mortgages or other binding instruments, the Government will extend the moratorium to cover such cases. Further, the Government have decided not to permit foreclosures under mortgages, whether the mortgagor be serving or have served in the Australian Imperial Force or not, during the currency of the war. An appeal will lie with the AttorneyGeneral in cases where the mortgagee may allege hardship.
– Is the Prime Minister correctly reported as having said at the conscription meeting in Sydney that single men only will be conscripted to fill the vacancies at the front?
– I have not before me a verbatim report of what I said at the Sydney meeting, but I think, although I am not sure, that either in the manifesto I issued to the people of Australia, or at the meeting in Sydney, I used words to the following effect: The Government do not consider that it will be necessary to call on other than single men during this war. We consider that those who may be called to the colours under the Act or Proclamation, together with supplementary drafts of persons who will volunteer, will be sufficient to keep our five divisions at their full strength. That is, in effect, what I said. If the honorable member so desires, he may refer to the report of the meeting or to the manifesto.
– Will the Government take steps to prevent the lapse of the life insurance policies of persons who may be called up under the conscription proposal ?
– I think the Government should do so.
– Is it a fact that in some camps in the neighbourhood of Sydney there is no provision, other than water taps, for the soldiers to wash themselves? Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inquire into the matter, and if the accom modation is found to be insufficient, will he have washing basins provided?
– In view of the censorship of news from Broken Hill, and the fact that papers upholding the Labour interests are not permitted free circulation, will the Minister for the Navy allay public anxiety by making a definite statement of any facts within his knowledge as to the condition of that town at the present time under the application of military law ?
– I know of nothing taking place at Broken Hill that can be regarded as serious in any way.
– A few days ago the Minister for Home Affairs tabled a return showing the amount expended to date on the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway. He further stated that an estimate was being prepared as to the probable expenditure required to complete the line. Will that estimate include the cost of ballasting?
– To be just, it should do so.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If he will give instructions so that auditors appointed by farmers interested in the wheat pool shall have immediate access to the books and transactions of the Department controlling same?
– The books and accounts of the wheat pool are already subject to a continuous audit by the AuditorGeneral’s Department; the accounts of the various State Wheat Commissions are audited by the respective State Auditors; and this should suffice.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
What is the daily average wage paid on this work for -
– I shall obtain the information and lay it on the table of the House in the form of a return.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are -
Construction Costs - Traffic Returns
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– As previously intimated, I shall obtain the information and lay it on the table of the House in the form of a return.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
What is the revenue and expenditure of the traffic department of the east-west railway from the previous return up to 31st March, 1916, to the date of the latest ascertained re turns, indicating construction traffic and public traffic separately?
– The revenue and expenditure for the east-west railway, for the period 1st July, 1915, to 31st July, 1916, is as follows: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
I may add that the Government do not propose to vary these conditions.
Returned Soldiers as Area Officers : Numbers in Training Camps : Employment of Returned Soldiers : Soldiers’ Parcels : Major Olifent : Transport Officers.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Seeing that a number of people in well-paid positions are also, under the Defence Act, performing the duties of Area Officers, will the Minister for Defence take into consideration the advisability of appointing returned soldiers to such positions?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Yes. This matter has already received consideration, and instructions were issued on the 15th June last that, in all cases where suitable returned officers and soldiers of the A.I.F. are unfit for further active service, but are available for duty as Acting Area Officers, their services were to be utilized as such, provided they are suitable for the positions and are desirous of appointment. Commandants were also instructed that Acting Area Officers who are not returned members of the A.I.F. were to be required to vacate their appointments immediately in all cases where they could be suitably filled in accordance with the above.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The information will be supplied as soon as it is available.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1. (a) Yes. The Commandant, 4th Military District, forwarded on 8th September, 1916, an extract from the Adelaide Advertiser, which stated that “Major J. H. S. Olifent has been appointed an honorary Commissioner to inquire into and report upon technical education in Great Britain”; (!>) No. Captain (Major, Australian Imperial Force) Olifent has made no application to carry out any outside duties whilst in receipt of Australian Imperial Force pay.
asked the Ministerfor the Navy, upon notice -
Whether the principle of exclusive appropriation of the manufactures of the Australian Woollen Mills by the Federal Government for war purposes has been violated by the supply in a certain district of Tasmania of certain of such manufactures for the use of a section of the civilian population; and, if so, at whose instance was such sectional preference shown?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
It is not considered that the principle alluded to has been violated by the issue of a small quantity of material from military stocks to provide underclothing for miners who are engaged in the production of metals much needed for munitions, and who Buffer the disability of working in localities subject to rigorous climatic conditions.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
For the further information of the honorable member, as to the discretionary powers of the Government, I would refer him to my answer to his previous question on this matter.
– I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
Under the arrangement arrived at, the MilitaryService Referendum Bill is to pass through all its stages in this House by 11 o’clock to-night, but the Government desire the opportunity of considering their financial proposals in order to submit them to the House on Wednesday next. The only opportunity for Ministers to do so will be afforded tomorrow afternoon and Friday, and as there is no other business before the House, I ask honorable members to agree to this adjournment.
– After the statement the Prime Minister has made, there can be no objection to the motion. Proceeding with business when there is none ready to proceed with is impossible; but may I suggest that many honorable members are anxious to proceed to their States, which are long distant from Melbourne, in order that they may “ do their bit “ - if I may use a military phrase of the day - in connexion with the referendum, and the sooner they are able to get away from the House the better it will be for all concerned. Can the Minister indicate when the business of the House will be wound up?
– I said last week that it will be wound up by next week.
– Will that mean Friday of next week ?
– That is the proposal.
– There would be no objection to meeting a day earlier in order to save a day at the latter end of the week.
– The Government cannot do that. I cannot return from Adelaide until Wednesday.
– I understand. The referendum is “ over all.”
– For the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to settle the affairs of this House and the country is all very well.
– Can there be any objection to their being settled in this chamber ? Where would the honorable member have them settled ?
– When this sitting adjourns we shall have settled the question of taking a referendum ; but I believe that the Treasurer should first make a statement to the House as to how the money is to be gathered in for paying the expenses of the war.
– That is the very purpose of the adjournment. The Treasurer is to make that statement on Wednesday next.
– There is no time like the present. I can see no reason why, immediately preceding the final carrying of the Military Service Referendum Bill, the Treasurer should not submit a concise and true statement of the intentions of the Government as to the financial arrangements for the carrying on of the war. This may be a peculiar remark from an honorable member sitting behind the Government, but the matter of my support of the Government is just on the balance.
The people should know the financial position this week, before we adjourn. Having regard to the Treasurer’s state of health, I do not wish to impose upon him any harsh conditions; but I think that the Government ought to let us have, without delay, a statement of what they propose with regard to taxation and finance generally.
– Does not the honorable member realize that the Government should have a little time to formulate such a scheme and present it to the House? We are going to do what the honorable member suggests at the earliest possible moment, because we regard it as vital.
– While the Prime Minister and I are as far apart as the poles with regard to a certain question, I am going to deal fairly with him, and there will be nothing vitriolic in the exchanges between us; but I can see no reason why we should adjourn this week without having a financial statement from the Treasurer.
– The House cannot have it before Wednesday next. The only question is whether or not the House should adjourn and give us an opportunity to consider it.
– If the Prime Minister will tell me that the Treasurer is physically unfit to present such a statement to the House this week, I will be satisfied.
– What I do say is something more to the point, and this is, that, apart from the Treasurer’s state of health, the Government have not considered, nor has he considered, or placed before us, his matured statement. Until he does that we cannot present it to the House, and the honorable member would be the last, I amsure, to suggest that we should.
– The Government expressed a desire last week that the Military Service Referendum Bill should be passed through its remaining stages to-day, and I promised to agree to that course. But I say at once that I shall resort to every constitutional means within my power of preventing the carrying of the Bill until we have from the Government some information as to the financial arrangements by which they propose to defray the cost of the war. I am not making a threat, but I consider it my duty to take up this stand. Even those who differ from r t on the question of conscription will agree with me that we should have a financial statement from the Treasurer before the Referendum Bill is carried.
– Honorable members will have a financial statement. We desire to give the House an opportunity of considering the deliberate, matured proposals of the Government, which will be sufficient for the occasion.
– But that will be after the carrying of the Bill - after the principle has becomelaw.
– But the people will decide what is to be done with that proposal.
– I know the Opposition well enough to be able to say that if adequate provision were made by the Government to finance the war, and to carry out the obligations that the Prime Minister intends to place upon Australia, they would seriously consider the position before they vote for the Military Service Referendum Bill.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing that measure.
– It may be said that I am merely an apprentice to parliamentary procedure, but I have heard decisions given by you, Mr. Speaker, such as I have never heard before, and I know that if I allow this opportunity to slip by, with the result that the Bill in question is passed, I shall not have another opportunity of referring to this question.
– I want to ask the honorable member this-
– Order !
– I regret, sir, that you will not allow the Prime Minister to give me some explanation.
– Sit down and he will give it.
– I have done that before and have been beaten. I know that the serpent was more subtle than any beast in the field that the Lord God created, and when I see the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in accord I know that itis time for me to object.
– May we not be in accord upon a question of the safety of the nation?
– The Leader of the Opposition will pardon me for saying that I know his party differ just as much as we do on certain points affecting the financial aspect of the war. If the Treasurer would place before the House his financial proposals for the successful carrying out of the obligations which the Government are undertaking, I do not think one-third of the Opposition would vote for the Military Service Referendum Bill.
– If those financial proposals meet with the honorable member’s approval, will they influence his vote on the question!
– The question is not whether I shall be satisfied, but rather whether I ought not to discharge a duty that I owe to my constituents and to the people of Australia generally. I desire to know, before we undertake to send 220,000 men to the other side of the world within the next few months, what financial arrangements are to be made.
– The honorable member agreed to settle this matter to:night before hearing the financial statement.
– I have admitted that I agreed last Friday to the taking of a vote to-day.
– Before you heard the financial statement.
– I did not say that.
– But you did - you agreed to do so.
– That is not correct.
– Did you expect a financial statement to-day ?
– What I agreed to was that the vote should be taken at this sitting, and I hope the debate will not be protracted, because I have no more desire than have other honorable members to spend hours on these benches towards the early morning. But when I made that agreement there were reasons, which I shall not state here, which caused me to believe that some financial statement would be made to the House.
– To-day. There is nothing to prevent the Government furnishing a financial statement, and it is no use their saying that they are not prepared with one. I know full well that the Prime Minister possesses knowledge that ought to be given to the House before the vote is taken. I am not going to assist him to cement together enough members “to carry his desire, before he places before us some information as to what the financial arrangements are.
– Surely that is a matter for the Cabinet to decide before it comes before us.
– The Leader of the Opposition has been Prime Minister himself, while, I admit, I am only an apprentice hand, and a very raw one at that.
– The honorable member is starting to “ stone- wall “ pretty early !
– Surely that is out of order ?
– It does not matter. The honorable member for Moreton has sunk his obligations to his country, whereas I have not; and the laughs and jeers of honorable members opposite affect me not in the least. I say to honorable members opposite that if we had before us the financial proposals for the successful carrying on of this war, and as to the obligation that will be entailed under the Bill, not one-third of them would vote for the measure.
– Do you know what they are?
– The members of the Opposition know that the people they represent- .
– The honorable member is now discussing the Bill, and I must ask him to confine himself to the motion.
– 1 have enough sense to know that the financial expenditure under the Bill will be so enormousthat ordinary taxation cannot possibly meet it.’
– The honorable member must not discuss the Bill at this stage.
– I suppose I must admit myself beaten, as I have had to admit previously, when the leaders on both sides have joined; and I shall sit downafter making one statement to the Prime Minister and the members of the Opposition. To the Prime Minister I would say that the fairest way of dealing with theOpposition, and those on this side who differ from him, would be to submit a financial statement to the House.
– I wish to do so, but you will not let me.
– To honorable members opposite I say that, in their representative capacity, and as His Majesty’s Opposition, they, and not I, ought to bedemanding from the Prime Minister a financial statement so that we may know where we stand. I know that the numbers are against me, but when the facts) do become known, some honorable members opposite will think with me that a financial statement ought to have been submitted before the vote was taken.
.- Whenever the honorable member for Melbourne Ports starts by describing his attitude as “ wide as the poles,” he invariably gets as heated as the equator, and says a whole lot of things the exact purport of which, I am sure, he does not understand in the excitement of the moment. The honorable member did undertake to finish the third reading of the Bill to refer a certain question to the electors.
– Who said so?
– The honorable member did so himself, and the honorable member for Melbourne agreed to the same thing.
– Do not say what you do not know.
– I am assuming that the public statement made is correct; but if the honorable member for Melbourne is “ out of it,” I have nothing further to say in regard to him. I do know that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has admitted that he made the arrangement, and I also know that he will not break an honorable engagement, either in spirit or in actual particular.
– Do not flatter me!
– I assume that my honorable friend realizes that if he provokes a long discussion at this stage, he is making it extremely difficult to carry out the honorable obligation into which he and some of his colleagues entered. I appeal to him, without more words, to stand by the arrangement, and let the motion pass. So far as any attempt to raise any fear on this side of the House is concerned, I can only say that we wish the men at the front reinforced, whatever the cost may be.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth has referred to some undertaking or agreement that the Referendum Bill shall pass all stages at some hour during to-day or tonight.
– Who agreed to that?
– I, as an individual, am a party to no such agreement, and I know nothing of it.
– You did not raise your voice against it when it was mentioned in the House.
– All I agreed to do, if it can be called an agreement at all, was not to raise any obstruction to the Bill merely for the sake of obstruction. But I pointed out to the honorable member who mentioned the matter to me that there were many things I wish to say about the measure, and that I did not think it was one upon which free discussion should be curtailed. That is the attitude I took up then, and the attitude I take up now. I desire to oppose the motion that the House, at its rising, shall adjourn until Wednesday next. I do not wish to commit this country one hour longer than is absolutely necessary to the tender mercies of the Prime Minister and his Government. I realize that nothing could be more satisfying to them than to close the doors of the House at the earliest possible moment, in order to carry on their own particular and peculiar policy behind the backs of honorable members. I do not think that course ought to be pursued. I shall not make a lengthy speech now, and what I have to say will be said in a perfect spirit of calmness, patterned upon a picture I saw in the Library a little while ago, indicating the attitude of one Welshman to another on a certain historic occasion. When the referendum is being taken it is proposed that Parliament should adjourn, in order that honorable members may visit their constituencies and address their electors upon the subject. If the folly of going on with the Referendum Military Service Bill be persisted in, I suppose that course will be followed.
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in referring to that matter on the motion now before the House.
– I believe that is so. There is no objection to an adjournment for the purpose of discussing the proposed referendum, but I object to any further adjournments than are absolutely necessary for that purpose, and I, therefore, object to the carrying of this motion. The Leader of the Opposition asked the honorable member for Melbourne Ports whether his vote on the question of conscription would be affected by any financial statement. I wish to say that mine will not be affected in the slightest degree, because my opposition to conscription is based upon principles quite independent of, and superior to, mere questions of finance. The financial aspect becomes important when it is remembered that a frank and full statement of the matter from the Treasurer would probably enable honorable members to see that the Government’s scheme is utterly impracticable, as well as being objectionable on moral grounds.
.- I have no wish to “ stone- wall “ this motion, and regret to have to speak upon it at all. The Prime Minister says that it is necessary that time should be given to the Government to prepare a financial statement. The right honorable gentleman knows that I am very keen on the financial aspect of the war, and he, therefore, knows where I stand in regard to the motion now before the House. The Prime Minister has been to Great Britain, and has thumped tables to emphasize the necessity for sending more men to the front to bring the war to a conclusion. To send them will be like using a piece of putty to stop up the doorway of a house, but the question is one upon which the people are to be asked to give their decision. If the Government had considered the financial aspect of the war for the same length of time as they have considered the necessity for more recruits they would know that it is the belief of the united Labour party that we are fighting and paying, and must continue to fight and pay for carrying on the war. If the financial proposals of the Government involve the floating of further loans at 4£ per cent., there will be very many people in Australia who will object to one man more being sent to the front under such conditions.
– Order! The honorable member must not discuss the financial proposals.
– Unless we know what the financial policy of the Government in this matter is going to be-
– The honorable member will know on Wednesday next.
– That is so, but I feel that we are being, to some extent, trapped. I may be doing the Prime Minister an injustice.
– The honorable member is doing me an injustice.
– While the Prime Minister was at Home studying the problem as it was there presented to him, and the national need for more men, the Treasurer should have seen the financial bomb with which he was confronted.
-Order! I ask the honorable member not to discuss the financial question.
– I do not know how I am to express my opinion as to the necessity for the adjournment until Wednesday next without to some extent discussing the financial aspect of the war. If the Prime Minister says it is absolutely necessary for the Government to have further time to consider their financial proposals, there is little use in arguing against the motion. If it is carried, I hope that the whole of the adjournment will be spent in preparing a financial statement, and that its presentation to Parliament will not be delayed one minute longer than is necessary. I cannot but think with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that after the financial proposals of the Government are made known the enthusiasm now displayed on the other side will not be nearly as ardent as it is at present.
.- I wish to take advantage of this motion to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence the conditions prevailing in connexion with employment in the Defence Department.
– The honorable member will not be in’ order in doing that.
– I thought that certain matters which I desired to bring under the notice of the House afforded reasons for objecting to the motion for the special adjournment. While the House is adjourned honorable member? have no opportunity to bring under notice matters which they consider of sufficient importance for the House to deal with.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing such matters at this stage.
– I am opposed to the proposed adjournment, but will not press the grounds of objection I intended to mention. I desire to hear the financial statement of the Treasurer, but, as in .the case of the honorable member for Batman, the Treasurer’s proposals with regard to further taxation, or other means of raising money for carrying on the war, will not, no matter what they may be, affect my atti- tude on the conscription proposal. There is on© other reason why I object to the motion, and it is based upon a statement made bv the Prime Minister in his speech the other evening. The right honorable gentleman has openly admitted to the people of this country, and to the world, that Australia in the matter of defence is in such a condition of unpreparedness as must give a shock to the people of the Commonwealth.
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss that matter on this motion.
– The statement to which I refer is so serious that I object to any further adjournment of the House until we have given it the consideration which its importance deserves. I shall take the first opportunity of bringing the conditions in the Defence Department before the notice of honorable members.
.- The motion is that the House, at its rising, shall adjourn for a week. The reason why it is to adjourn is in order that the Government may be given an opportunity to prepare their financial proposals. They have had the opportunity to do so. They have had as much opportunity to consider their financial proposals as they have had for the consideration of the military service proposals now before Parliament. It has been stated clearly and distinctly from time to time in the public press that the Treasurer was quite prepared to make his statement on the floor of this House. Who delays him and prevents him from doing so? Why cannot he make the statement at this particular juncture? Why is it imperative that the House should ad journ until next Wednesday, when at any time during that interval the financial statement could be made? It is said that the Government are not ready with their financial statement, but prior to to-day we understood that they were ready. It appears now that the Referendum Bill will leave this Chamber and go to another place before honorable members can learn what are the financial proposals of the Government with regard to the war.
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss that matter.
– I do not wish to discuss it further. I have said quite sufficient to indicate my views on this subject. The Government tell us that they are not ready with their financial pro posals, and they want an adjournment of the House; but I say distinctly that that is not a sound reason for an adjournment, and I oppose the motion.
.- It will be remembered that previously I protested against an adjournment of the House for the important reason that many questions arise and difficulties occur which possibly can be put right or amended by a simple question in this House while Parliament is working I assure the Leader of the Opposition that my object is to get a vote as soon as convenient on the question before the House, and in order to facilitate the business I have placed on the notice-paper for tomorrow many questions which I could have asked without notice. 1 do not consider it fair that business which appears on the notice-paper should be delayed for a week, as proposed, at the whim of the Prime Minister. Several important questions on the notice-paper, including a number in my own name, will be delayed by the adjournment. For instance I want to know the number of men in the Commonwealth between the ages of 21 and 45.
Mr. SPEAKER ! Order ! The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– I will not pursue it any further, Mr Speaker, but I hope I may allude to the splendid work which might be done by this House if it sat tomorrow, and if members did the work for which they are paid.
– If the House continues, will the honorable .member stay here all night ?
– I will stay here if my presence is required after I have opened the meeting for which I am engaged. I am sure the Prime Minister, if the House were sitting to-morrow, would not wish that we should desire him to come here, and therefore I do not think the Leader of the Opposition wishes me, under the circumstances, to leave a meeting in the mightiest building in Victoria, which will be crammed to the doors, and return to the House. One of the motions in my name deals with the question of erecting a permanent memorial to the late Lord Kitchener, and if we were sitting tomorrow the matter might come before the House.
– I point out that the honorable member must not anticipate, at this stage, the discussion on any business that is on the notice-paper. If the honorable member desires merely to mention such matters he will be in order, but he will not be in order in discussing any business which is on the noticepaper.
– I desire merely to mention these matters. Another motion in my name deals with the alleviation of distress among the old-age and invalid pensioners, some of whom are without food or shelter. Fortunately, there are not many such in Melbourne now, and we must give every credit to the Salvation Army for having made it possible for indigent people to obtain shelter at a very moderate price indeed. I think I may be permitted to mention that motion, which is to the effect that the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Act be amended to provide for a destitute allowance. If this House were sitting to-morrow, it might have been possible to reach that motion. Then there is another motion, dealing with the financial aspect of the war, and affirming that Germany should be required to pay an indemnity to the amount of every penny-piece expended by Australia in this great conflict. Every honorable member of this House knows that Mr. Fisher promised the last man and the last shilling, but we have not touched a farthing of the last shilling yet by any means. And now I want to refer to the attitude of the Prime Minister. Prior to his departure for Great Britain, he displayed the characteristics of the snipe, which darts this way and that way when shot at on the wing. The Prime Minister was supposed to leave Australia by a certain steamer, but unexpectedly returned to Sydney, and went through America. This adjournment from Wednesday to Wednesday is quite as confusing to honorable members, because it prevents the House from reaching important business on the notice-paper. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, Mr. Chapman, desires to get an alteration of the Constitution by means of a constitutional convention to consist of ten representatives from each State. I am sure the honorable member would not have placed that motion on the business-paper if he had not considered it important. Another motion in my own name has reference to the appointment of Judges. That has been on the noticepaper for months,without an opportunity having been provided for its discussion. I emphatically protest against this snipe like process. The right honorable member for Swan has an important motion upon the business-paper, and one in respect of which he wishes the House to arrive at a definite conclusion. This it might be possible to do if honorable members met to-morrow. Similarly, the honorable member for Darling Downs, an exAttorneyGeneral, has put upon the businesspaper a motion upon which he is anxious that finality should be reached. Then the honorable member for Macquarie desires to submit an important proposal in reference to immigrants to Australia. That is a motion which I intended to support. The honorable member for Barrier, too, wishes to secure the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the question of the carriage of country mails. He never dreamed that conscription would come like a bolt from the blue upon us. Then, the honorable member for Wakefield has a proposal on the business-paper relating to the creation of a supply and tender board.
– That has been there for years.
– Is it not a fact that private members’ day has been abolished?
– I hope not.
– It is so.
– Then, are all honorable members who place notices upon the business-paper guilty of hypocrisy? The honorable member for Oxley desires legislation to be immediately introduced for the nationalization of the iron industry. Ought such a proposal to be treated with contempt? The honorable member for Brisbane has an important motion down for consideration relating to the preservation of health in time of peace and war. Then the honorable member for Robertson wishes more efficient railway connexion to be established between the capitals of the various States, a proposal that I would be willing to support. The next business on the papor is a proposal by the honorable member for Balaclava for leave to introduce a Bill to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act of 1911. If that motion were brought forward it would enable me to submit an amendment dealing with one of the vilest sweaters in Melbourne to-day. I protest against the proposed adjournment, and I have no hesitation in saying that it was not sought by the Treasurer for the purpose of enabling him to prepare his financial statement.
. -I also wish to protest against the proposed adjournment of the House for a week. It was a sad admission by the Prime Minister today that the Government are still unready to proceed with their financial proposals. The House met on the 9 th May, and adjourned on the 23rd May. It re-assembled on the 30th August, after an adjournment of three months, and since then has sat upon only six days. I am quite unable to believe that the Treasurer has been so overburdened with his duties that hehas been unable to preparehis financial statement during that period. We all know that the honorable gentleman is not enjoying too robust health, but his ill-health has not prevented him from attending to his duties for a longer period than a week. Apparently, the difficulty is either with the Cabinet or with the Prime Minister. I wish to protest against the time spent by the Prime Minister in running about the country for the purpose of addressing conscription meetings, when he cannot find time to attend to the business of the country in this Chamber. In the earlier stages of the war, when the Leader of the Opposition was appealed to by the present Prime Minister to call Parliament together to consider what should be done in a time of national emergency, the reply of the former was that, at such a time, Parliament would only constitute an impediment to action - a hindrance. Evidently the Prime Minister is now of the same opinion. To carry on without Parliament is all the better for his policy. In the early stages of the war the Cook Government refused all suggestions that Parliament should meet. It suits people who want to do illegal things to reign without parliaments.
-The honorable member must not make charges of that description .
– A most peculiar and amusing episode occurred here a fortnight ago. The Prime Minister found it necessary to go to Sydney to consult the officials of the Political Labour Executive.
When there he found it desirable to prolong his visit, and wired to Melbourne accordingly, whereupon the Acting Leader of the House solemnly asked Parliament to adjourn because the Prime Minister was delayed in Sydney, meeting the Trades Hall officials. The Acting Leader of the Opposition, the right honhonorable member for Swan, agreed in the most solemn manner to the adjournment, so that the Prime Minister could stay in Sydney for the day, and go to Adelaide for the week end, and Parliament unanimously adjourned for that reason. Every one of the newspapers belonging to the Opposition is bewailing the fact that Parliament has abrogated its functions, and that the Prime Minister is under the dictation of outside juntas. They complain that in each of the Trades Halls of the various capitals there is a secret junta that controls the Prime Minister, and dictates the policy of the Government.
– That expression originated in the Tory press as applied to the Prime Minister himself.
– Yes. and the Prime Minister has adopted it. He admits that he consults the secret juntas. We have the extraordinary spectacle of the Opposition, and Parliament generally, admitting solemnly, cheerfully, and unanimously, the right of the Prime Minister to go to other States and to consult these secret juntas, the business of the country being suspended to enable him to do so. That is a position unparalleled in the history of responsible government in any country, and to-day the Prime Minister proposes another adjournment. No doubt it suits him, but it is mightily inconvenient for honorable members who have come here to do the country’s business, especially at such a critical time as the present. If the Prime Minister has time to go to Sydney and Adelaide to address conscription meetings, and consult secret gatherings, he ought to have time first for the business of the country, and there is no more important business to which the Government can direct its attention at the present time than to devise suitable financial proposals to submit to us for our consideration and decision. It is inconceivable to me that Parliament should have met on the 9th May last, sat for only six days, and then adjourned for three months, that it should have been meeting now again for three weeks, and have sat for only six days of that term, yet the Prime Minister and Treasurer are so overwhelmed with work that the most important of all questions has been left undecided. We have no guarantee that they will be ready by next Wednesday. Three weeks ago, when the Prime Minister made his statement to the House, he specifically said that the Government had a policy with regard to the conscription of wealth. He must have known something then. But he has been running about Australia, anywhere and everywhere, since then, evidently with time to do anything and everything but the business of the country. Things are being done now in regard to the censorship of the press, the treatment of returned soldiers, and the conduct of the war generally, that demand every ounce of attention and energy that the members of this Parliament can devote to them in order to put matters right; yet all we are given the opportunity to do is to meet for a few hours, listen to a bare, bald statement, and adjourn. I strongly protest against any such method of carrying on parliamentary business at such a critical time. It is unworthy of the Parliament and of the Prime Minister. He ought to be ashamed to admit at this stage of the session that the financial policy of the Government is still undecided. The Government have known all along that their financial policy was the most important item. Honorable member after honorable member on both sides of the House has demanded it. We ought to have had the Budget statement by this time, and to have known the expenditure for last year and the Estimates for this, but they are not ready. I am not surprised that the Leader of the Opposition should have found an opportunity to sneer at the Government that Parliament at such a time as this has no business to go on with. What a travesty of government it is! What child’s play it is to say that seventy-five responsible men must admit that it is necessary to adjourn because the Prime Minister has not had time to attend to the affairs of the country.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … 42
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debateresumed from 15 th September(vide page 8643), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- When I was speaking on Friday last, the honorable member for Richmond interjected that I had made some reference, by way of question on notice, to the Liverpool Camp. My question, however, was not a criticism of the camp. I asked, as the Government of New South Wales and the War Council of the State were making arrangements for a vigorous recruiting campaign, whether, in view of the campaign realizing anticipations, it was the intention of the Minister for Defence, seeing that the camp was already too congested, to meet the emergency by establishing other camps. I also wished to know whether the New South Wales Government would be requested to grant a site for a camp at National Park. When my address was interrupted by the adjournment on Friday, I was mentioning some of the causes of the failure of the voluntary system of enlistment. To those that I have already stated, I would add an occurrence which, in my opinion, has done a lot of harm to the recruiting movement in New South Wales. In February last, men in camp at Casula and at Liverpool revolted against conditions which they alleged created a grievance, and, gathering strength as they went along, wrecked the public-houses and various business places in Liverpool, and, taking charge of the trains, proceeded to Sydney, where the police, the military, and the artillery were called out to suppress the disturbance. Since that occurrence, several mothers of young men who intended to enlist have assured me that they would not allow their sons to go into camp under conditions such as existed at Liverpool. A few days after the riot I met on the Sydney railway station the late Corporal W. J. Johnson, whose death was referred to by the Prime Minister a few days ago, and whose loss we all deplore. In speaking about the riot he said that the cause of it was that some of the men had been too long in camp, and that the drill was too monotonous. There was not enough rifle practice, and the training was all of one kind. He said, too, that many men were worn out because sleep was rendered impossible by others disturbing the camp at all hours of the morning, and that such men really did not know what they were doing at the time of the riot. There are men who have been in the camps for over twelve months. Men who, to my knowledge, enlisted twelve months ago are still in camp, and I think that some of them have no intention of going abroad. When the residents of the country towns know that men have enlisted and have not been sent to the front, other young men in those towns will not enlist. A few weeks ago a lady called at my house in New South Wales and said that she wished to get her husband out of camp. I said that the only condition under which he would be allowed to leave was the repayment to the Defence Department of the money that he had received since his enlistment. She said, “ I am not in a position to repay so much money. My husband has been so long in camp that the repayment would be more than I could afford.” I asked how long had he been in camp, and she replied, “ Twelve months.” I could name many cases in which men have been in camps in New South Wales for a like period. We have been told during this debate, and it has been said on the public platform, that Australia has done well, and, in the next breath, that we have not done enough. Let me compare the population of the Dominion of Canada with that of the Dominion of Australia. Canada has a population of 8,400,000, whilst Australia has a population of about 5,000,000, or nearly 3,500,000 less than that of Canada. We must remember also that there are 120,000,000 people living just across the border of Canada, many millions of whom have British blood coursing through their veins. Yet we find that at the end of July of this year the number of troops recruited by Canada was 350,655. whilst the number in the Commonwealth was 282,000. The Prime Minister, when addressing the men on H.M.A.S. Australia, in May last, stated that Australia had enlisted 290,000 men, or 8,000 more than the official total. In the camps in Canada, in July, there were 175,000 men, and in the Australian camps only 43,000 men. In England, and on the water, there were 60,000 Canadians and 60,000 Australians. On the various fronts there were 70,000 Canadians and 125,000 Australians. So that Australia had 55,000 more men in the fighting line than had the Dominion of Canada.
– Where did the honorable member get those figures?
– They are official figures from Canada.
– Of what date?
– They are dated 15th July, 1915. The losses and wastage of Canadian troops had been 40,000, and of Australian troops 55,000. On the basis of Australian enlistments Canada’s figures should be as follows: - Recruits, 480,000, or 130,000 more than the actual enlistments; in home camps, 72,000 men, or 103,000 less than are there; in England, and on the water, 100,800, or 41,000 more; and at the various fronts, 210,000, or 140,000 more; whilst the wastage and losses of the Dominion should be 92,400, or 52,000 more. On Canada’s figures, Australia has recruited 70,000 more men than its population percentage; it has 60 less its percentage in home camps, 25,000 more on the water and in English camps, and 85,000 more men on the various fronts, whilst our wastage should be only 24,000 instead of 55,000. The Premier of Canada, Sir Robert Borden, said, in February of this year, that on no account would he introduce conscription in Canada. When the press of Australia desired to publish that statement, it was not allowed to mention the date, but only to say that it was made some months ago. I take this opportunity of saying that only in August of this year, Sir Wilfred Laurier and Sir Robert Borden repeated what had been said in February, that on no account would Canada tolerate conscription. The Prime Minister quoted from Knibbs to show that the number of single and fit men available at the present time is 152,000. That total includes all single men between eighteen and forty-four years of age, and if we deduct the 50,000 who are under twenty-one years of age, the number is reduced to 102,000. If we further deduct young men who are the sole support of widowed or invalid parents, and others in technical trades and in Government civil employment, who cannot be relieved of their duties, we find that the total number available will be less than 60,000 men. That means that at the end of November next we shall have exhausted the whole of the single men in the Commonwealth. Yet the Prime Minister has told us that only single men will be required. If we continue recruiting at the rate of 16,500 per month, over 80,000 married men will have been recruited by the end of March next. We shall start enlisting married men in December. Another phase of this question is that these men will be taken from the industrial life of the community, and we shall not only have to adopt conscription to send men abroad, but as has been done in the Old Country, adopt industrial conscription. I wish to point out the seriousness of these conscription proposals from the industrial point of view. Once we adopt industrial conscription in this country, we must abrogate the whole of our industrial legislation, our Arbitration Acts and Wages Boards, and that will mean that the awards which men have fought for and paid for will be jettisoned. We know that in every country which is at war to-day industrial conscription is in operation, and in the countries of some of our Allies they are utilizing Eastern races for transport work. Only a few days ago a deputation of trade unionists in England waited upon Mr. Asquith and asked that the Chinese who were engaged in the transport trade of the Home Land should be deported at the end of the war. We in Australia are nearly all agreed as to the necessity for maintaining a White Australia, an ideal for which we have fought for many years. Australia is a country of primary production. We have not reached a stage of manufacturing to a large extent, and a great proportion of our manhood is employed in such primary industries as mining, pastoralism, and agriculture, and also in transport. If single and married men to the number of a further 200,000 are withdrawn from the country during the next twelve months, as is proposed, all the primary industries will be depleted of labour, and we shall not be able to fill the vacant places with women, as has been dene in the older countries of the world. We shall be obliged to either allow those industries to stagnate, or to import workmen from some of the countries which are not participating in the war. I sp.s the seriousness of these proposals from an industrial point of view. Our industries must continue if the war is to last much longer, because there is a necessity, not only for men, but also for money, and the maintenance of industrial activity is of paramount importance in order to finance the war. With industrial stagnation, we shall no longer be able to claim that our soldiers are the beat paid in the world. When men are taken from their ordinary avocations, substitutes must be found somewhere else, and I wish to issue this warning - that, in all probability, if this large number of men leaves our shores, the White Australia policy will have to go by the board, and the result will be chaos. During my remarks on Friday I referred to some of the financial institutions and to the fact that some of the returned soldiers are not able to get restored to their former employment. I have here an article which appeared in the Sydney Sunday Times, on 25th June, 1916, under these headings: “Lady Clerks: Peaceful Invasion: A War Chance.” It points out that, on their return, men who have left banks and similar institutions will have no further desire to resume the occupations they previously followed, and it goes on to say - The general feeling among those competent to form an opinion is that the lady clerks have come to stay - during the war and after. It is believed that many of the soldiers, when they come back, will never return to the desk again. Campaigning gives a man a wider outlook on life, and he feels he needs more elbow-room than a cramped city office affords. Many heads of business departments say that the peaceful invasion of women into the clerical field will not recede after the war, and they accept the inevitable. One bank manager said he did not think that many of his old staff would care about the humdrum life of the hank again.
There was also an article in the Sunday Sun, in February last, stating that the banking institutions in the State of Victoria had begun to employ women, and that it was not their intention to revert to the old system, because the women were giving entire satisfaction. Such statements have done much to militate against recruiting, because they make men realize that, if they enlist, there will be only a remote chance of their jobs being available for them on their return. This afternoon I asked a question, without notice, in reference to some matters that had been prohibited from appearing in the newspapers since the return of the Prime Minister to Australia. The following instruction has been issued by the Press Censor in Sydney to the various newspapers there : -
Memorandum from Sydney Censor Nicholson -
There is no objection to the publication by the press of arguments for or against conscription, provided that those contain nothings -
To these no one could take exception; but in regard to No. 4, which is as follows : -
I wish to know what is likely to do so ? Here are further instructions from the same Censor’s office -
C.S. 12076, Sydney, 22nd August, 1910.
The press is reminded that the publication of gruesome pictures on subjects arising out of the war is prohibited. All cartoons on the subject of conscription, whether original or reprinted, must he submitted before publication.
C.S. 12391, Sydney, 2nd September, 1916.
It is not permissible to publish -
C.S. 12576, Sydney, 6th September, 1916.
Until further notice, it is not permissible to publish in the press any reference whatsoever to the Prime Minister’s discussions with Labour conferences and similar bodies. This instruction applies to past and future conferences.
– It is not permissible to publish any reference to the Prime Minister’s discussion with Labour bodies unless it is prepared by himself.
– Until this instruction is withdrawn, the press will not be permitted to say anything about the Prime Minister’s visits to any Labour conferences or trade unions. Yet it seems peculiar that every newspaper throughout the Commonwealth, with the exception of the Sydney Baily Telegraph, published the whole of the decisions of the Adelaide Conference, which was visited by the Prime Minister last week - the Sydney Daily Telegraph having absolutely refused to do so because of the censorship, to their credit, be it said. Resolutions passed at conferences held in Sydney and by various Labour bodies have been censored because they were opposed to conscription; but, because the Adelaide Conference fell in behind the Prime Minister, its resolutions could be circulated far and wide throughout Australia, and, I presume, throughout the British Dominions. Can the opponents of the Bill expect even-handed justice under such a censorship ? Who is the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth that he is not to be criticised, and anything applying to him, in the decisions of Labour conferences or Labour bodies, is not to be referred to in the Labour press, or in the other newspapers of the Commonwealth? Already we have a taste of militarism, and God help us if the referendum is carried - we will have such a militarism as is known to-day in Germany, Russia, or any other military country. I have added my protest against the passage of the Bill. I hope and trust that the people of Australia will turn down the referendum with no uncertain voice. I conclude by moving -
That the following words be inserted after the word “That”: - “in the opinion of this House, conscription of human life is inadvisable, and that the proposal of this Government, if given effect to, would be destructive to the best interest of Australia.”
.- To hear the honorable member for Illawarra condemn the Star-Chamber practices of the Labour Councils of Australia is rather refreshing. It is only quite recently that we have been able to get any information from’ the various conferences that have taken place - only since some restriction has been placed upon the statements of these bodies. It would appear, therefore, that the publicity that is now desired is more by way of defiance of the authorities than because of the necessity of the thing. I have already said, and I say again, that the censorship of press articles is far _ too lax. In some of the Labour papers articles are being published that are likely to incite the people to lawlessness, and, perhaps, cause bloodshed - if their publication is allowed to continue. Here is an article that was passed by the censor, and appeared in the Brisbane Daily Standard on the 4th inst. -
Imagine the old men, many of them waxing wealthy on the exploitation of the people during the war, gleefully voting “ Yes “ on conscription of the young men. This sight . . . will be something to make the fiends of hell rejoice. With fingers dripping with the blood of their helpless victims, these cowardly jingoes will, with the unctuous blessing of a traitorous Labour Government, be guilty of the most diabolical crime that has ever blackened the pages of Australian history. . . .
They go on to say -
A renegade Prime Minister who has done more to rivet the chains of reaction on the masses than anything else.
If honorable members desire anything more in the shape of free speech, they must be gluttons.
– I wish we had such a censor in Victoria. The Victorian censor cuts out everything.
– Such language is likely to incite the people to very serious action.
– The honorable member “can see no objection to some of the “diabolical arguments” against anticonscriptionists.
– I do not know the ‘ diabolical arguments ‘ ‘ to which the honorable member is referring. Our duty is to do the best we can to uphold freedom and liberty, and win the war. We axe up against a proposition that will absorb all our forces and energies, and we cannot afford to fight each other.- Let us fight our real enemies - those who are try ing to inflict militarism on the whole world. The honorable member for Illawarra compared Australia with Canada. I should be sorry to say that Canada has not done her very best. I believe she has. She has a much bigger proposition to contend with than we have. Thanks to the almighty British Navy we have enjoyed peace in Australia for over a century. We have not a foe at our very gates as they have in Canada. Canada has thousands of miles of frontier to defend against a possible foe, and it is up to us as Australians not to consider what Canada has done, or what the Mother Country or France are doing, but to do our very best, as we have always done in connexion with everything we have taken up. It will be time enough to make comparisons when the war is over. We shall then be able to glory in the fact that we have done better, perhaps, than some other parts of the Empire, and, above all, we shall be able to glory in the fact that we have beaten the enemy. Let our Allies do the best they can, and we shall be proud to think that we also have done our very best. The honorable member also resented the criticism of the Liverpool Camp, and, I presume, of other camps. The .only conclusion I could draw from his remarks was that he is very anxious to see the enrolment of volunteers who are prepared to lay down their lives, if necessary, in the defence of their country, and that he does not mind even if he secures them under false pretences.
– I do not want party capital to be made out of such a matter, and. that was done in ihe case to which I referred.
– Every soldier who is fighting our battles is deserving of the best that Australia can give him from the day he enlists until he returns, and is settled comfortably in a position in Australia. It is the duty of every honorable member who knows of any maladministration, or of anything improper on the part of the authorities, to ventilate it in this House with a view, not of making party capital out of it, but of having the wrong remedied. From the inception of the war the Opposition have set a praiseworthy example to the Ministerial party. In many respects we have assisted the Government, although we do not believe in their policy. The Government have to take the responsibility at the present time, but the whole forces of the Opposition have been put behind them in giving effect to their war policy, whether it be right or wrong. We cannot afford to be divided just now on matters of policy. It is a time when we should all be united. The country sent the present Government into power to see the thing through, and the Opposition have done their part by putting as few obstacles as possible in the way of the Government. I have often remained silent in this House, although burning with indignation because of some of the acts of the Government, and have supported the Government in their policy with regard to war measures. I desire now to refer briefly to the statement made by the honorable member for Fawkner that he was agreeable to conscription for home defence. I would remind him and the country that when the enemy is hammering at our gates it will then be time to make terms with the enemy, and not with the people of Australia. When the enemy begins to hammer at the gates of Australia we shall be absolutely helpless. Thank God, we have been able to fight him on Gallipoli and in France! If we beat him there, there is no fear of his coming to Australia; but once he comes here and begins to pound our capital cities it will be time to make terms with him, and not with the slackers of Australia.
– We shall then have the anti-conscriptionists running like rabbits into their warrens.
– Quite so. The honorable member for Fawkner also said that the Government would get their answer on the 28th proximo. I sincerely trust that the answer of the people on that day will show that Australia is prepared to face the responsibility and to do her very best to win this war. I was grieved to hear the honorable member for Brisbane cheer the statement in tones that would lead one to think that he believed the answer would be a decided “ No.” Speaking at an earlier stage in the debate, the honorable member for Brisbane deprecated the taking of this referendum on the ground that the people would turn it down. He said that no greater calamity could happen to Australia than that the Government’s proposal, should be turned down by the people. ,
– It will not be turned down.
– I do not think it will be. But, nothwithstanding that the honorable member for Brisbane believes that no greater calamity could happen to Australia than that the proposal of the Government should be turned down, he has said that he would take every constitutional means within his power to bring about the defeat of the referendum - in other words, that he is going to work to bring about what he has declared would be the greatest calamity that Australia has experienced.
– In other words, that he is a traitor to his country.
– That he is a traitor to his country. The honorable member for Brisbane congratulated the Opposition on having been recently converted to the principle of the referendum. I am not a convert to the referendum proposals. I might, in turn, congratulate the honorable member for Brisbane on the fact that he is a recent convert to antireferendum proposals. The question involved in this case is not, in my opinion, a proper one to submit to the people. I am, however, accepting the Government’s proposal because the Prime Minister thinks that it is the only way in which he can succeed. I am supporting this referendum as the only means by which we can obtain the desired end.
– How long has the Prime Minister been the honorable member’s leader ?
– The honorable member was not present when I said that from the inception of the war the Opposition had given the Government a very generous support with respect to all ite war measures.
– Hear, hear !
– I should have been much better pleased if the Prime Minister had gone straight for conscription. I should have preferred to see him submit to the House a Bill providing for conscription, so that the country could see who its enemies really were. The right honorable gentleman, however, thought that the shortest road to conscription was by way of this referendum. That being so, I bow to his superior wisdom in the matter. He must know more than we do. He has given the whole question serious thought, and has been in consultation with the leaders of the British nation as wall as with the leaders of our Allies, so that he is in a position to know exactly what is wanted. He also possesses an inner knowledge of Australia which puts him in a better position than I am to know the feeling here. I, therefore, support this referendum, not because I believe in it, but because it is the best thing we can get at the present time. I should have much preferred to go with the Government, as the honorable member for Brisbane said he would have gone, in proposing a direct measure to bring in conscription without referring the matter to the people. Whilst saying that he would have preferred thatcourse, however, the honorable member did not say he would have supported it. He also went on to belittle the sacrifices of those who have sent their flesh and blood to the front. We have in Australia to-day many mothers who are borne down with grief,but who are bearing their sorrow in silence. We hear no murmurs from them. All credit to the women of Australia who have given their husbands, their sons, and their sweethearts to the cause. All credit to them for the work they have done. It is noteworthy that those who criticise it and make light of the sacrifices of these noble women have, for the most part, made no sacrifice at all. Most of them have given neither the man nor the shilling. And these are the men who have tried to make light of the sorrows and the sacrifices of the women of Australia who have given up their husbands, their sous, and their sweethearts, believing it their duty to do so in order to insure the safety of Australia. The honorable member for Brisbane went on to express his disappointment that the naturalization papers held by enemy subjects were to be regarded as mere scraps of paper in connexion with this referendum. I can well understand his disappointment at the possibility of these aliens being disfranchised, because, judging from newspaper reports and letters written by him to the press, he has been catering for their vote for a considerable time. I regret that any honorable member should suggest that, on the all-important question to be submitted to the people in this case, our enemies should be allowed to vote. If I had my way there would be no two sides to this question; there would be a straight-out proposal to the people for compulsory service.
– There are a lot of Germans in your electorate.
– There are 5,000 of them, and I am not toadying to them.
– I never heard you object to one of their votes.
– I am objecting now.
– I mean at election time.
– This is the time and place to object.
– What I desire to say is that, instead of the franchise provided in the Bill, I should have preferred to see the Government amend the Electoral Act so as to deprive our enemy subjects of the privilege not only of voting on this question of conscripting our life and blood to defend ourselves, but of voting on all occasions for a period, at the expiration of which we might, perhaps, safely readmit them as full-fledged citizens.
– You will lose the “ number of your mess “ when they are gone!
– That is just the very reason why I advocate an amendment of the Electoral Act. I am afraid that there are honorable members here who are influenced by their anxiety not to lose the “number of their mess.”
– Why raise this “ sectarian issue “ ?
– Personally, I am not influenced by any such considerations. I believe that in Australia to-day there are a number of honorable foreign citizens who would prefer to leave the settlement of this question to the Australian people themselves. I am prepared to support the Government in an amendment of the Electoral Act, not only to prevent those people voting at the referendum, but on other occasions afterwards.
– A number of the men whom you want to deprive of a vote and voice, have made it easier for you and I to get about, particularly in Queensland.
– I must now ask the honorable member why he raises this “ sectarian issue “?
– The honorable member is raising it himself.
– Another remark of the honorable member for Brisbane was rather vague, but he told us that “ Kaiser Bill “ has already “ conquered “ Australia. I have ever since been puzzling my brains as to what he really meant by that expression; but, on looking down some of the anti-conscription lists, I find such names as “ Otto Hermansen” amongst, those who have contributed to the expense of fighting the referendum campaign. Is it possible that enemy money is being put into this, fight f Are we in the same position in Australia today as they are in America? Is that what the honorable member meant by saying that “ Kaiser Bill “ has already “conquered ‘ ‘ Australia ? I hope it is not true that “ Kaiser Bill “ has conquered the unions of Australia; but I am afraid there is some truth in the suggestion, when we see the very strenuous fight that is being put up against conscription, or compulsory service. In order that this proposal may be carried, the Government will have to show some determination in grappling with the affairs of Australia. I sympathize with some of the honorablemembers who have asked for a financial statement. There are many directions today in which Australia is calling for reform. This race for victory is not going to be to the swift, but to the Allied countries, which have the most staying power. It has been repeatedly asked in this Chamber when the “ last shilling “ is going to be conscripted.
– The first shilling! It is a long way to the last one!
– I venture to say that, generally speaking, the men who have the shillings have done well up to the present time, and are prepared to do more. I have been at gatherings where, I suppose, I may say the wealth of Australia was represented, and those gatherings have sent to the Prime Minister an assurance that they are behind him in every reasonable action he may take to carry this war to a successful issue. But we must husband our resources. I have had the privilege, and I may say the honour, to sit on a board with the honorable member for Adelaide, and entertained the hope for some time that we were going to be asked to do something in the way of organizing the resources of thecountry. However, that is a matter with which I do not wish to deal just now, except to suggest that the Government should put a plain statement before the people of Australia as to how they intend to economize - as to how the resources of the country will be put at the disposal of the people. If that were done I am sure that the people would more readily vote further burdens on themselves, if that should prove necessary. I should like to point out, however, that we have already promised to do our very best ; and it will not cost more under compulsory service than under the present voluntary system to send men to the front. Let us hope that, no matter what happens, we shall send men to the front, and do our very best to see that they are properly paid and well treated. There have been hints thrown out that war profits should be taxed. That may be all right, so far as the past is concerned, but it would he very much better, and more pleasing to me, at any rate, if there were no war profits at all - that is, if the war had not in its train brought opportunities to make profits. I do not wish to be misunderstood. There have been many profits made since the outbreak of the war on which the war has had no effect at all. But I should prefer
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss the question of the taxation of war profits, because that is dealt with in a motion on the business-paper.
– I think the question has been raised once or twice, but .1” do not wish to question your ruling, or to say anything further in regard to the matter, except to urge the Government to so organize the resources of the country that Australia may feel some confidence in them, and know that every shilling, is’ being put to the best possible use. If it is believed that there are resources which ought to be used in the successful prosecution of this war, I do not think there is one person who would object to any necessary encroachment on his finances. One section of the community has already tried to take advantage of war-time necessities - I refer to the unions of Australia. When these unions found that there was a magnificent wheat harvest, after an absolute failure in the previous year, they immediately demanded, an extra 3d. per hour for handling the crop; they even went on strike to enforce their demands, and got what they had asked. Now there is another question cropping up in Queensland. If the recent Dickson award is given effect to, it will mean an additional burden on the people of Australia’ to the extent of £2,000,000 per annum.
– The honorable, member is going outside the discussion of the amendment, to which I must ask him to confine his remarks.
– I. understand the amendment to he practically a negative of the motion; and, without wishing to question .your ruling, sir, I remind you that the terms of the question are that conscription of human life is unadvisable, and that the proposal of the Queensland Government, if given effect to, will be destructive of the best interests of Australia.
– That is a want of confidence motion. N
– If I were a member of the Government I should certainly regard it as such.
– What is a vote against the Bill but a vote of want of confidence’ in the Government?
– However, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if it is your ruling that I must not discuss, on this, amendment, the organization of the resources of Australia, I must wait until that amendment has been disposed of.
– I have asked the honorable member to confine his remarks to the amendment. The honorable member is proposing to discuss the award of a Court, which has nothing to do with the amendment.
– I do not wish to discuss the award of the Court, but rather to discuss the organization of the resources of Australia, which organization will be’ absolutely necessary if the proposed Bill is put into force. ‘ We have to honour our promise of the last man and the last shilling: and my point is that we most make the last shilling go as far as possible. To this end the Government must exercise a strong and firm hand, and treat all alike, taking every caro that our resources are husbanded through this terrible crisis. As the honorable member foi Adelaide has said, we have a long way to go before the lost shilling is reached, and wc must, as long as possible, husband every shilling and every man. While our brave boys, are doing their best at the front to maintain our liberties, we have to keep the home fire burning ; and, both while the war is on and after it is over, we have to see . that the resources of this great continent are utilized to the best possible advantage. Thousands’ of cries for help have come from the front. It ja only two or three days ago that I read a letter from a lad, who said that he had been seventeen days in the trenches without any rest or relief. We sent these men away with the promise by the ox-Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, that the last man would be sent and the last shilling conscripted.
– What did he mean ?
– He meant that our men should be given relief. That is a natural inference to be drawn from his statement. -
– Be meant by voluntary enlistment.
– We. do . not know that, and his manifesto quoted by the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Riverina distinctly shows that he was prepared to go to any length to see that wo did our best for the Mother Country in connexion with this war.
– The “ last shilling “ has already been baulked at, because the Treasurer did not get the response to the last war loan that he expdc ted
– That does not follow. The last war loan was handsomely responded to, and the- people of Australia have not buttoned up their pockets yet. They have generously supported many patriotic schemes by the contribution of millions of pounds-, and the fact that some did not invest in the last war loan is no indication that we have reached the “ last shilling..”
– Have we riot plenty of money with, which to carry on the war f
-»-So far as I know the Government, have not been in a great hurry to secure more funds.
– That is where they have failed .
– They may have failed in that way, but I am sure that they have it in mind to conscript not only the flesh and blood but the wealth of the nation also. They have made a start already in the direction of the conscription of wealth, and so far they have displayed no uneasiness about the- financial obligations of the war. I am urging that the people should be informed that the Government have all these matters well in hand, and that all the resources of Australia will be organized to insure equality of sacrifice. What I am pleading for now is that our lads at the front should be given the relief they are entitled to-
When Sir E. Shackleton’s men vere marooned in the Antarctic regions he left no stone unturned to rescue them. Our hoys at the front must fight their way through or retreat. We do not want to see them retreat, and it is necessary that we should give them the help they require to fight their way through. I hope that the Government will not only do all that is possible to send necessary reinforcements to the front, but will do something to supply our men with effective weapons and munitions of war when they get there. Nothing could more seriously dishearten our men than the supply of faulty weapons and munitions. Australia is so far doing nothing to help the Mother Country or our own boys by supplying munitions and weapons which can be used against the foe.
– -Whose fault is that?
– I do not suppose that the honorable member will blame the Opposition for it. It is pitiable that after two years of war Australia has not been able to turn out a single shell. We have made some attempts to do so and we can make shells, but we are told that there is an obstacle in the way, and I hope that it will be removed. The people should be assured that the Government are doing all that is necessary to meet our financial obligations, the call for help at the front, and the demand for munitions. Our Australian resources should be so organized that not a shilling will be wasted, and that, if necessary, the last man and the last shilling shall be sent to aid the Empire.
– I was very much surprised to hear the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Illawarra. I should not have been so much surprised had such an amendment been moved from the other side. . It is remarkable that an honorable member on this side should submit an amendment which practically challenges the position of the Government, because, if it is carried, there can be no referendum of the people on -this very important question. “Long before the Labour party come into existence I held the view that questions of vital importance to the country should be decided bv the electors. The initiative and referendum is a part of our political programme, and has been suggested for the settlement of matters that are quite trivial when compared with the import- ance of the question to be decided by the referendum now proposed by the Government. There could be no more important question submitted tO’ the decision of the people of Australia, and no question of similar importance is likely to be submitted to them in the next 100 years. Honorable members who oppose the Government’s proposals do not seem to realize the seriousness of the situation in which we are placed. The extent to which supporters of the proposal and the press can reach the people between the present time and the date of the referendum must measure the extent to which misconceptions as to the policy - of the Government will disappear. It, is essential in discussing a question of this kind that we should keep as closely as possible to the facts. I do not know whether it is done intentionally, but there appears to be a desire on the part of those -who. differ from the Government to side-track the question on every occasion. In Australia we have enjoyed all the benefits we have had for 100 years because of our association with the British Empire. No man who travelled in Great Britain prior to the outbreak of the war would think of comparing for a moment the industrial conditions of the* workers of England with those prevailing in Australia. For “ our better conditions, and the freedom we have enjoyed, we are indebted to the fact that Australia is part and parcel of the British Empire^ I suppose that the attitude of some amongst us serves but to confirm the truth of the old proverb that “ familiarity breeds contempt.” Vessels of the Royal Navy have visited our waters from time to time. We have taken some interest in their movements. Some of us have visited them, and they have then passed out of our minds We have forgotten that it is the British Navy that has maintained our independence, and has enabled us to enjoy the advantages . we possess to-day, and which we have enjoyed for 100 years.
– As a revenue-producing community for the capitalistic class.
– The- British Navy mav have served commercial and capitalistic interests, but any one who contends that the British Empire is based entirely upon consideration for those interests takes a very narrow and crude view of our history. No country in the world could last based upon such a. policy as the honorable member for Adelaide suggests. There are regrettable incidents in our history to which, it is unnecessary to refer to-day. They should not prevent us from recognising the glory of the Empire to which we belong. I have stated our position, and those who oppose the proposals of the Government may attempt to side-track them if they please, but Australians should face the fact that whatever freedom we enjoy to-day is enjoyed in virtu© .of our relation to the British Empire. We could no more defend ourselves at the present time against any big Power than we could fly in the air. Any well-informed man who makes any statement to the contrary is deliberately deceiving the people. There is too much of such deliberate deception going on at the present time, and it is not creditable to those who are responsible for it. From the time when I waa a youth in London I have been struck with the fact that men will make statements about public affairs with the deliberate intention to deceive the great masses of the people. The hardworking millions on the other side of the world and in this country have not the time or the opportunity to study public questions, They must depend upon journalists and publicists for their information, and the men who .deliberately attempt to deceive that section of the community would, if I had my way, be hanged by the neck because of the evil they do in raising hopes which they know can never be realized. There is a lot of this kind of thing being done to-day. I need not .go into the history of the war, but one of the reasons for our condition to-day is that we have enjoyed peace for practically 100 years. The British Empire hae not been concerned in a war of any magnitude since the Crimean War of sixty years ago. That was conducted by the belligerents in such a way as to leave no bad blood behind, with’ the result that pacificists and Free Traders were led to believe that the glorious peace would last for ever. They never realized what any man of common sense must have known twenty years ago, and that was that a German war must come as surely as the sun shone. Our people have been so engaged in trade and the advance of industrialism that they have overlooked what was occurring on the Continent. The Free Traders and the “ PeaceatAnyPrice “ party have some responsibility for this war, which really had its origin in the Prussian aggression leading to the absorption of the Grand Duchies of Old- enburg and Schleswig-Holstein. At the time there was a long debate in the British House of Commons, public opinion, under the influence of the Pacifist party, was averse to war, and Richard Cobden boasted that he prevented Lord Palmerston, the then Prime Minister, from active intervention. Is it any wonder then that, having sowed the wind, we are now reaping the whirlwind 1 I do not want to take an alarmist view of the situation, but I point out that, though we have had peace in Australia for 100 years, if bad weather or a dense fog had interfered with the recent naval battle in the North Sea, some of the German cruisers might have got away, and it is possible that our capital cities would have been shelled by some of those cruisers. As a matter of fact, that was a possibility earlier in the war, although I do not say it is now. I merely mention the incident, and ask what would be the position of this country but for the protection of the British Navy? In this Parliament, elected during the war, the people, rightly or wrongly, intrusted the reins of Government to the representatives of the Labour party.
– That is where the people made a mistake.
– I am not very much interested in that question, but I am concerned with the issue of this war. The people, I say, intrusted us with the Government, and with that chivalrous instinct which characterizes the British race, were anxious to help the Mother Country, though the British Government had not asked for assistance either from Australia or Canada. That help, however, was offered by the Government, backed up by the Parliament, and indorsed by the people throughout the length and breadth of Australia. We cannot whip high and whip low in this matter. We cannot shirk our responsibilities. It is too late in the day to do that. ‘ If we did not intend to support the men we sent away, we should not have let them go. Can members of this House say that they did not think twelve months ago there might be a possibility of a greater drain upon our resources than was at that time contemplated) This Parliament cannot escape its responsibility, and it certainly would deserve the censure of the British-speaking world if it indorsed any attempt now to sneak out of Australia’s obligations. I go further, and Say that the Government are responsible even more than is this House for the efficient conduct of this war. In the earlier stages of the conflict I shared the responsibility, with other members of the. Government, in sending our troops away, and I do not for one moment seek to evade the consequences of that action. If any other members of the Government do not see their duty in this light, as I see it, then they are of a different calibre to me, for any other action than is now proposed is unthinkable in my opinion.
– Was it ever suggested that the Government would force individuals to go against their wishes!
– There was the promise of the last man and the last shilling, and there is also the statement in the manifesto issued by the Prime Minister the other day. #
– It was put into writing that the ex-Prime Minister did not contemplate sending men against their wishes.
– It is written in blood that he did.
– “ In any and every emergency.”
– I am glad of the interjections, because I want to say that I am prepared to support the sending of reinforcements. up to the limit of our capabilities. Of course, the trade and industry of this country must be carried on, and so all the. male population cannot be sent away. No man outside of a lunatic asylum, and, perhaps, the juntas of Melbourne and Sydney, would suggest that such a thing should be done. We have to remember that the British War Council iB now asking us for a draft of 16,500 men a month to keep up our divisions at the front. We have to look fairly at the question, and not attempt to side-track it. The draft asked for is now the basis of the proposal of the Prime Minister, who has been attacked in a merciless manner by men who ought to be the very last to turn their faces from him. What is the position? The Prime Minister recently went to England, and such was his personality and force of character that, in his speeches, he struck right home to the hearts of the British people. During his tour through England, and while the Zeppelins were flying overhead, he made the people of England realize, as they had never realized before, the seriousness of the situation that confronts them. I am certain people in this country would not be talking as they have been of late if we had had Zeppelins flying over our cities, and sowing death in their tracks. Australians ought to be sane enough and intelligent enough to know what is going on in Europe, and what would happen here if the Germans had a chance.
– Nobody denies that.
– Then what is the object of the honorable member’s interjections? Let me get back to my point. The Prime Minister, after touring England, crossed to France, and the people there - and they are not the greatest fools in. the world - also came under his influence, for he had something to do with the drafting of the resolutions adopted at the Paris Conference, which was attended by some of the ‘ first statesmen in Europe. By virtue of the fact that the Prime Minister has demonstrated his statesmanship, the proposal which he has made to this Parliament, in the light of knowledge he gained at Home, ought to receive the most careful consideration. I am one of those who think he is entitled to be followed in this matter, because I feel that he knows more on this question than I do; although I have heard a good deal of criticism from those who say that they believe in measures and not men. Generally, such statements are made by men jealous of the ability of a political opponent. An attempt has been made to side-track this issue by abusing the Prime Minister, but those acquainted with the Labour movement know what has been achieved for it by the right honorable gentleman, tha Leader of the Government, during the last seven years. The name of William Morris Hughes is written largely over everything achieved by the Labour party during recent years in Australia. This is an historical fact, and cannot be escaped. Coming back to the question before the House, I want to say that I am no lover of conscription.. I have never believed in it, and do not believe in it now; but our English brothers, while not believing in it, adopted it, because of the stern necessity of the case. To the lasting, honour of the working man of England, be it said, he did not ‘’ jib “ when faced with this issue.- He was a long time before he was brought to realize the position which threatened him. Indeed, until the leading statesmen of the Old Country went amongst the working classes and explained what the German meance meant, they refused to agree to conscription. But when once their minds were opened to the true situation they did not hesitate to accept it.
– How many did they conscript in England?
– I have not the numbers here. But does the honorable member mean to tell me that free Australians will refuse to help their brethren in the fighting line ? A section of the Labour party, I regret to say, are proposing an amendment to prevent this question being referred to the manhood and womanhood of Australia, in order that they may decide whether our soldiers at. the front shall be supported. . I say that a Parliament that left our Australian troops at the mercy of the German wolves would not reign very long after a general election. . The mistake which is made by a great many persons outside of this Chamber is that they forget that Parliament is just what the electors themselves make it. Whenever we hear of so-called juntas issuing mandates, we ought to recollect that fact.
– Does the honorable member lose sight of the fact that the party makes the man?
– I know as much about party . organizations as does the honorable member, and I know that all the party organizations with which I have ever had anything to do leave a man free; that is to say, pledged to his constituents to exercise his own judgment, to return to them the trust which they have reposed in him, and to allow no individual to come between him and them. There is another aspect of this question to which I think attention should be called, namely, that to-day we are fighting one of the greatest military powers in Europe. We know that Germany has freely expended money in espionage, in corruption, in mendacity, and, indeed, in every infamy in the calendar. In the interests of Germany it is very undesirable that this Bill should be passed. From a German stand-point it was a mistake that any Australians ever’ went to the front. We can readily understand, therefore, that there are in our midst men who, whilst they are not Germans, have not hesitated to accept German gold. I ask honorable members to look round and see what is going on. We know what German agents accomplished in America and in Ireland.
– They did not overlook Australia.
– They overlooked South Australia. The honorable member forHindmarsh cannot urge the point he is making against the Labour party in South Australia. There is no Industrial Workers of the World domination there.
– That is what I am leading up to. We know what the policy of Germany has been; and do honorable members imagine that the age of miracles has passed? Do we not know that German agents will be very anxious to learn what is going to occur here during the next two months? There is in our midst an organization called the Industrial Workers of the World, which is a Yankee organization. It is like a good many things which come from .America - the less said about it the better. How was that organization originated? Honorable members know that some time ago, when trouble occurred in Colorado, the Pinkerton men and the coal owners of that State banded themselves together for the purpose of coercing the miners there. Eventually, the miners chased them out of Colorado. ‘It was these Pinkerton men who formed the Industrial Workers of the World. When an honorable member sees certain individuals very flush of money he is at liberty to draw his own conclusions. It is a singular fact that, owing to the machinations of these men, a strike is engineered here, and another labour disturbance somewhere else. Nearly all the leading members of this organization are Americans. Why we should permit all the rubbish of America to be shot in our midst, I do nit know. Honorable members laugh, but this is no -laughing matter, because I am absolutely certain that we should regard these people on all occasions as our enemies. What is there to prevent us from deporting them- from sending a ship-load of them back to San Francisco 1
– That is what the squatters wanted to do with the honorable member and myself in 1891.
– I am sorry if the honorable member cannot draw a distinction between the Industrial Workers of tho World and Labour men. That sort of interjection will read very well in the Worker, but where is there any analogy between the most extreme Labourite and the Pinkerton men from Colorado? The honorable member should have a bit of common sense.
– I have sufficient common sense to know that the squatters in 1891 advocated what the honorable member is advocating to-day.
– But the men who organized the Labour movement never had anything in common with these vermin. I do not thank the honorable member for instituting such a comparison.
– It is strange that the honorable member is advocating what the squatters advocated in 1891.
– At any rate, I have made my views of this matter pretty plain, and I am content to leave it. We ought to see that organizations like the Industrial “Workers of the World are not allowed to carry on their machinations in our midst to the detriment of the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to7.45 p.m.
– The honorable member for Illawarra is fearful that if the Government policy is indorsed by thepeople it will destroy all our industrialism. Our English brothers cannot ibe Baid to be less astute than we are, and they have not lost their industrialism, although they have faced the reality of the situation, including the wholesale employment of women, with very little complaint. They have even faced the suspension of many of their trade union rules to give greater facilities for the output of munitions and other things necessary to carry on the war. The fact is that the English industrialist is not a knockkneed, chatter-toothed individual, wandering through the world frightened of his own shadow. Our English brothers have known what it is to battle for industrialism. They are familiar with the lockout and the strike, but they have faith in their cause. They know it isstrong enough, and that it will revive again after the war. We have no right to assume that in Australia the conditions that we have achieved are going to disappear. There is nothing to justify such a conclusion, except on the assumption, which I bitterly resent, that the Australian worker has no creed or principle. He has every whit as much as his English brother, and as much sound judgment, and it does not lie in the power of any Government, present or future, to prevent his achieving all he hopes to get from his industrialism. Where are the men who carried through the great strike of 1890? Where are those who have followed that movement up to the present time? We seem to have now a lot of fairweather industrialists, who have no real faith in Australia, or anything else, seared of everything, although there is nothing in the past history of industrialism to justify such a condition of mind. Alterations may have to take place unless the war speedily comes to a close, but they will be faced by all the intelligent sections of the community. Our opponents do not tell us straight out that they object to compulsory service during the war. They say they object to what it will lead to. It is always some bogy in the future that they are afraid of. They predict that it will bring about German militarism in this country. That is a tall yarn to tell Australians - about as tall as anybody ever had the impudence to tell. The Australian is just about the right height to stand militarism from anybody ; but there is a vast difference between that and facing a serious situation. America had the draft and compulsory service, but there isno conscription in that country to-day. America is most cosmopolitan. It has men of all nations, including Greeks, and it is a very difficult matter for a Government to have any policy at all to suit such a motley crowd. Yet there was enough leaven of a British character in that country to see that when the war passed away conscription passed away also. I do not thank honorable members, or people outside, who pay such a poor compliment to Australians as to say that their industrialism will go down during the war, or that we shall have conscription foisted permanently upon us. It would he a good deal better for those who cannot go with us in putting the issue before the country to admit it straight out, and leave the ghosts and bogies that they conjure up alone. The facts are grave enough, the situation is grave enough, to demand the serious attention of every man and woman in Australia, and I “believe that, in proportion as they think over it, much as “we detest conscription, much as we may dislike the demands upon our country, they will realize more and more clearly that it is our simple duty to protect Australia as an integral part of the British Empire. Our independence will last , as long as the British Empire is able to protect us. Australians have faults, as men of all nations have, but I have yet to learn that the people of this land 01 my adoption will refuse to face a difficulty fairly and grimly, or sneak round a corner to avoid it. -If the people look the situation fairly in the face, as is the habit of Australians, they cannot fail to do the right thing. I am sure our manhood and womanhood will face the situation - painful, difficult, unpleasant, grim, as it is; and, if they do that, they will see, whether they like it or not, that their duty to Australia and the Empire demands that they vote “ Aye “ at the referendum.
– I was not present when the amendment was moved by the honorable member for Illawarra, but, in my view, it is a direct negative of the question in the Bill, and’ contains no merit and no argument that will not be. traversed in a general discussion of the Bill itself. I, therefore, pass it by. With regard to the question before the country, I feel that a false issue has been raised. The real issue is not the acceptance of the principle of conscription. That has been for years embodied in our laws. An Act was passed in 1903, by the then Liberal Government, of which compulsory service in the Commonwealth formed a cardinal principle. In 1909, in order that that principle might be made effective, the present Leader of the Opposition brought down machinery for compulsory training and equipping the manhood of Australia. Then there came to this country, by invitation of the same right honorable gentleman, that muchlamented gallant general, Lord Kitchener. He reviewed our defences, and the Labour Government, in which the present Minister for Defence held the same portfolio, brought down, in 1910, a Bill which practically again affirmed the principle of compulsion, or conscription, for Australian defence. We have heard arguments against the principle of conscription from several honors able members who sit behind the Gevernment, and support it on general principles, but do not see eye to eye with it in this measure. It does not he in their mouths to raise the question of compulsion at this eleventh hour. They adopted the principle, some passively and some actively, long ago. They sat silent on the. benches, and allowed those laws to be enacted, and did not, as far as the records prove, ask that the principle should be repealed. Those Acts remain on the statute-book to-day, having been passed into law with their consent and approval. Now that it is proposed to make them operative outside the limits of this country, men come here prating about the horrors of conscription, although they never raised objections to it before. They did not talk before about the sacredness of human life, or question whether it was right to place the taking of human life in the hands of any other authority. They sat there mutely, and adopted the principle. Now that the vital question arises whether it shall be put into effective operation or not, they say, “ We intended it only for service within Australia.” Granted; but in this war the battle-ground on which the fate of the Empire, including Australia, will be decided, was selected, not by the Empire or by Australia, but by the enemy who seeks our extinction. Apparently, a new doctrine is to be put forward by certain people in a land that has been protected for 100 years by the Navy of the Old Country, reared by the loan of over £400,000,000 of her cash, by her human lives, and backed by her entire resources for over a century. Those people1 have accepted her protection, and raised no voice against it. We have all been pleased to talk of the Empire of which we form a part, and have never attempted to dissociate ourselves from that Empire. The real question is, “ Is the measure necessary?” I recognise the gravity of the question, and the importance of the vote that any member casts on a measure affecting the lives of other people. I do not think it is altogether for distant Australia to regard herself as a better judge of the exigencies of the situation than the Mother Country is. Those who are closer to the theatre of war, those with more knowledge of the councils of the Empire, have determined that conscription and service abroad are necessary for the Old Country. The sister Dominion of New Zealand has adopted the principle, and we are to put it to the test here. It is for Australia to answer the question. The present High Commissioner, the Bight Hon. Andrew Fisher, had scarcely landed in England before he became an advocate of compulsory training there. He counselled the Old Country to adopt the system that Australia had adopted, in order that it might be better prepared for the extreme emergency. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Australia by any chance turned down the principle of service abroad. Where would Australia be if the Mother Country took up the same position ? What if she said, “ The manhood of the British Isles shall not fight outside the British Isles”? In such a case Australia would be the pawn, the spoil, of the Pacific.
– Do you put that forward seriously ?
– Does the honorable member seriously urge that, while we shouldsay to the Old Country, “ We accept the protection of the men and guns of Great Britain and her Allies, but we do not consider ourselves under any obligation to send men and guns to asssist them.”
– I take the position that Great Britain will protect the £240,000,000 of borrowed money which has been advanced to the Australian Governments. She will protect her capital.
– I am sorry that the honorable member places the argument on the base consideration of pounds, shillings, and pence. I have listened to the speeches of the political trumpeters in this House of the anti-conscriptionists outside for arguments in support of their opposition, but have heard merely reasons which might well be termed excuses. Amongst these is the contention that if Australia were in danger of invasion it would be right to call upon her citizens to fight in her defence, but that they should not be compelled to fight abroad. Suppose, however, that these gentlemen had to choose between Australia sending her citizens abroad to defend her, and being subjected to the experience of Belgium and France, being compelled, in order to dislodge the enemy that was laying waste her territory, to turn her guns on her own people, and on her own homes, her own cities and towns, which alternative would they choose? Let us turn to another aspect of the question. The two wings of our Defence Force are the Navy and the Army. The Defence Act does not compel our soldiers to serve outside Australia, but section 33 of the Naval Defence Act says -
Members of the Naval Forces may be required to serve for training or any naval service either within or beyond the limits of the Commonwealth.
Under that provision, some 5,000 or 6,000 men are to-day serving under the discipline and control of the Naval Department. Has any anti-conscriptionist member ever raised his voice, in public or in private, against that provision? Have any of them objected to citizens being compelled to serve outside Australian territorial waters, and to brave the dangers of the high seas?
– The men of our Naval Forces have not been conscripted. They joined voluntarily.
– My point is that they are compelled to serve in any part of the world, and that none of the anti-con scriptionists has ever objected to that. As a result of the proposals of the Government, a Minister of the Crown has Been fit to resign a portfolio. We accept his statement that he is not in favour of conscription for service abroad. I ask him, however, if, when a Minister, he ever raised his voice against the principle of conscription?
– I am not now in a position to answer questions.
– The honorable member was a Minister of the Crown when the Bill which provides for conscription waa passed, but the pistol of coercion having been levelled at his head by outside bodies, he has thought it belter to say, “ Don’t fire; I will come down.”
– That is not correct. I said a month ago that I would resign.
– That is good policy.
– It is a safe policy. I hope that the honorable member will never again be the occupant of a position of trust when the country is at war. Suggestions and innuendoes have been circulated throughout the country regarding the effect of the Bill, but the Prime Minister, who is the responsible mouthpiece of the Government, has stated definitely the effect of its provisions and its exemptions. Amongst other objections to conscription its opponents have raised the cry that it is an attempt to weaken organized labour by curtailing industrial privileges and reducing wages. But since the war began not one union has been deprived of any of its privileges, and in no case have wages been reduced. On the contrary, every industrial award has had the effect of increasing wages. I recognise that in the present conflict the advocates of conscription have a very great and important duty cast on them. The wealth of the community also carries a grave responsibility. Those who possess wealth must be ready to meet whatever exactions may be forced on the authorities by the circumstances of the country. Whatever taxation may be necessary to provide the money required for the successful prosecution of the war must be borne. When the provisions of this measure are understood, and it is known that the call for men has not arisen within Australia, but comes from the Motherland, and that, years ago, there was placed on our statutebook a measure requiring our young men to undergo military training for the defence of the country, it will not happen that en the first occasion that their services are required they will fail in their duty. The obligation of service rests, not only upon those who are sent abroad, but also upon every citizen, male and female, who remains at home, and each must discharge it to his or her own. conscience. No matter what one’s condition in life, each should give froely to the service of the country of his time, his money, . his brains, and his resources, and the obligations of citizenship should be borne, hot by a section, but by the whole community .
.- Let me say to the members of the Opposition, as abeginning, that this is not their funeral.
– This is our resurrection.
-Unquestionably it is. The members of the Opposition stand now where they stood two years ago. They are consistent, and are at least entitled to the respect of those who do not agree with them. A number of us on this side, like them, stand exactly where we have stood since the beginning of the war, but there are others who, forreasons that they deem good, have seen fit to change their opinions. It becomes the solemn duty of every man who finds that his previously held opinions are detrimental to the welfare of the country to change them. The good of the country is above all considerations of creed or party, and for it one should be prepared to sacrifice even the convictions of yesterday. But we are entitled to know” from those who have changed their opinions the reasons for the change. Give me some evidence which will justify a change of view to a conscience such as a politician who has been years in this atmosphere may possess, and I will follow it. It is my regret that I have been unable to be present here during the last few days ; but I have occupied my time profitably in the reading of the newspapers. I have read that the honorable member for Parramatta drew from his pocket what he said was the manifesto issued by the Labour party at last election; that he declared it to be something to which we had all subscribed, and to which we were all pledged.
– Does not a manifesto signed by Mr. Fisher, the chairman of the party, and by Mr. Watkins, its secretary, bind the party ?
– Personally I am not aware that it does. Nothing binds me except the promises that I make to my electors. However that may be, I am ready to abide by the manifesto referred bo. I could make that declaration even if I did not know what was in it, because I am satisfied that, being framed by intelligence soastute, its language would cover any position that any politician might wish to occupy at any time. I am quite sure that it would cover Phillip drunk or Phillip sober. I am quite sure that it would cover a man who could not see any circumstances justifying conscription; I am equally confident that it would cover any man who could; and when I read that sentence which the honorable member for Riverina quoted so emphatically, I knew I was right. What did the manifesto say? It said, “We shall do everything.” How clear; how definite, how precise that is, and how impossible to escape from 1 I said, “ I am lost.” Then I read the next few words, “ that is necessary.” I said to myself, “ Glorious loophole !” What is necessary? What you think ; what I think ; it covers the Women’s National League, the Industrial Workers of the World, anybody, everybody. That is the virtue of a good political manifesto, that it shall always be capable of adaptation to the changing circumstances and the vicissitudes of political life. The next thing I read was a strenuous denunciation of “a secret junta.” My word! I was reminded of the gentlemen who invented the guillotine, and when it came to his turn to be put under the knife, found strong ground of complaint against the machine which in the past he had so gladly and readily used for the execution of others. I read the manifesto, and I said, “ What a magnificent thing is here.” All any man needs to do is to hold that up to. his countrymen and tell them that the man who issued it to the people of Australia as an explanation of the situation, is the self-same man who said, on the floor of this chamber, that when any country was compelled to resort to compulsion for the defence of its liberty, it was so rotten as to be unworthy of preservation. The same gentleman went on to say that, in great emergencies - and the war is a great emergency - the public welfare was the supreme law. What a latter-day revelation ! When the honorable member for Ballarat and I stood on the floor of this chamber two years ago and made that affirmation, and declared that in time of war the interests and welfare of the nation were the supreme law, this very man gave us the lie direct. He said, “ Not only can the law not be applied for the purposes you suggest, but to such an extent do the limitations of the Constitution affect the activities of the Commonwealth, that we cannot even effectively prosecute the war without the widening of our powers.” The next thing with which I wish to deal briefly is the speech delivered by the Prime Minister in Sydney, The right honorable gentleman spoke of, amongst other things, German influence and greased palms. He did not mention any individual. He did not say, ‘ ‘ Thou art the man.” He did not say, “ There is the corrupter and there is the briber.” He did not say he knew anybody guilty of these offences, but he did tell his audience, “ Beware lest in the community there be so and so.” He knew he dare not say more, because to have done so would have been an admission of his own incapacity as an administrator in not having laid the offenders by the heels. He knew there was nothing in his statement, but he understood full well that political art by which one invokes in the public mind vivid images of crime, criminals, corrupters, and greased palms, and leave it to the public imagination to draw within the ambit of its suspicion every man hostile to it in opinion. Is that an honest manner of conducting the campaign ? Suppose I were to say, “ Fellow men and fellow women, so far as the people I know are concerned who support conscription, they are upright and honest; I do not know anything to the contrary. I make no imputation, but I call upon you to beware lest amongst those who advocate conscription there be some whose palms are not yet greased; beware lest amongst them there be some who proceed in sure and certain knowledge of honours and emoluments to be received; beware lest there be amongst them some who, when the goods are delivered, will fly away to their Mecca and be seen no more.” Such a line of argument would be just as worthy as that which the right honorable gentleman adopted. Permit me to say how I face the crisis as it confronts this country. I try to do my duty, and to give to this country the best that is in me in return for the honour and position it has conferred upon me.
– We are fighting to keep them.
– I do not want anybody to fight to keep them for me.
– Then you deserve to lose them.
– Any fighting that is to be done, I will do for myself; I think I have shown that in this Chamber. I approach this question without any consideration of either parties” or factions. I put aside the whispering of the press on the one hand, and I put aside just as rigidly the clamour of the organizations upon the other hand. I look upon the issue, not from tha stand-point of England, but solely and exclusively from the stand-point of Australia. I want to know how far the issues of the war are going to affect the destinies of this country. When I meet a man who looks at a great national crisis from a stand-point different from my own, I endeavour to see it as he sees it, to look at the facts as he looks at them, and to discover whether I can come to his conclusion. The Prime Minister says, “ I see the light.” He may, but to me that light seems a wreckers’ light on a rock-bound coast, a light that does not lead to the best interests of Australia, It is a light on a rock-bound coast that is strewn with dead men and the robbers’ harvest. I, too, see “ the light.” I do not know whether it is the true one or not ; it is not the light that every man sees. It leads to a rock-strewn passage full of dangers, probably pregnant with disaster. But at least it shows a passage ; that is something. Rightly or wrongly I take the view that it leads probably to the open sea, and I can only leave it to other men in other times to say whose light in this crisis burned brightest, purest, and truest. I have no objection to conscription, to compulsion. I have no objection to force ; I never had, either in the work of unionism or in the work of the nation. I do not draw any limitations to it in any shape or form - whether in regard to organizations or nations. In a time of strife I believe there is something in the doctrine of Kennedy, the old Chartist, when he said, “ Moral suasion is all humbug; nothing convinces like a lift in the lug.” I have no scruples along these lines, and I wish to secure liberty, safety, protection; but I desire to make sure that compulsion will secure those things. I do not want liberty, safety, and protection to be a subterfuge for oppression, degradation, and destruction. I do not even mind forces being sent oversea, if it is oversea that we are going to find liberty, and to secure protection; but I wish to make sure that it is in that direction we shall achieve those ends. I have not yet heard an argument in any shape or form to convince me that that is so. The Prime Minister has told the people that our liberties and our protection are to be preserved by fighting overseas. I say that is not the real position. The real position that confronts Australia is not in the things said, but in the things left unsaid. I think I have a right to say to the Prime Minister, “What do you want? We have sent 250,000 men oversea; they went voluntarily. Now you want a law that will expel another 200,000 men from the soil of their country. What has changed your opinion?” The answer I receive is, “The military situation; change of circumstances.” You may say to me, “If you have sent 250,000 men, what does it matter if we send more; why not send another 200,000 men? After having sent half-a-million, why stop there? Why not send another quarter of a million? What is the risk in it? Where is the detriment to our industries?” I answer that there is a limit to everything. You may take six steps with safety, but probably the next one will break your neck. You can take blood out of a human being, and probably save a comrade’s life; take a little more and you will kill him. In all things there is a sound limitation, beyond which you cannot go without rushing to destruction. But it is said, “ Military reasons: change of circumstances.” I admit there is a change of circumstances, but are they worse than they were last year? I could understand honorable members of the Opposition saying to-day, as they said last year, that there ought to be conscription, but what about the man who alters his opinion? Have we not a right to ask why he changed it ? All he can say is, “ The military situation, and change of circumstances.” What are the changed circumstances? If ever there was a time when the armies of Europe needed great assistance, if ever there was a time when liberty was at stake, when those things of which you talk - safety, protection, and the interests of Australia - were jeopardized, it was last year, when day after day and month after month disaster was dogging the heels of the armies of the Allies. They were being pushed back on the West front; in Gallipoli they were hanging on by the “ skin of their teeth “ ; in Mesopotamia they were “ bottled up “ ; on the East front the Russians were being smashed back without hope of recovery.
– At that time we were enlisting more men than we could find ships for.
– I know it. It is the sunshine patriot who gives only after victory is achieved; but when the armies of the Allies were on the very edge of a precipice, when the Germans followed from victory to victory, when they were pushing at the doors of the English and the Erench, smashing the Russian armies back every day, and “bottling up” the British Army in Mesopotamia, and when our troops were in danger of being pushed off Gallipoli - when everything was at stake, was it not the proper time to give assistance? Why did not the Prime Minister say then, “ This is the hour “ ?
– We could not equip the number of men available all at once. In fact, Great Britain could not equip all her troops.
– There is always some excuse or apology. If it be true that the armies of the Allies could not be properly equipped, was it not all the more necessary for’ us to send more troops, in order to render the greatest help when it was most needed?
– Send them without being equipped? To be slaughtered.
– Just so. More excuses! More explanations!
– The honorable member asked for light, and, apparently, does not like it when he gets it.
– I do not object. What is the change that has taken place in the situation ? Disaster has been followed by victory. We are told of victories day by day on the West front; we are told how we are pushing the Germans back, and how the Italians are advancing up the Trentino, and pushing the Austrians back on the Isonzo. taking whole territories, and marching to Trieste ; we are told of ignominious defeats of the Germans, that the Serbian army has been rejuvenated, that the whole of the Greek army is rising in revolt and joining the Allied Forces, that the Russians have come back stronger, more numerous, and better equipped, and are over-running Galicia and Armenia; that the Allies are achieving victory everywhere; that the German armies are depleted by a two years’ enormous drain of men; that the German women and children are starving; and that the German soldiers are so disheartened that they will not fight except at the point of the revolver, and surrender at the first opportunity.
– The honorable member does not believe that statement ?
– Then why does it appear in the newspapers? That is the point to which I am coming. The whole German General Staff must be disorganized. There never was at any period of the war a brighter outlook for the Allies than at the present moment; yet we are told that the situation cannot be’ saved unless an additional 200,000 are drawn from the vigorous young manhood of Australia. It is said, “ Now is the time when you must come along if you wish to save
Australia.” I could understand the position if what I have said were all, but suddenly out of the blue into the war comes Roumania, and in one hour she hurls into the battle line nearly 750,000 men, while at the same time she lengthens the enemy’s line by 300 miles. Roumania pours into the field 600,000 more men than we can transport over great distances in one year. Surely, there” fore, there is no need to send men now. Yet we are told that 200,000 men from Australia transported to Europe at the rate of 16,000 a month is going to achieve the defeat of the enemy. In spite of the addition of the Roumanian forces we are told that nothing can be saved, and victory cannot greet our banners unless we continue to drain Australia of her manhood. Apparently, the position is that no matter whether it be the addition of Roumania, or all the other forces of the world, Europe, Asia, and America combined, there is an organized determination to drain Australia of its whole manhood. Is that a proper position to place before this country ? What do the Government propose? What scheme is put before us if the people are to consider one at all ? We are told that there are four divisions of our troops in France, with a fifth in England, and that behind these forces there are 83,000 reinforcements. By the beginning of the new year, apart from sicknesses and wounds from _ which men recover, so disastrous on our armies will be the effect of the fighting that the four divisions in France will be practically annihilated and permanently out of action, incapable of carrying on, and the whole of the reinforcements available will be absorbed. It is proposed to put the fifth division into the field at the beginning of the year, making five altogether in France, and it is estimated that 200,000 reinforcements will be needed for the year 1917, at the rate of 16,500 per month. Let us see what this means. Is it a reasonable proposition to require 200,000 men at the rate of 16,500 per month for the purpose of reinforcing 100,000 troops ? Apparently, the whole of the 100,000 will completely disappear and be replaced at the end of six months. I ask honorable members seriously whether they believe that even in this atrocious war such a rate of casualties is possible, and such a rate of reinforcements necessary? Are the men now asked for honestly required for the purpose of reinforcements, or are they merely for the purpose of giving additional assistance?
– According to the latest figures, they are required for reinforcements.
– The latest figures that I have seen show that in six weeks 17,000 Australian troops were killed or wounded or classed as missing. I do not know whether those are the figures to which the honorable member refers, but they were given by the Minister for Defence as a record rate of slaughter for our forces.
– We must accept the British estimate of reinforcements required. We must accept the number that the British Army Council says is necessary.
– The figures mentioned by the Minister did not apply to the month of September.
– They cannot be any worse. A rate of 17,000 casualties for 100,000 men in six weeks is pretty stiff, and proportioning it to the 5,000,000 which the British Army is said to have at the front, it means that a fourth of the British forces disappears from the field of “battle every six weeks. But the rate of recruits asked for is at the rate of over 4,000 a week.
– Many of the men wounded will return.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity of speaking.
– The interjection, though disorderly, is still timely. Of course, many of those who are wounded will return to the firing line, making the number of recruits required smaller. But apart from those who recover from sickness and wounds, Australia is called upon to supply over 4,000 men a week, while the rate of wounded, sick, and missing during the worst six weeks has been less than 3,000 per week. These six weeks were for us a most disastrous period, an abnormal period, one that is not likely to continue throughout the war; but, notwithstanding that the rate of casualties was less than 3,000 a week, and even assuming that every man mentioned in the casualty lists in that period was killed or could not possibly return to the battle line, yet we are asked to supply reinforcements at the rate of over 4,000 per week. I say that it is not a bond fide claim for reinforcements. I defy any one to show me from any record of this war where the rate of slaughter hae been anything ap proaching what it was during those six weeks. The conclusion I draw is that the intention is to do what has been done ever since the war broke out - that is, to build up an immense force far beyond normal requirements, not for the purpose of serving or relieving the boys in the trenches, but for the purpose of stretching out the lines and increasing the slaughter, and thus enlarging the basis for a demand for additional reinforcements.
– This is an interesting charge against the British authorities.
– Does the honorable member deny it?
– It is an improper statement; it is that of an amateur against that of experts.
– No expert’s services are required to examine a few facts. I ask the honorable member, not whether he is an expert, but whether his facts are correct; and, whether I am an amateur or not, I ask honorable members to listen to facts.
– It is absurd.
– The honorable member knows that it is not absurd. To grasp the case I put forward needs no intelligence. What is the average rate of slaughter in the British Army over any long period? The Minister for Defence has shown that in a most exceptional period it was less than 3,000 per week for 100,000 men; and when we wish to know why there is an increased demand, I say that the basis upon which the demand is made, if it is correct, really means that the British Army of 5,000,000 men must b6 wiped out in six months.
– At any time there are no more than 2,000,000 British troops fight ing.
– What have we done in Australia ? We commenced with one division. Then, because so many reinforcements were obtained here, we created two new divisions, and. then the three divisions were sent to Gallipoli. While they were at Gallipoli there was a constant cry throughout this country that we were leaving “the boys” deserted in the trenches, whilst at the very moment there were thousands of reinforcements available in Egypt. It was not for us or our officers to place them on the Peninsula; we had no power to do so, nevertheless they were there in Egypt.
So numerous were they that when we evacuated Gallipoli we had in Egypt a sufficient number of men to bring up our forces to their old strength of three divisions. What is more, out of the surplus reinforcements we created two new divisions, and then had a balance of 15,000 remaining. From the very beginning of this war, under the pretext of securing more reinforcements, we have been creating new divisions, and so continuously draining the country of its manhood.
– Does the honorable member consider we ought not to send additional reinforcements now and during the next six months?
– I shall give the honorable member an answer later on.
– It is a very simple question.
– But it would be injudicious to answer it at this stage. I shall deal with the honorable member’s question in its proper place. I am against the whole policy of conscription. I am against this Bill.
– Two months ago the honorable member in this House favoured conscription.
– I said clearly and distinctly at the outset of my speech this evening that I had no objection to conscription, or to compulsion and to force, provided theywere to be used for liberty and safety, and for the protection of the people of this country, and were not to be a subterfuge for oppression, degradation, and destruction. I also said I had no objection to the use of our forces oversea provided that it was there that liberty was to be found and protection secured. I say now that because conscription will not serve those particular objectives I am opposed to it at this particular juncture, and to the Bill by which public sanction is sought to be given to it.
– Two months hence the honorable member may change his mind again.
– Is that not the usual rule?
– Britain gave up the amateur system during the war.
– I am not talking about Britain; I am trying, rightly or wrongly, to look at this question from the Australian point of view. I am opposed to the conscriptionist purposes of this Bill on principle, and on the ground of public policy. I am opposed to them on the ground that the conscriptionist purposes for which this Bill will endeavour to secure popular support are destructive of the vital interests of the working Democracy who constitute the great mass of the citizens of this country. I am opposed to the principle of conscription because it is inimical to all their institutions and organizations ; I am opposed to it because it is destructive of all they have gained or hope to attain, and I oppose it further upon public grounds reaching right up to the vital interests of the community itself. This Bill takes no cognisance of the exceptional conditions of Australia. The conditions of this country are absolutely dissimilar from those of any other country in the world. No country is situated geographically and economically as we are, and what may be done in other countries cannot be done in Australia without bringing absolute ruin upon it. This proposal will have a disastrous effect upon the whole of the primary industries of Australia, and upon the financial resources of the Government that rest upon the prosperity of those industries. What you put on with the one hand in the shape of men you whittle away with the other. My reasons for holding these views I propose to explain when I come to details. Let me say further that I oppose this Bill on the ground that it is inimical to the future development of this continent as a white man’s country. I oppose the proposition of conscription
– Because the unions told the honorable member to do so.
– I am not the only worm on the string. I repeat that I oppose conscription on the ground that it is inimical to the future development of Australia as a white man’s country.
– Are we likely to keep it a white man’s country unless we do our share at the present time?
– I do not think there is any hope, under existing conditions, having regard to the chances we are throwing away. Let me tell honorable members why I object to the proposition itself as put before the country. I object to it, in the first place, on the ground that it does not represent the will of the majority of our party. It does not even represent the will of the majority of the Cabinet itself. The Prime Minister does not lead this party with regard to it; he does not even represent the Government, or a majority of it. He speaks mainly for himself, or at most for a minority of his Cabinet. He depends for the execution of his efforts upon the belief that he holds the majority of this party in a cleft stick - he believes that they cannot frustrate his efforts without letting the other side in. It is upon that he depends. Many people imagine that a majority of the party and of the Government follow the Prime Minister in this proposal. It is only right that the men and women of this country should know the truth. I should prefer to see the Opposition dealing with an issue of this character. I would sooner see them here - in power; because I do not think that even the honorable member for Flinders would go any further than the p resent Prime Minister is prepared to go. I f the Opposition were in office, and were responsible for this proposal, we should be able also to put up a stronger power of resistance against it. As it is, many people are prepared to accept it because of the hand from which it comes. Apart from the objective of the Bill, I object to the measure itself. I object to the proposed reference to the people, on the ground that it is a proposal to refer the question from a Parliament that knows a11 the facts, or, at least, thinks it does, to a people who are not permitted to know all the facts.
– They will know more before it is all over.
– No. I object to this Bill on the ground that, when it goes to the people, one party will not tell all the facts, while the other party will not be permitted to tell all the facts.
– They gave their word that they would not repeat what was told, and now the honorable member desires them to violate that promise.
– I did not give my word.
– Was the honorable member at the secret conference?
– I was not. A referendum under such conditions as these is largely an insult to the people. It is an insult to them because of the manner of its presentation. It is a farce, a fraud. I shall tell honorable members, first of all, why I say it is an insult. We have before us a Bill which honorable members are called upon to consider, and upon which they are to deliberate and to give their verdict. But, before any honorable member had been able to express an opinion upon it, we were clearly and distinctly told that, even if in our judgment the Bill should not be proceeded with - that even if the Opposition cast their votes against it - the Prime Minister would go on with the proposal and put it to the people, in spite of the wishes of this Parliament. That is what the Prime Minister said.
– I think he corrected that statement.
– If he did, I am not aware of it. I know what happened here. I once read of a Welsh jury who said to the presiding Judge: “Your Honour, we have considered our verdict, and have come to the conclusion that John Thomas, who stole the mare, is not guilty.’ But here we have, in the Prime Minister, a Welsh Judge who, addressing the jury, says, “ Gentlemen, the prisoner in the dock is my intimate friend. I did not know him before I left Australia. I met him in England, and there we became intimate friends. I brought him out withme, and my desire is that you shall bring him in nob guilty. If that is your decision, I shall respect it. If it is not, I shall ignore it.” What would any self-respecting jury do in such circumstances ? If they were not venal they would scorn such a situation, and, if they did not walk out of the jury box and refuse to give any verdict whatever, they would at least come to a decision contrary to that which the Judge desired. They would thrust upon him the onus of the transaction for which he wished their indorsement. These, then, are some of the reasons why I strenuously oppose this proposition. Then I say that it is ah absolute farce. We are asked to consider this proposition because of the grave situation that confronts our country, and the dire peril that besets us. If that be so, then what is to happen if the majority of the people vote against the proposal? Will not the dire necessity still remain ? Will not the peril still exist? Can a few men refuse to act because the mass, acting in ignorance, have rejected the proposal ? If the great bulk, in their ignorance, fail to do the right thing, can their Parliament or their Government refuse to shut the sluice gates? Thus, having asked for the decision of the people, we must either ignore it in the event of the verdict being against the proposal, or admit that the great crisis and the grave necessity to which the Prime Minister has referred, do not exist. Either that must be so or the Prime Minister must twist himself into the position of doing something that is an absolute violation of the decision of the people. I have said that the proposed referendum is a fraud, and the method by which it is to be carried out is a fraud, since there can never be an honest reference to the people unless there is at the same time free speech and a free press. It will be a difficult job to trammel free speech, but a free press in Australia to-day is non-existent. There can be no honest expression of public opinion unless at the same time every man has freedom to speak his mind. The Prime Minister himself believes in that principle. When the “secret junta,” which met in Sydney, came to a certain conclusion, the Prime Minister said next day, “ How dare any one interfere with the right of a man to give expression to the dictates of his own conscience?” That is a noble sentiment; but the very gentleman who gave utterance to it was responsible for the introduction and passing of the War Precautions Bill under which any one acting and speaking in accordance with his conscience may be punished. As a matter of fact, from time to time people have been punished under it for doing so. Quite a number of men have been sent to gaol under that law for speaking in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. Free speech is absolutely prohibited by the War Precautions Act. I propose now to refer to what I believe will be some of the inevitable results and what undoubtedly represent the most important feature of this proposal. I am not going to stress the point as to the influence of this thing upon the working classes and their organizations. There is something far beyond that to be considered. I wish merely to point out the disastrous effects upon organizations which are inevitable and self-apparent. We cannot escape those effects. When you suddenly transplant and replace skilled by unskilled labour, when you put women in the place of men, boys and girls in the place of adults, the whole social movement and the progress of the working classes is inevitably backward and downward, instead of upward and forward. Their organizations are inevitably weakened to futility by this constant dilution. That position is inescapable, and for the great masses it means absolute ruin and disaster. So long as the war continues, the men will find an outlet for their activities on the field of battle, but they must come back to find the old industries destroyed and given over to cheaper and more economical labour. The most important effects are not those which relate to party or fall on particular classes, but those which are peculiar to Australia as a country.
– How can you say that in view of what has taken place?
– How can I say what?
– That this is going to whittle down wages and destroy trade organizations.
– I say that it is selfevident in view of the experience in France, Germany, and England.
– The positions are not parallel in any sense of the word.
– Very well; let me put the case in another way. In the daily newspapers, only last week, there appeared a statement to the effect that in various factories in England there were employed 41,000 women where men had been previously employed. The commendation of the situation was that women were not only a more economical but a more docile class of workers. The whole effect is to put into the places of men who, by their militancy, activity, and organization, maintained the standard of human existence, a class who are less subject to organization and content with a lower standard of life; in other words, we are driven by the facts of the war back to the condition of England 100 years ago.
– Is that not only temporary ?
– I do not think it is.
– Will men submit to such conditions after the war?
– I have no objection to answer any questions, but I have only a quarter of an hour left, so that my time is limited. I know that it would not affect the opinion of honorable members of the Opposition if I pointed out for an hour the effect of this situation on the working classes, and, therefore, I shall confine myself to showing what, in my opinion, is the inevitable effect on Australia. What is the position in England, and wherein lies the difference of conditions? In England, in France, in any other country where there is dense population, and where there are large manufacturing centres, men can be taken from the field of industry and put into the front on the field of battle, while women and children take their places. To that extent industry is maintained ; and the important thing in war is that industry shall be maintained. Now, we come to another class of labour, namely, agricultural. In the other countries I have mentioned agriculture is largely on a small scale, with urban populations, and innumerable villages.
– The ordinary normal industries are not being maintained in England.
– If so, that makes it so much the better for my case.
– There has been a great transference to munition works.
– It only proves my case if the industries are not being maintained. Agriculture in the old countries is, for the most part, on a small scale ; and, in so far as the services of women and children can be obtained, the primary industries are maintained. The Leader of the Opposition will admit that in war time one of the essentials is to maintain the primary industries.-
– We have to do the best we can.
– We cannot see them perish - that is the important point. All European countries are capable of maintaining their industries to a large extent in war-time becasue, with their peculiar geographical position, and their dense populations, they can replace men by women, and women by children. Canada could pour out three times as many men as Australia, and still be in a better position than we are. Adjacent to her borders there is a population of 100,000,000, with the same language and similar sympathies. The labour on which Canada relies has to a large extent been drawn, not from her own population, but from the other side of the border, and men have flocked over in the season to do the Canadian harvest work. To that extent, therefore, industry can be kept going in Canada. Australia, on the other hand, is absolutely distinct from any other country. She has no small scale farming, no dense population, not many villages, and her primary and pastoral industries are for the main part sup plied by a class of men in the prime of life, who lead a nomadic existence, following the season from Queensland right through the other States. Does any one mean to say that women and children would be able to carry on the agricultural and pastoral industries of this country ? How and by what means could they do so? They would have no villages to retire to, and they could not carry the swag and camp out as men do. It seems inevitable that, in a country that is unable to call on other countries for a supply of labour, and where women and children are not available to carry on the industries, a large portion of our fields must go out of cultivation, and our sheep remain unshorn. I do not care what is said about exemptions; the fundamental fact is that within the next twelve mouths it is proposed to draw 200,000 men out of Australia, and many from the primary industries.
– There is a fair number on the Yarra Bank on a Sunday !
– Many of these are from the bush - shearers, timber-getters, and men of all classes. The demands that are proposed are going to make a larger draft on Australia than on any other country; and these are some of the troubles that Australia has to face. In England a call has been made on Chinamen, and in France 100,000 Chinamen have been imported ; and is it not evident that, with a shortage of labour in this country for the cultivation of the soil, there would go up a cry for cheap Asiatic labour? Does any one mean to say that when that crisis and hour comes - when our men have gone, and wealth lies in the fields and on the sheeps’ backs - it will not be declared utter madness to allow that wealth to go to waste for want of labour ? From one end of the land to the other those peculiarly interested will make a demand for cheap labour and the importation of Asiatics. I am asked whether this is a just war. I am not going to argue whether it is or is not a just war, for the simple reason that this is not a question of origin or of purpose, but it is essentially a question of the effect of the war on the well-being of Australia as a country. It has been said that we are fighting against a strong military despotism. Count Von Moltke, who was one of the strongest German militarists, and, in hia life, personified the old military system, said in the new preface to his book on strategy in the Franco-Prussian war, just before he died-
The days are gone by when, for dynastical ends, small armies of professional soldiers went to war to conquer a city or a province, and then made peace or went into winter quarters. To-day the Stock Exchange has assumed such influence that it has the power to call armed nations into the field merely to protect its interests, and territories are invaded and swamped with armies simply to satisfy the demands of high finance.
Here we have a man, trained in the old school of militarism, who had himself come to recognise the growing up of an unseen power in the kingdom of finance - that modern Shylock which governs the destiny of nations. This is the power that has to be combated; and in this connexion I should like to read an extract from a speech by Lord Eosebery, when he welcomed the oversea delegates to the Imperial Conference in June, 1909. In the course of his remarks, speaking of the international situation, he said -
There is a hush in Europe, a hush in which one might almost hear a leaf fall to the ground. There never was in the history of the world so threatening and overpowering a preparation for war. Without any tangible reason we see the nations preparing new armaments- enormous preparation, as if for some approaching Armageddon.
There was no Servian or Belgian trouble then, but it was seen that war was inevitable so soon as somebody should strike the gong. LordRosebery went on to say-
I ask you, while in this country, to compare carefully the armaments of Europe with our preparations to meet them. I feel confidence in the power of this country to meet any reasonable conjunction of forces, but, when I see one country asking £25,000,000 for warlike purposes, when I see the unprecedented sacrifices which are asked from us on the same grounds, I begin to wonder when it will stop, and whether it is going to bring back Europe to a state of barbarism, or whether it will cause a catastrophe in which the workmen of the world will say, “ We will have no more of this madness and folly which is grinding us to powder.”
-The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Should I be in order in moving for an extension of the time of the honorable member for Bourke?
-The standing order distinctly provides than an honorable member is limited to one hour and five minutes. A custom has grown up under which the House occasionally agrees to allow an honorable member to exceed his time, but I cannot, as Speaker, permit him to do so.
.- The honorable member for Bourke has made quite clear to the House and the country the principles he puts forward. He told us, and I think honestly and conscientiously, that the organizations of the trade unions of Australia are first in his opinion, and anything that might interfere with the rules of those organizations must go by the board. No matter what menace may threaten Australia or the Empire, it is of very little moment in the mind of the honorable member as compared with the interests of those organizations. I think I may include in the same category all those who favour the amendment. The amendment asserts that the proposal of the referendum is destructive of the best interests of Australia. I hold a contrary view. I hope it will be generally held throughout Australia that in order to preserve the interests of Australia it is necessary to make every effort to bring the war to a successful conclusion. The honorable member for Bourke dealt at some length with figures submitted as to the number of men who should be sent to the front to aid those who have already gone forward. I shall not enter into those details, but I think it a pity that our Government had not the same opportunity to enable members of this Parliament to go to the front and see the conditions of those in the trenches fighting for the liberties of the people that were afforded by the Imperial Government. The same difficulties had to be faced in the Old Country that we are facing here to-dav. When the war started there was the same trouble there, but when a large number of Labour representatives were sent to the front and saw the conditions of those in the trenches, and made them known on their return to Great Britain, there was a mighty revolution throughout that country, and to-day we can be proud to think that there are 5,000,0000 in the armies of Great Britain, 4,000,000 employed in the manufacture of munitions, and that the women of the country are doing their best to help their brothers at the front. Eighteen months ago a gentleman wrote to me to say that if ever the Empire should need an epitaph it could be supplied in the two words, “ Too late.” It seemed then as if the war would make an epitaph for the Empire necessary, and that that is what it should have been.
We do not want the same condition of things to arise here. The Prime Minister, coming from Great Britain, is in a position to tell us exactly what is wanted. Our own common sense suggests that we must send reinforcements, and we know that it has been found impossible to get them under the voluntary system. Are we to be “ too late,” or are we to take time by the forelock in this matter, when we know that time is the essence of the contract, and that to be successful, action must be taken at the earliest moment? It has been made quite clear, from our past legislation, that this Parliament has always believed in the principle of compulsion. We know that compulsion is the very basis of the whole of the organizations on the other side.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– I have had a good deal of experience of Labour organizations on the gold-fields, and I know the extremes of compulsion to which they are prepared to go. Men cannot secure employment unless they join a union. Apart from union organizations,’ the principle of compulsion is to be found in much of the legislation we have passed here. Is there any question as to whether this is our war or not? The honorable member for Bourke asked the question whether this was a just war. Those who have read the history of the war must realize that every effort possible was made by the British Government to preserve peace. The unpreparedness of Great Britain and the strenuous efforts of Sir Edward Grey and his colleagues to preserve peace show that no action was taken. by the British Government to force us into this terrible conflagration. I believe that 999 out of every 1,000 people in Great Britain believe that it is a just war, and that a similar percentage of the people here believe it is our war as well as that of Great Britain. We constitute a great Democracy under the freest Constitution in the world. Every person in Australia over twenty-one years of age has a right to say who shall be returned to this Parliament to make laws for the people. Surely this is a great Democracy worth fighting for! When people bint at possible troubles elsewhere, it should be borne in mind that it is only because of the power and strength of the Navy of Great Britain that we have been left so long unhin dered in the development of this country. The honorable member for Bourke spoke of the destruction of our primary industries should more of our men be sent to the front; but, during his political life, I do not think that he has troubled himself very much about the primary industries of Australia.
– This is the first time he has spoken solicitously about them.
– I think it is. I am inclined to believe that there is something in what was hinted by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.- We ought to know what is behind the opposition to the Government proposals. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has said that it is the Industrial Workers of the World, and that there is German gold behind them. There cannot be the slightest doubt that members of the Industrial Workers of the World are to-day controlling many of the union organizations and Trades Hall Councils. I have not a single word to say against trade unionists, because I know that they have come loyally forward to assist in the defence of the country. This may be said of all classes in the community. We know, also, there have been shirkers as well as brave men amongst all classes; but we cannot help seeing where this agitation against conscription is coming from. It is difficult to understand how honorable members representing large constituencies can permit the issue to be clouded, as it is in many instances, by the work of agitators with whom they would not care to brush shoulders. I do not, personally, approve of the referendum, but I have to accept it in this case. I believe in universal military service. A few months after the war started, when I was able to realize the enormous proportions to which it was bound to extend and the great military organization we were up against, I felt that we should have universal military service in Australia. In the first place, I think it is the fairest system to adopt. I cannot see why one section should enlist and another should stay behind. All classes of our people should help in the defence of the country, and if we had universal military service, we should have a just and equitable system under which rich and poor - the barrister, the doctor, the artisan, and the labourer - must each share in the responsibility for the defence of the country. A system of universal service would enable those in authority to make a more careful selection than has been possible under the voluntary system to secure the best physique amongst the soldiers who are sent away. Again, so far as the conduct of our industries is concerned, under such a system there could be a careful selection from those liable to service to maintain the industries which produce the wealth of the country, and which is necessary to keep our soldiers at the front, and to look after them when they return. The voluntary system has permitted of youths being sent to the front. We know that boys from seventeen to twenty years of age have gone to the front. We know, also, that under that system married men have enlisted, leaving wives and families not too well provided for behind them in Australia. Under a properly organized system of universal service single men could be sent away first. Under the voluntary system we allow the selfish producer to raise obstacles to the enlistment of his sons or his employees, and we afford facilities to the weak and anaemic pacifists who do not believe in the war to escape their proper obligations. I am reminded that a little time ago I received some circulars from a Peace organization in Melbourne, of which the honorable member for Brisbane is a prominent member, stating the objections of the organization to war of any description, and expressing its belief that before any war was started there should be a referendum of the people. We can imagine a hostile nation waiting until the referendum was completed, and being prepared to accept its decision. It is strange that these same people are to-day found opposing the referendum proposed by the Government. The voluntary system enables men who do not believe that the country is worth fighting for to take advantage of all our free institutions, and refrain from enlisting to defend them. They can be found to-day in Australia in thousands. Honorable members have only to go to the stadium, the race-courses, and the principal streets of Melbourne and Sydney to find many of them. It is not right that any section in the community should be allowed to accept all the good things to be obtained in Australia whilst refusing to shoulder their responsibilities, and at the same time to allow other men to go away to fight for the liberties they talk so much about. Men who have gone to the front have , rr ade great sacrifices . Many of them following professions and trades have left businesses which it took them years to build up, and many have left families whom it was their duty to protect and care for. They made these sacrifices in the interests of their country. Is it fair that these sacrifices should be made for the anaemic pacifist and the men who do not think that the country is worth fighting for? We should have had universal military service here from the start, but as we could not get it, we must take the next best thing. Some honorable members opposite raise the objection to the Government proposal to conscript men that there should first be conscription of wealth. I would ask them., who has controlled the Treasury benches since the war started? Who brought forward the various schemes of taxation which have been submitted to this Parliament? We have the right to assume that these proposals were threshed out in the Caucus, and that the Government realized the difficulties attendant on any taxation proposals. They have brought forward several schemes, and have increased the land tax and the income tax. There has been no objections from this side to any of their taxation proposals. The Government in every instance have had all the .assistance that Parliament could give them in connexion with this matter. They realize that in a war of this sort they must have money, but they can only get that money by fostering and developing .our industries. If by means of fresh taxation capital is diverted from its normal sources the very worst consequences will accrue to those who are left behind and indeed to those who return after the war. Great care must be taken concerning the nature of our taxation proposals. I believe the income tax will have to be increased, and I feel confident that the people will accept any scheme with that object in view put forward by the Government. There has been no objection, anyhow, up to the present, from this side of the House to war taxation schemes, if I may make one slight exception with regard to the war profits tax. in connexion with which, I understand, it was proposed to tax certain industries to such an extent that injury would have resulted. Let us remember also the generosity of the people of Australia during the two years of the war. Look at the enormous sums of money that have been collected in New South Wales and Victoria as well as in the other States for the Red Cross and other organizations. It is really wonderful what an amount of money has been given unostentatiously and without cavil for those funds, and I anticipate that the Government will have no difficulty concerning any taxation proposals that may be brought forward ; so I say therefore that the cry which I believe emanates from the Industrial Workers of the World is only a red herring drawn across the track to try and confuse the people in connexion with this issue. It is my duty to support the Government in regard to this proposal. I had hoped, when the Prime Minister came back from England and after the speeches he had made there, that he would bring forward a Bill for universal service on the lines indicated in the referendum, or that he would have taken some such action under the War Precautions Act. It would have been better had he done so, because I believe that the arguments which will be used during the coming campaign will lead to ill-feeling, will cause disunion among the people, and probably result in serious trouble in Australia. I say emphatically, however, that any man who will not abide by the laws of Australia should be made an example of as quickly as possible. Any man who dares to tell the people of this country that, if this proposal is carried, there will be a general strike, should be deported to some place where he will have little chance of propagating such views. I would ten thousand times sooner give the vote to the naturalized Germans whose sons are fighting for us at the front than to those men who endeavour to raise industrial trouble in this country at the present time, because they are far more loyal to Australia and its Government than those who are hinting at trouble if the referendum be carried. But I believe that the referendum will be carried by a large majority. We have sent some 250,000 of our men away, and most of us have some friends at the front; friends who are now calling to us for assistance. We have seen the sick, the maimed, and the blind returning to our shores and there are not many among us who have not lost some dear friend either in Gallipoli or in France. Are we going to say that this sacrifice is to be in vain ? Are we not going to send the reinforcements that are required ? The honorable member for Bourke has just said that he does not believe these men are needed.
I ask him to remember the visit of the Labour members to the front, and to realize, if he can, the conditions of our men in the trenches. We are asked to replace, not only those who are killed, wounded, or have become ill, but also to replace, for the time being, those who are affected by the terrible shell fire over the trenches, so that they may be relieved, and have their much-needed holiday away from the front. Surely in such circumstances we can afford to send a big proportion of our single men from Australia to give relief to those courageous sons of ours, who have gone to fight in the best interests of this country? What will happen if the referendum be answered in the negative ? I do not like this referendum proposal, because if it fail, what will be the result?
– We shall be degraded.
– Yes ; there could be no greater degradation of Australia than to have the referendum turned down. I can say no more, except that I regret that Parliament itself has not taken the responsibility of this work. We were sent here to make the laws for the people of Australia, and that duty was imposed upon us. We have no right to go outside and nrge the people to vote on this question of sending more men to the front. Our responsibility was clear. The responsibility of the Prime Minister was also clear. He realized, after his visit to the Old Country, the necessities of the situation, and I very much regret that on the other side of the House there were honorable members in sufficient strength to prevent him from carrying out his policy without an appeal to the people. I can only hope that the referendum will be carried by such an enormous majority that there will be no question as to the future policy to be adopted in connexion with this matter.
– I wish briefly to state my position in regard to the question before the House, and I ask honorable members to believe me when I say that, in trying to make up my mind, I have allowed no other consideration to stand between me and my conscience. I deplore the innuendoes made by the speaker who has just resumed his seat. He repeated something that was hinted at by the Prime Minister himself last night when speaking about the “ open palm “ and the “ German gold.” I did think - and the wish was expressed by the Prime Minister himself when we began the debate - that it was going to be clean and free of personal recriminations or innuendoes against those who claimed the right to think for themselves in this matter. I am prepared to give every man on either side of the House credit for having an honest conviction on this subject, and I do claim, therefore, that those who hold opposite opinions from me should concede to me the right, at all events, of having arrived at a decision according to my own convictions, and according to the way I as an individual see the “ light “ that has been’ spoken of. I remember that when the question of a contribution of a Bread- nought to the Mother Country was under consideration, those who took the opposite view on that occasion were dubbed as disloyal, and I know that those who advocate conscription to-day are prepared to stop at nothing to advance the views they hold - even to suggesting that those who hold the opposite view are disloyal. Naturally enough, this is a time when people are swayed by hysterical emotions, and, therefore, those who are not prepared to support the referendum leave themselves open to a charge of disloyalty, because just at present people’s minds are turning in one direction. But surely this also is a time when those who take the opposite, and, to some extent, the unpopular view - though I deny that it is unpopular - should get credit for being brave enough to- stand ,up to the opinions that they hold. I want to say here, in answer to those who may make charges of the kind indicated by the honorable gentleman who has just resumed his seat, that if I cannot show that the position I take up in regard to conscription is not in the best interests of my country, I should be charged with disloyalty. It behoves every man, whatever view he takes on this question, to demonstrate that his attitude is the best in the interests of the country to which he belongs. If there be in this country, as my honorable friend who has just resumed his seat has said, any men who are not prepared to do the best they can in the interests of the country, they ought to be ready to leave it, and the country would be better without them. Therefore, what- “ ever my views may be on this subject, I want it to be understood that I believe my attitude is in the best interests of this country. If it is disloyal to put the in- 1terests of Australia first, then I stand charged with the innuendo that the honorable member for Dampier has levelled against those who think with me. I want, at this stage, to refer to the statement which appeared in the papers yesterday morning in a speech delivered by the Prime Minister at his meeting in Sydney. Mr. Hughes said -
In regard to this matter, I stand with every other man in Australia who is for Australia.
I do not know whether he is correctly reported, but, if so, his statement can only mean that every man who is opposed to him upon this question is against Australia.
– Then there will be a terrible lot of people opposed to him on referendum day.
– Undoubtedly. If the great meeting which was held at the Exhibition Building, in this city, to-night, and to which every man and woman was invited, may be taken as an indication, there will be a great number of people opposed to the Prime Minister. But whatever doubt any honorable member may have entertained in regard to this Bill must have been entirely dissipated by the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister at the great gathering which he recently addressed in Sydney. Before going farther, I desire to say that I do not agree with those who have made harsh statements as to the right honorable gentleman - I do not sympathize with abuse, either of him or of anybody else. If we are going to get the true will of the electors registered on this referendum, the campaign must be conducted in such a way that every man, no matter what side lie may espouse, shall enjoy the fullest liberty of speech, and shall be credited with speaking his honest convictions.
– We’ give the honorable member credit for honesty, but we think that he is stupid.
– My honorable friend should be an excellent judge of stupidity. If I thought for a moment that in the coming referendum campaign both sides were going to have a fair deal - a fair opportunity of stating their case - I would not have a great deal of objection to this Bill. But I am satisfied that there will not be a fair representation of the case by that side which will have the privilege of fully stating its case. I am led to this conclusion by the nature of the appeal which the Prime Minister made to his hearers in Sydney. It was an appeal to them to register an affirmative vote by making it appear that a good many of them would be exempt from the operation of the Bill. In short, it was an appeal, rather, to their selfishness than to their patriotism. Here is the question which is to be put to the electors -
Are you in favour of the Government having in this grave emergency the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to requiring their military service, for the term of this war, outside the Commonwealth, as it now has in regard to military service within the Commonwealth?
Now, if a majority of affirmative votes are recorded, that condition of affairs will become the law of the land. What will then be the position. Under section 59 of our Defence Act -
All male inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempt from service in the Defence Forces) who have resided therein for six months and are British subjects, and are between the ages of eighteen and sixty years, shall, in time of war, be liable to serve in the militia forces.
If, therefore, the people cast an affirmative vote on this question the Government will have the power to call up every man from eighteen to sixty years of age. I do not say that men up to sixty years of age will be called. But it is idle for the Prime Minister to talk about exempting single men between eighteen and twentyone years of age in addition to married men and only sons in families. Why, if the exemptions were carried a little further, there would be nobody to go to the war. Consequently, I hold that the appeal made by the Prime Minister was an appeal to the selfishness of his hearers, and not to their patriotism. Here are the words of the honorable gentleman -
Australia has to provide 32,500 men in September, 16,500 in October, 16,500 in November, and 16,500 in December.
In other words, we have to provide 82,000 by the end of the year. We have also to assume, although we are not told so, that the demands for reinforcements thereafter will continue on that scale. That is to say, reinforcements will still be required at the rate of 16,500 per month. But if the Prime Minister is not going to call up any but single men, and if only sons are to be exempt, how are these reinforcements to be supplied ? How many of these men are to be found in the - Commonwealth? If we are to continue such reinforcements till the middle of next year there will not be nearly sufficient single men in Australia to supply them. No official figures have been published in this connexion, and before we are asked to arrive at a decision upon this Bill we should be informed of what are our resources in men. I have inquired at the Defence Department, and have been told that the figures cannot be published at present. Consequently I am justified in paying some regard to a table which was published in the Age the morning after the’ Prime Minister made his statement in Sydney. The bulk of that table was compiled on the authority of the organizing officer of the State Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, and I take it that he knows something about his business. From the table in question I gather that the number of men between twenty-one and forty-five years of age without dependants in the Commonwealth is somewhere in the region of 78,000, and the number to be deducted on account of families having enlisted is* about 10,000. If we take about 40 per cent, as representing rejects, the net number available under this heading is 45,000. Yet by the end of the current year 82,000 men will be required. Consequently, I am justified in saying that when the Prime Minister told his audience in Sydney that he did not propose to call up other than single men, he must have known that there is not a sufficient number of such men available in the Commonwealth to supply the requisite reinforcements. If these are the lines upon which the campaign is to be conducted, and if, as an anti-conscriptionist, I dare not use the one argument that I would like to use, it necessarily follows that those who think with me will enter the field at a disadvantage. It is not a fair thing to refer this question to the people, seeing that there can be no true decision arrived at upon it, owing to the peculiar circumstances which exist. There is only one fair thing to do, namely, to publish the official figures relating to our resources in men. The Prime Minister should frankly tell the electors of this country that the single men available are insufficient to provide the requisite reinforcements, and that early next year he will have to call upon the married men. I do not say that the latter would object to being called to the colours, but we ought certainly to know exactly where we stand. Even if the eligible married men were called, before the end of next year we should have practically exhausted every fit man in the Commonwealth. If we have to supply 200,000 additional troops, including both single and married men, it will indeed mean taking “ the last man.” Before we are asked to arrive at a determination on this question, a financial statement should be submitted to us, showing where the necessary money is to come from. Some honorable members say that the Government proposals will mean taking “ the last man,” but will not mean taking “the last shilling.” I hold that these proposals will mean taking”the last shilling” whether we like it or not; and if they mean taking both the last man and the last shilling, the people ought to know about it. If the Prime Minister is going to seek to obtain an affirmative vote by making it appear that only the single men of this country will be affected by the Government proposal, he will not be doing the fair thing. On page 136 of the last Bulletin issued by the Federal Statistician, the total production of Australia for 1913 is given at £218,199,000. That was for the period before the war, and included returns from agriculture, pastoral, dairying, poultry, forestry, fisheries, mining, and manufactures. I said I could show that if these men are taken, and they will be taken if the Prime Minister’s proposal is followed to its logical conclusion, it will absorb the whole of this production during the year. It will take it all to pay for it. The figures I have given show the total annual production of Australia before any , rren were withdrawn from industry, but if 500,000 fit men are withdrawn, I am surely not going too far if I say it will lessen the production very considerably. I am not going too far if I say it will lessen it by one-half. The same authority says there are 1,200,000 men ordinarily engaged in producing wealth in Australia. If 1,200,000 men produce £218,000,000 worth of wealth, deduct 500,000 men from them, and the production is decreased to £127,000,000. That is no exaggeration. If we send 500,000m en out of this country, £127,000,000 will not pay for the expense of maintaining them.
Mr.Boyd. - You would be favorable to those 500,000 going if they went voluntarily, and you would lose the production just the same.
– But they are not going voluntarily. The men who have stayed behind must have foreseen something of the kind. They must have foreseen the disaster that would befall this country if such a thing happened. I, therefore, have not taken up an unfair position in saying that the Prime Minister’s proposal, followed to its logical conclusion, will mean the last man and the last shilling from this country. I do not believe we have reached such a stage in this crisis that that demand should be made upon this young community. No man who loves this country, and none of our Allies, will say that we should be called upon, at this stage, to make this great sacrifice, which would be greater than any of our Allies have made so far. That is exactly the position I take up with regard to the war. If what is proposed were done it would mean ruin and stagnation to Australia, and if the Imperial authorities were asked whether we should make the sacrifice, I am sure they would not expect us to do it at this stage.
– How do you interpret Lloyd George’s message for more men?
– The less I say about that message the better. I am not going to say anything that will injure my country; but that request came from the War Council and not from the Imperial authorities. Iam sure our War Council down the street does not speak for the Australian Cabinet.
– The War Council in England runs the war.
– I do not believe that. We in Australia are in an entirely different position from any of the other countries at war, except, perhaps, New Zealand. France goes in for a system of intense culture. If Australia were cultivated as Mildura is, for instance, perhaps the women and children might, in exceptional circumstances, carry on in the absence of the fit men, but Australia is still in the pioneering stage. Millions of sheep have to be shorn, and millions of acres to be cropped. Metals have to be produced from the mines, and scores of other operations necessary for the well-being of the people cannot be carried out by women and children. It is unthinkable that any man who loves this country should say that we have reached such a stage in this crisis that we should expect all these operations to be handed over to women and children. I shall endeavour to give a summary of my objections to the Government proposals.
– What are your alterna-
– I shall tives ? state them in giving my summary. Let me first ask those who have made these innuendoes, “Isit disloyal for a man born in Australia to put his own country first?”
– Does not the honorable member recognise that we are organically part of the Empire?
– I do. But if we injure one part of the Empire, we injure the Empire as a whole, and I am sure the Empire as a whole does not expect us to injure any part of it. It does not expect the last man and the last shilling from us at this stage ; but that is what the Prime Minister’s proposals mean. All I want is that the Prime Minister should tell the people candidly before the vote is taken exactly what his proposals do mean, and not try to secure an affirmative vote by making every man believe that every second man is exempt. The honorable member for Flinders expressed exactly what is in my mind when he said it was all a question of necessity. That is the position I have taken up ever since I have tried to make up my mind on the subject, and I am sure honorable members will believe me when I say that I have spent many anxious hours in an endeavour to arrive at a decision which will be in the best interests of the land of my birth. The question, therefore, is, “Is it necessary?” Do the Imperial authorities expect us to make this great sacrifice? If they say candidly that it is necessary, that fact must have a great deal of weight with every man.
– They have said so.
– The War Council at Home has said it; but what do we read? If the statement I am about to quote is not true, it will do more injury to recruiting than anything I know of, and should certainly have been censored. Last Saturday’s Argus and every other daily paper in the Commonwealth published the following: -
Mighty Strength to-day.
The special correspondent of the New York World with the British on the Somme telegraphs : - “ Despite their steady advance, the British command do not look for a quick termination of the war. The British are determined to carry the war on to the German soil. Their Somme reinforcements are literally thick from the battle front to the sea. Great Britain’s Army is splendid material. At least 2,000,000 men could be thrown against the Germans at one point without touching the reserves at Home. At the present rate of losses Great Britain could fight through next summer without new troops, but if the present gains continue. Germany by then will be driven out of Prance.”
That comes from the man on the spot, who should know more about it than I do.
– I am reading these figures from the man on the spot. Does the honorable member say that he is not a reliable authority?
– He may be a hyphenated American for all I know.
– If the opposite statement has been made, both cannot be true; but why pick out one and say it is true and the other false? If this statement is false, the very active censorship which is exercised on other items should have been applied to it, because it is likely to lead the manhood of this country to the same conclusion as I have arrived at. That is answer No. 1 with regard to the necessity stand-point. The next is supplied by the population statistics of the countries that are at one another’s throats. Russia has 174,000,000 people, Great Britain 45,000,000, France 40,000,000, and Italy 35,000,000, a total of nearly 300,000,000 without including the smaller Powers, against 135,000,000 people in Germany, Austria, and Turkey. In addition, Russia has perhaps more at stake in the war than any other country fighting. It is not too much to say that she has more at stake than Australia, and, with all she has at stake, it would not be too much to expect Russia to have about 10 per cent. of her population at the front. If she had, she would have about 17,000,000 men there.
– Russia has done her fair share.
– I accept that statement. According to the latest figures I have been able to obtain, Russia has only 4½ per cent. of her population in the field, whereas nearly 6 per cent. of the population of Australia is fighting. If Russia has done well, Australia has done so well that there is no necessity for forcing the people of this country to do what the honorable gentleman wants them to do. The Prime Minister told the people of Sydney that the whole issue in this great crisis depended on the sending of 200,000 more men from Australia, and I believe that the number has since been reduced to 100,000. Can any one believe that 100,000 men will prove the deciding factor in a contest where the opposing armies are numbered by millions? Yet we are asked to find these men at the expense of our industries. Mr. Winston Churchill not long ago startled the world by saying that about 200,000 men were being used as batmen, bringing coffee to officers in the morning or polishing their buckles, and that there were 50,000 grooms. If more men are needed, there are these 250,000 close to the fighting line who can be got. It is, therefore, unnecessary to transport men from Australia, a distance of 12,000 miles, to the ruin of this country.
– Let every one fight but us!
– I have already said that in proportion to population we have done better than Russia and better than Canada.
– And half as much as Great Britain.
– The honorable member for Kooyong knows that it is not fair to contrast what we have done with what Great Britain has done. The war is practically at the doors of Great Britain, but it is 12,000 miles away from us. Nor is it fair to compare what we have done with what Russia has done. Yet in proportion to population we have done better than both Russia and Canada. If Canada had done as well as we have done in proportion to population, she would have another 80,000 men in the field, which is as many men as we are asked to furnish by the end of the year. Why has not the request for conscription been sent to Canada, which is nearer to Great Britain than we are? Canada is within a week’s journey of Great Britain, whereas we are 12,000 miles away. Transport is much easier from Canada than from Australia. Yet it is to us that the request for conscription comes, and if attention is paid to it, we shall have introduced into Australia a system which I venture to say will ruin this country, and a system which is foreign to the democratic spirit that pervades our people.
– Does the honorable member suggest that Great Britain is acting unfairly by us ?
– He is insinuating that the request is a fake.
-As Canada has not done so well as we have done, why has she not been asked to conscript her manhood?
– The honorable member does not know what request has been made to Canada.
– If the request had come to Canada we should know of it. In view of the statement of Mr. Winston Churchill, and of the announcement in the newspapers of Saturday last, that there are 2,000,000 men available without calling upon reserves, that men are thick from the trenches to the sea, I do not know why we should be asked to believe that the issue can be decided only by the sending of another 100,000 men from Australia. Whilst I give all credit to honorable members opposite for their sincerity, I cannot accept their statements, and I intend to take the course that I believe best in the interests of the country, whether it be popular or unpopular. No organization in my electorate has said what I should do, or what I should not do, in this matter. I am guided only by my own convictions, and I shall follow the light as I see it.
– How would the honorable member deal with the situation?
– He would let our men perish.
– It is a cruel thing to say that if we do not send reinforcements we shall leave men to die in the trenches. If any of us thought that, he would leave nothing undone to prevent it. But does any one believe that if Australia never did anything more in the war, provision would notbe made from the large armies in the field to fill up the line that we hold?
– We promised reinforcements.
– We should do everything that we can do without ruining the country. Had more sympathy been shown to the returned soldiers by the Defence Department, and had better provision been made for dependent wives and children, there would have been no lack of volunteers. The worst advertisement that this country has got has come from returned men who have not been able to obtain the pensions to which they were entitled. I have had several such cases brought under my notice. It is the tales of unsympathetic treatment that have spread abroad that have discouraged enlistment, and the fault lies chiefly at the door of officers in control of the Defence Department who, as I said the other night, seem to be out of sympathy with the men who have gone abroad to do their duty.
– According to the honorable member, if they had been sympathetic, they would have ruined the country by causing more men to go abroad.
– The Prime Minister now says that 100,000 men will be sufficient, and I believe that with sympathetic treatment from the Department 100,000 volunteers would have been forthcoming in due course. Last year the Prime Minister, in discussing the situation, said that he could not see one bright spot in the clouds, and he was not far out. As the honorable member for Bourke said to-night, the situation could not have looked blacker than it did then. It looked so black last year that one did not know what would happen. What Mr. Hughes said then was that in no circumstances would he send men out of the country to fight against their will.
– He did not say that in the Old Country.
– 2Tb ; but he said it here when the position looked so black that he could not see one bright spot. Then he went to the Mother Country, and on his return he said that the position had changed. He could now see a bright spot. It might be only the size of a man’s hand, he said, but the tide had turned in favour of the Allies. When the position looked so black that he could not see a single bright spot, he would not send men out of the country against their will, but when, according to him, the tide had turned, he returned as a whole-hearted conscriptionist, and said that conscription is absolutely necessary to save the country. Are we to believe the Prime Minister’s statement of last year or his statement of this year?
– He has been to the front since he made the statement last year.
– Yes; and as a result of that visit he told us that our prospects were looking brighter, and that the tide had turned in our favour. The Prime Minister, in England, was talking by and large; he spoke as a man with 50,000,000 people behind him instead of only 4,750,000. Of course, on his return to Australia he has to live up to the reputation he made abroad. I say candidly that the Prime Minister did a lot of good work during his absence, but he having said before he left Australia that in no circumstances would he send men out of the country against their will, I ask him why, when he has returned, after the tide has turned, does he announce that conscription is necessary?
– Because he found that more men would be required for the offensive than for the defensive.
– Will the honorable member say that with the great armies which are numbered by millions it depends on our extra few thousands to win the offensive? We must tell the people the truth about this matter. If one side is to be able to say everything it desires to say, and the other side is to be “gagged,” and not allowed to say the things which they believe will weigh in the minds of the people, the submission of this matter to the country will not be fair. If we cannot win this war by calling up only the single men, if we cannot win it without giving our last man and our last shilling, surely the Prime Minister will trust the patriotism of the people, and tell them exactly what the position is? But, for Heaven’s sake, let us not try to get a vote out of the people by making many of them believe that they are exempt. This is the only country engaged in the war which has left itself without home defences. None of the Allies has denuded itself in that way as Australia has done, and I can see in Australia’s lack of home defenders a danger to the future of the country that should influence the minds of every man and woman. By denuding ourselves of home defenders we have made great sacrifices - sacrifices which the Mother Country appreciates so much that I do not think she would seriously ask us to bleed ourselves further and ruin the Commonwealth. We cannot injure Australia without injuring the Empire, too.
– We want to save the Empire.
– If the honorable member believes that an extra 100,000 men from Australia will save the Empire, he is welcome to that opinion; I am unable to believe that. When the vote is taken on this Bill in this House there will be a big majority in favour of it, but I ask the people not to understand from that vote that there is a majority of the Labour party in favour of conscription. It will be said that, because there is a majority vote in this House for the referendum, there is a majority for conscription. I shall tell the people the whole truth; that is the only fair thing to do. There is a majority of the Labour party against conscription. On this side of the House there will be a minority vote against the Government proposal. I shall tell the people, also, that if these proposals are agreed to, and the referendum is carried, a majority of this party is pledged to see that the people pay the last shilling as well as the last man. The people ought to know that the money to finance this war has to be found in Australia; we cannot run to the Mother Country to-day for financial aid. Australia’s wealth production to-$ay is about £150,000,000, and if we are to send abroad all the men the Prime Minister is asking for, we shall have so many to provide for that the whole of that amount will be mopped up. The Prime Minister did not tell the people whether he was going to get that money in Australia, but there is a majority of the Labour party in favour of so doing, and the people ought to be told it. I propose to tell them. I have nothing further to say. I cannot vote for conscription. I cannot vote for submitting this question to a referendum, because only one side is to get a fair deal in the matter of putting its case to the people.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney- Prime -I rise for the purpose of saying a word on the amendment of the honorable member for Illawarra.- It is, in effect, a direct negative of the Bill. Its purpose is obvious. It is intended to kill the Bill. It prejudges the question. It is deliberately intended to do so. It prevents the people of Australia from having an opportunity of expressing their opinion on the greatest question that has ever confronted the people of this or any other country. And it is supported by some honorable members who are posing in this House as Democrats, and stand, if they stand on anything at all, upon the principle of government by the people for the people, the gravamen of whose charge against war is that the people are never given an opportunity of speaking on war, yet when, for the first time in the history of responsible government, and, so far as I know, in the history of Democracy in all the ages, the people are to be given an opportunity of saying whether they will continue this war or withdraw from it; these gentlemen, calling themselves Democrats, but whose actions show them to be the very opposite of Democrats, seek to prevent the people from expressing their opinion on this question. They have spoken of me very freely, and now they will allow me to say that I do not propose for one moment to allow the people of this country to be choused of the opportunity of saying what they think ought to be done. If this is not a people’s question, in the name of heaven what is a people’s question? If the people are to be denied the right to speak on this matter, then upon what are they to be allowed to speak ? Upon those matters which those honorable gentlemen decide, and those only ! And this is Democracy ! But the people shall speak. If the referendum is some Machiavellian device to be put forward when it suits us, and put behind us when it does not suit us, what becomes of all those perfervid protestations from those lip-servers of Democracy, men who walk arm in arm with Democracy when it suits them and kick her into the gutter when it does not ? I am for trusting the people. I have been in favour of the referendum when it did not suit my honorable friends opposite; I am in favour of the referendum now, and the people of this country are to have this opportunity of expressing the opinion as to whether there shall be peace or war, or whether Australia shall withdraw from this struggle or go on ; and how it shall go on. The honorable member for Illawarra, and those who stand with him, shall stand out also so that the people of Australia shall know them for what they are - men who mouth as the high priests of Democracy, but who are guilty of sacrilege against her. Democracy is polluted by the very atmosphere which they breathe.
Why will they not let this question go to the people? If they thought the people would turn it down, they would let it go to them. So it comes to this: that Democracy presents this sorry spectacle as seen through the glasses of those honorable gentlemen - when the people are with them they are for the people, but when the people are against them the people are anathema. That is not Democracy, whatever else it may be. I do not intend to say one word now about the merits of the question itself. I simply say that the people are to have the opportunity of saying “ Aye “ or “ Nay “ on this question, and nothing that this junta of honorable gentlemen here can do will prevent it. I say to those honorable gentlemen who stand up here and pose as the representatives of the Labour party that the foundation upon which the party stands is the people. We trust the people all the time. At any rate, that is our theory, and if it be not our practice, it is well that we should be exposed for the hypocrites that we are. I speak quite plainly. If we will not trust the people, let us say so. Do we propose to select the opportunity and say, “ We are going to trust the people now; we will not trust them again.” What nonsense ! What a shallow, hypocritical device is enshrined in this amendment of the honorable member for Illawarra ! As if it would fool anybody! It is deliberately intended to prevent the people of Australia having an opportunity of speaking on this great question. It is the device of a cunning child. But it must not be allowed to succeed. I repeat what I said at the outset of this debate. The Government regard this question as vital. This Bill must pass. That is the plain position. Honorable members have before them the amendment and the question. It is for the House to decide.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Burns’ amendment) - put. The House divided.
Majority … …. 37
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I am opposed to this Bill, both on its merits and in the circumstances in which the referendum is to be taken. This is not a party measure. The Prime Minister, upon his return from Great Britain, met the party to which I belong and informed us that he took us fully into his confidence as to the reasons that prompted him to bring forward this proposal. So far as I am aware, every member of our party - and, I believe, later on, every member of the Opposition, was placed in possession of the full facts as the Prime Minister gleaned them in Great Britain, and as he saw them; and the position is that an overwhelming majority of our party in both Houses is opposed to the Prime Minister’s programme of conscription for oversea service. On the same facts that have influenced the Prime Minister, honorable members have not been able to alter their opinions. Thus, when people talk about following the Prime Minister, they must not assume that the right honorable gentleman is in possession of any information that is not within the knowledge of honorable members generally.
It is only fair to say that the party to which I belong has had no opportunity of formulating a war policy based upon the information which the Prime Minister brought back with him from Great Britain. We had meetings extending over days, but we were informed that this was not a party matter, and we had no opportunity of seeking some policy upon which this party could present a united front. And so the Prime Minister comes into this House a convicted conscriptionist, and with a proposal to take a referendum of the people to permit of troops being compulsorily sent oversea. We have just had a division on an amendment which it was said was an attack on the Government - a motion of want of confidence. And what does the division-list reveal? It shows forty -eight honorable members on one side and twelve on the other. Now, of the forty-eight there were twenty-eight returned to this House as Liberals, and twenty returned as Labour members. It will be seen, therefore, that on the division on which the Government stake their existence, they are a long way short of a majority in the House unless relying upon Liberal support.
– You have just said it is not a party question.
– I said that the amendment was taken as a want of confidence motion. I also said that this was not treated as a party question in the party to which I belong, and that that party had had no opportunity to arrive at some policy on which it could present a united front. But the Prime Minister has informed the House and the country that the issue is vital to his Government.
– Vital to the country, I think he said.
– The Prime Minister said that it was vital to the Government - that it was vital to the existence of the Government. Yet upon an issue which the Prime Minister says is vital to the existence of the Government, the right honorable gentleman knows perfectly well he cannot get a majority independent of Oppositionists, to support him and keep him in power. Consequently, when the division bell rings there is a coalition in the House of Liberal and Labour members for the purpose of keeping the Government in power on a policy in regard to which a majority of the Ministerial party are not agreed. There is no escape from that position.
– The amendment was defeated without us.
– In the total number of sixty votes cast, the Government had the votes of twenty of their own followers, so that the Government have not a majority of their own party in this House on their policy.
– The Government had both a majority of the House and a majority of their own party.
– The Government had a majority in the House when there was a coalition.
As to the merits of the Bill, I find that the measure says one thing, while the speeches of the Prime Minister say something entirely different and diametrically opposed to it. Under the Bill it is not proposed to permit the residents of this country between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one to vote on the referendum, on the principle that as they are not to be compelled to serve they should not vote. But the Bill provides that the great majority of the people who cannot be compelled to serve shall be permitted to vote; and in this regard the measure is very illogical.
The Bill provides that all residents in Commonwealth territories shall be permitted to vote. This House refuses to allow residents of Norfolk Island, the Northern Territory, and the Federal Territory to vote in connexion with the smallest of their domestic concerns, and yet, on a great national issue like this, without any of the safeguards with which we clothe our Electoral Acts, they are to be invited to vote.
– In other words, it is proposed to allow those residents to do in regard to this vital question what the honorable member has always claimed they should be allowed to do on minor questions.
– The Bill allows those people to vote under circumstances which assure the Government an overwhelming majority, and gives those opposed to the Government no chance of putting their case before those people.
What is the position on Norfolk Island, 1,000 miles away, where the Government have their officials? What chance is there of the case against conscription being put to the residents there ? None whatever. The Government will issue a manifesto, and the Government officials on the Island will know what are the wishes of the Government; and we may expect the vote of the Island and the other Commonwealth territories to reflect the wishes of the Government.
Soldiers at the battle-front, and on the water, and nurses, are to participate in the referendum under military supervision. Military officers are to conduct the voting.
– You would not deny those people the vote ?
– I would not; but a little time ago, when we were proposing a referendum for the purpose of altering the Constitution to deal with trade and commerce, a great many people denied the soldiers the right to vote. I deny that, under the circumstances, we can get a fair vote from our soldiers and nurses.
– Do you mean that there will not be a secret ballot ?
– It will be voting by post, and a military officer will witness the signature of every man and woman who votes.
– I do not think so.
– The military officer need not see the vote if extraordinary precautions are taken by the voter, but the chances are that the officer will see ninety-nine out of every hundred.
This Bill asks the electors of this country to vote on the question -
Are you in favour of the Government having, in this grave emergency, the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to their military service, for the term of “this war, outside the Commonwealth, as it now lias in regard to military service within the Commonwealth?
That is, the Bill asks for authority over every man between eighteen and sixty years of age. But the Prime Minister tells us in his speeches - and it is on those speeches that the people are asked to cast their votes - that all he requires are single men without dependants, between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five. It is stated that there are 150,000 of such men, and that the Government will require 100,000 men for the first half of next year.
When the referenda as to the constitutional change in regard to trade and commerce were before the people some little time ago, strong objection was taken to any more power being asked for than was absolutely necessary for the declared purpose of the Government. On the present occasion, however, while the people are asked to vote on the understanding that the Government only intend to call on single men without dependants, between twenty-one and forty-five years of age, power is taken to catch, by the scruff of the neck, every man in the country from eighteen to sixty years of age, and bundle him off as a conscript to foreign countries. I shall take an opportunity in Committee to move an amendment which will restrict the operation of the Bill to the declared proposal of the Government. We shall then see whether those who support the Government really desire power over the 150,000 between eighteen and forty-five years of age, or over the whole of the manhood of the country between eighteen and sixty years of age.
– Why not?
– If the honorable member takes up the attitude that the Government should have this power over all men between eighteen and sixty years of age that is his look-out, but my contention is that the Prime Minister has no right to tell the people that he wants the power to conscript only single men between eighteen and forty-five years of age and without dependants, when he is asking for the power to conscript every man between eighteen and sixty years of age. By referendum the people will be asked to say whether the Government should have the same power to enforce military service overseas that they have now under the Defence Act with respect to military service for home defence. If the referendum be carried, these are the classes of men over whom the Government will be given the power for which they ask -
Class I. - All men of the age of 18 years and upwards, hut under 35 years, who are unmarried or widowers without children.
Class II. - All men of the age of 35 years and upwards, but under 45 years, who are unmarried or widowers without children.
Class III. - All men of the age of 18 years and upwards, but under 35 years, who are married or widowers with children.
Class IV. - All men of the age of 35 years and upwards, but under 45 years, who are married or widowers with children.
Class V. - All men of. the age of 45 years and upwards, but under 60 years.
So that the Government under their proposal would have the power to call up for compulsory service overseas the whole of the manhood of the country between the ages of eighteen and sixty years. It is not fair in the circumstances that speeches and paragraphs should be published in the newspapers ‘in support of the Government’s proposals leading the people to believe that power is asked for to compel the service of a comparatively small handful of men when the power that is asked for is to compel the service of practically the whole of the manhood of Australia, married and single, and with or without dependants.
This Bill is an insult to Parliament. It has been stated by the Prime Minister that whether it passes or not the referendum will be taken on the 28th October. Speaking in this House on the 1st September, the right honorable gentleman said -
This referendum will be taken on 2Sth October, whether it -takes two or five weeks to pass the Referendum Military Service Bill.
Mr. Joseph Cook interjected
Suppose the Bill is not passed by that date, and the Prime Minister then said -
Then I shall be inclined to find a remedy under the War Precautions Act.
In a word, the Prime Minister sets up a dictatorship, and proposes to take a vote of the people on this vital question whether Parliament is agreeable or not. Such a position is without a parallel in any British speaking Parliament that I know of.
– Are not the times also without a parallel ?
– I have heard honorable members on the other side complain bitterly that Parliament was not consulted about quite a number of things ; but on this question, under which the manhood of the country may be bundled off to Europe and 300,000 wounded or slain inside of twelve months, they do not consider it necessary to consult Parliament. One man is to be allowed to give the order, whether Parliament is in agreement with him or not.
I am opposed to this Bill because of the circumstances in which the vote is to be taken. Only one side in this matter is being fairly represented. The gag is on all who are opposed to conscription, I hear questions asked day after day of the Prime Minister to discover who has authorized this or that action of the censor. To-day telegrams were passed around in this Chamber showing that members of the Legislative Assembly in Queensland, having made speeches in the Parliament of that State, had them reprinted for circulation amongst the people, and the military censors have absolutely refused to allow them to be issued. The Prime Minister says that he knows nothing about it. When Labour Conferences were held recently to discuss the question the public were not allowed to know what the decisions of those Conferences were. Later on, when the Prime Minister considered it to his advantage to have a statement published he had it prepared, and it was handed to the daily newspapers for publication on the understanding that it was printed by them as their statement, and not his. Some journals published the statement as from an authoritative source, whilst others refused to publish it as it was not theirs. I say that this is not a fair deal. This is not allowing the people to decide a great issue, but it is a pure doctoring of public opinion, putting some of the facts before the people and withholding others. I utterly deny that it is fair to put this question to the vote, of the people in such circumstances.
The Premier of New South Wales, who is one of the most faithful henchmen of the Prime Minister on this question of conscription, is making a public appeal to the Prime Minister to enable a fair and free discussion of the question before the people are called upon to vote. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 18th instant Mr. Holman :’s reported to have said -
This is not a military matter which is being discussed now, but a national matter. The nation is being appealed to by the Government. The nation as a whole has to decide whether it will enter upon a new and serious development or not. It is not for any authority, military or administrative, to determine, under those circumstances, what limits shall bc placed upon the range of discussion or on the facts or arguments adduced on cither side.
There is a public appeal by the Premier of New South Wales to the Prime Minister to give the people of this country an opportunity for a fair and open discussion of all the issues involved. I saw a manuscript of the Prime Minister’s speech in Sydney last Monday, which was handed to the press before it was delivered. It might be the speech which the right honorable gentleman delivered at Sydney Town Hall, or it might not. One of the Sydney newspapers refused to publish it, stating that they would send their reporters to the meeting to report what occurred, and not what was given to them beforehand.
In the draft of the speech which I read coming over in the train on Tuesday, the Prime Minister, by insinuation, brands the opponents of conscription as traitors in the pay of Germany, as persons who do not love their country, and as enemies of Great Britain and Australia. Instructions have been issued to the press of this country that the Prime Minister may not be held up in any unfavorable light, either by letterpress or cartoon : yet he exercises the right himself through the public press to brand those who object to conscription in the way I have stated. My answer to him is this : I am an Australian who thinks that Australia is the best land in the world. The Prime Minister can go to Great Britain and talk about Wales as being “ for ever best,” but I say it does not lie in the mouth of this unacclimatized Welshman to tell me, a native-born Australian, that, because I do a thing which I think is the best for my country, I am to be branded as a traitor in the pay of Germany and as a man who does not love his country.
If I could tell the people of this country of the dangers which are threatening us in the Pacific, there would not be the ghost of a chance of securing 100,000 votes for this referendum. We do not want to bundle all the young manhood out of the country, and leave the old men to bear arms.
– There are no arms tn bear.
Mr.J. H. CATTS.- It is a disgrace that after fifteen years of compulsory military training we are in the position of having no provision for the defence of this country.
– We have not had fifteen years of compulsory training.
– The Prime Minister has told the people that this particular law has been on the statute-book for fifteen years.
I am opposed to this referendum because the Government have at their disposal unlimited funds to prosecute a campaign, while those opposed to conscription have no such opportunity of carrying on propaganda work. When the recent referenda questions for an alteration of the Constitution were about to be placed before the people, an arrangement was made by which opponents were allowed to place their manifesto alongside that of the party supporting the proposed alterations, and those pamphlets were sent to every household throughout the whole length and breadth of Australia. This manifesto dealing with conscription, on the other hand, will contain only what the Government decide should be put before the people. The Government, by means of publicity agents, formerly attached to the Sydney Sun and the Sydney Morning Herald, and with the assistance of the country press, will be able to have their v’iew3 broadcasted throughout the country, while those opposed to the issue will not even be allowed tohave their voices heard through the press.
In the Supply Bill just passed there is an item, under the heading of Treasurer’s Advance, of £1,000,000, all of which may be spent without an account being furnished to this Parliament. No doubt, this will be the source from which funds will be drawn for the referendum campaign, while those who are opposed to the proposal will be denied the right of publicity for their views, as no printer throughout the country will be allowed to print any circular dealing with conscription without first submitting the subject-matter to the censor.
– There will be a big sympathy vote against the proposal on that account.
– There ought to be. The people ought to be impressed if they are not allowed to know the facts. In this approaching campaign public opinion will be absolutely doctored. It will not be a bonâ fide referendum at all. I believe in a bonâ fide appeal to the people, but this is a “ doctored “ scheme for the purpose of securing a majority of the votes on behalf of a pledge which the Prime Minister gave in Great Britain without any authority from this Parliament or the people of this country.
– Is this the honorable member who declared that the voluntary system had failed ?
– My honorable friend knows perfectly well thatI did my best in my State - working long hours, month after month- to make the voluntary system a success.
Mr.Rodgers. - And you admitted your failure here.
– I did not admit my failure. I said I had ample evidence of the dangers surrounding this country, and had come to the conclusion that enough men had been sent away.
– Are you going to leave the men who have gone?
– I will deal with that interjection presently. I am opposed to conscription, on the grounds of necessity for home defence and the existence of this nation. It has been stated by the Prime Minister that at present we have five divisions in the field. That is to say, we have 100,000 men at the front, while there are in camp here 43,512, in camp in England 44,511, and on the water 15,000, or a total of 103,023 men available as reinforcements.
– That was the case at the beginning of the month.
– Well, there have been more volunteers since that, but the matter is not worth quibbling about. It has been shown that we have 103,000 men available as reinforcements for an army of 100,000 men. Over 60,000 of our men have been already killed or wounded, and it is estimated that by the end of the year the 100,000 men will have been exhausted. What does that mean ? It means that another 100,000 will be required to take their places. Then, for the first half of the next year, an additional 100,000 will be required. The 100,000 men then at the front will in their turn be butchered, or put out of action, and during the next half of next year another 100,000 men will have to be provided to take their places. Between now and next July 200,000 will have been accounted for in killed, wounded, or otherwise put out of action, and at this rate of progress at the end of next year 300,000 men will have been put out of action.
– Even then our figures will represent less than have already been provided for by the Old Country.
– If the honorable member compares the population and wealth of the Old Country with the population and wealth of Australia he must admit that we have done very well proportionately.
– It is not a matter of wealth at all.
– The honorable member wishes to show that we have not done as much as Great Britain, but he will not admit that it is a matter of wealth. He says it is something else.
– That is so.
– I am afraid there is a number of honorable members who come from the Old Country, and who have not become Australianized - who do not see anything from an Australian point of view, but only from the British point of view.
– Some of us are Australians.
– But the men who are leading this campaign are not Australians.
– They are well supported by Australians.
– They have some followers all right.
– More than followers.
– I confess that my honorable friend has been upon the conscription side hitherto ; but that cannot be said of many honorable members who are supporting the Prime Minister to-day.
– If the honorable member means to suggest that we are taking this thing lightly from an Australian stand-point, he never made a greater mistake.
– I say that the interests of Australia are not being put first.
– I regard this matter just as gravely as does the honorable member.
– The honorable member sees it from the point of view of the Old Country, whereas I view it from the Australian stand-point. Under the Government proposals I say that the married men will have to be called. It has been stated that there are 150,000 single men in the Commonwealth between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five years, who are, presumably, fit for service and who are without dependants. But, according to the declaration of the Prime Minister at Sydney the other evening, the following are to he exempt: - Single men who are only sons, single men with dependants, single men with brothers at the front, single men required for necessary industries, and single men who convince tribunals as to the necessity for exemption. I venture- to say that, with theBe deductions, the 150,000 men whom we are assured are available will be reduced to 25,000.
– Surely that should not be the honorable member’s concern; they will be here for home defence.
– But tho appeal in connexion with this referendum should be- an honest one. If we are going to conscript men between twenty-one and sixty years of age, we should say bo. These exemptions are being embodied in the speeches of the Prime Minister for the purpose of inducing certain classes to vote for the Bill under the impression that they will be exempt from its operation.
– But the honorable member thinks that the Bill will be rejected.
– I do. But whether it is rejected or not, I want to see both sides have a square deal. In Committee I shall move to incorporate in the measure the exemptions outlined by the Prime Minister. We have been here long enough to know that it is’ not the speeches of honorable members which govern Acts of Parliament. It is the words of the Statutes themselves.
– And sometimes, unfortunately, regulations.
– But the regulations cannot override the provisions of any Act. The speeches of honorable members, both here and outside, have absolutely no relation to the purpose of this Bill.
High Cost of Living.- The taking of these additional men from the avenues of production in this country will mean the gradual increasing of the already rapidlyadvancing ‘cost of -living. It is impossible to. take 16,500 men per month from our producing industries, and to add them to the armies that must be fed but produce nothing, without largely increasing the cost of living. Let the people of the country know ‘that part of: the price that- they will have to pay for the war will be a large increase in the cost of living. We hear a lot about our obligations to the soldiers in the trenches, but it seems to be forgotten that we guaranteed to these men 6s. a day as a basic payment. Now, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, the cost ‘of* living in August of this, year was 28 per cent, more than on the outbreak or war two years ago, which means that the purchasing power of 6s. has been reduced by ls. 6d. Therefore, we are not honouring our obligations to the soldiers in continuing to pay them only 6s. a day. The only way in which we can keep faith with them is by paying them 7s. 6d. a day, and increasing the separation allowance of married men in proportion; and the first thing that should be done is to bring in a Bill to provide for that increase.
Regulation of Prices. The Government have had the opportunity, during the last two years, to regulate the prices of commodities, and to prevent the exploitation of the consumers. Enormous war profits are being made throughout the length and breadth of the country. Twelve months ago I moved in this House, calling on the Government to take action, and was told that they had no power. Eventually, they took action regarding a couple of lines, and I was associated .with certain inquiries which were being made, I found that the owner of one small mill paid income tax last year on £26,000, and that. in some instances millers were charging large contributions to the war funds - in one case amounting to £250 - against every ton of flour that they sent out ; so that the people who bought bread made from their flour were really paying for their contributions. The Government started upon the regulation of prices, but Ministers cannot be very much in earnest about the matter, because, after the Board had been in existence for a little time, a body of regulations was framed which made our work impossible of success, and every member of the Board - Liberal and Labour alike - resigned, recognising that, under these regulations, success was impossible. The Board was not consulted regarding the regulations.
– Did the honorable member gain the information which he has just used during the course of his inquiry 1
– Publicly or privately ?
– Publicly. I am not going to break any confidence. I have mentioned no names.
– Does the honorable member think that he should have made the statements public?
– My honorable friend does not like to have this information made public. But it is time that the people were informed of the facts.
On the 10th August the Board tendered its resignation, because it found it impossible to carry on its work successfully. In the intervening six weeks, the Government have done nothing for the protection of the people. This makes it evident that the public is not to be saved from exploitation, although it is in the power of the Government to protect it.
War Finance. The war is costing the Government upwards of £80,000,000 a year. During the two years it has continued, it has cost the country, for the maintenance of its Army and Navy, £160,000,000. Yet the capitalists have contributed only £60,000,000 to the war loans. When the last war loan was being floated, the Government asked the wealthy men of this country to advance £50,000,000 at 4½ per cent.; but only £23,000,000 odd was obtained;so that the loan was a failure.
– How much did the honorable member advance?
– Nothing, because I am in debt.
– The honorable member tried to prevent others from putting into the loan.
– I did not try to prevent any one from doing so; but, as the result of an unfortunate law case a year or two ago, I have not been able to overtake my obligations. My honorable friend, I understand, is in a very prosperous way of business, and, no doubt, contributed largely to the war loan, being well able to do so.
– The honorable member does not know anything about it. I have given all I could, but he has not given anything.
– I have given all that I could,and I have been giving my services to the country.
– I have been doing that for nothing, but the honorable member has been paid for what he has done. He was paid as a member of the Prices Board. What was his payment but a war profit?
– What the honorable member refers to was an allowance for out-of-pocket expenses, which was made for a few weeks.
Putting the matter bluntly, I say that the last war loan was an absolute failure. The money necessary for carrying on the war has not been provided in the country. I agree with those who say that we should have had a financial statement, and should have been informed of the sources from which money was to be obtained before this measure was debated. The Prime Minister, when speaking in Sydneylast Monday, said that capital invested in industry would not be interfered with. That being so, there is very little capital to be got, because almost all the private capital of Australia is invested in some form of industry. As a matter of fact, I think that we are nearer to the exhaustion of our financial resources than to the exhaustion of men. Every one who is a student of economics knows that it is the masses of the country who will have to pay the war bill - capital and interest - both now and in the future.
– And the returned soldiers will have to pay.
– There is no escape for them. It is said that we should support the men in the trenches, but the Australian Army is part and parcel of tha British Army, and the formations may be re-arranged with colonial or British troops. Although at one time we are told that Australia is part and parcel of the British Empire, and that our Army is not a separate entity, yet, to suit the argument for conscription, it is also said that our Army is a separate entity.
– Some of us wish to support our own men with Australians.
– The honorable member does not wish them to be supported by Britishers.
– I would rather that they were supported by Australians.
– I would rather that they were supported by Australians if men could be spared from this country.
– Why cannot men be spared from Australia?
– Because there are nations in the Pacific that have their eye nn Australia. The honorable member knows that well. He interjects because he thinks that I shall not answer him.
– Weshall be forced to speak a good deal more plainly if there are more of these interjections.
– Yes; both here and on the platform. The country is to be held up to odium and disgrace if it fails to reinforce the contingents that have been sent ; but it is untrue to say that our men will be left without reinforcements, and those who say it know that their statement is untrue.
– Where will the reinforcements come from ?
– If one-fifth of our men were slaughtered, there would be a re-arrangement, and the creation of four divisions in place of five. That was done at Gallipoli time after time. There was a new formation instead of reinforcement. It is “ twaddle “ and “ bunkum “ to say that our men will beleft without reinforcements.
– It is well known that many of our men have fought alongside Ghurkas.
– Yes. Why is it that what is wrong in Australia is right in Canada? Why has Canada not been asked to send men T
– She has been asked.
– If she has been asked, she has refused. This is what Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Leader of the Opposition in Canada, said, referring to the recruiting campaign -
I insist that we must repel the imputation that this is a prelude to conscription. There must be no conscription in Canada, and we should have an authoritative statement from the Premier on the subject.
Sir Robert Borden, the Prime Minister of Canada, stated -
In regard to conscription, I would repeat today, with emphasis, the statement which I made publicly months ago, that there is no intention to introduce conscription.
This afternoon the honorable member for Moreton said that Canada cannot have conscription because of’ the long frontier to the United States of America, and because Canadian troops have to be kept at home to defend this frontier.
– There are no troops on the frontier.
– It is ridiculous to suggest that the United States would attack Canada, and an agreement was come to years ago between the two countries, under which men were withdrawn from all the frontier outposts, and there has not been a man on the frontier since. If it is a fair thing for Canada to, keep men for the defence of her territory, surely it is a fair thing for us to ask that men may be left in Australia for the protection ofthe women of the country against some of the dangers which threaten them. This “ gag “ about not leaving our men in the trenches without support is mere sentiment.
With regard to home defence, the Prime Minister, in Sydney, last Monday night, said -
I tell you most emphatically, most solemnly; we are helpless but for the British Navy and the armies of the Empire and the Allies. We are doomed men; we are like sheep before the butcher. We may bleat and struggle, but cannot save ourselves from destruction.
It was estimated by the military authorities in the United States of America recently that an army of 500,000 men would be sufficient to repel any invader. If we had 500,000 trained men in Australia today it would be such a costly experiment to any nation to land an army here that they would think a good many times before they did it. If the deeds of our men on Gallipoli have been such as to bring glory to this country, they would be absolutely nothing compared with what would take place on our own soil if our men were called upon to repel an invader. It is an absolutely shameful and shocking state of affairs that the Prime Minister should tell the nations of the world from the public platform that this country is absolutely helpless, and only meat for the butcher if any other nation likes to invade it. I can imagine nothing that could do the country more injury than that such a statement should come from the right honorable gentleman, who should be the mouthpiece of Australia. There are dangers with which this country is surrounded. There have been instances in previous wars where allies fighting together one day have fallen out among themselves on the cessation of hostilities. After the recent Balkan wars a war broke out amongst the Balkan allies themselves, and with the complications that must inevitably arise between the nations at present at war on the side of the Allies, he would be a bold man who would say that those nations will be able to settle their difficulties on the cessation of hostilities in an amicable way.
I do not- want to say anything derogatory to ‘ another great Power, which has very-great interests in the Pacific. We are told that we should refer to this matter here with bated breath, although the newspapers are full of information and comments on the subject. Why should it not be discussed here? It is being openly discussed throughout the length and breadth
Of America. It has been discussed openly in every street in Japan and in the Parliament and press of that country, and we ought to be able to discuss it here in t> reasonable way. The following is an extract from the Tomato, a Japanese newspaper published in Tokio, outlining the only terms on which a continuance of the Anglo- Japanese treaty may be based: -
Recognition of Japan’s absolute precedence in Chinese affairs, regardless of English “ spheres of influence “ ; acknowledgment that only Japan can maintain order in China.
The opening of India and the south seas to
Japan’s economic development.
Granting of equal rights with British subjects, including position in society, honours, and removal of race prejudice in Australia, Canada, South Africa, India, and all other British Possessions.
Relief of Japan from any obligations to protect India from the English.
In the Pastoralists Review, printed in Australia, there appeared, on the 16th February of this year, a lengthy article on the question of peopling this country with coloured races, concluding in this way -
After peace is declared the colour line will become more and more indefinable, and we shall be compelled to recognise the fact, for Britain will Bay to us, “ Renounce your ‘ White Australia ‘ policy or suffer the consequences. Your blood will be upon your own head.”
In the Sydney Morning Herald of 26th March of this year appeared, under the heading “Warning to Australia,” an article, written from Tokio, on 11th February, by Dr. J. Ingram Bryan. AmongstOther things, the writer says -
After the war is over, Japan expects her Subjects in the British colonies to receive far more liberal treatment than hitherto. In the Vernacular press of late there has been much agitation on thiB subject. It is said that the immigration difficulty cannot be settled in the United States until it is first adjusted in Canada and Australia; the argument being that if Japan’s ally will not grant Japanese subjects equal rights with all other nationals, now can America be expected to concede such rights t The Bill is thua as much a warning to the British colonies ob to America. It means that Japan, having done all she oan to enable her subjects to be, to the countries they emigrate to, all that any other immigrants oan be, henceforth expects English-speaking nations to treat her and her subjects as equals, with mutual exchange of citizenship.
– Is it wise to go into all that on this question ?
– I think it will do the honorable member good to have a little information on a subject about which he apparently knows nothing. The Military Gazette, of Canada, published the following
The real spirit of Japan towards foreign countries would appear to be indicated by an article in a native paper, Chugatchimpo, a translation of which appears in the Manila Weekly Times of 31st August. This outspoken Japanese paper says - “It would be lunacy to think that we should want to appear with troops in Europe. English friendship is to he of short duration. Having attained her purpose, she will quickly discard all who may have gone to her aid. We have the same rights as England. In looking back over the past, we see with regret that we were forced to the sod necessity of siding with her on account of our treaty with her. It is beyond all doubt that a treaty with Germany would have been more advantageous and of a much wider scope in the future for Japan. Within a short time grave complications are going to present themselves. We will have to demonstrate that we are a Power of the first order, one which ia of the same height as England and America, and that, insofar as power is concerned, we need have no fear of these two peoples. We ‘are, and will be for all time, the masters of the seas of Asia. Our strength will permit the realization of the desires so long cherished, of establishing ourselves on the western coasts of America. We ore going to gather great quantities of artillery and ammunition. To-day America is supplying the Allies with arms and ammunition against Germany; perhaps the day may came when Germany will supply us against the United States and Australia.”
This statement appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 12th June last -
Mr. Hughes also interviewed the Japanese Ambassador by special- appointment at the Foreign Omeo.
We have ‘had no report yet as to what that interview was about. There appeared in the Age of 5th August last a number of statements by Count Okuma, Premier of Japan. In the article appears the following -
Count Okuma was asked why America was singled out for bitter attack by the Japanese people and press on account of its antiJapanese, campaign, when Canada and all the other English colonies maintained a policy of total exclusion. He did not answer satisfactorily, but simply made a statement that the attitude towards England was. exactly the same as that towards America. “Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and particularly Cope Colony, have very extreme exclusion laws,” he admitted. “ By-and-by the Japanese will be understood by these colonies. ….. But racial discrimination is not right for any nation. In the future such ideas must and will be discarded by America and the British and European colonies.”
The Adelaide Register of 7th September stated -
Lord Chelmsford presided to-day at the opening of the third Imperial Legislative Council since the reform under Lord Minto….. Dealing with the question of a scheme for supplying labour to thecolonies, Lord Chelmsford said it related to the control of persons so engaged: The Government were trying to devise a plan of securing recruitment under decent conditions in India, maintaining a proper sex ratio, and proper treatment in the country of destination, with the engagement terms similar to those in the Malay Peninsula. The Government of India would be departing gravely from their duty if they allowed immigrant labour to leave the country without proper protection and safeguard. No uncontrolled recruitment would be allowed, and local Governments were being consulted about the same previous to a discussion soon to be held in London.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I feel that it is necessary for every honorable or ember to give some idea of what his views areon the very important question which is now before the House. My opinion is that the Prime Minister has not approached this question in the most satisfactory way. We are all acquainted with the fact that Germany’s great strength lay in her system of organization, and I believe that if the Prime Minister had toured the country, and given the people some idea of the position as he has explained it to honorable members of this Parliament, he probably would not have found it necessary to have proposed the scheme of conscription that is now under consideration. He found it very necessary to visit many of the centres in Australia before submitting this measure to the House. I regret very much that I have to oppose the Prime Minister, and more so because of the resources which he has to work upon at the present time. Had he adopted a scheme of organization prior to proposing this legislation, and ascertained what the resources of Australia are, he would not have found it necessary to put forward this proposal. The Prime Minister addressed an audience in Western Australia on his return trip to Australia, and he has since visited three others of the principal cities of tha Commonwealth. So far he has not visited Brisbane, but had he done so he might have gained some idea of the support he is likely to receive from the thicklypopulated centres in Queensland. Had he adopted a system of organization for the purpose of ascertaining the number of available men in the Commonwealth, he would have found that, instead of being able to get the number he requires - 208,000 in the next twelve months - it will be impossible for him to get very much more than half that number. Deducting from his own total of 152,900 available single men 35 per cent. as medically unfit - and that is a very small percentage, having regard to the numberof rejections that are being made - an additional 15 per cent. for men who are indispensable to many industries of the Commonwealth, and an additional 10 per cent. for exemptions, the Prime Minister’s total is reduced by 60 per cent., leaving only about 61,000 men available. That total is not sufficient to give him the number of men he requires during the next three months.
– Where did you get those figures?
– Those are the. Prime Minister’s figures, the total of 152,900 representing single men without encumbrances between the’ ages of twenty-one and forty-four years. If the Prime Minister were in the position - I believe he is not- to give us some idea where he will get the men whom he says he requires, I think every honorable member of the House would be prepared to give him some support in an attempt to obtain them in a manner more satisfactory than the method he is now adopting. I am led to that opinion to a large extent bv what followed Lord Derby’s magnificent recruiting campaign in Great Britain, bv which he was successful in enlisting 3,000,000 troops, only 7½ per cent. of whom were rejected as medically unfit.
– They had not fool doctors there such as they have here.
– Apart from that, I am of opinion that the Prime Minister is intoxicated with the desire to introduce conscription into Australia. He was absent from the Commonwealth some seven or eight months, during which he was in an atmosphere of conscription, where every man and woman had agreed that oonscription would be a little more beneficial than the voluntary system. However, we have had no information as to what has been the result of conscriptionin Great Britain. No figures have reached Australia, nor is any man in the Commonwealth in a position to say to what extent the British Army has been affected by oonscription. In Great Britain, as in Australia, a split in the Cabinet followed the introduction of the Conscription Bill. The late Attorney-General (Sir John Simon) stated that the only reason which the British Government had for introducing that Bill was that 650,000 single men were unaccounted for. He explained the reason for that. The British Government decided to establish a national register on lines similar to that subsequently adopted in Australia, and I believe that the same result will follow in the Commonwealth as in the Mother Country if it is decided to introduce conscription. There a very poor result was obtained, for the simple reason that by the recruiting system they were able to obtain every single man who was physically fit to join the colours up to the time conscription was introduced. If any honorable member opposite can establish the fact that it has been in any way beneficial in Great Britain I am prepared to admit that it may be of some value here; but until this can be done I claim that we in Australia are about to adopt a scheme that will for a long time stain the name of those who propose to associate themselves with it. It is impossible to get more men than are now coming forward. For instance, of 300 rejects who were re-examined last Saturday, not one of thom, in the opinion of the medical men, was fit to go to the front, although fifty-five were selected for Army Service Corps and Army Medical work.
– The honorable member cannot say that all who have not gone to the front are rejects.
– What is the percentage of rejects in Melbourne?
– Of 3,100 men who have offered to enlist in Victoria during the present month, only 1,100 have been accepted.
– How many of the 3,100 had been previously rejected ?
– I do not know. Many rejects have offered themselves halfadozen times. They are painfully anxious and willing to serve, but they are not fit to do so. The fact that many soldiers have had to be returned owing to their inability to stand the privations a soldier must endure before getting into the firing line is proof that the medical examination is not too severe.
– This Bill will not touch the rejects. It will apply only to the able-bodied men who are not offering themselves.
-The able-bodied men have already offered themselves. From the results already achieved and the percentage accepted, it would appear that close on 600,000 must have offered to enlist.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the 152,000 men said to be available are all rejects?
– I do not. The Prime Minister claims that there are 152,900 single men in Australia who have not offered their services.
– The Prime Minister said that this was the total number of fit men.
– He has no idea as to whether they are fit or not. If a reasonable system of organization had been adopted before attempting to bring forward this legislation, he could have ascertained how many of these men were physically fit to serve, provided they were required.
– They have been classified according to their census cards, and declared to be fit.
– The same thing was done in Great Britain, but when the men were called up it was found that not more than one-eightieth of the 650,000 men said to be available were really physically fit or did not come within the exemptions. The same thing is likely to occur in Australia. If it were not the case the people would not have refused to respond in the numbers asked for by the Prime Minister. Australia has done a great deal better than any other British Dominion.
– I do not agree with the honorable member.
– Our enlistments are superior to those of Canada and as good as those of New Zealand.
– To May last New Zealand had sent away and had in camp about 55,000 men, whereas to 23rd August last we had sent 225,000 from Australia.
– When I waa in New Zealand a few months ago I was told that the enlistments there totalled 100,000.
– I have not seen those figures, and I would be glad if the honorable member would supply them to me. With the 225,000 already despatched by August, and another 15,000 between then and now - the figure is probably on the low side - and with 50,000 at present in camp, we have a total enlistment of something in the vicinity of 300,000.
– Always keep in mind that these reinforcements are required for the purpose of maintaining a force of 100,000 in the field.
– I would be delighted to know that we could give the reinforcements that the Prime Minister has suggested are necessary, but it is impossible to give them.
– It is not impossible.
– It is absolutely impossible. I could quote the opinion of the right honorable gentleman, which he gave when the matter was being discussed in the Chamber some months ago. The Premier of New South Wales, who is an enthusiast in regard to sending men to the front, bad suggested the possibility of Australia sending 400,000 men, but the Leader of the Opposition said that such a number would far exceed Australia’s full strength, no matter what system might be adopted.
– I do not think that I said that.
– Whatever Australia can do, I am confident that she will get from honorable members on this side every assistance to do her utmost, but I objectto the imposition of conscription for the purpose of bringing to the colours the few men that we have now available. When the war census was taken it was quite possible, with a complete system of organization, to call on every man to be examined. If that course had been followed we could have obtained an idea as to the number on which we could call if they did not think that they should volunteer. But many men may. have had good and valid reasons for not volunteering so far. Many who have not enlisted may easily be included among those who are medically unfit, or they may be exempt for valid reasons. That the percentage of reiects to which I have alreadv alluded would probably be main tained if this examination had taken place is proved by the figures recently given for Victoria, where there are a treat many more rejects than in other S tates; but even admitting an average of only 35 per cent. of rejects, according to one statement recently made, where and how are we to get the men? We are told that married men are not to be conscripted until the beginning of next year, but it is my opinion that the proclamation will call up those of military age immediately.
– Do not be frightened.
– I am no more afraid than my friend is. I have taken many risks in my time, and I am prepared to take more.
– Will the honorable member vote to strike out the exemption covering members of Parliament?
-If the honorable member brings forward such a proposal, I shall support it. When the British authorities were unable to obtain any material number of troops from the 650,000 said to be available, it was said that the men were dodging by giving wrong addresses and evading service in every possible way ; and recent cablegrams have shown that raids were made for the purpose of getting at these shirkers, as they are termed, at stadiums, picture shows, football rratches, race-courses, railway stations, and other places.
– A similar search here would find many.
– Then how is it that they were not found in Great Britain? According to the cablegrams the number unearthed so far is seven.
– Fifty men were secured at one place.
– Well, even that number is of little value to the authorities. It is said that there are thousands of shirkers in Australia, butsimilar raids would probably give the same result. When General McCay was in Australia he said that it would be possible to clear everv shirker and coward from the streets in less than half-an-hour, but this class of man, if conscripted, would be of little value as a fighting unit, and he preferred to leave them where they were rather than bother with them. I do not say this for the purpose of getting the military authorities to evade asking these men to volunteer, but it is a fact that our soldiers have shown their great patriotism, courage, and tenacity by the splendid deeds with which they have been associated.
– What does the honorable member propose to do ? Does he propose to leave them in the lurch ?
– There is no need to leave them in the lurch. We can get the men in the future as we have got them in the past.
– Then why do we not get them ?
– They are coming forward as they are available. Many are now enlisting; who would have done so a month ago had it been possible for them to leave their occupation.
– Cannot the honorable member realize that the voluntary principle can be carried to a point when it becomes actual compulsion ?
– It was done in Great Britain without any good result. If the honorable member searches the records of Hansard he will find that had it not been for a coalition in the Mother Country the Conscription Bill would have been the means of wrecking the Asquith Government. One member of the Cabinet and four Under-Secretaries resigned as a protest against the measure. They claimed that it was impossible to obtain additional soldiers in Great Britain.
– And they were not missed ten minutes after they had resigned.
– Probably they were not missed. I am saying nothing about the public value of the Ministers who resigned. I merely show that they took the step they did as a protest against the imposition of a system of conscription. They were of the same opinion as many honorable members in this chamber to-day. I believe it is impossible to get more soldiers than are volunteering at the present time. We are told that the recruiting system has broken down. I believe that it has been overdone in many instances, and that the best has not been got out of it. Great Britain’s age limit in respect of conscripts is four years below that proposed in our case. The position in Great Britain to-day is as healthy as ever it was. The Sydney Sunday Times in its last issue reprinted an article by Mr. Crammond, a great financial expert, which was recently published in one of the
English reviews, and in which the writer said that the Home Government would reap £100,000,000 from its war profits taxation. This shows that there are many people in Great Britain who are making huge profits to-day. Another illustration of the healthy condition of affairs there is afforded by the high prices realized at the recent young blood stock sales. The war cannot be pressing heavily on the people of Great Britain, otherwise young blood stock there would not be bringing record prices. The fact that record prices were obtained at these sales a few days ago shows that many men are still following the occupations in which they engaged before the war. That being so, Great Britain cannot be in such urgent need of troops from this remote part of the Empire as many would have us believe.
– Were not American buyers operating at the blood stock sales?
– They always do, but they were not the record buyers.
– Buyers from the Argentine were also operating.
– They were not mentioned in the cablegram referring to the subject which was published in the press last week, and which read as follows -
London, Friday. - At the Newmarket sales of blood stock there was much competition for yearlings, and, in consequence, splendid prices were realized. Sixty-one yearlings were sold for a total of 25,118 guineas.
There was great demand for the yearlings from Sir Mark Sykes’ Sledmere stud, and fifteen of them averaged 921 guineas each. The highest-priced lots were - Colt, by Sunstar from Stolen Kiss, which realized 3,000 guineas, while the American sportsman, Mr. J. Sandford, acquired the filly by Spearmint from Veneration II. for an outlay of 4,000 guineas.
– He is an American.
– Only one American is mentioned. All these horses were not bought by Americans. The quotations made by the honorable member for Indi in regard to the strength of the British Army clearly show that Great Britain is not short of troops - that it is not in want of men from Australia, whose time might be much better occupied here in producing the raw material that it requires. In that way we should probably be doing greater service to the Empire than we should by depleting our resources by sending away men who are not physically fit to take upon themselves the arduous duties associated with a long campaign.
– Who suggests that we should send to the front men who are not physically fit?
– Some honorable members, I think, have suggested that the medical examination should be relaxed so as to assist in securing the required numbers.
– No such suggestion has been made by the Government.
– I have heard the suggestion repeatedly made.
– In the room occupied by the honorable member’s own party, I suppose?
– No; but, as a matter of fact, the medical examinations have been relaxed.
– What is the use of talking like that? When were they relaxed ?
– The tests in respect of eyesight and teeth, as well as chest measurement, have been relaxed.
– Honorable members opposite have repeatedly made use of the ex-Prime Minister’s statement that Australia is prepared, if necessary, to send the last man and spend the last shilling in aiding the Allies : but the seriousness of our position in Australia has never been made plain by them. They are prepared to follow the Prime Minister blindly in this matter ; but it is just as well they should know that the opponents of conscription will give the people plainly to understand what will eventually happen, financially, if the proposal be carried. The Government should have embodied in this measure a plain statement of .the financial obligations to which the people must be committed if their proposals be carried out. Our war expenditure in respect of the current year will amount to something like £70,000,000, and next year, under existing conditions, will amount to about £90,000,000. Although the Prime Minister desires to secure an additional 100.000 men, I do not think he will be able to obtain more than 50,000 out of the number which he says are available. Even assuming that he takes a few between the ages of eighteen and twentyone years, and all the available married men within the prescribed age limit, I do not think he is likely to get his 100,000 men. Even the addition of 50.000 to our reinforcements will very largely increase our war expenditure, and after a great deal of thought I have come to the conclusion that during the next two years the
Commonwealth will be committed to an expenditure of not less than £250,000,000. How is this money to be raised ? We cannob secure it by any scheme of taxation, no matter how severe it may be. We cannot hope to do more than pay interest on the money borrowed to meet the obligations to which the Government have committed the country. If the Government are going to provide for conscription, they cannot stop at conscripting the manhood of the country. The people should be told that in voting for conscription they may not only .do something that will destroy many homes in the Commonwealth, but will certainly commit the country to an enormous expenditure for the protection of those left unprovided for. It is impossible for us to borrow in Australia all the money we require. The Treasurer has had an opportunity of ascertaining what is the wealth of the Commonwealth, and he believes that all the money we require is available in the country, but that the wealthy classes have failed to respond to his appeals for the money necessary for the safe and proper conduct of this war. Financial authorities have told him that we have the money in the country; but he has not been able to obtain one-half the amount of loan money for which he has asked. He appealed for a loan of £50,000,000, knowing that the money was available in Australia, but he did not get it. The explanation probably is that many people are hopeful that the interest rate will rise later on, and that they will thus have an opportunity to secure a bigger return for their money. There is only one way in which to handle this question. If this Bill is carried, and conscription adopted, then every man should be required to give one-fourth of his wealth to the Commonwealth for the purpose of carrying on the war. It should not be a loan, but a gift. The Government should bring down a Bill taking one-fourth of the £1,000,000,000 of the wealth of Australia, in order to carry on the war, and to provide for our returned soldiers, so that they may not be dependent on mere generosity. A sum of £250,000,000 will be necessary to conduct and conclude the war, provided that it lasts for another two years. Even if we have peace within the near future, it will take something like two years to return all our troops to Australia. We have pledged ourselves to see that they are adequately looked after. How is that promise to be fulfilled without financial assistance? We do not know what the policy of the Government will be in this regard, but we do know to what the country is committed. We cannot borrow the money, and if we have conscription we ought to have it in its true form or not at all. The wealth of the country must be conscripted on the lines I have suggested, in order to provide the necessary funds to meet the obligations to which the country will be committed. I have no doubt that if Mr. Fisher were here and submitted some such scheme as that before us he would embody financial proposals similar to those I have indicated. Unless the country is told how it is proposed to raise the necessary moneys, how can we thoroughly appreciate our responsibilities? The figures I have submitted are, I believe, as accurate as it is possible for any figures to be that are submitted by an honorable member for the consideration of the House. It is not the taxation of which I am afraid, but the men who are placed in authority to-day. We have had an opportunity of judging the administration of the War Precautions Act; and I feel confident that many honorable members who are supporting the Bill now before us will live to regret their action. It is probable that there is some blind heroworship in connexion with this matter. Ever since the outbreak of the war thousands of journalists have been calling out for conscription, as we now find many new-found friends of the Government calling out for it also. In the early stages of the recruiting, when the call to arms was most enthusiastically responded to, many members of the Opposition were not satisfied, but even then advocated conscription; and they have never rested from their efforts in that direction. I feel confident, however, that the people of Australia, on the 28th October, will never consent to so whip our men into line. Myself and others who think with me are told that we are taking the unpopular side, but I have not come to my conclusions without much consideration; and I am determined to fight this measure to the bitter end. I feel confident that at the next election the action I am now taking will add thousands to my supporters. I intend to vote against the passage of the Bill, and in the country to oppos? conscription in every possible way. I should now like to quote
Sir John Simon, late Attorney General of Great Britain, in a speech he made in January of this year. The right honorable gentleman said
I will take another example. The national register included every member of the mercantile marine who was within Great Britain at the time the figures were taken. Of course, great numbers of them are afloat and away ; but on any given day there are in this country immense numbers of men, practically all of them of military age, and many of them unmarried, who are in the service of the mercantile marine, and every one of whom was in cluded in the national register. They are not starred men. The mercantile marine was not starred. They are all in this 650,000, and before you can even form any conclusion as to what is the gross figure with which you have to deal, you must take out the mercantile marine, just as you must take out the curates, the clergymen, the Roman Catholic priests, and the Non-Conformist ministers. I take a third class. Included in the national register were all sorts of people who were in different public institutions. A criminal, a man who had been again and again convicted, and who, when he was discharged from prison, would never he received into a volunteer army, by direction of the Home Office, in co-operation with the Local Government Board, was included in this national register. Every weak-minded person, every inebriate, every blind man, all the halt and the maimed, everybody who had got an obvious physical incapacity from military service, they were included in the national register, because at the time it was taken we were given a pledge that the national register had nothing to do with compulsion.
I think my honorable friends opposite will agree that we are doing practically the same thing in Australia.
– What does all this mean ?
– It means that 650,000 men who were supposed to be free to enlist, and did not do so, were included in those figures, and Sir John Simon said that the number actually secured was of no value to the military authorities. I should further like to quote some remarks of Sir W. P. By les as follows -
The Bill before us, I am afraid, is surrendering the fort which we are trying to defend: it is selling the pass, and that is why I shall feel bound to oppose it. I do not believe for a moment that this will be for the duration of the war only. I agree with the remarks which have already been made that the real object is to fasten a compulsory military service on this country.. . . Conscription is the facile weapon of tyranny. I can forecast the future in English history when we may have a tyrant King on the throne, or an unscrupulous Minister standing at that box. If he is fortified with a conscript army at his back who look to him for payment, what price liberty then?
I think that Sir W. P. Byles’ name is sufficiently eminent in British politics to carry some authority here. We are told that conscription is only for the period of the war; but are our friends opposite likely to repeal the Act when the war is over? I do not think so. I hope that every effort will be made to block the passage of the measure in every possible way, and that it will not receive the sanction of the electors of the Commonwealth.
– I desire to very briefly state the position, as I view it, in regard to this measure, and also to make one or two observations on some previous speeches in the debate. We must all recognise,I think, that this is one of the most intense and earnest debates we have ever had in this House. We have heard many arguments against conscription in Australia; and if the divisionlist on the amendment is any indication of what the country feels, it means that on the 28th October there will be an overwhelming majority in favour of the measure.
– The honorable member should have seen the meeting at the Exhibition to-night !
– In a city like Melbourne, with a population of 600,000 or 700,000, it is very easy, I know, to get a few thousand people together for the purpose of carrying any resolution. The arguments against the Bill have been narrowed down to two important principles or viewpoints. One is that there is no real necessity for such a measure, and the other is that, together with a policy of compulsory service, there should have been introduced, side by side with it, proposals for the conscription of wealth. The honorable member for Indi spent some considerable time in an endeavour to prove that there is no real necessity for any further action by Australia. The burden of his remarks is that we in Australia have already done sufficient. He suggests that we should degrade the name of Australia by pulling out of the fight when our assistance is most required. He suggests that we should allow the splendid name earned for the Commonwealth by the gallantry of our soldiers at the front to be sullied, and that henceforth Australia should be only nominally a portion of the Empire, without active participation in shaping its destiny. Newspapers have been quoted to show that Great Britain has sufficient forces to carry on the war without further assistance from Australia. Under the voluntary and compulsory systems adopted in Great Britain an army of 5,000,000 men has been raised, and this represents 11 per cent. of the population of the country. In Australia we have enrolled 280,000 men, or but 6 per cent. of our population. We have been free from war for over 100 years because of the protection of the British Navy, kept at a high state of efficiency by the taxation of British taxpayers. Recognising the necessity for more troops, Great Britain introduced the compulsory system, but those who oppose conscription here would have us confess that Australia is not worthy to rank as a part of the Empire, that we do not regard the war as our war, and that we consider that our battles should be fought for us by Great Britain and her Allies. When it is urged on the other side that with the conscription of men we should have the conscription of wealth, I say that we already have conscription of wealth. We have systems of taxation in operation. We have imposed land, income, and probate taxes, and to find all the money necessary to carry on the war is only a matter of increasing the taxation and raising money by loan under measures which are already the law of this land. Why should we further conscript wealth while we have sufficient money to carry on the war? Honorable members opposite are surely not so obtuse as not to know that any wholesale conscription of wealth beyond the financial requirements of the war must mean the withdrawal of money from circulation and from investments which are necessary to keep the wheels of industry going in the Commonwealth, and to enable that production to take place after the war which is necessary to our recovery from the effects of the struggle.
– Does the honorable member believe that we have ever yet liquidated any part of our public debt?
– The honorable member for Adelaide should bear in mind that all our war loans so far have been raised in Australia. That is very different from borrowing money abroad. So far we have obtained plenty of money to carry on the war, and our taxation has been sufficient to meet the interest upon the money obtained. There has, so far, been no dearth of the money required to prosecute the war. lt is a recognised principle of government to ‘ first ascertain the expenditure of a nation during the financial’ year, and then to bring down proposals to meet that expenditure. That is the course which has been followed in financing our requirements for the war, and that is all that is necessary. When the war is over, we shall be confronted with the very big task of establishing our returned soldiers in various occupations. This will involve expenditure over a number of years, and to needlessly conscript now a larger proportion of the wealth of the nation than is necessary for the conduct of the war would render it impossible for us later to do our duty to our returned soldiers, and at the same time keep our industries going. I not only support this proposal for the extension of the compulsory service provisions of the Defence Act to service abroad, but I believe that this course should have been followed from the beginning of the war. It is the only way in which we can organize the resources of the country and secure equality of sacrifice. We do not require to be told that the principle of compulsion operates constantly in our civil life. A great deal of misconception exists as to the operation of conscription within a Democracy. I can Quite conceive that under an autocracy or despotism a system of military conscription might become a permanent instrument of tyranny, but in a Democracy such as ours what is proposed is a system of compulsory military service introduced by the Parliament, the elect of the people, of its own volition, through the Executive. The Parliament that introduced such a system can repeal it. The people control this Parliament, and will have ample power at any time to repeal a compulsory military service system such as is proposed, imposed for war purposes,- and war purposes only. Its purpose is to organize the resources of the Commonwealth in the most effective manner, so as to bring the concentrated strength of the nation to bear in the prosecution of the war. I am impelled to support this measure because the voluntary system of enlistment has failed. It is the duty of those who oppose this Bill, which aims at insuring equality of sacrifice, to submit a concrete scheme that, carried, will enable us to do our part in the war. None of them can deny that voluntarism has badly failed, and that we are under an obligation to supply the requirements of the British Army Council. We have sent our men to the front without any request from the Imperial Government, but the British Army Council now tell us that in order to supply the necessary reinforcements for the men we have now at the front we must send 32,500 by the end of October, and 16,500 per month from that .time forward. For three months previous to September the voluntary system produced only 7,000 men per month, or less than half the number required if we are not prepared to repudiate our solemn duty, and let the name of Australia be dragged in the dust, to become a by-word amongst the nations of the world. How are we to supply the necessary reinforcements without the introduction of a compulsory system -of enlistment ? Some figures were quoted by the honorable member for Indi to suggest that it is impossible for us to draw from the single men available in Australia a number sufficient to supply the reinforcements required. I do not go beyond the figures quoted by the Prime Minister. In introducing this measure he said that there are 152,000 fit men in the Commonwealth, and that 3,000 or 4,000 men reach the age of twenty-one years each month. In six or seven months this would account for, perhaps, 20,000 men, so that we shall have something like 180,000 fit men to draw from to supply the necessary reinforcements. The figures quoted by the honorable member for Indi are, therefore, quite misleading, and his juggling with them was merely to buttress the case against conscription, without showing how it would be possible otherwise for Australia to do her duty in connexion with the war.
– It is not fair to say that I “ juggled “ with the figures.
– I prefer the figures quoted bv the Prime Minister to those quoted by the honorable member. The Prime Minister is in a better position than is any private member of the House to obtain accurate information as to the number of fit men available. We must accept his statement, as it is impossible for us to consult the statistical registers to challenge the figures he has broughtforward. The honorable member for Indi quoted from some newspapers to induce honorable members to believe that there are so many in the British Army fighting in Prance that it is unnecessary for us to send any more men from Australia. In this evening’s Herald some opinions on this subject are quoted from eminent authorities upon the conduct of the war. The Daily Mail has been endeavouring to show that it will be necessary in Great Britain to go in for a system of what they call selection from the munition factories to secure further reinforcements for the troops in the field. This newspaper quotes numerous opinions and letters in support of this view. One letter is quoted from an Australian officer in France, who says that another 1,000,000 men will be required before Germany can be beaten. Lieutenant-Colonel a’Court Repington, the military correspondent of the Times, says -
We must not entertain illusions regarding She German man power. Despite her losses and the defeats inflicted upon her, she still lias largo reserves. She has not called up the 1917-18 classes, and has other large accessions available. She will call up all the men between sixteen and sixty before admitting defeat, hoping to wear us down.
The same authority states -
The 5,000,000 men of military age available in Great Britain would be sufficient to maintain 100 divisions (2,000,000 men) in the field if the exemptions had not seriously encroached upon the number. We must drastically reform the Compulsory Service Acts, or Germany will beat us in organizing man power. Ireland should be able to give 150,000 men. Compulsion will be necessary to maintain the Irish divisions. Great Britain does not need to raise the age limit until the younger classes are exhausted. There are still three_ or four million men exempted in civil occupations, and 1,600,000 men of military age wearing badges.
There is conclusive proof in this extract of the fact that’, notwithstanding the statement made by the honorable member for Indi to-night about the large armies of Great Britain at the front, Great Britain is seriously thinking about reinforcements to present a sufficient army against the German man power, which, up to the present, has not been exhausted. I am sorry it has been necessary to introduce a Bill for this referendum. I feel humiliated that we, as a Parliament intrusted by the people with the supreme duty of preserving the ‘ safety _ of the nation should, in the first great crisis that has occurred, have evaded our responsibility in a mean, and, I might also say a cowardly, manner. I am also very sorry that greater attention has not been paid to the view expressed by the Prime Minister, who has had exceptional Opportunities in Great Britain of conferring with the Imperial statesmen and the leading authorities on the war in the Allied countries. We know that the Government must be in possession of very important information respecting the progress of the war and of the exact situation in Great Britain and at the front. This information entitles the Prime Minister to speak with authority, and it should be recognised that the Government* as the supreme body, are alone able to pronounce authoritatively on the need for a greater effort on the part of Australia. It is to the Government that we should look for a lead in the conduct of this war. In an autocracy, of course, one man would be responsible; but in a Democracy such as ours, we have a Government, representing the Parliament, intrusted with the duty of wielding supreme authority. I sincerely regret, therefore, that this Parliament, elected by the people on a war policy, and pledged to do everything necessary to effectively prosecute this war, has not had the courage to face that responsibility. I know it is too late to do anything now, but I think it is a serious reflection on Parliament that it was not possible for members to meet together, not as two parties, but as one party, to deal with the grave questions that have arisen, and to agree upon a common policy without submitting this vital issue to the people. In many respects it is cruel to adopt this course, because, to a large extent, the people must be in doubt as to the real need for the policy upon which they are asked to vote. The honorable member for Bourke pointed out to us to-night - though he used the argument for another purpose - that the people cannot be expected to have the same information concerning the operation of war policy as members of this House, and especially as the members of the Government. I regret to think that Parliament has proved recreant to its trust, and has surrendered its duty to the people, who have not the fullest information to guide them. That duty should have been courageously undertaken by this House, and it should have been faced in a manner worthy of a British Parliament representing a British and a democratic people.
.With the honorable member who has just sat down, I am quite satisfied that if the Prime Minister had brought down a Bill providing for compulsory military service, this House would have passed it by a very large majority. But, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, there is another House to be considered, and he told us it would be useless to adopt that course. It appears, therefore, that the Prime Minister had no other course to adopt but to submit this question to the people. I am aware that the Government had the power to issue a proclamation, under the War Precautions Act, bringing in compulsory military service abroad, but that would have been a very drastic exercise of their authority, and such action was not contemplated when that measure was passed. On a former occasion I supported the course now taken by the Government, and after having heard the Prime Minister speak on the necessities of the situation, I am more than ever impressed with the need for compulsory military service abroad. When the honorable member for Cook was speaking to-night he remarked that if he could only tell the public what he knew about the dangers facing Australia, there would be no hope of the referendum being answered in the affirmative, and I immediately interjected that if the public could only know, they would unhesitatingly agree to the proposal, because I am satisfied they realize that the welfare of Australia can be secured only by a decisive victory for the Allies in the quickest possible time. It is all very well to say that we have done well, but the question is - Are we going to win quickly, or are we going to spin this war out until we, like every other white race, are absolutely exhausted ? Every man with any capacity for thinking at all must have realized that sooner or later the great Armageddon must come - when the white and the coloured races of this world meet in conflict. At present the white races are engaged in destroying their manpower, leaving the coloured races untouched. This makes it all the more necessary that the war should be brought to an end as quickly as possible in order that our nation, at any rate, may, not be absolutely exhausted when peace comes about. The people of the United States of America nave realized the seriousness of the situation, because we have been told lately that they have voted £120,000,000 for the purpose of increasing their naval and military strength. They understand, evidently, that they will have to bear the white man’s burden in the immediate future. We have been told that if we send men from Australia, we shall leave ourselves without the means of defence. Good God ! What defence shall we have if the British Navy and the British nation go down in this struggle? Our safety depends upon concluding this war with the British Navy intact, and with our power as a nation, unimpaired. Otherwise how can we expect to be able to resist the coloured races if they should rise? We have been told - and 1 regret to have heard it more than once - that our contribution of 100,000, 200,000, or 300,000 men is a very small factor in this great struggle, in which millions of men are engaged. It has been said that our troops are but a drop of water in the ocean. Is that all that the opponents of this Bill have to say of the glorious deeds of heroism that have been performed by our men in Europe?
– The honorable member forgets that a very large section of the community outside, whose voice they are obeying, strenuously objected to sending any Australians to the war.
– I am not going to discuss that subject. The great majority of Australians approved of sending our troops to the front. They remember, too, that we promised those troops adequate reinforcements. That is the promise which we have to keep, otherwise we shall be ashamed ever to look a returned soldier in the face. We have been told that 100,000 men are a mere nothing. It is a painful thing for our men at the front to be informed that they constitute merely a drop in the bucket, that they are only a small number, and really do not count in a struggle where millions are concerned. But when the French Army was beaten to a standstill, as it was at Verdun, when it had almost abandoned hope, the British Army took the offensive, and, realizing the striking power of colonial troops, sent Australians and Canadians into the dangerous positions, because its leaders knew perfectly well that by so acting they would be doing their utmost to revive the morale of the French. The result proves that their effort succeeded. The French Army has been renewed in spirit, and is now repeating the wonderful deeds which it performed earlier in this war. Our men may be merely a handful, but they have exhibited a determination which the French Army appreciates–
– The Belgian Army was only a handful.
– Yes; but it accomplished a wonderful lot. It was merely a handful that stood up at Thermopylae. It has been only a handful that has held the fort in the most dangerous situations. Some honorable members affect to talk lightly of 100,000 men. Why, 20,000 men thrown into a battle at the critical period often mean victory. Who knows but that the men whom we have still to send from Australia will not yet turn the scale in some great decisive battle? I do not like the attempts which are being made to belittle our people.
– The original British Army was only a handful.
– As the honorable member reminds me, the British Army, at the beginning of this struggle, was spoken of as “ French’s contemptible little force.” But that force has grown, because the British nation has awakened to the seriousness of the situation, and because adverse as it was to conscription, it at last realized the necessity for adopting it. Does it not seem an extraordinary thing that when the Parliament of the Mother Country, bitterly opposed as it was to conscription, but realizing the seriousness of the position, passed a Conscription Bill by an overwhelming majority, and when the New Zealand Parliament did the same, we in this Parliament would not, on our own initiative, agree to a similar measure? Is it not a lamentable thing - an awful situation to contemplate - that we must ask the people for power to conscript men - the people of whom it has been truly said that they cannot know the seriousness of the position as we know it?
– We may forfeit all the glory that we have won.
– Yes. Just imagine what the position will be if this referendum, as the result of the efforts of a section of this Parliament, is turned down. What will be the effect upon our men at the front. The humiliation to Australia is too awful to contemplate. What position will our own boys occupy if the word goes from here - God forbid that it ever should go - that Australia has turned them down, and that they must trust to the Russians, the Italians, and the French - beaten to a standstill, as the last-named have been, and almost bled white - to make up their reinforcements ?
– Why imagine an impossible position? The advocates of conscription will win easily.
– I only hope that the honorable member’s statement is right, and that we shall win easily. But the vote has yet to be taken.
– Right must triumph.
– Unfortunately, right does not always triumph. In this war we are fighting to make right triumph, but we are opposed to a tremendous enemy, which is endea vouring to im pose might on the world. It surprises me that everybody in this country who is interested in right is not standing shoulder to shoulder in an effort to send our last man to the front in order that right shall triumph. We hear some honorable members raising the question of expense. One feels almost inclined to exclaim -
Do I sleep, do I dream, do I wonder or doubt,
Are things what they seem, or is party government played out?
What is the position to-night? Everything seems reversed. We have been told that a Government is in power and putting forward a vital question upon which a majority of its party is opposed to it, and upon which even a majority of the Ministry is opposed to its policy. That is what we were told by the honorable member for Bourke.
– It is right, too.
– It is a most extraordinary situation.
– We cannot accept that statement as true, so long as Ministers sit behind the Prime Minister.
– I quite agree with the honorable member for Flinders that we cannotaccept the statement of the honorable member for Bourke as a fact so long as Ministers sit behind the Prime Minister. It seemed to me extraordinary that, when he made the allegation tonight, it was not repudiated by anybody. Then there is another matter which turns people topsy-turvy. This side of the House has always been accused of saying, “ Damn the expense ! Let us spend the money.” But to-night all the consideration of expense has been urged from this side of the chamber. Our motto should be, “Damn the expense! Let us win the war.” That is what every man should say who has the interests of the country at heart. As the honorable member for Flinders remarked on one occasion, if we win the war it will be worth it, if we do not win, it will not matter. Then we have been told that the farmers will not get their crops taken off, and that the pastoralists will lose their wool. It seems to me that any excuse is being urged to defeat this Bill. I am not going to deal to-night with the question of the domination of members of Parliament by outside leagues. In 1912, I spoke on that subject and warned both sides of the Chamber of what that system would lead to. We see what it is leading to tonight. Things are happening just as I predicted they would. Unless the honorable members of this Parliament who are elected on certain platform pledges, are going to be free to give effect to the views which they expressed at the time of their election, parliamentary government will become a farce, and will die out. If we are going to have honorable members sent here who will obey the orders of outside leagues which seek to dictate to them on matters outside their platform, we shall get here a very inferior race of men who will not care what they do, and the beginning of the end of our parliamentary system of government will be at hand.
– Our leagues have never got the blind obedience that honorable members on the other side of the chamber are exhibiting.
– They are getting a mighty lot of obedience at the present time. It seems to me surprising that the experiences of the war have not impressed themselves on honorable members on the democratic side of the House. We have already had quoted to us the action of Abraham Lincoln. The Prime Minister quoted an opinion of his in connexion with conscription, and he also quoted that great Socialist Jaures. Now we are told that conscription is something altogether wrong, something entirely undemocratic, and something that will injure the Democracy. We had in Abraham Lincoln a man who was essentially a man of peace, a man who inherited from his Quaker forefathers an absolute abhorrence of war. But he was put in a position in which he had to main tain his power. What did he say ? Writing to the Society of Friends, he said: - Your people have had, and are having, very great trials of principles and faith. Opposed to both war and oppression they can practically oppose oppression only by war.
Look how history repeats itself. Look at the remarks which Lincoln made in connexion with the question of conscription, and see how they apply at the present time. In the opinion quoted by the Prime Minister in his manifesto, Lincoln said -
At the beginning of the war, and ever since, a variety of motives, pressing, some in one direction and some in the other, would be presented to the mind of each man physically fit for a soldier, upon the combined effect of which motives he would, or would not, voluntarily enter the service. Among these motives would be patriotism, political bias, ambition, personal courage, love of adventure, want of employment, and convenience, or the opposites of some of these. We already have, and have had in the service, as appears, substantially all that can be obtained upon this voluntary weighing of motives. And yet we must somehow obtain more, or relinquish the original object of the contest, together with all the blood and treasure already expended in the effort to secure it. To meet this necessity the law for the draft lias been enacted. You who do not wish to be soldiers do not like this law. This is natural; nor does it imply want of patriotism. Nothing can be so just and necessary as to make us like it if it is disagreeable to us. We are prone, too, to find false arguments with which to excuse ourselves for opposing such disagreeable things. In this case those who desire the rebellion to succeed, and others who seek reward in a different way, are very active in accommodating us with this class of arguments.
The same thing is being done to-day. All sorts of arguments are being used, arguments in which honorable members who utter them have no faith themselves. We entered this war as part of the British Empire. We recognised that we were fighting with the rest of the Allies the battle of right against might. Never mind the question of the existence of Australia. We are fighting for a greater principle than that - the principle of right against might in the government of this world. If there is one country which is more advanced in its legislation on that subject than another it is Australia, and consequently we have a greater interest than have older countries in seeing that principle established. Therefore we called upon our people to patriotically volunteer for service abroad. They did so, and they went to the war and raised the position and name of Australia higher than it has ever been in our history. They went into forlorn hopes and never left them. They hung on until they succeeded or were wiped out.
– “ Hooray for Australia !
– Never mind hooraying for Australia. Think of the men who did these deeds, and not of those who stayed at home.
– Think of who bred them to do these deeds, and not of the conditions that exist in Great Britain.
– Think of the mothers and fathers who bred them, and who do not want to see their sons supported by Russians, Italians, and others. We called for further troops and other men came forward. Now we are told that more men are needed because our losses are heavy. But we are also told that we cannot afford to send these reinforcements and in almost the same breath we are assured that the necessary number can be obtained by voluntary enlistment. As Abraham Lincoln said, and the Prime Minister quoted, “if we can get them by voluntary enlistment, why don’t they enlist? Why don’t they come forward?” He said -
If not a sufficient number comes forward, but any one of you will volunteer, he for his single self will escape the horrors of the draft, and will thereby do only what each one of at least a million of his manly brethren has already done. Their toil and blood have been given as much for you as for themselves. Shall it all be lost rather than that you, too, will bear your part?
Then he points out that this principle was not new, that they had conscription in the war in which Americans fought for their independence, and again in the war of. 1812. In fact, in every war in this world’s history, when there has been a war to the death, each country fighting has had to go in for compulsory service. Why ? Because we know the curse of selfish human nature. It is not cold feet; it is not cowardice. It is a case of men determined to stay behind as long as somebody else will do the work for them. I have been tremendously surprised at people belonging to unions opposing this proposal. They tell us - I am speaking as an outsider - that they have no patience or time for the man who will not join their unions in industrial fights, who will not contribute his money, and take upon himself the sufferings that may follow from strikes and other thin fs that the unionists have to endure in order to get better terms and conditions, although he is prepared to take advantage of the benefits gained. They say, “ We will have nothing to do with you. You are only a scab,” and yet those very men, who will not allow him to come in with them, and I think rightly, because he has not joined in their industrial fights, are prepared to support the man who scabs upon the soldiers who suffer and die at the front. That is the sort of thing that puzzles me beyond measure when I think of the question from the point of view of the unionists. Our soldiers are fighting practically in a union for the defence of this country, and for establishing the principle that right should govern the world. Yet honorable members are putting forward the argument that the man who will not join them should be admired and supported, although he is scabbing upon the body and blood of the men who are fighting for him. That is the position that staggers me beyond everything else. I have spoken warmly on this subject because I feel warmly. We have listened to a mass of inconsistencies from honorable members on the other side. They have been inconsistent with each other, and even with themselves. One said it would be perfectly right to call out these men if the country was invaded as France is, but in another part of his speech he admitted that the defence of Australia is being fought out in Flanders. Another said he was perfectly willing to see men go to the front if it became absolutely necessary, but was not satisfied about the necessity. The honorable member for Fawkner was the only absolutely consistent speaker on the other side. He said he was opposed altogether to the conscription of life. He did not make the inscription of wealth a condition, and if the men would not go voluntarily, he was not prepared to do anything. Others said they would not send any more men to the front because landlords, business men, and others were exploiting and robbing the public. Yet they go on the platform and ask people to enlist voluntarily, although the same state of affairs exists. Another said he did not believe in sending the men away, because we could not afford to lose the numbers. When he was asked, “ What about them going voluntarily?” he replied, “Then they please themselves.” But the country is going to suffer if we lose 100,000 men, whether they go voluntarily or are compelled to go. The only consistent position that can be taken up is this: “Are we prepared to do our utmost?” I do not say our share. I am tired of hearing the phrase. In this struggle the whole of the Allied races are fighting for the right, and the whole of them will go down if every part of them does not do its very utmost. What have we to do witu the internal troubles of Canada, or the reasons why she does not adopt conscription, or with the internal troubles of South Africa, or the question of whether we have sent more than our share. Do honorable members think we should be treated with any more consideration by the Germans because we have done our share than other places that have not done theirs ? We would probably get it worse for having done our share. Our one. hope is to join with the whole of the rest of the Allied Forces in doing the very utmost, not only to win the war, but to win it in the shortest possible time. The most surprising thing of all to me was to hear the one man who, above all others, condemns cheap labour and anything in the way of cheapness generally, saying, “We ought to stay at home, and make coats for the Russians, because ten Russians, aye, and ten Indians, can be landed more cheaply in France than our men can be.” It seemed to me that the honorable member was going to the utmost extreme in order to get something to say on the subject. We, as white men living in Australia, knowing the imminent danger, and knowing that we can continue our safe existence only if our nation comes out of the war, not only triumphant, but with power left in our Navy and Army, must know also that it is our duty to throw aside all considerations of outside leagues, of selfishness, of self-interest, of harvest, of shearing, and simply confine ourselves to the one question, “ Should not we, as part of the British race, do our utmost to send every possible man to the front in this great fight for right against might in order that the war may be won decisively and in the quickest possible time?”
.- I intend to vote for the Bill, but do not intend to carry my efforts any further to give effect to it than giving the people an opportunity to vote on the question. I conceive that to be the lesser of two evils. In the debate that has taken place the honours lie with those who oppose the principle of conscription. It has been argued that we are bound to that policy because the Prime Minister at the election urged chat every means necessary should be used to bring the war to a successful conclusion. 1 take it that the whole movement behind the Prime Minister considered him to be talking within the policy and conception of the party at the time the offer was made of the last man and the last shilling. The movement accepted his proposals in the spirit in which he made them, the understanding being that there should be no compulsion in regard to whatever might be done by Australia in the war. Some honorable members opposite seem to doubt that. They seem to think that, because Mr. Fisher made that statement, he would send the last man and the last shilling irrespective of the opinions of the party and the general community; but it is on record that Mr. Fisher said - and when he spoke for the Labour party he spoke for the power that placed him where be was - that the Labour party would never agree to conscription unless it was first made an election issue. Do not forget that. Those who assert that Mr. Fisher intended to compel, or would have gone to the length of compelling, men to go out of the country to fight, do him an injustice. The present Prime Minister also made the statement that in no circumstances would he send men compulsorily out of the country to fight.
– We have heard that before.
– Honorable members have distorted it before. .They have never used the remark in its proper perspective, but have used it always to fit the present occasion. We have been accused of not taking exception to it at the time the men were offered, but it was an offer of voluntary service, and if the men were not sent under the feelS of Australia, they would have gone, perhaps, overseas, like a number of patriots who went to England to enlist, because, I suppose, they thought they could get a little more into the limelight than they could by going home as good Australians.
– They took less pay.
– I am prepared to give every ounce of credit to Australians for what they have done at the front. They have made an undying name for themselves. They have staggered humanity, and I am proud of them, but I am also proud of the forces that bred and created the strength, initiative, and self-reliance that the Australians have demonstrated. They were not bred under the crippled conditions that the pioneers fled from when they came to Australia, but under the conditions hammered and nailed down by the trade unionists of Australia. “ Jack is as good as his master.” “ Jack ought to have a little time for recreation and an opportunity to know a little more than is necessary to attend a machine and be fed as they are fed in Great Britain.” I refer to industrial conditions generally. Those are the reasons why the Australians have come out of this fight as well as they have done, and if credit is to be given to any one in this country for the honour they have won overseas, it should go to the men who were responsible for wringing better conditions from those who would never have given them otherwise. The honorable member for Grey has told us how, in his early days, he used to shear for 10s. a hundred, and old factory hands will tell you of times when conditions were far different from what - thanks to the efforts of the trade unionists - they are to-day. You have only to compare the pay of our soldiers with that of other soldiers, and the pensions which we have provided for widows, to know what trade unionism has done for Australia. The Labour party have not proposed a payment of1s. 2d. a day, such as was proposed in another place, for conscripts. I wanted to provide properly for the men who might be made blind by the war. We have heard about giving the last man and the last shilling, and, by God ! if there is one man upon whom we should be willing to spend our last shilling it is he who will never again see the beauties of nature. We should provide adequately, too, for those who have lost both arms and legs, and cannot look after themselves. I wanted to give them 10s. a day for life. Did you agree to it? No. When it came to doing the fair and right thing for those who have voluntarily become maimed and blind in the defence of the country, you would provide only 30s. a week. If a man can find any one who will look after’ him for that amount, well and good; otherwise, he must stand in Bourke-street with a metal plate on his chest, stating that he lost his sight or was so maimed at Gallipoli. We have been told that we should not put the mercenary side forward; but we ought to make provision for our soldiers when they return. How is that to be done? You are not going to conscript your wealth. Can it be done by selling buttons in the street, or by making collections on Australia Day ? The people of Australia have always believed in freedom. They showed their spirit in the Eureka Stockade affray. No Labour man is afraid of an open, stand-up fight; but we are afraid of militarism. Militarism has not got the cinch on us that it has got on some other countries, and I have sufficient confidence in Democracy to think that it could not get so good a cinch that we could not shake it off. I am not Australian born.
– We can tell that, because the honorable member knows so little about Australia.
-Honorable members have never heard me crack up the country from which I came, because the conditions for the worker are such that many are glad to get out of it, and I wish to keep Australia free from the blighted conditions which prevail in the countries with which we are at war. I shall not be backward in raising my voice to that end.
– Just at present, our concern is to keep Australia free from the Germans.
– If the Germans tried to come here, we should not need conscription to get men for the defence of the country. The contention is that the only thing which will finish the war is the dragging of Australians overseas. That is not putting the case fairly to the public. Honorable members are playing up to an hysterical state of feeling. The Sydney Morning Heraldof 6th September says that “ no one could doubt that the danger of a German victory has passed away.” Yet we are told that we must force men to go to Flanders, or to the French front, so that the war may be finished. Let me read an extract quoted by Dr. Maloney. The statement appeared in the Brisbane Worker of the 16th September -
A request for information to the Commandant of the Wandsworth military barracks concerning a detained conscientious objector produced the following courteous reply: -
Private Forrester was given a sentence by me, and I shall continue to act in my barracks according to my orders, without any regard for what you or any of the so-called “ public “ may think. I do not care one atom for public opinion. - (Signed) Reginald Brooke, Lieut.Colonel.
Public opinion does not touch him, and he cafes nothing for it. Moreover, he is not backward in letting the community know that once he gets men under the military heel, God help them 1
– He must have been acting under orders for which a Minister is responsible.
– He was acting under orders as he states; but his letter shows what contempt the military machine has for the public when it can and does issue its own orders. The honorable member for Balaclava referred to the meeting of the Trades and Labour Council in Melbourne as a conspiracy of unions. He knows that he was misapplying words. The method of arriving at a conclusion may be open to challenge, but the fact that the conference was going to hold an anti-conscription meeting was well known. South Australia appointed a special delegate in addition to two going to Tasmania.
– What “say” did any of the country branches have?
– There is a Trades and Labour Council in Adelaide which represents the whole of the metropolitan unions which are affiliated with it. At Port Adelaide there is another Trades and Labour Council. If I am not mistaken, the latter body sent as its delegate the Hon. John Carr, member for the Central District of Adelaide. Port Pirie is the third place in South Australia which has a Trades and Labour Council, and that body, I think, was not represented at the Melbourne conference.
– It was not.
– In that case, the votes of its unions were not counted, and, as far as that centre is concerned, it cannot be said that the voting was “faked.” Even if some of the unions were without representation, the honorable member for Balaclava knows that the word “ conspiracy “ is not applicable to the proceedings of the conference.
– I used the word because I could not find a stronger term.
– The honorable member used the word “ conspiracy “ merely hecause he could not find a stronger word. He’ did not care whether it fitted or not, and in his bitterly prejudiced hostility to industrial effort, he used the strongest word his extensive vocabulary could pro vide. That shows his unfairness. Not only was a report of the proceedings of the conference published, but a manifesto was drawn up embodying the views of the meeting. That manifesto was censored, and the Trades Hall was raided, under the orders of a Minister who owes his public position to Trades Hall effort, clearly demonstrating the demoralizing effect of the baneful influence of militarism. There has been no conspiracy in the Labour party, either on the political side or on the trade unions’ side. The question of conscription has been considered and dealt with. Although the most of the soldiers at the front are trade unionists and working men, our people have had too great a taste of militarism to support conscription. They have had a taste of it under the War Precautions Act to such an extent that there is no wonder that they have an abhorrence of any opportunity being given to it to grow more powerful. When the Bill was before the House, the AttorneyGeneral told us that its penal clauses would not be put into operation in any case that had not been brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence or himself. It was urged that the Bill was needed because warships were at large in the oceans surrounding Australia, and if any of them entered Port Phillip or Port Jackson it would be necessary for the Government to have power to take control of the situation. On the, promises of the Attorney-General and the Minister for Defence that there would be no abuse of the powers asked for, we allowed the Bill to pass. We agreed to it because of the contention that Ministers should not be hampered, but should be in a position to deal with any situation that might arise. But what has happened ? The. Act has been put into operation to still the voices of those opposed to conscription and the tyranny of militarism, and we have been told that the Prime Minister should use it to put into force (he principle of conscription which ia anathema to the free people of Australia. So in regard to the opposition which comes from the working element in the community, those who wish to be free and to choose their own type feel that if they allow the principle of militarism which this Bill seeks to inaugurate to obtain a hold on the community it will remain too long and wreak too much damage..
This the circumstances in no way justify. For that reason they do not want militarism at all. It has been argued that we ought not to leave our men in the trenches with the gaps unfilled, that if we do that we shall be recreant to our trust, and that Australia’s name will be a by-word from one end of the earth to the other. Do honorable members mean to say that we have not already done our part in this war? Was it not intended that the extent of our participation was to be to assist, and is it not now an abuse of intelligence to urge that we are a deciding factor? The honorable member for Gippsland might want us to denude Australia’s population, but he cannot show the need for going to that length. I grant all that the Prime Minister told honorable members at the secret meeting, but I claim the right to use my own judgment as to whether the right honorable gentleman did not see “ the light “ with an inflated pupil. If what is published in the press is true, the contrary to what the Prime Minister told us is the fact. That there was a crucial period in the war I will admit ; but if the press does not lie that time has passed. Possibly there was a time when it was essential that every man available should be swarmed on to the French front, or wherever the point of danger was, or massed to help in the big push which is proceeding so successfully at the present time. But to-day on every front the Allies are gaining successes that were beyond imagination six weeks ago. According to the press accounts, the new armoured cars are levelling houses as a roller might level a wheat field, and if they continue as they have started they will shortly have crushed their way to the ice of Archangel. Australia acquiesced in the offer of the Prime Minister to increase our representation to five divisions. A great many of those men were obtained on the promise that no man should go out of Australia a conscript unless compulsory military service was first referred to the people as an election issue. It is urged by those who advocate conscription that because the Prime Minister promised 50,000 more men, he should now be allowed to compel men to serve. But as a matter of fact those 50,000 men were promised on the distinct understanding by the general community that the men were to be voluntarily enlisted, and that all reinforcements were to be gathered in the same manner. In what will consist the awful degradation of which people sneak if Australia does not send more men to the front ? The Prime Minister should have said, “ I cannot advocate conscription in my country, because I know the feeling of the party which created me.” Earlier in the evening I said that the party created the man, and £ will not withdraw that statement in regard to any man on this side of the House.
– Is not compulsion the basis of successful unionism ?
– The basis of unionism is its attractiveness, and the only road to those who wish to get better conditions and escape from the tyranny of the men who would now compulsorily send their fellows into the firing line.
– When those attractions fail you never hesitate to apply compulsion.
– Unionism has established the power to create better conditions, better wages, and shorter hours, so that the worker may have a little leisure to spend with his wife and kiddies. I remember that my mother used to say to me when we rose particularly early in the morning, ‘ ‘ We are having a colliers’ holiday;” the colliers had to rise at daylight on Sunday mornings, because they never saw daylight at any other time. Trade unionism altered those conditions, and because certain camp followers of the movement would not give their assistance to carry on the fight of the army of workers of which they were members to a more successful conclusion it was rightly decided that, in connexion with all labour offering, there should be preference to unionists, and that there should be no taking advantage of the benefit gained by unionism without sharing the responsibilities of the movement.
– A case of either get into the union or stay out of work.
– Certainly. They knew they could not stop out of the union for ever. They were outside of the union, not because they did not want to get in, but because they were so skin-flinty mean. The cases are not parallel and the honorable member knows it.
– They wished to get the benefits without making, the sacrifices.
– I grant the honorable member that, but compulsion in regard to human life is different from all other forms of compulsion.
– National life is to be sacrificed to individual life.
– We are told that national life is to be sacrificed, that England is on the verge of being defeated, and that if we had not provided 110,000 troops, and if we do not supplement that number by another 110,000, Australia will fall. I do not admit that.
– You know that it is the final punch that wins the fight.
– Yes ; and I am satisfied that Australia’s punch is not heavy enough to send the enemy down for the full count.
– You would let the other fellow do it?
– No. Australia has voluntarily entered into this war on generally understood conditions, and has done wonderfully well. Some honorable members, however, would bleed the country white, and go behind public opinion to force men into the fight.
– Are you supporting this Bill ?
– Yes, I am supporting it as the lesser of two evils. The honorable member for Macquarie made his position clear to his party, and before long the party will make its position’ clear to him. I am making my position clear. I do not wish to deny the power of my party over me. Once a majority of the party to which I belong has made a decision I shall abide by that decision.
– You are a cheerful slave.
– There is no slavery in the Labour party. The principle is that of honoring a compact. We have rescued ourselves from slavery to the party of honorable members opposite. They know well who are the slave drivers and who were the slave owners at one time. They cannot have their slaves now. Some poor devils have not yet seen the light of unionism, and it is those whom we have to force into the unions for their own benefit. They are the slaves. The honorable member for Herbert showed in detail how compulsion attends a man from his birth to his grave, but every one of the forms of compulsion to which he referred is for the benefit of the individual.
That cannot be said with regard to compulsion for military service. If there he any benefit to be derived by the individual out of this war it has been already earned by what Australia has done to date.
– Would you stop at what we have already done?
– We have promised an extra 50,000 men, and we should fill the vacancies by voluntary enlistment. If voluntary enlistment fails to do that we must say that we can do no more. The honorable member for Cook threw some doubt on the figures of the Prime Minister, and it is quite possible that the number of men mentioned by the Leader of the Government is not required.
– Why do you not ask men to go to the front?
– I am not going to ask somebody to do what I cannot do.
– Then you are not assisting the voluntary system.
– I never have assisted it. Not half the men in the Australian Forces to-day are true volunteers. I believe in men going to the front who wish to go of their own accord, and not as the result of economic compulsion. What do the placard and the poster mean ? Is not their only meaning that the persons viewing them must have a darned tough hide if they do not see the point? It is compulsion of that sort which has sent a great many of our men into the ranks. When’ the recruiting card was sent to me I answered it by saying, “ I am prepared to go immediately the whole of the nation’s resources are properly organized; all in, I am in.” .
– You were arguing for conscription.
– No, I wished to get hold of the honorable member’s dollars; and the time is coming when we shall do that. Those who have money will not get 4-J per cent, for it, but they will have to pay it out in a like manner to the man who pays with his life. I do not’ think that it is necessary to foist on the free and independent people of Australia something that is repugnant and obnoxious to them, and that is not required.
– Does not the honorable member think that they have already been compelled by the conditions of which he has spoken?
– But they could not escape that compulsion. After the drought in South Australia, there would have been thousands of people starving had it not been for the war; as it was, thousands were fed from the Trades Hall in Adelaide.
– Why should they have to go and fight for us while others stay behind ?
– They did, and should not have to go, but they offered when the Commonwealth Government promised to send men, and asked who would go. I have never asked any one to fight for me.
– It is not an equal sacrifice unless all are obliged to go.
– That should have been made clear when the first draft was offered. But we are endeavouring to impose on Australia something that has always been repugnant to the British race, and was not contemplated when the offer was made.
– To be “ licked “ would be more repugnant.
– I grant it; but I do not see where that is sticking out, and I do not see how all the help Australia could give would prevent a ‘ ‘ licking ‘ ‘ for the Allies. The reinforcements that we can send will not turn the scale in the direction that some honorable members opposite have indicated. All the nations in the fight can produce sufficient numbers if they do their utmost, and the utmost that Russia, Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Servia, and Roumania can do would overwhelm the few troops that we could send. Therefore, I hope that the people will refrain from forcing men to go overseas to fight.
– Is not the argument that the honorable member is using that of the non-unionist, “ Brown, Jones, and Robinson, will get these things for me ; there is no need for me to do it” 1
– Brown. Jones, and Robinson have not asked him to do it.
– But they have asked him to join the union.
– Yes; because the union has already got something that benefits him. We cannot fasten on to the Trades Hall the numbers who have already gone to the front. The unions have not asked them to go and fight on their behalf. I grant that those who have gone are doing noble work in defence of the Empire, and incidentally of Australia ; but Great Britain ought to do her share towards the defence of the Empire. One honorable member has asked, “ Are we always to rest on Great Britain? Is it Great Britain’s duty to protect Australia?” I guarantee that if Australia were menaced and could not protect itself, Great Britain’s trading interests in Australia would soon bring her to our protection. Furthermore, of the £317,597,000 borrowed by Australian States, Great Britain has invested £224,061,456, or 70.55 per cent, of the whole of ‘Australia’s national debt. Protection of financial investments is one of the reasons why Great Britain takes care of her Dependencies. Would she not equally protect China or India ? Commercial interests, and not so much the people, are Great Britain’s care.
– Does not the honorable member know that the workers of Great Britain object to the expenditure involved in protecting the outer parts of the Empire?
– I do; but the workingclass community of Australia, as represented by the Labour party, has come to the conclusion that, instead of subsidizing the British Navy to protect Australia, it is our duty to establish our own Army and Navy to do so. What did the honorable member’s party propose? It proposed to borrow £2,000,000, and present Great Britain with a Dreadnought, and it would have done so had not the people of Australia come in between honorable members and their Loan Bill, and torn it up. Whatever protection Australia has had from Great Britain it has paid for in gold in the way of trade and commerce, and unionists have no desire to lean on Great Britain for any protection that Australia can provide for itself.
– Who told the honorable member the yarn about the Dreadnought?
– The dogs in the street used to bark it when Mr. Deakin and the right honorable member for Parramatta were in office ; even the little boys m the schools know how the Liberals’ propose to finance a war. I think the honorable member for Balaclava said on Friday last, “ Their homes, their employment, their liberties, they owe to Great Britain.”
– No; I said that the men who left Australia were fighting for those things.
– Even if they are fighting to protect their own homes, employment, and liberties, Great Britain never took a better step than handing the forefathers of the Australians of to-day the power to rule themselves. I do not know what prompted the step. It may have been better for Great Britain to do this rather than keep Australia, and garrison it. But will any honorable member opposite say that Australia has not ever since been a good asset to Great Britain ?
– The honorable member is quarrelling with honorable members of the Opposition, and yet they propose to vote with him.
– I know why I am supporting the Bill. I support it as the lesser of two evils.
– What is the other evil?
– Honorable members opposite. As I cannot support them, I am in a cleft stick, and must support the Bill. Great Britain has not one scintilla of cause for regret at the manner in which our forefathers controlled this country, but the liberties of which we are so jealous that we would oppose the proposal to inflict compulsion on the people when that is regarded as necessary in order to retain them are those for which Australians have fought and have not been given to us by Great Britain. The people of that country would be proud to possess half of the liberties that we have in the industrial world ; they would be only too pleased to live in the open spaces and under the conditions existing here. We owe nothing to Great Britain for the liberties we enjoy. We may have to thank it for the fact that we are not under military rule under the British flag, and are not garrisoned by British troops; but the liberties we possess are due to the efforts of organized labour throughout Australia. The honorable member for Balaclava also remarked that we have economic liberty which is new to the northern hemisphere. That is a nice admission. The honorable member will not claim that he helped to give the people any of that liberty. He will not say that any of his shade of politics have helped to give it.
-I have done more than the honorable member has done in that direction. The honorable member is merely yelling on the tail of the cart while we have been doing things.
– Yelling on a cart-tail is very effective. It brings honorable members to this chamber. The honorable member generally steps on a hoop. Honorable members have said that for 100 years we have been protected by Great Britain. What do we pay for that protection? What is the interest we pay on our loan money ? What is the result of the trade of Australia? What about the pure-bred merino - how much of that profit goes overseas ? Great Britain may have protected Australia; it has never protected the trade unions of Australia. I come now to the wealth side of this question, and I regret that the honorable member for Calare, who is an authority on this point, is not in the chamber. Several honorable members have said that the cost of the war to Australia will amount to over £80,000,000 a year. Whatever it may be, we have to ask ourselves how and where we are to find the money to pay for it. I should like the Opposition to give us some information on that point. The honorable member for Calare said that our troops had been paid the last shilling owing to them. I do not know what point he was trying to make. Even if they had been so treated they have really earned more than they have received. I am sure that our party, instead of paying them 6s. a day, would be glad if the money were available to observe union rates, and to pay them at least a living wage.
– We are suggesting now that we should send some men to give them a little relief.
– And to send them at the same rate of pay. The honorable member for Calare went on to assert that the cost of the war had been met by increased taxation. Will any one tell me what taxation has been levied to meet the cost of the war?
– If the honorable member capitalizes the revenue we have got in by means of increased taxation he will find that it amounts to £107,000,000. I am referring now to direct taxation, such as the income tax, the probate and succession duties, and the increase in the progressive land tax. The increased taxation is sufficient to pay interest on £107,000,000.
– I am speaking no.w of what taxation has been imposed to pay our soldiers, and not of the interest paid on borrowed money. That sort of finance will not suit me. The honorable member for Calare said the land tax had been increased, that probate duties and an income tax had been levied, and that the Customs duties had been raised. He inferred that the cost of the war was being met by means of taxation. In submitting his Budget statement in this House in December, 1914, Mr. Fisher made reference to the additional taxation proposals which the Government were putting forward to meet the cost of the war. He said -
The total estimated expenditure, including £11,742,050 special expenditure on account of the war, is, as stated previously, £37,583,715. The estimated revenue is £23,273,000. Adding the accumulated surplus of £1,222,401 we have £24,495,401 available for expenditure, leaving a deficit of £13,088,314. This deficiency will be made up by a loan from the British Government to the amount of £10,500,000, and by the issue of Treasury Bills in aid of revenue to the amount of £2,588,314.
There was no talk there of meeting the cost of the war by taxation. The proposal was to borrow, not to meet current expenses, but to meet a deficiency due to war expenditure in the previous years. Mr. Fisher went on to sav that -
With regard to the revenue, it is intended to raise £1,000,000 by imposing probate and succession duties….. It is intended to impose those duties on all deceased estates with net value exceeding £1,000.
Thus the relatives of any unfortunate who died leaving £1,000 or less will not have to pay any duty in respect of his estate. Mr. Fisher continued -
It is proposed to secure additional revenue from land tax by increasing the rate of tax, and widening its incidence. . . . The total estimated revenue from land tax will be
That taxation was not to meet war expenditure. What then becomes of all the talk about our spending the last shilling?
– The income tax was put on to meet the cost of the war. Including probate duties and the increased progressive land tax, we have over £4,000,000 raised for that purpose.
– But Mr. Fisher said that there was a deficit of over £13,000,000 in respect of the one year.
– The honorable member is talking of another period. Mr. Fisher was not here when the taxation to which I am referring was imposed.
– Then I should like to know who was responsible for it. Will the honorable member for Grey or any member of the Opposition tell me how the war expenditure is being met? If my statement is incorrect; let them show how the wealthy are meeting their obligations in respect of the war.
– I have not suggested that we are doing all we should do, but I deplore the fact that the honorable member should foul our own nest, and suggest that we have done nothing in the way of imposing extra taxation to meet the cost of the war.
– The Leader of the Opposition is reported to have said in the course of a speech which he delivered in Sydney on 15th August last that the whole of the available resources of the Empire, including men, must be placed unreservedly and unrestrictedly at the complete disposal of the military authorities of the Empire. The honorable member for Flinders, I believe, has made a similar statement. How is this to be done ? I invite these honorable members to show how that is to be done without in the last analysis taking everything from the worker. Discussing the wheat pool, an Adelaide banker, in justifying the action of the banks in raising the rate of interest said, in the course of an interview with a representative of the Adelaide Register -
Bankers keep only a proportion of their funds liquid, that is readily available to meet immediate demands. The great bulk of their money is lent to the trading community in various forms. The arrangement with the Government means that the bank will have to find something like £15,000,000 to finance the Australian wheat crop, and the requirements of the Federal Government for war purposes amount to about £25,000,000. So the banks will have to supply practically £40,000,000 within a comparatively brief period. While the whole of the money does not actually go out of the banks, it causes a big displacement of available funds, and, individually, bankers do not know how they will be affected.
– The honorable member knows that the farmers are paying that now.
– No doubt they are. The point is that the banks are able to finance the war and to call whatever tune they like. There is a growing feeling in the community that the money hogs must do more than they are doing in connexion with the war. The people may be side-stepped for the time being, but they are beginning to see the ghost, and the time will come when it may not be a matter of raising £50,000,000 on the Australian market at 4½ per cent., and raising £25,000,000 abroad at a higher rate.
The people will not stand such a thing for all time. Under such a system the crippled soldier who returns from the war will have to spend his pension in helping to pay the public debt of Australia, which already amounts to over £317,000,000. That was a legacy left to us by Liberal Administrations. The time is fast approaching when the Democracy will throw off the yoke placed upon them as the result of maladministration of days gone by, and the day of repudiation will come.
– Does the honorable member advocate repudiation of lawfully contracted debts?
– Lawfully contracted debts ? Yes ; the time will -come when the Democracy will refuse to be saddled for ever with the debts due to the maladministration of the Liberals in days gone by.
– Is the honorable member charging’- the Liberal Government with the responsibility for borrowing all that money ?
– If the responsibility is to be parcelled out, then 99 per cent, of it must rest with the honorable member’s party. I propose now to quote from the Melbourne Herald of 3rd August last. The Herald, quoting a banking expert, and in dealing with the proposed, further war loan of £50,000,000 indicated the “ cheek “ of the banking community when it is bleeding the public of Australia. An effort was made to meet the cost of the war by borrowing from the capitalist, who waves his flag and hopes to get all the credit. None of your repatriation schemes for me that are run by private enterprise. If the nation wants to put men on the land, let the nation handle the whole scheme.
The Herald, in discussing the loan issue> said -
That the Federal Treasurer has been able to raise so large a sum as £20,569,400 for war purposes, in addition to £35,285,863 previously borrowed, is regarded by bankers as a remarkably good result. “Before the war,” said a. banking authority to-day, “such huge local borrowing would have been deemed unthinkable.”
What would not have been done a few years ago, is now done without compunction -
The occasion is imperative, and the people have responded wonderfully. Mr. Higgs was too optimistic in letting it be known that he hoped to raise £50,000,000- or, rather, I should say that he was too precipitate. He will get the £50,000,000 in due time.
Of course, they know when he will get it - it is when they will let him have it; they can manipulate all the strings as they like.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I cannot follow the reasoning of the honorable member for Adelaide. No matter what we have done, or what we may do, we can never repay the Qld Country for what she has done for Australia. This country which we hold has been developed, with all its vast resources, and all* that goes to make a nation, by the money and the manhood of the Old Country. We could not have built up industries here, or developed our resources, nor could we have had the freedom so long enjoyed, but for the protection of Great Britain. We have done well in this war ; and this is the only place where I have ever heard it suggested that we have not done our share. In the opinion of Great Britain and other countries we have responded splendidly, and only here is it said that we ought to do more. What we have done has acted as a big advertisement for Australia ; and, as a matter of fact, we have put into the field as large a volunteer army or a larger than that with which Britain fought the Boer War.
– That cannot have amy relevance to the present situation.
– I am merely replying to what has been said about our not having done our share. It was because the people at Home realized all that we have done that the Prime Minister got the great reception that he did. I have been a member of the Australian Labour party since its inception : and the referendum is one of the planks of that party that I have always advocated and always shall advocate. I am quite prepared to submit the question to the people, but I shall take the platform and advocate the rejection of the Conscription Bill.
– How do you propose to supply reinforcements 1
– That is another “parrot” cry we so often hear.
– Give us an answer.
– The figures put before the country by the Prime Minister show that in twelve months we shall send from Australia 214,000 men. That is sufficient to exhaust the country; and if the war goes on for another two years, how can we continue to replace the men ?
– The Government cannot supply the number for the first twelve months !
– They cannot. The Prime Minister in stipulating for 32,500 men this month has put an impossible task on the country. He has said that if that number is supplied he will not go on with the conscription measure, but he knows that the number cannot be supplied. Further, we are told that in the following month we shall require 16,500 men. It must be remembered that there are men who have been in camp for twelve months, and when we ask the reason, we are told that ships are not available for transport. How many ships, I ask, will be required to take away 32,000 men this month, seeing that shipping is as scarce, if not scarcer, than six weeks or two months ago. If we cannot keep up these large supplies all we can do is to say that we have done our best and shall continue to do our best. It will be no disgrace to the country if the Conscription Bill is turned down by this Democracy. Even if the Bill is rejected it does not ‘mean that we shall not supply all the men we can. I detest the word “Conscription.” It is a policy to which I have been opposed all my life, and I shall not go back on my principles now.
– It is compulsory service in time of war.
– At any rate, it is repugnant to me. I should not allow the military authorities to go into any house and demand that all men of military age there should go to the front.
– Would you prefer that the enemy came to Australia?
– No, I would not.
– What is your alternative ?
– It is not a matter of an alternative. We are told that we must send all the men out of the country in order to prevent the enemy coming here. But if the Old Country were to be beaten, the handful of men that we can supply could not prevent it. The Allies, consisting of Great Britain, Russia, France, Italy, Servia, Belgium, and Roumania, have 10,000,000 more fighting men in their armies than can be mustered by Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria; and still we hear the cry to-night that we must raise another 100,000 men in Australia. To me that is not reasonable. No doubt 100,000 men is an advantage, but it is not sufficient to win the war.
– The 10,000,000 men of which the honorable member speaks do not represent the superiority of forces sofar as this war is concerned.
– I speak from figures, which show the state of the standing armies; and even Russia herself has moremen than have our opponents in the field. We are told to-day that England has menright from the sea to the battle front, and’ that 2,000,000 can be launched at any particular part at any particular moment,, with plenty of reinforcements available, until summer^ In view of the facts, I cannot understand all this fuss about another 100,000 men. This referendum’ means a great deal of trouble in the country. It will split people from one end of the Commonwealth to the other; and, although I am no prophet, I venture to saythat, in my own State, the Bill will not be accepted.
– But you are in favour of the referendum ?
– Yes, though I shall doall I can to defeat the Government pro- posal. I trust the people with the referendum. It is on the party platform, and the Government are quite right in resorting to it.
– You will abide by the decision of the people?
– Certainly. The honorable member for Wimmera has asked why the Government did not come out with a straightforward Bill for conscription; but if that be the idea of the Opposition, why did they not table- an amendment, and thus test the feeling of the House ? If the Government failed to do the right thing in this regard it was tlie duty of the Opposition to compel the Government todo the right thing; and it is not too late now to have a direct vote on conscription. There is great diversity of opinion on thisnational question - no one can tell where the majority is - and the Prime Minister is quite right to refer it to the people.
– But the honorable member said just now that he had counted noses, and knew what would be the result.
– We all have our beliefs, and my belief is that the vote will beagainst the Bill. If the Government proposals are defeated Ministers will be able to come back here and carry on business as heretofore, quite justified in retaining office. If the people turn down conscription it will be a splendid record that the question was submitted .to them. I can quite understand that if the Opposition were in power, and had a sufficient majority in both Houses, they would compel the people to go overseas and fight; but that is what we on this side, as a party, are against.
– You forced people under the Navy Act.
– There is voluntary enlistment in the Navy. We, as a party, believe that the Empire will come out of this struggle successfully. Everything is looking very bright just now, with successes on every frontier; and I cannot understand the anxiety to force this issue at the present time. We are getting over 5,000 recruits per month, and have now 40,000 men in camp. Counting in the men on the ships and the men in the pool at Home, we have 102,000 men who have never yet been in the trenches, and surely that is a fine record for Australia.
– Does the honorable member think that the British authorities would ask for men if they were not wanted ?
Mi. RILEY. - Any man who has studied the history of wars knows that in winter time there is less fighting and fewer casualties.
– But there is more sickness.
– Sickness ! They may have measles, whooping-cough, or, like the honorable gentleman himself, sickness from vaccination; but these are easily got over. Whether the Opposition support or oppose this measure, I support it as a democratic method of deciding a great question. The people will express their views by their votes, and we shall be guided by their judgment. We are here to represent them, and have no right to say that our views shall be given the force of law, irrespective of their will. No question of so much importance has yet been submitted to the electors. I am pleased to be able to say that, so far, a good spirit has characterized the debate, and I hope that it will be maintained during the referendum campaign. I shall not condemn any man merely because he holds views contrary to mine. I believe that in supporting the Government in this matter honorable members opposite are conscientiously of the opinion that every ounce of our strength is necessary to bring the war to a conclusion. They think that 100,000 more men from Australia will bring this about; but I am unable to agree with them. I shall vote for the referendum, but when the people are being invited to decide the question, I shall use all the influence I possess to induce them to reject the proposal for compulsory military service abroad.
– Whilst I am of opinion that the vote taken on the amendment has decided the fate of this Bill, I should like to express some views on the subject. The vote has demonstrated that the Prime Minister is justified in the attitude he has taken up, and has a majority behind him. How that can be denied, in view of the result of the division on the amendment, I am at a loss to understand. Some of my best friends on this side differ from me on this matter. I have the greatest respect for conscientious objectors to the Government proposals, both inside and outside the House. I recognise that they are entitled to their opinions, and I ask that they shall permit me to hold my own views. The question before the House does not involve the approval of conscription. What we are considering is a Bill to enable the people to express their will upon a proposal to send troops abroad for the defence of Australia. All kinds of side issues are being discussed ; but this is merely a measure for the taking of a referendum to discover the will of the people. We have had the referendum on our platform since the inception of the Labour movement. What happened in Tasmania only the other day ? Mr. Lee, the Liberal Premier of that State, was in favour of a referendum on the drink question, and we, who are politically opposed to him, twitted him from every platform upon his inconsistency because, whilst he was in favour of a referendum on the drink question, he opposed a referendum on the question of the abolition of the Upper House of the State Parliament. To-day we find the honorable member for Brisbane opposed to the referendum now proposed by the Prime Minister, and yet if we were asked to take a referendum on the drink question throughout Australia to-morrow, the honorable member would vote for it. On this much more important question, the honorable member declines to vote for this Bill, and will not. trust the people. Is he not most inconsistent ? If I fail to vote for this referendum, there is nothing more certain than that I shall break my platform pledge. Times out of number we have heard the honorable member for Melbourne advocate the initiative and referendum.
– The honorable member did not help me much in Caucus to get it into the Constitution .
– The honorable member knows well that the matter was never brought up in the Caucus, and no vote was taken upon it. It is most unfair and unjust that he should resort to that kind of trickery in order to side-track me. This is the gentleman who is so very fair, who says that all we want is justice. What is his attitude to-night ? I find that he is reported in the press to have addressed a meeting last night, and that amongst other things he said -
Three cheers for Labour and humanity, and down with Mr. Hughes and militarism !
Honorable members will see how he played upon the feelings of the people.
– I said that to 30,000 people last night, and they cheered it.
– This is the very fair gentleman who said, “ Three cheers for labour and humanity,” knowing that that would reach the hearts of the people, and then said, “Down with Mr. Hughes and militarism,” knowing that the people whom he was addressing hate militarism. Let me briefly refer to the life of the Prime Minister. For twenty years Mr. Hughes has been in the Labour movement.
– For longer than that.
– For twenty years and longer he has fought and worked hard in connexion with the Labour movement. What did he do in 1910 in this House? The then Prime Minister went away to South Africa, and Mr. Hughes was left here to carry measure after measure on our programme until he exhausted it. He carried the Land Tax Bill through in this Chamber, when he was the only legal man on this side at the time. The Act was subsequently reviewed by the High Court, and found to be in conformity with the Constitution. This proves the Prime Minister’s ability, and the energy and study he gave to the measure. He used himself up in its advocacy, for honorable members must admit that his health was broken. Many nights he has spent in this Chamber working, not for himself, but in the interests of the Labour party and the people who sent him here. He has been always true to the platform of the party. Now I come to deal with another sphere of his activity. I have sat side by side with him in representing the Waterside Workers. They have not cast him out yet. They have not said an unkind word about him. If the honorable member for Melbourne remains in the Labour movement all his life, he will not at its close have done as much for it as the Prime Minister has done for it. Whilst Prime Minister, and before he reached that position, he sat side by side with representatives of the Waterside Workers of Australia in numerous conferences with the ship-owners. With his help we were able to arrange agreements satisfactory to the workers, and, apparently, satisfactory to the ship-owners. At any rate, we got what we wanted, and there was no Arbitration Court resorted to. The Waterside Workers of Australia have frequently thanked Mr. Hughes for the services he has rendered them. This country has had reason to thank him for his services when an effort was made to extend the New Zealand strike to Australia. If that effort had been successful it would have paralyzed business in the Commonwealth, and have done great injury to the movement of which he is the head. He told the Australian Waterside Workers that they ought not to go out on strike, and proved to them subsequently that he was right in the advice he gave. He has given them the advantage of his legal knowledge, and has helped them in every way. They have repeatedly shown their gratitude to him. On one occasion they made a present of a piece of plate of much value, not to Hr. Hughes, but to his wife, to mark their appreciation of the good work he has done for the Waterside Workers of Australia. Now we find a gentleman like the honorable member for Melbourne calling this man a traitor to the Labour movement, appealing to all that is bad in the minds of people by holding the Prime Minister up to ridicule. He informed the people that Mr. Hughes associated with kings and queens and the aristocracy. The Prime Minister also associated with Mr. Ben Tillett. Did the Waterside Workers of Great Britain condemn Mr. Hughes when he went to them ? What did Mr. Ben Tillett say of him?
He commended him for the outspoken way in which he met the people of England on the bottom rung of the ladder as well as those at the top. The Prime Minister did not go to the King and aristocracy of England. They went to him, recognising the great ability of the man. What has he done for Australia ? As Prime Minister and leader of the waterside workers, he has shown himself to be a man of brains, of whom Australia should be proud. Where do we all spring from? The opponents of Mr. Hughes say that he is not an Australian. What a paltry, petty, little argument for any one to use ! I am an Australian born. I have worked side by side with Mr. Hughes. I know him and trust him, and I deny that he has been a traitor to the Labour party.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad to have that indorsement from the honorable member for South Sydney, who has known the Prime Minister personally longer than I have. I think that it is unfair and unjust that he should have been spoken of as he has been. The bitter, unfair, and unjust criticism of Mr. W. M. Hughes is going to do more to bring about conscription than anything else I know of. It will be found that the statements made about the Prime Minister are untrue, and then people will ask themselves what he is out for. Is it in his own interest? We know that it is not. He could have had a seat in the Imperial Cabinet, and any honours he might have chosen. He could have remained in Great Britain, but he had no ambition to remain there, and came back here to try to do the best he could for Australia. If honorable members wish to fight him, let them fight him fairly. Even a pugilist in the ring will not hit below the belt, and would not resort to the tactics adopted by the honorable member for Melbourne. Having a crowd before him the honorable member appealed to all the prejudices in their minds when he asked for three cheers for humanity and labour, and then called “Down with Mr. Hughes.” Is that the way to win the case against conscription? Decidedly it is not. I have said what I know about the Prime Minister. If I found that he was a traitor to the Labour movement I would tell the House so. I am glad to be able to say that at least he is no poseur. He does not appear before the public posing in various attitudes and seeking the applause of poor widows. You do not find him doing that, nor do you hear him saying, “ I want to tender my small meed of praise.” In supporting the Prime Minister on this occasion, I am only doing my duty to a gentleman for whom I have the highest respect.
– Is he a traitor only when you think he is? Can nobody else think he is wrong?
– I am not saying anything of the sort. I am only judging the Prime Minister as I find him; and, though I have listened carefully to the speeches that have been made on this subject, I have heard no honorable member bring forward an argument to prove that Mr. Hughes is a traitor, or that he has broken any plank in our platform.
– May I ask you a question? Do you know what happened on Sunday last at a waterside workers’ meeting ? If you do not, make inquiries before you talk.
– I know that I was at a meeting of the Federation on Tuesday last, and not a word was mentioned then about Mr. Hughes. Men who were entirely opposed to the conscription issue sat side by side with me, and I never heard a word about the Prime Minister.
– Do you not think it possible that, after all, they out-generalled you ?
– I do not think so.
– There were no waterside workers there.
– I think the wind was taken out of the sails of certain individuals before they got in.
– I do not know anything about that. The honorable member for Cook, who complained most bitterly to-night on the question of fairness, was responsible for an amendment which failed; and he put some honorable gentlemen in an uncomfortable position.
– You are stating something which is untrue.
– Well, the honorable member seconded the amendment, and he is the gentleman, if you please, who wants fair treatment, and complains that he is not likely to get it in Australia during the referendum campaign ! He says that there were no waterside workers at the meeting to which I have referred, but that is not the case.
– Are you a waterside worker?
– No; but I represent the Tasmanian waterside workers, and they tell me that I have done very well, as I have occupied that position for six years.
– You ask the honorable member for Cook if he is a railway man.
– I hardly know what the honorable member for Cook is, and I do not think that he quite knows himself. If what we have heard during this debate is a sample of the criticism we are likely to get during the referendum campaign, I am. very disappointed. I want now to direct attention to the scheme, and. I point out that the Prime Minister distinctly says that there are 152,000 fit single men without dependants available as reinforcements.
– Between the ages of eighteen and forty-four years.
– I believe that is true. The Prime Minister also says that voluntary recruiting is to be continued.
– There are certain exemptions under the scheme.
– Yes; the exemptions, according to the Argus summary, are -
Non-military tribunal for appeals for exemption.
First exemption tribunal - a magistrate.
Exemption appeal court - a State Judge.
Final exemption appeal court- Judge of the Commonwealth High Court.
I am glad, also, to know that the separation allowance for married men is to be increased from 8s. to 10s. Last year I did my utmost, in an appeal to the Treasurer, to get the pay raised to 10s. all round, and though that has not been considered possible, I am pleased to know that the allowances to married men are to be increased. Now, the Prime Minister is responsible for the following statement in his Sydney speech: -
I tell you plainly that if every man capable of bearing arms rushed to the standard we could not prevent Germany, or any other predatory power, layingour great cities in ruins, landing troops where they pleased, and pushing their victorious way where they willed, for in modern war neither valour nor numbers avail unless there be disciplined armies, efficiently armed, and supported by numerous and great guns and abundant munitions. Do you say we have these ? Is there a man who does not know our position in regard to these ? Let us not deceive ourselves. I tell you most emphatically, most solemnly, we are helpless but for the British Navy and the armies of the Empire and the Allies. We are doomed men; we are like sheep before the butcher. We may bleat and struggle, but cannot save ourselves from destruction. (Hear, hear.) What, in plain words, is our position ?
– Is it not remarkable that, while the Prime Minister can get that statement printed, members of this House have their statements censored ?
– I do not know anything about that. I have read this statement to show that if Australia means to defend herself she must take efficient measures to that end. I think the honorable member for Wimmera will bear me out when I say that the northern part of the Commonwealth is totally undefended. It is possible for traction engines to draw heavy loads across vast stretches of that country. Speaking from memory, I think we motored from the Katherine River a distance of 93 miles south in one day. That shows the vulnerability of that part of Australia. There would be no lack of supplies, for on one station along the route we travelled, there would be 15,000 head of cattle, on another station, 75,000 head. I have not mentioned all the stock on the Barkly Tablelands, and on Mr. Lewis’ property of 10,000 square miles. When we remember that Belgium has an area of only 11,000 square miles, we can realize what temptations this vast territory of ours, at present totally undefended, might offer to an alien enemy.
– Do you not think that this is an indictment of the Government rather than an argument for conscription ?
– No, I do not. The captain of the ship on which I travelled told me you could not see from Sydney Heads a distance of more than 10 miles, and I understand that the ordinary guns of a modern battleship have an. effective range of over 15 miles.
– They would be guns of exceptional calibre.
– No; I think that some of the larger guns have an effective range of over 23 miles, so a modern battleship could stand off and shell Sydney, as well as other coastal towns, and an enemy could, without any trouble, enter and occupy the northern part of Australia. Now, in view of these facts, howare we going to defend this country ? Distance has been annihilated by fast steam -ship services and by wireless telegraphy, and I feel safe in saying that if we wish to defend Australia effectively we can best do so in the North Sea and at the front in France or elsewhere. That is my opinion. That being so, should we not make every effort to defend it? Is it not worth defending? I do not think there is an honorable member who will say that we ought not to rise to the occasion and do ourbest to defeat the common enemy. If we experience a set back onland, or ifGreat Britain’s naval supremacy should be upset, we might he threatened with an invasion of Australia. But I questionwhether it would be a German invasion. Consequently, we should do our best tosafeguard the interests of the Commonwealth, and wherever men may be wanted toeffectually defend us, they should be unhesitatingly sent. In saying that I am merely repeating what I stated on the public platform when I was appealing forvolunteers, Iappealed to the men of this countryto enlistf orservice abroadbecause I believed that we were fighting for the liberty of the world, and forthe Socialists of the world. The unfortunateGerman Socialists whom I met when I was on a visit to the Old World are looking eagerly forward to release from their present military thraldom. My own opinion is that itwas not theambition of the GermanEmperorto becometheruler ofthe world. Buthe wasconfronted with the necessity of saving his throne. Therefore, he brought about the present war, with the result that to-day we have Socialists fighting Socialists. At the present time, their country is of greater importance than the socialistic movement, because they understand only the people of their own country.
Dr.Maloney. - There are some exceptions in Germany.
– There is only one-exception of which I havo any knowledge, and the gentleman who constitutes thatexception is in gaol. When we have succeeded in this war, Prussian militarism will exist no longer. The honorable member for Bourke says in the Labour Call that no man in Germany has a vote until he has reached twenty-five years of
-Isthatstatement made there?
– The honorablemember is quite wrong.
– Howmanyworking men in England have a vote?
– But every working man in Australia has a vote. My desire is to see everyworkingman and woman in Great Britain,France, and other countries exercising the franchise. When such a condition of affairs obtains, I question whether militarism will operate as it is operating to-day. I am of opinion that if we win this war the world will see the light, andthe workers of the world willsee it. But so long as there are men who endeavour to manufacture bank notes, there will be individuals of different nationalities who desire to take that which is not their own. If we cannot trust the people even of our own country, how can we trust thoseofother countries? That being so, it is necessary for us to arm effectively for the defence of Australia. Where can we find a better system of defence than that which exists here ? It is not asystem of Prussian militarism, and cannot be, seeing that we enjoy adult suffrage. Whilst the voting power rests with the people, theyhave the means at any time of dealingeffectively with anybody who seeks to introduce any form of militarism.
– Really, the military party in Germany controls the Government.
– Exactly. The position there is altogether different from that which obtains in Great Britain. What have we to fear from sending the men of this oountry to the place where it can be hest defended? Beforethe referendum is taken it may be found that that place is Australia. I hope that it will be. In regard to the taxation of wealth, this is the only section of the British Empire in which we are calling on the wealthyclasses to pay.
– The honorablemember will see from this publication that universalmanhood suffrage obtains in Germany.
– Then I stand corrected. But the honorable member will admit that theGerman Emperor has the powerto veto any law. Reverting to the taxation of wealth, I find that in the Commonwealth the revenue derived from income tax, death duties, and the land tax totals £4,800,000. That sum is taken annually from the wealthy. Then the Government have practically a loan of £45,000,000 upon which they pay no interest whatever. I refer of course to our note issue. If interest were payable upon that loan it would amount to something over £2,000,000 annually, making a total of approximately £7,000,000. That £7,000,000 is taken, practically, from the pockets of the wealthy classes. But in Great Britain, for example, a tax has been imposed upon tea. I am glad to say that during the two years that the war bas been in progress the Commonwealth Government have not increased the taxation upon the necessaries of life, and I hope that they will not. If we are going to send men abroad to fight for us, I am of opinion that we should also be prepared to give our last shilling to support them. But in the first instance the shilling should come from the wealthy. If tne worst comes to the worst, I do not think that anybody should reoeive more than is paid to our troops at the front. If it be necessary in order to maintain the solvency of our nation, all should be treated alike. If a roan is willing to risk being killed at the war, the least we can do is to give our all if necessary to make decent provision for the maintenance of his family, to pay him well while he is at the front, and to care for him upon his return. I will support any proposal in that direction. We must not forget that Australia is the first nation in the world to pay such high wages to its troops.
– That is because we have not conscription.
– I do not agree with the honorable member.
– If we had conscription here our troops would be paid the rates that are paid in conscript European countries.
– I cannot agree with the honorable member, because the Government have already announced that volunteers and conscripts will receive the same rate of pay. Ihave been totally opposed to compulsory service abroad, but I have been driven to choose what is best for the defence of Australia in this time of crisis. I hope that during the current month we shall get sufficient volunteers to warrant the withdrawal of the Government scheme. If we do, nobody will be more delighted than I will. I desire to see Australia adequately defended. I wish to see her emerge from the war able to assert her rights, as shehas done hitherto. But if we do not make an effort to save our all, we may find ourselves helpless at the close of the war. If we hire mercenaries from abroad to fight our battles, how can we say to the Indians, for example, when the struggle is over, “You shall not come to Australia and work there?” But if we put forth our best efforts to fight our own battles, then we can justly say to the Old Country, “We want to remain as we were prior to the outbreak of war.” We know perfectly well that if people who are accustomed to a lower standard of living are permitted to enter into competition with us here, the wages of Australian workers must decline. I am pleased to say that the industrial conditions which obtain in the Commonwealth are a hundred years ahead of those to be found in any European country that I have visited. Would it were possible to send those young Australians that so bitterly complain of our conditions to the Old World to see what I saw! I am sure they would come back here rejoicing that they were Australians, loving Australia, and willing to do their best for it. To me this is the greatest country on God’s earth, although we havemuch to do yet. As honorable members know, I have in my mind quite a different idea for dealing with this question, but I had not the support to enable me to carry my views, hence I have had to submit to the best alternative for our defence. In the circumstances, nobody should complain of my having an honest opinion and wishing to put it into practice for the purpose of keeping Australia as it is at the present time, because next to the loss of Australia the greatest calamity that could befall this Continent is the breaking up of the Labour movement that it has taken so long to build up. If it goes asunder it will take twenty-five years to restore it to the position it has occupied. I am therefore willing to sacrifice my personal opinion in the interests of my native land and of the great party to which I have the honour and privilege to belong. I believe it has been said in my electorate that I will be opposed, and that in a three-cornered fight the Liberals will win. There will be no three-cornered fight, because if I am not selected by the Labour party to stand in the Labour interest I will simply go back to my calling as a worker. If, for example, the election is on a Saturday I shall, if I am not nominated, go back again on the Monday to work at my trade. If I am not selected to support Labour that is not my fault, but I shall not come back here supporting anybody else..
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I am sure the honorable member for Denison does not wish a wrong impression to be held bv honorable members. The amendment moved by tho honorable member for Illawarra WaS drawn up hero while I was speaking. When the honorable member read it out I heard it for the first time. The honorable member for Cook seconded it after a word was altered. The honorable member for Denison came to me and told me that the honorable member fur Darwin had helped to draft the amendment in the library. That is absolutely incorrect. I hope the honorable member will accept my assurance.
– -I accept it, but I told you who told me that the Minister helped to draft it. I have told the Minister the facts.
.If ever there was a moment in the history of Australia when we should approach this question with all the clearness of vision that it is possible foi ug to muster and with a true and sincere determination to arrive at a just conclusion, it is the present. When we arrive at our decision we must wholeheartedly support it. It is only by such methods that we shall be able to do the best possible with the material at hand. I support the proposal to nut the measure before the people. I regard the referendum as the true democratic method. Although I have been an anti-conscriptionist all my life, I have always reasoned that Democracy, if .it claims to govern a nation or a Continent, must be prepared to defend it. Instead of engaging in passionate outbursts against one another, it would be better U conscriptionists and anticonscriptionrats alike inquired into the fundamental causes of their differences. There is nothing in the principles of Democracy, as I apprehend them, that would prevent us, but, on the contrary, everything that should mako us prepared to defend our country at the risk of our lives. It was
Because the Labour party demonstrated their sincerity on the question of defence by instituting the present system and compelling the people to pay tremendous sums of taxation for the purpose, that they were intrusted with the conduct of Australia’s share in this great wor. While Democracy insists that each Democrat can be compelled to give the control of his life, and even his life itself, to the Government in an emergency of this kind, yet tho fundamental principle is being overlooked that he can, as a Democrat, give that control only to a Government that he himself controls from A to Z. That is the reason why the people in Australia, with tho freest franchise in the world, hesitate, notwithstanding that they are part and parcel of the British Empire, to hand over to tho Military Wor Councils the right to say exactly how many thousands of the manhood of this, country shall risk being slain, even though sensible men must . all admit that at present our defence is being conducted on the battle plains of Europe. lt is, however, not the fault of Australians that this groat principle of Democracy has not been expressed all over the British Empire, including the heart of the Empire itself. Had the principles and beliefs of that great man, Lord Roberts, been put into active operation, not only in Great Britain, but throughout the British Dominions - in other words, if our system of compulsory training had been in operation for a generation or two - at least 20,000,000 trained men would have been available with arms and equipment to preserve the voluntary principle and police the world without surrendering that fundamental principle of liberty which, so little understood yet, is instinctively felt by the people who are opposing the measures that the Prime Minister has brought forward, and which is expressed in the word “ voluntarism.” Although I differ from him to a great extent, he deserves all the credit and support that Australia can give him. In the false position in which w? find ourselves, with this great world conflict upon us, a conflict that shames Christianity and civilization generally, the best we can plead is that our meed of blame is small in comparison with that of the enemies to whom we are opposed. No mon, how- ever, should assume that the Allies represent the total sum of wisdom, virtue, or justice in tho world. We Bee nations like individuals sitting on the fence to see which side tney maybest fall on to gain thernost for themselves, and our friends of to-day may be our enemies of tomorrow. A departure from the fundamental principles of Democracy has plunged the world into a condition that makes the invasion of other territories almost a virtue, certainly a necessity for some. Those principles which I have heard derided during thisdebate would furnish standards for a higher civilization if properly applied, and preserve what it is said is the object of this great war to preserve-the individuality of smaller nations- but we must face the position with which we are confronted, apart from those general principles. The vast volume of opposition that will be expressed by a largesection of the people onthe referendumvote will show tne. gentlemen who, during the course of this debate, have claimed that action should have been taken by the Commonwealth Government to carry a direct Conscription Bill through without reference to the people that they have been saved by the statesman at the head of affairs in thiscountry from something worse than even the noncarryingof the referendum would mean for Australia. Whether the vote be carriedor not, we ought to stand behind the Prime Minister in putting the question to the people, although we may not be prepared to go as far as the point he, with his greater knowledge and,perhaps, keener foresight, aimsat. If,whenthe people express their opinions, a majority decides in favour of the policy of the Prime Minister, it will be the duty of all of us either to stand loyally behind him or tovacate our places for other men who will know how to obey the people’s will. Ido not promise to go on the platform either to support conscription or to askthe people to oppose it, but will content myself by putting the facts as I see them, and asking the people to do what they think is right. I shall refuse to support those who would preventthe Prime Minister from giving effect to the only principle that can save us from ourselves - the appeal to the people for which this Bill provides.In speaking at various centres during the past twelve or eighteen months, I have stated that the peopleof Australia are patriotic, and that, in my opinion, something could be substituted for conscription or voluntarism which would be superior to both; I refer to the pooling of the resources of the country, so that everybody might do something. Every person capableof fighting should be trained for the defence of the country, guns should bemade, and ammunition manufactured. My farm and the next man’s station alike shouldbe worked in the public interest, without profit, during the war. I was told that that scheme was impossible, because of the system of distribution and production towhich we have all subscribed. That may be so; but in no other way can equality of sacrifice be obtained. I have stated on the platform that I would never vote for conscription, but that, if necessity arose, I would support universal service with equality of sacrifice. If the method of pooling that I suggest be impossible, because of the complexity of our system of production and distribution, I have yet another method to suggest. The Prime Minister has stated that wealth will be made to bear its share of the burden. I am not of fighting age, and, therefore, it is only by the taxation of property that I shall be touched; but I agree with the Prime Minister that all must pay their share. Every thinking person in thecommunity realizesthe awful financial responsibility already cast upon us by the war, and the need for increasing production by every legitimate means. I have some knowledge ofat least one subject, the land, and I say that the direct conscription of wealth is not impossible without injury to production. The honorable memberfor Hunter has advocated a system suggested by a most conservative, though ablem an, namely, the taking by the Government of all income over £200 ayear. Thatsuggestion, coming as itdid from a manwith a very big income, was undoubtedly most patriotic; but the circumstances that make the still juster pooling system impossible prevent the adoption of this system. I am no great believer in large incomes, and consider that it would not be a great hardship to members of thisParliament to have £400 a year taken from their salary during the war. But, if we required a man whose income was £10,000 a year to pay £9,800into the Treasury, scores of persons earning less than £200 a year, and depending on his spendingfor their incomes, would bet made to suffer, and the country’s responsibilities increased. The same thing might be said of the application of the- system to smaller incomes. Having given it consideration, I think, that the suggestion roast be turned down us impracticable. We have also been told that 10’ per cent, of’ the wealth of tho country should be conscripted. If I were & farmer, with 3,000 acres of land worth £5 an acre, and owing, £5,000 to. a mortgagee, the neb value of. my property would he £10,000. Were I asked, to find £1,000, and were every other man in Australia in. a similar position required, to do the same, property would depreciate to the extent of £2 or £3 per acre, and . the impossibility of liquifying the amount, of wealth desired would bring disaster to the producers of the country. The proposal is an impossible one, and would prove so, even, if ibo tax were paid in. instalments. If my neighbour held 2.0,000 acres- of land worth £5. an acre and unencumbered, and he were- asked to find’ £10,000 in cash, he would probably be able to raise the money, but at. what a cost! The- value of- his property would- depreciate for the time being by at least, £40,000, and the pressure- on - those engaged in production on the- holding would- bring about the troubles that we seek to avoid. The scheme which I advocate, and which I maintain’ could be applied to every department’ of human activity, is this : The Government might ear-mark for all time l’O per. cent, of my holding as a war contribution. I would be told, “You. must give up 300 acres of your lond, worth £1,500.” . There would be an exemption covering, a living area,, or the value, of a living, area, .but I leave that out. of consideration for the moment. The- mortgagee from whom I had borrowed £5,000 -would be compelled to contribute £500. Thus,-. 300. acres of land and a mortgage of. £500. would be taken by the Government and in this way a home could be provided for a returned soldier for the term- of. his life, and I would allow his children, as in his own case, to hold it- at half the rental value. 3n- this– way a worthy lad who had “fought for- his country would be given a- splendid chance of making a living. The holder of the - 20,000 acres adjoining my property- would’ in like manner ber compolled to give up 2,000’ acres, and would provide homes for six or seven proved defenders of the nation. But benefit would accrue to us- both. The fall in land value otherwise inevitable would be averted, and- 1 should thus, avoid a loss of between £5,000 and £6,000, while my neighhour would save £40,000. Furthermore, production would be increased, and a truly national repatriation fund would be established’, into which the rental of the land confiscated would, be paid for all time. Within a generation each of the living areas would provide for three or four persons. The fund thus would be an increasing one, but at present .values would have at least £4,000,000 per annum for a start. Instead of repatriation schemes- costing .scores of millions, with only poor, barren, or virgin forest land to offer such as. would appal the stoutest heart - I have been through the struggle- you would have a system costing nothing, and benefiting land- holders by preventing the otherwise inevitable slump in values, and increasing lost’ of production through the operation of drastic taxation methods. The system would apply to every form of wealth. Contributions to existing repatriation funds could be deducted, and the percentage of the levy could be decided by the percentage of men sent out of- the country. I am not a faddist, voicing schemes for- dealing with the property of other men; I am putting forward a scheme for dealing- with my own land, and one which would injure me least, and benefit the country most. My proposal is worth inquiring into. If the living area were fixed- as one not exceeding £2,000 in value, there would be an exemption to that value, either of land or of other property. It is true that the system would- not provide the liquid wealth provided by war loans. Some bank managers of my acquaintance, speaking of clients who possessed £40,000 or £50,000 worth of land, but were without cash, and wore refusing, to contribute to the war loan, said that such land-holders should be compelled to borrow even at 5 or 6 per cent, to find, the money to do so. That would be a very small sacrifice for them to make. Such men should be dealt with by a scheme like that which I propose.
– Would- the honorable member deal in. the same, way with personal property as with real, estate?
– Yes. I would take onetenth of each man’s property over and above the exemption. Those who possessed less than the exemption would be got at by the natural increase of taxation which will result from the war. It has been pointed out that since the war the tax collections have increased by £4,500,000. That is quite true, though I do not agree with the statement that this means the taking ofover £100,000,000 of the wealth of the country. It is true that that is the capitalized value of the increased taxation ; but under our complex and unjust system of distribution every man can recoup some part at first, and finally, when we again become prosperous, the whole of what he is compelled to pay. The only real solution is for the State to take a hand in what a member of the Ministry would call the boodling game, until we evolve a purer system in which greater justice will prevail, and which will itself provide a preventive of war.
– What would you do in regard to an investment in the war loan?
– If the honorable member had £5,000 in the war loan, and that sum represented the whole of his possessions, I would allow him, as in the case of land-holders, £2,000, and of the other £3,000 I would take 10 per cent. to become the absolute property of the Commonwealth for war purposes. The interest would be paid into the war fund, and, after the liquidation of the war debt, would be used to build up a fund to defend the country in future, and relieve the people of the taxation which must now be necessary for that purpose. There is a greater principle embodied in this scheme which would be given expression to, and, if we could get the Democracy of the world to adopt it, we should get sown a seed which would help the moral law to relieve humanity of the monstrous shame and disgrace of world conflicts. Under that system, if in operation, no man or corporation could make money out of war. If the moral principle had that support, we should institute something that would make for material advantage, render war impossible, and assist in bringing about, if not the millennium, at least, something wholesome in the way of correction. One other thing I should like to say in conclusion : It is idle to assume that the Almighty has implanted the germs of evil in the hearts and minds of one race of people more than in another, and, although evil may reach a higher stage of development in a particular section of humanity, let us not take the flattering unction to ourselves that we are blameless lambs, and that the wolf is coming down on our fold. We of the British Empire have planted our flag over the greater part of the globe, but in our selfishness we have made it the prey of speculative enterprise. And are we to blame the people of other overburdened portions of the world if they look covetously on the toothsome morsels this empty country could supply? I often think what a glorious heritage is this native land of mine, but how sadly we have neglected it, how grievously we have offended, and how terribly we may be punished if we turn not to juster methods before it be too late.
– I quite agree with the statement of the Prime Minister the other day that if we are going to introduce a very great change - and a proposal to introduce a system of conscription is a very great change, indeed - it is not competent for this House to impose upon the country such a system without in some way consulting the electors who sent us here. The Prime Minister, in my humble judgment, laid down a proposition which is unassailable. He said that in introducing a great change like this, one of two methods is absolutely essential to find out the will of the people on the issue, either through the medium of a referendum or per medium of a general election. I intend to support the proposal to take a referendum of the people on the conscription question. The referendum is a principle in the Labour platform, and we have advocated it for years as a means of obtaining the opinion of the people. I shall support the Bill in order to give every elector in common with myself an opportunity of saying yea or nay to the question submitted. In doing that I am taking a fair step. I believe that every member of the House, no matter on which side he sits, regards it as his paramount duty to do his best for his country in this time of crisis, and although we may differ considerably in our methods, we may respect and honour one another’s convictions and views. One thing that has made the great mass of the people feel very keenly the position in which they are placed to-day has been the restriction of freedom of speech to a certain extent. I am not one of those who believe that in the enjoyment of liberty one should indulge in licence, but I do believe that there has not been that freedom in publication and speech that ought to have been allowed in a free country. On that point o very pertinent passage occurred in the leading article published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on the 14th September, 1916:-
The very idea of a referendum postulates a free discussion, so that the best and the worst that there is in argument may be said for and against the proposal. The Government has nothing to fear from the widest latitude. It has everything to fear from the imposition of limitations or the suppression of legitimate information. Every nncensored argument will be sure of an audience that will treat it on its merits. Every argument censored, or suspected of having been censored, would accumulate the votes that will be registered in opposition to the Government’s proposals. There is no man with the most elementary knowledge of political human nature who does not know this. Every attempt to bulldoze the public into accepting the Government’s proposals by checking its right to hear every argument tor and against, would fail. If the public were forbidden to learn all there is to be learnt, if it were to hear no argument and to receive no reason not stamped with the approval of the Government, what would be the use of holding the referendum? The verdict of the nation delivered after full, free, and public discussion of the question will overawe the most recalcitrant. Would it have that effect if it were possible for opponents to say that they had not a fair show, and that the verdict was given without their side being allowed to put its case before the jury?
That statement is conveyed in language terse and true, and it ought to be a lesson to one and all of us that we must he prepared to give and take in this campaign, that we must allow all sides to state their opinions freely, either on the platform or per medium of any literature that may be circulated. Unfortunately, it has come to the knowledge of myself and other honorable members that up till now that fairness has not been shown.
– You have the assurance of the Prime Minister in regard to the censorship.
– I am hopeful that that assurance will be carried into effect. I hope that from the date of the meetings held in Sydney and the other cities the fullest publicity will be permitted and every opportunity given for the expression of opinions on the platform and in print.
– Do you think that will be done?
– I hope so.
– Judging by the reports of the anti-conscription meeting held last night I should think honorable members would have nothing to complain about in regard to the censorship.
– For the sake of getting from the people a correct judgment, I think that the newspapers, even though they may be opposed to the propagandists on one side, should give them an opportunity of expressing their views.
– So fully have the newspapers reported that meeting that they have even described how the people rushed from one platform to the other.
– People like a change sometimes. In any case, tbey were at the meeting for the purpose of obtaining information, and the reason why large masses of people assemble to hear the opponents of conscription speak upon it is that thoy have been denied in the post that full measure of publication which in an Australian community they are justly entitled to. Side by side with us they are electors of the Commonwealth.I intend to oppose conscription, but I desire my fellow electors to have the same opportunity as I have of expressing their views and arriving at a correct conclusion. Therefore, I think the advice given by the Sydney Daily Telegraph is worthy of being followed. A good deal of capital has been made out of the fact that Great Britain has introduced conscription. I suppose honorable members have endeavoured to ascertain for themselves how far the British arrr.y has benefited by the introduction of that principle. I intend to make use of a statement which some people may regard as incorrect. I believe it is correct. From the statements I have read in magazines, and in the writings of those who have taken the trouble toprobe questions connected with the war, and also from the actual figures quoted by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Lloyd George, and othersassociated with them in the Government of the United Kingdom, I say that Great Britain did not introduce conscription in order to obtain men.
– They say that they have done so.
– It is generally accepted by experts, among whom I can mention Mr. Hilaire Belloc, that no nation can afford to send more than 10 per cent. of her population into the fighting line. On this basis, Britain’s contribution would be 4,600,000. The Navy absorbs 500,000, and a month before oonscription. came into operation, Mr. Asquith had announcedthat, including the oversea dominions’ forcesand theNavy, Great Britain had an army of over5,000,000 men, fromwhich I estimate that at the time 4,000,000 men had joined the British Army alone. Then how many was it intendedto conscript ? Very few. In fact, it has been estimated that not more than an additional 50,000 would be secured by conscription. Then why was conscription adopted in Great Britain? For quite a different reason. We are fighting in alliance with Russia,France, and Italy, all conscriptcountries, and the complaint of France and Italy was, “ We have conscripted our population, and we are prepared to send into the fighting lineall of our percentage, but Great Britain has not conscripted a single man.” One of theaims of the enemy hasbeen to drive in a wedge and deal separately with the Allies. Exceptat the beginning of the war, I do not think she madeany overtures to Great Britain in order to bring about a separatepeace, but weare told from official sources thatshe has made several overtures to Russia, France, and Italy for that purpose. With the object of attempting to drive in a wedge,she wassaying to France, Russia, and Italy, “ While you conscript your men, your great Ally has not conscripted one individual.” Iknow that delegationswhich went to Paris had to impresson the French thatBritain woulddoher best in order to fall into line withourAllies, and wouldadoptconscription . Mr. Roberts and Mr. Hodge, who is the acting leader of the British Labour party, while Mr. Henderson holds Cabinet rank, formed one of those delegations, and, in conversation with membersof the French Ministry, leaders of the Labour movementin France, andprominent French financiers, did give that pledge. They saidthat if Mr.Asquithproposed conscription, they would do their best with the unions to obtain their consent also. My belief was that conscription was adopted byGreat Britain, not in order to obtain men, but in order to meet the complaints thatwere being made in France and Italy. I believe that when the integrity of the shores ofGreat Britain was assailed, and there was likelihood of an invasion, when it was possible that the country would suffer harm, Britishers were sufficiently true to the old traditions of the race to rush to the colours voluntarily. As a matterof fact, seeing that there were over 4,000,000 men in the
Army at the timeof its adoption, clearly conscriptionwas not introduced for the sake of obtainingmen. That being the case, why are we, whoare 12,000 miles away fromthe sceneof conflict, called upon to engage inconscription in order to obtain men? It is absolutely impossible for the Prime Minister to carry out the proposals he has outlined. It will mean that weare to send away, added to those already in the ranks, 10 per cent. of our population in the next twelve months. The Leader of the Opposition does not believe that we can do so. I believe that in his heart of hearts he considers that, while nations comparatively close to the scene of battle can come up to Hilaire Belloc’s figures, and provide 10 per cent. of their populations, we, 12,000 miles away, with inadequate transport facilities at our disposal - some of our vessels take tenweeks todo thevoyage from Port Melbourne to Liverpool -will find it an absolute impossibility to stand the heavy drain that will be entailed on our population andfinances, in transporting this number of men to the other side of the world. In his closely reasoned speech, the honorable member for Hunter claimed that thefinancial side of the question had been absolutely neglected. We cannot neglectit. What man anxious to build a house would not first sit down and count the cost ? Is not the countingof the cost of any great undertaking a preliminary tothe carrying out of a work ? Do we propose to pay themen fairly andtreat them properly overseas, and to keep their dependants here well, and treatour soldiers well on their return ? Every one answers, “ Yes,” but we are new at the game of war. Though marvellousthingshave been done by a country whichhas had very little to do with war, our treatment of the comparative . few who have returned maimed, blind, and physically in a deplorable condition, is not very creditable, and provestheorganization is defective.It is our duty to brighten up that organization, and see that recruiting is not hindered by reason of the factthat we are not treating these returned men or their dependants well. I have no desire to put Australia’s responsibility on to Russian, French, or Italian soldiers. Australia is one of the pool just as much as is Russia, France, Italy, Great Britain, or Canada. We are all in the pool. Therefore if Great Britain finds that she can place 300,000, or even 500,000 men, to advantage on the western front as quickly as possible, and has twenty transports at her disposal, she does not send to Australia for them; she sends to the nearest of her Allies with men to spare. She sends her boats manned by British sailors to the ports of Russia, and obtains the men in a sixth of the time that would be occupied in transporting the same number of men from Australia. We cannot ignore our geographical situation. The honorable member for Perth claims that geographical distance makes no difference to the patriot. He may have meant something different from what I took his remark to mean, but I consider that we must have regard to geographical position. As a matter of fact, Australia and Mew Zealand occupy the most dangerous outposts in the British ‘Empire.
Comparatively .early in the war the Argus put forward the claim that Miss Adela Pankhurst should be prosecuted f or having delivered certain speeches in regard to the war. Her contention was that Britain’s entering into the war was questionable on the grounds of principle. Mr. Blackburn, M.L.A.,_who has fallen under the lash of journalistic criticism, wrote to the Argus, and his letter was published in that journal on the 3rd March, 1915. After claiming that the fullest and freest discussion in regard to the war should be allowed, and that Britain was justified in entering into une war, he went on to say -
The English freedom is the child of English law. German unfreedom is the child of German law. English freedom is in danger if Germany conquers England. The English system. of government is more democratic than the German.
No English law - not even military law - is not subject to the will of Parliament. No English courts - not even military courts - are not subject to the will of Parliament. Unless Parliament passed the Mutiny Act every year, military law and military courts would die. In Germany military law. and military courts are not subject to the will of Parliament. Even in time of peace military law and military courts may supersede the ordinary law and ordinary courts. In England Parliament is sovereign, and can make and unmake Ministries. In Germany Ministers are independent of Parliament, and for over a score of years German social democrats have been working for the English system of responsible government. The Reichstag is a talking shop; but the House of Commons is the ruler of Britain.
There are some in the community who are prepared to question Great Britain’s action. I maintain that, if she was to honour her pledge, she had no alternative. Mr. Robert Blatchford, with great prescience, three years before forecasted what has actually occurred. His outline of what would take place on the battlefields of Prance and Belgium was a marvellously accurate prophecy. The King of Belgium appealed to the King of England, asking him in the name of Britain to honour her pledge to defend the neutrality of Belgium. In response to that appeal, Great Britain sent her armies to aid in the fight for the freedom of the smaller nations. Whatever differences there may be amongst us, I sincerely hope that we shall conduct the coming campaign with the best of good feeling. The honorable member for Balaclava gave expression last week to the same hope, but I do not know that he acted quite up to it. He said that he knew it would be difficult for him to keep within bounds, and I confess that it is rather difficult for me to do so; but in a time of national crisis, the discussion of a subject like this should be free from any bitterness. I believe we are all prepared to give credit to each other for conscientiously believing in the views we express, and that, while we may differ in our opinions as to the methods that should be pursued, every honorable member is anxious that the Allies shall be victorious. One honorable member has said that the Allies have 10,000,000 men more than their opponents have. My figures go to show that we have absolutely double the number of men that the enemy have, and, if man-power is going to win this war, then it is already won. I believe, however, that munitions have played, and will play, a most important part in the struggle, and that the financial side is also one of the very greatest importance. We must have the wherewithal to carry on the war, and we ought to set about making the preparations necessary to secure it. Money is absolutely essential, and those who are in the best position to pay must be called upon to contribute their fair share to the cost of. carrying out our obligations.
Many reforms will, no doubt, be made, and I have not the slightest doubt that the people of Australia are not going to allow so much of their money to be expended on the government of this country. Whether I remain a member of this House or not, I shall be for the future a strong Unificationist, believing Unification to be necessary in order that we may save a considerable amount of the expenditure now being incurred in the government of this country.
I have only to say, in conclusion that I hope the coming campaign will be conducted with the best of good feeling, and that we shall enter upon it as good Australians, in a way that will bring honour to ourselves, credit to the country, and with the strong hope of the final victory to the Allies.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 36
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 (Short title).
– Throughout this debate I have refrained from making any personal references to the Prime Minister. Much abuse has been heaped upon him, and statements have been made regarding him that I should not like to utter; but, after the harangue in which he indulged last night, I intend to take this opportunity of expressing myself as strongly as he has done. The Prime Minister made a sorry exhibition of himself to-night.
– I think that that remark is not in order.
– In withdrawing the remark I may say that, in my opinion, the Prime Minister, in a very unbecoming manner, attacked those opposed to him.
– Is the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in order, when dealing with this clause, in referring to the debate on the second reading?
– I trust that the Committee will assist the Chair in approaching this question in a serious spirit. Thequestion before the Chair is ‘ ‘ Clause 1 (short title).” The honorable member for Melbourne Ports will be quite in order if he confines himself to that clause, and that clause only.
– Allow, me, Sir, with the greatest respect, to say that, according to the usage of this House, honorable members may deal with everything in the Bill when discussing clause 1.
– Clause 1 is never debated.
– We may have a general discussion on clause 1.
– I do not desire to be harsh, but I intend to conduct the proceedings with some decorum. If members do not obey the Chair I shall take steps to compel them to do so.
– When the Prime Minister, in his usual style, which honorable members on both sides recognise-
– I submit that the honorable member is not in order in discussing or referring to anything said in the second reading debate.
– I have already stated that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not in order in discussing anything outside the scope of clause 1. which has to do with the short title.
– I submit that the usage in this House, and, I believe, in every other Parliament is that on clause 1 of a Bill a debate is allowed on the whole of the Bill.
– In Committee an honorable member cannot refer to what has taken place in the House.
– I have often heard that point debated, and such a discussion as I have indicated has always been allowed. I intend, if possible, to get my rights - rights which are given to others in the House. The Prime Minister charged us to-day with being undemocratic.
– Is the honorable member in order in referring to anything that has taken place in the House?
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not in order, and I ask him to discontinue his present line of argument.
– Then I shall move that your ruling be disagreed with.
Motion (by Mr. Mathews) proposed -
That the Chairman’s ruling, that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is out of order in referring to the Prime Minister’s address on the second reading while discussing the first clause of the Bill, be disagreed with.
Upon the Chairman putting the question -
– Are you not going to ask Mr. Speaker to take the chair ?
– The rule is perfectly clear. When a motion of this kind is submitted it is dealt with by the Committee forthwith. I have taken no exception to the motion, which is entirely in the hands of the Committee; and I ask those who are in favour-
– Mr. Chairman-
– There can be no debate.
– I submit, Mr. Chairman, that you are wrong; the Speaker should be called in to put the motion.
– I can assure the honorable member, and also the honorable member for Melbourne - who, as a Deputy Chairman, knows the rules as well as I do myself - that this motion must be decided by the Committee forthwith without reference to Mr. Speaker.
– I have seen such motions referred to Mr. Speaker on many occasions.
– I do not wish the honorable member to be under any misapprehension. In a previous Parliament in which I was Chairman of Committees, when a greatconstitutional question was before us, a motion of the kind was, by my permission, allowed to go to Mr. Speaker with a view to having a ruling which would operate for all time. But the rules which bind me and the Committee, and which are made by honorable members through their Standing Orders, provide that, when the Chairman’s ruling is disagreed with, the motion shall not be referred to Mr. Speaker, but dealt with by the Committee forthwith.
– This is the first time in my experience that on the first clause of a Bill a general debate has not been allowed.
Question - That the Chairman’s ruling be disagreed with - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 49
Question so resolved in the negative.
.The clause provides that this measure may be cited as the “ Military Service Referendum Act,” and I am of opinion that its object and purpose should be stated in more explicit language in the title. I therefore move -
That the words “ Military Service “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Coloured Labour.”
One of the advantages to be anticipated from the carrying of the proposed referendum is the advance of our industries by the sending out of the country of 300,000 or 300,000 of our men, and replacing them by coloured labourers. It is unnecessary to elaborate the virtues of the proposal. If we can put cheap Asiatics in the place of the men to be sent abroad the advantage to every industry in Australia must be patent! I need say no more to commend the amendment to the Committee, and will leave it at that.
– I do not consider that the amendment is at all relevant to the question. The Bill has nothing to do with coloured labour.
– Then I must move, sir, that your ruling be disagreed with. It is a question of the purpose of this Bill.
– I ask the honorable member to submit his motion, to disagree to my ruling, in writing.
– I move-
That the Chairman’s ruling be disagreed with
On the ground that it improperly prevents the introduction of an amendment which is pertinent to the question.
– I refuse to submit that motion to the Committee.
– I wish to move -
That after the word “ Military “ the word “ Conscription “ be inserted.
If the amendment be carried the title of the measure will be the “ Military Conscription Service Referendum Act.” I submit the amendment because the present short title does not properly describe the purpose of the Bill. When honorable members are looking up the measure in the future in the index toHansard it will be better that it should be entitled the “ Military Conscription Service ReferendumBill.” It is right that the title should include the significant word “ conscription.” That word is necessary, and if I fail in this amendment, I propose to move to insert a new clause later on to the same effect. The people will vote on the question of conscription, and we ought to insist upon the word being put into the Bill. Unfortunately, we have had some instances here of the military spirit. If a man possesses an Irish name he is very unfortunate.
– Not a bit.
– Yes, he is, because somebody in the “frill and feathers” - that is, the Army and Navy Club - expelled an officer with an Irish name; simply because he had made a foolish statement, and criticised a high military official; while a cowardly, brutal German spy, under an assumed name-
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in discussing that matter on this clause.
– If we had had conscription, we would never have allowed that man to become a member of the Automobile Club of Victoria, and to learn all about our roads. My point is that a traitor, who had sworn fealty to the British Crown, had joined the Automobile Club of this State, and in that way had obtained information that was extremely useful to the enemy. Under a system of conscription, he would never have been allowed to do that.
– Where is he now?
– He is interned. His false name is Edwards, and his German name is-
– I am very loath to intervene, particularly as the honorable gentleman has been a long time in association with me as Deputy Chairman controlling the business of this Committee. The honorable member knows he is absolutely wrong. I call upon him to confine himself to the amendment, or resume his seat.
– You can have my resignation as Deputy Chairman, then. You have taken advantage of this opportunity to cast a slur upon me, and you can have my resignation, and be hanged to you! But if you say I am, in order, I still want to move my amendment with regard to the word “conscription.”
– I have told the honorable member that heis not in order in discussing the particular matter he referredto.
– It is not my intention to move any amendment, but I want to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that, under this clause, the Bill is described as an Act which shall be deemed to have commenced on. the 18th day of September. This is now the 21st, and, although the Bill has not been passed by this House, it is already in operation as an Act.
– It is not in operation yet.
– Yes, it is; and votes are being recorded under it.
– It is not an Act yet, because it has not received the in dorsement of this ‘Parliament, or the assent of the Governor-General.
– The writ has been issued already.
– And the papers have been printed and distributed.
– This House has been treated with contempt.
– I call attention to the fact that the Prime Minister from his place in this House said that it did not matter how long we talked, or what we said, the Bill would be put into operation as from the 18th September. The Bill is not yet law, and it cannot be regarded as an Act until it has been indorsed by this Parliament and been signed by the GovernorGeneral .
– On a point of order, I ask if the honorable member for Brisbane is in order in discussing the Bill on a clause in Committee.
– The honorable member is not in order.
– Honorable members will notice that I am merely complaining that while this is the 21st day of September, the Bill is supposed to have come into force as an Act on the 18th day of September. I am inclined to obey your ruling, Mr.- Chairman, and therefore I must content myself with a protest that under the guise of this provision Parliament is defied and a dangerous precedent is being established. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister is not here, so we cannot deal with him. He has gone home, and I suppose he means that the Bill must go through, no matter what honorable members may think.
– There is a four-to-one majority in its favour.
– No matter what honorable members may think about the Bill, this clause certainly requires explanation. It is not in consonance with the ordinarily accepted ideals of democratic government. The circumstances are exceptional, I admit, and the position is unprecedented, so I must be satisfied with an emphatic protest against the Bill becoming operative as an Act before it has been passed by this Parliament and been put in proper order.
– The question raised by the honorable member is not unimportant. He objects to the retrospective action of this measure if it becomes law. But might I put it to him that, while he does not want the Bill to become law, many of us do, and I am sure that he will agree that its benefits ought to be extended to those of our soldiers who are about to leave our shores. Those benefits cannot be so extended unless the Bill is made retrospective in its action.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ member of the Forces “ means a member of the Commonwealth Naval or Military Forces employed on active service outside Australia or employed on a ship of war, and includes a member of the Army Medical Corps Nursing Servicewho is accepted or appointed by the Director-General of Medical Services for service outside Australia; “ proclaimed subdivision “ means a subdivision which is declared by the GovernorGeneral by proclamation to be a proclaimed subdivision within the meaning of sub-section (4) of section nine of this Act; “the electors” means electors of the Commonwealth, and includes persons qualified to vote under regulations made under section twelve of this Act; “ the prescribed question “ means the question set forth in section five of this Act; “the referendum” means the submissionof the prescribed question to the electors.
.The second paragraph of this clause makes reference to clause 9 of the Bill, in which are specified the additional questions to be submitted to the electors. Unless some explanation of the clause is forthcoming, I shall oppose it.
– In this clause it is proposed, amongst other things, to vest the Govern-ment with power to proclaim certain subdivisions. We have no indication of what those subdivisions will be. As a matterof fact, the Government may proclaim’ any subdivisions that they may ‘choose,, but immediately they do proclaim a subdivision it will come -under the onerous and utterly unjust provisions of clause 9. That clause deals with the sons or daughters of persons who happen to have been born in any country with which we are now at war. Under this Bill such persons may be hall-marked, stigmatized, catechized, and ultimately brought before a Pecksniffian tribunal and cheated of their right to vote. Their loyalty may be called into question and determined by a tribunal of whose constitution we have n-t indication whatever.
.I move -
That all the words after “ subdivision,” line 15, be left out.
In this Bill it is proposed to prevent Australianborn citizens from exercising the franchise. That being so, I am up against it. If a man is an Australian native, he should have the right to vote. If this disqualification is to apply to him, let us reach right out, and apply it to King George at once.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark. It is an improper reference to royalty.
– What have I said disparaging to any man?
– The Standing Orders are perfectly clear. They distinctly provide that honorable members must make no irreverent reference to the King.
– And I have not done so.
– The honorable member has done so.
– That is merely your opinion, and it is a city view, too.
– May I point out that you, sir, are intrusted with the duty of upholding the dignity of Parliament at the present time.
– And why does the honorable member wish to aggravate the position ?
– Are we in a Parliament or in a lunatic asylum?
– I appeal to the honorable member for Bourke to obey the Chair by withdrawing the observation to which his attention has been called.
– Show me what wrong I have done.
– I have already done so.
– All I said was that if a valid objection could be urged against Australian-born citizens voting on this question, it could also be applied to royalty itself. I stand to that statement. I say that I made no more imputation upon His Majesty than I did upon Australianborn citizens.
– If the honorable member assures me that he did not intend to make any imputation upon royalty, I will accept his assurance.
– Of course, I do.
– On a point of order, I wish to know whether the amendment can be accepted, seeing that the honorable member has not suggested the insertion of any words that would make sense of the clause.
– The honorable member for Bourke is quite within his rights.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Committee the possibility of an injustice being done under this clause to certain individuals in our midst. I have in my mind’s eye the case of a family in which the parents are Germans. There are five sons in that family, four of whom are now at the front. One has risen from the ranks to the position of a lieutenant, another has been mentioned in despatches because of his gallant conduct while on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and a third has been wounded. The fifth boy has remained at home only because of the pressure which was brought to bear upon him by his mother. Should we not be doing a great injustice if we deprived the parents of those lads of the right to record their votes upon this question ?
– I have no desire to deprive the honorable member of any of his privileges. He will have the fullest opportunity of discussing the question which he has raised at a later stage. But he will be out of order in doing so on this clause, which is merely a definition clause.
– I think that we ought to eliminate the words “ sub-section (4) of section 9 of this Act from the second paragraph.” I know of a German club in which there are no less than sixty Australian-born members. Fifty of them have gone to the front. They are Australian natives, who aire entitled to join the Australian Natives Association. Are we going to say that upon this question our fellow Australian natives shall be disfranchised ?
.The Committee is entitled to an explanation from the Government why this paragraph was put in the clause. Several friends of mine are sons and daughters of German parents in Queensland, and occupy responsible Government positions. Some have gone to the warvoluntarily. They were born in Australia, and have more right here than I have. The stigma of refusing them a vote is one of the worst possible to put on the children of colonists who are good citizens, not only of Australia, but of the Empire.
.I trust the Government will consider also the other view. When I read the Bill first, it struck me that the desire of the Government was a very healthy and proper one. They seemed to recognise that there are scattered over Australia a number of German communities - I know two or three in this State, and other honorable members may know them in their own - where disloyalty has reared its head during the war, and not been challenged, so far as I know, and where internments should have been wholesale. It is wise to quarantine some of these areas, and, by proclaiming a subdivision or portion, the votes of those people are subjected to a more rigid test than others, although the voters are not disfranchised. The vote of a man in certain subdivisions is placed in an envelope and dealt with by a special tribunal in a special way later on. In one of our country towns, on the first birthday of the Kaiser after war broke out, the German farmers took a barrel of beer out into the street after a sale and “ hoched “ the Kaiser. There was only one policeman in the town and no soldiers, and, as the civilians were frightened to interfere the thing passed unnoticed. This clause should be a warning to these people that their votes will be subjected to close scrutiny, and I hope the Government will stand by the Bill.
.Will the Government take into consideration also the Mount Lebanon Christian Syrians, who will come under the ban of this clause, and also of clause 9 ? They are at present looked on as Turkish subjects. Their country was brought, years ago, under Turkish rule against their will. They have been so constantly in revolt against their conquerors that, under the paternal influence of Great Britain, France, and Russia, Turkey allowed them to have their own Governor and make their own laws, which were merely formally agreed to by their conquerors. Quite a number of them came to Australia years ago. Several of them are men of substance, and invested their capital, and raised children here. Some have been naturalized for thirty years. If they are debarred from voting, a stigma will be cast upon them. They have been excellent citizens, and will be placed in an invidious position.
– Clause 7 disqualifies them absolutely.
– I think so, and I would urge the Government to give special and generous consideration to these loyal Australian citizens.
– The persons referred to by the honorable member for Hume come under the wording of sub-clause 4 of clause 9 : - “ . . . the son or daughter of a person who was born in any country which forms part of the territory of any country with which Great Britain is now at war.” Several cases have come under my notice of persons born in that part of Schleswig-Holstein annexed by Germany. One man, a naturalized subject, born in Schleswig-Holstein, came here before his country became part of the German Empire. His sons were at first refused enlistment, but the Defence Department afterwards agreed that they were entitled to enlist, and, as an act of gratitude, a third son also volunteered to join the colours. But this clause disqualifies all who happen to have been born in portion of a territory now belonging to Germany, and the Minister should consider the possibility of giving them relief. The honorable member for Batman raised the important point that many born in Australia of naturalized parents are fighting at the front, and have proved themselves fine British soldiers.
– I am assured by Mr. Garran that no Australian born is denied a vote.
– Relief might well be given in the case of those naturalized persons who have sons serving with the Imperial Forces. They should be allowed to vote upon the production of a certificate from the Defence Department to that effect. Many of the names on an honour-board which I unveiled recently were those of sons of men such as I have described, whose parents had shown their loyalty by allowing and encouraging them to go to the front. Nobody wants to encourage any disloyal man here. If he is disloyal, he ought to be interned, and I can understand the Minister wanting some means of blocking his vote. It is provided that during the coming campaign the votes of such people may in certain circumstances be questioned and the matter decided by a tribunal. I do not desire that the tribunal shall be a local council, composed of local men. There should be a properly constituted judicial tribunal.
– A stipendiary magistrate would do.
– I would be prepared to accept the decision of a stipendiary magistrate; but I do not think that many votes will be challenged, and it would be more satisfactory to have a District Court or a Supreme Court Judge. The matter can be dealt with by regulation, and the Minister might give us the assurance that a stipendiary magistrate, a District Court Judge, or a Justice of the Supreme Court will be appointed.
.I support the suggestioD of the honorable member for Darling Downs. Only last week a deputation of reputable citizens complained of the possibility of being subjected to an inquisition by what might be an interested tribunal. They were ready to have the penalty for an incorrect statement made as stiff as possible, but they thought that the only question that should be asked was, “ Are you a British-born subject?” With regard to the question raised by the honorable member for Hume. I would point out that those to whom he is referring cannot be naturalized, though some were naturalized prior to the passing of the Naturalization Act. All persons whose country of origin is Mount Lebanon are outside the pale of that law. In South Australia there is such a man who is as fine a gentleman as I know. The late E. L. Bachelor took a great interest inhis case, and I tried to have something done. The matter was brought under the notice of theMinister for External Affairs quite a number of times, but we are not yet sufficiently broadminded to be willing to agree to an amendment of the Act. I remind the honorable member for Hume, furthermore, that the period within which the names of those entitled to vote at this referendum could be enrolled has passed. Those who are naturalized and enrolled will be able to vote, because Mount Lebanon is not an enemy country. It has had a Government of its own since 1860, and has been at enmity with the Turks for two generations, its population having been practically annihilated by the Turks during the present war.
– Mount Lebanon forms part ofTurkey’s dominions.
– There is nothing to prevent those born here of German parents from voting, but naturalized persons of German origin, and unnaturalizedpersons, cannot vote. There are two members of this House who will not be able to vote at the referendum, although their sons will be able to do so. The AttorneyGeneral has assured me several times that all who are Australian-born, even though of German parents, either naturalized or not naturalized, may vote. Yesterday afternoon I asked the honorable and learned gentleman, by notice, the following questions -
Will the sons born in Australia of naturalized German parents be subject to the compulsory provisions of the Military Service Act for oversea service ?
Will the sons born in Australia of unnaturalized German parents be subject to the compulsory provisions of the Military Service Act for oversea service ?
Will the sons born in Australia of either naturalized or unnaturalized German parents- be subject, as citizens, to the compulsory provisions of the Defence Act for home service?
His answer to each of those questions was “ Yes.” Last week I asked him, without notice, whether such persons would be entitled to vote, andhe said “Yes.” If a man can be compelled to fight for the country, the natural corollary is that he must be allowed to vote.
– The honorable member has overlooked an important proviso added bv the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman saidthatthe Act applied to these persons, subject to a discretion that the Governmentmight exercise.
– Sub-clause 4 of clause 9 reads -
If, in the case of any person enrolled in any proclaimed subdivision, the presiding officer has reason to believe that thatperson is the son or daughter of a person who was born in any country which forms part of the territory of any country with which Great Britain is now at war, the presiding officer may issue to the person a ballot-paper indorsed with the words “ section 9.”
That provision willbe applied only in localities, such as a German village, where it may be necessary.
– Syrians from Mount Lebanon and their children come under that provision.
– I do not think that their children have the right to vote under our electoral law.
– Yes, if born here.
– I propose to accept an amendment, to be moved hy the honorable member for Darling Downs, to the effect that any person born in an enemy country, who has a son serving in the Australian Imperial Forces, shall not be denied a vote.
.The statement of the Minister is very satisfactory so far as Germans and Austrians are concerned, but it does not affect those on whose behalf I have spoken.
– We cannot go into all these matters, because they are too complex, and we do not know where we should end if we started, because of the Annexations of territory that have taken place. The Crown Law officers have advised that it is impracticable to deal with these matters.
– The Government is showing generous consideration to the children of enemy subjects, but declines to treat similarly the members of a Christian people who, by the mere accident of conquest, are under the heel of a nation that is our enemy. If the Minister will consider the matter a little further, he will, I hope, see that it is not so very complex. I am not asking for concessions for persons who are not naturalized; those for whom I am speaking are naturalized and have children born in Australia. They came here to escape the thraldom of a conqueror against whom their country has been perpetually in revolt. In many instances they obtained their naturalization, papers thirty years ago, and have had children born to them here.
– They will get the same treatment as others if they have sons on active service.
– I ask for similar treatment for those who are not in that position.
– We cannot give it.
– By interfering with the citizen rights of a naturalized subject, though only temporarily, a grave difficulty may be caused when the attempt is made to restore those rights. The passing of this measure will temporarily disfranchise these persons.
– Only in regard to the military service referendum.
– The mere fact of their being disfranchised for this referendum places an unmerited stigma upon them in the town in which they live. I ask the Minister to take a generous view of the matter, and see if it is not possible to extend to this section of the community the same generous treatment that he is proposing to extend to others.
– This is a very important measure affecting the safety of the country while it is at war. It is not a Bill with which we can take liberties, and I agree with the Minister that he has gone to the limit of concession. We may think this or that section of the community is utterly deserving, but we must adopt every safeguard open to us to see that the referendum secures the unbiassed and uninfluenced verdict of loyal people.
– The Mount Lebanon persons to whom the honorable member for Hume referred are Asiatics, and, except a few of them who became naturalized before 1902, they cannot vote.
– I admit that. It is for those who are naturalized that I am pleading.
– Have the Government considered the possibility of this clause disfranchising Frenchmen born in Alsace Lorraine, and Italians born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and possibly also persons born in SchlesweigHolstein. I realize the difficulty of discriminating and of safeguarding those who should vote, and protecting ourselves against those who should not. If this matter has not been considered, is it possible to so redraft the clause as to give protection to those who legitimately should vote?
– Will the Minister in charge of the Bill give the Committee an assurance that those charged before the tribunals to be established for the special purpose of inquiring into such votes as are now under discussion will be given an opportunity to rebut any charges of disloyalty? These tribunals are to be given power to inquire, not only as to whether the person has a right to vote, but also as to his loyalty. It is the easiest thing in the world to lay a charge of disloyalty, and the persons so charged should be given the fullest opportunity of rebuttal.
– I will give that undertaking.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The prescribed question shall be -
Are you in favour of the Government having, in this grave emergency, the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to requiring their military service, for the term of this war, outside the Commonwealth, as it now has in regard to military service within the Commonwealth ?
– I move -
That the words “ in this grave emergency “ be omitted.
It is not that I object to the statement that this is a grave emergency. I frankly and freely admit that it is, but we are submitting a question to the people, and we have no right to introduce into it an argument. It is a rule of this House that, in the asking of a question, an honorable member must not introduce any statement or argument. The clear and obvious purpose of the introduction of these words is to influence the minds of the electors by suggesting certain terrors to them. In every referendum we have yet taken, some of them touching the most vital concerns of the Commonwealth, we have been content to place baldly before the people the questions to be decided. Objection has been made that, in some cases, the question has been stated too baldly. In this referendum also the question should be merely a question, and arguments should be presented in a separate form. I have no objection to conscriptionists submitting arguments in a legitimate way, but I do object to the question being made a vehicle for advancing an argument.
– It is a statement of fact.
– It is irregular to introduce even a statement of fact into the question. This is one of the most serious questions that has ever been submitted to the people. It affects every man and every home in the community, and, if carried, will establish an entirely novel situation. It is all too serious a matter for the question to be made the vehicle of an expression of opinion.
– Are you afraid lest the people should take cognisance of the seriousness of the situation ?
– I am not afraid of that, and during the campaign I shall do my best to educate the people to an understanding of the seriousness of the situation. But I should not be mean enough to make use of an argument in the question to be submitted to the people. One cannot escape the feeling that, from beginning to end of the Bill, there is an obvious series of little tricks and arrangements designed to catch votes in certain directions, and eliminate them in others. The Bill is framed to catch votes for conscription, and to reject votes that may be anti-conscription. I believe that there is nothing higher than the expression of the will of the people. I believe in government of the people by the people for the people, but the whole purpose of the Government in this matter is to bring about government by autocracy.
– The proper place for argument on this question is the platform, and, perhaps, the press; certainly argument should nob be embodied in the question itself. I might suggest that we should add to the words proposed to be deleted the following, “not so grave as hitherto.” That would be, equally as true a statement of fact as the words already in the clause.
– Are not the words in the clause supposed to be a justification for the submission of the question to the people?
– If they are a reason, I submit that that reason should not be embodied in the question itself. Already this question has been published! by the Prime Minister as part of his campaign, and attention has been called to the fact that the words, “ in this grave emergency “ appear in it. The purpose is clearly to influence votes, and any effort put forward with this intention should not be embodied in a plain question that is to be submitted to the people.
– I move -
That the following words be added: - in order that the Government may have power to call up for military service all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 years.”
This is an addition to the question to be put to the people.
– I have a previous amendment. Will the honorable member permit me to move it?
– I understand that the honorable member’s amendment merely covers the ground embraced by mine. I shall say what I have to say at this stage.
– My amendment comes before that of the honorable member. Shall I have a later opportunity of moving it?
– When honorable members intimate that they have prior amendments, it has been the custom for the honorable member who has submitted an amendment to give way. As the honorable member for Indi has the Chair, and declines to give way, he will preclude the honorable member for Cooke from moving his amendment.
– Do I understand that if I give way I snail have the opportunity of moving my amendment at a later stage?
– I can give the honorable member no guarantee as to whether he will or will not have that opportunity.
– I cannot afford to take that risk. The point raised by the amendment is a very vital one, and any honorable member who is agreeable to the submission of the question to the people squarely and fairly and in a way in which it can be understood, can have no objection to it. Many people will not know the meaning of the question as it is proposed to submit it. I have received letters asking me what the powers of the Government are in regard to military service within the Commonwealth. I know that the Prime Minister, at Sydney, said that none but single men would be called up, and many hold the belief that the power of the Government in this regard will not extend beyond the calling up of single men, whereas, as a matter of fact, section 59 of the Defence Act gives power to call up all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 years. If a majority of the people answer the question in the affirmative, will not the Government have power to call up all citizens between those ages? If the war continues beyond next July, when the Prime Minister will have reached the end of his single men, even on his own estimate, will not the people have given him power to go to the fullest extent allowed by the Defence Act?
– The people will not give him one iota of power that he does not already possess.
– If necessity arises, and the referendum is carried, power will be given to call up all male citizens between the ages of eighteen and sixty years for service outside the Commonwealth. If the Prime Minister wants none but single men he should state it in the question. He should say exactly what he does want. Last night, on the authority of the organizing officer of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee in Melbourne, I pointed out that the number of single men between 21 and 45 years of age without dependants was 78,000, and that it was fair to deduct 40 per cent. in respect of those who would be likely to be rejected as medically unfit, leaving a total of 45,000 available.
– Those figures do not fit in with Mr. Knibbs’ calculation.
– I am prepared to take the figures given in the little handbook for 1916 which has been issued by the Government Statist. The Statist points out that in New South Wales the number of single and married men between the ages of 21 and 44 years who are eligible for service is 316,000. On the next page he gives the number of married men as 276,000, which would leave 40,000 single men in New South Wales alone between the ages of 21 and 44. Estimating the total population of New South Wales at 1,800,000, and the population of the Commonwealth at 4,900,000, which, I think, is very fair, this shows that we have in the Commonwealth 61,500 single men, or thereabouts, between the ages of 21 and 44 years. That is after deducting the 40 per cent. to which I have referred as being medically unfit.
– But that is too large a proportion.
– This total is, roughly, 20,000 in excess of the figures supplied by the organizing officer of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, but it shows that, when the Prime Minister told his Sydney audience that he had enough single men to carry him on until January he must have known that, in calling up 82,000, he would call up more than the number of eligible single men in the Commonwealth who are between 21 and 44 years of age. This is grossly misrepresenting the position to the people. It would be most iniquitous to ask the people to agree to a question that they do not understand. I am sure that no honorable member wishes that anything unfair shall be done. We desire that the question shall be so put that the people will understand it, and I hope that on this amendment we shall have a fair, unbiased vote. I move this amendment so that the people may know just what they vote for.
– With a view to assisting the Government to get the Bill through, I have hitherto refrained from speaking, but I desire to express my concurrence in this amendment. The Prime Minister, unfortunately, is not present, but we know that he has stated publicly on more than one occasion that it is not proposed to call up married men over a certain age, and that it is the intention of the Government to avail themselves only of single menfor service abroad. That being so, I think we should provide in this Bill that no married man between 45 and 60 years of age shall be sent to the front. Unless that be done, the promise made by the Prime Minister will be of no avail. It would be useless to quote in a court of law mere speeches by the Prime Minister as showing the intentions of the Government. The Court would be guided by the wording of. the law itself. I believe it to be the intention of the Committee that no married man between 45 and 60 years of age shall be enlisted for service outside the Commonwealth. If the Government will assure us that they will offer no objection to such an amendment being made in another place, I think we shall be satisfied. I feel confident that in another place an amendment of this kind will be carried, for it is a commonsense one. If the. clause be allowed to stand as it is, it will prove one of the biggest levers that could be used to prevent the carrying of the referendum. We should remove all doubt in the minds of the people as to the intention of the. Government to do no more than the Prime Minister has promised. The amendment is a reasonable one.
– I want to do just the opposite to that proposed by the honorable member for Indi. The Prime Minister has said that he only desires to call up single men between twenty-one and forty-four years of age. The amendment, however, would give the Government power to call up all men between eighteen and sixty years of age. I propose to limit theoperation of this clause to all men between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five years.
– The honorable member is eager to destroy the Bill.
– To defeat the referendum outside. The clause as it stands does not represent my views. The Prime Minister has stated that he merely wants this power in respect of 150,000 single men between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five years, and without dependants, and that even in respect of those there shall be a number of exemptions. As opposed to what he says, however, the right honorable gentleman seeks, under this Bill, to obtain power over the whole manhood of the country, married and single.
– Tell us what tne Prime Minister did say as to single men.
– In the course of a prepared speech, copies of which were handed to the press, so that it cannot be said that there was any mistake in reporting it, the Prime Minister said -
When this referendum is carried the military policy to be followed will not forget the necessity of maintaining national family life. The Government is alive to the fact that for the sake of the family and for the sake of industry there must be a careful scheme of exemptions. First of all, the Government does not consider it will be necessary to draw upon married men for compulsory military service. We have examined the war census returns relating to single men, and have had them brought up to date. We believe that, supplemented by volunteers, this supply of single men will be sufficient. Leaving married men aside, the Government propose exemptions among single -men. It will not compel young men from 18 to 21 years of age to enlist, though they may he volunteers if they choose. It will not take only sons. Where a single man is the sole support of dependants he, too, will be excused. Where one or more of the members of a family have already enlisted, the remaining members up to at least one-half of the family will be exempt. In addition to these exemptions, which will be granted without recourse to exemption tribunals, other exemptions, based on the necessity for carrying on the industry of the Commonwealth, will be made.
The Government have a publicity organization in connexion with this campaign. The Chief Publicity Officer is Mr. McCay, of the Sydney Sun, and there is a Publicity Officer in each State. I am asked if Mr. McCay is a Government officer. He is in the temporary employ of the Government.
– These gentlemen do not receive any pay from the Government, do they?
– I am not quite certain as to that. I do not know whether they are receiving payment from the Government, or whether they are merely loaned by the newspapers on which they are employed, and whether their salaries are being paid by the newspaper proprietors. But in carrying on this campaign the Government are issuing day by day press paragraphs emphasizing the points made in the quotation I have just given. In yesterday’s issue of the Age and the Argus such paragraphs appeared in black type.
Sitting suspended from 8 to 9.45 a.m. (Thursday).
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Application of Referendum, Constitution Alteration Act).
Provided further that, notwithstanding anything contained in section 10a of that Act, the following persons shall be disqualified from voting at the referendum: -
– I have given the Minister for the Navy the draft of an amendment to this clause, which I think meets with his approval, and which has been revised by his officers. Tbe plain English of it is that a naturalized British subject, no matter whereborn, shall notbedisqualified from voting if he has a son who is, or has been, a member of the Commonwealth Naval or Military Forces.
– What about thosemen whose sons have volunteered and have been rejected?
– The amendment does not cover them - it cannot cover everything.
– If a naturalized subject has a son who has been away from his home for ten or fifteen years, and who enlists, that is no guarantee of the father.
– In the cases with which I am acquainted, the fact that a son enlists indicates the loyalty of the father. The honorable member for Hume mentioned the case of the Christian Syrians. If these Syrians were naturalized before Federation, they have a vote under the law, and if they have sons at the front they would, of course, be entitled to vote on the referendum.
. -I have given the amendment careful consideration, and, after consultation with the Crown Law officers, I see no objection to it. The Government think that an enemy subject who is naturalized, and whose son goes to the war, ought to have a vote. I move -
That after the word “ war,” paragrapha, the following words be inserted : - “ Provided that this paragraph and sub-section (1) of section nine shall not apply to any naturalized British subject, wherever born, who produces to the presiding officer a certificate signed by the District Commandant of a Military District, or an officer thereto authorized by him, that that person is a parent of a person who has been or is a member of the Forces;”
– The proposed amendment goes a great deal further than the Minister has indicated. Under this amendment, the father of, say, Captain Edwards would have a vote. He was a member of the Forces, though not of the Australian Imperial Forces.
.- I am very pleased to hear that the Government have adopted this amendment. I should like to know, however, whether it will cover the case of Syrians who were naturalized prior to Federation, and prior to the passage of the Immigration Restriction Act, which, I believe, is, at present, standing in the way. The sons of these people, if they do not volunteer for the front, will be liable to conscription.
– This amendment will not come into operation unless a son has actually enlisted.
– The point I wish to make clear is that, if the electors declare in the affirmative at the referendum, these Australian-born sons will be liable to conscription.
– That is so, I think.
– Then that means that the parents will be able to vote.
– Once a son enlists, and is accepted.
– Enlisted, not conscripted.
– However, I am prepared to accept even that view of the case, because the citizens to whom I refer will be saved from an unmerited slur. If my fears prove to be groundless, the disability will not be permanent on these naturalized subjects, but, after the referendum, will be removed. I admit that it is very difficult to legally remove such an embargo; and I wish to safeguard the position, so that an apparent stigma may not be cast on worthy citizens in perpetuity.
– If I rightly understand the interpretation of the Minister, the proposal now before us is about the most absurd ever put into a Bill. It means that if a German has a son who passes the military medical examination that German’s loyalty is proved; but if, on the other hand, the son has the slightest defect which prevents his entering the Forces, then the father is ranked as disloyal.
– The son has to be a member of the Forces.
– That is the real interpretation of the clause as amended, and it is, as I say, one of the greatest absurdities ever proposed in any Parliament in the world.
– I wish to go further than has the honorable member for Franklin. I know personally of a case in Melbourne, and another in Sydney, in which the sons of Germans have gone to the front as lieutenants, and, in each case, the father is as bitterly pro-German as could well be. I should not object to the granting of votes to the men who go to the front, though it would, perhaps, be better if some of them were not given the privilege. After men have gone to the front, however, and, I suppose, risked their lives, one could hardly deny them the right to vote. I think there is a danger to the State, in a minor degree, if we give votes to men whose hearts and feelings, we know, are strongly against us. I am sorry the Government have agreed to adopt this amendment. I do not care to divide the Committee on the question, and thus obstruct the measure, but if I thought I had a chance of carrying what I desire, I should take that step. I am not speaking from hearsay, but from personal knowledge; and Ibelieve I could put my finger on a great many more cases than the two I have mentioned. To give votes to such men as will come within the amendment opens the door to a lot of adverse influence when we require all the influence We can get on the right side.
.- I take part in this discussion with great reluctance. I point out to the honorable member for Robertson that the proposed amendment will, at the very most, affect 16,000 people of enemy birth out of the total of 2,800,000 voters.
– I think that Mr. Knibbs’ figures show a larger number than that mentioned.
– In Australia, the Germans of enemy descent, if you so please to call them, number 39,000. I am a conscriptionist, and I do not believe that the case for conscription is so weak that we need do an injustice to 16,000 people. Although this amendment is a relief, it does not, in my opinion, go quite far enough; and I hope that before the measure reaches another place, the Government will see their way to do justice to those who are quite as much entitled to votes as are men and women who have sons at the front. A fair number of these foreigners have sons who have volunteered, and have been rejected. It is pretty well known that the enlistment of Australian natives of German descent was very much discouraged at first, and is discouraged even now. If a son of such parents offers to enlist and is rejected, is it fair that on that account we should assume that his parents are disloyal and should not be trusted with a vote? Honorable members will excuse me for saying so, but really the whole of this legislation seems to me utterly foreign to the British spirit of fair play. Honorable members are aware that I am of German descent. I was brought to Australia when a child in arms. I know that, in Queensland, there are scores, if not hundreds of men who, when they arrived in Australia, were, perhaps, a little older than I was, but who are to-day as much Australians in spirit as is any man born in Australia of British descent. This is a matter which affects the reputation for fair play of the British people, and I say that this is legislation which we shall not be proud of when the prejudices, hostilities, and heated feelings which now exist have passed away.
Mr.HANNAN (Fawkner) [10.3 a.m.]. - Earlier this morning I mentioned some cases in which I think great injustice might be done to the parents of a number of lads who volunteered for military service and were accepted. I recognise that feeling does run high in Australia to-day against the German people, as it probably does in every British community. Whilst I have the same desire as other members of the Committee to see Australia, the United Kingdom, and our Allies come out of this war victorious, I do not think we shall be doing justice to ourselves if we inflict unnecessary hardship upon men and women, who came to this country from enemy countries, but who for years have been loyal citizens of Australia, and whose sons, in many cases, are at the front fighting for the Empire to-day.
– “ Hard cases make bad laws.”
– That is true; and I am not prepared to assist in the making of bad laws for Australia by the passing of provisions which will bear too harshly upon the class of people to whom I have referred. There may be a small number of persons of enemy origin who do not appreciate the freedom they enjoy in this country, but I believe that the overwhelming majority of these people do appreciate the freedom and privileges they enjoy here. Many of their sons have shown their appreciation by offering their services to take part in the war. I believe that the right honorable gentleman principally responsible for the framing of this measure is, to a great extent, obsessed on this question.
Dr.Carty Salmon. - He has accepted this amendment.
– I am aware that one portion of the amendment I suggested earlier has been accepted. I proposed tnat the parents of a soldier of enemy origin who has enlisted should be permitted to vote upon the production of a certificate or some document issued by the Defence Department, showing that the son has enlisted for active service.
– That has been accepted.
– There are other cases where the sons ofparents of enemy origin have offered their services, and have not been accepted, and they will not be entitled to vote. There may be many others who may have no sons, but who may be in every way loyal citizens of the Commonwealth and they will not be permitted to vote. There may be many Germans in Australia who, amongst themselves, may be openly disloyal and whose sympathies are entirely with their Fatherland. I quite recognise that blood is thicker than water, but we shall not be doing justice to ourselves or to the traditions of British communities if in order to punish a few who are deserving of punishment we inflict injustice upon thousands of enemy origin who, in connexion with the war, are as loyal to the Empire as we are ourselves. I cannot always follow my leader in the opinions he expresses on these matters.
– Who is the honorable member’s leader ?
– It is very hard to say at present. I scarcely know what party I am a member of. There are only the remnants of the recognised Labour party on this side at the present time. I belong to the party which our worthy Prime Minister referred to last night as a “ junta.” I have said that the mind of the Prime Minister is obsessed in this matter. I do not see eye to eye with him on these proposals, or on the methods he proposes to adopt in the future. I believe that he is trying to “bite off more than he can chew.” I should like to hear from the Minister for the Navy whether, after hearing the very brief, but very sincere, appeal of the honorable member for Lilley he is prepared, as representing the Government, to extend the right of citizenship to some of these people to whom reference has been made.
– I am sorry to say that the Government cannot accept any further extension of these privileges.
– Our enemies have been responsible for actions which have aroused feelings of bitterness and hostility towards Germany amongst our people, but two wrongs do not make a right, and I hope we shall not follow the example which our enemies have set us. I hope we shall not follow the example of Germany by teaching our people a hymn of hate. I can understand man meeting man at the front and fighting to the death, but I cannot feel it in my heart to carry on the fight against practically defenceless men, women, and children. I again indorse the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Lilley, and I agree with him that some of the provisions of this Bill are not consistent with the spirit of Democracy and fair play which operates here and in other portions of the British Dominions. Under the circumstances, I would like to see the provisions of the Bill further altered so that an injustice will not be done to these people.
– I do not propose to detain the Committee more than a few minutes, but I think it necessary that some one should paint the. other side of the picture to that which has been painted so eloquently by my honorable friend opposite. I listened with the very greatest sympathy, and, I might say with some emotion, to the appeal made by one whom we all respect in this Chamber, the honorable member for Lilley. But I cannot overlook the fact that if the Government go any further in the concession already granted, they may be deliberately giving the franchise in the settlement of a purely Australian question in connexion with the war to the parents of men who have been refused a place in the Australian Imperial Forces, because their sympathies were not trusted. My friends will see that if the concessions are carried to that extent, the clause will be an absurdity. The proposal is somewhat Gilbertian, although I do not complain of it, but the amendment which everybody has been blessing reminds me that it is perpetuating one of the most cherished principles of ancestor worship in the ancient Chinese Empire, where the parents receive credit for everything that the sons or grandsons may do. I do not mind the concession that has been granted, but I do urge the Minister to go no further.
– Honorable members may be interested to know that, for a score of years, I made a similar appeal to that which is in the Bill in connexion with the membership of the Australian Natives Association. My point is that when a man comes to this country, and takes up his duties of citizenship here, he has as great, if not a greater right, to be regarded as an Australian as the man who claims that privilege by reason of his birth in this country. This argument puts me in mind of the remark made by Dr. Johnson in reply to Boswell, who said he was sorry that he was born a Scotchman: “ That you were born a Scotchman is not a fault of yours,” observed. Johnson, “ but that you are ashamed of it is much to your credit.” In this Bill we are doing what we have accused Germany of doing with regard to Belgium - we are going to tear up that scrap of paper which represents the contract between the State and the citizens who came to this country. If in Australia there is a German who cares for Germany, intern him by all means. Do not lot us give him any consideration, as that club of “frill and feathers,” called the Army and Navy Club, did to a scoundrel known as Edwards, who, although proved to be a spy, was allowed to resign membership. That man had actually become a Major in the Intelligence Corps, and, as a member of the Automobile Club, he knew every road in Victoria. H- L’ a traitor, and yet we allow him to draw a big income from the Continental Rubber Company. One of his colleagues has never become naturalized, and yet he is allowed to walk up and down Collinsstreet. Is this because he is a rich man ?
– He ought not to be allowed his freedom.
– Well, this man draws a big salary in his capacity as one of the principals of the Continental Rubber Company. What kind of Minister have we that he does not intern this man ?
– The Minister has interned rich Germans. You must not forget that.
– Well, he may have interned rich Germans, but not to the extent that he has interned poor Germans, for the rich have a chance to engage counsel to defend them. But in the case of a poor German he is interned rightly or wrongly. Mr. Prendergast, of the State Parliament, could tell honorable members of a case which he brought before the Minister quite lately. The German who shows any sympathy for Germany should be promptly interned, and I think that even the honorable member for Robertson will agree with, me that after the war such persons should be sent out of the country. But there are others to whom consideration may be shown. There was my old gymnastic professor, Tecko, who would have killed every Kaiser and King on the earth if he could have had his way. He helped to make the grandfather of the present Kaiser fly from Berlin, but subsequently an amnesty was granted, and in 1888, forty years afterwards, he thought he would like to go and see his native land. But do you think that that brute beast Bismarck would allow him ? No; and that man was never permitted to return to his native country. I can see that difficulties will be raised in relation to this clause with reference to men who are now legally in German territory and those who may be born in Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, or elsewhere in territory at present occupied by Germany, as well as in AlsaceLorraine, with all their memories of forty years under Prussian rule. It is probable that they will come under this clause.
Mr. BRENNAN (Batman) (10.27 a.m.]. - The attitude of the ‘honorable member for Robertson in this matter is in marked contrast with the manly stand taken up by the honorable member for Lilley. He holds the view, evidently, that it is not a question of what a man is, but whether we can make use of him. If we can, that appears to be a sufficiently good reason to give him a vote. If he serves the honorable member’s purpose, the honorable member is prepared to treat with him on those lines. I think myself that the clause is a violation, at least, of the spirit, if not of the letter, of our Constitution, for honorable members will remember that the Constitution would not allow us to disfranchise any person who was qualified to vote by the law of a State at- an election for the more numerous House of the State in which he resided. That does not apply to a referendum in the letter, bu”t it certainly ought to apply to it in the spirit. It is worthy of recollection that not long ago the late High Commissioner, Sir George Reid, was permitted to address a meeting of the Reichstag. On that occasion he extended a .very cordial invitation to the German people to establish themselves in Australia. He pointed out to them that they were excellent colonists, and above all he stressed the free conditions under which they would live here. The position that I take up on this question is perfectly clear. I ask myself not how this proposal affects the few naturalized British subjects affected immediately by it, but how it affects the honour of the Commonwealth. We have extended the franchise to certain persons in Australia - to all white people without discrimination. We entered into a bond with them that, so long as they obeyed the laws of the land and complied with certain conditions, they would be entitled to exercise the franchise. Yet, under this provision, some of these persons will be disfranchised. I say that if there are men in our midst who ought to be interned, by all means let them be interned. Let honorable members make the law as strict as they choose, but the man with whom we have a moral contract, as well as a contract in the letter of the law - the man who has done no wrong - ought not to be robbed by a Labour Government of his right to vote merely because he happens to have been born in an enemy country. But the accident of birth-place is apparently to be set above character and obedience to our laws. It is a curious proposal to emanate from a Labour Government, seeing that the Labour party has always fought for an extension rather than a curtailment of the franchise. The honorable member for Wentworth has said, “ It may be that certain persons who are actually disloyal, would, in the absence of this clause, have a voice in the forthcoming referendum.” ‘ My answer is that we cannot decide these things upon a mere hypothesis. We must judge them by facts. If facts are established against a man which ought to disqualify him from voting, by all means let him be so disqualified. But each case should be determined on its own merits. The idea that a man reared in Australia, obedient to our laws, and entering into our citizenship, should be deprived of the fundamental right to vote to serve some temporary presumed expedient, is one which is so repugnant to me that I cannot be expected to subscribe to it, or even to approve of the compromise suggested by the honorable member for DarlingDowns.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the following proviso be added to the clause - “ Provided further that notwithstanding anything contained in section 4 of that Act, the provisions of section 181AA of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1911 shall not apply to the referendum to be held under this Act.”
The effect of the amendment will be that any articles which appear in the press during the forthcoming campaign, either for or against the Bill, will not need to be signed by their authors.
– We shall take a vote upon that.
– The Government have considered the matter and think that, in connexion with’ the approaching referendum signed press articles are not desirable.
– I intend to oppose the amendment. Judging by the articles which have recently appeared in the press I have a fair conception of the results that would follow the adoption of this proposal. Honorable members upon this side of the Chamber have had a good deal of experience of the lengths to which the press of this country is prepared to go for the purpose of defeating any proposal which it does not favour. When the Labour party secured an amendment of the Electoral Act providing for the signing of press articles, its action was the outcome of bitter experience. Yet it is now proposed in connexion with the most important issue that has ever been submitted to the electors for their consideration, to banish this’ safeguard. I cannot understand what is at the back of this latest amendment. Unfortunately the Prime Minister, who is practically responsible for the Bill, is not present to explain the object of the amendment, although some explanation is undoubtedly necessary. The fight in connexion with conscription has now been in progress for some time, and those newspapers which are opposed to the Government proposals have suffered greatly at the hands of the military censors during the past few months. We know, too, that certain men and women who hold strong views upon this question and have the courage to express them, have not been dealt with too fairly. But we did hope that when the referendum campaign started in earnest the articles which appeared in the daily newspapers would have attached to them the names of their authors. But the Minister now tells us that it is intended to remove that restriction. I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn ; otherwise the fight upon this dill will continue throughout to-day and to-night.
– Is that in order ?
– In this Chamber there is opposition to all that is contained in the measure. It seems to me that some persons are being allowed to accomplish their aims too easily. It is admitted that the question of conscription is the most momentous one that has ever been submitted to the electors for their consideration, and many of us who differ from the Government upon it are evidently not imbued with the fighting spirit which has been displayed by parliamentarians in the past, otherwise the Government would not have advanced tue Bill so far in the lace of such little opposition. I am satisfied that in the approaching campaign, anti-conscriptionists will not get a fair deal from the press of this country. We shall probably not be given a fair deal in expressing our opinions from the public platform, but even if we are, our opinions will not be permitted to appear in the press. The Prime Minister has tried to assure us that he will give us every opportunity of placing our case before the public, so long as we do not make insulting or offensive references to our Allies, and say nothing likely to retard recruiting. It is very difficult, nowadays, to say anything relating to the war that cannot be construed by those responsible for the censorship, particularly in this State, into something likely to retard recruiting. When an article appears in the press, I am partly desirous of knowing from whom it emanates. Those who hold views in opposition to the Government on this question will have the courage to sign the literature they send out. They will not have the assistance of the local press, and it will be necessary for them, in order to get their views before the people, to send them out in different forms of literature which must, by law, be signed. We are prepared to sign whatever articles appear in the few Labour journals that will support our side, but we want the people who run the great dailies throughout Australia to be compelled to sign their articles also. Does the Prime Minister desire his articles to appear in the papers without his name being attached to them ? There was never a greater admirer of the right honorable gentleman than myself, and I do not forget even now the work he did in the past, but I know who gave him the opportunity of rising from the workshop into the position he holds to-day. It was the bo’dies which the press that he wants to exempt from the necessity of signing their articles would crush tomorrow if they could. The people who gave him the opportunity of climbing to the highest position which the citizens could confer upon one of their number, and gave him also the right to go to the Old World as the man holding the highest position in Australian public life, are the members of the organizations which he, in hie contempt last night, referred to as juntas. We who happen to be opposed to him are the representatives of those juntas here. We could almost see the poison oozing from the Prime Minister when he referred with contempt to the Labour members who dared to oppose his will on this question as the representatives of the juntas. I feel sure that, in the coming campaign, all the bitterness and spleen that he has exhibited during the last week, particularly last night, towards members of our party, will be but a slight sample of what we may expect from the daily press within the next few weeks. When it appears in the press, I want to know the mind from which it emanates, and my only chance of knowing it is to insist that the articles published during the campaign shall be signed by the people responsible for them. I recognise the Prime Minister’s ability as a speaker, and there are men in this House who recognise his ability as’ a writer. I believe that he has as great literary as oratorical ability, and feel certain that what he wants during the campaign is the right to send to the press articles to which his name will not be attached. I desire that, if anything does come from that direction, his name should appear. I deeply and sincerely regret having to question, even for a moment, the honesty or sincerity of the man who happens to be Prime Minister, but I shall not allow my respect for an individual to blind my judgment. I recognise, and shall feel it for a long time, that the Prime Minister is not doing justice to himself. He is probably absolutely sincere on the question of submitting the conscription question to the people, but no man with a grain of gratitude in him could oppose and treat with contempt the organizations, and the men and women who compose them, that have practically put him in the position he now holds. I am sure the amendment is an absolute surprise to every honorable member on this side, and will come as a welcome surprise to his new friends in this Chamber
– And his new enemies.
– Enemies of his own selection, by his own choice. I believe, when this great question is finally dealt with, he will learn, and I hope he does not learn it too late, that old friends are the best friends. That is true even in politics. I enter my empnatic protest against his latest proposal. We are determined, if possible, that the law requiring the signing of articles shall operate during the coming campaign.
.- I hope the Minister will withdraw the amendment. The existing law on the subject was embodied in the Electoral Act after a great number of abuses had taken place. I have never been extraordinarily strong on the question, but it is a mistake to alter the Act at this particular time. It does not matter to some of us what the press say about us, but in certain quarters what they say about men matters a great deal. The press are supposed to sign their articles, yet the Argus comes out to-day with an unsigned article on this very question. Perhaps they knew the amendment was to be proposed, and thought they would be able to publish what they liked without signature. Possibly the action of the Argus was due to a mistake. They have made several mistakes of that kind, and deliberately omitted the necessary signature on a previous occasion. They broke the law with a view to having it tested. If the law is suspended in the present case, the danger is that it will be suspended in connexion with the Electoral Act generally. This is only the thin end of the wedge to give the press, not liberty, but licence.
– The proposal is made as a gift to the Opposition, so that they can say what they like.
– No one believes that those who happen to be on my side on this issue will get any quarter or space from the press. For every column that will appear in the press in favour of conscription, not more than an eighth of a column will appear against it. The provision which the Government proposes to dispense with has operated during two general elections, and at some by-elections. This campaign does not concern any of us personally. Some of the speeches made by honorable members in 1909, when they opposed the Financial Agreement going to the people by way of referendum, are interesting reading now. I understand that the Minister is now willing to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– The withdrawal of the amendment prevents me from saying something that I wished to say, but I desire to enter my protest against the censoring of the press. Would this be a proper time, Mr. Chairman, for moving an amendment dealing with the censorship ?
– No. The clause does not affect the censorship.
– The clause disqualifies from voting at the referendum any naturalized British subject born in the territory of any country with which Great Britain is now at war. Would it not simplify the clause to disqualify “ any person who is disloyal.”
-The honorable member could not move such an amendment, because the clause has been amended after the word “war.” He might gain his object by moving to insert a new clause later.
– I shall think over the suggestion, as I wish to improve this wonderful Bill as much as possible. Who would have dreamed that a Labour Government would introduce such a measure ?
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Additional questions to be submitted to electors).
– The clause adds to the questions which, under section 141 of the Electoral Act, the presiding officer may put to any person claiming to vote at the referendum , the following question: -
Are you a naturalized British subjectwho was born in any country which forms part of the Territory of any country with which Great Britain is now at war?
A large part of France, a large part of Belgium, and a still larger part of Russia is now enemy territory, and dominated by the brutal Kaiser. This territory is in the power of Germany just as much as Alsace-Lorraine .
– No one would construe this provision to mean that Poland, for example, is part of the territory of Germany. Germany obtained AlsaceLorraine by the treaty which concluded her war with France.
– I have been taught to beware of the Greeks when they bring gifts. I do not say that an intelligent electoral officer would construe the clause in the way I fear, but sometimes very stupid men have to do with the administration of an Act of Parliament. I move-
Thot the words “ prior to the present war “ be inserted after the word “ Territory.”
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. I would remind the honorable member for Melbourne that the citizens of Belgium, France, and Russia are kept in their own countries during the war by the laws of those countries, and the Germans are not likely to permit any persons to leave, during the war, territory of which they are in occupation. The intention of the honorable member is good, but the amendment would be unworkable.
– The Minister is right in not accepting the amendment, but I cannot concur in his reasons for not accepting it. There may be, in Australia, persons who were born in territory now in the occupation of Germany. The true objection to the amendment is that the territory now in the occupation of Germany does not require to be excepted, because it is not German territory. It is only after the termination of a war, when occupation has been recognised by treaty, that occupied territory becomes part of the territory of the conquering nation. The only effect of the amendment, if it had any effect, would be one which I am sure the honorable member for Melbourne does not desire, that is, it might be construed as a statutory declaration by this Parliament that the territory now occupied by Germany is in fact German territory.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 -
The Governor-General may….. make such regulations as are in his opinion necessary or expedient for the purpose of providing a system or systems whereby -
– I move -
That in paragraph (a) of sub-clause 1 the words, “not uuder the age of twenty-one years “ and “ who are enrolled as electors of the Commonwealth, or are eligible to be so enrolled,” be struck out.
The effect of the clause is that only those soldiers who are over the age of twentyone years, and are either enrolled or eligible to be enrolled, shall have the right to vote. That is an unfair limitation, because it penalizes soldiers who are under the age of twenty-one years, and who, honorable members will admit, are doing equally good service, and are entitled to equally as much recognition as the soldiers who are over twenty-one years of age.
– Hear, hear! If a man is old enough to fight, he ought to be old enough to vote.
– I urged, during the second-reading debate, that the fact; that we are accepting boys of eighteen years of age, and loading them with the responsibility of protecting the country, should in itself qualify them for citizen rights. Those men who belong to the Forces are being given the right to vote on this question because they are soldiers. Some of them were enrolled before they left Australia, others are not enrolled. But the qualification to vote under this Bill is the fact that they are soldiers and over the age of twenty-one years. I admit that because of their being soldiers and over the age of twenty-one years they have a double qualification, but the fact that men under twenty-one years also are soldiers is sufficient to qualify them, too, to vote. I object most strongly to the gratuitous insult that is being offered by this provision to men under the age of twenty-one years. It is an unfair discrimination. Why should this right be given only to soldiers who are over the age of twenty- one, who are rendering no better service and occupying nobetter position than the soldier who is 18, 19, or 20 years of age?
– Why not include nurses, too?
– I think nurses are included as members of the Forces. The highest qualification I know for the exercise of citizenship rights is service to the country. In ordinary electoral matters mere residence is a qualification. Have not those men who are now serving in the Forces, or who have been retired from the
Service, established a much more reliable and solid claim to the exercise of citizenship rights, because of the service they have rendered to us ? In my opinion, the electoral laws of this country should be immediately amended so as to give boys and girls under theage of twentyone years the franchise. A decision has been established for the Commonwealth making eighteen years the adult age. The age of twenty-one years as an adult qualification is merely an arbitrary and unreliable guide. Because a man arrives at the age of twenty-one he does not become endowed with any special qualification to exercise citizenship rights. Now, we have drawn a new line at eighteen years, and we say that boys of eighteen years are able to take a man’s part in the defence of the country. The sooner we alter the electoral qualifications of the Commonwealth, so as to give the franchise to boys and girls of eighteen years, many of whom have brain power equal to that of men of greater age, the better. I propose to start with soldiers of eighteen years of age.
– This is to be a precedent for future use.
– I hope so.
– At what age would you stop in other matters?
– I do not mind saying that, in ordinary electoral matters, I think eighteen years should be the age qualification.
– The Government, when formulating this Bill considered very carefully the question which has just been raised by the honorable member for Brisbane, and after long deliberation they arrived at the decision that it is impossible to do as the honorable member has suggested. First of all the Government could have been charged with having done this in order to bring about something which might be used as a precedent for some other proposal to be brought forward later. Therefore, we think that, as the Referendum Bill is to be submitted to the people for the purpose of calling up only those single men who are between the ages of twenty-one and forty-four years, votes should not be given to men under twenty-one years, because they are not affected by the Bill.
– They have been already called up.
– No. Those who have joined the Forces have volunteered. They certainly were invited to do so, but I am of opinion that if this proposal is to be considered at all it should be with a view to extending the franchise to everybody in Australia of the age of eighteen years. The extension of a franchise should not be limited to those men who have volunteered. If the proposal is to be adopted at all its application should be general. I hope the honorable member will not press the amendment because the Government regard it as an unwise step to take.
– The question is whether it would be a right step to take ?
– I doubt whether it would. There are thousands of young people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one years who volunteered and were rejected, and who would be just as entitled to vote as those who have been accepted. This is not the time to introduce such an amendment.
– I should have been very happy to support the honorable member for Brisbane if he had carried his proposal to its logical conclusion by making it applicable to all men and women of the age of eighteen years and upwards. The arbitrary choice of twenty-one years of age as that at which men and women come into the just exercise of their rights is merely one of those remnants of Tory prejudice which it should be the pride and pleasure of a Labour Government to mitigate as far as possible, if not entirely remove. The present law as to military service and the age of recruits illustrates in a very striking manner how the opponents of every democratic reform are prepared to make use of the people without admitting them to citizenship - imposing duties, withholding rights. Thus we see that our Governments in Australia and the British Government have not hesitated to make use of youths for the most severe ordeals and dangerous occupations in which they could possibly be employed at uie immature age of eighteen years, without any thought of admitting them to the rights of citizenship. It would be a very illogical position for me to take up, however, if I said that the man who has not felt it his duty to volunteer, and believes that his duty lies in some other sphere, should be disqualified, for that reason, from exercising the fundamental right of citizenship. Had the honorable member been anxious to extend the principle in the way I have suggested, I could have supported him whole-heartedly. I hope that tlie time is not far distant when I shall be afforded the opportunity of saying something with a view to extending the franchise to young men and young women who have to discharge all the duties of citizenship, and earn their living - and very often the living of other persons - in competition with those older than themselves. Of course, the law does pretend to give to the minor certain immunities which are not enjoyed by other persons, but they are hedged around with so many legal technicalities and difficulties that the immunities are of no great value. I am prepared to brush aside these absurd anomalies, and realize that those who have reached that stage of life should De admitted to the franchise on the lines suggested by the honorable member for a section of them. Of course, we would need to fix some arbitrary age, because “infants,” in the popular sense of the word, could not very well be given a vote, but a liberal extension of the present law could, and should, be made so that those persons who earn their living subject to the laws of the land - criminal and civil - should be afforded this basic privilege.
.I cannot go as far as the honorable member for Batman suggests, because young people who nave not attained their majority do not, as a rule, take an interest in politics, but I can see that there is a great deal te be said in favour of the arguments put forward by the honorable member for Brisbane. I do not think that the difficulty of tracing young soldiers under the age of twenty-one years who have returned to Australia carries much weight. Certainly it is no justification for not including these young soldiers among those eligible to vote on this question. From their actual experience in the trenches, youths in khaki, even as young as twenty-one years of age, are better seized of the facts and of the importance of placing conscription on the statute-book than the most learned politicians.
– I hope that the Committee will not encourage making a farce of the electoral system. We should be careful before we change the basis of the franchise. If we allow youths of sixteen, who happen to be in khaki, to vote on this question, we must carry the principle further, and give votes to those associated with these youths in their homes, who have made a sacrifice by allowing their brothers to go.
Amendment (by Mr. Jensen) agreed to-
After paragraph (a), insert “ (aa) members of the crew of any Australian transport vessel employed in the conveyance of members of the forces to or from Australia who (1) are not under the age of twenty-one years, and (2) are enrolled as electors of the Commonwealth or are eligible to be so enrolled; and”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added : - “ The provisions of section 61 of the Defence Act 1903-15, with the exception of sub-section (a), shall not apply under this Act.”
The question to be submitted to the electors is whether the Government shall have power to utilize the compulsory provisions of the Defence Act for foreign service as they are now available for home service. Section 61 reads as follows -
The following shall be exempt from service in time of war, so long as the employment, condition, or status on which the exemption is based, continues : -
Provided that, as regards the persons described in paragraphs(g), (h), and (i) of this section, the exemption shall not extend to duties of a non-combatant nature.
My proposal is to abolish all these exemptions with the exception of those covered by sub-section a.
– The new clause would be in order if proposed as an amendment to the Bill which will be needed to give effect to the referendum, if it is carried. I do not think that it is in order as an amendment to the Bill before us.
– Can I have an assurance from the Minister that, on the Bill based upon the referendum decision, I shall have an opportunity of removing all the exemptions set out in the Defence Act other than those covered by subsection a?
– If there is no Bill to give effect to the referendum proceedings, there will be no need to make provision in regard to the exemptions.
– I seek no privilege over the man outside. When it is my turn to go, I shall be ready to go. I know of nothing other than the oldestablished privilege which protects members of Parliament, ministers of religion, and Judges from serving in time of war. As a matter of fact, have we not honoured members of this House who have enlisted, and have we not expressed approval of their action. It has been suggested by the honorable member for Flinders that I should introduce my proposed new clause in another Bill which will be necessary if the decision of the people be in the affirmative.
– That would certainly give the Government time for consideration.
– I should like some information on the subject.
– I do not think that the proposed amendment is relevant to the Bill.
– If the people believed that the wholesale exemptions provided for by section 61 of the Defence Act would apply in the event of conscription, how would it affect their decision upon the referendum ?
– They have a right to know what is going to be done in this respect.
– Quite so. Ministers of religion have taken up a highly combatant attitude during this war. That, I think, is greatly to be deplored. The majority of ministers of religion do not, in my opinion, desire such exemptions as we have suggested here. Judging by their attitude during the war they are just as much fire-eaters as any other section of the community. We have also to consider the position of conscientious objectors. I have a good deal of sympathy with the man who has conscientious objections to war. The honorable member for Maribyrnong recently submitted to the House a petition from the Christadelphians praying that they would be exempt from military service, and no more serious difficulty has been experienced in administering the British Military Service Act than has occurred in relation to conscientious objections to service.
– On a point of order, I desire to know whether the honorable member is in order in discussing what is really a proposed amendment of clause 5, seeing that we have dealt with the last clause of the Bill.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member is discussing, not clause 5, but an entirely new clause.
– I regret, sir, that you should have had to explain to the honorable member for Moreton that he is wrong.He is so seldom right. I referred on a previous occasion to Dr. Clifford’s statement as to the position of conscientious objectors, and I have here a number of quotations in regard to the difficulties experienced in England with respect to such persons. But for the distinct promise of the British Government that a civil tribunal would give every facility for the conscientious objector to state his case and to secure exemption, there would have been much bitterness and strife.
– How does the honorable member propose to deal with that difficulty?
– By providing that there shall be no exemptions. It should be a case of’ all in or all out. Assuming that the position is as serious as the Prime Minister, and those who support him, declare it to be - and I do not seek to under-estimate its seriousness - there should be no exemptions whatever except on the ground of medical unfitness. I have brought forward this proposed new clause to give the Committee an opportunity to say whether, in the event of conscription, any of the exemptions for which the Defence Act provides should apply.
– I have just seen the Prime Minister with respect to the proposed new clause. He informs me that he has no objection to members of Parliament giving effect to their own views with regard to their non-exemption from service. He considers, however, that ministers of religion, doctors, and nurses should not be required to go abroad. A certain number of doctors and nurses are necessary in Australia. He further holds the view that the matter covered by the proposed new clause could be dealt with if the Referendum Bill received the assent of the people.
– In view of the Minister’s statement, I withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended, and report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Jensen) proposed -
That this Bill he now read a third time.
– The Prime Minister, in one of his flights of fancy that are so much admired by the people of Australia, alluded to those who differed from him on this Bill as being members of a junta.
– Order ! The honorable member may not refer to a debate on an earlier stage of the Bill.
– We have been told that those who are opposed to this referendum cannot be classed as Democrats. The very people who have given expression to that opinion availed themselves in this House of every constitutional means of preventing another Referendum Bill being submitted to the people.
– Order! On the motion for the second reading of a Bill it is competent to discuss the principle of the Bill itself, and, in Committee, to discuss the details. When the report stage is reached, an honorable member is still in order in moving that the Bill be further amended, should he believe that to be necessary; but I have always ruled that on the motion for the thirdreading of a
Bill, honorable members must confine their remarks to the actual contents of the measure. The honorable member will not be in order at this stage in referring to any matter outside the Bill itself.
– Then I shall have to give the Prime Minister my views on the subject to-night.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 35
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regu lations Amended - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 195.
Customs Act -
Proclamation Prohibiting Exportation (except under certain conditions) of Silver Ingots or Bars, Sheet Silver or Granulated Silver (dated 23rd August, 1916).
Alterations in List of Persons in China and Siam to whom Goods may be Exported (with Minister’s consent) (dated 19th August, 1916).
Norfolk Island - Ordinance of 1916- No. 3- Foreign Marriage.
Papua - Ordinances of 1916-
No. 3 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 2) 1915-1916.
No. 4- Supply 1916-1917 (No. 1).
Public Service Act - Temporary Employees -
Return for year 1915-16.
Promotion of J. R. McManus, as Boarding Inspector, New South Wales.
The War - National Relief Fund - Report on the Administration of. up to 31st March, 1916 - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I should like to know from the Prime Minister what business we are to expect on Wednesday next. I understood the right honorable gentleman to say the other day that a financial statement by the Treasurer would be the business when we meet next week. If that be so, what is the nature of the statement? Is it intended, for instance, to submit a Budget or Estimates, or is it to be a financial statement merely, leaving the Budget for later on. It is quite time we knew definitely what the procedure of the Government is to be in this regard.
– The Treasurer tells me that he proposes to make an interim financial statement on Wednesday next. The Budget and the Estimates will be before us when we meet again.
– I desire to call attention to the censorship of the press which is still, unfortunately, proceeding. I have received the following telegram from Mr. Barber, M.L.A., secretary of the Parliamentary Labour Party in Queensland -
Interview Minister of Defence Queensland party’s protest censor’s action mutilating members’ speeches reprints Hansard.
I asked the Prime Minister a question based on that telegram, and I sent the following reply to Mr. Barber -
Prime Minister reply my question states censorship Ministers’ speeches under control Speaker exclusively. Am pushing matter.
I then received a further wire -
Wire received. Collins ordered number copies reprint his speech from Hansard for distribution. Censor refuses permission publish without serious mutilation. Urge permission renrint speech as delivered.
Then I had the following telegram from the editor of the Rockhampton Record -
Reprints of speeches Address-in-Reply against conscription and censorship, Gollins, Hartley, Stopford, held up by censor Collins’ speech severely censored. Copies Hartley and Stopford sent Melbourne for consideration. Consider this grave interference rights of people’s representatives and freedom of expression on this vital question. See Higgs and others.If possible have speeches released as spoken in State Parliament.
Apart altogether from the severe criticism which can be directed against the censorship of speeches delivered outside on the public platform, no one ever anticipated that the speeches of honorable members of Parliament, either Federal or State, were to be subjected to this severe kind of supervision. In orderthat honorable members may know just what is going on, I shall read copies of instructions sent out by the censor in Melbourne. Here is one, dated 6th September, sent to an editor of a newspaper which shall be nameless -
Confidential and not for Publication.
I propose that the secrecy thereby suggested shall be broken, so that the public may know what is going on. The instructions proceed -
I am directed to inform you that until further notice no reference in the press is to be made to discussions of the Prime Minister with Labour conferences and similar bodies.
This was followed by further instructions on the 7th September -
I am directed to inform you that no reference is to be made in the press to the Labour Council meeting that was held in Sydney to-day regarding conscription.
On the 11th September -
I am directed to inform you that the publication of any reference whatever to any strike or any proposed strike of one day in each week at Broken Hill is prohibited.
On the 13th September -
I am directed to inform you that the publication of any reference to the resignation of any member of the Federal Cabinet is prohibited until official statement in the matter is made by the Government.
On the 15th September -
I am directed to inform you that the following matter is to be deleted from all reports of proceedings of the Federal Parliament to-day, and is not to bc published in any other form whatever.
In Senate. - Senator McKissock’s question re machine-gun sections being sent to Broken Hill.
In Representatives. - Mr. Hannan’s reference to secret session and statement that. Australia was the most weakly defended country on God’s earth.
On the 18th September this communication was sent out -
G.P.O., Melbourne, 18th September, 1916.
From Censor, Melbourne.
To the Editor,
Confidential and not for publication.
Below are set out the “ consolidated instructions with regard to the publication of matter relating to conscription and the referendum,” which in my CM.9683 of this date I stated I was forwarding to you.
Instructions above referred to.
The publication of arguments for or against conscription and criticism or support of the Government’s policy is allowed, provided they do not reflect on or are not offensive to our Allies, are not calculated to create opinion against Great Britain, or to cause doubt, dissension or suspicion as to the justice of the Allied cause or to create disunion or dissatisfaction in the Commonwealth.
The publication of the following matter or class of matter is prohibited: -
Any reference to a secret session of the Federal Parliament other than the fact that it is to be held or has been held.
Any report in respect of deliberation of caucus meetings of the Labour or Liberal party other than those made by the Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition respectively.
Any resolution, article, or paragraph inciting electors forcibly or passively, whether by revolt, riot, or any statements calculated to provoke the same or by strikes or any other form, passive or forcible resistance, to resist the proposals of the Government or any other law of a State or Commonwealth.
All anti-recruiting statements.
Abuse of anti-conscriptionists who must not be called “ shirkers,” “loafers,”&c.
Personal attacks are being made by certain sections of the press on the Prime Minister for the purpose of nullifying his efforts in the referendum campaign, and by adverse or sarcastic criticism attemptingto bring him and his proposals into ridicule and disfavour.
Personal attacks upon the Prime Minister or his colleagues as distinct from the criticism of the Government.
The printing or publication of any picture or cartoon which offends against the letter or spirit of the above-mentioned instructions with regard to printed matter is prohibited.
We are getting wonderfully tender of late in our susceptibilities. Some little time ago honorable members of Parliament sought the limelight most eagerly. If their cartoons were published in the newspapers, it was indeed -a compliment and a privilege only for the very few. The Prime Minister at one time was a very fair subject, and a very free subject, for cartoon exhibition. Here is a sample of one issued lately, which simply gives exactly, .word for word, the statement of the Prime Minister in this House when he said -
In no circumstances will I agree to send men out of the country to fight against their will.
There is a portrait , or photograph of the Prime Minister, and by no means an unworthy one. But the censor wrote across it, “ This must not be published.” I wish to know where we are going. I have complained of the fact that the speeches of honorable members of the Queensland Parliament are being heavily censored. Questions asked and statements made by members in this Parliament are being censored. The Prime Minister is shutting down on anything and everything in the nature of opposition to himself or his proposals. Who is the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, or who is any member of this Parliament, that he should be above the criticism of the ,public ? We are public men, and I think we are all agreed that our actions should be open to the full view of the public. I believe that we are all prepared to accept responsibility for our actions and words here and want no censoring of any remarks we may make. I do not know why the Prime Minister or any other member of this House should object to the press having the most unlimited freedom to say what they choose about us. We are becoming wonderfully tender in our susceptibilities in connexion with these matters.” There is ah old saying: “ ±’he people say. What say they ? Let them say.” The Prime Minister is one of the best authorities we have in Australia as to the advantage of a free press. He has repeatedly emphasized this advantage, and when he was in London recently he addressed a meeting of representatives of the newspaper press at the Hotel Cecil, and his remarks were reported from London to the Sydney Sun of the 13th May, 1916, to this effect -
A free press was so much part of civilization that it was inconceivable that civilization could exist without it. (Cheers.) If we were ever to have .a real Empire the press must be one of the’ chief means’ of attaining it. A great thing the war had done was to make the British people know each other clear of the mists of prejudice. They were no longer dull and distorted images.’ It would largely depend on the press whether the new clear vision of the nobler life would be maintained.
If the right honorable gentleman really believes that I hope he will be prepared to stick to it. Here is a sample of a newspaper article as set up, and honorable members can see for themselves how it appeared after the censor had dealt with it. Who believes that in Australia to-day we have a free press or a free platform? .
– What is the newspaper exhibited by the honorable member?
– The Woman Voter. If honorable members consider that an unfair specimen, I have a pile of similar samples to show them. I had intended to refer to them all, but I shall spare honorable members after their allnight sitting. I have examples here of articles which appeared in the Age, the Argus, the Sydney Worker, the Brisbane Daily Standard, or London newspapers and were distributed freely, and yet when it was proposed to reprint them either in pamphlet form or in the weekly newspapers, the censor ran his pencil through . them. .
– The Brisbane Daily Standard has. nothing to complain about.
– If that .be so it is -because its staff defy the censor.
– Then they should be shut up.
– Let. the Prime Minister shut them up.
– If the censorship is to be real they should be shut up.
– That is so. I cannot guarantee the statement, but I understand that the Brisbane Daily Standard has adopted the attitude that it refuses to submit its matter to .the censor. I ask honorable members to. look at this article which I produce and which was published in the Argus in full, and they will see how the censor mutilated it when the attempt was made to print it in an anticonscription newspaper. Newspapers supporting conscription may apparently publish anything they choose, whilst anticonscription newspapers are scarcely allowed to publish anything, especially in Victoria. Apparently what finds favour with the censor in Sydney does not find favour with the censor in Melbourne. Something should be done in this matter.
I want to give the Prime Minister credit for a statement which I try to believe he meant. He said that each side will be given a fair deal during the referendum campaign. We do not want anything more, and I feel sure that honorable members who differ from us do not want anything less.
– Thank God, Ananias is still alive.
– If the Prime Minister thanks God that Ananias is still alive, I hope he is sincere, because he certainly should know it.
– I do know it, but I never knew he was a Scotchman until today.
– The Prime Minister may think that very clever, but that kind of thing cuts no ice. It will not tend to induce people to discuss this question of the referendum in the way they ought if they find that newspapers are being censored, and that the public are not allowed to hear both sides. I want the Prime Minister to stand to his promise in this matter. He has said that people inside and outside this House will have the right to present their case with only such limitations as, I think, both sides consider fair and reasonable. I hope that some action will be taken by the right honorable gentleman to put an end to the stupid censorship which at present is in operation in this and in the other States. There is no censorship equal to it in any other part of the world. There is no censorship in Germany to-day that equals that of the Prime Minister.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– I have many examples before me to prove it. It is possible to get news from Germany concerning what is going on there, and if there was a censorship in that country equal to that in operation in Australia it would be impossible for such news to get through. We get news of the internal conditions of the country, the armies of the enemy Powers, the riots that take place, their industries, shipping, banking, and so on.
– Through America.
– No, it is not through America, but through the correspondents of London newspapers. The censorship in operation in Australia is novel, and is unparalleled in the history of the world. Even under the most severe
Coercion Act. ever imagined by the honorable member for Flinders there could not be such an unfair interference with tha liberties of the press. The honorable gentleman has been represented to me as the strongest exponent of coercion, restriction, and suppression, but he never imagined such a thing as the censorship now in operation in Australia. It has remained for a Labour Prime Minister to prevent the free and public discussion of public questions. It is only by free discussion that we can progress. Knowledge has advanced by the free public criticism of national questions. I appeal to the Prime Minister to do what he has promised in this matter, and for the active co-operation of both sides to secure fair and free discussion during the referendum campaign.
– I desire to suggest to the Prime Minister that he should have the proposed exemptions from compulsory service, which have appeared in the press, published throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth.
– The statement is misleading.
– It may be in the opinion of the honorable member, but at any rate it expresses the intention of the Prime Minister, and the people are entitled to know what his intentions are from his own mouth, and not from the lips of his opponents. I suggest that post offices and railway stations throughout the Commonwealth should be supplied with posters setting out the exemptions, which, I feel sure, will be an ample refutation of the most unfair, improper, not to say lying, statements which have already been made with regard to conscription as proposed by the Government. Something has been said about the liberty of the press. I have here a number of small printed and gummed papers which are being scattered broadcast through the country at the present time. They are against the law. They contain no printer’s imprint, and are not signed by any individual. I urge that we should set our faces during the referendum campaign against anything which is contrary to law. Those who are so anxious to invoke the aid of the law should be the first to respect it, and I reprehend on either side of the question any departure from the spirit of fair play, and, above all, any breach of the law. That honorable members may know what the papers to which I have referred contain, I will read them. The first is - Conscription !
Made in Germany. Will you deal in it? No. Then to Hell with it and its advocates. ‘
This sort of thing is being posted up in Melbourne and in the country districts of Victoria. No one authorizes it or takes responsibility for it.
– It must grow up country.
– I ask my honorable friend to believe that the statement I have quoted contains an expression which is not in use in our country districts, where we have the most thoughtful men in our community. This is imported to Australia from another part of the world, and, in my opinion, is a part of the usual methods of propaganda adopted by the persons responsible for it. Here are some papers of the same kind -
Means the enslavement of Labour. Workers ! Rouse for the revolution.
Foster the flame of rebellion to burn cut the fangs of ‘the blood-sucking jingoes. Destroy the parasites and oppressors of Labour.
The ruling class are working fast for a leap at the throat of Democracy, and conscription is their weapon. Down with it and the despots.
What will Australia do when the perils of conscription are mode clear? What did the rebels do in Ireland ?
Will sweep away the freedom that was bought by the blood of the heroes of Eureka.
Masters, beware ! the spirit of Eureka still lives.
These statements will do more than speeches by honorable members opposed to the referendum to advance the cause of conscription. That is why I want to get them in Hansard.
– Does the honorable member approve of them?
– No; but the honorable member says that they are going to do more for conscription than against the movement.
– These statements, and some even worse, are being distributed in millions throughout the Commonwealth, and in this illegal manner an endeavour is being made to influence the minds of the people upon this important question.
– Who is responsible for them?
– I have my own thoughts about that matter, but I do not think that any member of this House is responsible for them, nor do I think any member indorses the action of men to whom they may be attributed. I believe these printed statements are an exotic growth from outside, and that they are part of the propaganda of a body known as the Industrial Workers of the World, whose business is not to assist in bringing peace to this country.
– Do you know that those men are regarded as strike-breakers in America ?
– I know that they are not the kind of people we desire to have in Australia, which has done so much for the cause of the Empire, and which is capable of doing so much more if permitted to do so, without any vile influence of stuff like this being printed, with the idea of interfering with the judgment of the people. Now I have given honorable members an opportunity of indorsing what I have said as to the authorship of these statements. I am sorry to say that they were sent to me as a product of those members in this House who are opposed to conscription, but I wrote to the person who forwarded them to me, telling him he was absolutely wrong, and that I did not believe any member of this House had anything whatever to do with the circulation of this matter.
– I should like to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to a few matters. The honorable member for Grampians has very properly referred to certain individuals who have broken the law by spreading broadcast documents on the conscription issue, and without the imprint of the printer. This action is likely to cause a breach of the peace, and, as he has said, will probably do the cause of anti-conscription more harm than good. I know that, on one occasion, the Labour paper in Melbourne was fined £5 for printing matter dealing with a Federal election issue without the proper imprint, although the name of the printing establishment was well-known to everybody concerned.
– What was the printer’s name?
– His nam© was Henkell. He is an Australian born and is as good an Australian as the honorable member or I myself.
– But why did he not put his name on the paper? He must have known the law ?
– It was just a mistake, and it had never occurred before, but still, for that mistake the printer was fined £5. Nov l have before me a copy of the Argus newspaper, to which I direct the attention of the Prime Minister. It contains a leading article upon the Referendum Bill before the House, but without the name of the writer appended. The article itself is of such a character as to justify the author of it being interned. I am aware that some fine articles appear in the Argus, but this particular production is tenth-rate journalism, the writer having got down to the very gutter in order to express his views. That article, I point out again, has not been signed.
– No writer is compelled to sign articles until after the Bill now before the House becomes law.
– We understood that it was necessary to sign articles upon the issue of the writ.
– I will explain the whole position later on.
– I thought the Argus got the tip somewhere, because articles appearing in that paper yesterday were signed, though they are not to-day. The Prime Minister was very dirty last night, but I do not desire to be dirty in return.
– Order. The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw, Mr. Speaker, and apologize. I would like to know how the Argus got the hint that it was not necessary to sign articles, while all the other newspapers are doing so. ‘
– I made a public announcement to’ the effect’ that no’ newspaper writer need sign articles until this Bill becomes law.
– I did not hear that statement.
– Evidently the honorable member has not read his newspaper.
– Referring to this article in the Argus, I want to ask the Prime Minister would he think that I
Was treating him fairly if I called him a “ creature “ in connexion with his attitude towards the referendum ?
– Nothing would surprise me,
– The Prime Minister must admit- that I have done nothing of the sort up to the present. The Argus article to which I draw attention states -
Men like the twelve who last night voted for Mr. Burns’ preposterous amendment condemning conscription as “inadvisable,” and the Government proposal as a thing which (if given effect to) would be “ destructive of the best interests of Australia,” harp interminably on the iniquity of “ enslaving free Australia.” They do not understand the meaning of freedom. They are not free themselves. They are the slaves of the juntas.
I do not object to that so much, because it is a fair attack. But I want now to quote another portion of the article -
Equally refreshing was it to hear Mr. Archibald pouring scorn on the poor creatures who call themselves Parliamentary representatives of the people and yet cravenly submit to the tyranny of irresponsible outside juntas.
– What is wrong with that?
– It happens to be a lie.
– It is true.
– If the honorable member for Hume says I am a “ creature,”’ I tell him he is a damned thing !
– Order. I could not hear exactly what was said, but I heard’ a remark by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and I must ask him to withdraw it. I have repeatedly called for order, and I must again ask honorable members to assist me in conducting the business of the House. I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to’ withdraw.
– I withdraw the statement, Mr. Speaker, but I ask honorable members on the other side to withdraw the remark that we who oppose the’ referendum are “ creatures.” The term’ is an offensive one.
– Nobody used it.
– “ Wire whiskers “ did.
– Order. Honorable nr embers should have some respect for the Chair. If these interjections are going to continue I shall have to act firmly, and i warn the House now that the next honorable member who interjects - I do not care on which side of the House he is sitting - will be named by me. I ask the honorable member for Hume, to whom the statement has been attributed- by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, to withdraw it.
– I absolutely deny, Mr. Speaker, having made such a statement.
– The honorable member said that we were “ creatures.”
– May I be permitted to say, Mr. Speaker, that when the honorable member for Melbourne Ports quoted the Argus article, in which’ the reference was made, I asked what was wrong with that?
– And the honorable member said it was correct.
– No; an honorable member on the other side interjected that the statements were lies, and I said that, as far as I know, they were true. That is my position.
– I point out again that all these interjections are disorderly, and make it most difficult for me to conduct the business of the House, more particularly on a motion for adjournment, when members are anxious to get away. I again warn the House that for the rest of this sitting I will name any honorable member who interjects.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member for Yarra called an honorable member in this corner “ wire whiskers.” It seems to me that the term is not in consonance with parliamentary practice.
– Will the honorable member for Melbourne Ports please proceed ?
– I again direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the Argus article, and I ask him, if this sort of thing is to be allowed from one side, how can he expect the campaign to finish without extreme bitterness? If I were to make use of that term and apply it to -conscriptionists, I would be interned. I appeal to the Prime Minister to deal with conscriptionists in the same manner that he would deal with anti-conscriptionists. Unless he does that we are not going to g»t on very well in this campaign, because we shall not get a fair deal. If the Prime Minister does not act we shall have to do something to-
– Order ! The honorable member must not use any threats.
– Another request I -make of the Prime Minister is to be supplied with the figures to prove the assertion he made in Sydney that there will be no need to conscript married men ; in other words, that there are in Australia enough single men physically fit to furnish the reinforcements for our men at the front. If that be so, I should like to be supplied with the figures. The Prime Minister made that statement with, the deliberate intention of deluding the married men of this country into the belief that they will be exempt from the operation of the Military Service Referendum Bill.
– Order ! The honorable member must not attribute unworthy motives to any honorable member.
– Then I will say that the right honorable gentleman’s statement would have the effect of deluding married men, and of inducing them to vote in favour of conscription. If he will resort to methods of that kind, what can be expected from his followers?
– I object to that statement altogether.
-Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports must withdraw the statement.
– It is a most remarkable state of things that some persons can say what they like, whilst others are permitted to say nothing. The advocates of conscription are permitted to say whatever they please, no matter how untruthful it may be, whereas the anticonscriptionists are not allowed to say or print anything. The Prime Minister hae affirmed that those who are not in favour of the referendum upon this question are hot Democrats.
– Do I understand the honorable member to be referring to a debate which took place in this Chamber?
– The statement has been made both in this House and outside of it.
-Is the honorable member replying to a statement which was made outside of this House ?
– I am replying, I confess, to a statement which was made by the Prime Minister in this Chamber.
– Then the honorable member must not do that.
– Very well. I cannot help thinking that the opponents of conscription are not going to get a fair deal in the approaching referendum campaign. I advise the Prime Minister to give us a square deal. As, however, I am not permitted to make the statement that I desired to make here, I have no alternative but to make it elsewhere.
Mr.tudor. - By way of personal explanation, I desire to say that a few minutes ago, when the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was speaking, some honorable members opposite interjected that certain statements, the accuracy of which he was disputing, were correct. Thereupon I interjected that, as far as I was concerned, they were lies, and I applied to the honorable member for Wakefield an offensive term, which I regret. I desire to apologize to the honorable member.
– I wish to call attention to a matter connected with the report of Judge Eagleson in regard to the Gilchrist inquiry. Some time ago I was informed that that report was submitted to the Railway Department before it had been presented to Parliament. In other words, it was first submitted to the very Department which had been the subject of investigation. Thereupon I passed some very severe strictures upon the administration of that Department by the Minister for Home Affairs, which rendered it possible for such an extraordinary and irregular procedure to be adopted. I felt it my duty to ask the Minister whether the allegation which had been made to me was correct, and he assured me that it was not. I accepted his assurance, but subsequently learned that it was absolutely correct that the report of Judge Eagleson had been in the hands of the Commonwealth Railway Department for days before it was submitted to Parliament, and that it had actually been typed in the office of that Department.
– Before or after it had been presented to Parliament ?
– Before it had been presented to Parliament.
– That is absolutely incorrect, and the Prime Minister’s Department can prove it to be incorrect. The Minister for Home Affairs himself knows that it is incorrect
– I ask the Minister for Home Affairs to let this House know whether it is incorrect, and, if it is not to inform us by whom the report was submitted to the Railway Department.
– In reference to that report, but not, altogether because I am in full sympathy with the underdog, I think I am justified in saying that when Judge Eagleson was elevated to the Bench the hope was inspired in my breast that he would shoulder the mantle of the late Judge Higginbotham. That hope, I regret to say, has been bitterly disappointed. His allusion in his report to visitors to the private residence of the Minister for Home Affairs was entirely unwarranted. I may say that I have more criminals from Pentridge to see me than has any other man in the community. Many of these men have received severe sentences at the hands of Judge Eagleson, who is considered to be so harsh and intemperate that he is known-
– I have so many visitors from Pentridge-
– Order ! DoI understand the honorable member to have referred to Judge Eagleson in connexion with the recent Gilchrist inquiry? I would remind him that it is not customary to criticise the action of a Judge, except on a specific motion.
– Very well. I intended to state the reputation of His Honour amongst the criminal class. But his report, owing to its language, must make it plain to any clear-headed man that he is exactly what some barristers and solicitors have described him, namely, one of the most intemperate men on the Bench
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member has cast most decided reflections on His Honour Judge Eagleson, of the County Court of Victoria, whose services were graciously lent by the Victorian Government to the Commonwealth I happen to be a personal friend of the Judge, and I think that the attack of the honorable member upon him is wholly unwarranted.
– I would point out to the honorable member for Balaclava that I have no power to say that the honorable member for Melbourne shall not refer to His Honour Judge Eagleson. I can only say that it is customary not to permit of any discussion upon the conduct of a Judge, except on a specific motion. I can only appeal to the honorable member for Melbourne not to pursue the course that he is pursuing.
– If the honorable member for Balaclava thinks that I applied the term “intemperate” to Judge Eagleson in the sense that he was alcoholically intemperate, I wish to disclaim any such intention.
– I did not.
– But I dare say that I could express an opinion about the 1,000 votes of which the honorable member deprived certain men and women. He also helped to kill poor old Tom Bent.
– The honorable member is branded as anybody’s enemy.
– I charge the honorable member with lacking the pluck to face the district in which he robbed men and women of their votes.
– I rise to a point of order. Obviously the honorable member is referring to me, and making some charge of a sinister nature, which I demand should be withdrawn.
-I cannot possibly know what is in the mind of the honorable member for Melbourne ; but if he has made any statement to which the honorable member objects, I ask him to withdraw it.
– If the honorable member says that my statement is wrong, I would like to say exactly what it is.
– The honorable member is now aggravating his offence. He must withdraw the statement to which exception has been taken.
– I do so with pleasure, because I am amused at the way in which the honorable member for Balaclava assumes innocence.
-It has always been the practice for an honorable member to withdraw any statement to which exception is taken by another honorable member.
– I withdraw the statement.
– The honorable member must not think that he has a licence to say what he chooses here.
– I will make the same statement to-night from the public platform, and the honorable member can come down and hear the groans with which his name will be greeted. I ask the Prime Minister in all sincerity, and without any desire to anger him, to see that in the forthcoming campaign all newspapers are treated alike. The right honorable gentleman must know from the repeated assertions which have been made here, that one daily newspaper was permitted to print absolutely more than an organization was allowed to print in the form of a pamphlet . I ask the Prime Minister to treat all newspapers, both small and large, in the same way. The small newspapers especially are being penalized by the censors. I am sure that he does nob wish that. Will the right honorable gentleman instruct the censors that what is struck out of the small newspapers shall also be deleted from the large journals ?
– In reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield, I desire to say that a day or two after Parliament met, or a day or two prior to its meeting, he came to me and told me exactly what he has stated here. Of course, I was astonished. I had an investigation made, and sent for the typistes of the Railway Department. I had them brought to my office, and made inquiries. I wanted it to be distinctly understood that I did not know anything about the matter at the time, and had nothing whatever to do with it. I do not wish any one to think that I am introducing Tammany Hall methods in this country. My reputation is worth something to me. The typistes admitted that on the Saturday, 2nd September, four days before the House met, they were brought back, and typed copies of the Judge’s report. I then turned up the reports, which are on the table, and the initials of my typistes are on them. This incident is to be regretted, because it is the Minister that has to suffer. I told the honorable member that I would have an investigation made. The copies of the report show that they were typed by the typistes, who worked on Saturday, 2nd September, four days before the House met, and I have ordered overtime to be paid to them.
– How did the typistes get the original?
– No one had the right or power to send to the typistes except through me - the Minister.
.- This is one of the most deplorable incidents that has ever come under my notice in the whole of my political experience. It is sad indeed to see a Minister of the Crown priming a member of the Opposition to ask questions to discredit his own officers.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– Order !
– This is not the first time I have heard of this. It has been rumoured all over the chamber, and I have been sitting here all day expecting it.
– I say it is absolutely false.
– There was the same prompting before on the Gilchrist business, and the same honorable member asked the question.
– That is not true.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Grey is making a statement attributing to the Minister something which he says is absolutely false. He should not be permitted to continue making that statement, while the Minister is to be called to order forrepudiating it.
– A statement has been made, Dut I cannot judge whether it is true or untrue. It is not parliamentary for an honorable member to say to another member, when he makes a statement, that it is “ absolutely untrue.” It is my duty to call an honorable member in that case to order. It is the general custom of the House; but a matter purely for the member himself to decide, to accept the denial of another honorable member. If an honorable member will not do that, I have no power to compel him to do it.
– The Minister has already had a report from his officers on the subject. It is most singular that, when making his statement to-day, he did not refer to that report. The facts which the Prime Minister can substantiate, are these : The report was laid on the table of the Senateon the Friday prior to the date mentioned by the Minister.
– Go and look at the initials on the typescript.
– The Prime Minister will ferret this matter to the bottom. At the request of the Prime Minister’s Department, two copies, I think, were typed at the Railway Department.
– I am glad you admit that.
– Was there anything wrong in that? They had been presented to Parliament.
– Why was that course followed ?
– Because the other Departments were short of typists.
– They did not ask me asMinister.
– I know nothing about that, but the Minister wanted to make it appear that the report was copied in the Railway Department before it was presented to the Senate. The Minister for Defence told me in the gallery today that that is true. It may be asked how I know this, but the Minister told so many people about what he intended to do, and that the honorable member for Wakefield was going to ask a question, that it came to my ears, and I have been watching for this all yesterday and to-day. I have the report from the Engineer-in-Chief, which the Minister declined to read to-day. It is a sad sight, indeed, to see a Minister of the Crown trying to discredit his own officers without even putting their side of the case before Parliament.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I did not say one word about Mr. Bell’s report, because the brother of the honorable member for Grey is concerned in it. I propose to read Mr. Bell’s letter.
– Order ! The honorable member is going beyond a personal explanation.
– I do not propose to allow my honour to be challenged here.
– The honorable member must conform to the usages of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to read Mr. Bell’s letter?
– The letter is in reply to my order that the typistes should be paid for overtime. How could the Judge’s report be on the table of the Senate when that House did not meet until Wednesday, the 6th September? The whole thing is a farce. Miss Pickin’s initials appear on the first page of the reports, but as she is the head typiste, under Mr. J. J. Poynton, Director of Supplies and Transport, and brother of the honorable member for Grey, I left his name out.
– Why did you not read Mr. Bell’s report when I asked the question ?
Mr.Kingo’Malley. - Because it has nothing to do with the matter. This is the letter sent to me yesterday after I had ordered the typistes to be paid for overtime, and had given my reasons for doing so -
In reply to tbe memorandum from the Honorable the Minister regarding overtime of certain typistes,I have to say that this matter was dealt with in my memorandum of 18th instant, in which authorization of overtime payment was asked.
The hours stated in individual cases in the Honorable Minister’s memorandum do not agree exactly with the records in this office.
The Minister is evidently undersome misapprehension in connexion with the work done. The typistes werenot engaged “typing the Judge’s report,” nor were they engaged in “ preparing statements for publication.” They were engaged at the request of the Prime Minister’s Department in copying the Judge’s report, one copy of which was delivered here for the purpose at 11.45 a.m. on Saturday, 2nd September. The Prime Minister’s Department required copies, which were delivered on the following Monday. The transaction was a perfectly legitimate one as far as this office is concerned. The work was treated as confidential, and the proof of this lies in the fact that not a word of the contents of the report leaked out.
I sent for the typistes and got written statements from them, which they signed, I am not trusting people too much now. My objection is that they should never have gone to that Department to have the reports typed. It is absolutely Tammany Hall business, and I should have been consulted. I never would have known anything about it if the honorable member for Wakefield had not come and told me what was going on. Mr. Bell’s report does not say that the typistes were engaged on this work at the request of the Prime Minister himself. The contents did leak out four days before the House met, because the papers announced that the Judge’s findings were in favour of the officers of the Department.
– I have not seen Judge Eagleson’s report in the press, in type, or in any form, and no communication has been made to me other than the official statement that such a report has been received. I have not had time to read it. The Minister for Defence states that the report was sent to him by the GovernorGeneral the day before Parliament met, and he instructed Mr. Shepherd, the
Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, to have a copy made. The report was presented to Parliament the day after it was received by Senator Pearcethat is, on the day on which Parliament met.
– It was typed four days before that at the Railway Department.
– I have nothing to do with that. I am only stating the matter as it has come within my purview. I will make whatever inquiries are necessary. We have listened this morning to what may be fairly termed an exhaustive and exhausting dissertation from the honorable member for Brisbane upon liberty, particularly the liberty of the press, the liberty of the platform, and the liberty to express oneself freely to the electors. Coming from such a source, this is, indeed, a most delightful entertainment. I can only say, as Macaulay said of Montgomery’s Satan, “ For so old an offender it is really a fine performance.” The facts should first of all be stated. At the present time, there are no restrictions on the press, whether it is the press supporting my honorable friend, or the press which does not know where it is, or the press supporting the viewsof the Government. There is one law for all newspapers in Australia, and that law says that they may publish, subject to the law of libel and its penalties, anything they please about the referendum, for it or against it, subject to two restrictions - I admit that there were three or, perhaps, four a week ago. Both the existing restrictions will, I think, commend themselves to every fair-minded man, and certainly to every patriotic man, in Australia. The first is, to say nothing insulting to the Empire or its Allies, and the other to say nothing inciting to a strike or open revolt against the law or against these proposals. We have struck out the restriction in regard to voluntary recruiting. These gentlemen may now, if they choose, come out in their true colours. If they wish, let them do so. I want my honorable friend, who occupied much time in saying very little, to get it thoroughly into his mind that there are only two restrictions. Every newspaper - whether it be the Brisbane Standard, whose information is obtained through sources that are certainly not fair and proper from the stand-point of our party, to make no other reflection, the Age, the Argus, the Herald, or the Telegraph - is subject to the same law. All will be treated alike. Moreover, what applies to publication in the press applies also to public speeches. So much for that. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports objected to a statement mads by me concerning the supply of single mon. He said that I made it to delude the married men of the community. That charge I strongly resent. I made a true statement of the facts. From the figures that I have given to the House, honorable members know that, after making allowance for wastage, there are 103,000 trained men now available. These men are now in Australis, or on the sea, or in Europe. Having them, we have only the others to get. I do not claim to speak as a military expert, but,- in my opinion - and I am entitled to form a judgment on the subject - we shall begin to see the end <&i the war in June or July next. It was because of that opinion that we have put forward the proposals now before Parliament. They provide for the effort which the Government considers that the country can make. I do not assert that we can bleed Australia indefinitely at the rate of 16,500 men a month. Britain cannot be bled indefinitely, nor can France. It is because of that, as honorable members know, that Australia is asked to do her share. Australia is asked to- do more because France has been asked to do too much. Honorable members talk of what we have done, but if we had done one-tenth of what France has done, this land would be a place of mourning, tribulation, and woe, and there would not be found one man to join with another in saying a word against the prosecution of the war to the very end, even though it should be necessary to go through the fires of Hell to achieve that end. In my opinion, the supply of single men available, taken in conjunction with the 103,000 men that we already have, will be sufficient to carry us to the end of the war. If it is not, we must. ascertain later how we stand. I think that it will be sufficient. We shall get voluntary recruits. Do honorable members who are opposed to conscription deny that? If they do, the foundation on which they base their opposition disappears, and they reveal themselves as those who say that Australia must withdraw from the war.
– How can we get conscripts and volunteers concurrently?
– The Government proposal is that compulsion shall be applied to the extent that voluntarism fails. As for the gross and wilful misrepresentations that have been made, the Government will do all that it can to set ito proposals clearly before the people, and to unmask those who misrepresent us, showing them to be what they really are. Something has been said about the tone of some of the criticism directed towards those who do not see eye to eye with me. I ask those who complain, if they find fault with the tone of my manifesto to the electors, or of the speech which I delivered in Sydney. Am I my brother’! keeper? Am I to be made responsible for everything that any newspaper may. say ? Are they prepared to take responsibility for what some of their newspapers have said ? I should have been ashamed to stand on a public platform, as. some honorable members did last night, and hear the denunciation of a comrade of twenty years’ standing, against whose public life and labours in the movement, industrial and .political, not one of them can point the finger of scorn.
– The honorable member is now introducing new matter, which is not permissible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.24 p.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 September 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1916/19160920_reps_6_80/>.