7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation avail himself of the earliest opportunity to make a statement as to the work of the Repatriation Department in the building of homes for returned soldiers in each of the States, and more particularly as to whether the Department is discouraging returned soldiers from erecting their own homes ?
– Yes; I will bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister, and, if possible, will supply an answer to-morrow.
– Will the honorable gentleman also have specific inquiries made as to whether returned soldiers, some of whom have been gassed, have been prevented from attaching shop premises to such dwellings?
– I will.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation aware that in Sydney returned soldiers who wish to obtain their sustenance allowance have to present themselves every day at the offices of the Repatriation Department, where there are sometimes from 1,500 to 2,000 men present, and that occasionally they have to spend halfa day in securing enrolment in order to obtain the allowance? Will the Department substitute some other method by which the men will be able to show that they are on the spot and ready to receive the money to which they are entitled?
– I will bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen). I believe that, as the honorable member states, those drawing sustenance allowance have to apply daily for it. I shall ascertain whether some new arrangement can be made under which it will be no longer necessary for the men to attend daily..
– Will the Minister in charge of shipping inform the House who will be the ultimate owners of the interned German ships now controlled by the Commonwealth?
– It is difficult to deal offhand with a bald inquiry of this character. If the honorable member would put his question on the notice-paper, I should have something to go upon.
– Shortly put, is the Commonwealth to own them, or are they to pass over to some private firm?
– The question should be addressed to the Prime Minister. I am not in a position to answer offhand, but my Leader will be able to give the honorable member some information on the subject. The matter is one that affects our revenues, and we have to consider whether in the future we may rely upon these vessels as a source of income.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories made up his composite mind as to the method of voting to be adopted for elections to the Senate?
– I am afraid that the honorable member is again asking me a question of policy, and not one concerning my own personal opinion.I therefore cannot answer it.
– In view of the reported shortage of sugar in Western Australia, and the fact that local manufacturers there are thereby being seriously inconvenienced, will the Minister for Trade and Customs state what action is being taken to forward supplies to that State?
– Every step is being taken to enable a supply of refined sugar to be sent to Western Australia as soon as possible. Owing to the recent industrial disturbance it was impossible to obtain from Northern Queensland supplies of raw sugar. I hope, however, that within a very short time a supply of refined sugar will be available for shipment to Western Australia.
Mr.RILEY.- Will the Prime Minister make an early effort to settle the dispute in existence between Messrs. E. W. Hughes Ltd. and the Wool Committee, so that the company’s works may resume operations without delay and employment thus be found for a large number of men ?
– I know nothing of the dispute, but probably I shall soon hear a good deal about it. I am learning something every day. But that I was an Australian, I should have, been inclined to imagine, from the newspaper reports when I was in London, that this country produced nothing but influenza, industrial disputes, and droughts. I shall look into the matter mentioned by the honorable member and see what can be done.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to an article in the Labour News of 13th September, in which deductions are made that the Gabo mine fields were not laid by the German raider Wolf, or by any merchant ship? In view of the grave allegations contained in this article, can the Prime Minister say whether any inquiries have been made into the matter of the laying of these mines?
– I have not seen the article alluded to, but I shall look into it.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs make a short statement at an early date as to the position of Australia with regard to supplies of potash?
Mr.GREENE.- On more than one occasion I have pointed out that every effort has been made to obtain supplies of potash for Australia. At the present time considerable quantities are on the way to this country.
– In order to remove many of the anomalies of the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act, and make it more liberal, do the Government intend to introduce an amending Bill?
– I mentioned yesterday that there was an indication of the Government’s intention to amend the Act in a certain direction, but if the honorable member is speaking in general terms, I can only reply that as his question is based upon a matter of policy, I cannot answer it.
– Has the Prime Minister seen in the Sydney newspapers remarks attributed to him as to the sale of the wool clip behind his back, and at too low a price? Is it not a fact that at the time the clip was sold the new season’s clip was on hand, and all the offshear sale sheep in Australia, so to speak, hanging in the balance, because the owners or buyers did not know the value of them pending an announcement as to whether the new clip would be taken or not? Was not such an announcement necessary, and was it not made just in time to insure the success of the war loan being floated?.
– I am not certain as to the reports to which the honorable member has referred, but if he means that if I had been in Australia I would have agreed to the sale of the wool .clip beyond the period of the war, he must he misinformed. I would not have done so.
– Seeing that theBritish Naval authorities have issued an order forbidding officers in the British Navy to wear soft collars, will the Minister for the Navy issue instructions to the officers of the Australian Navy to wear stiff’ starched collars and corsets, in order to come into line with the British naval officers, and thus become “better fighting men?
– I can. only say that I try to set an example to the Nav.a’l Department by avoiding the use of stiff collars.
– Has the Government arrived at any finality in connexion with the appointment of a Director of Navigation ?
– No appointment has yet been made.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation in a position to tell the House the exact prospects of what is known as the Anzac tweed industry?
– I have had nothing to do with the matter, which has been handled throughout by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen); but a question was asked yesterday by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) upon this subject, and the Minister has furnished me with the following statement : -
The Hand Loom Weaving School, or, as it has become known through the press, the Anzac Tweed Industry, was sot up by the State War Council at the end of i916, and the school came over to the Department of Repatriation by way of legacy’ from “the State War Council. Since its inception a total of thirteen men have passed through the school, and at the present time there are five men engaged there. Two of the men transferred to the Textile and Designing Class at the Working Men’s College. One man has been established with his own hand loom at Geelong. The other men have reverted to previous employment.
None of those at present engaged’ in this industry are seriously incapacitated physically. All inquiries made by the Department with expert assistance serve to show that the hand loom weaving industry is not by any means work for a seriously disabled man.
From its very inception’ this school has been dependent’ upon outside firms for both the beginning and finishing of its material. All the yarn used for weaving the “ Anzac cloth “ has b.?en obtained from the Commonwealth Woollen Mills at Geelong, and has been supplied as a concession to this school, often at the point of great inconvenience. When the cloth has been woven on the hand loom, the school is dependent upon an outside firm- for the dyeing, shrinking, and finishing of the material, so that the industry is not in any degree selfcontained.
The whole” matter of the continuance or expansion of the hand loom weaving industry has been the subject of careful consideration by the Department of Repatriation, and very recently members’ of the Repatriation Commission met in conference upon the subject - the Advisory Committee of the Weaving School, experts in the textile trade, including the Manager of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills at Geelong (Mr. Smail), and Mr. W. Morri- son, textile expert and instructor in weaving at the Working Men’s College, and also the General Secretary of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League. After discussing very fully all the facts that could be elicited in connexion with the question of hand loom weaving as an industry for returned soldiers, the Commission reported to the Minister that it could not recommend that hand loom weaving industry was one which should be encouraged or continued, with a view to the permanent employment or re-establishment of returned soldiers. With this view the General Secretary of Returned Sailors and Soldiers League concurred.
It is admitted that during the past few months the men employed upon this work have carried on the weaving profitably, but it is recognised that the conditions have been abnormal, and that the prices paid for the suit lengths have been based upon sentiment, and have been in excess of prices which these tweeds could command under normal conditions and in competition with a normal market for suit lengths.
Even if it were decided to increase the number of nien in this industry, the operators would be dependent as hitherto upon the spinning mills for yarn, on the one hand, and the goodwill and enterprise of outside firms for the dyeing and finishing of the material. The alternative would be the setting up of a spinning plant and finishing plant, and if these steps were warranted, so also would be the establishment of the ordinary modern power loom weaving, or machinery mill.
There is no man at present engaged in this work who could not equally well be engaged in a power loom establishment.
Although under present abnormal conditions and extremely high prices, hand weaving enables a limited number of operatives to earn good wages,, all the available evidence indicates that upon a return to normal conditions the power machine will he superior to the manually-operated loom. The question as te whether the men, having been trained, should be enabled to continue operations in view of the above is now under consideration.
– Is the Minister controlling shipping aware that egg pulp in considerable quantity has been in freezing chambers in Australia for at least twelve months? Will the Minister see if it is possible to have this commodity placed on the priority list in order that some of it may be exported before the price abroad falls owing to the re-commencement of the egg-laying season ?
– I am aware that there has been, and is, a considerable quantity of egg pulp in cold stores, owing to difficulty in providing shipping space. But shipment from, this end is governed by the priority list fixed in London.
– Exceptions have been, made in the past.
– I shall make further representations to the Shipping Board. But the honorable member must know that it is not a Minister’s place to dictate whether this commodity or that commodity should be exported, so long as we have a Shipping Board in whom we have confidence. If we have not confidence in the Board, the sooner we get rid of that body the better; but if I were to attempt to direct the Board as to what commodities are to be - shipped, my position would be very unpleasant indeed.
– I did not ask for that.
Mi. RILEY. - Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that since he removed the restrictions on the export of leather, on the 3rd May, the price of that commodity has doubled and the prices of boots have increased by 10s. per pair ? What does the Minister intend to do in this matter?
– I do not think the honorable member’s information is correct.
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether naturalized Germans are permitted to retain interests in New Guinea and to be able to transfer freehold property to Australians or others? If so, does that right extend also to German property-owners who are not naturalized?
– New Guinea is at present under military occupation, and dealing in landed property is really in abeyance. No sales of freehold property are taking place.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– This should be asked for in the form of a return. I will ascertain and give the honorable member the information as early as possible.
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– These questions will necessitate reference to the Military Commandant in Western Australia. Replies will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it true, as reported, that an Imperial Conference of representatives of the United Kingdom and the Dominions ofthe British Empire is to be held during or about the month of March, 1920?
– I have no information on this subject.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers tothehonorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When will the report of the Economy Commission be placed on the table of the House for the information of members?
– The report will be submitted as soon as it has received the consideration of the Government.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The intentions of. the Government on this matter will be disclosed in due course.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether it is true that large quantities of fertilizers, for which there was and is a great demand by the fruit-growers in Queensland, were allowed to be exported from that State to Japan during 1918-19?
– No. The total quantity of all fertilizers exported to Japan from Queensland during 1918-19 was 82½ tons, valued at £1,721. It may be mentioned that the value of the local production of fertilizers in Queensland during 1917 amounted to £19,313.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Reciprocal Trade Relations
asked the Minister tor Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether any steps are being taken to reopen negotiations for reciprocal trade relations and arrangements with the Dominions of Canada and New Zealand?
– The desirability of reciprocal trade relations between Canada, New Zealand, and Australia is recognised by the Government, but it is not considered opportune to re-open negotiations pending the introduction of the new Tariff.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Flight from Great Britain to Australia.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether a statement may be made to the House regarding the prize of £10,000 offered by the Government for an aviation flight from Great Britain to Australia, disclosing the present stage of the arrangements?
– Yes. I will make one as soon as possible.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. John Thomson ) asked the following question : -
Can the Assistant Minister for Defence tell the House the reason for the long delay in the distribution of mothers’ badges, and when they may be expected to be distributed?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
Two badges have been authorized by the Government for issue during the great war to those women of Australia who have sacrificed -much through the enlistment for active service abroad in defence of the Empire of husband, father, son, or brother.
The badge first issued, known as the “ nearest female relative badge,” was authorized by the Government at a time when it was felt that the womenfolk of the fighting men should receive some token indicating to the general public that the wearer had made her sacrifice, and was proud to show that she was a close relative of one of our fighting men.
Instructions governing the award of this badge provide that the badge may be issued to the wife and/or mother or nearest female relative of each soldier of the Australian Imperial Force and Naval and Military Expeditionary Force who left Australia since 4th August, 1914. for service abroad, or who joined these Forces but died in camp or military hospital in Australia without having embarked.
The mother of a married soldier may receive a badge as well as the wife, provided that one badge only may be issued to the one female relative.
Silver bars are issued for the badges issued to mothers who have more than one son on service, the numbers of bars indicating the number of sons who have gone to the Front, except that the badge shows that one son is serving and the first bar that two sons are serving their country with the Forces.
If an officer or soldier is married or a widower, a badge is issued to the nearest female relative in accordance with the following degrees of relationship : - 1st. If an officer or soldier is married, the badge is issued to his wife. The mother of a married officer or soldier may also receive a badge on his account in the event of no single son being on service; or 2nd. If an officer or soldier is a widower, the badge is issuable to his eldest daughter living; or 3rd. If an officer or soldier is a widower without a daughter, his eldest sister may receive the badge.
If an officer or soldier other than a widower is unmarried, the degrees of relationship are sot down as follow: -
Where there are twin sisters, the badge is issued to the elder twin sister.
In the event of any officer or soldier not having any living female relative as described above, it is necessary for him to nominate, in writing, his nearest female blood relation.
In the case of an officer or soldier having no female relative, and a foster mother having reared the member’ of the Forces concerned, the foster mother is entitled to receive a badge.
Many applications have been received for the variation of the conditions governing the award of this badge, the most numerous being from fathers and sweethearts of soldiers. Both classes have good claims to consideration, but in the case of the former it has to be borne in mind that the badge is essentially a woman’s emblem.
Under the circumstances fathers’ claims to award of the badge have been disallowed, and they may only receive same in cases in which the authorized recipient of the badge is deceased, and it reverts to the father as her heir or legatee.
In the case of sweethearts, the difficulties which present themselves in endeavouring to arrive at the degree of genuine friendship to the soldier are considered to be insurmountable, and the issue of badges has, accordingly, been restricted to wives and blood relations.
Latterly many claims have been received from wives of soldiers who have recently married, but in such cases it has been ruled that the relationship must have existed prior to the return to Australia of the soldier and before the signing of the Armistice. To approve of such applications would, it is considered, greatly detract from the value of other issues, the degree of sacrifice of the two classes of wives beingincomparable.
When the badge was being designed two points were set down as essential features for embodiment therein, viz., an indication of (a) connexion with the Australian Imperial Force, and (b) the fact that the badge was issued by the Department of Defence.
Numerous designs were considered, and eventually it was decided to adopt a solid silver badge, containing the letters “A.I.F.” within an oval,bearing the following inscription in silver letters set in dark-blue enamel, viz.:- “ Issued by Department of Defence to Women of Australia.”
The Imperial Crown surmounts the oval, and below is a silver scroll, with lettering thereon set in blue enamel, “For Duty Done.”
It was anticipated that difficulty would be experienced in obtaining supplies of the vast quantity of badges required by the Defence Department, more particularly in view of the enormous requirements of somewhat similar articles for issue to troops and munition workers and supply to the public.
From inquiries made, it appeared that there would be insufficient enamel in Australia to complete the order, but it was asserted by the successful tenderer that no difficulty would be experienced in this regard, as the firm was in a position to make the enamel locally.
Efforts in this direction proved a failure, and the contractor was otherwise unable to produce the badges in anything approaching the quantities set out in his contract. Complications arose in connexion with the conditions of tender, resulting in the eventual cancellation of the contract after only 23,600 badges had been delivered, out of a total of 150,000 originally ordered.
A new contract was let, although approximately 53,000 were obtained from this source, and good progress made, the operations of the firm in this direction had to be suspended on account of the restrictions placed on the use of power during the recent strike. Although every effort has been made by the Defence Department to maintain supplies, complete failure of the original contractor to fulfil his obligations has resulted in much regrettable delay in distribution of these badges. It is hoped, however, that the arrangements now made will be attended with success.
The situation at present is that 77,000 badges have been delivered and issued, and that 63,000 are stillrequired to meet applications in hand.
Forms of application may be obtained from the Military Head-quarters in each State, and also from all. post-offices.
Mothers and Widows’ Badge.
The second badge authorized for issue during the war was known as the mothers’ and widows’ badge, and is supplied to the mother and/or widow of all members of the Australian Imperial Force and Naval and Military Expeditionary Force who have been killed in action or died of wounds or other causes while serving, or who after discharge died from causes directly attributable to wounds or sickness incurred on service.
It was considered that in the case of soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice the mothers and widows should receive an emblem in recognition of the personal loss sustained by them.
The mother of a married member may receive this badge as well as the wife, provided that only one badge is issued to one person.
Stars are provided for attachment to the badges as under: -
Widow of a deceased member, one star.
Mother of one deceased member, one star.
Mother of two deceased members, two star’s.
Mother of three deceased members, three stars.
Mother of four deceased members, four stars.
Mother of five deceased members, five stars.
A widow of a deceased member who is also a mother of a deceased member or members may receive one badge only, with a star on account of each deceased son, or daughter, as well as. a star on account of the deceased husband.
The badge consists of black ribbon suspended between two silver bars. On the ribbon is woven the badge of the Australian Military Forces in gold surmounted by two sprigs of wattle blossom, with the words “For Australia” below the badge. To the lower silver bar seven-pointed stars are attached, one for a husband and one for each son deceased, as previously mentioned.
The number of these badges ordered is 30,000, the number delivered is 14,000, and the number of applications received about 10,000. The restriction on the use of power during the strike has retarded the rate of delivery of the badges, but delay has also been occasioned through the difficulties experienced by the contractor in producing the metal bars of the standard of quality insisted upon by the Department for embodiment in a badge of this description.
The possibility of illicit manufacture and unauthorized wearing of both of the women’s badges has been adequately safeguarded by regulations under the War Precautions Act.
The term “ soldier “ or “ member “ as used herein includes nurses, the nearest female relative of whom are eligible to receive the badges.
Forms of application may be obtained from the Military Head-quarters in each State, and also from all post-offices.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) asked the following question: -
Will the Assistant Minister for Defence make inquiries into the circumstances and conditions under which nurses belonging to the Australian Army Medical Corps are at present in Afghanistan. They have been there two years, and I believe that their conditions are somewhat intolerable. Is it not time that they were repatriated and given a chance?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
There is not any official record of members of the Australian Army Nursing Service being detailed for duty in Afghanistan.
Prior to the Armistice a few of the nurses sent to India were allotted to hospital ships in the Persian Gulf, and a few are at hill stations, the remainder being attached to war hospitals at Poona and Victoria War Hospital, Bombay.
On signing of Armistice these nurses were transferred to Freeman Thomas Hospital, Bombay.
Several cables have been sent to Indian authorities, requesting the early return of all members of the Australian Army Nursing Service to Australia; 10 per cent. of those having twelve months’ service in India to be granted leave to England before their return.
A cable has now been sent to London urging the War Office to have all members of the Australian Army Nursing Service returned to Australia.
Honorable members might be interested to know that -
Number of nurses sent to India, 375.
Number returned to Australia, 80.
Number sent to England from India about November, 1918, 100.
Leaving a balance in India of 195.
Since then thirty have returned, and some are on the water, leaving an approximate balance of 165 now in India.
A recent wire sent 10 per cent. of the 165 in India for one month’s furlough in England before returning to Australia.
Report (No. 4) presented by Mr. West, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to approve the agreement made between His Majesty’s Government in London, His Majesty’s Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, and His Majesty’s Government of the Dominion of New Zealand in relation to the Island of Nauru.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 17th September (vide page 12440), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this House approves of the Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany signed at Versailles on the 28th June, 1919.
Upon whichMr. Catts had moved; by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the motion: -“ That owing to the limited amount of information placed before Parliament in relation to the. Peace Treaty, its commitments and responsibilities, the whole matter be referred to a Committee of both Houses of the Parliament for inquiry and report.”
– I am sure I am voicing the opinion of the whole House when I express my complete admiration of the statements made here by our two returned delegates. The broad and picturesque outlines put before us by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) have been made living actualities by the informative speech of the Minister for the Navy (Sir. Joseph Cook). To me this is an exemplification of why these two delegates worked so well together in the Old Country and at the Peace Conference. I have heard it said in various places in Australia that there was some friction between our two delegates in London. I happened to he in London when they arrived and for some time afterwards, and to me it seemed that our delegates worked in complete harmony. The dynamic force and vigour of the Prime Minister was pre-eminent, and of equal value to this country were the poise and self-restraint of the Minister for the Navy. The fiery Welshman pleased a great portion of the residents of the Old’ Land; but in England they are very strong on the tradition of poise and selfrestraint; and our two delegates between them “filled the bill” as well as it possibly could have been filled. There” was just a doubt in my mind before our delegates had achieved their reputation over there, as to whether they, could speak fully with the voice of Australia; and I may be pardoned for being a little personal in stating why I had that doubt. Shortly before the delegates arrived, when I was in Camp at Park House, Salisbury, I was sent for by the British Government to com© to London to meet the French representative who was over to interview the Colonial Office about matters in the South Pacific. At luncheon I took my seat in the uniform of a sergeant of the Australian Imperial Force, and around the tables were some of the leading men connected with the foreign affairs of Great Britain. I was asked to put the Australian view, and I did so to the best of my ability - from a purely Australian point of view. When I had finished, the Assistant UnderSecretary of State for .the Colonies said to me that he had never heard the case put before from such an Australian point of view, and I told him the reason was very plain. He asked, “Why don’t you send Australians over here, for only Australians, apparently, can interpret Australia?” Neither of our two delegates is an Australian, but they have both lived here so long that they are saturated with the atmosphere of Australia, and they gave expression to our aspirations and achieved results such as no other two men in Australia could have bettered.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) remarked that 90 per cent, of the people of Australia were more interested in the cost of living than in the Peace Treaty. If that is so, it emphasizes the necessity for us in this House to take a wider view of the situation, because the Peace Treaty is a question not only of the cost of living, but of living at all. The statements which we heard here last night in connexion with the South Pacific should surely bring home, even to those who disagree with the statements of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts), or, at least, to his own Leader (Mr. Tudor), the fact that there is a graver situation in connexion with the Peace Treaty than his Leader would have had us believe. While I give the honorable member for Cook credit for being truly Australian, it seems to me that he has a twisted view of things. His view of the position is warped, one might almost say jaundiced, and the figures he produced regarding the casualties at the Front were not correct. He said that our losses were, if not the heaviest, approximately the heaviest, in proportion to population, of any of the Allies. It is not so. The actual position is that we are the lowest on the list, with the exception of Canada, the United States of America - which, of course, came into the war late - and South Africa, which was busy fighting in its own country. Here are the actual percentages of deaths in proportion to the populations of the various countries : - United States of America, .007; South Africa, .11; Canada, .83; Australia, 1.17; New Zealand, 1.51: Italy, 1.29; Great Britain, 1.85; and France; 2.56.
The honorable member for Cook also told us that our delegates had failed in their mission, because they did not keep the whole of the Pacific Islands as the property of Australia, or secure a mandate over them for Australia. On 14th November last the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), who was then Acting Prime Minister, moved in this House, as recorded on page 7833 of Hansard -
That the House of Representatives of- the Commonwealth of Australia declares that it is essential to the future safety and welfare of Australia that the captured” German possessions in the Pacific, which are now occupied by the Australian and- New Zealand troops, should not, in any circumstances, be restored to Germany; and that in the consideration and determination of proposals affecting the destination of -these islands Australia should bc consulted.
A long debate followed on the motion. The Leader of the Opposition said (page 7840)-
Wo want to make it absolutely clear, as an Australian Parliaments that we are not out to grab territory.
On page 7S43 will be found the following statement by the honorable gentleman:-
I hope, too, that it will be made perfectly clear by the Government that the motion refers only to the territory occupied at the present time by the Australian and New Zealand Forces.
Yet one would have thought, from the statement made here last night by the honorable member for Cook, that his party had all the time been fighting for the retention of the whole of the islands in the South Pacific. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said (page 7885)-
Does it not occur to honorable members opposite that it is rather a paltry thing for us, before the war has closed, and with the whole of the intricate questions of colonial adjustment about to be considered by the responsible authorities, to put forward our claim for territorial rights in connexion with islands which arc contiguous- to Australia 1
The position seems to be that, as our delegates have ‘Come back, having achieved more than could have been reasonably expected of them, some complaint must now be made .against them, and those who are finding fault with them are so short of reasonable grounds of complaint that they have -to go back ,and Cut right across the ground of their arguments as put forward in this House only a few months ago.
– The real complaint of the honorable member for Cook was not that they had not done well, but that they had done so well.
– I think that is “what it amounts to, but- it is not the way the honorable member for Cook tried to impress it upon the House and the people. “While over on the “ other side,” I had the opportunity of looking at things from a somewhat different angle from our delegates, and I want to make a few remarks, as a free and untrammelled member of the House, which should be made- at this juncture. Before doing so, I would draw attention, to another statement . by the honorable member for Cook. He ‘ said that the remarks of the Prime Minister concerning the fact that some of our men at the Front fell for lack of reinforce ments, were mean and contemptible. I frankly admit that I did not see much of the. fighting, but I was in the battle zone, and while the fighting was ^actually going on, men who had been there, not for a week or two, as I had, but for weary months and painful years, expressed the exact sentiments which, in the mouth of the Prime ‘Minister, are now characterized as .mean and contemptible. Surely those men who had fought through long trying months and agonized years should be able to speak with effect. On the battlefield one saw right down into men’s hearts. There was no camouflage about them- then. They told you exactly what they were thinking and feeling, and those men informed me that they were of opinion that what the Prime Minister said was absolutely correct.
The honorable ‘ member for Cook stated that quite a number of the boys in the trenches voted against conscription. It would be a shock to the honorable member and his friends the “ quitters “ if they knew why a great number of the boys in the trenches voted against conscription. But even supposing they did, it would still be no argument that those boys did not think they should be reinforced. I do not want .to talk much about the military side of the question, because I do not claim to know a great deal concerning the military proceedings. The military authorities .themselves saw to it that I did not. I think it only right to state here that, with possibly one exception, no honorable member of this House on active service received “from the military authorities anything approaching a fair deal. I reached France, against the direct orders of two generals and a protest from a third, only through the good graces of my own major. I have no complaint to make about the officers with whom I came in contact. In every case I was exceedingly well treated by them, and given a fair run. But I say without the slightest hesitation that the -higher * military authorities did ‘ not give any member of the Australian Imperial Force who was connected with the political world anything like a fair go.
We are told that the League of Nations is to do away with the possibility of war. I only hope it can do so; I wish it could. It seems to me, however, that it would be useless for us to think that we can hang up war in the halls of history, just as we can hang up in our own halls the armour of our forefathers. I believe that the coming generation will feel the glamour and the romance which always surround the mighty struggles of history. It is well and only reasonable for us at the present time to realize all the horrors of war. But as those horrors are further and further withdrawn from us - as out children grow up and read of the marvellous deeds of our own men and others - there will be a great tendency on their part to look forward to an opportunity to emulate those achievements. If the Peace Treaty is to be a success, it is essential that our youth should be taught that there are greater avenues for ambition, and finer opportunities for real usefulness, than can ever be found on the battlefield.
We have been told in the course of this debate that the colour question is one of the most important with, which we have to deal. I agree that it is. We have been told, also, that, owing to the failure of our delegates to the Peace Conference, the colour question has become more acute to Australia than it was .before the war. It was the natural outcome of the war, no matter what happened in respect of our representations at the seat of affairs, that it should become more acute. It has been growing rapidly in importance all over the world, and it seems to me that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and his co-delegate, the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook), rendered this country a tremendous service when they established the position as it stands to-day. It is owing only to the attitude that was taken up by the Western States of Canada that we have arrived at. the present satisfactory conclusion. I am firmly convinced that President Wilson would not have agreed to the position as it now stands if the State of California had not been appealed to on behalf of those who believe in a White Australia, and, as far as possible, a White Pacific. It was only by reason of that appeal and the support it received in Western America that we were able to keep the position as good as it is to-day.
When returning from service, I had the pleasure of travelling through the United States of America and Canada, and while there are in Australia many who feel strongly concerning this colour question, I think but few realize what a burning one it is in the United States of America and Canada. In Minneapolis’ I saw a chemist’s sign written in six different languages on a shop window. Going through Canada I found, particularly in the western parts, a wonderfully strong feeling regarding this very question. In my opinion, should it ever come to be a point at issue, and I hope it never will be, we shall always be able to rely on Canada and the United States of America giving us every possible assistance. Without saying one word against our friends the Japanese, it is only reasonable to suppose that there will be at all events strong trade competition between them and us. It is essential that we should obtain support in every direction to deal with them. While we know that we can always rely upon Great Britain giving us every reasonable support, it is well to know that we also have the other great Anglo-Saxon people feeling with -us on this question. As every one knows, the British Navy alone has kept Australia white; but our position in that respect at the present time is not what it should be. Archibald Hurd, who is perhaps the greatest naval critic in the Old Country, has stated during the present month that the supremacy of the sea has temporarily passed from Great Britain to the United States, which has thirty-one battleships in commission. The number is to b* reduced to twenty-nine in 1920. On the other hand, Great Britain has twenty -two> battleships and five cruisers in a similar state of readiness. With all due respect to the United States of America, and despite my strong belief in that other great branch of our own family, I think it a serious matter that the British Navy, which has held Australia as an integral part of the Empire, and has stood for our racial pride against the whole world should even for one moment sink into second place.
– I doubt the accuracy of the cabled statement to which the honorable member refers.
– But Archibald Hurd is. a recognised authority.
– I know that, but I doubt the accuracy of the report. ‘
– We must -have regard to the efficiency of the guns and the men of the British Navy.
– I have a strong belief in both. The British Navy has proved itself over and over again, and we may be sure that it will always prove superior in the valour of its men to any other sea force. But even allowing for that fact, it is a serious -position that we ‘ should have permitted our _ Navy - because we are just as rauch concerned in the British * Navy as England is, and are more dependent upon it - to sink into second place, even if the falling away be only temporary. I bring this fact before the House to emphasize the world-wide difficulties which our delegates had to meet, and some of the great facts which they were up against when they were endeavouring to obtain the best possible deal for Australia.
There is’ another matter which appeals to me very strongly in connexion with the delegation and the Peace Treaty, and that i3 the question of our trade. America today is undoubtedly making a tremendous effort to oust Britain’ from her position as the premier trading country of the world, and it is up to all the Dominions of the Empire, scattered as they are, to see to it that Great Britain is not ousted from pride of place. The Prime Minister, in speaking in this House last week, stated that it was owing to the attitude of President Wilson that we were able to secure indemnities only in respect of reparation - that by his attitude Great Britain had lost at one stroke £6,000,000,000, and that we in Australia had lost. £300,000,000. With all due deference to President Wilson, I think it quite possible that that was a deeply conceived plan to injure the trade of Great Britain for the benefit of America. I do not for one moment ‘ say that President Wilson would do anything to injure Great Britain as against the rest of the world, but, judging by the party from which he sprang, it is quite natural to suppose that he would adopt such an attitude as would bring Great Britain into the position of second to America. The sweeping away of these enormous amounts by way of indemnity has undoubtedly placed us in a far more difficult position than we should have been had we been able to stand on the indemnity proposals put forward by our own Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) .
One other possible view . in connexion with this matter is that President Wilson, knowing that the United States Senate would put up a very strong fight against a Treaty of Peace of the nature which’ he had to bring back, used the. reduced amount which had to be paid to the British Empire and its Dependencies by way of indemnity as a lever to bring over the Oppositionists in America to the belief that he had secured the best possible Treaty, and that it would be safe for them to sign it. I put these suggestions to the House with a view of showing that the proposition before us is not. nearly as simple as it looks. To my way of thinking, our delegates have done a wonderful work, in coming back to us as they have with ‘the mandate which they have achieved for Australia, and in having placed Australia in the position which she occupies to-day.
In to-day’s newspapers it is reported that Viscount Milner, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, has stated that Australia, for the first time, stands as a nation. That fact is slurred over by our friends of the Opposition. We know, however, that it is true. We cannot too’ strongly emphasize the point that it was made possible only because of the stand taken up by the Prime Minister and his co-Peace delegate. President Wilson, who was successful in reducing the amount- of our indemnity, fought it tooth and nail, and in the “United States of America today a bitter, fierce fight is going on as. to whether the United States of America should accept a Treaty which allows Australia, Canada, and South Africa to be. recognised as separate nations attached to the British Empire. I propose to make a brief quotation showing what is going on in the .United States of America today. Mr. Taft, whom I had the pleasureof hearing while passing through Canada, appeared to be one of Great Britain ‘» strongest friends. Hearing him speak at Toronto, as I did on the occasion to which I refer, one would have thought that hewas as good a Britisher as any man ever born in the Empire. But he, too, has shown himself to be rather doubtful so- far as the position of Australia is concerned. According to a letter published by a, local newspaper from its Canadian correspondent, he has said that he would counsel his fellow Republicans in the Senate to deny Canada the right of separate representation in the Council of the League of Nations. The point of this statement, as emphasized by the Canadian press correspondent, is that Mr. Taft’s interpretation would put Canada and Australia in a lower scale than Hayti, Honduras,
Nicaragua, or any of the Latin- American satellites of the United States of America, which made no contribution to the war. I wish to stress the point that unless our delegates had stood firmly to their contention “that Australia and the other outlying Dominions of the Empire should have a free and equal voice, as nations in the Council of the League of Nations, we should have been just as absolutely under the domination of the United States of America as the South American States are. It is rightly stated in this newspaper correspondent’s letter that had Mr. Taft’s view of the position been accepted by our delegates - had our delegates failed to achieve that vital point - we should never have begun to be a nation, but would have passed from the control of the British Empire to the domination of another Power. It seems to me that, under these conditions, we cannot overpraise the work done by our delegates.
But that is not the full extent of the American position. President Wilson, addresing a large audience at Spokane a few days ago, in answer to those senators who objected to Great Britain and the Dominions having separate votes in the League of Nations, said - that there was no danger to the United States on that score, because the decisions of the League Council must be unanimous. Thus the United States, with her one vote, could veto any of the Council’s decisions.
He was followed by a member of the Opposition, who made this statement at St. Louis -
At .St. Louis (Missouri), Senator Johnson, who is following up president Wilson in an anti-League of Nations crusade, said that if the Peace Treaty were adopted Great Britain and Japan would control the United States’ foreign policy. President Wilson had been unable to explain why Great Britain had been given six votes and the .United States only one.
This is the sort of thing one meets with in America. -
He added, “ We don’t have to become partners of burglars simply because we cannot prevent burglary.”
Seeing that the greatest Republic in the world is so difficult to handle, those honorable members who may feel a little dissatisfied with the results achieved at the Peace Conference, must recognise that what has been done for Australia is very remarkable.
The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) has moved an amendment, the meaning of which is to postpone in definitely the handling of the Treaty. If there were nothing else in the Treaty to commend itself to the people of Australia, surely the terms arrived at in connexion with Labour are sufficient to cause all Australians to welcome it with open arms. In Article 427 of the Peace Treaty is incorporated the following statement of general principles : -
The High Contracting Parties, recognising that the well-being, physical, moral, and intellectual, of industrial wage-earners is of supreme international importance, have framed, in order to further this great end, the permanent machinery provided for in section I., and associated with that of the League of Nations.
They recognise that differences of climate, habits and customs, of economic opportunity and industrial tradition, make strict uniformity in the conditions of labour difficult of immediate attainment. But, holding as they do, that labour should not be regarded merely as an article of commerce, they think that there are methods and principles for regulating labour conditions which all industrial communities should endeavour to apply, so far as their special circumstances will permit.
Then follow the nine articles which were alluded to by the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) last night.
It seems to me that this Treaty is the consummation of all the efforts of the submerged peoples of the world. We have only to look back through history to see how we have led up to this Treaty. No student of history would have believed that such a franchise for the workers as has been drawn up in this document could ever be achieved..
– Some of it has already been accomplished in Australia.
– But the point is, whether we are to raise the whole of the workers of the world to a level in which their .competition will be equal with ours. If we look back on what has happened in the past, and see how marvellously the masses have advanced, and made their claims heard and recognised, it seems to me that no Australian should hesitate at accepting the Treaty. The dawn of the liberties of the people was the signing of Magna Charta in 1215, but, after all, that was a very little advance, because it was not until fifty years later that Parliament obtained any power, and it was not until the Petition of Rights, of 1628, that it received any reasonable recognition from the Crown. It was not until 1714. upon the accession of a foreign Prince to the throne of England, that we rid ourselves for ever of the fallacy of the Divine Right of Kings. The American Declaration of Independence of 1776, and the French revolution of 1789, paved the way for the Reform Act of 1832, which established the middle classes in Great Britain. Disraeli’s Franchise Reform Act of 1864 extended the franchise to urban workers, and Gladstone’s Act of 1884 extended it to rural workers. The struggle of the people to throw off the burdens of slavery, and achieve liberty, has been a slow and laborious process, and it is truly astonishing that we have in this Treaty so wonderful a charter of liberty for the workers, not only of our Empire, but also of the whole world. I have always held that high wages are a good thing for any country so long as that country will produce at a reasonable rate. No country has ever continued on the upward, path unless its production has been greater than its consumption; but, unfortunately, in recent years in .Australia an attempt has been made to persuade the workers that their chief object should be destruction. Surely with the franchise contained in this Treaty, and with such an uplifting of all the workers in the world, we have heard the last of this ridiculous theory that the workers can only advance by destruction. If the workers cannot realize that more can be achieved by them by following constitutional methods, if it is not at last fully understood that the sympathies of the world are turning more and more to the, uplifting of humanity, then this war has been a ghastly failure. -In the framing of a franchise for the workers of the world our delegates have played a most important part.
The name of Australia has been established by our soldiers and by the work of our delegates at the Peace Conference, where they held an equal place at the round table of the Council of the Nations, and no word of .praise can be too high for them. We know the difficulties they had to encounter, and the number of obstacles they had to surmount. We know that here, at the end of the world, Australia is an unknown quantity, and a something that does not count. In these circumstances what our delegates have done for Australia is simply magnificent. The Treaty in all its bearings is one we can accept with the hope that where it is found to chafe it will be amended. We know that we have representation at the
League of Nations. We know there is nothing in this Treaty liable to endanger us that we cannot first express our opinion on.’ We have the support of our great cousin nation over the Pacific, as well as the maternal solicitude of the Old Land. Therefore, I hope that the House will adopt the Treaty without the slightesthesitation, and’ dismiss with the contempt it deserves the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Cook.
.- The Peace Treaty marks the close of one phase of a great historical event, and that is the purely physical fight itself. To that extent it deserves, and will, I think, secure our undivided support. But I am one of those who believe, with Benjamin Franklin, that there never was a good war, and there can- never be a bad peace. The virtue of a Peace Treaty is its ability to settle the matter that was in dispute, and although I do not see in this Treaty many very solid guarantees that war is over, or that we shall escape a recurrence of a similar conflict, as a whole the Articles contained in it give such a relief to the peoples of the world from the burdens under which they laboured during the progress of the war, and open such a vista of possibilities for the future peace of the world, that it is worthy of, and will receive my solid support. I approach the consideration of it from an almost entirely Australian point of view. One cannot be blind to the fact that, as Australians, we are part of the British Empire, and it may interest the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) to hear me say - although it is merely redundance - that I would not, and, I believe, no honorable member on this side of the House would ever take action to lessen or break our connexion with the Empire.
– It would do no harm if the honorable member said i£ oftener.
– I have never said anything else. With all its faults, I believe that the British Empire and its system of government are the best in the world, and’ I would not change them for any other. Approaching this question from the Australian stand-point, I cannot overlook the fact of our connexion with the British Empire, nor can I ignore the fact of our association and mutual interest with many of the other nations. It is true that in the Treaty we are given recognition _ as a sovereign people; although associated with the British Empire, we have our own place at the. table of the
League of Nations. But I hope we shall not hesitate to regard it in perspective, from the point of view of its effect upon Australia as an independent nation, so far as the conduct pf international affairs i3 concerned. One thing about the Treaty which affords me very much satisfaction is that, severe as its terms are to Germany, humiliating and degrading as they are to the German nation - and I shall not raise any protest on that score-
– I should think not.
– If the honorable member thinks he can read my thoughts, he is mistaken. I am taking up a much higher ground than he wishes to suggest. The point in respect of which I find satisfaction is that the. result of the war is a warning for all times to any nation that arrogates to itself, as Germany did, a claim to world dominion, and blazons across the international sky that they who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. However great may be the handicap which the Peace Treaty places upon the German nation, Germany has only this consolation, that it chose the arbitrament of the sword, and brought about its own downfall.
-. - And should be made to pay the whole cost of the war.
– The honorable member cannot get away from the pounds, shillings, and pence aspect.
– I think ‘ the Assistant Minister is right.
– The Assistant Minister takes the low level of payment. I argue on the high level of moral righteousness and justice, things that cannot be calculated in terms of money. Tha downfall of Germany is one guarantee that no other nations for many years to come, having in mind this event in history, will lightly enter into war because of the tremendous risk of bringing about their own downfall. There is nothing more dangerous to any country than the arrogation to itself of the right to dominion over other countries.
Perhaps this is neither the time nor the place to deal fully with the circumstances which surrounded the commencement of the war ; but I may remind the House that the war aims of the British Empire and our Allies were very clearly stated. And although I approve of the Treaty of Peace from the point of view I have mentionedas giving us a fresh start to try to build up a better state of things than existed before and during the war, I am painfully conscious of the fact that the Treaty does not appear to accomplish the things for which we entered the war. It is in no spirit of destructive criticism that I venture to point out wherein the Treaty, shows a departure from the high standards we set for ourselves in the early stages of the war. Mr. Lloyd George said, as late as 5th January, 1918 -
We are not fighting a war of aggression against the German people. . . . The destruction or disruption of Germany or the German people has never been a war aim with us from the first day of this war to this day. . . . We have never aimed at the’ breakup of the German peoples or the disintegration of their State or country. . . . This is no demand for war indemnity, such as that imposed on France by Germany in 1871. It is not - an attempt to shift the cost of warlike operations from one belligerent to another, which may or may not be defensible.
I allow these statements to stand as an indication of the war aims of the British Empire. Much earlier in the war - some time in 1916 - he declared that the fight must be continued to a “knock-out.” Lord Rosebery declared that there should be no cowardly peace; and our own Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said, in 1916 -
One might as well talk of compromise between good and evil as to say that civilized nations, whose motto is “ Eight, ‘ Tolerance, and Liberty,” should make terms of Peace with the great military .despotism whose motto is “ Might.” There is but one Peace that we can accept, one Peace that will avail, and that is a Peace whose temple is reared in a world from which the great enemy of the world’s Peace has been driven out.
Honorable members are well aware of some wild and extravagant statements that were made in the early stages of the war. .They were necessary, perhaps, to stir up and keep alive the animosity of the people, because a war cannot be conducted without an active and virulent hatred between the combatant peoples. But as the war progressed, those views were somewhat modified, and I remind the House that when President Wilson sought to enlist the United States of America on the side of the Allies, he adopted a very different attitude in regard to the purposes of the war. He said -
Later, when advising Congress to accept the German challenge, he said - . . We have no quarrel with the German people, but a feeling of sympathy and friendship. Germany entered the war without the German people’s knowledge and approval. . . . . Recent events in Russia have added to the hope of the future peace of the world. We arc accepting the challenge because we realize that in the German Government we could not have a friend. We are glad to fight for peace and liberty, and the rights of small and great nations, and make the world safe for Democracy. We. do not desire conquest or dominion.
General Smuts spoke in the same strain, and Mr. Lloyd George repeated over and over again his declaration as to the purity of our aims. The Treaty of Peace is the answer to all those statements, and I do not think it is a very satisfactory one.
The Peace Treaty was preceded by the Armistice, against the terms of which the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has frequently protested. He stated in the House last week that he considered the terms of the Armistice were an error, and that the Australian delegates were severely hampered at the Peace Conference because President Wilson’s fourteen points had been accepted as the basis of the Armistice.
– Does not the honorable member agree with him?
– I do not. The Prime Minister complained verybitterly in London in November, 1918, that he had not been consulted in regard to the terms of the Armistice. He said -
He was convinced that President Wilson did not wish that the Dominions, which had made great efforts, had maintained great armies, and had incurred huge burdens of debt, should hesitate to give the frankest expression to their opinion. Some of the terms were unsatisfactory. They limited Australia’s selfgoverning rights, and nothing but force majeure could compel Australia to accept them. . . . It was an unquestionable fact that the Dominions were not being consulted by the Imperial Government in regard to foreign affairs as they expected, and had the right to expect. He hinted that there were special and secret reasons why Australia must maintain an absolute right over her own Tariffs.
The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) was also reported as having expressed himself with equal indignation regarding the failure to consult the Australian representatives in regard to the terms of the Armistice. But Mr.
Burton, Minister for Railways, Harbors, and Finance, in the Union of South Africa, said, on 15th November, 1918, after returning from London to Capetown -
The last matter upon which the Dominions were fully consulted, and regarding which they would be consulted to the very end, was the matter of the Peace terms. There had been the fullest consultation with the Dominions’ representatives, and nothing could be more unfortunate than the creation of an impression that this vital principle had been departed from. He was perfectly certain it had not been departed from by one jot or tittle.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Armistice conditions absolutely governed the Peace Treaty ?
– I do; and that is why I approve of them. It was for that reason that the Prime Minister disapproved of the Armistice, and yet he recommends to this House the Peace Treaty which comprises, to a large extent, the principles which he condemned in the Armistice.
– The Prime Minister objected to not having been consulted before the Armistice terms were drawn up.
– He objected also to that clause in the fourteen points which limits our economic freedom. He sought to enlist the sympathy and support of the Agents-General in order to secure from the State Governments a protest to add to his own against the failure of the Imperial Government to consult the Dominions in regard to the terms of the Armistice. It is obvious that the Prime Minister was either misleading us, or was himself being misled, because, apparently, he was the only Dominion representative who made a complaint, and at least one Dominion representative said that the Dominions had been consulted.
– In regard to tie Peace.
– In regard to the Armistice, because, at that time, the Peace terms were the terms of the Armistice.
– The Peace terms were based upon the Armistice conditions.
– The Peace terms to which Mr. Burton referred were the Armistice conditions.
The fourteen points propounded by President Wilson will remain for all time an historical document of immense value, and whether or not the armistice was an error, whether or not the. fourteen points which brought about the cessation of hostilities, accomplished all we wished for or express all we had hoped, it is quite certain that the public of the world heaved a sigh of relief when the Armistice was announced. Those fourteen points were accepted as offering the basis of a settlement that would bring salvation to the world. It is’ a very significant fact that the celebration of the signing of the Armistice was remarkable for popular enthusiasm throughout the civilized world. The speeches of President Wilson at that time in America and in Europe, prior to the meeting of the Peace Conference, created in the minds of the peoples of the world a strong desire for peace and harmony, . and the cessation of international fratricide, and there was a .feeling throughout the civilized world that we had at last reached a stage when the higher ideals, rather than the lower ideals, of life would predominate.. President Wilson went to the Peace Conference with a strong conviction that he would secure the establishment of a League of Nations, which, based upon such a noble conception of international duty, would take us far towards the realization of permanent peace. I have a regretful feeling that, although the world was suffering from an overdose of devilry because of the war, the antidote of idealities which President Wilson offered te the world, had to be watered down to suit tie ideas of the old-world diplomatists to such an extent that the League of Nations is a very poor and timid thing compared with what it might and ought to have been.
The Prime Minister may jeer and sneer, and ridicule President Wilson, and suggest all sorts of opprobrious epithets for him, but I stand with the Minister for the Navy in appreciation of the efforts of that gentleman. I entirely indorse the statement made by the Minister for the Navy at Fremantle, when he landed, that he would count it an honour to have his name bracketed with that of President Wilson. On this particular point, at any rate, we have our two delegates at distinct variance ; the Minister for the Navy heartily appreciates President Wilson, and honours him, while the Prime Minister ridicules him.
– Where did the Prime Minister ridicule President Wilson?
– Do you regard the speech of the Prime Minister as ridicule?
– Yes, and I have heard such ridicule repeatedly. So far as I ‘am concerned, President Wilson expresses the ideals in regard to international relationships which, I think, are the right ones ; they represent the rela.tionships to which wo must come sooner or later if we hope to accomplish anything in the nature of a permanent peace amongst the nations. President Wilson had to go to France, and take part ‘ in the Peace Conference ; and it was quite noticeable that during the Peace negotiations he found himself hard up against the Old World diplomacy to such an extent that he had to water down his proposals, and abandon position after position, until ‘he practically retired a beaten man.
One feature of the Peace Conference and the Treaty which I regard as regrettable is that the vengeance of France - is allowed too big a say. M. Clemenceau is an old man who lives in the spirit of 1871, and he said, “ By everything I hold sacred, I am here to wipe off old scores.”
– He represents the spirit of France.
– He represents the spirit of France, and that spirit is dictated by vengeance. One can sympathize with the feeling, and understand it to a large extent; but the new, young France is not building its hopes of future peace and protection, on this Treaty, unless it be on the one clause referring to the alliance between Great Britain and America. Our delegates ‘ themselves, in their speeches, were at great pains to point out how utterly and completely Germany has been beaten, how her army has been broken up and dismembered, and her navy lost; how her financial relations have been crippled, and will be crippled for many years to come, and how enormous burdens have been laid on her. Yet France, alongside a beaten, humiliated, loaded, and crushed foe, is so. timid that she enters into these negotiations. If the position of Germany is so bad - if Germany has been so utterly and hopelessly crushed and beaten - then France has nothing much to fear, for she has easily the best of it, and will increasingly have the best of it for many years to come, as, indeed, I hope she will have. France has a lurking fear at the back of her mind, and a fear that I think is soundly based, because this Treaty is of such a nature that Germany will take the earliest possible opportunity for vengeance. So we have a Treaty based on revenge, with the possibility of another war of revenge in the future. So far from the Treaty proving an instrument to secure a permanent peace, it is based on, and holds within its covers, a dread and fear that, instead of peace, there is war looming ahead.
One definite result of this Peace is that we have driven militarism from Germany, though I think we have imposed it more strongly than ever on the Allied nations. The other nations of the world outside enemy countries, who are by the Peace Treaty so severely delimited, are now more strongly imbued with the war spirit than ever before; and it seems to me that militarism has a bigger grip on the Allied countries than ever previously in their history. That is due to the fact that a victory having been won, naturally the military spirit feels jubilant and elated. It was quite obvious that when the armistice was declared prominent military leaders were disappointed, for they had hoped for such a crushing military victory as to bring to them the whole credit. It was disappointing to them that the ideals of President Wilson should have so much sway and influence. But we have the position that this Peace is based on a foundation of militarism and the dominance of the military spirit, which is not the spirit that is going to give us the best results from the war.
– Is not Germany entirely responsible for that spirit?
– No. Germany is not entirely responsible, because the only difference between Germany and the other nations was that Germany had more highly developed that spirit.
– And forced iton other nations..
– Undoubtedly. Mr. Lloyd George himself admitted, a few months before the war, that, situated as Germany was, geographically, she had no other method of protecting herself than that of military organization and domination.
– I think the honorable gentleman’s argument applies more to people in heaven than to people on earth !
– I am one of those idealists - or foolish creatures, just as the honorable member takes it - who believe that the best work we can do on earth is to make it as much like heaven as possible.
– If that be true, why are you so unforgiving to the Prime Minister ?
– I have not an ounce of personal hatred in my composition for any man that I know of in the world. I am politically against the Prime Minister, as I am against the Minister who has just interjected, but I have not the slightest personal hatred or antagonism to either.
I think the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) will appreciate the fact that war was declared expressly to free the world from the military spirit. To the repeated declarations to that effect the Peace Conference of Paris has given an answer - and what is it? There were five men - the “Big Five” - who kept the other nations of the world, small and great, waiting on the mat at the door to know their fate. Nations have been bandied about, and peoples have been passed from one control to another. Territories have been seized here and territories have been seized there; and peoples have had to take their system of government and their rulers, and, in the future, will have to take their instructions from those five men.
– To save those peoples from destruction.
– That does not afford much hope that the military spirit has been killed or even “ scotched.” I am so strongly opposed to the military spirit, and to the dominance of the military class, either in Australia or any other part of the world, that the one feature of the Peace Treaty I do not like is this domination of five men for the purpose of controlling the destinies of the nations, for it entirely interferes with the policy of self-determination that was so strongly advocated. Artificial States have been created, and the wishes of peoples have not been consulted. The Minister for the Navy - whose splendid speech is certainly the best we have had on the subject in this House, and is, perhaps, the best speech of which we have read as delivered anywhere else - said deliberately and quite correctly, that when the Conference came to fix the boundaries between Germany and Austria, the peo ples concerned did not desire one, but the delegates were forced to fix one against their wishes. And for what purpose? It could not possibly be to promote peace, because the mere delimitation of artificial frontiers will not prevent intercourse or the growth of a mutual national spirit.
– It was to prevent the military control on one side operating on the other.
– And it is to military control, which is the dominant factor in the situation, that I object.
Lloyd George, on the 5th January, said -
It is desirable, and, indeed, essential, that the settlement after this war shall be one which does not in itself bear the seed of future war.
That is the sentiment which we can all thoroughly indorse; but the answer is two-fold. First, the world to-day is still at war; there is disturbance, unrest, disputation, and fighting all over the world, as a direct result of the war spirit, which is not going to be easily allayed. A second and more important point is that in every country the people are being urgently advised toprepare for the next war. That is far from the ideals enunciated by Mr. Lloyd George, speaking for the British Empire, who said that the settlement should not bear the seeds of future war. We are confronted now with the fact that war is still raging, and we are told to prepare for the next. I confess that the situation worries me. I desire to promote peace and harmony; but we have Senator Pearce, in London, on the 18th July last, after he had returned from his tour of the French battlefields, saying -
The destruction points the lesson that the only way to defend Australia is to defend it on enemy soil.
I suggested by a question which I put here a day or two afterwards that that could not mean anything else than that, so far from our policy being one of the defence of Australia, we would necessarily have to undertake a war of offence and aggression if we adopted this doctrine. That is exactly the policy which Germany adopted. The German people believed that the defence of Germany involved the invasion of Belgium and France, and that they were fighting all the time a war of defence.
– They never believed it.
– The German people believed it right to the very end.
So far from our being offered a settlement that guarantees us against future wars, the Prime Minister said, in London, on the 1st July of this year, that, despite the destruction of the German Navy and the defeat of the German Armies, he did not believe that Prussian militarism was dead. He said, on the 8th July -
When I return I am going to fight all extremists, whether Federal Labour, Bolsheviks, or pacifists. There is no way to hold Australia except by being prepared for fighting.
Admiral Sir David Beatty said the odds were a thousand to one against Jutland being the last naval battle. The Prime Minister said, on the 20th June, “ The first warning of the next war will be the roar of the cannon.” Admiral Jellicoe said -
Australia wants more ships. The lessonI am trying to preach is preparation for war.
Sir Douglas Haig, speaking at Aberdeen University, said -
We must be prepared for the future. Every school-boy student ought to be taught to shoot, so that when the next’ trial came we would be found a nation in arms.
Marshal Foch said -
Next time it will be well done; but England will not be ready, and we shall have to wait for her.
He added that the next war would be more than ever a war of machinery, and it was essential to have copious reserves of material, with laboratories and inventors abreast, and, if possible, ahead of the mechanical side. That is not only against the spirit of the armistice, but against the spirit by which the peoples of the world have been sustained; because, if this war was hoped to accomplish anything,it was that once and for all we would get rid of the military spirit and the causes that lead to war. Yet, before the terms of the Peace Treaty have been ratified by any single nation - because the British Empire as a whole has not ratified it, nor have the United States of America, although Germany has signed it - we have again the gloom and the dread of another and a greater war hanging over us.
– You can blame. Germany for that.
– Germany cannot be blamed for the nextwar.
– You are very unsophisticated if you think so.
– The Minister for the Navy yesterday emphasized what had been previously said by the Prime Minister in regard to the humiliated, degraded, and broken position of Germany. We are told, “ Germany is crushed, Germany is beaten.”
– For the present.
– And for many years to come. We are assured that not in our generation can we anticipate any danger from Germany. Yet, in the same breath, they tell us that our policy must be one of continued, earnest, determined preparation for war against - whom?
– That cannot be. Germany, we are told, is safe for the next generation. Crippled and beaten, it lies crushed and hopeless. I wonder whom those two Ministers had in their mind when they urged us so strongly and forcefully to anticipate future trouble.
– Could there not be an amalgamation between Russia and Germany ?
– I am forced most regretfully to believe that the danger to the world in regard to war is an alliance between Germany, Russia, and Japan. This Treaty of Peace is the one thing that cannot, and does not, prevent that, principally and primarily because it deliberately refuses to allow the enemy nations to come into the League of Nations. Outside the League of Nations, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey* Russia, or any other country forms a danger point. Inside the League of Nations you have some control over them. There will arise, as a consequence of that limitation in the League of Nations Covenant, preventing the entrance of certain nations, the danger of the formation of another league, in opposition to the one with which we are associated. If the League of Nations is to accomplish anything, its doors should be open to every nation which is willing to enter.
-Sothey are, when Germany proves worthy.
– The question of whether Germany is worthy of a place in the League of Nations or not is one which we are not in a proper position or temper of mind to decide.
– Nothing can occur under the League of Nations unless the five Powers are unanimous. If Germany, as a great nation, were admitted, there would have to be unanimity on the part of the whole six Powers, so that Germany, by her voice, could block anything the other five wanted to do. That was the fundamental reason why they kept her out.
– I do not think so, because that position exists already. The Big Five, with four other Powers, form the nine that comprise the Council of the League of Nations. That Council decides everything ; but it must be unanimous. For practical purposes, however, the Big Five dominate the Council. For obstructive purposes, one nation dominates the lot. The position, therefore, could not be worse if Germany were in. I’ am not concerned so much about Germany being in as about the dangers of leaving Germany and Russia out; because they will make a very strong combination. We already have evidence that Germany, Japan, and Russia have certain interests in common, and a certain mutual regard for each other, which will make them a very dangerous combination. If, by any means, we can prevent them being the focus, or rallying centre, of a destructive or competitive league, it is our business to break up their combination by giving them a place at the table of the League of Nations.
– Would you do that immediately ?
– I am prepared to do it to-morrow.
-The Minister for the Navy said that when they could prove that they had experienced a change of heart they would he admitted. When is that going to take place?
– The British Government said to the German people, “ When you cast out the military despotism under which you are groaning, when you assert yourselves and take charge of your own affairs, we will deal with you as an honest nation.” The German people did so. They threw out the Hohenzollerns,I hope, for ever.
– They did not throw them far enough.
– They will throw them a bit further yet. But all that the German people did has not altered the attitude of the British Empire towards them. The Germans gave an honest expression of a change of attitude towards military domination, but the Allies refused to accept it- Who are to decide whether Germany has changed her heart or not, and given proof of her conversion ? After all, we are not in a position to be the judges in the matter.
I am not concerned so much with the value of Germany’s admission as a member of the League of Nations, as with the dangers of leaving her out to combine with Russia and Japan. T do not trust Japan round the corner in international affairs; but, even putting Japan out of the question, to leave Germany out of the League of Nations to combine with Russia is to form a danger point that we should do well to avoid.
It appears to me from reading the Treaty as if the military spirit so dominated it, that even in countries like Germany and Russia, where the people have uprisen’ with the desire to secure greater control of the government of their country, and establish better conditions, the Council of the League of Nations is superimposed as an authority over them, apparently with the direct purpose and intention of blocking progress and hindering the advance of Democracy. I could not help thinking, when reading the Treaty, of the splendid eulogies bestowed on the Holy Alliance formed in 1815. There was that magnificent combination of the three sovereigns of Russia, Prussia, and Austria,’ who declared their intention of forming a. League to govern on the principles of Christian charity, justice, and peace. They declared that the gospel of Jesus Christ would be the standard of their, governmental administration. That League lasted only five years, simply hecause it proved to be an engine of tyranny. Canning said that it sought to bind Europe in chains, because it was a League of sovereigns to crush the rising aspirations of their people. I am talking of these things, not because I object to the efforts that are being made to establish peace in the world, but because I want the doors to be opened wider to all these better influences. The League of Nations, as now constituted, is simply a combination of military Powers against the rising tide of Democracy that is now sweeping over the world. There is red revolution in seme countries; there are aspirations towards political freedom and liberty in all. The movement takes various phases, according to the particular form of government with which the people are confronted, but all over the world the dominant spirit is the desire for better conditions of life, and a greater share :n the government of the people. Wherever you attempt to crush that spirit, you will encourage war instead of promoting peace. That is the one thing I do not like about this document.
– There is no evidence in the League of Nations of any attempt to crush that spirit.
– There is in the League as at present constituted. The League of Nations and the Labour Charter are, I admit, the two items in. the Peace Treaty that seem to me to offer any hope for the future at all, and they are the parts that really matter, because the Treaty, so far as Germany is concerned, is only a temporary and passing phase. Whether the £5^00,000,000 of debt,, in addition to all the other handicaps that have been imposed upon Germany, is only an instalment of the cost of the war which Germany is to be asked to meet, does not matter very much. Nobody believed that France could bear the burden of the indemnity of £200,00.0,000 that Germany imposed upon her” after the war of 1870, yet France emerged stronger, better’, more virile, and more active than ever before. Germany ma)’, with her wonderful recuperative powers, and her magnificent ideals of organization, get over her handicaps much quicker than we imagine. The League of Nations must, therefore, pro- vide, as I think it proposes, for some permanent arrangement that will carry on the peace of the world. .The Treaty of Peace will obviously, deal only with Germa,ny, and pass out in time.
I admit that the Covenant of the League of Nations is a skeleton. It is only the beginning of things, and I believe, with President Wilson, that if it only carries us 10 per cent, on the road towards peace it is worth hazing, and worth making the very best we can of it. I am anxious that we should not only make use df the opportunities which it does provide, but that we should honestly and sincerely face the dangers that are necessarily involved in it - because it is only a compromise after all - and try so to reduce those dangers as to make the Covenant >an effective and workable instrument.- Take, for instance, the powers of the Assembly. Every nation which is a signatory to the Treaty is a member of the League, and the League is divided for administrative purposes into an Assembly and a Council. The Minister for the Navy admitted frankly yesterday, in reply to my interjection, that the powers of the Assembly were purely advisory - that for all practical purposes there is nothing in the Covenant of the League of Nations to show otherwise than that the Assembly - that is, the representative body of the nations which are members of the League - has no administrative power. It may recommend, discuss, and report; but the control, the working, the administration, and the power of the League of Nations, such as it is, devolve upon the Council. That means that we have to depend upon the Big Five to begin with, and also upon the four Associated Powers.
In Article 8, the Council is given very strong and emphatic powers in regard to the reduction of national armaments. That is a most important feature. It covers the one thing that the world has dreamt of and idealized for many years as a possible solution of our troubles. This Article, asI have said, gives to the Council , power to determine what the armaments shall be. The Minister for the Navy said yesterday that we were not under any obligation with regard to the matter; that the Council of the League of Nations could not so interfere with Australia as to determine what its defence system should be, either in quality or quantity. That statement is contrary to this Article in the League of Nations.
– Not at all.
– I hold that it is. Article 8 distinctly declares that the Council shall formulate plans for the reduction of armaments; that those plans shall be subject to reconsideration every ten years, and that after they have been adopted the armaments provided for shall not be exceeded.
– But adopted by whom ?
– By the nations concerned. Right through we have to remember that we are a member of the League of Nations, and must deal honorably with our fellow members. Whatever may be the decisions of the League, whether we like them or not, we are in honour bound to accept and to abide by them. The objection I have to this Article is that under it we pass on, not to a representative body where we have a voice and a vote, but to a superior body which sits in secret, the control of our defence arrangements. I do not think the Minister for the Navy is right in saying that under that Article we do not surrender any of our sovereign rights in this regard.
– He is quite right.
-I think he is wrong.
– The honorable member admits that we must first adopt the plans arrived at.
– We must adopt them for the same reason that we have to adopt this Treaty.
Under Article 16 we have the further danger that, as a member of this League, Australia may be called upon, at the dictates of the Council of the League of Nations, to take part in a war, regardless of whether or not we approve of the reason for it. As a member of the League, we may be called upon, and we are practically required, to take an active part in supplying ships, guns, munitions, and men at the dictates and direction of the Council of the League of Nations. We have no right of choice. The Article provides that -
It shall be the duty of the Council in such case to recommend to the several Governments concerned what effective military, naval, or air force the members of the League shall severally contribute.
– The honorable member is omitting the first paragraph of the Article.
– That merely sets out what shall be done when war breaks out. We are in honour bound under, this Article to supply our share of the military, naval, or air force necessary to bring to a peaceful attitude once more a recalcitrant member of the League or an opposing nation. It is this surrender of our constitutional and sovereign rights that I consider to be rather dangerous.
– Is this not the only practical method ever suggested to put a stop to war?
– It is the biggest step the world has ever taken towards security for peace, but that should not hinder us from pointing out any hidden danger, or how the Covenant of the League of Nations might be improved.
The Prime Minister gives a very qualified approval to the League of Nations. Speaking last Wednesday, he said: - “I welcome the League of Nations, but who shall say in regard to the future what it shall be ?” As I ‘find that my time has almost expired, I shall not deal further with this phase of the question, since I desire to refer to the one feature of the League of Nations which gives, me hope. I had intended to make special reference to the clause in the Armistice terms to which the Prime Minister objected, and which deals with our economic freedom. In the Peace Treaty and the Covenant of the League of Nations as well, it is declared that there shall be freedom of trade and equality of commerce between the Allies. Article 23 sets out that -
Subject to and in accordance with the provisions of International Conventions existing or hereafter to bc agreed upon, the members of the League -
This is a matter of permanent and urgent’ importance, particularly in view of the Prime Minister’s statement as to the necessity for smashing up German trade. I shall be able at some later time, I hope, to deal with it.
One part of the Covenant of the League of Nations which I think is highly commendable, and from which we may anticipate very splendid results, is the provision that all treaties shall be public, and shall be made in the light of day ; that there is to be an end to the secret diplomacy which has placed such an evil part in connexion with the war. I notice, for instance, that President Wilson informed Republican senators that -
He was compelled to give the German privileges in Shantung to Japan, as otherwise Japan would have withdrawn from the Peace Conference. Britain and France had promised Shantung to Japan in order to induce Japan’s entrance into the war, and when the matter came up at the Peace Conference the two Powers asked President Wilson to deal with the situation, and he found it necessary to keep the promise to Japan.
If there is one thing which seems to have limited and obstructed the Peace delegates at the Conference, it wai’ the existence of secret treaties, of which many of them knew nothing until they were brought face to face with them at the Peace table. .
I must leave for a future occasion the further discussion of that matter, since I wish to refer to the Labour Charter in the Peace Treaty, which, to my mind, is the most hopeful feature of the whole document. Ramsay Macdonald once said, “We want a peace that will remove the causes of war, and that can only be got by following the despised doctrines of the Labour party.” There are some people who oppose war on religious grounds, and some who oppose it for economic reasons. There are others who, during this war, have for the first time clearly and explicitly opposed war on political grounds. Some people hold war to be morally wron?. I agree with them. Some argue that it is economically unjustifiable and unprofitable. I also agree with that view. There are others who believe - and I am still more in agreement with this class - that war is politically disastrous. We have red revolution stalking throughEurope, and eruptions are threatened in every country. It seems that the. Paris Conference has roused the revolutionary forces of Europe, and that we are marching steadily towards what appears to be a complete and absolute change in the conditions of modern society. There are two remedies, and we shall have to devote our attention and our best energies to securing them. The one is improved conditions of life for the workers, and the other is a share in the government of the country. I believe that the conditions of life are going to play a very large part in the future settlement of not only national, but international affairs. If there is anything in the League of Nations which will help us to approximate the conditions of life in the various countries, so that there shall not be the enormous disparity between the position of the working classes in the various countries which leads to “the abominable competitive system, then that particular section of the Peace Treaty demands our warmest support. Lord Roberts once pointed out in a speech, as quoted by Mr. Rowntree in the House of Commons on 7th February, 1915, that-
The conditions amid which millions of our people, are living appear to me to make it natural that they should not care a straw under what rule they may be called upon to dwell. Recently, unimpeachable evidence makes it clear that to tens of thousands of Englishmen engaged in daily toil the call to sacrifice themselves for their country would seem an insult to their reason, as the conditions amid which they live make their lives already an unending sacrifice.
If that is true of the British Empire, it is more dangerously and unfortunately true of other countries. I rejoiced to hear the Minister for the Navy yesterday expressing the opinion that the standard of life, the rates of wages, and the physical comforts that have come as a result of the war, and during the war, to the workers of Great Britain, would not be allowed to slip back to the pre-war position.
– Secured also by the aid of the employers.
– I look upon the employers in the same sense as I do upon the workers, because, nomatter what we may be doing, we are all workers. Mr. Arthur Henderson once said, “ The hour of Democracy has arrived. The world ought to be reconstructed on a basis of human brotherhood.” There we have the remedy for the trouble.
The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) and others are sometimes inclined to scoff at the idea of internationalism and brotherhood. I do not, because I believe that wherever we find people who have to work for their daily bread, there we shall find the same impulses, the same desire for a better and a nobler life animating the workers, and the proper guidance of those impulses is going to give Us a better, happier, and more contented world. If we have anything to spare - if from the stores of our experience and the advantages of our improved conditions we can offer these people any assistance, we should do so. We shall settle a very large part of all our economic questions to the extent that we try to help others to settle their difficulties. That is the spirit of brotherhood which should animate us - not being selfish or so superior in our ideas as to self-containment that we think we have no interests in the concerns of other people. I commend to honorable members the following suggestion made by Professor Gilbert Murray: -
The principle that will solve the problem of war is not Democracy, but Internationalism, or, if that word seems to imply a lack of proper devotion to one’s own country, let us say it is not Democracy, not Internationalism, but Brotherhood. We need the growth of Brotherhood within each nation, and Brotherhood between the nations also. . . . The orgy of nationalist passion, which the war has roused, will, in part, perhaps, persist, but will in part produce its own antidote.
The Prime Minister said we wanted more nationalism and less internationalism - a view from which I strongly dissent, and from which, I venture to say, the Prime Minister himself, in his heart, dissents.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– We have reason to admire the temperate and excellent deliverance from the stand-point of criticism, of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson). He has given thoughtful consideration to many of the aspects of the Peace Treaty, but he has failed to realize the spirit of generosity which has been displayed by the Allies in formulating its terms. He has criticised the document from the point of view of an idealist and pacifist. He has not criticised it with a due regard for the profound complications with which those assembled at the Peace Conference had to cope. He has taken a wrong view of the determinations of the Conference in regard to the League of Nations. The Covenant of that League does not provide for the. exclusion of enemy countries. The Allied nations have joined together and entered into a Covenant for the purpose of maintaining the peace of the world by a process of mutual arrangement and co-operation, and the Covenant itself expressly provided for the admission of Germany when she proved herself worthy of admission to the League. The honorable member asks, “Who is to judge as to when Germany proves worthy of admission ?” Surely he will not say that any one but the victors in the war, the present constituents of the League of Nations, should have the right to do so. There will be no difficulty in finding out when Germany proves worthy of admission; the fact will readily speak for itself. When she departs from her former methods of arrogance, militarism, force, and might, and genuinely moulds her representative institutions so that she may governon sound democratic principles rather than on despotic principles, Germany will have no difficulty in demonstrating to the world that she has proved worthy. When the defeated enemy has purged herself of her present crimes and shown some degree of penitence, and satisfied the world that she can be trusted, there will be the greatest anxiety on the part of the Allied nations to secure her admission to the League for the sake of carrying out the. terms of the Peace Treaty.
The honorable member says that the present note is that of preparation for future wars. By reason of the experience of the past and the amazing conflict of interest involved, the situation could not be otherwise. The only means of securing permanency to any peace is a degree of preparation for war, but in future the extent of that preparation will be regulated. We all say, “ God bless the League of Nations,” and we all join in the earnest hope that it may at least achieve a percentage of that which we desire it to achieve. ‘It is a step, in the right direction, and it requires the animating and inspiring spirit breathed into it by the Democracies of the world to give it strength and power.
The honorable member has taken exception to Article 8 and Article 16 of the Peace Treaty. He says that, according to Article 8, it is within .the power of the League of Nations to at once- declare for a disarmament. The terms of Article 8 do not give that power to the League of Nations. It is there stated that the League recognises that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and -the enforcement by common action of international obligations - that is to say, it has to be consistent with national safety - and then, in order that the various nations shall not suffer national danger so far as disarmament is concerned, each country is to be the judge as to what is its national safety line. Article 8 further provides -
After these plans shall have been adopted by the several Governments.
It is for the several Governments to establish the degree of armaments essential for their national safety - the limits of armaments therein fixed shall not be exceeded without the concurrence of the Council.
The point is that the League of Nations does not attempt to. interfere with the discretion of the several nations or Governments &s to what naval and military strength is essential to national safety; but, once that strength has been deter- mined by the nations themselves, and been submitted to the League, no increase of armaments beyond those particular lines of safety will be permitted.
The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) ‘ contends that Article 16 will bring us into the maelstrom of future wars, whether we like it or not; but, as a matter of fact, the Article does not bear that interpretation. It provides -
Should any member of the League resort to war in disregard of its covenants under articles 12, 13, or 15’, it shall ipso facto be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League, which hereby undertake immediately to subject it to the severance of all trade or financial relations, the prohibition of all intercourse between their nationals and the nationals of the covenant-breaking State, and the prevention of all financial, commercial, or personal intercourse between the nationals of the covenant-breaking State and the nationals of any other State, whether a member of the League or not.
That is to say, an agreement is entered into that they shall at once impose an economic penalty by prohibiting further intercourse in trade and finance with the nation which resorts to war in disregard of the Covenants. In other words, a sort or boycott is established against the offending nation. Then it is the duty . of the Council to recommend a certain course. It does not impose on Australia an obligation to furnish arms or armies; it is ‘.the duty of the Council to recommend to the several Governments concerned what effective military, naval, or air force the members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the covenants of the League.
I .join with many honorable members in expressing my appreciation of the splendid work done by our delegates at the Peace Conference. We all recognise that their status and the strength of their position at the Conference was due to the valour, courage, and chivalry displayed by our Australian soldiers on the battlefield. The important part played by Australians in the war entitled Australia’s delegates to seats at the all-world Peace Conference; but, at the same time, I acknowledge with gratitude the powerful help given, and work done by British statesmen in the interests of the Dominions. My confidence in British statesmen has never diminished. When we have men of. the type of Lloyd George, Arthur
Balfour, Bonar Law. and Viscount Milner representing the Empire, we can feel assured that the interests of the Dominions will be safe in their hands. Great as was the influence exercised by the Dominion representatives at the Peace Conference, particularly by our own delegates, it would have been very small but for - the fact that they were supported by the Mother Country and those British statesmen to whom I have just referred. It was they who made our standing more secure. The splendid results embodied in the Peace Treaty justify us in expressing wholehearted appreciation of the work done by the statesmen of Great Britain, and of the distinguished ‘service rendered by Australia’s delegates at the Peace Conference. I cannot extend unqualified admiration to President Wilson. No doubt his task was an arduous and difficult one; but until he was -taught the lessons of diplomacy at the Conference itself, and was brought- face to face with actualities, he arid his fourteen points furnished ‘ one of the biggest amongst many great problems with which the delegates to the Conference had to contend. It was only by reason of the experience he gained at the Conference, after hearing the views of those who represented different interests, that he saw the necessity for relaxing some of the ideas to which he had previously so rigidly adhered.
In considering this Peace Treaty, we have to contrast it with what might have been the terms dictated by a victorious Germany. If the Allies had been, defeated, there would have been no sentiment or tender solicitude displayed for the victims. In the treaties imposed by them when the star of the Central Powers was in the ascendant, we had evidence of what- the Germans were capable of in the matter of arrogant domination. Could anything be more hideous than the terms imposed on. Russian provides by the Brest-Litovsk peace; or could any-, thing be more hideous than the barbarous, cruel, and brutal ‘terms dictated to Ron m ania in the name of peace, or the way in which the Germans robbed that country of some of its greatest sources of wealth? In those two treaties the Germans reduced their unfortunate victims to the condition of ‘ slaves and vassals, and demonstrated what their idea of peace was; but the Allies have not attempted to follow their example. A survey of the terms of Peace enables the impartial critic to come to the conclusion that’ the Treaty is based on the broadest lines in the general interests of world-wide peace. That was the animating objective of the delegates. Although they were the victors, and although the Peace was the result of a glorious triumph over defeated enemies, the Allies eliminated the desire for revenge, and did not seek to regard their opponents as people who were to be trampled on ; on the other hand, they sought to extend every generous consideration to them. We rejoice today that the -sordid ambition of Germany for world dominion has vanished for a time - I hope for all time - and that German militarism is crushed. We rejoice that the doctrine of force and might, which was the recognised doctrine of Germany has ended, and that right, rather than might, emerges as the dominant principle of civilization. We must recognise, moreover, that the .result of this victory is the breaking of the greatest military Empire in the world. Germany, as a military Power, has been crushed, at least for the time being,’ and we trust that the more enlightened civilization of the world will teach the German people that true progress lies, not in Prussian Junkerdom, but in that peaceful evolution which is so well demonstrated in the Democracies of the British Empire and America. Peace by negotiation was advocated in 1917 by the Official Labour party in Australia, and was referred to by .the honorable member -for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) to-day. We must remember that the agitation for peace by negotiation was directed from Berlin. Germany had made most, conclusive declarations of what would be the minima of her demands in any negotiations for peace at that time. Peace by negotiation then meant that Germany was determined to stipulate, if not for a port on the North Sea, at least for some guarantees in regard to military and economic advantages over Belgium. It meant the destruction of the supremacy of the seas at present enjoyed by the British Empire. It meant that Germany was to remain intact, and retain her colonies, and also all territories she had’ stolen in past years, except, perhaps, Alsace-Lorraine. I thank
God that the insidious plea for peace by. “negotiation was never conceded. It emanated from Germany at a time when she realized that her power was failing; and if the British Empire had fallen into the trap, the peace which would have resulted would have been vastly different from that which we have to-day.
Those who assembled at the Peace Conference did not mean to devise schemes of revenge. They were obsessed with the idea that the world demanded of them that they should exercise their supreme efforts to secure a. permanent peace, and right nobly and valiantly theystruggled to do so. Yielding to that aspiration of every- Democracy, they set themselves to work to evolve a people’s peace. They ordered that Germany should make restitution of- the territories she had previously filched- from other nations. The Peace .delegates viewed the matter from a. world standpoint, and any peace formulated in conformity, with the mighty objectives which the- Allies had in view would still, have been liable to the objections raised by the honorable member for Brisbane to the present compact. I rejoice in the fact that , the delegates were fully charged with the knowledge that the people demanded that nothing should be left undone to achieve a just and lasting peace. As a result of their efforts an international pact has been made by the leading nations of the world ; and, as they have signed it, and we are convinced .of the bona fides of their desire for peace, a great step has been made in the right direction.
I am aware that .attempts have been made to discredit the League of Nations, and to brush aside its aspirations. I think the ‘League is a noble ideal, such as is demanded by the peoples of the world. The statesmen who met at Versailles knew that efforts towards the peaceful settlement of international dis”putes had failed in the past; but, thank God, they had still the courage to determine that, having regard to the advance which civilization has made, further efforts should be put forth to-day. The system of arbitration they have devised should provide us with at least some guarantees of peace. Disputes between nations are to be referred to the arbitrament of a tribunal constituted for the purpose. Let us remember, first of all, that the main objective is to prevent, if possible, any future strife between nations which is likely to eventuate in war. For this great purpose the Peace Conference devised a tribunal to which all- international differences shall be referred. In every-day life we have a civil system, under which citizens refer their differences to a legal tribunal for settlement. “We are accustomed to that means of arbitrament in our ordinary individual disputes ; and we are hopeful that the establishment of an international tribunal will provide the machinery for a similar, settlement of disputes between nations. The design is to- substitute reason, fair play, and justice for violence and human slaughter.
The reduction of armaments, too, is to be skilfully dealt -with. Annually, hundreds of millions of pounds have been expended by the nations of the world uponarmaments in order that they might be in a condition of preparedness for war. Tn the past they have not dared to drop below the highest point of defensive efficiency; but if, as a result of the advance of civilization, we are able to abolish that expenditure upon armaments in whole or in part, and apply the money to social reforms or in the reduction of taxation, how greatly will the world bo benefited ! It is gratifying, indeed, to think that if the whole of the present vast expenditure on armaments cannot be obviated, at least there is a reasonable prospect of a substantial portion of it being saved.
In’ the past a frequent cause of dispute between nations has been- the difficulty of the maintenance of territories intact against the aggression of other nations. The Peace Treaty seeks, through the League of Nations, to guarantee the maintenance and independence of territories in the possession of their present occupants by protecting them from aggression. Another important provision relates to mutual defence. Of course, all these splendid aspirations for the peaceful settlement of disputes sound well in theory. We hope that our advanced civilization will enable us to strengthen all efforts to that end ; but we must recognise conditions as we find them. Therefore, the Covenant of the League of Nations aims at a co-operative system by which nations will join together for mutual defence. The penalties tr be imposed on nations which resort to war in disregard of the Covenant of the League are primarily of an economic and commercial character, but it is recognised that these may fail; so provision is made in Article 16 for securing the requisite naval and military power to enforce the verdicts arrived at by the. League. Mutual defence is an outstanding feature of the League of Nations, and nothing is more gratifying than to notice that the framers of the Covenant were notsatisfied with the mere aspiration in this direction, but that practical means are provided for enforcement when force is necessary in the last resort. An alliance has also been formed between Great Britain, America, and France for the purpose of protecting the last-named country from German aggression.
Particularly was I gratified to notice the efforts made throughout the lengthy Conference to bring about a thorough understanding between the two great Englishsneaking peoples of the world, those of the British Empire and the United States of America. If that alliance is firmly and permanently consummated, the peace of the world will be guaranteed to a large extent. I cannot ignore the difficulties experienced by the Mother Country at the outset of the war by reason of the enterprise of certain American merchants, resulting in strained relationships that seemed likely at one stage to end in war between the two countries. I know that misunderstandings may arise again from time to time on account of keen competition in trade and for other reasons, but I hope yet to witness- the glorious spectacle of these two great Englishspeaking peoples standing shoulder to shoulder to preserve the peace of the world. Such an alliance would confer vast and lasting benefits upon mankind.
Person-ally, I have no illusions as to the present condition of Germany, and >the necessity, before we can possibly trust her, for a far greater regeneration than has already been demonstrated. I do not indulge in any mawkish sentimentality in regard to the present state of affairs. My view is that the Peace is essentially a Peace just to Germany. If there is any injustice at all, it is that Germany has been too generously treated - that she has not been made to suffer severely enough for her crimes. I do not forget that Germany’s hatred of the Mother Country is still being cultivated, and will remain; and We have to base our calculations on existing conditions. We recognise that the same whining hypocrisy and the old methods of Germany have been specially in evidence in connexion with the Peace negotiations, particularly when she waa called upon to sign the terms. Only recently we had Count von BrockdorffRantzau declaring to the world that German has been regenerated - that we now see the spectacle of a new Germany which commands the confidence of the world. He continued his speech by dealing very fully with the “ immutable principles of morality and civilization,” and, later on, dealt with the “sanctity of treaties.” Whilst he was thus delivering himself on various occasions, those who were in touch with the Government of Germany, after ( the armistice, engaged themselves in scuttling . the ships which had been surrendered by the German nation. This was an act of vile treachery, so characteristic of Germany. If she did not desire the Allies to have those ships, she should have fought for them, and given the British an opportunity to sink them, or, at least, she might have sunk them rather than surrender them.
– It is better as it is, in view of the lives that would have been lost.
– That may be; I am now talking of the act of treachery. The armistice represented a contracted, obligation, which depended upon the honour of ‘both sides for its observance. Those ships, having been surrendered, belonged to the Allies, and ought to have remained intact; but the Allies were sufficiently trustful to permit the Germans to act as caretakers, thinking that they had some degree of honour left. The Germans took advantage of the confidence of the Allies, and scuttled vessels which were, to all intents and purposes, the property of the Allies.
– And the officers have not been punished.
– Not yet. Admiral Von Reuter, who was in charge, is now safely under lock and key, and is liable to be shot. No doubt, he will suffer some punishment, but probably the generosity of the Allies will not suggest the extreme penalty. The fact remains that the “ scrap-of-paper “ incident was repeated.
A most extraordinary piece of burlesque, which excites one’s scorn, took place in connexion with the actual signing of the Treaty. When, after all sorts of bluff and hypocrisy had been resorted to for the purpose of evasion, Germany was told that the document must be signed by a particular time, Herr Bauer, the German Premier, in recommending the National Assembly to submit, said -
Let us sign! That is the proposal which I make to you on behalf of the entire Cabinet - to sign unconditionally. Truly it is not honorable. Certainly our opponents want to assail our honour; there is no doubt of that. But that this attempt to wound our honour may one day recoil on the authors themselves, that it is not our honour which goes under this world tragedy - that is our hope to the last.
Then Herr Von Haniel, the German Peace representative at Versailles, who was authorized to finally communicate the determination to Germany, wrote a letter, in which he said -
The Government of the German Republic has seen with consternation, from the last communication of the Allied and Associated Governments, that the latter are resolved to wrest from Germany by sheer force even the acceptance of those conditions of peace which, though devoid of material significance, pursue the object of taking away its honour from the German people. The honour of the German people will remain untouched by any act of violence.
That document is a strange. one, in view of the fact ‘ that force is the doctrine best known to Germany. Herr Bauer also speaks of “ the honour of the German people” ; that, it will be noted, was the main burden of his complaint; but if the German people had any honour it vanished when they ravished Belgium - when they were guilty of the hideous atrocities in that country and elsewhere which horrified the world: Their so-called honour reached a depth of infamy practically immeasurable when they sank the Lusitania. Their so-called honour was responsible for the war which resulted in the loss of 7,000,000 lives and the wounding of 20,000,000 men. These were results of the German people’s idea of honour; their so-called honour was also responsible for the murder of Captain Fryatt and Nurse
Cavell. Strange to say, Germany took the greatest exception to the Treaty-and this only shows her utter hypocrisy and untrustworthiness - because by its terms German “ honour” was “ wounded” and “ wrested” away.
I do not wish, to dwell further on this phase of the1 matter, but I must say that to my mind the Allies have displayed the utmost fairness and generosity in the formulation of the terms of Peace. They have not been animated by a spirit of revenge, which would have been justified; on the contrary, they have shown a spirit of justice and conciliation. If Germany, in the years to come, will realize that there is time for contrition and repentance, and show herself worthy of the company of the nations of the League, the way is open for her. We have reason to congratulate ourselves on’ the achievement of British statesmen, and of our own delegates and the Allied representatives, in the formulation of the Treaty, and I hope it will be accepted by . the House with complete unanimity.
.- Et is hardly fair that such a speech as that just delivered should- have been listened to by only six honorable members. Visitors to the House must sometimes wonder, when they hear addresses, which are the result of years of reading, and must have taken hours to collate, given to audiences so meagre. I take it, however, that if it were not for the Fourth EstateParliament would do its business like the directorate of an ordinary business company, and quickly come to its decisions after a talk around a table.
I agree with my Leader, the honorable member for Yarra’ (Mr. Tudor), when he says that the people outside are more concerned about profiteering than they are about the Peace Treaty. The unjust increase in prices is the subject of conversation at every table, and is the bugbear of every home. However, I welcome this Peace Treaty; and it is a pleasure to be able to speak on a question in which there are no party issues. We on this side, in connexion with the war, have made suggestions, and amongst them was one by myself. I could not get the Government to accept it, and, therefore, I introduced it as a motion of my own. This motion has been before us for some years, and I quote it from the records of July, 1917-
That this House is of opinion -
That Australia’s cost of the war (including pensions to disabled soldiers, widows, and children), which will in all probability amount to over three hundred million sterling (£300,000,000), should, not be funded and paid by permanent Australian national war debt, but should be paid by Germany, together with adequate compensation for the loss of lives, all of which should be borne by Germany in an indemnity.
) That the Australian worker should not be penalized by having capital necessary to pay the war expenditure withdrawn from profitable employment, and area of employment thereby reduced.
The portion of the motion which I wish to stress is -
The Treaty may not be all that one could wish, but we try to take the commonsense view that it is the foundation of an attempt to prevent the horror of murder which men call war. I could have wished that those who caused the war, even the inhabitants of kingly palaces, Emperors, Kaisers, or Czars, would be punished. I do not know whether it is due to the kindly feeling of the Royal House of England or not, but the impression certainly exists that those who have been most to blame, and who have occupied the highest places, are going to escape. I think the death roll caused by the war is nearer 10,000,000 than 7,000,000, if we count those who died from wounds and disease and the many aged mothers and fathers who died from shock when their nearest and dearest were killed. It is all very well to say that the Kaiser can picture the ghosts of all these millions appearing to him. The Kaiser is only a human being. Seeing that England did her duty by putting that lying monarch, Charles I., on his trial, in my opinion the Kaiser, the murderer of millions, the destroyer of the health and hap piness of so many splendid men, who are now limbless and eyeless, should stand his trial like the common murderer that he is.
One cannot always admire President Wilson, although one might do so if it were a matter of choosing a great letterwriter. He is a man of literary instincts and great literary capacity, but the deep regret that I have in my heart is that Roosevelt was not President of the United States of America instead of Wilson. There would have been no Lusitania outrage then. When the advertisement appeared warning Americans against travelling on that boat, I believe Roosevelt had enough rich red blood in his body to seize the men who were responsible for it, and to warn the Kaiser that if any American women or children were lost in that ship he would string those German agents up to the nearest lamp-posts. The Kaiser might have replied that he would do the same with the few Americans in Germany; but that reminds me of the answer given by Mr. Gerard, the American Ambassador in Berlin, when he was told that there were 250,000 German reservists in America. His reply was, “ And we have a lamp-post to hang each one of them from.”
I published in 1905 a little book called Flashlights on Japan and the East. Any literary brilliancy it possessed must be credited to my dear dead friend Francis Myers, who used the notes and information with which I supplied him. On my visit to the East, I saw its teeming millions, especially in those narrow byways of Canton, where my medical training made me wonder how human beings could live and grow up healthy. It might have been explained by the immunity gained by countless generations brought up in the same environment. I thought at the time that if ever therearose in the East an organizer for war equal in ability to the great philosopher Confucius, those Eastern nations would have the world at their feet. I mentioned in my book the various European nations, including Germany, which I thought would have been with us if the fight of East against the West ever came to pass.I said -
So far as we in Australia are directly concerned, I see, first of all, and more important than all, though ultimately worthless unless knit with all, one effective ally, one union, that will ‘beget a confident hope, or, rather, a sure trust in any future, and that is with the United States. The road thither may be very distasteful to much that is aggressively rather than self-sacrificingly British. But even if with cap in hand,- it were better thither, and with that purpose, than ultimately, with sackcloth on our loins and ashes on our heads, to put our neck beneath the heel of the Eastern conqueror.
When the American Fleet was in our waters, Admiral Sperry was asked in New Zealand what would happen if it came to a fight between East and West. He replied, “ All I can say as a sailor of the United States is that, so long as the Stars and Stripes float upon the. oceans of the world, New Zealand and Australia need have no fear.” It seems to me that this war has made an alliance between the English-speaking races possible. I see behind and beyond this Peace Treaty a league of the English-speaking races. I trust that ,no member will blame the United States of- America if they claim greater representation on the League of Nations than is at present proposed for them. If the Americans want greater representation at the Peace Table of the world, we should, in fairness, recognise the fact that there are more Englishspeaking people under the flag of the United States of America than under the Union Jack. I think the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) said that Great Britain was represented on the League in the ratio of six members to America’s one. That is not fair. If America does not wish Australia to be represented in the same ratio as herself, I, as an Austraiian, will not blame her. How can we, with 5,000,000 people, ask over 100,000,000 people to accept the same representation ? In my opinion, it is not a good Australian proposition.
– President Wilson says now that on all major questions America has equal voting power with Great Britain in the League of Nations.
– That is as it should be, and I do not think any Britisher would object to it.
The ‘.honorable: member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) referred to Clemenceau, *hat old fighter who is well named “the tiger/’ I remember him in my student clays, in the early eighties, when he was known as, perhaps, the best left-handed sword fighter in Europe. One notorious dueller of those days, who challenged and fought everybody who disagreed with him, never challenged Clemenceau, who was a formidable antagonist. Clemenceau was a physician by profession, but went in for politics and literature’. That may explain why, when about eighty years of age, he had the pluck to continue to sit at the Peace table with a bullet in his lungs. The only instance I can recall to parallel that was the endurance of Roosevelt, whose life was saved through a bullet first striking a book before piercing his skin. He gave a lecture which he had arranged to give that night, and afterwards paid somewhat for his temerity. Clemenceau in those days, in the Quartier Latin of Paris, was known and reverenced as a fighter. He has proved himself again at fourscore odd, and I cannot blame him for feeling bitter towards Germany, with his knowledge of what France had to pay when Bismarck announced his intention to “ bleed her white.” I have seen the statues of Alsace and Lorraine, in that huge square in the street leading from La Madeline, draped with black crape on the 14th July. I hoped that some day those lost provinces would be restored to France, but I hardly thought I should live to see it.
J Just as this war has made great changes in our social life, so it has shown that the ideas of finance in the past were wrong. No one thought in those days that France could meet the indemnity of £200.000,000, although the French were, perhaps; .the most saving people in the world. “ La Pat,’ie,’ ‘ in France, however, is a phrase to conjure with, and the French people responded magnificently. Bismarck thought that he had crippled France for years and years by that exaction, but all the world knows now how he failed to do sow But what is that sum compared with the £30,000,000,000 or more that this war has -cost? No actuary cam possibly fix the exact figure. Are we, as members of the human race, gifted with the greatest intelligence, to saddle posterity with the interest on that debt for evermore? If so, Germany has conquered. She has punished us by- making us, and our children, and our children’s children, pay interest on what the war has cost us. In the first week of the war, when the offer of my poor services was refused, I put on record in Hansard, as soon as Parlia-ment met. the statement that I would never, by my vote,- saddle my fellow Australians and their posterity with the burden of that debt . I am still of that opinion. Grant Allen, or Sir John Lubbock tells us that when a race of ants attacks another race, there is only one end to the battle - death or slavery to the conquered. The victors are not such fools as to saddle their children with the interest of a huge debt. I am, of course, not advocating repudiation, but we must find a way out of the difficulty. Last night the Assistant Minister for Defence informed me, in answer to a question, that 329,883 of our men went to the Front, but the Department could not give me the number of those who offered their services and were rejected. I took the trouble, however, to keep some records, and found that sometimes 60 per cent., and on a few occasions 70 per cent., of those volunteering wererejected. It is, therefore, only fair to assume that from 200,000 to 300,000 Australians offered their services, and were not permitted to enter the Army.
– The Department ought to have the number of reject medals issued.
– I think the Department would have given me the figures if it was possible to obtain them, but I believe the records were not kept, especially in the early days. We may be able to obtain that information later by a reference to the number of reject medals that were issued. The point that I wish to make is that if 700,000 of our men offered for service, and 329,883 actually went oversea, that means that at least 60 per cent. of our available men of war age volunteered. The value of this Australia of ours at the beginning of the war was estimated to be something like £1,200,000,000, but during the war period it increased to a greater extent than did our public debt. In other words, the wealth of Australia is estimated to be £1,600,000,000. We, as humans, are only on this rock which we call the earth for a brief span, but the earth will be here for all time, and, in my opinion, the land of our country and its riches should pay our war debt. If we took 25 per cent. of the value of Australia it would be sufficient to wipe off the whole of our debt, and we should have no interest to pay.If 60 per cent. of our available manhood, of war age, volunteered, then it is up to those who possess wealth over and above a certain level to pay off the war debt. My vote will never go to burden my fellow-
Australians, their children, and their children’s children, with the cross of interest which the Prussian nation, headed by the Hohenzollerns has foisted on this country of ours.
I lived in England for six years, but during that time did not have a vote. For three years I resided withone family, but even then did not qualify, since the family had to remove from one house to another because the landlord would not repair the roof, and we had subsequently to shift to another street. The franchise of Great Britain and Ireland prior to the war was one of the least desirable of any country. The Statesmen’s YearBook shows that the power to vote is on a higher grade in Japan and Turkey than it was in Great Britain and Ireland before the war. Honorable members must have been amused when they read that in remodelling the British franchise during the war period it was proposed that no woman under thirty should be allowed to vote. The wonder is that it was not proposed that a woman should be disentitled to vote unless she had a certain number of back teeth. The manhood of Great Britain, however, has now been placed on a better footing so far as the exercise of the franchise is concerned. As a member of the Commonwealth parliamentary party which visited England a few years ago, I was invited to speak at a meeting between the Dominion representatives and British parliamentarians, and I told the company present that while I lived in England I was robbed of my franchise. I declared that until every man and woman in Great Britain and Ireland had the power to exercise the franchise, they could be described as being little better than a Parliament of barbarians.
– What did they say to that?
– The Conservatives looked rather blue, and a Radical told me afterwards that if I were to remain in England for 1,000 years I would not be asked again to speak at such a function. The franchise, however, has been widened there, and, after all, I have a strong belief in that nation, which by its language has dominated the Celt, whether in Ireland, Wales, or Scotland. I have a great belief in its potentialities if the people be given achance. While we were in London we walked down a street which was no wider than my shoulders.
We can all admire a limited monarchy, because if it does not deserve respect it will soon be removed. ‘ But an unlimited monarchy simply means vermin and parasites. This war has removed so many of them that I am reminded of a recent cartoon in the Sydney Bulletin, entitled “ Has any one any old crowns to sell? “’ This war has eliminated for all time autocratic monarchies, and I am hopeful that as a result of the League of Nations ‘ we shall have an end to war and the murder that war means. No one who has been on a battlefield speaks of the “ glory of war.” Sherman, the American, described war as “ hell,” and Napoleon said of the horrors of war that next to those of defeat were those of victory.
It is probable that a tunnel will soon connect England with France. But for the war such a project would have been impossible, and the carrying out of it will mean that, notwithstanding the great work done by the British Fleet, the transport of troops from England to France will be much easier than it was during the recent conflict. I welcome this Peace Treaty; I am glad that we have it. There can De no real objection to it, and I hope it will soon be ratified. Let us welcome the Peace, and build up a friendship and brotherhood with the United States of America.
In offering a warning to the House, I wish to say that I- have never spoken a word against Japan. My only regret is that in my little book Flashlights on Japan I speak of the Japanese as “ Japs.” The Japanese object to being so described. They say that we Australians would not like to be called “Austs.”
– But we speak of the “ Aussies.”
Dr. MALONEY..That is a name which we have applied to our own men. The J apanese ask how Englishmen would like to be called “Engs,” or Britishers “Brits.” (.Writing of Japan in my little work I state that - ,
There is that in her, hardly yet beginning to move, of which all the West is lamentably ignorant. Beyond all the Fatherland love, all the Mikado worship, there is a universal sense of mighty destiny. You may feel it in the words of Katsura- “ Whether or not it is the destiny of Japan to be the leader of the Bast remains to be unfolded. But if ever that responsibility shall be hers, of one thing the world may be sure, she will not willingly retrace her steps, and she will, at least, endeavour to persuade the East to do what, she has done herself, and more perfectly.”
Japan has been a loyal Ally. Her fleets during the war protected our coastal cities. No one who has a knowledge of the sea will say that our good ship Australia could have protected our coastline from Brisbane to Perth. The rest of our Fleet would not have been any match for the combined German Fleet, which, unfortunately, defeated a British squadron on the west coast of South America, but, in turn, met with defeat on the east side of South America. Had Japan, been an Ally of Germany, we might have been endeavouring to-day to speak Japanese or to learn German. I cannot rid myself of that feeling. I, therefore, ask honorable members to read that wonderful letter written by Herbert Spencer, one of our greatest philosophers, in reply to a request from the Japanese nation as to the best means of escaping entangling alliances. His advice, which was acted’ upon, was that they should adopt the policy of “Japan for the Japanese.” Japan will not object - if she did,’ she would be unjust - if we say to her, “We are following your example by adopting the policy of Australia for Australians and the people of our own race. If you can show that any Australians are settling in Japan, we will allow an equal number of Japanese to settle here. If any Australians have purchased land in your territory, we will allow Japanese to acquire an equal area here.” That might seem to be, after all, an empty offer, since no Australians own an inch of land in Japan. It is the law of that country that foreigners shall not have the right to acquire land there, and even now the Japanese Government are buying up concessions granted to religious organizations.
Let us treat Japan as an Ally that helped us when we were on our knees. We should not tolerate the hurling of in-, suits at her in the shape of cartoons that are unworthy of the papers that print them and of the minds that create them. She has “ played the game “ according .to her lights, and with the knowledge that she has a great destiny, it is up to us not to insult her in any way, but to treat her in the friendliest possible manner. If she enters the League of Nations, then I believe that, by means of this League, we shall lay a foundation upon which the pinnacle of peace will be reared before a triumphant world, and war will be banished evermore.
.” - Australia has- every reason to congratulate itself on the Treaty which has been submitted to honorable members, and upon the fact that it has been fortunate enough to be represented at the Peace Conference by two very distinguished gentlemen. Both the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) have enjoyed the confidence of the House, and naturally we expected them to give a good account’ of themselves. I think that the verdict of the people is that they have done even better than we expected them to do. At the Peace Conference Great Britain, France, and Italy were represented by their- leading statesmen, but amidst such a distinguished gathering our representatives upheld the honour and interests of Australia with an ability equal to that which was displayed by those with whom they were associated in the task of framing the Peace Treaty.
The League of Nations is a structure which is capable of being built on, as I believe- it will be, by succeeding generations, but even if President Wilson had not promulgated the idea beforehand . the representatives of the fighting forces would- have arrived at some scheme for the purpose of gathering together the threads that were in existence, and were permeating the minds of the leading public men associated with the Peace Conference. They must have realized the necessity for building up some structure, no matter how skeleton it might be, that would give a sort of guarantee for future peace. Although credit must be given to the. Americans for promulgating the idea of a League of Nations, I do not for one moment think that the moral tone of the other allied nations was at such a low ebb that something of the nature would not have been built up even without the suggestion put forward by President Wilson.
Some honorable members claim that the League of Nations will not prevent the recurrence of war. It is hard to say what may happen in the future. The best thing we can do is to reason by analogy. In those dreadful concluding days of July, 1914, and early in August, the leading statesmen of Europe realized that Germany .had prepared for war, and was ready for action, but nevertheless they did. “ not despair of averting a conflict. Italy was economically bound to Germany at the time, and, indeed,, was so bound, for two years afterwards, and .therefore could take very little action in regard to the matter; but Sir Edward Grey, Mr. Asquith, and the statesmen of France did all they could to avert a war. That they were unsuccessful was entirely owing to the fact that Prussia, that great disturber of the peace of Europe from the time of Frederick the Great until the last Hohenzollern disappeared at the armistice, having but one industry in all that period of ia century and- a half, and that was war. Can it be claimed that if there had been a League of Nations in existence in 1914 it would not have been an effective factor in stemming the rushing tide of war?
I do not agree with those who hold that war is not likely to disappear. I admit what the honorable member for. Robertson (Mr. Fleming) says, that there is aglamour attaching to- -martial glory. I realize that youth is ever ready to take a sporting risk of life, and that theglamour of war appeals, to it ; but on the other hand there is a strong and growing feeling that war is not a credit to our civilization of to-day, and is an outrage on reason and common sense. I’ believe that we shall gain more opponents of war from that sentiment than from all the .advocacies of pacifists. I am of opinion that to-day the possibilities of peace are greater than they have ever been. The new map of Europe shows it.
In 1914- the Peace of Europe and of the people of the world was endangered by two predatory Powers, Germany and Russia. Although the latter country was allied to. us in the early part of the- war, those who knew it best placed no faith in it. They expected nothing from a nation built up on territorial aggression and inhumanitarian terrorism, and when “Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall” there was an end of Russia.. Many of us do not fully realize the position of that country. We are indebted to Dr. Dillon for much valuable information. He knows more about the government of the people of Europe than does any other man alive to-day, and his verdict is that the people of Russia are utterly incapable of governing themselves.’ With a peasantry steeped in ignorance, and possessing no religion - the. superstition, of the Russian is not a form, of religion. - and excepting the middle classes and that curious section called the “ intellectuals,” a huge population quite innocent of any ideas of discipline, there is not ‘the material for the building up of a nation. The revolutionary spirit is rampant in Russia today, and will continue until the people of the country have pluck enough to take a sporting risk of their lives. What power is likely to arise in Russia ? Czardom has gone, and there is nothing for the future except for the country to batter itself to pieces and split into provinces until steadily - there is no royal road to freedom - a military force arises which will be strong enough to shatter the revolutionary party and give freedom to its people. It is impossible to inculcate a love of freedom among those who have no knowledge of what freedom is. Love of freedom is the sixth sense of the British people. They have been trained to it generation after generation for a thousand years, and it comes to them as naturally as a duck takes to water. But that does not apply to Russia. It is impossible to inculcate the love of freedom among people who have no knowledge of what freedom is. However, there is no fear to-day of Russia being a predatory Power, and as the Minister for the Navy told us yesterday, the likelihood of anything of a predatory character arising in Germany for the next generation or two is very remote. Furthermore, whether there be a League of Nations or not, we may be sure that both France and Britain will keep their eyes pretty closely on that country. Nobody trusts it. No one with a grain of common sense would believe a German’s word. The people of Germany have made lying a fine art. Pick up any book written in defence of the war, and it does not impose on even the simplest intelligence, because it can easily be seen that it is full of lies, presumably with the hope of still deceiving the world. That Germany has been guilty of many crimes is a fact which has been frequently mentioned, but its greatest crime consists in teaching the children of that country to hate. It is a crime for which the Kaiser and all his crew should be hanged by the neck. It is a canon among the British that anything in the drama, in music or in literature that is likely to corrupt the young i3 unpardonable, and a nation that has sunk so low as to teach its children to hate is one that stands condemned. Nothing could be more infamous. In this line of conduct Germany has no parallel in history.
In this connexion, one curious psychological fact is worthy of notice. We often, hear it said that you cannot alter human nature. But you can, and it has been altered by two nations within the last two generations. Germany was not always the Germany of to-day. The Germany of the “ sixties “ was governed by the intellectual influence of the Southern States, and ranked high in literature, art, and morals. Present-day Germany is directed from Berlin, and in two. generations the Kaiser and the cattle about him - for they are not fit to be called human beings - have- taught the German people to bate. The Prussian doctrine has been instilled into them from press and pulpit. Even the Lutheran Church was only a corrupt institution for the .teaching of hate.
– If they had only shown the Christian spirit of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, all would have been well.
– The spirit of the Germans is almost equal to the honorable member’s Sinn Fein love of shooting policemen on a Sunday. The other country which I have in mind is Japan. No matter what our prejudices may be in regard to that country, Dr. Dillon, one of the Empire’s leading publicists, says that the Japanese are a civilized people, who are on. a higher level than some Christian nations. They have been raised to that level by the teaching of the children in the Japanese schools. They have adopted Western civilization, and the progress they have made in the last fifty years proves conclusively that, if a country systematically trains its children, it can mould the next generation as it wills. Perhaps that is’ the reason, why one church of which- we hear so much is always anxious to retain its hold upon the children.
The war has given a far better guarantee of peace than even the League of Nations, for it has caused the destruction of the two greatest predatory Powers. What country has been the disturber of Europe for the last fifty years? Not France. For a brief time, during the Second Empire, France was a disturbing influence in Europe; but that was only a passing phase, and that France should be a permanent menace to peace was unthinkable. Germany and Russia have been the Powers that menaced the peace of the world; and although we, in common with other countries, have paid a terrible price, we should congratulate ourselves on the fact that the present political situation in Europe is the best guarantee of a lasting peace. I do not say that there will be no more wars. Probably in Poland and some of the other newly constituted kingdoms the people will not settle down for some time; but the disturbances will be of a local character, and of nothing like the magnitude of the recent war.
I should like to say a few words in. regard to Japan. Nothing could have been more unfortunate than the speech delivered last night by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts), which, I think, does not reflect the opinion of the people of Australia, or even of New South Wales. Not being a Minister of the Crown, I am not trammelled by responsibility, and, therefore, I would like to state the position in regard to Japan as I see it, and as I think the House and the country ought to realize it. Before I proceed further, I desire to express my pride in the lofty standard of statesmanship in the Mother Country. In all modesty, I think we are entitled to place on the same footing the gentlemen whom we sent to represent us at the Peace Conference. These lofty ideals of British statesmanship are nothing new. Ever since the days of Queen Bess our statesmen have striven for the peace of Europe, and have worked for the advancement of civilization. Therefore, those who represent us to-day at the Council table of the world are only treading in the steps of our forefathers.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When we adjourned for dinner, I was about to refer to the Japanese phase of the position, and to pay a tribute to Japan as one of the civilized Powers of to-day which compares favorably with other so-called civilized Powers. It is as well that we should place before the country our views of what Australia’s attitude should be towards that Eastern Power. For good or evil, there are three Powers closely in terested in the Pacific, namely, Australia, Japan, and America. In my small way, I also desire to pay a tribute to the statesmanship of the Mother Country, and to suggest that we might follow its example in our relations with Japan. Some years ago,when Russia was making strides through Central Asia towards the Indian frontier, Alexander II., whom the wonderfully stupid “ intellectuals “ blew up, came to an agreement with the British Government to accept Afghanistan as a buffer State, Russia to be left free to operate as far as that country, and the British to keep within the Indian frontier. That arrangement, in my humble opinion, was one to which two intelligent Powers could come regarding interests in which they had much in common; and it appears to me that we ought to come to some arrangement with Japan on the same principle. There are some people in Australia who denounce standing armies and militarism, and yet, at the same time, are evidently of the opinion that Japan, as a sort of interloper, has no rights at all in the Pacific. It has always been the tradition with the British Government and people that we must keep a stiff upper lip in protecting our interests, but, at the same time, that the interests of others should also be respected. It is to be hoped that this will long continue to be a cardinal principle of British statesmanship. I will not say that it is time we should act on that principle, because we have already acted upon it; and the House and country ought to indorse the policy.
What is the arrangement that has been arrived at? The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) was on the rampage here last night, and, though we hope that war with Japan will never come, I can only say that, if it does, that honorable member is the man who, in season and out of season, has worked hard to bring it about. He has sought, and used, information which no public man with any honour would have made known to the community generally; and he has not done that in any friendly and kindly spirit to the Japanese people.
– The honorable member for Cook is a pacifist, and is inconsistent in encouraging war.
– I do not think it is inconsistency,but rather downright wickedness.’ Make no- mistake, the hem,orable member for Cook is no fool - whether he is anything else I will not say; but what I have stated is the policy he pursues’ right through the piece. He-was a member of the War Council, and he circulated private and confidential memoranda affecting Japan. Who desired such information from him’, and what right, had he to give it ? I do not think that we did our duty in that case; but, unfortunately, the standard in public life in Australia seems to tend to permit men to do and say what they choose.
The war is over, thank God,, and we have come out with flying colours. Let us, however, turn our minds back to the gloomy days at the commencement of the war. The professional British Army had made the grand stand at Mons, to their immortal credit, and had shown that it was capable of keeping up the prestige of the great .British historic regiments; but Kitchener had not then raised his big army for Flanders. In these circumstances Japan, for good or evil, elected to stand by Great Britain and her Allies. The British Navy was then in the North Sca bottling up the Germans; and who convoyed our troops? It was sometimes British vessels, and sometimes French vessels, but nearly all the time Japanese vessels. - If the strain had proved too great for the Mother Country, and trouble had occurred in India, and Japan had been what the honorable member for Cook says she is, she could have descended on our Northern Territory. Had she done so, where would we have been? There is a sense of fairness and justness in the Australian people if they know the facts; and I feel sure they will give Japan a fair deal.
– Japan performed special services in regard to raiders.
– Undoubtedly. Japan approached the British Government to see if an arrangement, could be come to with regard to the Pacific Islands, and it was agreed that, north of the line, all the islands should belong to Japan, and south of that line to Great Britain. This may not be satisfactory to those who believe that Australia owns all these islands and all the earth ; but any intelligent man would regard it as a fair deal between two honorable States deeply interested in the Pacific waters. Com plaint has been made by some honorable members about the “ secrecy “ of that arrangement. What hypocrisy it is to talk in that strain ! At a conference attended by members of this Parliament, private and confidential information was given, embodying the facts of the arrangements; and now they are resurrected as though they had just been discovered.
Japan has rights just as we have, and her rights ought to be respected by us. The Great European States have acted on that principle, except in regard to the two predatory States of Germany and Russia. The honorable ‘ member for Cook has pointed out that if Japan gets these islands north, of the equator, she will be 3,000 miles nearer than she ought to be to Australia. There may be something in that view ; but I do not think that the buffer State of Afghanistan rendered the relationship between Great Britain and Russia less friendly. There is less possibility of unfriendliness in the case of Japan, which has not the bad record that Russia possessed. At the Peace Conference attended by our delegates on the other side of the world, there was no attempt at deception in the discussion of this matter. All the cards were on the table, and the arrangement I have indicated was arrived at ; but it was stipulated that our White Australia policy should not be interfered with. This was done firmly, but respectfully and kindly, and I do not believe Japan is half as sore about the matter as some people in Australia endeavour to make* out. The Japanese are a highly civilized people in their relations with other States ; and in any case the high contracting parties will be able to remove any causes of friction.
There is one fact that Australians ought to recognise, and the sooner we face it the better. A day may come when some Power or Powers will point to this great continent, with its white population of 5,000,000 or 6,000,000, and what will our answer be when our position here is questioned? THis is not a matter of high statesmanship, but rather like one of high finance - it cannot be settled by orations from soap-boxes in the streets, but must be settled on a high plane in the best interests of Australia. It is a serious position for us here, who rightly claim that we are going to build up a white nation under the British flag; for there are obligations imposed on us, if not by written law, by our moral responsibility to the races in the Pacific.
I do not want to pass any comments unfriendly to America, but we ought to look at the facts of the case all round. America may have done a great deal to finish the war. I daresay she did, but I question whether her finishing of it, from the point of view of the Peace conditions, has been of such great advantage. It certainly has not been advantageous to Australia. Having looked at these questions from a pretty broad point of view, I may be pardoned if I take rather an exclusively Australian view of the situation now. The President of America and his opponents are stumping the States, and it is difficult to know whether the most important question, in their eyes, is the League of Nations and the Peace Treaty, or the next Presidential election. Those who know anything about American politics are aware that the twisting of the lion’s tail, and other familiar monkey tricks, are only part of the programme for the Presidential elections. America did not come into the war until after the last Presidential election. It is marvellous how these elections affect the whole situation. It is a country with a lot of professional politicians who have no principles at all. Their one aim is to be in public life, and they are willing to do anything under God’s sun to get there. Therefore, you are not likely to have a very high type of public life in that country preceding an election .
America is better off through the war. There are two countries that have come out of the war remarkably well off. The first is America, and the second is Germany. Japan, also, has not done badly.
– And Canada.
– Certainly not. Canada, although she has had a certain amount of gains, has had big losses. To America, with its population of over 100,000,000, and its immense trade, the burden of the expense of her share of the war is a mere flea-bite. Moreover, the war was prolonged by the Americans keeping out of it. The blockade, which eventually settled Germany, could not be made effective until America came in on our side. What I am leading up to is that in all the circumstances, America ought to have seen to it that a small country like Australia was not burdened with a terrible debt of between £300,000,000 and £400,000,000 as its reward for taking part in this war. Is it not a monstrous position that the wealthiest of the great Powers could not see - it was not that our representatives did not point it out to her - that the fact that we went into the war for our own protection, and the protection of the Empire, and the upholding of European civilization, was no reason why we should be crippled for several generations with a tremendous financial burden ? We owe this entirely to the Americans. Whatever party may be in office in this country in the days to come, it ought to be an understood policy on the part of this Parliament and the people of Australia, that we will not rest, but will persistently keep the door open until we get a further amount of reparation, including part of the cost of the war, and the whole cost of. the war pensions, levied upon Germany.
Look at Germany’s favorable position. She has not had one factory destroyed, and all her industries are in good going order. The industries of France were crippled. The best machinery was stolen and put up in Germany.
– That has to be restored.
– Some of the finest woollen mills in France had machinery that is very difficult to replace. The German villain knew what he was doing when he stole that machinery and took it to Germany.
– He smashed a portion of it.
– He smashed only what he could not take away. You can always guarantee that a German will never take anything out of his reach. Germany, the country that caused all the mischief, is practically ready from the jump as a competitor against the British Empire, and all the Allied Powers. We in Australia, as our reward, have to stand heavy taxation, and our children must bear it after us, because a debt of £400,000,000 is not going to be paid off in a generation, or more than a generation. That is a load that we have to carry round our necks. I do not say that the Imperial Government should help us, but we have a right to wring it out of Germany. It is the knowledge of these things that makes me so disgusted when I hear people talking about extend- ing sympathy to Germany, giving the Germans a tract, and praying for them. When they show some signs of real penitence, or prove that any of them have any real regret for what has happened, then we may alter our attitude towards them, but not before. T.he Prime Minister well said that he had no sympathy for the- German with his wife and three children ; he was anxious for the welfare of the: Australian, with hie wife and three children. So, too, I do not care a rap about what the German has to put up with. My first thought is to see that it is not made- hard for our Australian citizens to get bread and clothing, and other necessaries. After our own people, I would . consider the interests of tie rest of the- Empire and of our Allies. Germany is a far richer country than many of us thought, and we have a. right to wring the very last penny, from her, up to the extent of. the degradation that she has been guilty of inflicting on other countries.
– That is the brotherly love again !’
– Yes ; it is the Sinn. Fein principle, is it not?
The Covenant of Labour in the Treaty, dealing with the economic conditions of the workers of the world, is another important question. The best guarantee for the maintenance of our high standard of living in Australia, and the improved and. higher standard of living in the Old Country since the armistice, is to- raise and uphold the standard of living in all the other European countries. I think we sometimes labour too much the racial side of the White Australia policy, and do not put as much stress as we should upon the economic phase of it. I object to the coloured races coming into Australia for economic reasons. To give an illustration : We are told by many people, including our friends on the other side, that the present British rule in India isa. monstrous state of affairs, and that the Indian should be granted representative government. It is very difficult to set up representative government in India, for one reason because it is almost impossible to get the Mahommedans and Hindus to agree. Men who spout about constitutional government in that country might have the decency to look into the question, and see the difficulties that have to be faced. Our strong position in objecting to the entry of coloured races into Australia lies in the fact that they cannot conform to our standards of living. In India, you have the Hindu with his various castes. One caste will not feed with another, and will scarcely associate with another. A Mahommedan will practically have no relations with the Hindu, except for purposes of trade. If we had. Hindus admitted into Australia in any number, what sort of a country would we have with their different castes 1 We have the right to insist that everybody who- comes- into Australia shall conform to Australian customs .and standards. We are all one people, and it is’ impossible to allow anything of. a caste character to be introduced here. We have a perfect right to say to all these coloured races, “Remove everything that bars you from being on the same level with us, and from .conforming to our standards of life, and then you can discuss the right of entry into Australia.” The Indian can. be very polite, and if you invite him, he will come to tea with you, but he. will not invite you to take tea in his house with him. He dare not do it, because his caste system forbids it. We can .talk a lot about. the colour line, but I say the economic line is a stronger one. If they want representative govern- ment, and the political standards of Western nations, they must conform to the customs and manners, and economic conditions of the West. That is one of the reasons why it is important to us to raise, if we can, the standards of neighbouring nations. If we do that, it is the best guarantee for the maintenance of our own standards.
It is perfectly true, as the Frenchman said, that “ Life is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel.” Public life is a comedy to the observer, and one cannot help being struck with the comical side of many of the questions that we discuss. Our friends opposite, for instance, believe in direct action. That is the insidious poison that is being poured into the workers of Australia. If it takes effect, it will not be for the benefit of the workers, whose interests always have, and always will, come first in my thoughts. Every one in this free country has to conform to the law, but every one has a vote. If he does not like the Parliament and its personnel, he can vote to shift it, and get- a personnel that he does like. This country’6 destiny is in the hand’s of its own people, but our friends opposite are not satisfied with this. They want direct action. They say that they do not believe in militarism.
– Does the honorable member believe in militarism ?
– Yes, absolutely, in the defence of the country. I have no time for the waster who will sponge on the men who have been fighting for this country.
– It is a good old Tory expression.
– I do not know that Oliver Cromwell and his Ironsides were Tories. I recollect visiting the honorable member’s electorate on one occasion with the object of indulging in a little common-sense talk, but I was stoned by some of his constituents. Direct action simply means force, rebellion. That being so, why should we have all this canting talk on the part of the Opposition as to their not believing in force and militarism when by direct action they wish to supersede the Government of the country, and would have the ballotbox give way to force? That is actually what is lurking behind all the talk we hear in regard to One Big Union and like movements. Those people are deliberately misleading the workers. They are leading them down a blind alley . It is all important that we should have a conference of the workers, at which this question and others may be discussed in a way that will enable them to see in what direction their interests lie. We shall find that the toiling masses are in favour of reform and economic progress, to be achieved by means of the ballot-box, and that they are not in favour of wasting their time and energy in the direction of direct action, which must prove disastrous to themselves and a danger to the country. I believe that at the first or second of the International Labour Conferences, provided for by the Treaty of Peace, one of the first steps taken will be on the lines laid down by the Whitley Commission, to bring about better relations between employers and employed, and such a step will be to the interests of the workers and the general community. During this debate the Opposition have had a good deal to say in regard to peace by negotiation. The Treaty, we are told by them, is the result of a peace so secured. It is also said to be the result of the enunciation of President Wilson’s wonderful fourteen points. These are the claims made by our honorable friends opposite, who are in favour of peace by negotiation, and who advocated peace by negotiation long before the war was over. Is it not an interesting fact that the demand for a peace by negotiation and no indemnities originated in Berlin, and was subsequently supported by a section of the workers of Australia ? I do not say that those who advocated that policy here profited by it, but those who engineered it from Berlin to Australia lost no money by the movement. It is an axiom with politicians that “ you should not see more than it suits you to see.” I have been astounded at the standard of criticism raised by the Opposition. We have been referred by them to statements made by Mr. Asquith in the earlier years of the war, but we have not been told of his views during the last year or two because he has not been in office. Does it not occur to honorable members that views held strongly by statesmen in 1914 might have materially altered as the years rolled on ? Surely such a thought would occur to any one outside a lunatic asylum. In the early years of the war, Mr. Asquith and his party blamed the German Government for it. They acquitted the German people of any responsibility for the war. They Said that they had been misled, and they wanted to free the German people from the yoke of Prussian tyranny. As time went by, however, they found that the German people themselves were as much responsible for the war and everything pertaining to it as were the German Government.
The honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) last night referred to a speech made by Mr. Lloyd George before a congress of British working men while the war was in progress. While Mr. Lloyd George was speaking on that occasion, a working man interjected, “ Can’t you do something, sir, to stop this war ? “ His reply was, “ If any man can show me tonight a means by which to stop this war, I will set to work this very instant to put an end to it. There is no way of stopping this war except that of seeing it through.” So much, then, for all that has been said by the Opposition in regard to a peace by negotiation. That vast conference of working men admitted the truth of what Mr. Lloyd George said, and went out tightening their belts with a firmer grip, determined to see the war through.
Much has been said by the Opposition as to the creation of a military spirit, and the anxiety of military men for war. . It would hardly be a matter for surprise if men with a love of their profession of arms should at times have a warmer feeling towards war than has the ordinary citizen. Such a spirit certainly ought not to be encouraged by this or” any Parliament of a free country. But I would remind those who speak disparagingly of military men of the words of a soldier, who stands out to-day head and shoulders above all soldiers in history. I would remind them of Marshal Foch. I would remind them, not of the brilliance of his genius, which enabled him to bring the war to a close, but of his words, “ I will not unnecessarily sacrifice one soldier’s life.” If Marshal Foch had not agreed to an armistice when he did, then within three weeks the German legions would have been shattered. They would have met with a defeat worse than that which befell the French at Sedan. They would have become only a disorganized rabble. That great soldier knew that; but he said, “I will not unnecessarily risk a soldier’s life, and, therefore, I will agree to an armistice as quickly as possible.” No greater tribute could be paid to any man; and I appeal to my honorable friends opposite, when they, are disposed to speak about the desire of a military man for glory and war, to recollect what was said and done by the great Marshal Foch.
-(Hon. W. Elliot J ohnson) . - Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Time brings many changes. On the first occasion that I heard the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) speaking, he was “ slating” a South Australian Labour Government because its policy was not, in his opinion, sufficiently extreme. At that time he was an advocate of One Big Union. ‘
– He was never an extremist.
– If he has to rely on the honorable member for Wakefield, as an. apologist, then he is in a sorry plight, because the honorable member and his friends for years fought him and his party. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, however, has as much right to change his views as I have to maintain my own. ‘
In common with honorable members generally, I am glad that the war is over, and that the Peace Treaty is to be ratified. I believe, however, that this, like all Other treaties, will be broken. Every nation has broken treaties, and will continue to do’ so when it suits them. Let us hope, however. that this will prove a binding Treaty. I listened very attentively and interestedly to the speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), although it contained nothing new. The right honorable gentleman was not in his usual vigorous form. During his absence in England he has evidently cultivated a new style. He proved conclusively that this was a peace by compromise and negotiation.
– He did not. The Treaty as between the Allies was, of course, one of negotiation, but not as between the Allies and the enemy.
– He. claimed that it was a compromise with Germany. He lamented the fact that it was only a peace secured by compromise and negotiation.
– The honorable member is referring to the Peace Treaty itself.
– No; to the Peace itself. One of the first remarks made by the Prime Minister was that the advent of Peace allowed the flag of liberty tq fly over free men. . That statement is not correct. We are not free in Australia. Honorable members opposite may laugh; but, as a matter of fact, what is permitted in Hyde Park and throughout Great Britain and every other Allied country today is not permitted in Australia. We talk about the free men of Australia, but yet the Government, presided over by the Prime Minister, is so silly that it still gaols men for flying the red flag. If I were foolish enough to walk down Bourke-street to-morrow flying the red flag I would be gaoled.
– But the honorable member would not be foolish enough to do it.
– I am pleased that the honorable member has interjected. I have seen him going down Bourke-street waving a Union Jack. I would allow the honorable member or any other person^ to go down . Bourke-street flying the Union Jack, but, unlike other honorable members, I would also allow any man who wants to carry a red flag, or a green flag, to fly it, whatever significance may be attached to it. I would do my best to stop any body of men coming forward to attack me flying, the red flag at their head and with machine-guns behind them.
– That is just what they might do.
– The honorable member is like others on his side of the House. He holds up a bogy with which to frighten youngsters. In his case, the youngsters are those who are exploited in the community. Do honorable members imagine that they are doing good by gaoling men for flying the red flag ? How can they claim that this is a free country when persons who wish to -do so are not permitted to fly a red flag ? I would not go down the street flying a red flag even if I were, permitted to do so, but the very fact that’ I am prevented from doing so makes me want to do it. People who are anxious to wave the red flag will vote for honorable members, opposite at the next election in preference to me, yet I would not gaol them, for waving their flag.
– What bearing has the honorable member’s statement on the Peace Treaty ?
– I am endeavouring to the best of my ability to show that we are not free men when we are not permitted to fly the red flag.
– If the element of the Internationale is not relevant to the Peace Treaty, I do not know what is.
– I did not invite the honorable member for Batman to offer an opinion on the subject at this stage.
– I am endeavouring to show that we are not a free people, and’ that the flag of liberty to which the Prime Minister referred in his opening remarks does not fly over us. I may be asked why I am introducing this question. One or two honorable members may say, “ He is doing this because his selection ballot is not yet over.” Those who wish to wave the red flag may oppose me, and I may endeavour to defeat them, but, at the same time, I have no right to try to gaol them for flying the symbols of their belief. There is not an honorable member behind the Government who can in justice say that these people should be prevented from flying the- red flag.
– The honorable member has been speaking for ten minutes, and has not said half-a-dozen words in regard to the Peace Treaty, but has talked a. great deal about something which, as far as I have been able to discover, has no real bearing on the motion before the Chair, however relevant it may be to the question of a selection ballot as affecting himself as a political candidate.
– I can take my oaththat the opening remarks of the Prime Minister were that the Peace made it possible for the flag of liberty to fly over free men. That statement was so strong; it was not the’ truth.
– Order !
– At any rate, it was an incorrect statement, and the Prime Minister accentuated it and looked around the Chamber with pride, as if to claim that he had done it; but, I say again, that the flag, of liberty does not fly over free men when people are prevented from exhibiting political symbols that have nothing to do with any one . else, and which no one else is compelled to use. I could understand the attitude of honorable members if those who wish to fly the red flag should seek to’ compel others to do so, but these people merely ask others to share their beliefs, and seek to impose no compulsion whatever.
The Prime Minister made a very nice reference to the great work of our soldiers in Gallipoli, France, and Palestine. I believe that credit was’ given by the rest of the world to the Australian soldiers for the great work done by them in Gallipoli and Palestine, and the Prime- Minister , while in France, may have lauded their marvellous feats; but I have searched the British newspapers in vain to find where they made any reference to the feats of Australians in France, or gave them that credit which the Prime Minister did in the House the other afternoon.
– The British press did give the Australians credit.
– The Prime Minister told us that when the Fifth British Army was retreating, a small handful of Australian soldiers kept-the Huns back.
– It is a fact that they stopped the rush on Amiens.
– But what I am saying is this: The Prime Minister returns to Australia with the knowledge that there is a political fight ahead, and he has made use of his position and oppor- tunities for political purposes. In the speech he made the other afternoon he was appealing to the soldiers to support him at the next election.
– Is there not also a political purpose behind the speech of the honorable member ?
– Possibly; but I have as much right to make a political speech in the House as the Prime Minister, and 1 draw the attention of the country to this particular phase of the Prime Minister’s address. The laudation of our soldiers is not more than they ought to receive.
– Then why is the honorable member objecting to it ?
– Because the Prime Minister will make use of it for political purposes, and so will those behind him. There is not one of them but will wave the flag and say, “ We are the Simon Pures. These soldiers did this for us. What are our opponents but peacebycompromisers or peace-by-negotiationers.” If we have an election before the House is due to expire by effluxion of time, it will be because the Prime Minister and those behind him want to get to ‘the people while the soldiers are warm on their behalf. That is why so much is made of the soldiers by the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member does not seem to like it very well.
– I admit I do not like being beaten at this game. But the honorable member, by his interjection, admits the fact that an election is to be rushed before the soldiers’ ardour for the Prime Minister and his party dies down. The country is getting into a nice state of affairs.
The honorable member ‘for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) has told us that) all the talk in America about the Peace Treaty is a political dodge on the part of American politicians’. The language in which the honorable member ref erred to those politicians because of their attempt to make use of the war and’ the peace negotiations for political purposes was anything but nice, .yet here in Australia the Prime Minister, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and all those behind the Government are doing exactly the same thing. It is a very easy matter to discover faults in an enemy. Before we attempt to- ‘delude the soldiers-
– Telling them the truth will not delude them.
– It is a delusion and a snare for the Prime Minister and those sitting behind him to try to make the soldiers believe that they are doing things for them when their only purpose is to hold an election before the soldiers can ascertain that the Government will not carry out the things which they want done. The game was tried at a municipal election in Port Melbourne la!st month, and worked until the last ten days of the fight, when we took a hand in the game. And from every platform on which I speak I shall charge the Prime Minister and those who support him with precipitating an election this year for .the purpose of fooling the soldiers and making them believe that Codlin and not Short is their friend. “ Come to us,” says the right honorable gentleman, “ before you have an opportunity of finding out that we are a delusion and a snare.” That is the reason why the Prime Minister is making such tremendous efforts to get the votes of the soldiers by wearing a military hat as he passes down the street.
– The same old policy - “ Gott strafe Hughes.”
– As a rule the Assistant Minister tries to be fair, but he is in bad company, and he cannot- help an occasional lapse. Than the Prime Minister nobody is more gifted in looking ahead. I have never made a mistake in belittling the honorable gentleman, as many people in the Labour party have done. I have heard his ability doubted. I have heard many statements made concerning him with which I do not agree, because I never belittle my opponents. The Prime Minister will enter upon the election with a determination to win it, and I recognise that he has the. ability to fight strenuously. The honorable gentleman said- “When the soldiers by their feats of arms made the flag of liberty fly. over free men, they placed it above those who, like us, were with the soldiers, and those who, on. the other hand, wanted peace by negotiation and compromise.’.’ There were only about three. nasty stings in the Prime Minister’s speech, and that was one of them. The honorable gentleman elaborated his condemnation, of those who desired peace by negotiation. Then he proceeded to say that we had a right to demand a victorious peace.
– Hear, hear !
– That is the sort of “ tripe “ that was dished out to the people during the last election campaign.
The Prime Minister said that when the Peace terms were settled he objected to them, and expressed his opinion strongly. He admitted that the settlement was not what he wouldcall a victorious peace; it was a peace by negotiation and compromise. He said we have a right to a victorious peace, and to demand an indemnity from Germany.
– But all the negotiations took place between the Allies and not with the Germans.
– Has the honorable member followed the process of the negotiations? Does he not know that the terms first submitted to Germany were subsequently modified because the Germans protested? Does he not know that the Peace Conference considered how much indemnity Germany should pay and then how much Germany could pay.
– But the Germans did not consider that. The Allies decided that point.
– The honorable gentleman has a most peculiar idea as to how negotiations are conducted. The Germans had as great a say in the peace negotiations as had any other belligerent. Otherwise how could they possibly have escaped so lightly as the Prime Minister says they did?
– Because the Allies could not agree among themselves upon any stronger terms.
– No. The fact is that in 1916, according to Mr. Lloyd George, the Germans were howling for peace. They were beaten, but Mr. Lloyd George said, “We are going on to a victorious peace, and we shall beat them to their knees.” There is no soldier in the world who does not know that in 1916 the Germans had had enough of the war, and knew that they could not win as they had expected to do.
– Did Lloyd George say that the Germans were beaten in 1916?
– He said they were howling for peace, but that the Allies would fight on until they had beaten the Germans to their knees.
– That was when the question of peace by negotiation was first raised.
– Yes ; and if the Allies had been ruled by men of brains we should have had peace in 1916.
– At what price ?
– What have we secured from the Germans in the form of reparations as a result of continuing the fight? Since 1916 millions of men have been killed and maimed, and the belligerent countries have been further pledged to the pawn-shop, yet the Prime Minister now admits that we have not secured a victorious peace, and have not received the indemnities we ought to have obtained. In his opinion Australia ought to have received from Germany the £360,000,000 that the war cost us, and another £100,000,000, representing the capitalized value of pensions and certain other expenditure. But from what he said it appears very doubtful whether Australia will get any indemnity at all. I know I shall be looked upon as a traitor and a disloyalist for saying so, but it is my opinion that if the indemnity is to come into Australia in the form of goods, resulting in Australians being kept out of work, an indemnity is of no use to us. Every honorable member knows the truth of that. Does any one of them believe that the Germans could pay an indemnity in hard solid gold? Throughout the negotiations men have discussed how much Germany ought to pay and could pay, and what would be the condition of civilization after Germany had paid. One great captain of industry said that by the time the Germans had paid an indemnity in the form of goods they would be the best conditioned nation in the world, because they would have uptodate industrial establishments, which had been maintaining a high rate of production, in order to liquidate the indemnity, and that would enable them to compete to advantage against other countries.
-From whom is the honorable member quoting?
– That is the gist of article after article written upon the subject, and also of statements published in the Australian press. Those who are supposedto know how much Germany can pay and ought to pay recognise that when the indemnity was liquidated Germany might be hotter off than those who had received the payment. Honorable members know as well as I do that the .indemnity .which the Germans received from the French in. 1S70 was of no real advantage to them. It created a peculiar position in Germany. There was a boom which subsequently burst, and the French, who had been compelled to pay £200,000,000 to Germany, were in the better position financially and commercially. I know that in the present instance indemnity and reparation are impossible, and inadvisable. If the Germans were able to plank down about £26,000,000,000 in gold, which is impossible, another financial crisis would result. Therefore, when I hear honorable members who ought to know the position as well as I do harping on indemnities in kind, I wonder whether they really mean what they say.
– Does the honorable member say that we ought to get no indemnity at all?
– I repeat that if we are to receive an indemnity in the form of goods it will keep our people out of work, and we shall be better off without it. The only people whom such an indemnity will benefit are the bond-holders. In the past Great Britain was the greatest money-lending country in the world, and a policy of free importations suited the bond-holders, because the interest was paid in goods. But the British workman reached a depth of degradation unequalled by any other workers in Europe. One of the principal reasons was that the interest on loans by British capitalists was paid in kind, compelling the British worker to go without employment, whilst those who drew the interest on the money they had advanced lived in affluence. The position’ is exactly the same in Australia. Yet we hear honorable members talking about the glories of the Peace Treaty. I quite understand how, by talking about the glories of our flag and our country, it is possible to instil a certain sentiment into the minds of the people, especially when the question is handled by able men as this Peace Treaty is being handled. But that glory is of little use to the people. To me the Empire means the people who live ‘in it, not its broad acres and build ings. The paying of indemnities in kind will not suit the people of Australia, at any rate, not those whom I represent. That it will suit the bond-holders is quite likely, but it will be of no use to the Empire that I know - the people who work, and are not living in affluence on the work of others.
Towards the close of his speech, referring to the presence of himself and the Minister for the Navy (.Sir Joseph Cook) - whom I am pleased to see looking so well - the Prime Minister’ said that no one- could represent Australia but Australians, because no one else could understand Australians. He went on to say that he had always known that to be so j and I may say that I have always known it. But when I ventured to express that opinion during the war I was said to be disloyal, and might have been prosecuted under the War Precautions Act. I have always endeavoured to show people that British interests are not necessarily Australian interests. We may have much in common, but commercially and industrially our interests are not the same. It is the Prime Minister, and not a dynamiter on this side, like myself, who admits that Australian men should represent the people of Australia’ during a crisis of the kind. Had there been a little more talk to that effect during the war we should have seen more sane action in- this country ; but, as I say, it was regarded as disloyal to utter sentiments of the kind. We were even told that Australia was not doing her share, though now the Prime Minister claims that Australia has done more than Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa put together. I do not know whether he does that to engender ill feeling amongst Canadians, or as a kind of window dressing to show our soldiers how much better they are than the Canadians, alongside whom they fought. I do know, however, that during the conscription campaigns we were told that Australia was not doing enough. If that were true, then Canada, South Africa, and Newfoundland were not doing half enough. Why was there this attempt to belittle Australia while the war was on ? Why were the Australian people charged with a lack of duty to the Empire and this country ?
We have put this country into pawn to a considerably greater extent than is the case with any other of the Dominions, although we got no trade out of the war, except in the matter of our raw products. On the other hand, hundreds of millions of pounds worth of war orders were given to Canada, and to-day the Prime Minister taunts us with the fact that the flag of liberty flies over all, including those who did not want to fight. Of course, there was a section in this community who did not want to fight - who felt that their sons and brothers were fighting for the “crowd” that had been exploiting them all their lives. The war has shown Democracy what that “crowd” will do for gain; and the outcome will be that the people of the world will demand more of the good things of life from the masters. The war has shown how, under the glamour of the flag, the people may be robbed while our men are fighting - how the profiteers can charge 200 and 300 per cent. more for their goods. Now we axe told that the great Peace arrangement will settle all this trouble.
It may be asked why I am making these statements. I make them because I am one who has not forgiven, and never will forgive, the Prime Minister for breaking up the Labour party, and for the lying, untruthful, incorrect-
– He broke up the Labour party, did he?
– Yes ; he did his best.
– And he will break up any other party he belongs to !
– The honorable member anticipates me. As sure as the Prime Minister’s name is William Morris Hughes he will break up his present party, or, if not the party, some of the men in it. I am, of course, merely dealing with the matter from a political stand-point. As I was saying, it may be asked : Why I take this attitude, when we are talking peace - whythis clumsy and spiteful attackon the Prime Minister? It is because I know every act of his is a political act and an electioneering dodge. All the Labour party know that, but some of its members have a more kindly way of saying so as distinguished from what I admit is my clumsy way.
If we have an election before next May it will be because the Prime Minister wishes to appeal to the people while he thinks he has the soldiers warm on his side. What other excuse or reason can he have for going to the country ? Parliament is controlled by a National Go vernment, with an overwhelming majority in both Houses; and if there is an election it will be to save the political “skin” of the Prime Minister, not to save the “ skins “ of those behind the Government, for many of them will fall.
– Where do you find any reference to this in the Peace Treaty ?
– The Labour party is not to oppose the honorable member, and therefore, I suppose, he feels all right and cheeky.
– It will be all the worse for me !
– I am told that a farmers’ candidate is to be run against the honorable member.
– I am afraid the honorable member is now going away from the subject entirely.
– I beg your pardon, for I believe I am. We have often been told about political “ window dressing,” and that is what the Prime Minister is after. He has said that this war and this Treaty have freed all the weak and small nations from captivity. Have they ? We heard the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) claiming just dues for the Japanese, and urging that, while we claim our rights in the Pacific, we must give “ the other fellow “ his rights; and in that I am with him. The Japanese are as much entitled to their rights as we are ; but how about the application of the Japanese power to the Chinese? Are the Japanese giving that large butweak country a fair deal? No doubt I shall be told by the honorable member for Hindmarsh that I am foolish to say a word against the Japanese, but I would as soon correct the Japanese in their misdeeds as I would the Americans, just as the honorable member himself did. If Japan and the United States of America: get their just rights, then so should every weak and small nation.
But how do the Japanese deal with the Chinese? First of all, for purposes of the war, Japan took Kiaou-Chou, to which they are determined to hang on; and I do not see why I should not be allowed to discuss the matter when the cables teem with news of its discussion in America and elsewhere. One of the reasons advanced why America should not sign the Treaty is the Shantung position - and that surely is a matter quite open for discussion. As a matter of fact, Japan will not give China her just rights, because China is ‘powerless against ner. We have it on the authority of the newspaper press of. the w’orld that Japan prevented China from coming into the war in order, that China might not be in a position to claim its share of the good things the war might bring. If we had Had any sense of justice at all. or if the Peace Conference had had any sense of justice, China would have been protected.
– Are you sure that Japan is going to hang on to Shantung?
– I am reading between the lines, and I believe Japan will hang just a3 tenaciously to Shantung as she. will to the Carolines and the .Marshalls.
– Suppose Japan gave up Shantung, what then?
– I cannot see so far ahead, as, perhaps,, the honorable member can ; but what J have stated is on the authority, not of Labour newspapers, but of. the capitalistic press. Mr.. McCay, the correspondent of the Sydney Sun and the Melbourne Herald, has stated, emphatically that Japan’ is after all she can get, and would not allow China to come into the war in case China might claim something in the after scramble - for, .after all, .it is only a scramble- for the fleshpots of Egypt.
We are told that the Treaty is to conserve the rights of weak and. small nations, and T say that Japan is criminal, but not one jot more criminal thaw the British people are. While the Peace Treaty was being framed, the people of Ireland endeavoured to obtain their just rights, but were refused. Whenever any mention is made of the rights of Ireland, we hear sneers about Sinn Feiners and Popery. I know all about it, because I was reared in a good old Orange home. If during the last fifty years the British Government and people had’ had any sense from a national stand-point; - I do not mean from the stand-point of the interests of the Irish landlords, who generally live in England - they would, long ago, have given Ireland Home Rule of the same character as we have .in Australia. It is only just and right that they should. The Minister for the Navy said last- night that, if there is one thing which may be called the soul of a nation, that keeps it intact, it is its lan guage. The Irish people are a different nation’ from the English. They have their own language, and they are claiming self-determination and the right to govern themselves: Many of them, I bebelieve, will not accept Home Rule under the Crown of Great Britain. For years, I have heard it said, not amongst the Roman Catholic portion of Ireland, but amongst the Protestant Irish, that Home Rule should have been conceded. I can remember a life-long Orangeman saying to me, “We ought to get in Ireland the same Home Rule as you have in Australia, but no power to make foreign treaties.” “ That is all the control,” he added, “ that the British Government should desire.” The Irish are a small and weak nation; and, while they should have the right to- govern themselves, he thought they should have no power within the Empire to make treaties with any other nationality. Through the silliness of the British people, and the commercial desires and greed of the Irish landlords, Ireland has too long been denied its rights. If any sense had Been shown in dealing with Ireland, the English people, would, have had far less trouble, and the British nation would have been ten times more solid than it is to-day. The Prime Minister tells us that this- Treaty gives freedom to all the small and weak nations; yet to-day we see the spectacle of 100,000 British soldiers in Ireland, awd the British, Government spending £1,000,000 per week in the “ defence “ of Ireland. What a farce it is, then, to tell us that all the small and weak nations are free! While I do not agree with many honorable members on the other side, I should like to see the great British Empire solid and strong, not under an Emperor like the Emperor of Germany, but I am quite willing to accept the limited Monarchy of England, which is superior to any Republican system, simply because it is limited. I would rather have it than the Presidential system of America, because, in that case, the President has a power of which he cannot be deprived for four years, no matter how much his Parliament is against him. Kb one can prophesy the outcome of the trouble in Ireland to-day. Germany would not have been sp cheeky if she had not thought that England had too much, trouble on her hands to fight. Germany thought .that England had her hands full with dissensions in Ireland and troubles in India; .that the Dominions were careless of the Imperial tie, and would not fight for her; and that in South Africa there was serious disunion between the British and Boers. The Germans thought, not only that England would not fight, but that she could not fight. I tell those who formulated this Peace Treaty that, if they want a solid, strong British Empire, they must appease the people of Ireland by giving them Home Huie. No people like to be a subject race. The Irish have a language and aspirations of their own. We cannot, with truth, claim that our flag flies over free people under present conditions, and we in Australia have no right to side -with the British Government in their attitude towards the Irish people. If honorable members who want to wave the flag so much could see beyond their own noses, they would know that what I am telling them is true. My views on this question are the result of my bringing-up, not in a family under the control of Rome, although that taunt has been thrown at me many times, but in a household of exactly the opposite kind. It was only for political purposes that Sir Edward Carson was allowed to stir up the Protestant Orangemen of Ireland against the Roman Catholics. These political purposes permeate the whole of our life. That is why the Empire is not ‘ what it ought to be, and why civilization is not what, it ought to- be. We. cannot taunt the Germans with oppressing free peoples while Ireland is in its present position. Honorable members opposite know this as well as- 1 do, but they have not the courage to say so.
The war is over, and all the nations are rushing to get back to work. We are told that the Germans destroyed the manufacturing power and productivity of France, and took away her machinery. According to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) they are ready to start in the race for commercial supremacy while France lies bleeding. Honorable members know that it is not only Germany that wanted to cripple the industries of France. The British and American commercial and industrial men are out to-day to cripple each other if they can. There is no kindly allied feeling between them, because of commercialism. The Americans are out to beat the .British and the French, as well as the Germans, in commerce. The British and the French are actuated by the same motives, while we in. Australia know that our very lifeblood depends upon whether we can produce within our own borders what we want, instead of having to import it. The fight now is for commercialism; and, if it had not been for the desire of the nations to score off one another, Peace terms could have been settled in 1916, millions of lives would have been saved, and thousands of maimed men would have been free to help to produce, while Australia would not have been in pawn. Talk about the German Hymn of Hate! We are instilling into the minds of our children just as strong a feeling of hatred for the unborn German generations. We cannot’ throw stones in that direction. It was the duty of those who formulated this Peace Treaty, after seeing the horrors of war, to try to establish a civilized standard for the future. The war has been fought ostensibly for liberty, but we are now about to engage in a struggle to beat and rob one another commercially. In the circumstances, it is rather hypocrisy to try to instill hatred against the German into one another’s minds. I have noticed in some Germans a peculiar demeanour which I did not admire, but I have known some very fine men amongst them. I have known a few amongst my own countrymen whom I would not trust in any part of my house unless I had my eye on them.
This Treaty should have been signed only in the interests of humanity, but the trouble with America, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) is the influenceof political dodges. ,In England, Mr. Lloyd George brought the election on early in order to beat his .political opponents. Exactly the same thing is being done by our Prime Minister. He says, “ Have the election early, while the soldiers are with us and things are warm. If we delay it until May, the Labour party will down -us, so we will go to the country at once.”
.- I had not thought to speak in this debate, and very much regret that I feel now under a certain necessity to do so. The question . before the House is probably the greatest that the Australian Parliament has had to consider. When I heard the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), I imagined that, if he could clear up certain points, which had probably worried many honorable members, about the terms of the Peace Treaty, we would have a dignified pronouncement from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) of the views of his party, and that we would be spared what, to my mind, ‘ is almost the indignity and futility of a debate on a great question like this. The Treaty has been settled by all the Powers that were associated against Germany. To our pride, we were one of the Great Powers, and were, for the first time, recognised as a nation. The Treaty has already been ratified by the predominant partner in that alliance of great nations which we call the British Empire. There was very little that we could do to alter what had already been settled, even if we did not approve of all its terms; and, as I have listened to this debate, I have heard nothing that really amounts to a suggestion of any thing .that might be done to improve or alter it. We have heard mainly a captious criticism of certain points, which has been in no way helpful, and has in no way added to the dignity of this Parliament. On the other hand, certain other speeches have been delivered, which have merely confirmed provisions already contained in the Treaty, that we could in no way depart from.
I speak to-night only because I feel that, after so many have taken part in the debate, I should pronounce my views on the Treaty. more especially as I was in England while its terms were being discussed right up to the date one which it was signed. There, are one or two points to which I should like to refer, and which have a bearing upon the action of the representatives of Australia at the great Conference in Paris., The features of the Treaty that directly and most pronouncedly interest Australia are those relating to the policy of ja White Australia and the mandate which we have obtained over those islands which form a rampart of this great nation of ours. There have been some criticisms of the work of the Prime Minister in regard to the ques tion of a White Australia, and some doubts have been expressed as to whether it was due particularly to his action that that policy was affirmed and ratified by the Treaty of Peace. The view that I hold, a.s one who was in England at the time, and the view generally held there, is, that it was practically due entirely to the action of the Prime Minister, which has been described as “the hopeless unreasonableness of an unreasonable man.” Every form of pressure was applied to induce him to abandon the principle for which he was fighting. ‘ It was freely stated from one end of England to another that the Prime Minister of Aus- tralia was imperilling the whole Peace Treaty by this policy for which he stood and fought, and with respect to which he would not give way in the smallest degree. I make this statement because I was in England at the time, and I say unhesitatingly that, whether it was right or wrong, this was the general impression held there.
As to the other great question of the mandate granted to Australia over certain islands in the Pacific, the same view is held in Great Britain. There may be some question as to whether it would have been better to give the United States of America a mandate over these islands; but it is generally believed that such a mandate had to be given either to America or Australia. The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth fought for Australia, and I believe that in securing this mandate he has gained a great thing for us.
There is one other point to which I desire to refer with respect to the action of our delegates, and it relates to the fact that ‘the Dominions had separate representation at the Peace Conference. When the original armistice was signed with Germany, the great principles embodied in President Wilson’s fourteen points were adopted, and that practically settled the terms of the Treaty. At -the time the Prime Minister of Australia raised a very considerable storm in England, which had its reflection, in this country. The adjournment of this House was moved, in order that the subject might be discussed. Many statements were made here, and also in Great Britain as to the Prime Minister and his troublesome habits and annoying way.?. At the same time, the right honorable gentleman had many supporters; and it is freely believed in England that the storm which he raised at the time of the setting of the armistice terms was “one of the chief factors that went toward insuring for the Dominions their separate representation at the Conference. It stirred the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Lloyd George,) to do everything in his power to bring about that separate representation. I doubt whether he was convinced of its necessity before the protest made by the Prime Minister of Australia at the time the armistice was signed.
In regard to the Treaty itself, as I have already said, I do not think we can very usefully debate it. But I would affirm my faith in it by saying that I believe it is a wonderful instrument for the future welfare of the world. It has two outstanding features. The first is the provision for a League of Nations, which may germinate and become a great and wonderful growth. If it does, the whole future safety of the world will be insured, and the hideous and ghastly experience we have undergone during the last five years will not occur to future generations. It may not so happen, but there is a great possibility that it may, and if it does, this Treaty of Peace will prove to be the greatest document ever drafted in the world’s history. The other great feature of the Treaty is that part of it which refers to Labour questions, and which tries to draw the nations of the earth to a higher and better standard in the treatment of Labour and the conditions under which it works. To us today, in this fortunate land of .ours, it means nothing. We have all for which it stands, and long have had it; but for other nations it means everything; and I regard it as a great and remarkable achievement that such a provision should have been embodied in this document.
The only other observation I have to offer has reference to the attitude of this House- with respect to the ratification of the Peace Treaty. Australia to-day has become a nation, as the result of the action of her soldiers, who have gone away and fought for her, and have made for her throughout the world a name which entitles her to be a nation. That which our soldiers won for us has been fought for also by the Prime Minister and the
Minister for the Navy in England. They, like our soldiers, have won, and have obtained for Australia recognition as a nation. From the outset of this debate the eyes of Australia, I believe, have been on this House. The people are anxious to see whether we are going to play our part as worthily as our soldiers and our delegates at the Peace Conference have done, and, in my opinion, a futile and captious debate is not helping us at all to that prestige which we certainly ought to fight to maintain as the alleged leaders of this nation.
. -I, like the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), have carefully followed this debate. Listening to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), who preceded him, I was rather at a loss to know whether he was pleased that the war was over, and that peace had been secured. I found it difficult to gather from his remarks whether he was pleased with this Treaty, whether he approved generally of the fact that the Allies- had been victorious, or whether he thought it would have been better had we given in entirely at the beginning of the war. The chief point of his illustrations seemed to be the absolute stupidity of the British nation. Listening to him, I thought in amazement of what the British nation had done since the ‘beginning’ of this war. Is it a dream,. I asked, that the British Empire stands higher to-day than ever before? Is it a dream that she financed the whole of the Allies? Is it a dream that the Empire produced 7,000,000 fighting men ? Is it a dream that the British’ nation supplied all the Allies with munitions of war, and stood true till victory came? In the face of all these achievements, however, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would compare the Conference which gave us the Peace Treaty to a municipal election at Port Melbourne. He talks of the stupidity of the British race. If all these achievements amount only to stupidity, then let us have stupidity all the time, rather than the cleverness that emanates from gentlemen of the honorable member’s type.
When we examine this Treaty, and the facts leading up to it, we must be proud indeed that Australia was able, through her representatives, to put her signature to a Treaty, not of Peace by negotiation, but of Peace the terms of which were absolutely laid down to Germany and 4-UStria, who were told that they must sign it without alteration. If that is a peace by negotiation, then I fear the English language is being used in a way that I have never before known it to be employed,
After the carnage and dreadfulness of the last five years, we come to a stage at which the nations of the earth at last say that future international disputes shall, if possible, be settled by arbitration and conference without resort to the waste and carnage of war. I thought that honorable members opposite would at least welcome that ideal. At the beginning of civilization might was right amongst individuals. But after a little while, when people began to have more sense, they said, “ Well, between individuals we must not allow the strong man to seize what he wants. We must not allow him to abuse the weak man.” And so we gradually evolved a system df law and arbitration, under which any two aggrieved persons might go- before a Judge, who would arbitrate between them, and whose award could be enforced. Later we took another forward step. We in Australia led the way in that regard by declaring that disputes between Labour and Capital should be settled by arbitration. That principle has not been carried to its ultimate conclusion, because some misguided people reject it. Some still believe in the old system of direct action, with its attendant waste and loss. But we have, at all events, laid it down in Australia that in industrial disputes recourse shall be had to arbitration. The Labour party declaim against militarism and the great waste of war, yet they have not said one word in praise of this attempt on the part of the great nations of the world to settle international disputes by a system of arbitration such as that which we have set up for the settlement of industrial disputes.
I should like to strike a note which has not been sounded during this debate. It is rather the fashion at present in Australia and other countries to decry President Wilson’s fourteen points, and the part played by him at the Peace Conference. I do not join in that movement. President Wilson was undoubtedly fight ing for his own people, just as our delegates were fighting for Australia. He laid down certain principles; but in the rough-and-tumble of negotiations with experienced diplomats and statesmen at. the Conference he was forced to modify and to forgo some of the ideals that he had set up. He showed, however, that he was prepared to give way where it was necessary to do so, rather than lose his ideal of a League of Nations. I say emphatically that it was’ a good thing for the worM that President Wilson was at the Peace Conference. I believe that, had he been absent, we should not have had in the Treaty this nucleus of a League of Nations, and. this instrument for settling future international disputes. When we obtain a proper perspective of the Peace Conference, and of the men who attended it, I believe it will be generally agreed throughout the world that, whatever his faults* President Wilson was a man with big ideals, and that it was because he had big ideals that there has emerged from the Conference this hope of- the world - the League of Nations.
The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) has moved an amendment that the Treaty be referred to a Committee to obtain further information. What further information can the honorable member get ? And if he should get further information what would he propose to do about it? Does he want further information than is contained in the Peace Treaty itself, and if he should not concur with what is in the Treaty, or with the information he does finally secure, what would he propose to do? Does he claim that Australia should not accept the Peace Treaty ? If he did advocate such a course what par ticular influence would he expect it to have upon the acceptance of the Peace Treaty by the world in general ? The real object of the honorable member seemed to be to find some fault. First and foremost he found fault with the delegation that represented Australia so worthily? In the second place, he, as well as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), sought to make political capital out of the conclusion of the greatest war the world has seen, and the greatest waste of human life and goods that has ever occurred. What does the honorable member hope to gain by delaying the acceptance of the Peace Treaty until he secures information with which he may not agree ?
The Treaty has already been accepted by the leading nations of the world. Australia has certainly been recognised as an independent nation, and been given a place at the Peace table, but that was only because our soldiers had shown that we were worthy of nationhood, and because of the brave and courageous fight put up by our delegates, and the delegates of the other Dominions of the British Empire for the right of the Dominions to be represented at the Peace Conference.
When the negotiations were in progress at Versailles there were times when the Prime Minister did certain things of which I did not approve. At this distance from the scene, and without aknowledge of the details, it seemed to me that he had gone too far, but at the same time, it must be remembered that Conferences of that kind are matters of negotiation, and very often it is necessary to ask for more than you really require, because you know that you will not get all you want unless you are able to give way in some direction. Very often the Prime Minister might have been purposely inspired to get up in order to strengthen the hand of Britain. Therefore, we over here could not take a fair view of every single action at the Peace Conference, and we are obliged to judge by general results. Any one judging by general results can only say that our delegates at the Conference represented Australia as worthily as our soldiers did in the firing line. The final result of that Conference which is all we are entitled to look at, is eminently satisfying to Australia, and, I hope, to the British Empire. We might have got more, but we are not going to get moreby objecting to ratify the Treaty. As a part of the British Empire we stand higher in the Councils of the world than we ever did before, and we should let the matter rest there.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports . made reference to the Chinese and Japanese, and by inference blamed the British Empirefor its stupidity, injustice, and wrong-doing. He quoted the Shantung Peninsula as an instance in which China had suffered. Was it the Chinese Navy that escorted our Australian troops across the Indian Ocean, and protected them from harm while they were on their way to fight our battles ? Was it the Chinese Navy that helped to hunt the German Navy out of the Pacific? Is was the Japanese Navy that did these tilings, and as Japan also helped to supply munitions, surely it is entitled to some recompense if it lies in our power to give any. To whom did Shantung belong before the war? It belonged to Germany. It had been granted to that country by China. It was controlled by Germans. Therefore, even if eventually it does go to Japan - and from what we have seen lately it would appear thatit is not going to Japan at all - it will not be a case of taking it from China, buta case of taking it from Germany - a point of view which honorable members opposite choose to forget.
In seeking to throw cold water on the Peace Treaty, honorable members opposite seem to have ignored the fact that by means of this Treaty the workers of the world have made a greater advance in the last few months than they have made for centuries. The nations have not only agreed to settle by arbitration disputes that might otherwise end in war, but they have also agreed to combine and establish a permanent organization to deal with the labour conditions of the world, and to raise the standard of living and increase the wages in those countries which now compete with Australia, whose workmen receive higher wages. Delegates from every nation in the League of Nations will attend annual conferences, the first of which is to take place at the end of next month. These conferences will deal with the following questions :
Women’s employment -
Employment of children -
In the face of this Article in the Treaty how can honorable members opposite have anything but praise for the document which has been placed before us? They enjoy these conditions here, and now they have the opportunity of demonstrating their belief in the brotherhood of man, and their anxiety they have talked about so often to raise the conditions of the workers of the world, yet we have not heard one word. from them as to the bene-‘ fits which the League of Nations is trying to bring to those workers. Their talk about the brotherhood of man, and the help they propose to give to the workers of other countries is but a sham. Otherwise, why have not honorable members some word of praise for this portion of the Peace Treaty which our delegates have helped to frame?
We must accept this Treaty. It will go on just the same even if we do not accept it. The delegates to the Peace Conference could not arrive at a decision which would be regarded as perfect from the single point of view of any one nation, but taking the Treaty by and large, it is a monument of wisdom, and I believe that the League of Nations which has emanated in an embryo stage from the Conference may eventually become a big Arbitration Court for the settlement of the affairs of nations, the prevention of misery throughout the world, the abolition of .the dread - fulness of war, and the wiping out of that militarism which ‘we all hate, and against which honorable members opposite de-, claim. I hope that the League of Nations
Will enable all countries of the. world to establish good working conditions among their peoples, and provide that in the future they can carry on peaceful occupations of all kinds without the fear of being subjected to attack by such. a nation as Germany was, one that has grown great, and believes in the power of might over right and justice.
– I can understand that at the close of a war such as that through which the world has just passed, the victors will endeavour t–> compensate themselves for the sacrifices they have made by taking as much as possible of the enemy’s territory, but although
We were told that this war was to put an end to waTs and insure the future peace of the world, that purpose seems to have been lost sight of at the Peace Conference. I do not think that the delegates were very far-seeing when they dispossessed Germany of so much territory. ‘ I hold no brief for that country, but it must be apparent to any thinking person that it will be impossible to confine 70,000,000 people, who have shown themselves a progressive nation, to the small area left to the defeated enemy. I believe that the whole tendency of doing this will ‘ be to provide’ for another war at no very distant date.
In the preamble to the provisions made for the holding of an International Labour Conference, Part XIII. of the Treaty says -
Whereas the League of Nations has for its object the establishment of universal peace, and such a peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice :
And whereas conditions of labour exist involving such injustice, hardship, and privation to large numbers of people as to produce unrest so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperilled; and an improvement of those conditions is urgently required; as, for example, by the regulation of the hours of work, including the establishment of a maximum working day and week, the regulation qf the labour supply, the prevention of unemployment, the provision of an adequate living wage, the protection of the worker against sickness, disease and injury arising out of his employment, the protection of children, young persons and women, provision for old age and injury, protection of the interests of workers when employed in countries other than their own, recognition of the principle of freedom of association, the organization of vocational and technical education and other measures :
Whereas also the failure of any nation to adopt humane conditions of labour is an obstacle in the way of other nations which desire to improve the conditions in their own countries :
The high contracting parties, moved by sentiments of justice and humanity, as well as by the desire to secure the permanent peace of the world, agree to the following : -
Then follow the different Articles. If that sentiment is honestly intended by the high contracting parties the war has not been fought in vain. The sacrifice of life has been great. For centuries we have been working up to a higher and better civilization, and the culminating point was reached when the whole world was shaken to its foundations by the outbreak of war. Whatever we may say about the cause of the war, we know that the commercial rivalry of nations was at the bottom of it. However we may condemn the Germans, the Austrians, or other belligerents, the fact remains that profit was the motive. The desire to find new avenues for the employment of the world’s surplus wealth precipitated Europe into the awful conflict. Persons reading the history of Equatorial Africa are scandalized by the treatment meted out to the natives by nations in pursuit of gain. The same remark applies to Mexico, the Pacific Islands, and other places where the conditions are such that the natives can he exploited by those who have accumulated more wealth than they know how to dispose of. In all those places we find commercial brigands seeking for profit, and the rivalry between them is the cause of wars.
If war is to be prevented we cannot rely upon the League of Nations. The League is bound by certain principles, one of which is the limitation of expenditure upon armaments. The fact remains, however, that the nations intend to continue the maintenance of armaments. So long only as we have armaments so long will the incentive to war continue. The only way in which to prevent war is to bring about a better understanding amongst the workers of the world, who will realize that war is not to their interest, and will devise ways and means of preventing it. The levelling up of wages, the improvement of working conditions, and the employment of surplus wealth for the betterment of all. humanity instead of merely a. few individuals, would certainly do more to prevent war than any honorable understanding between nations that can be enforced only by the maintenance of armies and navies. The expenditure upon armaments before the war was enormous. I quote the following particulars from Stead’s War Facts -
To give all the annual totals would take too much room, but it is interesting to note that during these ten years France and Russia alone, excluding Britain, altogether spent no less than £150,000,000 more than Germany and Austria together on war preparations. The following comparison is interesting: -
If those enormous sums of money had been diverted into productive channels, how much better off would the world be to-day? If the money spent by Great
Britain on the maintenance of the Navy had been utilized in remodelling the slums of her cities and improving the conditions of the workers, we should not have found 9,000,000 of her population on the verge of starvation at the commencement of the war. The low standard of physical fitness disclosed during the war proved the rottenness of the social system under which we have lived for the last 100 years. It was discovered that only one in every sixteen males of military age was fit for military service, because, owing to the conditions under which a great proportion of the population had lived, their health had been undermined. The consequence was that a nation of 44,000,000 people could muster only about 7,000,000 men who were physically fit for war. Even in Australia the proportion of rejects to applicants for enlistment was about six or seven to one. In this new country, with 3,000,000 square miles of territory, inhabited by only 5,000,000 people, is to be found starvation, poverty, and unemployment; and the cause here, as elsewhere, is the commercialism that brought about the war, and the fact, that money which should be applied to the needs of the whole of the people is used in such a. way as to sow the seeds of discord between nations.
Imagine the amount of poverty and distress that could be prevented by the utilization in reproductive channels of the £77,000,000 expended by. Great Britain on the Army and Navy in 1914. That expenditure is incurred simply for the support of commercial brigands.
Let me give to the House a brief instance of how wars are caused. A British syndicate secures an option over land in Equatorial Africa, and finds that there is a good deal of money to be made out of gold, copper, oil, or some other marketable commodity. German and French syndicates also secure concessions ; trade rivalry ensues, and one nation grants a bonus to its pet commercial brigands. The other countries, seeing that their nationals are working at a disadvantage, also offer bonuses. The representatives of the three nations are competing with each other in the markets of the world, and a disagreement arises between them. Immediately cables are sent to their respective Governments, who despatch meno’war to the scene of the disturbance. What for? To defend the interests of the taxpayers? No; to defend the interests of two or three individuals who are quarrelling amongst themselves as to the price they will pay for an option over land of which they have despoiled the natives. There you have the genesis of a war.
I admit that it was not possible for men representing the interests which the Peace delegates represented to evolve a Treaty that would be acceptable to the whole of the world, particularly to those who hold ideals for the uplifting of humanity. But I do realize that they arrived at the best terms possible in the circumstances for the redistribution of territories, and promoting the peace of the world. The sentiments expressed in the preamble to the Treaty have been advocated by members of the Labour party for many years: In fact, during the last80 or 100 years men have been crucified, imprisoned, and hanged for advocating just such ideals as are therein expressed. Even to day there are men in prison in Australia for uttering similar doctrines. Are the signatories to the Treaty sincere in their desire to give expression to the ideals they have committed to paper ?
If a better understanding existed between the workers of all nations there would be no necessity for war. The recent conflict has awakened the workers to a realization of their value. Prior to 1914 they were as dumb as driven cattle, who relied on the class that possessed the wealth for a day’s work in order to procure food, and a bed on which to lie. But the last five years have shown that a war cannot be conducted successfully unless the workers are. behind the Government. The workers have shown that they are indispensable. They were quite prepared, actuated by a national sentiment, patriotism, and other motives, to take part in the war, and do all they possibly could to secure victory; and having accomplished that task, they deserve recognition. It was urged that Labour should have representation at the Peace Conference, but it was denied. At the termination of the war, when the men were being brought back into normal life, the bulk , of the workers in Prance, Great Britain, and Russia rose in revolt, and claimed some recognition, and, as a result the Labour Covenant was inserted in the Peace Treaty. Is that Covenant mere camouflage - a mere sop to the workers - or is it intended to be carried into effect? If it is not intended to be carried into effect, woe betide the signatories, for the workers have been shown that it is possible to have an international understanding in regard to Labour.
In Australia we have industrial conditions such as are unknown elsewhere, and these have not been obtained without fighting. We have the eight-hour principle, and our Factory Acts compare favorably with similar legislation in any part of the world. Altogether, the Australian worker is, in many respects, better off than his brethren elsewhere. Australia must play a very important part in the coming Labour Conference, and I should like the Government to define how they intend to select the representatives of Labour. I see it is provided in the Treaty that, in the event of the Conference not being satisfied as to the bond fides of delegates selected, it may refuse to sit. If the Government select delegates, they should select men from the Labour organizations of the country. The provision in the Treaty is -
The meetings of the General Conference of Representatives of the Members shallbe held from time to time as occasion may require, and at least once in every year. It shall be composed of four Representatives of each of the Members, of whom two shall be Government Delegates, and the two others shall be Delegates representing respectively the employers’ and the work-people of each of the Members.
Each Delegate may be accompanied by advisers, who shall not exceed two in number for each item on the agenda of the meeting. When questions specially affecting women are to be considered by the Conference, one at least of the advisers should be a woman.
The Members undertake to nominate nonGovernment Delegates and advisers chosen in agreement with the industrial organizations, if such organizations exist, which arc most representative of employers or work-people, as the case may be, in their respective countries.
That is plain and definite enough. It is of no use the Government attempting to send delegates simply because they have been associated with the Government in politics, or because they have held industrial views in the past. I emphatically protest against any member of Parliament being sent to this Conference unless he is selected by workers’ organizations. The Government would be well advised, if they’ have not done so already, to get in touch with those organizations; and, as the Conference has to be held at the end of October, and there is not time for a plebiscite, to allow the organizations to nominate delegates. As this is to be a permanent council, a proper method of election should be devised; and I suggest that it should be the method of the present parliamentary franchise. The Government ought to conduct the ballot, and every man with a union card or medal, and only such men, should be allowed to vote.
The delegates . to the Labour Conference, actuated by a desire for peace and the prevention of war, will do more than any delegation or council composed of men representing the different nations today in a parliamentary capacity, or as leaders such as President Wilson, M. Clemenceau, or Mr. Lloyd George. With all respect to those gentlemen, I say that they cannot represent Labour; they may represent the nation, and enter into agreements as to how. the nation’s affairs shall be conducted, but- they cannot enter into agreements as to how Labour affairs shall be conducted. Such matter must be discussed by Labour representatives, who should send their recommendations to the League of Nations to be carried into’ effect.
I am satisfied that the raising of wages, and the provision of better living conditions, in the countries affected, will do much to prevent war and the present commercial rivalry. The recommendations of such a Conference, if carried out in certain countries which I do not wish to mention, will probably save us from a war in the immediate future. There is no question that we shall have to adopt restrictive measures regarding the importation of certain commodities into this country, and unless there is a levelling up of industrial conditions, we shall be faced with a position such as that forecasted by the honorable member for Cook . (Mr. Catts), and landed in great difficulties.
I should like to compliment the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) on the speech he made last night. But while it was full of information, the fact remains that it contained nothing constructive, nor any arguments as to the great work the delegates are supposed to have done. The honorable member for Cook has given much time to the consideration of the question under discussion, and T believe that the statements he made were absolutely correct. In my opinion, the White Australia policy was never imperilled. If it was imperilled, it was by British statesmen; and if it was not imperilled, there was no necessity to boom the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in the way he has been boomed.
– You heard what the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) said to-night?
– Yes; and that honorable member practically admitted that British statesmen were prepared to upset the White Australia policy.
– To . shift the Prime Minister from his attitude.
– If they tried to shift the Prime Minister from his attitude, he must have been putting up a fight, and the British statesmen were trying to make us abrogate our policy. Again, if that were so, it is time for Australia to decide for herself. If those men at Downing-street know no more about Australian conditions than to try to jeopardize one of our ideals which we hope to preserve for ever, it is time for us to decide; and to refuse to enter into binding obligations or agreements which are not in accord with our aspirations. We should know the true facts ‘of the matter, and the amendment of the honorable member for Cook ought to be accepted by both sides of the House, if only to let the people of Australia know just how far Great Britain and Australia can work in harmony for the preservation of our ideals.
Too much is being asked from Australia when she is expected to enter into agreements, and, in fact,, to go to war in the event of trouble on the other side of the world. We are a population of 5,000,000, and we have to look after a territory, of 3,000,000 square miles ; and we ought not to be asked to pledge ourselves to other nations in such a way, in view of the fact that there are densely populated countries, closely adjacent to one another, which may be embroiled in war at any time. We should, therefore, decline to bind ourselves to fight at the dictation of nations on .the other side of the world.
– Does-this Treaty bind us to do so?
– If we accept the . Treaty it does. It asks us, in the event of Germany going to war with France, to go to the assistance of France.
– In case of an unprovoked attack.
– How are we to know when an attack is or is not an unprovoked attack?
– We have to be satisfied as to that before we go.
– We were told that the late war was caused by the assassination in Servia.
– You were not fool enough to believe that, wereyou?
– Every honorable member opposite told the people that this was an unprovoked attack by Germany, but they never told the people that Russia was marching her Forces into Germany, and that France was moving Forces before Germany made a move. The only thing that caused Germany to move was that Russia was marchingher Forces. How was it that Germany refused to fight at the time of the Morocco incident, when Britain and France practically challenged her to fight? The Socialists of Germany then refused to take up arms; but when they knew that the Russians were marching, and that France was also marching forward, they agreed to come out and fight.
– Do you suggest that Australia should not have taken part in the war?
– I do not suggest anything. Honorable members opposite are talking about unprovoked attacks. They tell the people on the one hand how the war was commenced by “ the other fellow “; but as the war progressed, and secret treaties and other facts came out, they found that they had been “backing the wrong horse.” The same thing will occur under the Treaty. After the unprovoked attack” has occurred, and after you have sacrificed your Australian manhood, and. spent millions of pounds in sending them across the sea, you will find out that the assault was on the part of the other fellow. We should never enter into obligations to send any men out of this country to fight on the other side of the world. If Germany, France, or any other country engages in war, and men want to leave this country to fight, let them go voluntarily if they like, . but we must not enter into any obligation to send them. If we do, and the quota that we are supposed to send across refuses to enlist, we shall of necessity be compelled to force them to enlist. You are practically forcing conscription on Australia, and I protest against it. If left to myself, I would vote unreservedly against the adoption of this Treaty, if only for that one reason.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Burchell) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to refer briefly to a matter regarding which I have had some correspondence with the Department of the Postmaster-General. Mr. H. J. Hawkins, manager of a film service in Brisbane, sets out the circumstances as follows: -
Mr. Watkinson, of the Lyceum Theatre, Blackall, hired a serial picture from me entitled “ Secret of the Submarine.” This picture was in fifteen episodes, and each of these had to be posted from Blackall to Brisbane immediately after use. Episode 8 was due to arrive in Brisbane on 10 th August last, but did not arrive, and on inquiries being instituted the Parcels Post Department in Brisbane admitted that they hadheld possession of the film, and had given it to their cartage contractors, Bryce Limited, who had lost it. I wrote to the Deputy Postmaster-General on the matter, asking him to have inquiries made, and, failing finding of the film, to pay the amount of its value, over £70. The Postmaster-General disclaimed liability, and directedus to claim . on Messrs. Bryce Limited. Messrs. Bryce Limited also disclaimed all liability, and we were ultimately forced to require our customer, Mr. Watkinson, to pay usfor the loss of this film, which he has done.
It is unfortunate that I should have to refer to this matter in this public way at the close of a long sitting; but I must enter a most emphatic protest against the conduct of the Department and the attitude of the Postmaster-General, who still persists, in the last letter I had from him, dated 4th September, in refusing to recognise an ordinary business responsibility. What’ accentuates the trouble, and renders his attitude all the more incomprehensible, is the fact that the Department itself took action against the contractors, and fined them £2 10s. for losing the article. The Department not only failed to carry out its obvious duty to its customer, but has made a profit on the transaction, and the customer has lost £72. The Department is in a position in which the public intrusts it with certain responsibilities in the carriage of goods. It undertakes certain responsibilities, and then shelters itself behind its contractors, who, in turn, shelter themselves behind the Department, and the unfortunate customer finds himself between the devil and the deep sea. The Department takes money from the public to carry the goods, fails to deliver them, and yet disclaims responsibility. That does not obtain, and very properly cannot obtain, in the ordinary affairs of life, and it is most reprehensible on the part of the Department, however legally it may be justified and however technically it may succeed in evading its responsibilities, to penalize a customer in this way through its own carelessness or the carelessness of its servants. The fact that the Department had the audacity to fine its contractors, and make a profit on the loss of its customer, calls for the most serious reprimand. The Postmaster-General ought at least to have recognised some responsibility for carelessness on the part either of his own officers or of his contractors, and should have made the contractors meet the responsibility to the customer.
– I am sorry that the honorable member for Brisbane has made the statement that he has made to-night. He has the correspondence; which explains the whole position, but it is a habit of some honorable members to be always trying to advertise themselves at the expense of the Department on motions for. adjournment, and so forth. What has been done is strictly in accordance with the law, and I am here to administer the law, not to evade it or to stretch it in such a way as to render it impracticable to carry on the work of the Department. Under the agreement of the Postal Union, a limit is placed upon the responsibility of the Postal Departments of all countries which belong to the Union in regard to losses incurred during the transit of business through the Department. That is the universal position taken up by the postal authorities, who meet in conference from time to time. The honorable member makes a point about the Department fining the contractor for not doing what he should have done, but the Department must take that course in order to keep the contractor alive to his responsibilities. If he under takes responsibilities he must carry them out, or pay the penalty. The mere fact that the Department has to discipline the contractor in. accordance with the laws and regulations does not affect the other matter, for which the Department is liable by law only to a limited extent in any case. It is responsible for the loss of money orders or other valuables only to the extent of £2. In this case the Department is not liable, and I. am not going to attempt to break the law either at the behest or on the threat of any honorable member while I have the responsibility of administering the Department.
Question resolved in the affirmative
House adjourned at 10.38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 September 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1919/19190918_reps_7_89/>.