9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and road prayers.
Lea ve of Absence.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce), by leave, agreed to-
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Donald Cameron) on the ground of urgent public business.
asked the Postmaster- General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Lists Assurance Refunds
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
When will payment of moneys held by the Postal Department in lieu of life assurance under regulation 184 be refunded, in view of the Superannuation Act having superseded insurance policies ?
– The Treasury issued instructions on the 20th July that, as the Public Service Act 1922 has now been brought into operation, applications for refunds of contributions made by officers under Public Service Regulation 184 should be submitted by them and forwarded to the Treasury with as little delay as possible.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the fact that it will be necessary for many officers of the Taxation Department to seek other avenues of employment in consequence of the new taxation arrangements, will the Government promise that any compensation scheme, which may be adopted later for taxation officers who are retrenched as a result of new arrangements between the States and the Commonwealth, will apply to officers who resigned from the Taxation Department after the 1st June, 1923, as a result of the new scheme, or who may resign between that date and the introduction of the Bill providing for their retirement?
– The whole policy in connexion with this matter is under consideration.
asked thePrime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the published statement that farmers are well protected by Customs duties on the following farm products : - Sheep, pigs, cattle, horses, bacon, butter and cheese, butter substitute, eggs, egg albumen, egg yolk, bananas, dried fruits, wheat, barley, maize, hay and chaff, honey, jams and jellies, hops, lard and lard oil, linseed meal, malt, meat (fresh or smoked), frozen meat, preserved milk, onions, straw, vegetables - will he state the revenue received by the Customs Department during the past twelve months under each of the above items?
– The information is being obtained.
-I desire to make a very short personal explanation. When I was speaking last night on the Tariff Board Bill with reference to a document which I stated had been handed to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman), I made the remark that there was not a single statement in that document which was correct. That was an unfortunate remark, which I regret having made. The document contains statements some of which . I consider are incorrect, some are correct but misleading, and some could be contradicted. What I wished to convey was that there was not a single conclusion drawn in that document which could be taken as reliable. It is in that sense that I desire my remarks to be interpreted.
Subjects Listed for Discussion
Debate resumed from 24th July (vide page 1494), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the papers be printed.
.- The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in submitting the agenda of the Imperial Conference, expressed the desire that, as far as possible, the members of this House should, in debating the motion for the printing of the papers, give him a guide to their views on the subjects to be discussed at the Conference. The Imperial Conference may be fraught with great consequences to Australia. It is, therefore, necessary that we should give our best attention to its programme. It will be admitted at once that the proposals contained in the agenda contemplate a complete departure from the inter-imperial relations that exist at the present moment. The farflung Dominions of the Empire possess full powers of self-government, ‘ but there is no written constitution or law governing their relations within the Empire. It is left to them to legislate in their own interests along lines which they consider will make for the development of their territories. But the adoption of the proposals contained in the agenda of the Imperial Conference will involve the establishment of an entirely new condition of things. An agreement embracing these proposals will at once bring about an Imperial understanding which will have to be observed by the Parliaments of the Dominions in conjunction with the Imperial Parliament. I doubt very much whether that will achieve the object which, I believe, we all have in view. Our object is to make Great Britain and the British Dominions a power in the world, with the intention of promoting international peace, so far as that is possible of achievement. On two matters of very great importance, involving our participation in Imperial foreign affairs, the Prime Minister was definite, but in regard to most of the subjects listed for discussion the right honorable gentleman was quite indefinite. On the questions of foreign relations and defence, he made it very clear that he considers that the time has arrived when we should be linked up with Great Britain in regard to. these matters. He holds that view because he believes that that would make for the strengthening of the Empire. I doubt very much whether, if agreed to, it would be found that in actual operation that policy would make for the strengthening of the Empire. It is quite possible that by laying down a definite procedure different from any relations existing at the present time, we may be sowing seeds which will bring about the disintegration of the Empire. There is the danger. Although the Dominions now have the right to exercise their powers of self-government as they think fit, it may be contended that if they are tied to a definite course of action, expressed in writing; if they agree with Great Britain to follow, in certain matters, a defined course, we shall be sowing seeds which, instead of bearing the fruit anticipated by many in this country, will lead to the disintegration of the Empire. When the Empire has progressed so well for years under the existing unwritten understanding, what is the necessity to alter that condition of affairs? What is it that leads people to think along these lines ? I admit, so far as the Prime Minister is concerned, that ever since the right honorable gentleman assumed office he has consistently advocated Imperialism. He has, as far as possible - assisted in very many cases by the press - endeavoured to mould public opinion on the lines indicated in the agenda of the Imperial Conference. , According to the right honorable gentleman, one of the most important subjects listed for discussion has emanated from himself. I have to say, therefore, of the Prime Minister that he has been entirely consistent. Hs is endeavouring to bring into being the condition of affairs to which I have referred. He evidently believes in it. He has been good enough to say that as the matter is one which vitally affects the whole of the people of Australia, it cannot be regarded in a party light, and we are entitled to make known just what we think about it. The first three subjects on the agenda of the Imperial Conference are. -
As to the proposed review of what has happened in world’s affairs since 1921, I do not know why it should commence with that particular year. The point at which I think we should commence our review is the date on which the Armistice was signed. Let us trace events from that time. During the war it was contended by almost every one that it was a war to end wars, and that the great sacrifices which it entailed should insure international peace for the future. Tlie feeling of those who participated in the Conference at which the Peace Treaty was signed was that everything should be done to promote the world’s peace by bringing about disarmament. That was the view held by all leading men. In the light of what has happened since, I ask honorable members, where are those men to-day, and what are they doing to give effect to that view. Are they working for disarmament and peace, or are they preparing for future wars? I regret to say there is only one answer to that question. We have forgotten the lessons of the late disastrous war to such an extent that nations in almost every part of the world are making preparations for other wars. Where will this policy lead the world? I speak not of Australia in particular; I am endeavouring to take a world-wide view. I predict that this policy will lead the world to disaster - nothing less confronts humanity if the nations continue to prepare for war, when their first consideration should be to bring about peace, by disarmament. I am sorry to say that some of the leading men of the world, who were the loudest in expressing at the time of the Versailles Conference their desire to bring about peace, have since done more to upset the peace than they ever did to promote it. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in speaking of the recent Turkish troubles, said -
The action of the British Prime Minister was most unfortunate in regard to that matter. We had no option ‘hut to stand up for Great Britain.
If Australia, as a self-governing Dominion, must respond to the call of any gentleman who happens to be at the head of Imperial affairs, or even of the Imperial Government,” “without knowing anything about the rights or wrongs of the dispute with which it is concerned, the outlook is not bright. What did the Government of the Commonwealth do ? I must recall these events, because this is the time when they should be recalled. Although Parliament was sitting when the telegram asking Australia to participate in a war was received from the British Prime Minister, his request was granted without consulting Parliament. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) indorsed that action, but the Prime Minister now says that it was ah unfortunate business, and urges that Australia should be linked up with Great Britain in such a way that we may have a voice- in such matters in the future. When members of the Opposition urged that the people of Australia should have a voice in determining whether their country should participate in the threatened Turkish war, we were found fault with by these gentlemen. But I shall quote a few extracts to show what men, who were not Labour leaders, thought of the incident. In a leading article the London Daily News stated -
This Government’s curse has been that they acted in the Near East crisis as if they had been ploying’ a game. Nearly every move has been either indiscreet, provocative, or both.
There never has been an international emergency in which British statesmen more shamefully imperilled peace.
Viscount Gladstone, in a speech at Manchester, said -
The appeal to the Dominions, regarding the Near East crisis was made without the knowledge of the Foreign Office. “ We have developed two Foreign Offices at Downing-street in the past few years,” he said, “ one of which is in the Prime Minister’s garden.”
The following appeared in the Melbourne Argus of 7th October, 1922: -
Lord Islington and several other influential members of the Near and Middle East Association have issued a statement that the crisis in the Near East is largely attributable to Great Britain’s unwise Eastern policy during the last three years. It should be made clear to the Government, says the statement, that the nation will refuse to support any war it believes to be unnecessary and honorably avoidable. All questions outstanding should speedily be composed by negotiations’ based upon concerted action with the Allies. The policy of isolation and provocation should never have been assumed, and should be finally abandoned. “ The policy has entailed vast additional and quite unnecessary expenditure, and has brought us to the very brink of war: the issue of which, both at Home and abroad, none can foresee,” concludes the statement.
The views of Mr. Asquith, .a prominent British statesman, should count for something on this subject. I quote from the Melbourne Age of 9th October, 1922-
Mr. Asquith and Sir Donald Maclean, M’s.P., addressed the members of the Scottish Liberal party at a Conference at Dumfries. The Conference affirmed a resolution that British foreign policy should aim at reconciliation of her late enemies, the establishment of friendly relations with all peoples, and an amendment of the so-called Peace Treaty, to conform to those ends. A further resolution expressed the belief that the League of Nations was a safeguard against future wars, and the means of fostering international good-will.
Mr. Asquith, in the course of a speech, said that ‘he had supposed British Diplomacy had reached the climax of clumsiness and ineptitude in the publication of the Balfour Note, but that had been easily surpassed in all the qualities which such a document ought not to possess by the communication from Downingstreet appealing to the Dominions, which sounded notes of provocation and panic. It was issued without any intimation to the other Powers. “ All this strident rhetoric, bugle-blowing and flag-waving was wholly inexplicable,” said he, “ unless the prospect of war was well in sight. Had we been fighting Turkey to-day we would have been singlehanded. Neither France nor Italy would have sacrificed a man or fired a gun. The .freedom of the Straits is a matter of international importance, and is in no sense exclusive or mainly British.”
Another authority I wish to cite is General Townshend. In the Sydney Evening News of 23rd October, 1922, it is stated -
Meanwhile General Townshend has entered the lists in a striking article in the Pall Mall Gazette, and makes certain charges which, if substantiated, are of an extremely grave character. The first and the most important is that, on his return from Angora, at the beginning of September, on Cth September to he exact, he handed to Mr. Lloyd George, personally, a memorandum stating Mustapha Kemal’ Pasha’s terms of peace, which included the control of the Straits by the Allies.
Yet, on 16th September, the ex-Premier issued his historic call to the Dominions to stand behind Britain in demanding, insisting on, and maintaining Allied control of the Straits.
Then this opinion was expressed by a Minister of the Crown, the Foreign Minister - Earl Curzon - whose opinion, as a member of the British Government at that time, should carry great weight -
I have not always agreed with their policy, and the manifesto issued to the Dominions concerning the Dardanelles on 10th September, was issued without my knowledge. It was unfortunate in character and tone. There is no doubt that when we have a Prime Minister, with Mr. Lloyd George’s peculiar gifts, such a man must exercise an unusual influence on foreign affairs.
Those are the views of leading public men in Great Britain, none of them Labour men, and I have quoted them to show that, in matters of foreign policy, the leaders of Governments consult nobody, but act according to their own views. How near we were then to being embroiled in another war which would have meant disaster, not only to the Commonwealth, but to the world !
– The promptness of the Dominions in saying “Yes” prevented that war.
– The Prime Minister has made a similar remark. My view is that the action of some of the men I have quoted, and of the British Labour party and the Australian Labour party, which represent the workers who do the fighting, prevented that war. Had the Governments concerned been sure that the Labour party would have gone whole-heartedly into the conflict, the war might now be taking place. But by negotiating instead of fighting, an agreement has been reached, and war has been averted. A surprising feature of the occurrence is that two countries who were Allies in the recent war were “sooling” on the two contending parties. France was backing the Turks, and Great Britain’ the Greeks; and thus they were encouraging a quarrel which might have set Europe ablaze. This was done notwithstanding all that had been said about peace at the Versailles Conference. Every country in the world is impoverished to-day as a result of the great war. Millions were killed in the war, and millions more are to-day unemployed because of it. But the peoples of the world are coming to realize that war is at all times disastrous, and are expecting of their public men that they shall strive for disarmament and peace. They wish for the dove of peace, not the lion of war. Yet every country is preparing for defence, and the Prime Minister and other public men state that it is necessary to prepare for defence in order to prevent war. I hold the contrary view. I believe that if nations continue to prepare for war they will surely find it. It comes ‘ to those who look for it. While we of the British Empire say that we must prepare for war in order to protect ourselves, we should remember that Turkey, France, the United States of America, Japan, and all other nations are saying the same thing. The result is a mad competition in armaments. When a certain stage in warlike preparations has been reached, a small quarrel may embroil the world in a moment.
– We look to the League of Nations to prevent that.
– Honorable members talk a lot about the League of Nations. The Prime Minister has referred to it on more than one occasion. I was sorry to hear him say that he hoped that men like myself would not rely on the League of Nations, because we could not hope , for much relief from that source. I do not look to the League of Nations only. I look to every avenue that can be opened to bring about disarmament. My object in life - and I would be content for the remaining years of it to do nothing else, could I secure the end I have at heart - is to preach peace, for I could engage in no better occupation. My . desire, which, has been strengthened by the lessons learned in the recent war, is to prevent further European conflicts, to promote peace, and to reduce the heavy expenditure upon defence, which is a crushing burden on this and every other country. Australia did not suffer so much from the war as did the other countries engaged in it. We have had good seasons, with abundant harvests, and have been supplying markets abroad. Will those happy conditions continue? I hope they may; but there is room for grave doubt. If they do not, we shall feel later the effects which other countries are feeling now. The League of Nations has not come up to my expectations, but that is largely because public men generally have riot striven to popularize it. Instead of using their tongues to induce the people to arm themselves for another war, they should have worked strenuously to popularize the League of Nations. On that point I find fault with the Prime Minister. He told us that the League of Nations now regards Australia as a separate nation, and not as merely a portion of the British Empire. The very recognition of the Commonwealth’s altered status imposes upon us the duty to try to galvanize life into the League. The same duty devolves upon the Parliaments of other nations. But we are pursuing the very opposite course. We are told from the platform and in the press that we are part of one great Empire, and have to continue preparations to resist ‘ further aggression. The bogy that a certain nation looks with greedy eyes upon Australia is held before us, and we are warned that further defence preparations are necessary. That argument does not appeal to me. The first item on the agenda-paper of an Imperial Conference should be a proposal to get more closely into touch with the nations of the world with a view to devising means to bring about complete disarmament. No such proposal finds a place upon the agendapaper. Our statesmen cannot see beyond the boundaries of the Empire.
– The Prime Minister of Great Britain, replying to a question in the House of Commons two days ago, said that at present it is impossible to get any results from the League of Nations.
– That supports my contention that public men are not endeavouring to popularize the League of Nations. They apparently have abandoned it in despair. How can troubles be settled unless representatives of the parties in dispute meet in conference, and, as sensible beings, debate the issues calmly. It is not sufficient to say that that cannot be done. In every trouble, small or large, the disputants should meet to discuss the issue, and consider whether a peaceful arrangement can be arrived at. That is the ideal of the League of Nations. But, unfortunately, some nations have been excluded from the League. If effective steps are to be taken to bring about world peace, every nation must be admitted to full membership of the League. We cannot afford to leave one or two nations outside that great international council; if we do, they will be a source of trouble. No embargo should be placed upon any nation. Every country should have the v right to govern itself according to its own desires. No nation has the right to attempt to interfere with the internal development and political arrangements of another. If the nations, without interfering in each other’s internal affairs, can come to an understanding to prevent the continuation of huge expenditure upon armaments, that surely is the proper policy to adopt. The League of Nations has never been given the opportunity to which it is entitled.
The Prime Minister considers that something must be done to insure peace in the Pacific. Why not endeavour to promote the consummation of the understanding which has been arrived at already 1 At the last Imperial Conference, the then Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) submitted a proposal for a Conference on world-wide disarmament. Subsequently, a Conference convened by America was held at Washington, and certain agreements were made. Now we are told in effect that nothing is to come of them, notwithstanding that the nations interested in the Pacific solemnly pledged themselves to a course of action in pursuance of them. If the agreements already made are to be ineffective, what will be the use of a further Conference ? I believe that some good will come out of the Washington agreements, and, therefore, I see no necessity for another Conference. What would be the effect of the Prime Minister’s proposal ? If Great Britain were to convene a Conference of the nations interested in the Pacific, they would take umbrage at once. They would say, “ This is an insult to us. We met you last year, discussed many matters, and came to certain agreements, which we are prepared to honour.” Neither America nor Japan has indicated that it will not give effect to the resolutions of the Conference at Washington. Certainly, France was dilatory in signing the agreement, but there is no need for a further Conference. I could better understand a proposal to convene a Conference of Powers to ascertain whether effect is being given to the decisions of the Washington Conference. Instead, an entirely new Conference is proposed. Probably that is done in order to create in the public mind the impression that Australia is in danger of attack from Japan. I have never had any reason to think that effect would not be given to the decisions to which the nations pledged’ themselves at Washington. If there is any ‘indication that those understandings are not to be honoured, if the Prime Minister has advices to that effect from abroad, the House should be so informed. The Washington Conference agreed to scrap certain war-ships, and the Commonwealth is expected to scrap the Australia, which cost this country £2,000,000, and the replacement of which would involve an expenditure of about £7,000,000. In view of those agreements, we are entitled to know to what extent they are being honoured by the different signatory nations. We hailed them with delight a year ago, because we considered that they would lead to a reduction of naval expenditure and insure peace in the Pacific. I believe that the Washington Conference resolutions will bear good fruit if properly handled; but if they are allowed to drop, as the League of Nations has been, and we seek a further Conference, we shall be no nearer finality, and nothing but trouble will result.
Although the Prime Minister is not in favour of the creation of an Empire Parliament, he believes that Australia should be represented in London by a Minister whose voice could be heard in foreign affairs. I confidently say that such an appointment would be of no advantage to Australia. We have no right to interfere with the Imperial Government’s affairs; we should concern ourselves with our own problems of government and development. What would be the position of a Minister sent to London for a period of three years? We know that, in connexion with the Near East crisis last year, the Cabinet of Great Britain was not consulted. If two or three Imperial Ministers could commit that country to a policy without consulting their own colleagues, what chance would there be of Australia’s voice being heard? Secret diplomacy continues. We thought that after the” x Great War secrecy in foreign negotiations ‘ would be abandoned for ever, but it is as much resorted to to-day as at any time in the history of the world. At first this Parliament could get no information iti regard to the Near East situation, although we subsequently learned certainfacts from South Africa. An Australian Minister in London would probably know no more about important questions of foreign affairs than would honorable members sitting in this Parliament; probably he would know less. Therefore I see no justification for appointing a Minister in London. I have no desire that Australia shall meddle with Great Britain’s affairs. In the past, the British people have managed their own affairs very well from their point of view. It is characteristic of all international troubles that they develop very quickly. Secret negotiations take place between statesmen and diplomats over a short period; intense feeling is engendered between the parties, they are unable to come to terms; and within twentyfour hours the people concerned find themselves committed to a war. What influence would an Australian Minister have in such a crisis? What chance would there be of the voice of the Commonwealth being heard? The Prime Minister said that such a Minister would help in connexion with foreign relations, which was a matter to be dealtwith by the Executive, not Parliament. I differ from the Prime Minister. It is not for the Executive to decide foreign policy. Parliament should know what is taking place, every card should be on the table, and the light of day should be let in upon all negotiations. We are no longer satisfied to follow the lead of two or three men in different countries in regard to important issues affecting the lives of millions of people. The time has arrived for all diplomacy to be open and above-board, and for secrecy in these matters to disappear for ever. The people should have an opportunity of saying whether or not they approve of foreign policy. So long as information is withheld from the people, so long may we expect a continuance of that dangerous condition that has existed for years past. I shudder to think what would happen if the world became embroiled in another war. We hear much talk about revolution. In a country like Australia there is no’ need for revolution .r But think of the position of the workers throughout the world. In Britain, for instance, 1,500,000 workers are unemployed to-day as a result of the great war. Similar conditions exist in other countries. If statesmen and diplomats embroil their countries in another war, the great mass of the people will take a stand in opposition to it, and then will follow revolution throughout the world. Instead of promoting peace, the present procedure aggravates the causes of war and revolution.
Another matter listed for discussion at the Imperial Conference, is the right of any one Dominion to enter into separate treaties, without consulting Great Britain and the other Dominions. I do not know, why that matter appears on the agendapaper, unless it be due to the fact that recently Canada made an agreement with the United States of America. I understand that that position has been cleared up. But I ask what right have we to interfere with any other Dominion simply because it is part of the Empire. We have quite sufficient to do to look after our own business and to govern our own continent in such a way that it will bo developed and populated. If we accomplish the true development of Australia, we shall be doing the best thing we can to assist the British people and other Dominions. Why should we have the right to interfere when any Dominion proposes to enter into a Treaty with another country? The matter does not come within our province at all. So long as we are permitted to work within the limits of our own Constitution, we have nothing to cavil at.
The Prime Minister said that the future policy of Australia should be to defend our own shores from the enemy. I am in accord with that statement. Under existing conditions, it is clearly our duty to take steps to defend Australia. Much as I deplore the present position, I must admit that some form of defence is necessary until we can realize the ideals for which I stand. We must defend Australia from aggression, and I believe that we can best do so with aerial and submarine Forces. I have formed that opinion because of the statements of many great authorities. I have been reading a good deal upon this matter, and though I shall not weary the House with many extracts, I propose, to. quote some opinions given by BrigadierGeneral William Mitchell’, in an article on “ Air Power versus Sea Power.” He states -
It is idle to .think that a great war, such as that in Europe, has not made certain changes in defensive arrangements necessary. The most radical change in this respect, has been the injection of an entirely new force - never before used in war - .for which there is no precedent, no organization, no material, and no tactical system. The new element in warfare was the airplane with its crew, its armament its branches of the service - pursuit, bombardment, and attack - the new industries .that have had to be created for its upkeep.
Later in his article he states -
The development of airplanes since the war has been even greater than during the war. Their radius of action, their capacity for carrying bombs, cannon, and other weapons has been magnified tremendously since 1918.
Further on he remarks -
Since the war we have airplanes with a great radius of action that are able to carry bombs weighing a ton or more; and in the solution of our national defence problems, which charges an Air Service with .the attack of hostile shipping, it has .been necessary to study the relative effect of bombs, torpedoes, and cannon against shipping. To begin with, an airplane, always ‘has the power of initiative over a vessel on the water because its speed is four or five times as great.
Those remarks come from a great authority on air power. The article continues -
As to hitting a moving target - particularly a vessel on the water, many people think that the motion makes hitting more difficult. The contrary, however, is the case, because the . difficulty of hitting an object by aerial bombardment is a question of the relative speed of the target and the plane.
Brigadier-General Mitchell also says -
The manoeuvring of a vessel on ; the surface, of the water is so slow as compared with the manoeuvring of an airplane that we believe it i3 practically negligible.
He adds -
On land it is difficult to find the concealed anti-aircraft batteries. On the water these ire contained on the decks of sea craft. We, therefore, believe that our percentage of hits against’ shipping would be extremely high as compared to hits on objects on land - particularly because we can attack over the sea at very low altitudes without inordinate loss. Next, we must consider the effect that air projectiles will have against shipping. In this connexion, we can dismiss very .quickly the question of destruction of torpedo-boat destroyers, lightlyarmoured cruisers, and supply ships. They can be destroyed, without question, by very small air projectiles. If a Fleet is deprived of its auxiliaries - such, as torpedo-boat^ destroyers and light? cruisers of various _ kinds., together with its supply vessels - the ability of a battleship to exist will be , very much diminished. In other words, it will he decisive without even destroying the ‘battleship.
The writer gives an example in his article of what can be done to battleships by aeroplanes. He points out that an aeroplane can destroy or damage a battleship with very little trouble. He also deals in ‘an interesting way with comparative costs. He says -
A modern battleship costs over 540,000,000; a bombardment aeroplane costs 840,000. Therefore, 1,000 can be built for the cost of one battleship. The projectile from, ‘say, a 16-inch cannon costs about $2,000. The gun has a life of less than 200 shots, and at 40,000 yards - or 18 milescan only make about 2 per cent, of hits. Consequently it will only hit twice with .a projectile much more inefficient than are those from an airplane. An airplane has the same percentage of accuracy anywhere within its flying distance, and its life is not measured by the number of bombs it drops, but by the life of the motor.
Many cither authorities could be quoted who agree that in future warfare the most effective arms of defence . will be the air and submarine forces. Seeing that under existing circumstances we” must defend Australia, we should devote a great deal of attention to these . two defences. We are often told that Australia will be unable to defend her 12,000 miles of coast line in the event of war. My opinion is that Australia can defend herself against any foe who may come here. I am firmly convinced of that. Very few countries knew, until the recent war, what the Australians were worth. Our. men have proved their metal, however, and I believe that if an attacking force were to come to this country, every man capable of shouldering a rifle would be ready to do so. There need be no fear that Australia could not defend herself. The Prime Minister quoted some figures which showed that very heavy expense had been incurred, and’ was still necessary on the military side of our defence system. The time has arrived when we should consider whether our defence should not bc re-organized. The military is not the principal arm of defence in these, days. Consequently we are . not justified in continuing to expend on it the large amounts that have been spent in the past. More attention should be devoted to strengthening our aerial and submarine forces. If we had an adequate air force we could send it out 500 miles beyond our shores to meet an oncoming foe. Men could. always be obtained for military operations. In case of an attack every able-bodied man in the country would take his place in the ranks.
– Does the honorable member say that it is unnecessary to train men?
– We have sufficient trained men in Australia to meet any emergency . Thousands of men who went to the war are still available. The compulsory training methods that Australia had adopted previous to the war proved to be of very little use. The war was fought upon lines entirely ‘ different from those which had been anticipated. It was a trench war. Our men adapted themselves to the conditions, and they - would adapt themselves again if necessity arose for them to fight within Australia. With proper aerial and .submarine forces we should be able to keep the enemy out of Australia. Personally I do not believe we are in danger of any attack. I do not think there is any danger in the Pacific. Japan has given assurances on many occasions that she desires to keep the peace, and that she will go a long way to maintain peace. The statement is made sometimes that Japan must find room for her teeming millions. There is ample room in ‘Manchuria for Japan’s millions. The Prime Minister told us that our expenditure for defence purposes in 1913-14 was as follows: - Army, £2,765,000; Navy,/ £1,987,000, or a total of £4,752,000. For 1922-23 the figures were: Army and Air, £2,559,000; Navy, £2,295,000 ; or a total of £4,854,000. Therefore, we are expending £102,000 a year more on defence to-day than we were spending prior to the war. When we consider that we have to pay £20,000,000 every year for interest on our, war debt and for other war charges, we are compelled to question whether we should continue to . incur such a large expense on defence preparations. Our position in that respect merits the very close consideration of every member of the House. I contend that the time has arrived when a thorough investigation should be made to ascertain whether our military expenditure is justifiable, or whether we should not reduce expenditure in that direction with a view to strengthening our aerial and submarine forces.
Attention should also be given to the possibilities of civil aviation. I direct the attention of honorable members to some remarks on this subject by Captain Wedgewood Benn, a very high authority. He states, in an article published in the English Review, in March, 1923 -
The importance of air as our first line of defence was established ‘in the war, and as early as 1919 the Ministry of Reconstruction . published a pamphlet on aerial transport, which summed up the matter in the following three propositions : -
The maintenance of an air force, backed by a strong commercial air fleet, is as vital to the safety and prosperity of the British Empire as the maintenance of a strong navy and a strong mercantile marine.
The air craft industry must be kept, vigorous in order to respond to any possible war emergency of the future.
The development of civil aerial transport services will not at present be sufficient to keep the industry alive unless it receives substantial support from the State.
These -propositions are incontrovertible. Let us consider their military aspect. What is meant by the “maintenance of- an air force”? It is to be observed that with the war lesson fresh in the mind, nobody spoke of naval and military wings. It was “ an air force,” and the most important opinion favours continued unity. This unity was forced on us by the circumstances of the war. We learnt at last the need for an independent air force, which at the end of the conflict was only at the beginning of its operations. Without doubt, in any future war it will play a still greater part. The very demand for what is called a home defence force proves this. For a defence force is nothing but a striking force, able, in case of danger, to search out and destroy the enemy’s centres of activity, whether aerial, naval, military, or munitions.
Those are noteworthy statements. I could give other quotations, but I do not wish to weary honorable members. For the most effective defence of Australia I submit that we must look to our aerial and submarine craft.
The Prime Minister, in his speech, said that he was favorable to Australia assisting the British Empire in connexion with the establishment of a naval base at Singapore. I am emphatically unfavorable to Australia taking any part in the establish ment of this naval base. I see no justification for departing from the policy we have observed in the past in regard to defence matters. We have never previously agreed to assist Great Britain in defence preparations outside Australia. The load of debt we have to carry now is -quite heavy enough, and I do not feel that it is our duty to add to the, burden in the way suggested. A recent debate in the House of Commons showed that experts and leading men at Home are opposed to the scheme. There are some who say that a base is necessary at Singapore in order to conserve Imperial interests,- in the Pacific. And, while the Japanese representative in” Great Britain assures the Imperial Government that his Government takes no umbrage at the establishment of the* base, there are Japanese press opinions in direct opposition to it, on the ground that it is a provision against eventualities connected with Japan. In my opinion, we ought not to thus expend money outside Australia, for’ we have quite enough to do to see to the defence of our own country. Australia represents about one-third of the Empire, and if we devote ourselves to defending that one-third, we are doing all that can be expected.
The ninth subject on the agenda is* the publicity to be permitted with respect to communications between the several Governments of ,the’ British .Empire, and in particular, communications between His Majesty’s Government and the Governments of Dominions. The fullest publicity should be given to all Imperial affairs, so that we here may know exactly what is being done, and with what intentions. There is no reason- to keep anything from the knowledge of Parliament; it is such reticence1 that has caused trouble in the past, and, if continued, will doubtless cause trouble in the future.
On the agenda for the Economic Conference there are only one or two matters of outstanding importance. The. first is that of oversea settlement, and . the progress made since 1921 with the policy of State-aided Empire settlement and plans for the future, especially as regards the method of improving the selection and training of intending settlers before migration, and their reception, training, and distribution on arrival. I think the three points may be discussed together.
The subject of immigration is, of course, a most important one, and I am only sorry that Australia has not as yet adopted any proper policy. It is not fair to bring people here in thousands every year, in order to settle the country and increase population, unless provision is made for them before their arrival. I have no desire to quote newspaper extracts on the subject. I know that the Prime. Minister (Mr. Bruce) has no fancy for such authorities. Only this week, however, . we read of men who, after being brought out to Western Australia, where it is claimed there is the best system of settlement in the Commonwealth, were so dissatisfied as to seek to return to the Old Country as stowaways. , They were, however, discovered at South Africa, and returned to Australia. Does not such a fact show something wrong somewhere, either on the other side in the matter of selection, or on this side in the matter of providing suitable employment? It is of no use whatever to place inexperienced and untrained men on the land, for it is certain they cannot “ make good.” We cannot expect a retired British officer., or a miner, or a manufacturing employee to come to Australia and immediately make a success of a country life. When such men are placed on the land they become dissatisfied, and the reports they send to the Old Country do more- harm than all0 the good our advertising can do. The Government’s first duty is to see that our own people are employed, for. then, and only then, can we expect to absorb new arrivals in any great number. The solution of a most difficult question would be assisted if large estates not now used to the best advantage were broken up and made “available for settlement. It costs us, I understand, about £1,000. for each man who is brought to this country as an immigrant, and we ought to do our utmost to insure the future of every new arrival, for every failure is a dead loss to this country. Yet there has not been proper provision made for the reception and absorption of new arrivals. It is absolutely wrong for responsible people, when advocating immigration, to make statements which, on analysis, are found to be without any foundation in fact. Such methods only place intending immigrants in a false position. In Great Britain to-day there are 1,500,000 unemployed, and with no hope of work. The bait is held out to them that if they come to Australia they will probably be independent in a few years, and they rush here only to find that they have been deceived. Whatever attitude the Prime Minister may adopt at the Conference, I trust, at least, that before he . endeavours to induce people to come to this country he will be certain that such provision has been made as to hold out to them reasonable hope of success. ^
The subject of a preferential Tariff is a large and difficult one. Markets must be found for the primary products of this country. What is the good of putting people on the land if there are no markets for their produce ? At present our chief market is overseas, and but for the buoyancy of that market in recent years, Australia would not be- in her present satisfactory financial position. But how long shall we remain in that satisfactory position if we increase our production without -finding more markets? Does the preferential Tariff hold out any hope of expansion? I do. not wish to be misunderstood ou this question. I wish to make it quite clear that I am in favour of a preferential Tariff. I have to ask myself, however, what is the position of Great Britain - what is the position of the public men of Great Britain when they are called upon to deal with this question. There are millions on the verge of starvation in the Old Country, and employment in manufactures there depends on foreign markets. How far can the British public men, and the people of Britain generally, go along the preferential Tariff road without danger of intensifying her already deplorable position? We, in Australia, are at a great disadvantage as compared with other producing countries nearer to the Homeland. The standard of living and social conditions generally are much higher here than in those other countries, and, as a consequence, our produce is probably the dearer. It is almost an axiom with the British people that the products they require must be bought at the cheapest possible rates; and, if a preferential Tariff has the effect of increasing prices, its advocates in Great Britain will be placed in a very difficult .position. . *[Extension (/ranted.] ‘ This is undoubtedly a most difficult problem, and worthyof our most serious consideration. My (own opinion is that, in the future, Australian produce will have to seek for markets outside Great Britain - that we shall have to foster trade relations with other countries as our only hope of success. People make a great mistake who think that the whole economic problem can be solved by simply increasing our population. If we bring immigrants here to produce, we must find markets for their products, or the increased population will be of no advantage to us. As a matter of fact, every new arrival should become a wealth producer by his labour, and if that labour is not utilized his presence here is simply an expense.
What is the present position in regard to preference? The Prime Minister told us that in 1921 Britain gave Australia a preference of £1,160,000, and that in the same year Australia gave Great Britain a preference of £8,750,000 on £68,000,000 worth of imports. It will be seen that there is a vast difference between what we give to Britain and what Britain gives to us. I do not say that in some respects the position may not be altered, and the Conference may find some means to alter it; but, in view of present conditions, do not let us expect too much from Great Britain. We shall have to look elsewhere for trade for Australia., and the Government will do well to send a representative to the countries of the East. Only recently I was very disappointed to find that the British Government had given large contracts for meat to the Argentine and other countries to the exclusion of Australia, but, as I have already suggested, we must realize the difficulties of the public men of Britain. I have not the slightest doubt that they would be as pleased to place contracts with Australia as Australia would be to fulfil them; but the cost, particularly in relation to retail prices, is a great difficulty. I am quite in favour of Empire preference, and I believe the Prime Minister will do his very best to place in Empire markets as many of the products of Australia as possible. But I warn honorable members that we cannot expect too much in this connexion in view of the circumstances prevailing inGreat Britain, and in order to promotesettlement in our own country I think we should be looking elsewhere, as well as to Great Britain.
The fifth subject listed for discussion at the Economic Conference is -
State enterprises. -Proposal to set Stateowned or controlled economic enterprises on the same footing as private enterprises as regards taxation, and (in the case of commercial shipping in normal times), as regards shipowners’ liability.
That, it appears to me, is a question which has been brought up in this House. The Prime Minister said that he did not know anything about this subject, but whenI saw it first I thought the right honorable gentleman was responsible for its appearance on the agenda.
– No, I had nothing to do with its appearance there.
– I, of course, accept the right honorable gentleman’s assurance, but it is evident that some other persons, following the same train of thought as the Prime Minister, desire that State enterprises should be placed on the same footing as private enterprises. I do not think that it will be contended that the State-owned railways, the post-offices, and other State organizations should in every way be placed in the same position as privately-conducted concerns. I think we should consider in this matter whether the Economic Conference would be justi- fied in interfering in the way suggested with the management of the affairs of a State.
– This subject has no relation to such interference. It merely proposes the consideration of how each of the countries of the Empire should treat the State instrumentalities of other countries. For instance, how we should treat in our ports a shipping line run by another Dominion.
– The other day the Prime Minister said that he did not know much about this subject.
– I thought that view of it was obvious.
– It was not obvious to me, but I am prepared to accept the Prime Minister’s statement in regard to it.
Very little need be said concerning the other matters included in the agenda of the Conference, as they can be discussed at length, if necessary, on the Prime Minister’s return.
I want to say that I regard the omission from the agenda of the Imperial Conference of any reference to world’s affairs to-day as a very serious matter. I believe, as I said at the commencement of my speech, that the first matter which the Conference should have listed for consideration was an endeavour to bring the nations of the world together, or to extend the functions of’ the League of Nations, and put it on a better footing than it occupies to-day, in order to see what might be done to secure international disarmament.
-That question will obviously have to be discussed on the subjects of both foreign relations and defence.
– That may be, but, in my opinion, it should have occupied the most prominent position on the list of subjects to be discussed at the Conference. The great object of the Conference should be to promote the world’s peace, and arrest the mad competition in armaments. Prom what I have heard, inside and outside of this Chamber, and from what I can gather from the press, the opinion is being fostered that we ought to look out for ourselves in case of future wars. There are two paths along which the nations may travel at the present moment. One is the path of peace. I suggest that everything possible should be done to prevent a recurrence of the experience of recent years, and, to that end, we shall oppose the adoption of a policy of self-expansion in military affairs. Every effort should be made to secure peace among the peoples of the world. Let us realize that that is one of the chief objects of our existence. We should treat other peoples as brothers and sisters, whilst maintaining the right to manage our internal affairs, instead of always considering whether we are prepared to meet an attack from this or that nation. The path which the world is travelling to-day is the path that leads to future wars. The nations have adopted the policy of preparation in readiness for war. We are told solemnly that to be prepared for war is to prevent war. I remember reading an article on this subject which appeared in the Age of 6th
April, 1923, with which I agree and which is so much to the point that I shall make some extracts from it here. The article says - “ If you want to live at peace be prepared for war.” There is a suggestion of truth in the conventional and oracular opinion, but probably it is more than counter-balanced by the falsehood. Acting according to a philosophy of this kind peoples load themselves with heavier and still heavier armaments. Mutual suspicion grows into estrangement. A large class in each community, who are employed in preparations for war, . and who think in the terms of war, become an influence in hastening the calamity against which they are an insurance. Is it possible for a man, after the awful experience through which the world has passed since 1914, to contemplate the possibility of another greatwar and yet retain his regard for human reason? All the Great Powers express their anxiety for a prolonged peace, and, with one or two exceptions, each of them is distrustfully arming as if the world were on the eve of Armageddon.
The article further says -
Could the Prime Minister force the national disarmament view before the Imperial Conference and be the means of turning that gathering towards a general disarmament project, he would earn the cordial approval of his country and do a service to humanity.
I say “Amen” to that.
– We all say “ Amen “ to that.
– The article continues -
Those who, at this time, persistently sound the alarm bell, and shout for still more effective means of killing, might as well join in and give a serious meaning to the old musichall chorus - “ Let’s all go mad.”
That is the position to-day, and I could not state it as well as it is stated in that article. But we are following the path that leads to the very thing which this article condemns. We ought to think seriously where we are going. I hope that the Prime Minister will use all the influence at his command, when the Imperial Conference meets, to make the first question dealt with the consideration of means to increase the powers of the League of Nations, or to bring the nations together in some way with a view to discussing the subject of international disarmament, instead of pursuing the course which unfortunately is being pursued in most countries of the world to-day. Every country I know of is increasing its armaments and spending money which it can ill afford to spend, inways which can result in good to no one. The time has certainly arrived when some effort should he made to stop this suicidal policy. I say, with all the force I can command, that I regret the feeling in regard to this question which is exhibited throughout the world at the present time. I do hope that the Prime Minister, at the Imperial Conference, will put first and foremost the future peace of the world.
I should like to say, in conclusion, that there is no uncertainty as to the attitude of the Labour party on this question’, as it affects not only the Empire, but the whole world. The Labour party has no desire that its views on the subject shall be hidden. It desires, on the contrary, that those views shall be made public; and I shall conclude my speech with this statement of those views: - The Labour party’s policy is to promote world peace, and, consistently with Australia’s good-will to her kindred overseas, declares its readiness to take full responsibility for Australia’s defence, but is opposed to the raising of Forces for service outside the Commonwealth, or promise of participation in any future overseas war, except by a decision of the people.
.- Before saying what I wish to say on the motion, I should like to deal with one or two matters mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). With many of the honorable gentleman’s statements I entirely agree ; but I do not agree with many of the deductions he has drawn. He has dealt at some length with air forces as a means of defence. I do not wish to traverse that ground again, because I did so at great length in my speech on the second reading of the Ail Defence Bill. So far as he went, the honorable gentleman was correct, but he missed the vital point, and that is the necessity for the protection of our trade. According, not to my opinion only, but to that of many experts on the subject, an air force cannot be looked to as a first line of defence for at least one hundred years, because it cannot protect the trade of the Empire across the oceans, and the trade of the Empire is its life’s blood. That trade has to be carried on in surface ships, and unless these are protected by surface ships, they will be sunk by submarines. Until air forces are able to protect our trade across thousands of miles of ocean, they cannot be regarded as a first line of defence. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the sinking of a battleship by an aeroplane. It is quite correct that a battleship wassunk by an aeroplane. But what sort of a manoeuvre was it? An air force went up over a battleship, which had no one on board, and was controlled by wireless, and it sunk the battleship. That was a very different position from that which would have to be met in time “of war, when a battleship would have on board a very strong armament of anti-air-force guns. Dropping bombs upon a defenceless battleship is a very different matter from attacking one that is sending shells into the air against the force attacking it. The difference is so great that the test that has been referred to is really no test at all.
The honorable gentleman was perfectly, right in his references to the desire for international peace. We all entirely agree with him. We are all sick of war, and no one desires to see any more of it. But that is not to say that we should wander around, like defenceless children, to have our. throats cut. When I was in Japan, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth advocated the holding of a Pan-Pacific Conference. I went into the matter with leading men in Japan, and they thought it was a very good idea. They, including the Prime Minister, Admiral. Baron Kato, naturally would not express an opinion on details, because they had not heard officially from our Prime Minister on the matter. My own opinion is that we cannot hold too many of these Conferences, because, when people get around a table they come to know one another. Knowing one another would prevent many of the troubles that at present arise. When I talked to people in Japan I learned their troubles and differences of opinion, and how it might be possible to overcome them. The Leader of the Opposition has said that Australia can well defend itself. We have only to read General Sir Harry Chauvel’s report to learn that, so far as regards our Military Forces, he is of opinion that our position is practically helpless. I can speak with some authority on naval -matters. Before informing the House, however, of the actual position in relation to* the Japanese Navy, I. desire to address myself to one or two matters which appear on the agenda. The first question with which I desire to deal is that of the desirability of having an Australian Minister in London. In some ‘ respects that would be a good thing; in other respects it would not. It would be difficult to induce a Minister to go to England unless he were rendered immune from the worry of contesting elections. * It would not be advisable to have a Minister in London concurrently with the presence there of a High Commissioner. If a. Trade Commissioner were appointed, perhaps the presence of a Minister in London would be of very great value to -the Commonwealth. A very big question is opened up in considering whether we should bo consulted by the Home Government, and should know what is happening because of the possibility of our being dragged into war. I agree with the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that, no matter what is done, if the Empire is engaged in war, we also must take a part, because we are absolutely isolated and are not in a position’ to protect ourselves. A Minister resident in London might help us to se§ eye to eye with the Home Government, and avoid a repetition of that which happened recently. I was heartily in accord with the action taken by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) and the Government of which the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) was a member. At the same time I contend that we ought to have been informed of what was happening. Had we had a resident Minister in London at that time he probably would, have been of very great assistance to us. “ Intra-Empire Trade” was a great slogan in the days of Joseph Chamberlain, and the same position exists to-day. We need, however, to be very careful. The Prime Minister said that we were not issuing a threat in informing the British Government that we desired te know where we stand, because it might be possible for us to enter into trade arrangements with other countries. That is perfectly correct. There are hundreds of millions of people’ who are waiting for our goods, and care must be exercised to insure that by entering into an Intra-
Empire trade arrangement we shall not be depriving ourselves of an enormous- . trade with countries- to- the- north of tuta. I have already informed honorable members of the position with regard to the meat trade there.- Millions of pounds are waiting to be collected by Australia when she gets that trade. The trade of Japan with America in cotton represents- £60,000,000 per annum. A large trade can be done in suitings, because the men of the East are beginning to- wear European clothes, and the women wear silk, cotton, and woollen goods under their kimonos. In all those branches of trade there are millions of pounds- to- be picked up. Australia must send her- agents tocapture that trade, as is now being done by the meat people. If we bind ourselves too closely in an Intra-Empire trade arrangement we may lose the trade that can be done with the enormous populations in the countries to the north of Australia. In tinned goods also, an enormous trade awaits us. The ‘ labelling, conditioning, packing, and grading of our goods at the present time is most imperfect, and must be seen to if we are to capture that trade and keep it.
With regard to defence, I shall read to honorable members an extract” from .a speech made by Earl Haig at the British Empire Service League in London on 16th July last. He, said -
We have seen what unpreparedness cost this generation. We have seen the sin . of unpreparedness visited on our children. The fact was that in 1914 the Empire was unorganized, even in skeleton form, for war. The Defence League must press f or, a defensive organization. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) said that practically nothing had come out of the Washington Conference. That is not so. Up to the time of the Washington Conference 44 per cent, of Japan’s national income was spent on army and navy defence. Directly the Washington Conference decisions were made known they were gladly welcomed by the whole of the people of Japan, because they realized that no longer would 44 per cent, of their national income be spent on defence, but would be expended in other directions, such as education. That has given rise in Japan to a strong anti-military movement. Throughout Japan to-day there is an intense dislike of any expansion in the. navy or the army. “When I was in Tokio a class was established at Waseda University for the study of military science. On the night that the class opened’ it was packed. Five minutes after the class started a riot occurred, the whole of the furniture was smashed, and many arrests were made. That class has been discontinued. Throughout Japan events like that are happening, and they are causing the ruling classes a good deal of concern. Japan has loyally observed the decisions of the Washington Conference. She immediately made reductions, which in the case of the navy alone amounted to £16,000,000. Compared with her pre-Washington programme, he.r post-Washington programme showed a reduction of thirty-eight ships, totalling 13,385 tons. Six thousand skilled mechanics and labourers in the dockyards were at once discharged, and 12,000 officers and men were marked for discharge. A week ago I saw in the press the statement that 1,600 officers have already left. When I was up there, several admirals and other officers were taking on civilian jobs. Japan immediately suspended the construction of the battleships, Kaga, Tosa, and Akagi. She partly scrapped the battleships Settsu (20,800 tons). A k ‘ (19,800 tons), Satsuma (19,350 tons), Katori (15,975 tons), Kashima (16,400 tons), Hizen (12,700 tons), Mikasa (15,362 tons); the armoured cruisers Kurama (14,620 tons), Ibuki (14,620 tons), and Ikoma (13,770 tons); and the battle-cruisers Kirishima (27,500 tons), and Asahi. The light cruiser Fuji has had its armour and armament removed, and is being used as a special service ship. In addition to the scrapping of those thirteen ships, amounting to about 200,000 tons, Japan immediately abolished several naval stations, and established minor stations in their place at Maidyuru, Port Arthur, Chinai, Take’skaki, and Yinghung. She reduced her army by one-fifth; to 1,800 officers, 2,000 non-commissioned officers, and 54,000 men. The- battleships Kaga and Tosaeach of 40,600 tons, so far as I have been able to ascertain, are to be sunk as targets. The battleship Amagi, 40,000 tons, is to be turned into an air-craft carrier. Work has been suspended on the battle-cruisers Takao and Atago, which will now be scrapped. The Akagi will not be completed as a battle-cruiser, but will be converted into an air-craft carrier.
– Japan having scrapped all these vessels, where does the honorable member suggest that the danger to Australia lies?
– I shall deal with that later. Japan will have two 40,000-to’n air-plane carriers, each carrying about fifty planes, - with an unobstructed deck space of 800 feet on which to take off and land. «They will have a speed of 33 knots, and will carry 8-in? guns. We have not in Australia one vessel mounting 8-in. guns except the Australia, which is to be scrapped. When she has been dealt with we shall not have an 8-inch gun” in Australia. If we think that Japan is our potential enemy, we have to recognise that one of these ships, and one only, could come down to Australia unattended, because we have not a submarine to sink her, no 8-inch guns with which to offer her battle, and no air force that could do her much damage against her antiaerial defences. ‘ Let me say a word or two about Japan’s new programme. I want it to be clearly understood that; J/ am not guilty of any breach of Japanese’hospitality because, when I was shown round the Japanese naval works by the Japanese admirals and other officers, I told them I would rather not see anything’ that was. confidential. They asked me why. . I replied that if I saw anything that was too confidential, I would not be able to talk about it when I returned to Australia. They thought that was strange, but I said it, and I have every right therefore to tell my countrymen what I saw. I saw Japan’s great dock- . yards at Yokosuka, Kobe, and Nagasaki. The latter extends about l£ miles, along, the water front. I saw seven battle-* ship slipways, and as far as I could discover work went on day and night. It was similar in the yards at Kobe and Yokosuka. As far as I could ascertain Japan will have about four new cruisers of 10,000 tons each - that is the Washington standard- and four of 7,000 tons, making a total tonnage of 68,000. She will have twenty-four destroyers of the first class, totalling 33,600 tons, and about twenty-two submarines of a tonnage of 28,166. She. has two complete sea:, going battle fleets intact in commission, comprising seven capital ships and four battle cruisers, fifteen new cruisers, and about seventy submarines. About forty of the submarines will be sea-going vessels, in many cases with a radius of over 12,000 miles. They will be able to make voyages of that length from their home port and back without replenishment. Other submarines will be of a cruiser and mine-laying type. In addition to this fleet, which is largely oil driven, Japan has four new oil carriers to convey oil to the fleet. There is no natural oil in Japan, and that is a great troubleto the nation, but the Government hopes to accumulate a store of about 2,000,000 gallons of oil in the next three years. Articles have appeared in the Sydney Sun, the Melbourne Pictorial Sun, and the Melbourne Evening Sun on the Japanese question. Many of them have appeared under the nom de plume of” X.” I have been asked by members of the Ministry, by members of this House, and by members of the public, whether I wrote those articles. I do not know who “X” is, nor have I the remotest idea. In many of his points he is right; in many wrong. In considering what Australia should do, we must look at the situation in the Pacific. I have spoken of the Japanese side, but I cannot deal fully with it without touching upon the question of a White Australia, which I desire to do when the Northern Territory Crown Lands Bill comes up for consideration. The White Australia policy has an important bearing on the question. It might be asked why Japan has this great fleet. To answer that question many things have to be considered. She has her troubles withRussia and with China, which is twenty-four hours from her shores, and she also considers America an enigma. She never knows what America will do next. There was that country’s attitude at the Versailles and Washington Conferences, and her refusal to join the League of Nations; Her Monroe doctrine worries Japan, because it means that, “ Outside our front door of America we shall not interfere with anything on the other side of the world.” Japan asks America, quite rightly, “Why have you fortified the Philippines so strongly? Why do you keep thousands oftroops there, with a fort at the entrance to the harbor, equipped with 16-inch guns and mammoth searchlights? Why have you a great air force and a submarine force there? Why are those things on my door mat? Is this part of your Monroe doctrine?” Japan means to run no risk, and I honestly think that she is quite right in view of the state of the world and the state of the Pacific to-day, in strengthening herself, as we should do. What is the American side of the question? Naturally the Japanese attitude engenders in her some restlessness, and she is looking after herself also. At Manila, at Hawaii, and Honolulu she has great submarine and sea forces, and her battleship fleets have been brought round to the Pacific slope. The following cutting is taken from a newspaper: -
The United, States Government has decided to maintain at full efficiency during the next financial year a minimum naval force at sea of eighteen first line battleships, fourteen cruisers, and eighty-four submarines.
What is it all for? I cannot tell. I do not know. When I was in Tokio news was received there of the debate which took place in the House of Commons when over £11,000,000 was voted for the Singapore base. As I had spoken at a luncheon of the Pan-Pacific Club, at the Imperial Hotel, at which all the leading men were present, I was asked for my opinion. Before stating what that opinion was, I shall define the Japanese attitude. With the exception of two newspapers, there was very little comment in the Japanese press, and it was not unfavorable to the project. It was recognised that the question had been raised by the British Admiralty at the Washington Conference, where a line was drawn from Hong Kong, and the dictum was laid down that “You must not do anything to the east of that, but to the west is no concern of ours.” Singapore was expressly mentioned at the Washington Conference. Japan knew that the creation of a base there was not abreach of faith by the British Government. My views were sought, and were published at great length in the Japanese press. It is strange that I used the same words as were uttered in London the next day by the First Lord of the Admiralty. The First Lord of the Admiralty said -
No longer should the British Empire, with its great possessions in the Pacific, rely on -a friendly power for the defence of the Pacific and her interests there.
It is quite true that the peace of the Pacific in the past has been maintained by the strength of the Japanese Navy, plus the unseen power of the British Navy; and the First Lord of the Admiralty rightly said that we should no longer be dependent upon a late Ally and a friendly Power for our defence there. Hence, Singapore. A dock there is absolutely essential for the guardianship of the Empire. Colonel Amery, in a speech, said -
If they were contemplating strained relations with Japan they would be proceeding in this matter in a much more strenuous and urgent fashion.
They were not in a position to-day, and would not be for many years, to put a battle fleet into the Pacific, or even as far as Singapore. In all those waters, with such immense consequences to this country from a strategical point of view, and for the defence of the Empire, we were absolutely helpless and reliant on the good-will of a friendly and former Allied power. No self-respecting power could afford to be dependent upon another power for its security and for its very existence.
He also pointed out that this was not a new idea of the British Government, but was considered at the Imperial Conference of 1911, when it was decided that the composite fleet of the Empire should look to Singapore as its main rallying ground and centre. The matter was investigated and re-investigated for more than three years by the British Admiralty, the Committee of the Imperial Conference, and more recently by the Cabinet, since the new Government came into power. Colonel Amery then dealt with the necessity for, oil stations in this part of the world. Although the Singapore base will be a great help to Australia, in my opinion it is, put there mainly to guard against trouble in India. Between India and Australia it is obviously very necessary, and should, in ordinary circumstances, save Australia a good deal of expenditure on naval defence. I say, advisedly, to the people of Australia, that if they spent £20,000,000 a year on their navy solely as a means of defence against Japan, they might as well throw it into the ocean. Even with that amount of expenditure we would have no hope, because we could not build fast enough to catch up with Japan. Japan is an established great naval power to day, and Australia could not live against that mighty power if it attacked us. That leads me to the point. What are we going to do? My visit to Japan confirms the view expressed by me in the House before I left, that all, Australia can do is to provide a unit which will fit into the Royal Navy anywhere, and at any time, and become an efficient part of the whole.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Another reason for Japan’s maintenance of such a great naval force is the generally unsettled state of the world to-day. I have stated why America is an enigma to Japan. A further explanation impressed upon me by Japanese people was that they are unable to reconcile the perpetual cry of the Americans that theirs is “the land of liberty and peace “ with the fact that America has waged a war once in every decade during the last 110 years. I think yet another reason why Japan, is maintaining a great sea force is probably that America’s colony, the Philippines, is at the very door of Japan. In the Pacific a new factor is about to appear. Notwithstanding the wealth of their possessions in the East, the Dutch are now, for the first time, thinking of placing a naval force of any ‘strength in the Pacific.
What is the position of Australia? According to General Chauvel we have no army. The personnel of our navy is perhaps the most efficient of any navy in the world, but our ships, although fairly good, are quite useless in opposition to those of other powers. We have an Air Force of twenty-four planes. We have no anti-aircraft batteries, stationary or mobile. I understand that we “have no more ammunition than would be fired away in three days. We have neither naval nor air bases that count, and, last, but not least, we have no population. The White Australia policy has a vital bearing upon the Pacific question. From what I saw and heard in Japan I do not think that the Japanese people have the slightest intention of attempting to capture Australia. For that there are many reasons. One is the. great love and reverence of Japan for the British Empire, of which she was for many years an Ally, and the absolute reverence of the Japanese people for the British Navy. Apart from that, J apan has no desire to pit her fleet against that of Great Britain and thus precipitate the greatest naval battle that the world has ever seen. ‘ Let us compare the Japan of to-day with the Japan of half a century ago. . In the last fifty years, mainly in the last thirty years, Japan has emerged from absolute obscurity and become a first-line power. The Japanese Parliament was established as recently as 1890, and it is very interesting to study the subsequent evolution of politics in that- country. In the elections of 1920 only 3,000,000 of a total of over 60,000,000 had the franchise, but that franchise has been extended on three occasions, namely, in 1902, 1909, and 1918, and by the 1918 Act the property qualification was reduced from £1 to 6s. of direct national taxation. That was a great win for the democratic movement, then spreading, and now widespread in Japan. Formerly it was dangerous to mouth the word democracy, but to-day it is freely used in the press and by leading citizens. In my opinion, ‘and in that of others who have much more brains than I. have, the people of Japan are rising politically, slowly but surely. This evolution has a direct bearing upon the defence question. I noticed in Japan a great demand for universal suffrage. I learned also of the growth of trade unions. The first trade union was formed about ten years ago, and the industrial movement is making vast strides. The emancipation of women has started. Whereas formerly women were looked down upon, to-day they are to be found at work in offices, railway stations, bookstalls, and hotels; and writing books, and making speeches on the public platform. Japan has undoubtedly awakened. She has imbibed Western civilization to such an extent that she hardly knows where she is. In adopting the benefits of Western civilization, Japan is also experiencing some of the problems incidental to that civilization. They, too, vitally affect the defence question in Australia. Socialism of its worst type and bolshevism are rampant in Japan, and causing great uneasiness. On May Day, great processions were held in Tokio, and police were brought into the city from the provinces. The processions met in Shiba Park, where speeches were made. A conflict with the police occurred, with the result that platforms were broken down and hundreds of arrests were made.
Such conflicts are of fairly frequent occurrence. This ferment among the people is a problem with which the Japanese Government have to grapple; and if Japanese statesmen should ever conceive any aggressive policy towards Australia, they would have to consider the internal dangers in their own country. The finding of outlets for her surplus population is Japan’s biggest difficulty. The country consists of a chain of islands 2,000 miles in length, the bulk of the surface spreading over uninhabitable mountains and valleys, creeks, rivers, and canals. Between 60,000,000 and 63,000,000 people are residing on the remaining area. The birth-rate is about 700,000 per annum. In the great commercial city of Osaka, which has a population of 1,250,000, the number of births last year was 90,000. The area of that city is not twice the size of Centennial Park, Sydney. The population of Tokio is 2,500,000, and the number of births during the year was 90,000.
– What is the death-rate?
– It is very heavy. There is practically no sewerage in Japan, and as typhoid is very prevalent, the death-rate amongst children is about 25 per cent. What can Japan do with her enormous excess of population? She is trying to solve the problem as well as she can. The number of Japanese people outside Japan in 1917 was 450,000; in 1918, 490,000; and in 1919, 500,000; an average increase of a little under 17,000 per annum. Expatriation at this rate does not go far to’ counterbalance the 700,000 births per annum. During the last ten years, the population of Japan has increased 14 per cent., the cultivated land has increased 5 per cent., and the rice production only 10 per cent. Theconsequence is that the Japanese peoplehave to import to-day more than 50 percent, of their food supplies. Where is; the excess population to go? You maysuggest Korea, Manchuria, and Siberia. In the last ten years, 30,000 Japanesehave been sent to those countries; but, in spite of all efforts, they cannot absorbmore, the reason being that the Koreans, the Manchurians, and a certain section of the Siberians work for between 30- and 40 sen, or about 9d. per day, whereas: the daily wage in Japan varies from ls.. to 9s. In the Philippines, there are 7,000 Japanese. Large numbers are migrating to Mexico and the Dutch East Indies, but not in sufficient numbers to counteract the natural increase in ‘Japan. The next move is to divert the stream of emigrants to South and Central America. A member of the -Japanese Government informed me that the sending of 600,000 Japanese to Central America would cost the Government £24,000,000. Nevertheless, that ‘is, so I believe, to be attempted. The one solution of the population problem in Japan is birth control. On that matter, Baron Ishimoto said, “ Apart from whether it is right or wrong, Japan will have to adopt birth control in order to cope with her ever-increasing population. There is no other adequate remedy.” Two leaders of British thought Bertram Russel and H. G. Wells - have warned Japan to the same effect. One member of the Japanese Cabinet, discussing the question with me, said, “If we introduce birth control by Statute; and tell a boy and girl about to marry, that if they have more than one child they will go to gaol for ten years, what will the League of Nations, and the world generally, say?” Yet, unless Japan can find some country in which to settle her population, birth control is inevitable. This problem has a bearing on the White Australia policy, and also the naval defence of Australia. I am a great admirer of ‘the Japanese people, and I try to take their point of view; but. I have a greater regard for* the country of my birth. I believe in the White Australia policy, and will fight for it, and, if necessary, die for it. Unlike the ostrich, however, I do not hide my head in the sand in order to shut out the dangers that threaten us. According to the Year-Booh, the area of Australia is greater than that of the United States of America; it is nearly a quarter of the British Empire ; and it is more than twenty-five times the area of the United Kingdom. In that immense area of Australia there are 5,500,000 people. In Europe, excluding Russia, there are 310,000,000 people. Australia has less than two people to the square mile, and Japan has 376. There were 7,533 people in the Northern Territory in 1911, but according to the last census the number has fallen to 3,867. I found that Australia was very little known- in Japan. The only people who knew anything” about this country were the diplomats and members of the Government. The people generally were in absolute ignorance of Australia. I was faced in argument and in conference with questions which involved our White Australia policy. I ask honorable members to imagine my position. I was called upon to deal with solid argument by people who knew the situation. Three men in particular with whom I had to deal were Professor Matsugo Nagai, Director of the Bureau of Commercial Affairs in the Department of Foreign Affairs, the man who handles the Japanese immigration policy; Admiral Kurooka, of the House of Peers; and Dr. Soyida, ex-president of the Industrial Bank of Japan. They questioned me . about it. Admiral Kurooka said, “You treat the Germans better than you treat the Japanese.” As he could give mo no direct instances, and as I was not sure whether we did or not, I gave a flat denial to his statement. The admiral -did not pursue the subject any further. In Professor Matsugo Nagai I had to deal with a man who knew ‘the subject thoroughly. He asked me, “ Will you lift the restriction?” I replied, “ No.” He asked, “Why?” I said, “For very many reasons, sir. The White Australia policy is a mandate from the whole of the people of Australia. The Australians desire to govern their country in their own way. They wish to do exactly as the Japanese are doing. The Japanese have a law of exclusion against the Chinese. We also have a law of exclusion. We are running our country in our own way just as you are running your country in your own way.” I also said to him, “ The rate of wages in Australia is very different from the rate here. Can you blame the Australian workman, who is receiving, and rightly so, much higher wages than are paid here, because he objects to hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of your people coming into his country to work for anything from ls. to 9s. a day?” What could he say ? I raised many other points. He was in no way offended, but he still repeated his question, “ Will you lift the restriction?” I still replied, “No.” I ask honorable members to realize the position. To me it is as clear as daylight. Japan has an enormous population with nowhere’ to go. We have in the Northern Territory over 500,000 square miles of the most fertile land in the world, according to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). On that land we have only 3,000 people. I say to the people of Australia, to the Motherland, and to our own Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), on the eve of his departure for the Old Country, “ If you wish to live up to this high and right ideal of a White Australia, for God’s sake fill this country with white ( people. Unless you do that, otherpeople will come in.” Honorable members may ask whether coloured races really will come. My reply is that unless we fill our country, they are sure to come. If Japan has any hostility whatever to us, it is because of our White Australia policy. That is what may cause trouble. If Japan ‘has any idea of taking action, she will” not allow the Singapore dock to be completed within the next five years.- Once that dock is established, Japan will be held in check. Until then she has a . free field, and there is nothing to-day to stop her from taking Hong Kong, Singapore, and Fremantle, and establishing submarine bases, air forces, and other warlike resources there. The House should realize this, and so should the Motherland. We are in danger unless we people our country. If we do not, then we b.ave no argument against others who are in urgent need of land. If the workmen of Australia wish to retain the high wages they now receive they must encourage white people to go into the Northern Territory. I ask honorable members to listen to me while I read one of the finest leading articles on ‘this subject that I have ever read. It appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 13th June. It states - ‘
The articles which we are publishing from London on the international situation in the Pacific must prompt us here in Australia to serious reflection. It is the pleasant dream of some, in Australia particularly, that the world is continually vexed by being confronted with two alternative conditions - either war or (to use a convenient phrase) the status quo. In other words, the national Governments have only to decline war and the “ status quo” remains permanent and smiling; if princes or politicians or capitalists can only be put under restraint, so runs this creed, there need be no war This opinion is, of course, utterly wrong. It is so wrong that while it prevails it will perhaps court war. The causes and the occasions of international friction are no more stable than anything else in this transitory life, and the growing influence upon national Governments of .public opinion - itself notoriously fickle ( and changeable - has .perhaps increased the chance of war more than is currently perceived. Take the case, for instance, of Japan and her relations with Australia. Let us presume , that we are living in a state of some anxiety as to Japanese intentions. We know that there is no shade of a thought of aggression in our own minds, or in the minds of any British people, against Japan. Aggression is not only unthought of; it is impossible. Wherefore it is quite commonly said: “If only Japan would state her intentions clearly, there would be an end to any anxiety. Why cannot Japan do so?” It has been clear for some time that Japan’s immediate objective is expansion of influence on the mainland of Asia. Why, then, it is asked, cannot Australia (or the Empire) and Japan come tb understand each other without reserve. But the position is by no means so simple, as can be shown by at least two considerations. One -is that a third and complex factor is American presence in “this field; and the other is in the Japanese view of our own policy. Let us look at the situa- t tion from the Japanese point of view. It is not necessarily an aggressive one; indeed, it can be argued as a state also of considerable uneasiness - especially in the matter of America. The United States, parading aloofness from “ international entanglements,” puzzles the Japanese quite as much as Japan puzzles us. America has in the past few years done some extraordinary things. Protesting “ no entanglements “ she has renounced the League Covenant, yet exhibited the utmostenthusiasm for the Washington pact, and even an’ extension of it. Can any non-American observer reconcile this divergence in principle? Further, she - the country of “ the bird of freedom “ - ‘has suddenly shut down iron gates upon all immigration, and has created the material for a dozen international complications by her ruthless prohibition laws. The springing up of the huge smuggling campaign on the American coasts and the arming of American patrol boats may - like the immigration embargo be declared a purely domestic affair, but it is, by spread of reaction, very much more, as any observer can see.
While these American administrative acts may not directly and now concern Japan, the point is that what does arouse Japanese disquiet rs the international attitude - utterly at variance with expressed tenets of peace, compromise, and freedom for all - of a greatlibertyprofessing Power. Even British people, who are supposed to be in a position best to understand American Democracy, confess frankly that they have not the vaguest notion what America may do next. How, then, must
Japan view the moves of this neighbour, knowing only that American feelings to herself are anything but amiable and restful? International relations in the North Pacific, and especially in exploitation of China, admit, of course, of cogent argument on either side. We do not pretend that Japan is the only anxious party, or thatshe stands in a white sheet. But what we in Australia must recogniseis that we are in the presence of a possible conflict temporarily subdued, which is always liable to break out in open quarrel, and that to ascribe the friction to “ capitalistic greed” or the malevolence of diplomatists is to remain wilfully blind. The ruling outlook of Pacific nations to-day is the uncertainty, the mistrust, of each other’s intentions. Narrowing down the scrutiny to. such uncertainty as prevails between Australia (an outpost of the British Empire) and Japan, we have stated the general Australian view; and now what is Japan’s? Australians say - “If only Japan would indicate her peaceful intentions?” But do we not ourselves contribute to our state of anxiety? We have set up the policy of a White Australia. Good; the Japanese have accepted it; they have officially recognised it. But what does it mean ? We may be perfectly sure that it does not mean to Japan or any other foreign people - probably not even to our own people in Great Britain - that the present condition of Australia, largely unpopulated and undeveloped, is approved as permanent and sufficient. Japan, confronted with the need (in her own eyes, at any rate) to find room for her surplus people, cannot be condemned as satanic because she should say, as she may some day, “ We admit and respect Australia’s right to make herself a white country; but wo do not and never have admitted the right of Australia to keep herself empty and unused.” Our responsibility is plain. We must carry out our policy and develop our resources with white people. If we cannot accept this Japanese attitude, then we are living in a world of self-delusion.
I agree with every word of that. Unless we can bring about 1,000,000 people into the Northern Territory within the next five years we shall be up against a very difficult proposition. We must populate that country. I noticed that Colonel Amery, First Lord of the British Admiralty, said recently that Great Britain had a population of about 60,000,000 people, and she could not employ or feed more than half of them. In those circumstances, and in view of our position, I ask the Motherland what she intends to do. It would probably mean huge expense to bring great numbers of those people to Australia, but, to my mind, it is a question of expense and existence, or no existence at all. An article on this subject appeared in the Sydney Sun, of 8th July, 1923. It read-
Mr. George Miles, a member of the Western Australian. Parliament, who has been on a migration campaign in England and Scotland, is sailing for Australia by the Moldavia, hoping to meet Mr. Bruce, the Prime Minister (before he leaves for London), in order to” discuss development schemes.
Mr, Miles says that he found that the English people are willing to lend Australia money at a cheaper rate than hitherto, if Australia will speed up the construction of railways and of public works, like harbors and water supplies, simultaneously with land settlement, so as to get people on the land as speedily as possible.
Australia’s objective should be to double her population in the next ten years. Even if it costs £200,000,000 to do so, it would be economically sound, because it would reduce the national debt from £150 to £100 per head.
Mr. Miles believes that England should pay the fare of every man settled on the land.
I have also here a cutting from the Argus of the 2nd July of this year. It is headed, “ Labour View of Empire,” and, inter alia, contains the following: -
It would be a backward ‘step to take any action to weaken or break the ties binding Britain and the Dominions. . . . Britain could best help the Dominions by giving them a population which would become the customers of British manufacturers. He is convinced that when Britain’s resources are fully developedit would still be necessary to distribute the population to the under-populated Dominions. It is not desired to declare this as the Labour party’s settled policy regarding Empire migration, but it is the view of all members of the Labour party who have visited the Dominions that this is the policy which would be forced upon a British Labour Government. . . . However much Labour had opposed the war, it could not abolish the means of national defence, excepting by international agreement.
Among other criticism of the position, I noted that of the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) in an excellent article that appeared in the Sun on 10th July last. I am glad that the right honorable member sees almost eye to eye with me in the views I have expressed. The headings of his article are -
If Japan Comes. What can Australia Say? Overcrowded Millions. Moralrights and Vital Facts.
The right honorable member has not been to Japan. I have; and I know the position from looking at it on the spot. The right honorable member writes from another angle; yet we agree. The first part of the article is practically what I have already said, but this is where he takes up the tale -
Japan must find an outlet for its surplus population. This is not a mere matter of policy, but of necessity, of life and death. It may, of course, find some way of checking its increase of population. But national pride stands in the way.
No country has made greater strides in the last two generations than has Japan. Fifty years ago she was a semi-barbarous and insignificant community. To-day she is a highly civilized world power. She has great aspirations.
She has already done great things. She believes in herself, and in the greatness of her destiny. Is the door of opportunity to be slammed in her face? Is she to be told that, although the world has still many sparselypeopled and fertile places, for her they are closed? That, although she feels herself capable of going much further, she alone amongst the nations is not to be permitted to do so? That she must do what no other nation will consent to do? Perhaps she will. But it is hardly for Australia, whose great need is population, to complain if she does not consent to impose checks upon the increase of her own.
If she does not, nothing is surer in this world than that before many years have passed her over-crowded and half-starved millions will make the grand trek.
Can We Deny Them?
In that case, where will they go? If these millions knock at our doors, how are we to deny them admittance? Let us sweep the cobwebs of fallacies from our minds. For in this matter we are face to face with the stern realities of life and death. The issue is not one that can be submitted to the arbitrament of some conference, or to the League of Nations. We cannot hope to find shelter behind some treaty, Washington or another. What, then, are we to do? Are we to speak to these starving millions when they knock so insistently at our gates of moral rights? Or of the rights of small nations, or of our superior civilization? Or talk to them, perhaps, with smug hypocrisy of the brotherhood of man?
What will these things avail in the eyes of the millions brought into a world that denies them the right to live? These millions, with certain death behind them, may never come; but, if they do, and find us still a mere handful of people in possession ofa great continent - which our fathers conquered by the sword - in which we have laboured and worked wonders, but which we are too few to develop effectively, or to defend - then for us and our cherished ideals it is the end.
Fair words, talk of moral rights, treaties,
Leagues of Nations! What will these be to the millions who know that, unless they can make good their foothold on this spacious and fertile land, they must most certainly die?
But the world will protect us! Why should it do so unless we show ourselves worthy of its protection? Besides, it will be to the interest of the greater part of the world that these millions should settle here rather than with them. Certainly it will be to the interest of the world that they should produce wealth rather than be idle or die. We have our rights like others.
All men have the right tolifeand the pursuit of happiness.
But to encircle a continent with a girdle of words is a poor substitute for its effective development.
We must prove ourselves worthy to fence off, from an over-crowded world, one of the earth’s fairest possessions.
A little time is still ours - how long no man knoweth - in which we can prepare, till up our vacant spaces with men and women of our own race, and do all that needs to be done to make good our claim to this great and fruitful continent.
Truer words were never written.
I stand here to-day for an Empire scheme of defence. To spend £20,000,000 on our Navy is absolutely useless, if solely as a defence against the whole Japanese Fleet. The only thing we can do - and I am glad I have had to come to this conclusion, because it means the saving of a lot of money to this country - is to have enough modern cruisers - at least four, of the Washington type of 10,000 tons - to protect our trade on surface ships; at least six submarines of long radius, and the requisite Air Force; and with military training in Australia, as advised by our leading military chiefs. The cost today precludes our adopting the Jellicoe programme. I have worked out that programme, very closely, and I find that to build a Pacific fleet as advised wouldcost about £151,000,000, of which Australia’s share would be in’ the neighbourhood of £8,000,000. We could never catch Japan where she is to-day in the strength of her fleet, so what would be the good of spending £20,000,000? What we must do is to fill our country with white people; secondly, build such a naval unit and flying unit as can join with the Royal Navy or the Air Force of England at any time and anywhere as a part of the complete Force.
I wish to congratulate the Prime Minister on his very able speech. He is going Home to the greatest Empire Conference ever held, and because of his conduct of the affairs of Australia since he assumed his present position, he has a large number of the people’ of Australia, behind him. I say to him, “Fare thee well, sir, on your great mission. We have no doubt that, whatever may be the results, you will do, as you have always done, your best for this fair land of Australia.”
.- I am sure honorable members are indebted to the honorable member for Wentwortb. (Mr. Marks) for the speech he has just delivered, but, in saying that, I do not wish him to think that I am in total agreement with all his conclusions. I have visited Japan twice, and have been vain enough to publish a booklet giving my impressions of the country. I strongly recommend those honorable members who desire to know Japan as the country appears through the eyes of an English genius, to read a book in our Library entitled The Foundations of Japan. That book shows that Japan is not over-populated in its country districts in the sense that some would have us to understand. The book .also shows that for good agricultural land to grow rice the price goes as high as £400 an acre. When I was in Japan I was invited to visit one of the thirty-six factories that some millionaire spinners of that country were then building. It was situated about 40 miles from Tokio, and as I stood upon the splendid land I asked him what he had paid for it. Land in Japan is sold by the tasubo, which is 6 feet by 6 feet, or 36 square feet, representing 1,210 tasubos to the acre, and the price paid for that land was 10 yen a tasubo, the yen at ordinary times being worth 2s., but at that time worth a little more. And for what did that spinner require the land? It was for lawn tennis and croquet lawns, and buildings for the use of his employees. It is true that the girl employees worked ten hours a day ; but in comparison with similar employees elsewhere they have great advantages.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), if he did not make a direct charge, indicated that the Labour party is against immigration. What the Labour party really desire is that better opportunities shall be given i to our own Australian sons who desire to go on the land. Last year, in New South Wales, for one block of land there were 1,200 applicants, 100 of whom were soldiers, and 200 married men. Mr. Wignall, the British Labour member of Parliament who recently visited us, said that he could, everywhere, see land in millions of acres, but he saw none that was not ring-fenced by an owner to prevent other people working it. When in this country there are two or three blocks for every applicant we can open our arms in wide welcome to the citizens of that homeland of four little nations on the islands of the northern sea, from which the majority of Australians came. We do not wish immigrants to be brought to Australia to reduce the wages of the men already here. Today the married unemployed in Melbourne are being offered 39s. per week for work in the country. With such a wage, how can they ever hope to be able to send for their wives and children to join them. I understand that the State Government is willing to pay 13s. 9d. per day, and if that be true, I am very glad; though, when I think of the head of the Labour Department, I have my doubts. The great Roosevelt, of America, failed in his fight against the trusts because the latter had control of the banks. In that regard, having the banking system instituted by Mr. King O’Malley, we are to a certain extent more independent; but we are not quite free from the control of capital in our attempts to fill our empty spaces. Let Australia’s sons be given an opportunity to settle on the land, and then, as I say, when there are more blocks than applicants, we can welcome others from the Homeland, or, if necessary, from the other European countries. I shall always be against immigration which has the effect of lowering the wages of men who are striving to build up a great civilization here. I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), that millions of population are desirable in the Northern Territory; but, if we are to bring about that result, the huge holdings there of 16,000 square miles - that is, sixteen thousand times the size of Melbourne city proper - must be broken up. If we multiply by 640 the number of square miles in .the Northern Territory we shall find that there is one man there to 10,250,000 acres, or about 2 acres per head for every man, woman, and child in Australia. Every member of this
House welcomes the advent of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson).We did not know the position there until his voice rang out and educated us. I say that every opportunity should be afforded the sons of our old farmers to take up land. I have no less than five of them on my books at the present time who are looking for blocks in Victoria.
– The honorable member should send them to Western Australia.
– If the honorable member can find blocks for them there I should like to persuade them to go there, butwe cannot blame them if they prefer to stay nearer the home farm on which they were brought up.
I was asked in Japan and in China by cultivated gentlemen whom I was permitted to meet, “What opinion would you hold if you were a Chinese or a Japanese?” I answered according to my conscience, . “From my reading of history, if I were born a Japanese or a Chinese, I should have but one motto - Death to the white races.” Let. honorable members consider the history of the opium traffic with China, and remember that men, women, and children were blown to pieces because the Chinese resisted the importation of that deadly drug. Honorable members should also look up the history of the Richardson incident in Japan. When Europeans with white faces went to Japan and found that silver and gold were of equal value there, they obtained gold in exchange for their silver. How could such people teach morality to the Chinese and the Japanese? We fail to recognise that China and Japan represent older civilizations than ours, and that their people are not decadent races. I was in Yokohama Bay when the Prince of Wales was visiting Japan, and I saw at anchor alongside the Renown the strongest ship in the world. She was built and manned, not by Europeans, but by Japanese. That marks the advance made by Japan within a period of ten years less than the duration of my life. What was the attitude of Japan in the late war? Will any man who looks into the matter deny that if Japan had joined Germany we today would be learning Japanese or Ger man, because nothing could have saved us. It has been justly observed that that great ship, the Australia, which is now practically a derelict, could not have protected the vast coastline of this continent from Brisbane to Perth. Japanese menofwar assisted in its protection. They protected our transports, taking men across the seas to help the Motherland, and it is known that they might have deprived the Sydney of the credit gained for the destruction of the Emden. In Japan there were two religions, the followers of which are among the least bigoted people in the world. But when Christians went to that country and differed amongst themselves there was an awful persecution in which, not only white missionaries, but their Japanese followers, lost their lives. Then the ports of Japan were closed, and were opened only to the thundering of American and European guns. Holland. France, England, and America joined their fleets in an attack upon the forts of the Straits of Shikoshima, and then demanded a huge . indemnity. When, after inquiry, America found that the scoundrel who had been killed by the Japanese deserved his death, she returned the whole of her share of the indemnity. When I suggested to an educated Japanese gentleman that the Japanese should be very grateful to America for returning the indemnity, his reply was, “ Dr. Maloney, they have given back their portion of an unjust indemnity, but they cannot return the blood that was shed.” What must be the opinion that the Japanese hold of England, Holland, and France, . in view of the fact that they had not the decency to return their share of the indemnity. The Japanese showed their gratitude to America for the return of her share of the indemnity by the erection of a splendid breakwater outside Yokohama, which welcomes every Westerner who enters the East of Japan. By leave of the House, I propose to read the letter which one of England’s greatest philosophers wrote to a gentleman in Japan, who asked his advice as to the best course which Japan could pursue to avoid quarrelling with European nations. This request was made in the light of the advice of one of the greatest of philo- sophers, Confucius, that “reciprocity” was the word with which to approach Eastern nations. The following is the letter from Herbert Spencer, which will be found in D. Duncan’s Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer: - 26th August, 1892.
To Kentaro Kaneko
Your proposal to send translations of my two letters to Count Ito, the newly appointed Prime Minister, is quite satisfactory; I very willingly give my assent.
Respecting the further questions you ask, let me, in the first place answer generally that the Japanese policy should, I think, be that of keeping Americans and Europeans as much as possible at arm’s length. In presence of the more powerful races your position is one of chronic danger, and you should take every precaution to give as little foothold as possible to foreigners.
It seems to me that the only forms of intercourse which you may with advantage permit are those which are indispensable for the exchange of commodities and exchange of ideas - importation and exportation of physical and mental products. No further privileges should be allowed to people of other races, and especially to people of the more powerful races, than is absolutely needful for the achievement of these ends. Apparently, you are proposing by revision of the Treaty powers with Europe and America, “ to open the whole Empire to foreigners and foreign capital.” I regard this as a fatal policy. If you wish to see what is likely to happen, study the history of India. Once let one of - the more powerful races gain a point d’appui and there will inevitably, in course of time, grow up an aggressive policy which will lead to collisions with the Japanese; these collisions will be represented as attacks by the Japanese which must be avenged; forces will be sent from America or Europe, as the case may be; a portion of territory will be seized and required to be made over as a foreign settlement; and from this there will grow eventually subjugation of the entire Japanese Empire. I believe that you will have great difficulty in avoiding this fate in any case, but you will make the process easy if you allow any privileges to foreigners beyond those which I have indicated.
In pursuance of the advice thus generally indicated, I should say, in answer to your first question) that there should be, not only a prohibition to foreign persons to hold property in land, hut also a refusal to give them leases, and a permission only to reside as annual tenants.
To the second question, I should say decidedly, prohibit to foreigners the working of the mines owned or worked by Government. Here there would be obviously liable to arise grounds of difference between the Europeans or Americans who worked them and the Government, and these grounds of difference would immediately become grounds of quarrel, and would be followed by invocations to the English or American Governments, or other Powers, to send forces to insist on whatever the European workers claimed; for always the habit here and elsewhere among the civilised peoples is to. believe what their agents or settlers abroad represent to them.
In the third place, in pursuance of the policy I have indicated, you ought also to keep the coasting trade in your own hands, and forbid foreigners to engage in it. This coastal trade is clearly not included in the requirement I have indicated as the sole one to be recognised - a requirement to facilitate exportation and importation of commodities. The distribution of commodities brought to Japan’ from other places may be properly left to the Japanese themselves, and should be denied to foreigners, for the reason that again the various transactions involved would become so many doors open ito quarrels and resulting aggressions.
Then follow observations very pertinent to our “White Australia policy : -
To your remaining question, respecting the intermarriage of foreigners and Japanese, which you say is “now very much agitated among our scholars and politicians,” and which you say is “ one of the most difficult problems,” my reply is that, as rationally answered, there is no difficulty at all. It should be positively forbidden. It is not, at root, a question of social philosophy. It is, at root, a question of biology. There is abundant proof, alike furnished by the intermarriages of human races and by the inter-breeding of animals, that when the varieties mingled diverge beyond a certain slight degree, the result is invariably a bad one in the long run. I have myself been in the habit of looking at the evidence bearing on this matter for many years past, and my conviction is based upon numerous facts derived from numerous sources. This conviction I -have within the last half-hour verified, for I happen to be staying in the country with a gentleman who is well known as an authority on horses, cattle, and sheep, and knows much respecting their inter-breed-ing; and he has just, on inquiry, fully confirmed my belief that when, say, of different varieties of sheep there is an intra-breeding of those which are widely unlike, the result) especially in the_ second generation, is a bad one - there are rises and incalculable mixture of traits, and what may be called a chaotic constitution. And the same thing happens among human beings. The Eurasians, in India, and the half-breeds, in America, show this. The physiological basis of this experience appears to be that any one variety of creature in course of many generations acquires a certain constitutional adaptation to a particular form of life, and every other variety similarly acquires its own special adaptation. The consequence is that, if you mix the constitutions of two widely divergent varieties which have severally become adapted to widely divergent modes of life, you get a constitution which is adapted to the mode of life of neither - a constitution which will not work properly because it is not fitted for any set of conditions whatever. . By all means, therefore, peremptorily interdict marriages of Japanese with foreigners.
I have, for the reasons indicated, entirely approved of the regulations which have been established in America for restraining the Chinese immigration; and, had 1 the power, would restrict them to the smallest possible amount; my reasons for this decision being that one of two things must happen. If the Chinese are allowed to settle extensively in America, they must either, if they remain unmixed, form a subject race in the position, if not of slaves, yet of a class approaching to slaves; or, if they mix, they must form a bad hybrid. In either case, supposing the immigration to be large, immense social mischief must arise, and eventually social disorganization. The same thing will happen if there shouldbe any considerable mixture of the European or American races with the Japanese.
You see, therefore, that my advice is strongly conservative in all directions, and I endby saying, as I began, “ Keep other races at arms’ length as much as possible.”
The last paragraph is very pathetic. It says -
I give this advice in confidence. I wish that it should not transpire publicly, at any rate during my life, for I do not desire to rouse the animosity of my fellow-countrymen.
P.S. - Of course, when I say I wish this advice to bo in confidence, I could not interdict the communication of it to Count Ito, but rather wish that he should have the opportunity of taking it into consideration.
He judged his fellow countrymen well. I shall read what happened when he passed away -
Though he would not wish this letter made public during his life, Spencer has indorsed on the copies of the correspondence - “ My letters of advice contained in this batch should be read and published.” Shortly after his death, the letter of 26th August was sent from Tokio for publication in the Times (18th January, 1904), which wrote of it as giving “advise as narrow, as much imbued with antipathy to real progress, as ever came from aselfsufficient, short-sighted mandarin, bred in contempt and hatred of barbarians.”
The Times once publishedcertain statements regarding Parnell, and for fear that the words would not convey sufficiently the venom intended to be conveyed, they actually stamped the cover of the book with a thumb-mark in red ink, indicating the thumb-mark of blood. In the name of reciprocity, let us approach Japan, and say, “ You cannot blame us if we follow your splendid example when you honoured our race and our language by appealing to the greatest of our philosophers to tell you how to avoid entanglements with other nations, and so have a reign of peace’.” Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery. If we wish to save our faces we can say, “ If any Australian is settled in Japan, in view of the fact that the area of Australia is at least thirteen or fourteen times greater than that of your country, we will allow fourteen Japanese to settle in our midst; if any Australian holds an acre of land in Japan we will allow thirteen or fourteen times that area to be held by Japanese.”
– As a good Australian, I am sure the honorable member does nob desire to insult any nation. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) is going to England as a representative of Australia. The question that is being asked by many Australians, especially those who have to find the money, is “ What is the necessity for sending the Prime Minister to England when we are incurring an enormous expense on a High Commissioner?” Sir Joseph Cook is well equipped mentally, and has had a long political career. If the Prime Minister took a referendum of the people of Melbourne and suburbs, who comprise half the population of Victoria, as to whether he should go Home or instruct our present representative by cypher cablegram, I venture to assert that he would be told not to leave Australia. I would be willing to contribute £50 towards the cost of that referendum. It appears to the man in the street that this is a one-man Ministry. After witnessing the magnificent welcome that was given to the Prime Minister in Perth, and listening to a splendid speech which he made there, I was asked my opinion. I said, “ If Western Australia is to be judged by this demonstration, the people are almost unanimous in their views; but this is 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and the majority of the workers are not present.” It is a one-man Ministry, and if Government members allow the Prime Minister to be their absolute dictator he will, perhaps, last longer than his opponents desire. A leading article appeared to-day which is worthy of the consideration of every Victorian member in this House.
Had such an article appeared in reference to a State Government in Victoria, that Government would not have lasted three days.. What would happen to honorable members if tlie people possessed the power of the recall ? I am the only member who can be recalled by his constituents. I adopted that practice after reading in our library a book that is not very widely read. It was written by the late David Syme, and was entitled Representative Government. In one paragraph he said -
The constituents of a member should have the right over that member that the King has over his Ministers, namely, immediate dismissal.
I say in all reverence that God never created anything His equal or His superior, and He never allowed any created thing to make itself His equal or His superior. .Why, then, should the people, who create a Parliament, allow that created thing to make itself more powerful than its creator? That is why I hope to see introduced the principle of the initiative referendum and recall which in a case like this would enable the people outside to give effect to their desires. I, and the people outside, expect that the Prime Minister will account for the total expenditure incurred in connexion with his visit to England. The people do not desire a repetition of that scandalous, nay, infamous, example set by Senator Pearce, a gentleman who lied in the Senate about that poor unfortunate man, Gunner Perry - who for six months was an inmate of the observation ward of the Lunacy Department - and lied in the witness-box when he was giving evidence. I have never claimed privilege in making that statement; I made it from every platform from which I spoke in Western Australia.
– Order ! The honorable member must see that his remarks are not appropriate to the motion.
– I believe the Prime Minister will inform the public. If I am proved to be wrong I shall bite my lips, and say “ You have been fooled once more by your judgment.” The Minister informed trie the other day, in reply to a question, that the cost of an up-to-date capital ship’ was about £7,000,000. . I also ascertained the cost of aeroplanes and submersibles. I was told when I was in Japan that the mighty ship which was anchored alongside the Renown cost the equivalent of £9,000,000 of our money. I am prepared to accept that statement, having been informed that it is the strongest ship afloat. I asked the Minister also -
What is the cost of a fighting plane suitable for the protection of the coast line of Australia 1 to which the Minister replied -
For purely fighting purposes - a singleseater land plane - £2,500.
For reconnaissance purposes - a fourseater twin-engine flying boat- £12,000,
I also inquired th’e radius of observation of a fighting plane or scouting plane; to which the Minister replied that a flying boat had an endurance of eight hours’ flight, and-, under normal weather conditions, its radius of observation averaged 120 miles. I have read in an American publication that the radius of planes there is regarded as 150 miles, which means that they can cover an area 300 miles across. If we divide 12,000 miles, which is the length of our coast line, by 300, it is seen that only forty aeroplane stations are needed to defend this coast. This calculation takes no account of the capital cities. These stations could give prompt warning of any attack- upon our coast. A large aeroplane fleet could be built for half the cost of a capital ship, and the machines would be able to fly with the swiftness of the wind and attack an invading force. Is there any honorable member who does not give credence to the statements of “ Jacky “ Fisher and Sir Percy Scott. These men have said that it is impossible to take a capital ship even to the Singapore base. Has America not made experiments in dropping bombs near ships of- war? It was shown that when a bomb was dropped 50 feet away from a ship the explosion smashed all the electrical equipment on board. It is well known that when the electrical equipment cif a man-of-war is rendered inoperative the ship becomes as helpless as a log in the sea. Never will I forget a picture which I saw of the great gun which bombarded Paris from a distance of 75 miles. That range, however, is a mere, bagatelle when compared with what an aeroplane can do. An aeroplane can bomb a town 150 miles away, and has the superior advantage over a gun that it. operates from above its objective. To build the proposed base at Singapore would be to insult the great nation that was our Ally during the war, and “ played the game “ as fairly as any nation could have played it. Not only is it an insult, but it is a waste of money. If the base be made for capital ships so that they can be locked up as safely as if they were in prison, it will be’ unsuitable for submersibles. If it had been proposed to provide a naval base at Singapore to shelter submersibles, I might have waived my objection. Is there any honorable member so foolish as to deny that our mighty armour-clad fleet was locked up in portevery night during the war? The ships composing the fleet did not dare to sail* the open seas as a 100-ton sloop would have done in the days of Nelson. Why? Are our sailors less brave than those of Nelson’s day? No. Our sailors are as brave as any who have ever trod the decks of British ships, but they knew the menace of the German submarine. They knew that three ships had been sunk in going to the assistance of one another. I have shown by the wonderful letter that Japan wrote to our philosopher that that nation is seeking peace. They are not so much affected as we are by religious discords. Their two religions - Buddhism and Shintoism - are two of the least bigoted religions on earth. The earth has never seen the artistic equal of the Japanese as a race. Individual sculptors of ancient Greece stand pre-eminent even to-day. Why? Because the Greeks were the only nation in the world that made their gods beautiful. Let any honorable member look at the god that stands on the pinnacle of the Age newspaper office. He was one of the bad Greek gods, but they made even him beautiful. Japan, unfortunately, has not made its gods beautiful. I have stated what I would do if I had Japanese or Chinese blood in my veins. But the politicians, or so-called “ statesmen,” who committed the infamies of the past are dead. They have been honoured with monuments here and in London. But their actions are incomparable with that of the high official in the service of the Indian Government, who, during the first famine there, when charitable people in England sent over something like £50,000, said it would be interfering with the justifiable profits of traders in India to distribute the money or to buy food with it for the starving people. These types belong to a past age. I hope that the tenor of the Prime Minister’s remarks in London will be based upon considerations of humanity and the elimination of war.
Debate (on motion by Mr. W. M. Hughes) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Bruce) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will recall that, in 1920, this Parliament passed a Nationality Act. The object was to assist in securing uniformity on the subject of nationality throughout the Empire, and to provide for a certificate which would confer British nationality, and would be effective throughout the British Dominions. In 1922, the Parliament of the United Kingdom amended the British Act. That Act has been amended to meet the wishes of British communities in foreign countries. Practically only one important amendment has been made and that relates to children born outside of British Dominions. Prior to the passage of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914, children of the first and second generations born abroad of British fathers were British subjects. Children of the third generation were not British. In accordance with the provisions of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914, only children of the first generation born abroad of British fathers were recognised as British subjects. Children of the second generation were not British subjects. The British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1922 restores the privilege of British nationality to children of the second generation, and also extends it to childrenof later generations. The grant of British nationality to children other than those of the first generation born abroad is, however, subject to the following conditions: -
There is also a penal clause dealing with trafficking in nationality certificates. The Bill adopts the amendment provided for by the British Act, and thus helps to preserve uniformity throughout the Empire on the subject of nationality.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
A Trust fund is in existence known as the War Records Publication Account, and the object of the Bill is to alter the name to the “Australian War Museum Trust Fund,” and place it under the control of trustees. The War Records Publication Account wascreated with the approval of the Treasury in 1919, and the funds paid into it consist of moneys received abroad and in Australia through the exploitation of the records belonging to the War Museum. That exploitation took the form of illustrated lectures and picture shows relating to the war, and exhibitions of various kinds. The War Museum will be recognised as a credit to Australia and those who were responsible for its creation. In all the announcements made from public platforms and advertisements in connexion with the various entertainments, it was expressly stated that the proceeds would be applied to some purpose in connexion with the War Museum. Up to the present time the fund has been administered by the
Minister for Homeand Territories) upon the advice of the Australian War Museum Committee, which comprises the Minister for Home and Territories (chairman), the Minister for Defence, Lieut.-General Sir Harry Chauvel, Vice-Admiral Sir Allen Everett, Major-General Sir C. B. White, Major-General Sir T. W. Glasgow, Mr. W. M. Marks, M.H.R., Sir Douglas Mawson, and Mr. H. S. Gullett. The trustees to whom the fund will be handed over will comprise some members of that Committee. At a conference held in May, at which the Treasurer, the Minister for Home and Territories, the Minister for Defence, Senator Glasgow, and Mr. Collins were present, it was decided that it was desirable that the fund should be transferred from the Treasury to the control of a Trust constituted by Act of Parliament. It was considered that this step was necessary if the pledges given in respect of the moneys collected were to be redeemed, and the Museum were to receive the greatest benefit from the fund. Such a fund under the control of trustees is likely to attract donations or bequests from wealthy citizens who have a particular interest in keeping green the memory of Australian sailors and soldiers. The fund has received no assistance from the Treasury, and if it is augmented by a few more donations, and the trustees are allowed to administer it in the way indicated in the Bill, it is confidently expected that it will become self-supporting.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
.- I move-
That the House at its rising adjourn until Monday next at 3 p.m.
We have had several discussions in regard to days of sittings, and all have been governed by the question whether or not the session shall terminate on 24th August. The vote on each occasion has established the fact that it is the wish of the majority of the House that Parliament shall rise on that date. That being the case, I am quite sure that all honorable members will agree that it is desirable that the House should sit on Monday in order to provide the fullest opportunity to discuss _ the various important matters that have to be dealt with. They include the agenda papers of the Imperial and Economic Conferences, the Budget, and the financial arrangements for the current year. I am sure that the House will agree to the motion.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) having made up his mind that the session shall close on 24th August, I realize it is useless to further object. I remind him however, that to sit five days a week will be a very trying ordeal, and I hope, therefore, that during next week the Government will permit the House to rise each night at a reasonable hour. That is a fair request. All-night sittings will not be fair to any member, because there would be plenty of time to dispose of all the business without such prolonged sittings if- the session were extended. I hope that the Prime Minister will not endeavour to force the Government proposals through the House, by means of the bludgeon or all-night sittings. Members of the Opposition have not offered any unnecessary obstruction to the business of the House. We have endeavoured to meet the needs of the situation as far as possible, and no Opposition could have been fairer.
.-The Leader of the Opposition has made one fair request, and I make another, namely, that the Prime Minister will promise to set apart at least one day to allow those honorable members who have placed business on the notice-paper to have a vote taken upon their motions. As one of those members, I would be prepared to have my motion submitted to a vote without further discussion. I have no doubt that others also who are in charge of private members’ business would consent to that course. The request is fair, having regard to the fact that the Prime Minister has, in pursuance of his own determination to cut the session short, deprived private members of their privilege - nay., right - to bring forward proposals which, though not on the Government programme, are of primary importance to ‘ the people whom they represent.
.- I must avail myself of this opportunity of again testing the opinion of the House regarding the Prime Minister’s determination to shorten the session. I do not challenge the right of the Prime Minister to go to London - it is for the Government to determine whether the trip is necessary - but I do think that the Government are making a great mistake in proposing to close Parliament for such a. long period at this stage of Australianhistory.
– The question iswhether the House shall meet on Monday.
– I understand that theobject of the motion is that the Houseshall sit on Monday, the better to enable Parliament to be closed on 24th August, so that the Prime Minister . may go toEngland.
– I do not know that that is the object. I only know what themotion says.
– I do know it, and I am giving you, sir, the benefit of my knowledge. A mistake is being made in asking the House to sit on so many daysin the week. No man can effectively apply his intelligence and energies to the business of the country when the House is working continuously at high speed. It is the right of honorable members to express their opinions on various economic questions affecting the development of the Commonwealth. Australia, as a. young nation, is laying down new principles of government and social reform, and the House should have the fullest, opportunity of discussion, not alone of the actual measures themselves, but also of their relation to and effect upon political and economic developments. The Prime Minister is the Leader of this House, and as such, I respect him, but 1 believe that if he were to leave Parliament sitting there would still be sufficient ability among those who were left to carry on the business of the country. In any ordinary Government there is sufficient ability and intelligence to transact .the business of the country even if the Prime Minister be absent. I do not know whether this Government possesses that ordinary ability, but I think the Prime Minister could very well go away and leave Parliament to continue its work. Some people may think it could continue its work better without the right honorable gentleman than with him. Let him consider how good it would sound if he could tell the people of Great Britain that, though he had left Parliament sitting, things were going or. just as well as when he was there. A vast improvement in the Government might even follow. A change of Prime Ministers, even for a few months, would enable big alterations to be made. Let’ the Prime Minister consider the position of honorable members, if he shuts up Parliament for eight or nine months, for that is what it will mean. We shall not be called together again until next April or May. There is abundance of business to be done. Many of the measures which were spoken of when we were advocating Federation are still untouched. I hope even now the Prime Minister will not hurry Parliament in this way, and thus virtually kill men by making them sit four and five days in the week. Mental work imposes a far greater strain on men than physical toil. We hardly know how serious the strain is. Our departed brothers from this side of the House suffered because of their sincerity and unremitting attention to their parliamentary duties. For myself, I promise the Prime Minister that if he will leave Parliament to continue its work I shall do my best to see that he hasno need to fear. Australia will remain in the same place even though he should leave it. If I cannot persuade him to alter his mind on this occasion, I trust that in the future no Prime Minister will attempt to deprive the representatives of the people of Australia from attending to the business with which they were appointed to deal. I do not desire to belittle the position the Prime Minister holds, but I remind him that he is only one of seventy-five members of this House, and he could well leave the Parliament to perform its work without his presence.
.- I support the forcible protest of the honorable member for East Sydney, not so much because we are asked to sit an extra day in the week, but because of the purpose for which we are to sit. I regard it as an affront to the National Parliament that it should be closed down because one seventy-fifth part of the membership of this House is going across the sea. It is specially an affront to the Prime Minister’s colleagues and to his supporters. I do not know what actuates the Prime Minister in wishing to close Parliament. He may believe that Parliament may not be carried on as well in his absence as in his presence, but I assure him that his absence will make no difference. Things cannot be worse than they are, and it is no use the Prime Minister worrying about them. I heard the case summed up the other clay by one of his supporters. He was asked, “How is the Government getting on? “ He replied, “ Oh, so-so.’’ The first man remarked, “ That’s bad.” The supporter of the Government replied, “ Those who have safe seats are all right, and those who have not, will get it ‘ in the neck’ anyway, so it makes no difference.”
– That chap was a pessimist.
– No; he was a prophet. The right honorable member for Flinders should not imagine that he is the only person who can run this Parliament. If he goes away and never comes back again the Parliament will still be carried on. If he remains abroad with the friends he meets over there, Parliament will open at the same time next year, and the business will go on just as effectively without his presence. I support the appeal made by the Leader of the Opposition. If we are to be compelled to sit every day in the week I trust the Prime Minister will permit us to go home at an early hour at night. I am afraid the appeal will fall on deaf ears, however, for the right honorable gentleman has already shown us how he can operate the guillotine. I am reminded of a picture I saw of a person sitting by the guillotine at the time of the French revolution, watching the heads rolling off into the basket. Of course, the Prime Minister is all right. He may compel honorable members to sit from Mondays to Fridays, and, perhaps, Saturdays, and, possibly, even Sundays, because he will know that at the end of a few weeks he will board a boat and have six or seven weeks on the briny ocean to recuperate. The haggard, tired members will be left behind, while the Prime Minister will go away on this joy trip. It is nothing else. No good will be done. No good has ever been done at such meetings as he will attend. The Prime Minister will get nothing more out of the Imperial Conference than he got out of the Premiers’ Conference. I protest against having to sit extra days in the week when we should be sitting extra months in the’ session.
.- Referring to the suggestion of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe), I wish, as one who probably has more business on the notice-paper than any other honorable member, to assure the Prime Minister that I shall be quite content to get a division on the matters I have brought forward without another word of debate.
.- This motion is of vital concern to the whole of the Commonwealth. When I see you in that chair, Mr. Speaker, as I “) have pleasure in doing, I cannot help * J thinking of those days when, on the floor of this House, you “ drank delight of battle with your peers “ - if peers you had - on the floor of the chamber. I can imagine what you would have said if a motion of this kind had then been moved. This motion frustrates the real object for which Parliament meets. I believe that is the real purpose of it. When the right honorable the Prime Minister finds himself safely esconsced in his first-class berth oh the ship that is to take him on what the honorable member for East Sydney has well termed his trip round the world, he will be able to tell his press interviewers, “ I set out to complete a programme, and, lo and behold, I have put it through.” If the completion of a programme simply amounted to the moving, seconding, and carrying of motions it would be possible to put through a programme of almost unexampled length in a few hours, and possibly a few minutes. But that is not the function of Parliament. This is a convenient time for a little essay on the general question of the functions of Parliament.
– I am afraid we cannot have that now.
– Is that so, sir? I can assure you that I did not anticipate such a declaration from you when I spoke so kindly of you at the beginning of my speech. But as it would be inopportune to traverse your ruling at this stage, 1 accept it. The point I shall make, by the indulgence of the House, is that when the right honorable member boards his boat he will be able to say, “ We set out to complete a programme, and, behold, we have done it.” Every newspaper will herald this second historic Bruce as a strong man, who said he would fulfil a programme, and did so, in spite of Labour opposition. I am sure I shall be in order in suggesting that the function of Parliament is discussion. ‘ Parliament, as you, Mr. Speaker, have doubtless ascertained, is a place in which to talk. Our ambitions do not always lead us so far as to hope that we shall be listened to, but at least we have the right to express here, within the limit of the Standing Orders, the opinions which we have formed outside. If the functions of members of Parliament were merely to look handsome and dignified and remain silent, that function would be adequately performed by the gentlemen who sit behind the Ministry; but that is not how we accept our responsibilities. It is not for us, as apparently it is for them - an unsophisticated and silent band of “hackbutters “ sitting behind their leaders -
– The honorable member has used the term “hackbutters.” I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether that is in order ?
– I have not heard the word before, so I cannot say whether it is in order or not.
– As to that, Mr. Speaker, I submit the word with abundant confidence that it is absolutely in order. It is a Scotch word, and therefore cannot be cavilled at. If I were to speak in Irish I should not be understood. If I spoke in plain Australian
– I trust the honorable member has not forgotten the motion.
– I labour under the disability of not having heard it.
– The question is that the House, at its rising, adjourn until Monday at 3 o’clock. I hope that honorable members will keep more strictly to that question than they have done hitherto.
– No doubt, the Ministerial programme will in due course be fulfilled.Whatever Bills or motions the Ministry desires carried will be carried by means of the “ gag “ or otherwise. By this forcing of business, the work may nominally be done, but it cannot really be effectively or effectually done. It is a travesty of the functions of Parliament to crowd all the work into a few weeks. Only the other day the Prime Minister dismissed private members’business, intimating that such a course was usual, and had been taken in parallel circumstances by a Labour Government. The circumstances were not parallel, because at that time Parliament had been sitting and working for some four months. On this occasion, private members’ business is brushed aside after only a few weeks’ sittings. , The Prime Minister speaks for a very doubtful majority, if amajority at all, of the people of Australia; indeed, I venture to say that a fair review of the last election would show that we on this side speak for . the majority, or, at all events, for about one-half of the electors. It is proposed to take the business of Parliament out of the hands of Parliament, merely to enable the honorable gentleman to take part in an Imperial Conference, an extra Australian body altogether. The matters to be considered are certainly of importance, but, even so, they can only be fittingly decided within this Chamber. This motion is an outrage on the spirit of Australian Democracy, and on every tradition of constitutional government.
– I quite appreciate the point of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) . By sitting five days next week, I am confident that we shall be able to get through the work without any unduly protracted sittings. . I shall give the fullest consideration to the matter referred to by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe), and if the progress of business allows, the Government will have no objection to taking the course suggested.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– A deputation of the unemployed waited on me this afternoon, to inform me that their position is becoming most serious. They complain that married men with families are nob being found work within a reasonable distance of the city area, but are asked to go to the country. We all know what a difficult problem is presented to a married man who has to go to work in the country, and thus be compelled to maintain two homes. The single men are all quite ready and willing to work away from the city. I should like to take this opportunity to refer to a statement made in the newspapers the other day to the effect that very few of the unemployed had made application for work that offered. The explanation is that the notices from the Department were not received at the unemployed quarters before the men had left in their search for work, and, of course, their applications were later than had been anticipated. Two members of the deputation that waited on me are returned soldiers, andappear to be men entitled to every consideration. They informed me that there are at least 1,200 men unemployed and in destitute circumstances. The Commonwealth is providing money, and I suggest that the Prime Minister should get into touch with the State authorities, with a view to work being furnished without delay.
.- The Reverend Mr. Yeates and myself, as members of theunemployed committee, resent very strongly the inaccurate statement that appeared in the Argus yesterday, which gave rise to the impression that only seventy-five men out of the whole number unemployed had applied for work offered at the Labour Bureau. I have made inquiries, and the Labour Bureau people explained that the time has not yet expired for enrolling men for that particular work. I regard the Argus as having acted quite unfairly in suggesting that some of the men are not sincere in their desire for employment. If the gentleman who controls the Argus would come to the unemployed committee-room he would get a very different impression.
I sincerely wish that this Parliament, could devote a short session to the consideration and adoption of a comprehensive scheme of national insurance against unemployment. In the meantime other steps must be taken to meet the case, and I can say that I never desire to work with a better committee than that which is now looking after the interests of the unemployed. Further, I have never found a religious gentleman more in sympathy with the poor than the reverend gentleman to whom I have referred.
.- I have received information that forty-one tenants of the War Service Homes Commission in the Canterbury-Bankstown district, in New South Wales, have received notice of eviction, and and that Police Court proceedings to that end are being taken to-day at the local Police Court. I should like the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) to give reasons for this apparently drastic action. I do not intend to express an opinion on the merits or demerits of the proceedings of the Department, but it seems a serious matter to turn forty-one tenants out of their homes, particularly when a telegram was despatched to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) asking him to defer action pending a thorough inquiry. I understand that the telegram was referred to the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart), who replied asking for the names of the persons involved. I am informed that the War Service Welfare Association found the utmost difficulty in submitting particulars of individual cases by telegram. They objected, I am informed, to the principle of evicting men in view of the fact that the Minister had indicated to this House a few days ago that he intended to bring in an amending Bill, when he proposed to make a pronouncement of Government policy in regard to the administration of the War Service Homes Act.
– In reply to the question raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. ^Charlton), I desire to stress the fact that the grant which the Commonwealth Government is making to the States for the -construction of roads is not to assist unemployment, but is for the purpose of development, and is a part of a great national policy for opening up the country, particularly the back country. But the money having been made available, we are only too desirous to co-operate so far as we can with the States in giving relief to the unfortunate seasonal unemployment which exists. I shall go into the matter with the Premier of Victoria to see whether anything can be done to meet the situation to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred. We have, however, always to bear in mind the fact that this money has been granted primarily for opening Up the back country, and as part of a developmental policy under which there is naturally likely to be less spent in or around the capital cities, where employment for married men would be more acceptable than in places at a greater distance from centres of population. The matter raised by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) will be dealt with by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart).
– The right honorable the Prime Minister having spoken, the debate is now closed. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) can speak only by the unanimous wish of the House.
– (By leave). - The telegram despatched to the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) was referred to me, and, speaking from memory, I understand it indicated that these eviction cases were to take place on Friday week - that is, next Friday.
– The telegram states next Friday, which I understand means to-day.
– Is. the honorable member sure on that point?
– I think that is so.
– I am under the impression that next Friday was mentioned. The message, however, stated that there were to be certain, evictions, and asked for a stay of proceedings. After consulting with the War Service Homes officials, I replied to the effect that I could not agree to the request, but that if the senders of the telegram would give me the names and the cases covered by their inquiry, I would obtain a report concerning each case, and if the facts justified it, I would arrange for a postponement pending further inquiries. That message was sent on the assumption that I had a week or more in which to study the position. I am assured by the Deputy Commissioner for War Service Homesin New South Wales (Mr. Morrell) that these are what he terms bad cases, in which the arrears of rent are great, and where the occupants have refused to reply - in nearly, if notall, thecases - to inquiries from the Department. Whilst we all regret the necessity for taking such drastic action as to evict from thesehouses men who fought for their country, we must stop, somewhere. We cannot allow ex-soldiers to enter into agreements with the Department to pay for a house, and then to deliberately repudiate them. The policy of the Department in every case has been that where an occupant of a War Service Home, through acause which is no fault of his own, such as unemployment, sickness, or misfortune, over which a man has no control, is in difficulties, we will allow him time to do a fair thing. But we cannot allow men whom we believe can pay something, and refuse to pay, to defy the Department. In such cases, we have no alternative but to take drastic action such as has been threatened in this case. If effect is given to these notices, the men will have to vacate the houses within a week.
Mr.Coleman. - Would a man be evicted if he was out of employment?
– Not if that is all that could be said against him.
– What if the arrears of rent were due to unemployment?
– If the non-payment has been due solely to unemployment, we will stretch every point ; but if a returned soldier has been, occupying a house for twelve months, and has not paid any rent, we must face the facts. I shall see that the cases are inquired into, and those in which evictions have been ordered will be considered by myself and my officers. If there has been hardship, as indicated by the honorable member, the cases will be considered sympathetically, and, if necessary, the eviction order suspended.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1923/19230727_reps_9_104/>.