6th Parliament · 1st Session
The Preside nt took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Soldiers in Hospital : Exercise of Franchise : Purchase of Horses : Products of Woollen Mills: Appointments and Promotions.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Defence been drawn to the following paragraph in yesterday’s Argus entitled “Soldiers in Hospital; Complaints of Misconduct “ ?
GEELONG, Monday. - The doings of certain soldiers in the military hospital at Osborne House are the subject of much comment in the city. Insubordination is said to be common amongst the men, and it is stated that the superintendent and the staff have much difficulty in dealing with offenders. Residents of North Geelong, in whose territory the hospital is situated, complain of misconduct. On Sunday afternoon a contingent of girls visited the institution, and an officer subsequently found a dance in progress. An orderly had occasion to check one of the soldiers, and an exchange of words led to a fight. The question of leave is a sore point with a section of the men.
Will the Minister make inquiries to see whether the allegations are true or otherwise, and take the necessary steps ?
– My attention was drawn to the paragraph in question, and I have called for a report on the matter.
– H - Has the attention of the Minister in control of the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department been called to the statement in the press that the Canadian Government have made arrangements so that, in case of an election, members of Expeditionary Forces may be enabled to exercise their franchise, the intention being to send commissioners to the front for that purpose ? Will the Commonwealth Government consider the advisability of taking similar action so that soldiers who are fighting outside of Australia may have the opportunity to record their votes?
– Are you anticipating an early election!?
.- It It is well to be prepared.
– I need hardly say that everybody has a certain amount of sympathy with what the honorable sena- tor suggests, but I am hopeful that the war will be over before we have another election. However, with the view to enabling me to make further inquiries, I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Relative to his announcement to the Senate on 11th December last (Hansard. p. 1588), regarding the purchase of horses for his Department in Tasmania, that “ the serious charges which have been made by Senator Ready will be investigated “ : -
Has such investigation been made?
What was its nature?
What was its result?
Will lie make the papers in connexion therewith available to the Senate?
– The answers are : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
Cloth and serge, khaki, 18 oz., 6s. per yard.
Cord, khaki, 12 oz., 4s. 6d. per yard.
Flannel,1s. 4½d. per yard.
Blankets, 12s. 9d. each.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
Colonel Martin, V.D., CO. 23rd Infantry Brigade, A.D.C. to His Excellency the Governor-General.
Major (Hon. Lieut. -Colonel) G. E. Harrap, V.D., Retired List.
They receive an allowance in accordance with Financial and Allowance Regulation 207, which reads as follows : - “ Officers of the Citizen Forces acting as members of courts martial, except while their corps is attending parade or encampment, or attending meetings of the Military Board, or Promotion Board, or of any Court, Board, or Committee, appointed with the approval of the Minister, shall receive an allowance as under, for each day or part of a day while so employed -
In calculating payment for a part of a day, each hour shall be reckoned as one-eighth of the daily rate; but not more than one day’s allowance shall be granted for any period of 24 hours. No travelling allowance shall be paid if the allowances as above are drawn.”
The Citizen Forces rates of pay for Colonel and Major are as under : -
Colonel, £2 5s. per day; Major, £1 10s. per day.
Maximum Age of Employment
– Will the Minister representing the Department of Home Affairs lay on the table of the Senate the regulation issued by that Department which debars men over a certain age from being employed?
– I will have inquiries made in the Department, and if there is such a regulation in existence I will be pleased to comply with the request of the honorable senator.
– Has the Minister of Defence yet given consideration to the question of establishing a horse-breeding station in the Northern Territory?
-Whilst the Department continues to work at its present high pressure it is impracticable to take any steps towards the realization of that idea.
The following papers were presented : -
Papua. - Ordinances of 1914 -
No. 8. - Railway.
No. 9. - Explosives Storage Rates.
No. 10. - Samarai Protestant Church Grant.
No. 11. - Constabulary, No. 2.
No. 13. - Real Property.
No. 15. - Port Moresby to Rona Railway.
Postmaster-General’s Department. - Statement showing business transacted and details of receipts and expenditure in respect of post-offices in the Commonwealth during the year 1913.
Public Service Act 1902-1913.-
Appointments, Promotions, &c. -
Postmaster-General’s Department -
Department of Trade and Customs -
Regulation amended. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 52.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will he lay a return on the table of the Senate showing -
The number of wireless stations licensed or registered in Australia?
The number that have been dismantled by authority of the Defence Department ?
– I have asked to be supplied by the Naval and Military Departments with a return on this matter to enable me to see whether it is such a one as should be published. The information is not yet to hand, but as soon as it reaches me, I will tell the honorable senator whether it can be made public.
– I thought you would dodge it somehow.
– Will the Minister include in the return the number of stations which were discovered to be in existence but were not licensed?
– I will endeavour to get that information also.
– Before calling upon the next question, I wish to point out that it is slightly out of order, although the fact has escaped my attention until now. Questions are permissible only for the purpose of eliciting information, and must not contain any argument or give any information. Otherwise, they are a perversion of the object for which questions are allowed. Senator Shannon, in his question, says -
In view of the high price ruling in Australia for all foodstuffs, and the fact that there is a very heavy crop of rice in Burmah and Japan -
Now that is an alleged fact. It may not even be an accurate statement. It does not seek information, but gives information to the Senate. I call attention to this matter, so that honorable senators may not make a similar mistake in the future.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the high price ruling in Australia for all foodstuffs, and the fact that there is a very heavy crop of rice in Burmah and Japan, will the Government immediately suspend the’ duty on rice, and thereby enable the people to get that article of diet at a reasonable price?
– The answer is -
The matter has been considered, but it is thought that there is no present necessity to take the action suggested.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Pill for an Act to amend the War Precautions Act 1914.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to insurance.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 2395), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the Ministerial statement read to the Senate by the Minister of Defence on 14th April be printed.
– In resuming my remarks, I do not think it will be out of place if I express pleasure that those members of this Chamber who, with some members of the other branch of the Legislature, were passengers by the Melbourne express train which met with an accident on Saturday morning, escaped almost unscathed. In regard to those who sustained injuries, I trust that their injuries will not be of a lasting character. I heartily congratulate all of them upon their fortunate escape. It would have been regrettable, indeed, if our parliamentary friendship had been interrupted by the hand of death. I trust that they will remain with us as long as this Parliament lasts, and that they will remember with feelings of thankfulness their escape from the lamentable accident in which, unfortunately, one poor man lost his life. On Friday last I was dealing with certain phases of the inflammatory phenomena attendant on the evolution of nations, which we call war. I was saying that our Citizen Army is an amateur force, and that in view of our continental responsibilities it is incumbent upon us to devise a more satisfactory scheme of home defence. In order to avoid unnecessarily stressing this aspect of the matter, I wish to say that the Commonwealth should have a professional army, which should be equal to at least onefourth of that maintained by the United States of America. The United States occupy a very similar position to that in which we find ourselves. Until quite recently America’s territories were continental, but it now has insular possessions scattered throughout the Pacific - notably the Sandwich and the Philippine Islands. The United States, which are inhabited by a specially peace-loving population, think it necessary to maintain a standing army of approximately 300,000 men. I feel that Australia will be very unwise if she depends solely on the Citizen Forces that we have organized and. are organizine. I have pood military authority for this statement. It is almost a platitude to say that the people of the Commonwealth have shouldered tremendous responsibilities, and that they must show themselves equal to those responsibilities. We have a territory which, in the aggregate, is at least as great as that of the Roman Empire, and we must exhibit Roman qualities if our dominion is to endure. I have no hesitation in saying that we shall have to organize our Citizen Forces on a basis which will give them very much more training than they at present receive, and that the Army will have to be stiffened by regular soldiers to the extent of at least 25,000 men. It is true that this will entail very great financial sacrifices on the part of the people, but if they are not prepared to make those sacrifices, they will be unworthy of their very great heritage. Now, I intend to explore pretty well every section of this argument, and to refer to the financial phase of the question, because this is most important in relation to the proposal to organize forces for overseas service. In justice to myself, I must elaborate this phase of the question, particularly in view of the fact that some honorable senators opposite pretend to be unaware of the arguments which I have used previously in favour of levying, by conscription, on the manhood of Australia for further soldiers for the defence of the Empire. Some members interjected the other day, “ What about the dependents?” and in reply to that I want them to reflect upon the fact that it has been statistically ascertained that we have in Australia approximately half a million men of military age who have practically no family ties. At least, they are not in the married state, and are between the ages of eighteen and thirty -five years. Surely, then, there is a sufficient field for recruiting by conscription the force required to assist the Empire.
– S - Some of the single men have dependents, too.
– A very few of them, and it would be by no means difficult to overcome that objection.
– Would you have conscription only for single men ?
– Yes, at the beginning of the scheme, for it would be bad policy at that stage to bring the married men into the rank and file. It has been laid down by a great Continental historian that the true test of national greatness is the readiness of a nation’s young men to fight, and, if necessary, die for great national ideals, and one of the reasons why I advocate conscription is that it will enable us to give very necessary assistance to the Empire. I stressed the fact in the columns of the Tasmanian Labour paper, some months ago, when Parliament was in recess, that we are borrowing the money from the sorely pressed Mother Country to pay our men 400 and 500 per cent. more than the British taxpayers are receiving in the trenches of Flanders, for the poor Tommies are, to a certain extent, the taxpayers of England. It is unbecoming, therefore, that this money should be borrowed to enable Australia to make war on the most expensive scale ever indulged in throughout British history. Now anybody who knows me well is aware that I am in favour of paying high wages, and I am only taking up this attitude because I believe it is incumbent on me to say that we should wage this war with the utmost vigour available, and on the most economical basis.
– Surely it is somewhat far-fetched to say that the money is being found by the taxpayers in England ?
– I do not wish to interrupt the Minister in his interjection, because it is a very pertinent one. But it is not far-fetched to say that. Does not the Minister know that the British income tax has from the 1st April been doubled ?
– This money does not come from that source.
– It may not come from that source, but at the same time it is a drain on the British taxpayer.
– Not on the British Government. It does not come from them at all.
– Is not the British Government indebted to the people of Great Britain for this money?
– No; the British Government is indebted to the money lender.
– That money will have to be refunded by the British Government.
– No. The money they lend us will be recovered from the Australian taxpayers.
– Certainly we could not render the assistance we are giving to the Empire if we had not borrowed the money from the Imperial Government and the Imperial Government are responsible to the Imperial taxpayers. I do not mean to say that the Imperial resources are not very great, but this matter deserves to be very closely discussed, and even now I understand a proposal to levy an income tax on all incomes exceeding 10s. per week is being mooted.
– W - We could finance the war out of our own resources if we were not financing the States as well.
– But does not the honorable senator consider the States to be part and parcel of the Australian body politic ?
– Y - Yes; of course I do.
– As a matter of fact, we could not have rendered so much assistance to the Imperial Government if they had not lent us the money; and in all justice to ourselves we should not attempt to carry on this war on a basis which causes us to pay our soldiers four and five times what the Imperial taxpayers are receiving in the trenches of Flanders.
– Why not?
– For the reason that we are not able to do it, and because we should not make any invidious comparisons. On the mere money basis, £1, or even £5, a day would not be too much to pay men who are risking their lives every hour of the twenty-four; but this should not be done if it causes any invidious distinctions to be made between the troops who are engaged in the conflict. My plan for conscription is certainly not original; and I venture to say that if the war does not end within the next few months conscription will be brought into force in the Old Country, and, in the long run, it must be adopted in Australia.
– There does not seem to be very much need for it in Great Britain to-day.
– As I have said, my plan for conscription is not origiual, for I find that I have unconsciously plagiarised the sentiments of two great protagonists of the Labour party. I have been set upon this track by an interjection from an honorable senator opposite, who expressed some surprise that I should advocate giving assistance to the Empire, and not paying on the scale that we are doing at present. I find that the Honorable William Hughes and Mr. Thomas, members of another place, expressed similar sentiments when the creation of the Australian Citizen Defence Forces was being discussed by Parliament, for they advocated service as a citizen obligation without any payment whatever. When I read their words, I can fancy that I can hear myself speaking. I completely identify myself with their utterances.
– They were dealing with an entirely different thing.
– I am speaking of rendering assistance in the defence of the Empire, and that is of more immediate importance than the future defence of Australia. I have all the passages of the speeches marked, but I need not weary the Senate by quoting them.
– We should like to hear some of them.
– Then we shall have Mr. Hughes first. I quote from page 3094 of Hansard for 1903.
– T - This is ancient history.
– We are treated to a great deal of ancient history when references are made’ to the establishment of the Australian Fleet and the Australian Citizen Army by honorable senators opposite. Ancient history is considered most apposite, and is quoted freely by our honorable friends opposite, when the attempt is made to establish some claim on behalf of the Labour party; but ancient history is to be relegated to the limbo of forgotten things when it tells against them. We have heard about the Australian Fleet and what the Labour party had to do in connexion with its establishment; but they always keep in the background the fact that the only persons who voted against the resolution submitted in another place which committed Australia to the establishment of a Fleet were members of the Labour party. In the course of the speech made by Mr. Hughes, Mr. Higgins interjected, “ Are the men to go into barracks?” and Mr. Hughes went on to say -
I propose that they shall present themselves at such places as may be determined upon, not all at once, but in such numbers as may be considered convenient.
Mr. McCay. Are they to be paid?
Mr. HUGHES. Most emphatically, no.
Sir John Forrest. I suppose they are to have rifles and ammunition?
Mr. HUGHES. Undoubtedly; the basic idea of my amendment is that it is the duty of every citizen to fit himself for the defence of the Commonwealth.
Quite right; and it is the basic duty of every citizen to go out to defend the Commonwealth after being made fit.
– It would be their duty under conscription to fight at Is. 2d. a day?
– What is the difference between conscripting them at 1s. 2d. a day, and asking them, as Mr. Hughes does, to go out to defend Australia for nothing?
– Mr. Hughes did not ask that.
– Surely honorable senators who are interjecting will not assert that the men who are assisting the Empire in Flanders are not defending Australia ? They are defending Australia in a very material way.
– Mr. Hughes never asked that the men should go abroad without payment.
– That has nothing to do with the question. I say that if it is a sound proposition to ask Australians to fit themselves to defend Australia within Australia as an integral unit of the Empire for nothing, it is a sound proposition to ask that they should be prepared to fight alongside Imperialists who are voluntarily enlisted for Is. 2d. a day, at the same rate as those men receive. To continue my quotation -
Sir John Forrest. Oh, yes, we must pay them.
Mr. HUGHES. Surely not. The Minister has power to call upon every male inhabitant of Australia, except those who are exempt from service. . . . It is inconceivable that when the whole nation has to respond to a call to arms every man should be paid. On the very face of it, such an idea is absurd. Therefore, since the principle of general conscription is introduced-
It is introduced in connexion with home defence. To a certain extent it has been consummated -
Therefore, since the principle of general conscription is introduced, the Minister, and not I, must bear the odium of its introduction, if there be any. The Minister surely does not propose to pay the population upon a levy en masse.
– Mr. Hughes and the Labour party do not promise very much, but they are performing a great deal.
– I completely identify myself with the opinions there expressed by Mr. Hughes. I say that it is altogether wrong for us to wage war as expensively as we are doing, in view of the fact that it may be necessary for us to continue to give assistance to the Empire for an indefinite period of time. If we knew that the war .was going to last only a month or two, we should know what we were doing, and might bo in a position to indulge in a little extravagance. We might even be more generous to the members of our Forces than we are at present, but it is essential that Australia shall continue the necessary assistance to the Empire until the war is prosecuted to a successful conclusion. It is, in the circumstances, inherently and manifestly wrong for us to be paying men 6s. per day when we are borrowing the money with which to pay them from the Home Country, that is paying her own voluntarilyenlisted soldiers at the rate of ls. 2d. per day.
– What about the honorable senator’s salary; is he prepared to give up the whole of that?
– If it were considered necessary, I should have no objection to do so.
– Does the honorable senator think that it is necessary?
– I really believe that it is necessary.
– Then let the honorable senator “ stump up.”
– I believe that it is necessary to economize very greatly in some of the States of Australia, and it might be wise to consider a substantial reduction during the period of the war in the salaries of members of Parliament. We may have to do that yet.
– The honorable senator can give up his salary.
– I have probably given up quite as much as has Senator Guthrie up to the present.
– How are the wives and families of the men to be supported on ls. 2d. per day?
– I have explained that there are 500,000 single men of military age in the Commonwealth, and it isunnecessary that we should send men tothe front who have wives and families.
– But many of them are going.
– They are volunteers, and they are taking the place of single men, and if they are injured, will involve the Commonwealth in much greater liabilities in connexion with the properly liberal pension, scheme which has been adopted.
– Is 6s. per day toomuch for these men ?
– I am nob saying that 6s. per day is too much for men who voluntarily enlist, but I say that we should apply the principle of conscription in rendering assistance to the Mother Country, and should we do that, we ought not to pay the men 6s. per day.
– Has the honorable senator not heard that one volunteer isworth ten pressed men ?
– I have; but I donot believe that that expression has any real military value. As the honorable senator should know, Lord Curzon hasquite recently expressed himself in regard to the amazing courage shown by young German conscripts. I am quite sure that our conscripted men would show courage at least equal to that of the young Germans. I am, in this matter, lookingahead, and considering what is done in other countries. If we prosecuted the war to a successful conclusion; the conscripted men should then te given something by the Government. They should be- rewarded neither tardily nor parsimoniously. If the war lasted two years, the men who came back uninjured should receive a bonus.
– What would thehonorable senator give the> men who were killed?
– They would havefallen upon the field of honour, and weshould be under no liability in their regard, except in respect of the death of married men. It is the survivors with whom we should be concerned, and those who fought to bring about victory could be given on their return, in a lump sum, what the finances of the country could afford. That is the way to wage a war, in which we are rendering assistance to the Empire, on a sound economical basis.
– Let Lord Kitchener stand down, and let us put Senator Bakhap up.
– I am not concerned with interjections of that sort. I can give Senator Guthrie something to chew over at his leisure. I read in the newspapers and certain magazines many interesting articles on strategy and the European military situation, written by journalists who seem to have incorporated the genius of all the tacticians who have lived and died since the birth of Julius Caesar. I will admit that the writing is very often interesting, but I do not forget that one of the most prominent of them - although probably he would like it forgotten - wrote, in 1913, in a magazine of which he was editor, that Lord Roberts was a panic-monger. In the British press and the Imperial Parliament there was an outcry, having for its object the disrating of Lord Roberts, because he was being classed as a pernicious alarmist. The truth is that British statesmen, able in many other respects, and in fact the British people generally, lack what I call the storm or danger sense. Many people in Australia who study international relationships had no doubt that Germany was arming to destroy British supremacy, and yet British statesmen - for I must call them such, because of their great achievements in other fields - seemed to be absolutely oblivious of the fact that this great armed nation was seeking to accomplish the downfall of the Empire for whose safety they were responsible. When I know these facts, honorable senators need not think that I am going to be diverted from my. argument by interjections to the effect that I ought to be in the place of these men, and that I would show them how to do things. My duty is what I conceive it to be, and if the legislators and people of Australia collectively put me down as a foolish alarmist they do so to their mortal cost. There may be some kind of patched-up peace in the next few months - a thing which I would altogether deprecate - but if that happens the storm centre will only shift. There are men belonging to armies which may be our potential antagonists within the next decade who are hoping and praying that the European war may last five or six years, because of the new and potent international combinations which they will then be able to dictate. I say in all seriousness that there are men whom innocent Australian taxpayers believe to be well disposed towards them - professional soldiers of the armies of one of the great Powers - who have expressed themselves on Australian soil, covertly, of course, but in a manner which came to my ears, to the effect that they desired to see the European war last five or six years. Why? Because European civilization would suffer from exhaustion and enable certain international movements, which they believe to be desirable, to be consummated. I cannot allude in more specific terms to what is in my mind. Honorable senators with any perspicacity can divine my meaning.
– Why not take the country into your confidence?
– The censor will not allow it.
– There is no censor in this chamber.
– The censor in this case is my own discretion.
– The honorable senator is not showing much discretion in the way he is talking.
– My duty is to arouse the Australian people, through the medium of their Legislature, to the full sense of their obligations for the defence of their country.
– Let us know who the blackguards are.
– I have already said that I am prepared at any time to epitomize for the benefit of Ministers facts which I cannot more clearly outline here.
– Why not speak them out here?
– I go about my business in my own way. Senator Needham drew attention to a most important fact, that certain contractors for military materials appear to have been, to say the least of it, lax in their supervision over the articles which they had undertaken to supply for the equipment of our soldiers. I am not saying that the statements have been proved. I spoke to a Frenchman a long while ago at considerable length about the position of his country after the Franco-Prussian war. He had been in that war, and told me that it was pitiable to see the French troops marching into Besancon almost barefooted, or with boots made of brown paper hanging from their feet. Such boots, I am sorry to say, were supplied to the French Government by British contractors. This Frenchman attributed a great deal of the loss of morale on the part of his countrymen - and the military operations disclosed the same thing - to the fact that they had suffered from the practices of fraudulent contractors on numberless occasions. I am not prone on the production of a little evidence to assume that any person is, or a number of persons are, guilty of offences, but Senator Needham undoubtedly made out a case demanding investigation. It would, perhaps, be desirable for the Minister to take into consideration the embodiment in such a measure as has just been tabled of some provision enabling us to punish most severely contractors proved guilty of fraudulent practices.
– They should be shot forthwith.
– They should certainly be dealt with very severely, according to the measure of their offences. I am prepared to give the Administration drastic powers to deal with contractors who are proved to have defrauded the Commonwealth and impaired the efficiency of our troops by supplying unsatisfactory equipment.
– Why not make conscripts of them ?
– It would be an excellent idea. One fine argument in favour of conscription is its democratic nature. With it no invidious comparisons can be made by different sections of the community as to what they have done, and what somebody else ought to do. The stern lips of the law summon men to defend the country according to law; there is no room for cavil, or for odious comparisons. Every man is called upon according to the law to fulfil his citizen obligations. Before leaving the subject of the war, let me say, not incongruously, a little about peace. Already we see a great deal of kite-flying in the papers about this peace business. The position, as I take it. and I hope I am not an altogether unintelligent observer, is that, while the German people have not yet any consciousness of the probability of defeat, the leaders of German thought, and the directors of the German armies, have no doubt in their minds that Germany’s objectives cannot be realized at the present time and in the present circumstances. They see presages of defeat. Individually I admire many Germans. I admire the German Empire for a great deal of material achievement, but our duty is to our own country, and I shall regret having assisted in the voting of any money towards the assistance of the Imperial Government if Imperial statesmen, when victory is within their grasp, patch up a peace which will entail, if not on us, at least on our immediate descendants, a repetition of this terrible war. There is no doubt that, sooner or later, the British Empire and its Allies are going to achieve victory. I have always maintained that the resources of the British Empire alone, if fully exhibited and carefully economized, are sufficient to enable us to triumph over Germany.
– If nobody raises any other question, we must win eventually.
– We will win if we exhibit our full resources, but if we are afraid to pay the price, then the victory will not be decisive, and a peace patched up by an indecisive victory will be for the British Empire the equivalent of defeat. The task is a great one, and that is why I am so insistent upon our rendering assistance to the Empire on the most economical basis, but the end cannot be in doubt, and the leaders of German thought recognise that it is not in doubt. But what are they attempting to do ? If they are covertly suggesting peace, they are attempting to do what is known in the boxing ring as smothering. They know that international combinations do not favour Germany at present. They know that they cannot immediately realize their objectives, and they hope to. induce the British Empire, in a spirit of false humanitarianism, to conclude peace - a peace which will enable perhaps present international alliances to bedissolved, and allow- Germany to remedy the weak points of its scheme, and to . more surely make an attempt to destroy the British Empire on some future occasion. If ever there was a patriotic party required in the British House of Commons, it is now. We want legislators who will stiffen their country- to its duty. We must achieve victory at all costs - not partial victory, but completely decisive victory. I ask honorable senators to picture what sort of peace it would be if the Germans consented to retire from Belgium and from France, if there was no indemnity to be paid, and if the German fleet, as regards its capital ships, was to remain intact? Do honorable senators think that the German people would have the consciousness of defeat? No; they would have the consciousness of only partial victory. They would know that they had achieved a moral victory, which would be converted into a material victory at a later stage. I hold that British statesmen will fail in their duty, as they have failed in the work of preparation hitherto, if they enter into any peace negotiations with the enemy until France and Belgium have been evacuated as a condition precedent to any discussion of peace. We must evict them by force of arms, in order to maintain the prestige of our Empire. We must drive them out, and then, although the sacrifice may be great, the status of our Empire in the world, already great, will be even greater. If the German fleet is not destroyed, or captured, or surrendered; if Germany pays no indemnity ; if she only retires from France and Belgium as the result of some peace discussion, do honorable senators flatter themselves that the British Empire and its Allies will really have won in the-war ? I will feel very sorry indeed, and will think that a great many brave men have laid down their lives in vain, and that the whole bloody and infernal business will have to be re-enacted.
– You would crush them once and for all ?
– The whole pith and point of my argument is that we should so wage war on an economic basis that we will inevitably crush the enemy once and for all.
– What is that?
– It is to conscript.
– On Tasmanian wages.
– I venture to say that the Commonwealth, and all the Empire, cannot prosecute war for any length of time if it pays the soldiery fighting in our interests Tasmanian rates. I may tell Senator Guthrie, as a matter of digression, that Tasmania is, to my mind, the most prosperous of the Australian
States at the present time. We do not have processions of unemployed there.
– No; but you keep them starving.
– I venture to say that the material position of the people of Tasmania is fully equivalent to that of the people of any State on the mainland.
– Why, the Destitute Board is keeping them !
– There is one little matter to which I must allude. Senator Lynch, who very often delivers himself in a way which I respect, very foolishly, to my mind, dragged in some statistics which had been printed, showing the percentage of unionists who have enlisted in connexion with the forces that we are sending to the front, and the percentage of non-unionists. If ever a comparison was odious, it was that one, for there are many other questions to be considered. Now the percentage of unionists and nonunionists we are sending to the war is a very small one indeed. But what would the honorable senator say if in the peculiarly Labour stronghold of Broken Hill something occurred which I sought to drag into the discussion? Very early in the history of the war, certain men at Broken Hill - probably labourites - very much to their credit, volunteered to go to the front; but when they got into the railway carriages they had to endure contumely, hisses, and shouts from a crowd characterizing them as murderers. Why? Because they had volunteered to serve their country in the hour of its need. Are the Liberals so numerous at Broken Hill that there is a high degree of probability that it was they who. crowded on to the railway stations and hissed “ Murderers “ ?
– Some of your Liberals have shot at people in a train.
– Not only is that statement ludicrous and inaccurate, but it is not even interesting.
– That may stand as a sample of the charges which are being continually hurled at the head of the poor old Liberal party. How would Senator Lynch like me to introduce into this debate the table which was published in the Spectator and reprinted today in the Argus, showing the political colour of members of the Imperial Parliament who have volunteered for the front? That sort of thing is childish.
– The members of the Opposition in the Imperial Parliament behave better than your party do.
– What would the honorable senator say if I stressed the fact that two Liberal members in this Parliament have volunteered for the front; but not one Labour member has gone ?
– It would not “cut very much ice.”
– Quite so; and, therefore, Senator Lynch’s argument in connexion with the percentages cuts verylittle ice. That sort of argument should not be introduced into an assembly of reasoning men. It applies, as an honorable senator interjects, to all the members of the Expeditionary Forces when a Labour senator uses it, but if a Liberal used such an argument he would be decried throughout the length and breadth of the land.
– Was it not introduced in answer to the charge that the Labour party were disloyal ?
– It is based on a statistical document, which I infer has been adduced at the instance of some member of the Commonwealth Administration.
– To show that the statement was made that the Labour supporters were not enlisting in such numbers as their opponents were doing.
– Who said so?
– That statement has been in print over and over again.
– Has any responsible member of the Liberal party given utterance to such a statement?
– Some of your responsible newspapers have published the statement and you have not repudiated it.
– Let the honorable senator quote me a Liberal newspaper which has made the assertion that unionists were not enlisting in sufficient numbers because of their lack of patriotism. That is the sort of thing which passes for argument. I know what human nature is. I have never questioned the loyalty of any Australian. I knew that when British civilization was in danger all people would rally. I knew that Irishmen, Scotchmen, Welshmen, Australians, black men, brown men, and brindled men would all rally to the support of the flag, and it is the lack of knowledge of that fact which has landed the Germans where they are. These comparisons, introduced as to which section is most loyal, are most unsatisfactory and unnecessary, and will be put an end to by conscription.
– Mr. Parkhill, the secretary of the Liberal League at Sydney, published a statement in which he said that Labour men were disloyal and would pull down the English flag and hoist the German. On the eve of the elections Mr. Parkhill, secretary to the Liberal Association in New South Wales, issued that statement.
– Tell me of anything which the secretary of the Liberal Association of Tasmania has said, and I will defend him. There is not the slightest doubt that many members of the Liberal party - and of all political parties - sometimes make statements which are not warranted by facts.
– Why assume that it was made?
– I do not know that it was made. It is only alleged that it was made.
– It was made.
– Senator Ready says that the Liberal newspapers throughout Australia have been decrying the loyalty of unionists, and I challenge himto produce a single instance or file.
– Mr. Parkhill had to apologize to the Prime Minister.
– That is another matter.
– Not at all, it is the same thing.
– He personally put a construction on some statement of the Prime Minister made some years ago.
– And he credited the Prime Minister with a desire to pull down the British flag and hoist the German.
– I understand that Mr. Parkhill apologized for the statement he published.. Is that so?
– After the elections were over.
– Is that a charge against the Labourites of being disloyal?
– This is a sufficient illustration of the injudicious action of Senator Lynch in introducing the comparison.
– Why start such things?
– We are not going to have statistics brought up in the Senate with the object of showing that the masses of the people who are not included in the iron grip of the unionists are less loyal than the unionists.
– The statistics are very convincing.
– They prove nothing except that the Australian people are not rendering to the Empire that measure of assistance which they should render. That is not a party statement, is it?
– T - There are not many people making such a statement, and I do not think that you ought to make it, because it is not correct.
– I make the statement, and if the electors think that I am not doing my duty in speaking in this strain they can punish me when the time comes, and I will not flinch if they do. The policy of rendering assistance to the Empire is wrongly based, and it is of such a character as not to enable us to give that assistance which we could give if we thoroughly exerted ourselves and recognised our responsibilities.
– W - We are sending as many men as can possibly be armed and equipped.
– The honorable senator is a military man, but does he really believe it is essential that a man should have a rifle placed in his hand before he should be drilled? We could be drilling men now, and fitting them to take their places in the battle line within a week or two after rifles were placed in their hands.
– They would not know which end of the gun to put to their shoulders.
– The honorable senator is talking nonsense. I venture to say that any Australian country-bred lad, if given, a military rifle, will, after two days’ tuition, hit the target more frequently than he will miss it. I have heard an Australian lad who was being pressed to join a rifle club plead that he had had no experience of snooting with military rifles, although he was accustomed to a sporting rifle. He also urged that he had not yet been sworn in. Thereupon the Captain, who was also a justice of the peace, replied, “ I will give you a rifle and a supply of cartridges now, so that you may commence firing straight away. I will swear you in when we get to the township.” The boy’s objections having thus been overcome, he took the rifle, and scored four bull’s-eyes in succession. That is the sort of material which makes the Australian soldier so resourceful. The contention that we may not have sufficient rifles and military accoutrements with which to equip our Forces in large numbers is a wrong contention.
– We could get more to the front if we aimed them with shanghais. The honorable senator knows that we cannot equip them:
– Can we not equip them after they have been drilled?
– Are we not drilling and equipping them simultaneously?
– How long does it take to convert a man into an efficient soldier? The recruits who are to go into the firing line twelve months hence ought to be in training now.
– We are getting the men together quicker than did the honorable senator’s party.
– There is no justification for that statement.
– The honorable senator’s party fought against national equipment.
– I do not think that statement is true.
– I must conclude my remarks on this phase of the matter by expressing the hope that the war will be of brief duration. But. as Lord Kitchener and Mr. Lloyd George are credited with having expressed the opinion that the struggle will be a long one, I think that we shall be acting unwisely if we do not change the basis of our assistance to the Mother Country. Before long the wisdom of my remarks will, I feel sure, become abundantly apparent. I hope that the war will be prosecuted with undiminished vigour until victory of a most decisive character is achieved.
– What did Sir John French say about the termination of the war?
– He said that he did not believe in a protracted war - a war in driblets, so to speak. He declared that he believed in putting forward such a force as would crush the enemy in the shortest possible time.
– Did he not express the opinion that the end of the war was in sight?
– I do not think so. Either accurately or inaccurately, Lord Kitchener is reported to have said that the war will last for three years. Mr. Lloyd George is also credited with having expressed the view that the struggle will be a long one. If it should prove to be long, my remarks will have very much keener point than they appear to possess at present. I wish now to say a word or two in reference to the Constitution. As is well known, many members of the Liberal party took a prominent part in the struggle which resulted in the consummation of Australian nationality. We assisted in getting the people to assent to the Commonwealth Constitution. That Constitution is, to my mind, a very fine instrument of government. Yet many of those who are in opposition to us to-day were so dissatisfied with it, that if the electors had hearkened to their advice, Federation would probably not yet have been accomplished.
– I - If we get a few more decisions of the High Court there will be no Constitution left.
– Nobody has more respect for the ability and learning of the Justices of the High Court than I have, but I regret that they have found it necessary to give a decision adverse to the Commonwealth in connexion with the action of the New South Wales Government in seizing the wheat of that State and preventing its export to other States. I am particularly anxious that the Administration shall carry that case to the highest tribunal in the Empire. If ever a, case ought to be taken to the Privy Council, certainly this one ought to be.
– The honorable senator says that the law of the High Court is bad ?
– I do not say anything: of the sort. The honorable senator imagines that I prejudge anything when evidence is submitted to me. I do not. When I dealt with the action of the South Australian Government in prohi biting the export of wheat to Tasmania, I said that I held the opinion that such action was unconstitutional, but that I held that opinion subject to the judgment of the High Court. I do not say that the law as laid down by the High Court is bad. But there is a possibility that the judgment of that tribunal is not correct, and may be reversed on appeal to the Privy Council.
– I - It was a unanimous judgment.
– I am sorry to say that it was. But if the Privy Council is not to be appealed to in a case of that character, when ought it to be appealed to?
– W - Why not appeal to the people to alter the Constitution?
– An appeal to the highest tribunal of the Empire may disclose the fact that an appeal to the people is unnecessary. If the case be taken to the Privy Council, and the judgment of the High Court be confirmed by that august body, I will support the Ministry in any attempt to amend the Constitution so as to give effect to the undoubted intention of the Australian people when that charter of government was accepted by them.
– Ano Another convert.
– That would be a way out of an awkward position for the honorable senator’s party.
– The party to which I belong is quite capable of taking care of itself. When the people become infuriated with it, it can quietly await their return to a saner state of mind. Victory and defeat are not new experiences so far as the Liberal party is concerned. The history of the Commonwealth has disclosed the fact that the National Parliament can exercise only a few very important functions. The great extent of our territory is undoubtedly a factor in the consideration of this matter. Although I am an ardent Nationalist, I believe that the functions of the Commonwealth should not be greatly extended. I am of opinion that this Parliament has quite sufficient to do in properly exercising its chief functions - those which the electors principally had in mind when they voted for the Constitution Bill. When they were asked to accept that measure, there was no doubt in their minds that by so doing they were providing the machinery for a complete system of Australian defence, and also for absolute freedom of trade between the States. I venture to say that no welldisposed Nationalist believed at that time that any State Government had power to arbitrarily hold up Australian trade. Believing, as I do, that in their acceptance of Federation, the people were animated by a desire to provide a complete scheme of national defence, and to bring about absolute freedom of trade between the States, I will support any amendment of the Constitution which may be necessary to give effect to their intentions. There is no nonsense about me - I am a Nationalist. But there are not many functions which the National Parliament can satisfactorily exercise. Those functions are few, but they are very great and important.
– The people thought that it could exercise a great many more functions.
– They thought only of two things - national defence and Inter-State Free Trade.
– More than that.
– There was a little talk about securing a uniform Matrimonial Act and a uniform Bankruptcy Act, but these measures did not vitally influence the acceptance or rejection of the Constitution. They were merely subsidiary and complementary. The two principal matters which the electors had in mind were the establishment of a scheme of national defence and InterState Free Trade. It appears that the defence power has not been seriously impaired by any judgment of the High Court. But I venture to say that the action of the New South Wales Government and its attitude towards the Constitution - notwithstanding that it has been held to be perfectly legal - is a most un-Australian one. When the war started, were not capitalists denounced for holding too much food? If a man who possessed a few pounds more than his brother citizens purchased a few extra bags of flour, was not his action roundly condemned ? What, then, can be thought of a State which, having the biggest supply of wheat, has said in effect, “ We will keep the lot.” I know that the present Commonwealth Administration has been criticised for having intervened in this matter, but I say unhesitatingly that it did its duty in getting the constitutional question which was involved relegated to the proper tribunal for decision.
– Why does not the honorable senator support the referenda proposals ?
– What would the Commonwealth, say if the New South Wales Government declared, “ Our interests are the greatest in the Commonwealth, we have the largest population, and also the greatest number of troops. Consequently, if Australia is attacked, inasmuch as our interests are the greatest, the whole of our troops will be retained within our own borders. Of course the men who drafted the Constitution were not demi-gods, but they were able men, and their names will be remembered gratefully by the people of Australia, for they brought about Australian nationality through the medium of an instrument which gained the encomiums of many Imperial statesmen.
– And the curses of the majority of the people in Australia.
– No; but people imagined that there would be Free Trade between the States, and I, without any instigation from any Liberal organization, or any member of the Liberal party, de- . finitely commit myself to this statement, that I will assist the Administration in giving to the people of Australia that power which, thirteen or fourteen years ago, and even four or five years ago, they fully believed they possessed. Just a few words now on the Tariff, and I will bring my somewhat lengthy speech to a close. All honorable senators know I am a Protectionist. I believe that the Tariff can be made a fairly effective instrument for national development in certain circumstances, but I am sorry - and my sorrow would be the more intense if I did not know human nature - that there are many Protectionists abroad who believe in Protection for themselves only.
– Most Protectionists are abroad now.
– And there is a large majority of them in Australia at the present time.
– Senator Gardiner has joined the ranks.
– I suppose most senators have experienced what I have, for I have been inundated with letters and circulars during the last month or two asking me to vote for this or that duty, and I notice that every man who is producing something, or thinks he can produce something, wants a very high, almost a prohibitive, duty. That is all right up to a certain point, but I am a Protectionist who believes that if a policy is to have any real value, it ought to work all round. Unfortunately, Protection does not hold out very much inducement to the true primary producer. We know what Germany has done with her Tariff laws, and what America has done, and knowledge of the achievements of those countries confirms me in mv opinion. But what do we find is the attitude of the people in Australia ? The majority of Protectionists take up a singular attitude - they want to get the very highest price for what they produce, and obtain what they want in the cheapest market.
– At the lowest possible price.
– Yes, and at a low price arbitrarily fixed. What do honorable senators think of these Protectionists? They are not Protectionists at all. They are merely selfish men who are out to secure a personal advantage. Now I want to illustrate to honorable senators a matter in connexion with the mining industry, of which I have some knowledge. If silver-lead goes up £5 or £6 per ton, or £8 or £10 a ton, the silverlead miner is overjoyed; and if silver were to go up to 4s. per oz., I suppose all silver producers throughout the land would be almost frantic with pleasure. When tin went up to over £200 per ton, and when tin-miners were, of course, overjoyed, a great many people were denouncing the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for selling sugar at a price which was really below what it was ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago. If you had suggested to a lead-miner that he was getting too much for his lead, and was inconveniencing the plumber in the city, he would have regarded .you as a madman, for he felt he should receive the highest price that he could get for his product, and properly so too. But at the same time these people were complaining that the “cockies” were making too much money. I have heard miners, who were getting fairly high prices for their ores, complaining of the price of bread. Evidently they wanted the farmer to produce his wheat at the lowest possible price, while they themselves obtained the highest price in the markets of the world and in Australia. The whole position is illogical. What has happened in con nexion with the Tariff up to the present?? When a 5- per cent, increase was placed upon woollen goods, the mainland woollen, mills advanced the price in proportion very much more than the duty necessitated. What do honorable senators say about that? Did the Necessary Commodities Board consider this phase of theproblem? Is not cloth a necessary commodity for the men on the land ?
– The Minister hastold us that he has commandeered the whole of the woollen mills for military purposes.
– I know that very well, for I am not blind to the obvious, surely. The Minister commandeered the whole output, and probably he is paying on the prices fixed before he did so, for the prices were advanced directly the Tariff was introduced. This question of the Tariff, I am sorry to say, resolves itself into a consideration of country interests as against manufacturing interests, which are largely city interests. Does anybody suggest that boots are not a necessary commodity, and does not the farmer want them ? Did the Necessary Commodities Board suggest that bootsshould be reduced 2s. 6d. a pair for the benefit of the farmer? No. The necessary commodities of Australia, in the opinion of that Board, are what the farmers produce, and, notwithstanding all the disadvantages the farmer labours, under in connexion with the Protectionist policy, the Board does not concede to the farmer the right to obtain the full market price for his productions. The tendency always is to fix the price of the farmers’ commodities in a downward direction. If that is Protection, then I repudiate any association with such Protectionists. Has the Necessary Commodities Board fixed the price of a single manufactured article ?
– What about the raw material?
– The Board has fixed the prices of edibles only, and these are the production of the farming community.
– Oh, no! They declared beer to be a necessary commodity in New South Wales.
– In doing that they did not lack wisdom.
– It is remarkable, then, that Labour members of the New South Wales Parliament are being banqueted by the farmers.
– I will not go into that question, for you will find a minority in regard to an expression of opinion on all questions; but I would be very satisfied indeed as to the feeling of the farmers if they were collectively asked to express an opinion by a referendum upon the justice and equity of the Act passed by the New South Wales Parliament limiting the prices of their product. That would be a more satisfactory indication to me than the giving of one or two banquets to members of the Labour party. In analyzing the position, one arrives at the conclusion that something must be done, and I unhesitatingly say that if we are going to have a Protectionist policy - a truly Protectionist policy - which will result in the imposition of heavy, almost prohibitive, duties on every manufactured article, then in justice to the farmers, I am prepared to give them a bonus on every necessary article essential to the welfare of the community which they produce, because we cannot recompense them in any other way.
– Why not?
– Because I believe in Protection all round. I am not a fanatic, however, and if peace could be guaranteed for a couple of hundred years I would be a Free Trader, because trade is not evil. Senator Lynch, in his speech, referred to men whohad transgressed certain measures which have been passed; but, after all, most of these offences were only technical, and were so described by the Judge. Yet they are mentioned here to pillory the Liberal party. Whether this is so or not, I am not in a position to say; but let me tell Senator Lynch that during the Napoleonic wars, when trading with the enemy was absolutely prohibited, and when the Continent was placed under a sort of interdict commercially by Great Britain, trade was not found to be an evil. The French Government issued permits surreptitiously to certain French merchants to trade with England, although England then was supposed to be in outer darkness as far as continental Europe was concerned, and the English Government also issued permits - thousands of them - to British subjects to trade surreptitiously with the enemy. Some people say that trade is an evil, and that we should be absolutely self-contained. Because of our insular position it is well that we should manufacture all that we can. But we have to look at the matter broadly. If we increase the price of every manufactured article to the wool producer and the wheat producer, the men whose produce really brings us the wealth we derive from foreign countries, it is right that we should give some consideration to their case.
– We are importing wheat this year.
– Is this a normal year? Did we not suspend the wheat duties when, if they had been imposed, they would probably have been of some assistance’ to the farmers? Speaking generally, legislators are interesting people. We propose a duty for the benefit of the farmer, which in a plenteous year is of no use to him, but in a lean year, when the duty might be the means of putting a little profit into his pocket, we at once take the duty off in the interests of all the people.
– I wished to show that in the matter of wheat production Australia is not self-contained this year.
– When we are not self-contained what do we do? We lift the duty that is supposed to exist for the benefit of the farmer and to operate to maintain the price of the article he has to sell.
– The duty was lifted this year to provide the farmer with seed wheat.
– If that was the case, and the farming community desired the suspension of the duty, it was wise to suspend it; but if there was sufficient seed wheat in the country, and the real object of the suspension of the duty was to prevent those who had wheat realizing its full commercial value, then I say that the existence of a duty which can be removed in that way is a delusion and a snare.
– Does the honorable senator object to the suspension of the duty on wheat?
– I do object, so long as the farming community has wheat to sell, and as a Protectionist, notwithstanding the fact that other Protectionists approve of the policy, I certainly object to the fixing in a downward direction of the prices of farmers’ products.
– Does the honorable senator object, in the present circumstances, to the suspension of the duty on wheat ?
– If the Administration were satisfied that ‘there was not sufficient seed wheat in the country, the suspension of the duty was no doubt satisfactory ; but if there was sufficient seed wheat in the country to meet the farmers’ needs, and the price which the farmer would otherwise have received for his product was interfered with by the suspension of the duty, I object to its suspension.
– Not a bushel of seed wheat has come into Australia.
– The introduction of other wheat has enabled Australian farmers to avoid using seed wheat for other purposes.
– -If the Australian wheat crop was not sufficient, I have no doubt that the men engaged in the trade would have made the necessary arrangement for large importations from foreign countries; but Governments have stepped in to deal with the matter, and have been under the imputation of having robbed the farming community. I shall exercise my own discretion in regard to Tariff matters. I believe that all thought of making our Tariff so high that we shall be able to produce everything we desire, and that there will be practically no Customs revenue, is a kind of delusion. I have never yet known a Protectionist country that was at the same time a strong commercial country abreast of modern civilization that did not obtain a very large revenue through its Customs House despite its Protectionist Tariff. This proves that, although Protection may be a useful expedient, lucrative and profitable trade is, after all, the objective of the commercial world. I do not think that our experience in the matter will be found to be any different from that of America or Germany.
– Why does not the honorable senator wind up by saying that Protection is a device to obtain revenue ?
– Because the honorable senator is not a single taxer like Senator Grant.
– I know what Senator Grant is driving at. I respect the man of strong convictions who expresses himself forcibly, and is prepared to frankly say that he is in favour of something which does not commend itself to the general sense of the community. Senator Grant will admit that a Protectionist Tariff operates in two ways. It raises revenue. I never heard of a Protectionist Tariff by which revenue was notraised; and, secondly, it incidentally assists to establish industries.
– The prime object is to obtain revenue.
– The original object of all Tariffs is to obtain revenue, but, incidentally, a result of a high Tariff is to enable the establishment of certain industries the products of which are sold at a higher price than must be paid for them if they are imported.
– Not necessarily.
– I am aware there are American shovels and mining implements sold very much cheaper than those imported from Great Britain. For many years, in connexion with the tin-mining industry, practically the whole of our tools were imported, not from America, but from Great Britain, though America is admittedly a Protectionist country, and Great Britain is in theory a Free Trade country. It does not always follow that the exports of factories in a Protective country are sold at a higher rate than are the exports of similar factories in a Free Trade country. But as a general thing, if we exclude the principle of dumping, we must admit that the tendency of Protection is to prevent to a certain extent the manufacture of articles at a price at which they can be sold overseas. In Australia, with our high labour market, which I do not say is wrong, because it is one of the lines -of our social development, I do not think that a Protectionist policy will result in our being able to manufacture many articles which we can sell at a considerable profit overseas. It will, however, enable us, perhaps, to overtake our internal requirements. In that respect it will be regarded by many people as a considerable boon, but in the long run we know that we have to pay its fair price for everything that is worth having.
– There are many things which we need in this country which, owing to the war, we are unable to obtain at all now.
– Quite so. I might mention the establishment of the Small Arms Factory as an illustration of my argument. It may cost us more to manufacture a rifle than we have hitherto, been called upon to pay for imported rifles; but; it is absolutely essential that we should manufacture rifles in Australia at the present time, and in this way Protection operates in a manner conducive to the national interest. I associate myself in connexion with Tariff matters only with those Protectionists who believe in the application of the principle all round wherever this is practicable, and I abhor the Protectionist who desires merely the highest price for the article which he manufactures, and at the same time desires to force the farmer to sell the article of primary production upon which he depends at a price lower than he would otherwise get for it.
– The honorable senator is a yes-no Protectionist.
– There is nothing yes-no about my statement. I thank honorable senators for the attention with which they have heard me. I have redeemed my promise to be pretty discursive “and to treat fully the salient features in the Ministerial statement, and I resume my seat with a repetition of the assurance that any measures introduced by the Administration necessary for the successful prosecution of the war and the obtaining of a decisive victory by the Empire and its Allies will receive my humble support.
.- We have heard from the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat an excellent exemplification of the party truce which Senator Millen held out to us so temptingly in his first speech on the resumption of our duties this session. Senator Bakhap, while professing to be kindly disposed towards the Labour party, has spent a good deal of his time and devoted many of his arguments to prove that we are not worthy of the confidence of the people of Australia.
– In reply to Senator Lynch.
– The honorable senator laid it down that the policy of the Liberal party, in the Senate at any rate, was to be a political truce. Senator Bakhap’s speech is the kind of truce we are offered. I admit that the honorable senator said that we must be prepared for healthy criticism of any measures we bring along. But we do not want any hypocrisy about it. It is far better that our honorable friends opposite should come out into the open and say that they are going to fight us honorably than that they should lead the public to believe that they are genuine and sincere in their offer of a political truce.
– Does the honorable senator believe that party measures submitted by the Government should be allowed to go through without any opposition?
– I do’ not want the honorable senator and his leader in one breath to mouth offers of a truce and in the next to initiate a vicious party propaganda and a most unfair criticism of the Government. That is what I object to.
– What Senator Lynch said was perfectly legitimate, but the reply to it was illegitimate, according to the honorable senator.
– No; there were references even in the speech of the Leader of the party opposite which Senator Lynch was justified in commenting upon. We know from bitter experience what this party truce has been since this Parliament assembled.
– Has there been a party truce?
– No ; there has been no genuine party truce. Let me inform honorable senators that it was the Labour party who made genuine overtures for a political truce in the first place, and the members of the Liberal party held them up to ridicule because of those overtures. I can refer honorable senators to what occurred just previous to the last elections. Mr. Hughes, who is one of the leaders of the Labour party, generously and in a spirit of the highest patriotism, offered the Liberal party a bond fide truce. He asked them to call Parliament together.
– When there was no Parliament to call together.
– Parliament could have been reconstituted.
– Will the honorable senator tell me how ?
– A cable could have been sent to England. The House of Commons was then sitting, and a short Imperial Act could have been passed, and under that Act the Governor-General could have called the last Parliament together again.
What did my honorable friend’s” party do with that genuine and self-sacrificing offer on the part of the Labour party? It should be remembered that at the time to which 1 refer the members of the La”bour party had hopes of gaining the Treasury benches as a result of the elections. That was generally known. Mr. Joseph. Cook was in power, and yet Mr. Hughes was generous, loyal, and patriotic enough to make this very fine pronouncement.
– Which was repudiated by Mr. Fisher the moment the House met.
– No, it was not. I and other honorable senators from Tasmania have had experience of what took place there. At the time we offered this political truce members of the Liberal party there attempted to make political capital out of our well-meaning endeavours to obtain a genuine political truce during the war.
– They advised the people not to “ swap “ horses at such a time.
– That is so, and our political opponents seized upon that cry and used every argument in their power to profit by Mr. Hughes’ generous offer. Since then we have had contested elections for the Grampians and for Bendigo, two Labour constituencies. We had no offer from the other side of a party truce in connexion with those elections. They contested those elections most bitterly. We take no exception to that, but we do take exception to the hypocrisy mouthed here by the party opposite when they say that they are genuinely desirous of a political truce. In view of what Senator Bakhap has said, let me remind honorable senators of what has taken place since this Parliament assembled after the elections. We have witnessed in another branch of this Legislature such a low standard of political etiquette that our friends opposite should be ashamed that, as a party, they are responsible for it. We saw that the dignity of Parliament was made a reproach. The Leader of the Opposition in another place made one of the greatest scenes in the history of the Federal Parliament. Is that the way to observe a party truce?
– Has a party truce ever been established ?
– Similar offers were made last session.
– Were they ever accepted ?
– Yes, genuinely accepted. This party would have accepted a genuine truce at the proper time, before the people sent them back with a mandate to carry out certain legislation. At that time they expressed a desire to accept a party truce.
– If it was genuine then, why not now ?
– Because we have accepted office under a distinct promise to carry out certain legislation, and I hope we shall fulfil that promise.
– There is the truce the Opposition gave us. They leave the benches vacant !
– The Opposition have vanished. What must members of the Liberal party in England think of the conduct of the leaders of the Liberal party here? On 19th December last, just as the first part of the session was being closed, the scene to which I have referred occurred in another place. Shortly afterwards, the following cable appeared in the Melbourne Herald- ‘
Scene in House Regretted. “Leaders should Show Tact.” (United Service Special Cable.)
Deep regret is expressed in Imperial circles at the scene which occurred in the Commonwealth House of Representatives on Thursday night, when Mr. J. Cook, leader of the Opposition, came into collision with Mr. C. McDonald, the Speaker, and was suspended. “It is to be hoped that parties will sink their personal differences,” says a famous Imperialist. “ We always expect leaders to exhibit sufficient tact to avoid collision with the Chair, no matter what provocation may be given.”
Surely that is a most stringent and biting criticism of the methods of the great Liberal party in this Parliament. Yet we hear now from their leader in this Chamber a great deal of humbug about a party truce.
I should probably not have taken part in this debate but for the remarkable statements which fell from Senator Bakhap’s lips. Some of them should be replied to. I would direct attention first to the very derogatory references made by the honorable senator to the fact that we were sending only 70,000 men to the front. I notice that Senator Millen was very silent while Senator Bakhap was indulging in these reflections, and that no approving “Hear, hears! “ came from the Liberal benches. Senator Bakhap went on to say, “If it takes as long to defend our shores as to send those men, it will not be much good.” I am quoting his own words. He is a public man, and should have considered the matter very carefully before giving vent to such statements. Senator Millen could have told him - but
I noticed that he was silent - and the Minister of Defence would have told him if applied to privately, the true facts regarding the equipment of the Expeditionary Forces. Any honorable senator can obtain privately from the Minister a statement of the real position. Senator Bakhap had that avenue of information open to him, and yet, either wilfully or in ignorance of the true facts, he made a statement which, if it goes forth to the world, may lead people in other countries to believe that we have not done our duty towards the Empire. It was a positively dangerous statement to make. If the honorable senator had gone into the matter carefully, he would have found that it is of no use to send efficiently trained men to the front unless the last button has been put on their uniforms, and that modern warfare necessitates an equipment complete in every detail. Senator Bakhap knows that to equip these men entailed a great strain on our resources, yet we did it successfully. He knows that, for obvious reasons, we cannot discuss those matters frankly at the present time. He knows that we never had such a position to deal with before, and if he reads the American papers he must know that one of the principal troubles of the great nation of Russia has been the equipment of her troops. She has had the men, and they have been quite willing to fight, but it has been another matter to supply them with the accoutrements, arms, and ammunition required to enable them to take the field. The honorable senator is well aware of these facts, and yet he railed at this Government, and the preceding Government, because more men had not been sent. I’ do not think very much attention will be paid to the honorable senator’s opinion in this Chamber, however it may be regarded outside. Here is an extract which I desire to set against it. It comes from a great Liberal newspaper, the Age, which, in a leading article on 19th December, 1914, commented in the following terms on the work which the Government had done in sending troops to the front-
The Federal Parliament goes into recess after the unexampled experience of a war session with a record of legislative and administrative achievement of a character unparalleled in Australian history. It has passed a large number of measures, but with very few exceptions they relate to local and Imperial defence, and they deal chiefly with conditions arising out of the war.
I notice that no Liberal senator applauds those opinions of the great Liberal newspaper.
– What it says as to what Parliament did last year is quite true.
– I am glad the honorable senator indorses it, but apparently Senator Bakhap does not -
It is no more than simple justice to the Labour Ministry to observe that it has displayed a rare quantity of wisdom and courage in its management of the finances. It had to face conditions of exceeding difficulty, and to solve problems wholly foreign to the experience of Australian statesmanship. With little or no help from its political opponents, and in the teeth of much partisan objection, the Government effectively discharged its onerous and unprecedented obligations, and in a manner that bids fair to indemnify the credit of the nation from remote or proximate depreciation. The Ministry also deserves applause for its vigorous and successful administration of our Defence system, which has already resulted in an Australian representation of armed forces at the seat of war, which is likely to serve the Empire passing 2fll, and the continuous preparation of reinforcements for the front. And these great tasks have been, and are being,, satisfactorily carried out without imposing on the people a sensible economic strain.
– Does the honorable senator say that that part of the article, to the effect that the Government met with party opposition when they had their war measures before the House, is true?
– In another branch of the Legislature, yes. I have already proved it. Perhaps that is what is unpalatable to my honorable friend.
– An untruth is always unpalatable to your honorable friend.
– It is not an untruth, and I take exception to the term. I have shown that the leaders of Imperial thought commented adversely on the partisan tactics of the Opposition in another place during the early part of the session. The Age also said the same thing. The honorable senator knows it is true, and all his offensive interjections will not alter the fact. Senator Bakhap alsosaid we could have been better prepared. When he said that, he knew the facts. I cannot speak openly in this Chamber, for it is not advisable to deal in detail in public with these military matters. Our leader has refrained from doing so, and we must follow his example. Yet Senator Bakhap sends broadcast over Australia the allegation that we are notdoing enough. Does Senator Shannonindorse his colleague’s statements?
– I do not indorse all that everybody else says.
– I am glad to hear it. Whose fault is it that we are not better prepared 1 The Liberal party are in a large measure responsible, and I hope, with Senator Bakhap’s aid, to show it. He was very ready, when challenged by the Minister of Defence, to quote Mr. Hughes’ remarks from Hansard. In 1903 Mr. Hughes was the first man to move in favour of inserting in the Defence Act provision for the creation of a Citizen Defence Force. He has every reason to be proud of this, but Senator Bakhap quoted from his speech to show that he made no proposal to pay the men. He omitted to mention that the training was to be only in times of peace. Nothing was said in Mr. Hughes’ motion of war times. What was proposed was that there should be a national militia force, which would have fourteen days’ continuous training, and not more than thirty-two detached drills, aggregating 112 hours, per annum, in addition. It is quite true that at the time Mr. Hughes did not advocate payment, because it was never anticipated, when the force was first established, that we should need so much training as Lord Kitchener and other expert advisers proved in their reports later on to be necessary. As Senator Bakhap seemed to get some solace out of his quotation from Mr. Hughes, let me quote from the same Hansard the attitude of Mr. Joseph Cook towards the proposal. Senator Bakhap cannot say that in quoting Mr. Cook I am quoting an irresponsible member of the Liberal party. I am quoting the Leader of the party who, on 5th August, 1903, immediately following Mr. Hughes, made a speech to the following effect: -
Although I have listened carefully to the speech of the honorable member, to see if I could bring myself to accept his conclusions, I find myself unable to do so. For one thing. I think that the system of defence for which he wishes us to provide is altogether beyond our requirements. It would be excessively costly, and T do not think it would result in the physical improvement of the race, of which he is so certain.
– It was to be costly, even if it should cost nothing.
– That is so.
– Which goes to prove that he did not intend what Senator Bakhap imputed.
– It was to be a well-munitioned and well-provided force. The only difference was that, although everything was to be found for the Force, the men were not to receive any pay when they went into camp. On the next page Mr. Joseph Cook went on to say -
It proposes to levy a military tax for which there is no necessity, and which would involve an expenditure fully three or four times as great as that represented by our present outlay for defence purposes. The time is not ripe for entertaining such a proposal, because our present methods of defence are adequate for all purposes.
Senator Bakhap is absent just now, probably purposely.
Mr. Hughes. Would the honorable member object if the men volunteered ?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. Yes; because the expense would so largely exceed our requirements. I should object, because I think we are already doing enough to effectively guard Australia against attack.
– He repeats it twice, and we were doing nothing just then.
– The Leader of this great party, of which Senator Bakhap was a member, was doing enough, and no more was needed. Concluding his speech, Mr. Joseph Cook said -
Furthermore it is not compulsory for the purely volunteers to go, and I venture to say that some of them would not go if they had to lose a fortnight’s pay. There is all the difference in the world between compelling men to go into camp and leaving the way open for them to voluntarily make the sacrifice, and I strongly object to the compulsory element. I am not condemning the honorable member’s proposal in toto. I am, however, condemning its compulsory provisions, and the cost which its adoption would involve.
Even with no rates to pay to the men, it was too dear for the great Liberal Leader. The last words of his speech are -
I say, further, that it is contrary to the genius of our race, and that up to the present time the necessities of Australia have not shown any necessity for it. I do not see my way to support a scheme which is so drastic and so entirely unnecessary.
– He was not able to see over his own nose.
– No; he is the same gentleman who raised the hysterical cry of the gift of a. Dreadnought to Great Britain, and impeached Mr. Fisher and the Labour party for disloyalty because they adopted the saner course of establishing an Australian Navy - a policy which every honorable senator must admit has amply vindicated itself in this great world war.
Talking of opposition to this scheme, Senator Bakhap seemed to be very particular that we should quote purely Tasmanian instances. My leader quoted, by interjection, something which the secretary of the Liberal League of Australia or of New South Wales had said. But that was not enough for Senator Bakhap. He wanted something that was said in Tasmania. I have looked carefully through the files in the library, and taken extracts from the newspaper most warm in support of the Liberal party, and one of the greatest Liberal newspapers in Tasmania, namely, the Launceston Examiner. Senator Bakhap said that we could have been better prepared than we were. When we were preparing for international troubles, when we were preparing to defend ourselves, what stand w.is taken, not only by Mr. Joseph Cook, but in the great press organs in Tasmania? I ask honorable senators to listen to one or two brief extracts from the Launceston Examiner. On the 2nd April, 1909, it published a leading article on our Citizen Compulsory Defence Force as proposed by Mr. Andrew Fisher, then, as now, the Leader of the Labour party. It said -
We contend that the double programme -
The double programme, I might explain, was a Citizen Defence Force and an Australian Navy.
We contend that the double programme is altogether too ambitious, and likely to lead to a useless waste of public money. How the Australian youth would take to the conscription remains to be seen.
On the 7th April, 1909, only five days later, the Examiner, in a leading article, again condemned the idea of an Australian Navy. It said -
If we turn to the history of the United States we do not find that in the first decade of their national life there was anything like this. They did not start to build a navy, or establish a conscript army, before they were fairly started on their Federal career. The statesmen of that time knew there was wisdom in making haste slowly.
One day later the Examiner again attacked the compulsory training scheme, and remarked “How the German military officers would laugh to scorn the notion of a half-trained bod” of citizens taking the field.” Again, on the 20th July of the same year, the Examiner, in a leading article, said -
Mr. Fisher and his colleagues, though they did not represent a majority of the Commonwealth, took it upon themselves to order vessels from England. Mr. Fisher was so eager to start his scheme of port defence that he ordered the destroyer and torpedo boats on his own responsibility.
If Senator Bakhap wants clearer proof than that of the attitude of the Liberal party in Tasmania, he will take a lot of convincing. But the fact is, as he knows, that during many of the stages of the evolution of the idea of an Australian citizen defence force and an Australianowned navy no more bitter opponents ever materialized than the gentlemen who have been left sitting on the opposite benches.
– Why did any of your men vote against the proposal?
– They may have done so, but our leader never took a straightout stand in opposition to the proposal to compulsorily train our manhood the same as Mr. Joseph Cook did. And our party cannot be judged by what a. small minority said or did. Just as I did before by quotation from Hansard, so during the absence of the honorable senator from the Chamber I showed by quotations from its leading articles how the Launceston Examiner bitterly followed the lead of Mr. Cook, and roundly condemned our scheme for the defence of Australia on land, and also the idea of an Australian-owned and controlled navy.
– They are as good Australians as the honorable senator, who says that it is defective, and is only a boys’ scheme.
– That may be so, but it gets away from the position that, while the honorable senator in this Chamber complained that we could have done better, he ignores the fact, which I have proved, that his party is largely responsible for the situation, and put every impediment it could in the way’ of efficiently and effectively defending the Common weal th .
– You have full power ; why do you not do better now?
– I have already indicated - my honorable friend was not here at the moment - that the present Government have done all that is possible. The man in the street recognises that, too.
– If you have done all that is possible, you cannot do better; is that it?
– We cannot do better as regards getting men away under present conditions. We have strained our resources, as my honorable friend knows very well.
– We are spending the last shilling they will lend us in Great Britain ; is that so ?
– No. But for the State requirements we could finance the war expenditure in Australia. This gibe about using the money of the British taxpayers is a very empty one. We have used British money to the extent of £300,000,000 to develop this country in the past.
– Yes, but we have assets.
– And so have they. They have got security, and drawn interest.
– But by borrowing this money and spending it as we are doing we are impairing the value of their assets.
– There is no obligation upon Australia when she offers good security for money. It is a business transaction. We are not using British taxpayers’ money, but we are using money which was given to us on our credit, because that was recognised as good enough. We are using just the same class of money as we have used for fifty years to develop the resources of this country.
– Lent by whom?
– By those who have confidence that they will get a good security and receive a fair rate of interest.
– But are they British taxpayers ?
– They may be. But the fact remains that were it not for the needs of the State Governments, the Australian note issue would have financed this war to the present time, whatever the future may hold in store.
– The British Government have thanked us profusely for what »e have done.
– Yes; everybody but Senator Bakhap thanks us.
– We ate thanking ourselves very profusely now.
– The British Government have thanked us, the New Zealand Government have notably thanked us, for the services which our Navy has performed. We have won, I think, the general approval of the Empire by our exertions in the cause of defence, and Senator Bakhap said so himself. He said that British statesmen were oblivious to the need for conscription. Everybody but himself is wrong.
– Within the last two years British statesmen reduced their military force. Does the honorable senator know that?
– That may be so; but I have yet to learn that Senator Bakhap is an oracle, who can speak against the force of public opinion everywhere; that he can criticise the whole of the responsible leaders of this Empire, because they have not done as much as he thinks they should have done. Although, perhaps we have not been as prepared as we might have been - I have pointed out that the Liberal party must take most of the blame for that position - it is recognised that, in the circumstances, the self-governing Dominions have done marvellous work for the Empire in this time of stress, and any attempt to talk conscription, and attribute blame to everybody but Senator Bakhap, at this juncture, is not only injudicious, but absolutely criminal.
– Do you deny that your party said that a vote of £400,000 per annum was sufficient for the needs of Australian defence, and moved to reduce the defence vote?
– A few individual members of our party may have thought so, but that does not alter the fact I have dealt with. I have clearly shown the attitude of the honorable senator’s leader on the matter. Let him deny that if he can.
– Will the honorable senator deny my assertion that his party moved to reduce the insignificant Australian defence vote by hundreds of thousands of pounds only a few years ago ?
– We are the party who, as I have shown, can, and do, claim credit for the institution of this naval and military policy of ours, which has been so successful. Senator Bakhap puts his opinion against the greatest authorities’ of the Empire, but, while recognising his profound learning, I prefer to put my trust in the great statesmen of the Empire rather than in the erudite honorable senator. When it comes to talking of conscription at this juncture, what are the facts ? The position is that Great Britain has not wanted men. I admit that if she had made greater preparations she could have acted sooner.
– Why do you not go to the picture shows, and learn the facts of the situation ?
– I am pointing out that, as regards an appeal for men - which is an entirely different thing - we have never been disappointed. We can get sufficient men to enlist, not only in Australia, but throughout the Empire, without the aid of conscription - by merely calling for volunteers. In the Commonwealth we are getting as many recruits as we can deal with, and in England a greater number are offering their services than the authorities can equip. Yet Senator Bakhap talks of conscription.
– Why does Lord Kitchener say that conscription can only be staved off by the adoption of certain measures ?
– If my honorable friend will search the files of the British newspapers, he will discover that, at the present time, there is no movement in the Old Country in favour of conscription. Here is a cable which appeared in the Melbourne Herald only on Monday evening last - “ Conscription an Insult.”
It is declared by the Star that the nation is furnishing volunteers foster than the War Office can arm them, and that any attempt to impose conscription on the people making sacrifices so eagerly and readily would be an insult that would be fiercelyresented.
I am quite ready to put the opinion of that influential newspaper against even the opinion of Senator Bakhap. There is no movement in England in favour of a policy of conscription.
– And foreign nations in alliance with Great Britain are asking why?
– Simply because, under the voluntary system, we can get more men than we can arm and equip. Why, then, should Senator Bakhap advocate conscription, and give utterance to wild, disquieting statements, which are calculated to create a wrong impression in the public mind?
– I should be expelled from the Senate, just as it was proposed to disrank Lord Roberts.
– We do not use an elephant rifle to shoot a mosquito, and I am not suggesting that such a course should be adopted. I believe that I rightly gauge public opinion when I say that any attempt to impose conscription upon Australia would be bitterly resented by our organized Democracy. I believe that our people would even resort to physical force, if necessary, in order to avoid it. Senator Bakhap has not shown that any need exists for taking such an extreme step. He has not proved that we can arm or equip more men than we are arming and equipping now. He has merely affirmed that we shall have to resort to conscription, and to pay our conscripts1s. 2d. per day. He declares that he fails to see much difference between compulsory training and conscription. Compulsory training is an arrangement made in time of peace, under which men have to undergo prescribed periods of training.
– To get merely a semblance of training.
– Conscription is a system under which men are taken right away from their civil occupations, and made soldiers exclusively for two or three years. Yet the honorable senator says that there is not much difference between compulsory training and conscription.
– Compulsory training is classed by one of the honorable senator’s leaders as conscription.
– I do not care what it is classed as by one of my leaders. There is all the difference in the world between the military training of a man whilst he continues to follow his civil occupation, and conscription, which takes him away from his occupation, and compels him to become a soldier to the exclusion of all else for two or three years.
– They would be remarkable soldiers who followed their civil occupations whilst receiving their military training.
– On the battlefields of Europe such soldiers have done credit, not merely to themselves, but to the whole British nation. The British Territorials have nothing to be ashamed of in comparison with the Regulars who are now in the field.
– How did the Australians acquit themselves in South Africa?
– That is a sufficient reply to Senator Bakhap’s assertion. Surely the honorable senator does not think that Australia has reached such a parlous condition that it cannot afford to give our soldiers a rate of pay sufficient for the maintenance of their wives and families. Senator Bakhap has put forward the argument that only single men should be enlisted. But if married men volunteer for service abroad, why not allow them to go ? I am very glad that adequate provision has been made for their dependants. I know that quite recently I have been approached time and again by relatives of men serving in our Expeditionary Forces, who complain of the inadequacy of the present rate of pay, and of the trouble experienced in maintaining big families upon it, although they are patriotic enough to exist upon it during the period of the war. That rate, I claim, is the very minimum on which we can expect these people to maintain themselves. Any reduction would be an insult to the Democracy of Australia.
– How many women are dependent on the pay of single men?
– I would remind the honorable senator that there are relatives besides wives who have to be considered. I know of dozens of instances in which the breadwinners - and single men at that - have gone to the front, and in which families are dependent entirely upon the wages payable to those breadwinners for their maintenance. I noticed that Senator Millen was very silent when Senator Bakhap advocated the payment of only1s. 2d. per day to the men of our Expeditionary Forces. He did not indorse it; neither will Senator Shannon.
– I was speaking only for myself. The Liberal party incurs no responsibility for my opinions.
– I am glad that Senator Bakhap accepts the full responsibility for his statements. He will have to do so whether he likes it or not. In reply to ‘ an interjection by Senator de Largie as to the wealthy classes financing this war, Senator Bakhap affirmed that he was quite prepared to make sacrifices. I take it that we all are. But I would ask, “ What is the need for the suggested reduction in the pay of our soldiers to1s. 2d. per day, seeing that the wealthy classes of this country have not yet been called upon to make any alarming sacrifices?”
– Why are not the British soldiers paid 6s. per day?
– Because the conditions which obtain in the two countries are entirely dissimilar. We have our own standard of comfort and decency, which, I am glad to say, is higher than that of Great Britain. We have a higher standard of living.
– And yet there is room for improvement.
– There is no doubt about that. I wish to show that in the Commonwealth there are large incomes which have not yet been heavily taxed, and when it comes to a question of making sacrifices, I hold that there should be an equality of sacrifice. In view of the fact that the nation is engaged in a struggle for its very existence, those persons who derive big incomes should be called upon to make commensurate sacrifices. In his famous Limehouse speech Mr. Lloyd George, in speaking of the taxation of unearned incomes, said that in case of war the nation would be justified in taking, for the time being, all these incomes in Great Britain. What does that mean ? It means that all the incomes in England, Scotland, and Ireland which are derived from investments either in the form of rent, interest, or dividends, may be justifiably confiscated by the nation when it is fighting for its existence. I wonder whether Senator Bakhap will be so ready to indorse that statement as he was to declare that we should pay our soldiers, who are about to fight the Empire’s battle, only1s. 2d. per day ? Turning to an interesting little booklet, compiled by Mr. Knibbs, I find that as far back as 1911 there were 3,536 individuals in Australia with a total income of £22,953,874.
– Just about enough to keep the war going, so far as Australia is concerned.
– Each of these incomes is in excess of £2,000 per annum. Before advocating a decrease in the wages paid to our soldiers it would be the duty of any Democratic party to tap this source of wealth, which, so far, has not been very much exploited. I admit that some of the men deriving these incomes are paying State taxation and also paying the Federal land tax. But a large amount of this wealth still remains untouched, and, in accordance with the policy laid down by Mr. Lloyd George, its owners should, in the last resort, he called upon to contribute their incomes to enable us to maintain our race and Empire.
I congratulate Senator Bakhap upon his candour with reference to paying ls. 2d. per day to our troops. I shall watch with interest the attitude adopted by his Liberal colleagues when they speak on this matter. I wish also to congratulate the honorable senator on his eleventh hour conversion to the proposition that the Commonwealth should possess larger constitutional powers than it now’ has. His is a somewhat belated confession, but ,1 hope that during the next referenda campaign in Tasmania he will tell the people that even he was previously mistaken, and that some of the constitutional powers for which a Labour Government have already asked twice, ought to be granted to this Parliament.
– If honorable senators opposite will only ask for what they require the people will give it to them. But if they ask for what they asked on former occasions they will get the same reply again.
– I hope that there will be no shifting of positions upon this matter so far as Senators Bakhap and Keating are concerned. On one occasion we know that Senator Keating voted for the Constitutional Alteration (Nationalization of Monopolies) Bill. in this chamber. We congratulated ourselves regarding his conversion, just as probably we are prematurely doing so concerning Senator Bakhap. We thought we had at least the comfort of knowing that Senator Keating was democratic enough to go out fearlessly and tell the people to vote “yes,” but judge our surprise when we found Senator Keating, after voting for it in the Senate, telling the people both at Launceston and Hobart to reject both referenda. One was good enough for him tn vote for, and then it was bad enough for him to advise the people of Tasmania to reject. I think the people are entitled to know exactly where they are in regard to this matter, and to understand clearly what is the attitude of the honorable senator who has just preceded me.
I have been delighted to get from both sections of the community of Tasmania - from Liberals and Labourites - the assurance that while some might disagree with the policy of this national Labour party, they admit - and particularly fair-minded Liberals - that this party has achieved everything that they could expect during this time of war. I feel certain, also, that after this session has gone by, the legislation which we will pass will justify a renewal of the confidence of the people.
– One scarcely knows whether to bo thankful or otherwise to the Government for having given honorable senators an opportunity of discussing this matter, for if a good deal of criticism has been levelled at the Government for their administration of affairs, some little advice has been tendered to them also. I am doubtful, however, if the Government will benefit very much by the advice tendered, not because they might refuse to accept it, but because the advice has been of a somewhat unsatisfactory character. The Government have been severely criticised for many of their actions, particularly in the administration of the Defence Department, and, of course, living as we do in a warlike age, it is natural to expect that most people are thinking and talking more of warlike subjects than of any other. I presume, therefore, that it is natural that some time should be devoted to advising the Minister of Defence and his colleagues how this war should be conducted. I am not going to take up that line of argument, however, and I am not going to talk conscription, or advocate paying our Army, whether under- conscription or otherwise, at the “ magnificent “ rate of ls. 2d. per day. Personally, I would have no objection to conscription if that course were necessary, but I am confident that in Australia, and, indeed, throughout the whole British Empire, we are fully meeting the claims made upon us in connexion with this war by the voluntary system which has been adopted. It is right, proper, and wise that we should look to the possibility of conscription, but we are a very long way indeed from the necessity to adopt that course, and it is hardly fair at the present time that in the National Parliament of Australia any honorable senator should get up and voice for a moment even the suggestion of conscription in this country. It is a very poor compliment indeed to pay to the people of Australia, and a very poor compliment indeed to the men who are volunteering in large numbers, for we have the assurance of the Defence
Department that our young men are volunteering just as quickly as the Department can equip them ; and, indeed, quicker than they can be provided for. I do not know by what means Senator Bakhap would clothe or arm our men under the system he suggests. I remember, however, that in reading the history of my own country, at a- time when men went out to fight during the earlier ages, the question of clothing or armament received very little consideration. A kilt, a rag or two, was all their clothing; a’ stick with a scythe blade tied to the end of it, a pitchfork or something of that kind was the weapon with which very often they went out to fight their neighbours’ quarrels, or their own. Senator Bakhap, I hope, does not suggest that we should send our young Australians to the front armed in that way. But, if not, how are they to be sent? Our ammunition factory, our clothing factory, our boot factories, our saddle and harness factory, and, in fact, every factory dealing with the munitions and supplies for war purposes, are working at top speed, and yet we have men in our camps for weeks and, in some cases, months before they receive the necessary equipment. I am confident that if the men could be equipped and armed quicker than is the case to-day we would be able to muster our men more rapidly than at present. I deprecate exceedingly any honorable senator coming here- and advocating conscription, for the reports of his utterances will travel very quickly indeed. Probably even before today is over, the fact that conscription has been suggested in Australia will have been wired all over the world, and the report will be given greater prominence from the fact that it has emanated from a member of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia. I only hope, therefore, that the utterances of those of us who repudiate the idea will follow as quickly as possible on Senator Bakhap’s suggestion, so that the world will know what is the opinion of the Senate on this subject. It is not my intention to find very much fault with the Defence Department, though there are some matters upon which I have ground for. complaint. But they are small compared with what the Department has been achieving. During the past few months there has been a tremendous strain upon the Department, and I realize that every man is doing a fair thing, from the Minister downwards, and I recognise also that the Minister and his officers want every encouragement that we can possibly give them, instead of condemnation for the small matters of complaint to which attention might be drawn. It will be much better if we do not bring these complaints into this chamber for ventilation through the public press. During this great crisis the Defence Department has proved itself capable of dealing with very big issues indeed, and though I have some small grievances I think the Department is entitled to the best thanks of this Parliament for what it has done. In addition to what has been done by our Army - and that seems to have been the subject of the honorable senator’s condemnation - we ought not to forget our Navy. A few months ago every man and woman in Australia, I am sure, felt very much bigger as a result of the splendid work of our Navy. No doubt any criticism which Senator Bakhap levels at the Army on the subject of conscription can be applied also to the Navy. I do not know whether he purposes to give the men the option of joining the Army or the Navy, but I dare say that, if he did, he would find itnecessary to advocate the building of a great many more battleships to accommodate the young Australians who would be available for service. I repeat that the scheme of conscription suggested by my honorable friend is entirely unnecessary, and is not creditable to him at this juncture. I want now to refer to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Millen. The honorable senator’s remarks were favorable to the Government, but behind them there were suggestions of trouble to come. Senator Millen indicated that so long as the Government were prepared to go along on perfectly safe lines - and, by doing so, to break their pledges to the people of Australia, by delaying giving effect to the promises made at the last general election - he would support them. But the moment they commenced to put their pledges into effect we could look for trouble from that quarter. In spite of the fact that this fearful war is raging in Europe, and we are taking a very important part in the war, there is no reason why we should go to sleep upon our own domestic affairs. “We have the requirements of our own country to attend to.
– Business is going on as usual.
– That is so. People are being born, married, and buried, and they have to be fed, clothed, -and provided for just as they were previous to the outbreak of war. The great Labour party were returned at the regent elections upon certain pledges and promises made to the people of Australia. When those promises and pledges were made the war was raging, and the people who returned the members of the Labour party to power were confident that the war would not interfere with the fulfilment of those promises and pledges. Our honorable friends opposite, now that we are in power, wish us to become opportunists, as they have themselves so frequently done, and to slide out of our promises to the people. I am satisfied that no such attempt will be made on the part of the present Government. I hope that, as we shall devote every attention that is necessary to the great question of prosecuting the war, we shall also devote all the attention that is necessary to our own domestic affairs. Whilst the big outside questions must necessarily occupy a great amount of our time, we should not neglect to give due regard to questions affecting the welfare of our people. In reply to honorable senators opposite, then, I say that the Labour party have no intention whatever to delay the fulfilment of the promises they made to the people of Australia during the recent elections. I wish to, deal now with the statement which has been placed before us by the Minister of Defence as leader of the Senate. Any unbiased person reading that statement, and certainly those portions of it which refer to the conduct of the war, and to the troops we have sent to Europe and are preparing for the front, must feel gratified to know what has been achieved. It is about eight months since the war broke out, -and, in the face of tremendous difficulties, we have since that time sent a great number of men to the front. I invite honorable senators, and the people generally, to calmly consider the forethought and the tremendous care which has been necessary in order that our Forces should be properly equipped and transported with perfect safety from Australia to the seat of the war. It must be admitted that this was the biggest undertaking in the way of the transport of troops that has ever been attempted in the history of the world. Yet an honorable senator on the other side is found to ask what this Parliament and the Government have done. Why, it can scarcely be said that the age of miracles is at an end when we consider that this tremendous undertaking has been successfully carried out by men who had no previous experience of such work.
– T - They had plenty of common sense.
– That is what enabled them to pull through. This tremendous undertaking has been carried out without the slightest hitch or accident. Yet we are told by Senator Bakhap, who is supposed to know everything under the sun, that we have done absolutely nothing. When we come to consider what really has been done, the honorable senator’s statement must, by its very extravagance, lose any weight it would otherwise have. I feel proud of the success which has attended the efforts of the Government in this direction. I am confident that if further troops are necessary, they will be sent with the same safety and despatch.
– It is to be hoped that very few more will be required.
– I sincerely hope that very few more, will be required. While on the question of war, I should like to say that I think that a degree of secrecy has been observed in Australia with regard to the operations of the war that is quite unnecessary. The censorship has, in my opinion, been altogether too severe. Those of us who receive newspapers and correspondence from the Old Country are surprised at the amount of detail in connexion with the war which is published in them, in comparison with the very meagre information supplied to us in Australia. I think that there is no need for so much secrecy. I believe that there would not be the same lack of confidence on the part of the public generally if they knew more of what is really going on. If the Minister of Defence, within the bounds of safety, of course, can do anything to« relax the too strict censorship which exists at the present time, he will relieve the anxiety of many people who have relatives and friends at the front, and, I believe, will induce many to come forward and enlist who are now holding back. I hope that the Minister will be able to do something in this direction. The matter next in importance is, I think, the question of finance. We had the strange statement from Senator Bakhap that we in Australia are noi paying our share of the expenses of the war. He has said that we are borrowing the money from the British taxpayer, and from the British soldier who is in the trenches in Flanders to-day. That is an extraordinary statement, but it is in keeping with many of the curious things which the honorable senator said. We have borrowed money from the Imperial Government for a certain purpose in just the same way as we have borrowed money before. We are paying interest on the money, and w© shall repay the principal in the ordinary way, as we have done in connexion with any other loan. We are under no obligation to any persons for the money lent to us, and they are under no obligation to us for interest and principal, which will be paid as they fall due. It is a pure business transaction, profitable and agreeable to all the parties concerned. I am proud, as an Australian, to know that the men we are sending from the Commonwealth represent the best-paid Army in the world. We are all proud of the fact that there is no Army in the world today that is paid as well as our Forces are being paid, or for which, in the event of disaster or accident, such liberal arrangements are made for the injured or the dependents of those who are killed. All this goes to show that our financial arrangements are perfectly sound, and that the men who are risking their lives in the defence of the Empire are not being overlooked by those who are responsible for them. To a great extent we have to thank the Commonwealth Bank for the satisfactory nature of the financial position. This is an institution which we have heard denounced from time to time. Certain people have attempted to cripple and injure it, and to restrict its usefulness in one way or another. I have a lively recollection of a Bill which was sent up to the Senate last session, the intention of which was to injure the Commonwealth Bank. It was one- of the measures which the Senate promptly rejected. The Labour party have reason to be proud of the fact that by the rejection of that measure they helped to extend the influence of the Commonwealth Bank, which has done so much to assist the Government in financing the expenditure due to the war. It is not my intention to deal at greater length with the financial position, because there are other matters which appeal to some of us more directly at the present time, important as the question of finance undoubtedly is. I wish to refer to the railway proposals of the Government, and in this connexion I may not be quite so eulogistic as I have been in referring to their achievements for the defence of the Empire. In the statement read by the Minister of Defence a reference is made to a proposed strategic railway from Brisbane to Port Augusta. I have no fault to find with any railway proposals intended to develop the great northern part of the continent of Australia. It will be a very bad proposal, indeed, for the opening up of that country by railway communication which will not secure my indorsement. But no railway proposal will have my support until the great north and south railway is undertaken by the Commonwealth Government. There was a definite promise made to the people of Australia in connexion with that railway. I wish it to be understood that I am not here pleading for anything for South Australia. I remember that when I was dealing with the question some time ago an honorable senator characterized my statement as “ a wail from South Australia.” I am not one to wail, but I am prepared to say what I consider necessary in my own way. I am not condemning the proposed strategic railway at this stage, as we have no information concerning it, and it is not now before us for discussion; but I do say that the north and south railway has been before the people of Australia for many years, and I regret exceedingly that no reference to it is made in the Ministerial statement read by the Minister of Defence.
– Is it the intention to abandon it?
– I should not like to say that that is the intention, but I must say that many people have been looking for some definite statement from the Government with respect to the north and south railway. I believe that it is a fact that the Commonwealth Government must give the Government of South Australia twelve months’ notice from the end of the year of their intention to take over the portion of the railway between Quorn and Oodnadatta. So far as I know, no such notice has yet been given, and, as I understand the matter, twelve months must elapse from next November or December before anything can be done by the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the north and south railway.
– The Minister will see how much more easy and simple it would be to take his own material over his own railway than to take it over a section owned by South Australia. I wish to refer to what an honorable senator said here regarding my remarks on this railway. On a previous occasion I made certain references to the territory through’ which the railway should pass, and, amongst other things, I said that it would pass within a reasonable distance of the Barklay Tableland. An honorable senator told me that the Barklay Tableland was not in the Northern Territory, but in Queensland. I had not an opportunity to reply to him, but I have here the latest ‘ maps of the Territory, which show conclusively that the- Barklay Tableland runs for 400 miles into the middle of it. We want to borrow nothing from Queensland to bolster up this great Federal possession. I am pleading for Federal territory, and not for any particular State. I referred also at the time to the possibility of artesian water being found in the Barklay Tableland. Senator Turley told me that there was no such thing as artesian water anywhere near the Barklay Tableland. I have here another map, on which a very large area of that country is marked as “probably artesian.” What is the use of an honorable senator telling us that certain things do riot exist in the Northern Territory, when, to judge by his own remarks, he has never even seen a map or plan of the country ? Before I referred to the subject on the last occasion, I took the precautions to examine all the maps specially prepared by the Government, and find out what I was talking about. Whilst the through railway does not actually touch the tableland, a route has been surveyed which goes nearer the Queensland border, and right through the centre of the tableland; so that we need not go to Queensland for anything in connexion with that part of the country. This Federal possession will, in a few years, return an enormous revenue to the Federal Government. Another map which I have here shows the settlement that has already taken place in this country, which is supposed by some people to be worthless. The whole of the coloured portion has already been taken up. It is not a barren waste, or a noman’s land, but a country where a tremendous area has already been taken up, and where settlement would exist to-day if there were railway facilities for the people to get goods to their places, or their stock away to the seaboard. I think the area taken up already is about 300,000 square miles. The rainfall map shows that on the Barklay Tableland the average fall is between 15 and 25 inches. There are many portions in Australia where the fall is considerably le3S.
– At Oodnadatta it is less than 5 inches.
– If Oodnadatta had no railway there would be no settlement there at all. All this goes to show that before an honorable senator condemns another senator’s remarks, or suggests that he wants to impose on another State, he should acquaint himself with the facts. If he did, he would not fall into such a grievous blunder as my honorable friend fell into in connexion with the north-south railway. I am satisfied that good progress has been made, in spite of. great difficulties, with the eastwest railway, and I hope that long before the two and a half years mentioned by the Minister have passed, the line will be open for traffic. There are great water difficulties to be overcome. In fact. I believe the difficulties in the way of construction are greater in that case than they will be in regard to the north-south railway; but I am quite satisfied with the progress that the Commonwealth is making in the construction of the line. Unemployment is very much felt, and we hope that every effort will be put forth by the Commonwealth Government at the earliest moment to go on with the public works which have already been outlined, to absorb as many unemployed as possible. I believe the season is promising well, and if our workers can see their way to get over the coming winter, which will be a severe one, I believe that afterwards a much greater amount of employment will be available in rural occupations. I would, therefore, urge the Minister and the Government to do everything possible now in the way of providing employment. There is no reason why the whole of the amount set apart for public works, and not spent, should not be spent during the present year.
– A lot of it has been spent, but not paid.
– I quite understand that the balance-sheet does not show the actual position. At any rate, I hope that none of the money will be “ saved.” I have every confidence that the Government will do their best. They have done their best so far, and if they can continue on the lines they have followed, they will earn the approval of everybody in Australia. I have no fault to find with the work they have done during the adjournment, and I have no doubt the past is simply an indication of what will be done in the future.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Keefe) adjourned.
– In moving
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I have to state that the business tomorrow will be the second reading of the War Precautions Bill, which was distributed to-day. I have given notice of motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders to-morrow so as to put the Bill through. It is fairly urgently required. I hope to have the Defence Bill ready and to move the first reading, but I do not intend to ask the Senate to put it through to-morrow. I hope, also, that we shall have the Estimates up from another place.
– I do not intend to oppose the motion ; but I hope the Minister will endeavour so to order the business that, when we assemble here to do work, some reasonable programme will be prepared for our consideration. I make all allowance for the emergencies which may necessitate the introduction by the Go vernment of special legislation; but after the somewhat lengthy recess we might have hoped, on re-assembling to do business, that something more serious would be demanded of us than to meet for two or three hours and adjourn. The Minister might either have business ready for us or refrain from calling us together. It seems to me that, no matter what may happen this week, the Senate will not transact more business than could have been properly done in two days. It would be just as well for the Government to recognise that fact, and not to call honorable senators here for three days when there is. only business sufficient to occupy them for two days. I express the hope that for the rest of this session, if there is to be a shortage of work, honorable, senators will be told that there is no business for them to do, and, therefore, they need not attend. For any honorable senators to travel here a long distance to do a couple of hours work, and then to adjourn, is, to my mind, reducing what should be serious work to something in the nature of a farce. I trust that in the future when we are called here we shall find something to do.
– I have only to say in defence that we have practically held a sitting to-day to get a formal stage of the War Precautions Bill in order to enable its consideration to be proceeded with to-morrow. That is the difficulty.
– The Minister knows that there is no difficulty about that, because he can get that Bill put through all its stages at one sitting so far as any one on this side is concerned.
– I think it would have been hardly fair to ask that the Bill should be allowed to go through all its stages in one day. The sitting of the Senate to-day has given me an opportunity to get the Bill distributed, and secured to honorable senators a day in which to look it over. I regret as much as anybody does that we have to take this course.
– There is no reason why the debate on the Ministerial statement could not have been continued.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 April 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150421_senate_6_76/>.