6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Assistant Minister whether a regulation has been issued protecting from seizure for debt the personal effects of dependants of soldiers? Will the Minister try and secure the wide publication, by advertisement or otherwise, of such a regulation if in existence?
– The honorable senator’s questions refer to a regulation under the War Precautions Act. Action has been taken in the matter referred to, and regulation 47 reads as follows: -
No person shall, under the bill of sale or writ of execution, or process issued by a Court, or by way of distress, seize or take possession of - (a)any chattels which are used by any female dependant of any member of a force raised forservice beyond Australia to support or assist in supporting herself or any of the family of suchmember; or
If any person contravenes the provisions of this paragraph, ho shall be guilty of an offence against the Act. 3.For the purpose of this paragraph, female dependant shall mean any female who is wholly or partly dependent for her support upon the pay of amember of a force raised for service beyond Australia.
I may say that since the issue of that regulation a further regulation has been framed, and is in force, but I am not at present in possession of a copy of it. It extends the same protection to furniture or articles with which a person earns a living if purchased on the time-payment principle.
– The trouble is that no one knows of it. NoQueensland member had heard of the regulation until this morning.
– It has been published in the press, and has been in force for some time.
– So far as I know, it was not published in Queensland. I remind the Minister of Defence that I asked a second question, as to whether an effort would be made to secure the wide publication of the regulations by advertisement or otherwise ?
– I shall try to give publicity to the regulations in some way or another.
– I desire, without notice, to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, in connexion with a question which I put pursuant to notice yesterday, whether he thinks it is a fair thing that, after I had given about six months’ notice of my question, it should be evaded in the way it was by the answer he gave yesterday V
– Order! The honorable senator is not permitted under cover of a question without notice to enter upon an argument with the Minister as to whether the reply given to hie question was a proper or an improper one. He is entitled to ask a question, but not to make insinuations or statements in asking it.
– I wish to know whether, in view of the long period that has elapsed since my question was asked originally-
– What is the question?
– This is the question I asked -
What is the number and value (exclusive of improvements) of freehold estates or estates in process of alienation in each of the six States of the Commonwealth, as disclosed by the war census wealth and income cards -
In reply to that question I was informed yesterday that -
The manner in which the returns under the war census were furnished makes it very difficult to supply the information in the form desired by the honorable senator; but the Minister will consult the Commonwealth Statistician to see what can be done in the desired direction.
Has the Minister, in the meantime, consulted with the Commonwealth Statistician, and, if not, why not, and when is it his intention to do so?
– The reply given yesterday to Senator Grant’s question was the best we were able to give, owing tothe returns not being in the form in which his question was stated. Now that the clerical work in connexion with the war census has slackened, an endeavour will be made to secure, not an exact return in the terms of the honorable senator’s question, because that is impossible, but a return supplying figures as nearly as possible on the lines desired by the honorable senator. He must have a little patience, because his question involves a very big job.
Statement by Mr. Herbert Brookes.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister noticed the statement by Mr. Herbert Brookes, president of the Chamber of Manufactures, at the meeting of the Victorian Chamber, as reported in yesterday’s Age, as follows: -
In the opinion of many members of the Chamber, professional unionism was becoming a caste, which was quite as offensive as the military caste in Germany which had led to the present war. If he were asked calmly which of the two castes he would prefer to live under, his answer would be that he would infinitely prefer the military tyranny of Germany to the tyranny of industrial unionism.
Why was this statement not censored? Will the Minister consider the advisability of taking steps under the War Precautions Act to deal with Mr. Brookes?
– I have not seen the statement referred to. As I heard it read, it does not appear to me to disclose any evidence of an offence against the War Precautions Act. However, it may offend one’s idea of common sense. I do not think that any prosecution would lie against Mr. Brookes under the War Precautions Act for the statement, but I shall be glad to look into it if the honorable senator will let me have it.
The following papers were presented: -
Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1916.
The Budget, 1915-16. - Papers prepared by the Honorable William Guy Higgs, for the information of honorable members, on the occasion of opening the Budget of 1915-10.
Lands Acquisition Act1906 - Land acquired under, at Narrabri, New South Wales, for Defence purposes.
Naval Defence Act 1910-1912. - Regulations amended, &c.
Statutory Rules 1916, No. 74.
Statutory Rules 1916, No. 75.
Report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts upon the expenditure incurred in connexion with the steam yacht Aurora, of the Shackleton expedition, at the Commonwealth Naval Dockyard, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, presented by Senator Stewart.
– It has been the practice in the Senate, when the Budgetpapers are presented in another place and brought forward here, to lay them upon the table, and a motion that they be printed is moved by the Minister presenting them. I bring forward the Estimates of revenue and expenditure for 1915-16 and the Budget-papers prepared by the Hon. William Guy Higgs for the information of honorable senators in connexion with the Budget for 1915-16. I move -
That the Estimates 1915-16 and Budgetpapers be printed.
The motion will give honorable senators an opportunity of saying what they wish about matters of administration or policy, and possibly obviate the necessity of debating at length the Bill for one month’s supply, which has just come up from another place, where it was passed without debate. In any case another Supply Bill must be brought forward before Parliament can adjourn, and this will give honorable senators a still further opportunity to express their opinions. The fol lowing table shows the principal figures of the Budget: -
The amount of £47,567,026 included a sum of £4,000,000, representing advances to the States against flotation of loan in London. Defence expenditure, Naval and Military, including all items, amounts to not less than £49 , 861,975. After providing for an expenditure of £76,057,626, we shall have a balance of war loan moneys to be carried to next year of £13,034,534. The estimated decrease in the land tax receipts is an indication, not of depreciation in land values, but of the breaking up of large estates, bringing them below the taxable value. The probate and succession duties will be in full operation this year, as against only a part of last year. We all regret the necessity for continued expenditure at such a high rate, but every one knows it is an unavoidable part of the terrible duty which we, in common with all civilized countries, have to discharge. Another feature of the Budget is the large sum which Australia has shown itself capable of raising within its own boundaries for the prosecution of the war. This has encouraged the Government to believe that the same resourcefulness and patriotism will show itself during the coming year in providing the sinews of war to carry on the struggle. I must express regret that I was unable, owing to the Senate rising earlier than the other House yesterday, to have the papers tabled here at the same time as the Budget was tabled in another place. Our Navy is still playing a very important part, not only in keeping the sea clear for British and Allied commerce, but also in assisting the transport of our soldiers to the other end of the world. We may justly feel proud that there has been practically no serious accident to our huge fleet of transports since the war began. The greater number are manned by Australians, and their unseen work, which is not chronicled in the newspapers and not generally heard of by the public, must constitute one of the records of which this country has the right to feel proud. Australia has nothing to reproach itself with in the part it has played during the last year. On the contrary, it has every reason to feel proud of what it has done, and I believe its efforts are being continued now as vigorously as at any previous period of the war. That there is no slackening in the determination of the people of Australia to see the war through to a successful termination is demonstrated both by the number of men still offering themselves, and by the way in which the financial needs of the Commonwealth are being met. The outlook calls for thought as to whether during the coming year we can maintain the expenditure on public works throughout the Commonwealth and States at the same rate as in the past, and the fact must also be faced that if we are to depend on our own financial resources we must do everything possible to stimulate Australian production and encourage a spirit of resourcefulness and economy among our own people.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Report of the Public Works Committee regarding proposed cement works at the Federal Capital, and for other Commonwealth purposes, presented by Senator Lynch.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Acting
Prime Minister, upon notice -
– My reply to a deputation from a conference of the Australian Peace Alliance was in reference to a statement made by a member of the deputation that soldiers were being paid 8s. per day by the Universal Service League for the purpose of acting as advocates of conscription, and my remarks were intended to mean that I did not approve of a soldier being used in that way either for or against conscription whilst drawing military pay.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Why has a magazine, called Ross’s Magazine been refused transmission through the post?
– Ross’s Magazine has not been refused transmission through the post, but certain copies which contained matter in contravention of the law were stopped.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Assistant Minister, upon notice -
In view of the present unsatisfactory position of bread, flour, and wheat prices in Tasmania, when does the Minister propose to send the Prices Adjustment Board to that State?
– At the earliest possible moment. At a meeting of the Board to be held to-day that question is to be discussed.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
If the Commonwealth Defence Act takes away certiorari, and the British Army Act does not- -
At whose instigation?
For what purpose?
– Certain legal questions are involved, and a reply will be given to the honorable member as soon as I am in a position to do so.
– Will the reply te given in the Senate?
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
SenatorFERRICKS asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount has been charged, in commission, to members of stock exchanges, against the first and second war loans?
– The total brokerage paid to members of stock exchanges is £34,034 19s.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for anAct to amend section 4 of the War Precautions Act 1914-15.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for anAct to make provision for the administration of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend section 2 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902-1915.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 and the Acts Interpretation Act 1904.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to suspend the operation of section 87a of the Patents Act 1903-1909 during the continuance of the present war and for a period of six months thereafter.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the War Census Acts 1915.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to repeal sections 3 and 4 of theRules Publication Act 1903.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend section 7 of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1913.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend section 8 of the Customs Act 1901-1914.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Suspensionof Standing Orders - Contingencies - Wheat Pool : Advances to Producers - Empire Parliamentary Association: Delegation to England - Fruit Export.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
This is the measure I referred to a few minutes ago as the Bill containing the ordinary Supply for the year. The motion for the printing of the Budget-papers will give honorable senators an opportunity to-morrow to discuss questions of administration and policy.
– I am in the unfortunate position of being compelled to make the usual complaint. The Government comes down at the last hour with the Estimates, and asks us to suspend the Standing Orders so that they may be rushed through without discussion.
– Only this Supply Bill.
– It applies to the expenditure for the current year.
– No; it applies only to the expenditure for one month.
– The trouble is, that when we do get an opportunity of discussing these matters the money will have been spent, and any objections we may raise will simply be so much wasted energy. It is high time we had some business-like way of dealing with our finances.Therewasampleopportunity to discuss these matters, but that opportunity was not given to us. We have not been treated fairly in this connexion for many years. It was the same under the old Liberal or Conservative Government as it is now. I expected, of course, that when we had a Labour Government in power this matter would be dealt with differently, but we find the old system is being continued, and it seems to me that Ministers are in the hands of the permanent officials of the Government, who are largely responsible for the delay that takes place in dealing with the Estimates. Every honorable senator should be given an opportunity of discussing the financial concerns of Australia, more particularly at a time like this, when we are in serious trouble. I am opposed to the suspension of the Standing Orders, and I tope that the Acting Prime -Minister will not insist on that course being adopted, because it is necessary that honorable senators should have every opportunity of dealing in a painstaking way with our financial concerns.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move -
That this Bill he now read a first time.
This is an ordinary monthly Supply Bill, on the same basis as previous Supply Bills which the Senate has been asked to pass. It contains no new items and no controversial items. It is simply a Bill to provide for the salaries of the Public Service at the same rate as provided for in the Supply Bills which have been passed from time to time. The total Supply provided for in Supply Bills 1 to 4 already passed for the present financial year amounts to £48,254,393. This Bill, which is Supply Bill No. 5, provides for £1,818,905, and will bring the total to the 31st May, 1916, to £50,073,298. Senator Stewart will see that we shall still require to make provision for another month’s Supply before the financial year has expired. That will, of course, be met by the Budget which is coming forward. I regret, as much as anybody, that the exigencies of the situation compel, not merely the Government, but Parliament, to be in the position of having to consider the Budget at the end of the financial year, but any one who looks over the past year will be aware that that is due to circumstances beyond the control of the Government. It was not possible previously to bring the Budget forward. Honorable senators must recognise that the circumstances of the war have completely upset the arrangements made in a normal year for carrying on the work of Parliament. There is one thing, however, whichthe Government will make an effort to do. We are already at work on the new Budget for the next financial year. We shall try to introduce that Budget at an early date, so that Parliament may have an opportunity to deal with it when the proposals are new and before it has been asked to vote any considerable proportion of the money. I appeal to honorable senators to restrict discussion upon this Bill as much as possible, because the money is required this week. I point out that on the motion for the printing of the Budget-papers they will have full scope to discuss any question which could be discussed on the Supply Bill.
– I wish to direct attention to only one matter in connexion with this Bill. I invite honorable senators to compare the Supply Bills, and, indeed, the Estimates, of the last two years, when they will recognise that there is a growing tendency on the part of the Departments to crowd together under the head of “ Contingencies “ quite a number of items which would be better disclosed in detail. Contingencies are quite necessary items, because we all recognise that the Departments must have some little elbow room. A contingency item is a most convenient term, and I do not suggest that it should be eliminated, but it seems to me that, considering the steady growth of the figures covered by contingencies, there is growing up in the Departments a habit of throwing together under this convenientleading many items, the details of which ought to be disclosed in the papers submitted to Parliament. For instance, on one page of the schedule to the Bill, under the heading “ The Treasury,” honorable senators will find salaries set down at £340 and contingencies at £2,000. In another place there is £900 down for salaries and £6,000 for contingencies. Under the heading ““War Pensions” there is no vote for salaries, but £1,000 for contingencies. In another place there is £500 for salaries and £1,400 for contingencies, and in still another place £1,100 for salaries and £8,600 for contingencies. If honorable senators will look over the different votes they will find that there is a total of £40,000 for contingencies under the heading “Postal Department, New South Wales.” I admit again that votes for contingencies must appear in these Supply Bills’, but I direct the attention of Ministers and the Senate to the growing habit to which I have referred. The figures covering contingencies are becoming so big that I venture to express the opinion that these votes must contain very many items which ought to be disclosed separately.
– I have the same complaint to make as that given utterance to by Senator Millen. The position is that Parliament has entirely lost control of the finances. The spending of money is entirely in the hands of the Government until almost the end of the financial year. That is contrary to all the rules and pre cepts of good government. What ought to take place is that the Government should present their financial proposals early in the financial year. Those proposals should run the gantlet of Parliament before any considerable portion of the money to be voted has been spent, but the contrary is now the case, and, unfortunately, has been the case for many years past. This ought not to be allowed to continue. If we take the matter of contingencies referred to by Senator Millen, we have some cases in which the vote for salaries amounts to £900, and the vote for contingencies, under the same head, to £6,000. How are honorable senators to discover how the £6,000 is to be spent?
– By looking at the Estimates, where all the items are set out in detail.
– I can look at the Estimates now, but I only received them this moment.
– The honorable senator had last year’s Estimates, and these votes are based on last year’s Estimates.
-Ihadnotthe Bill in my hand until the present moment, and had not time in which to look up last year’s Estimates.
– We should have to print the Estimates with every monthly Supply Bill to do what Senator Millen has suggested.
– The Government should present the Estimates, not at the end, but at the beginning of the financial year. Under the present system we can exercise no supervision whatever over expenditure. We were sent here for the very purpose, amongst others, to see that the revenue paid into the Treasury by the people of Australia is spent in a proper manner. We have no opportunity now afforded us to do so. I am not addressing these remarks particularly to the Government, but to honorable senators generally, who, if they please, can alter this state of affairs. The question is, do honorable senators desire to know anything about the revenue or expenditure of the Government, or are they content merely to say yes to anything the Government proposes? If they are inclined to let things slide in this way they will continue to do so. But if they are prepared to take up the position which every member of Parliament should take up, they will insist that the Estimates for 1916-17 shall be brought in at an early stage of that financial year, so that they may have an opportunity to examine the expenditure proposals of the Government.
– The Treasurer is going to make an effort to do that.
– I hope so, but I have heard these promises made so many times that I am beginning to become a little sceptical about them. Looking over the Estimates I find that a large number of increases have been given during the present financial year to highly-paid members of the Public Service.I object to that. I think that at a time like the present, when the resources of the country have been strained to the utmost, these increases should not be given.
– Can the honorable senator name any of them ?
– I could not say just now what officers have received them.
– None are provided for in this Supply Bill.
– They will be paid out of the money we vote now. Looking at the Estimates, I find that advances have been given to men getting over £400 a year. As a case in point, I see that the Chief Clerk of the Department of External Affairs has had his salary increased from £560 to £580.
– That increment is not provided for in this Supply Bill or in any of the Supply Bills passed for the present financial year.
– Then I give it up. What are we voting in connexion with this Supply Bill ? I say that the public servants will be paid out of the money we are voting now.
– The officer referred to will not be paid the increment out of this Supply Bill.
– The increase given is for the year 1915-16.
– It is provided for on the Estimates of the present financial year, but it will not be paid until voted by Parliament.
– Are we to understand that it has not been paid ?
– No, it has not.
– I am glad to hear that. If we agree to the increment when the Estimates are going through it will be paid?
– I shall give the Senate an opportunity to deal with these increases when the Estimates are being considered.
. - The Leader of the Senate has informed us that anything we may have to say by way of criticism of administration or expenditure may be reserved for a future occasion, but bearing in mind the urgency of a subject of great importance at the present time, I feel that mention of it should not be delayed. I refer to the action taken by the Government in connexion with the wheat scheme. I am sure that what they have already done in this matter commends itself to the wisdom and common-sense of the people of Australia, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, but although the credit of this country has been pledged to the extent of 3s. per bushel for all wheat delivered on board, the Government might well go a step further by giving a somewhat larger advance than has yet been paid. The 3s. is applicable throughout the whole Commonwealth, but to those in inland and newly-settled districts, 3s. per bushel f.o.b. means a smaller rate than is obtained by those in more settled districts. This consequently handicaps new settlers in remote localities, whose resources and credit are much more slender than those of settlers in older districts, and the extra 6d. should be paid them as soon as possible. The principal reason why I urge that is because when the war ends, and our men return, there will Be a serious dislocation of trade and industry. It should be our endeavour at this stage to prepare plans to minimize the effect of the serious jolt which the industrial world will experience when that time comes, and we must remember that any further withholding of the extra 6d. per bushel will seriously prejudice the resources of those engaged in wheat production. If they have to wait much longer fortheir money they will put a very much reduced area under crop during the coming year. Numbers of them are looking forward most anxiously to the payment, which, on a delivery of 160,000,000 bushels, means £4,000,000 distributed amongst the wheatproducers. That large sum will enable them to put under cultivation a much larger area, thus employing more labour now, and afterwards to employ a much larger number of men to harvest the crop. The goods in the shape of the wheat have already been delivered; some is in transport and some has arrived, but the great bulk is on the railway sidings or on the farms.
– That is a long way from being, delivered.
– It is delivered so far as the growers are concerned, but they have received up to date only from 2s. 6d. to 2s. 8d. per bushel.
– What does the buyer receive ?
– The buyer has the goods, and on the London parity is advancing only about 50 per cent. of the value.
– I am afraid it is the buyer’s misfortune that he has the goods. He is anxious to get rid of them.
– In spite of what has been said outside, I fully realize that it is due to the action of the Federal and State Governments that the advance already made was received by the growers, but I would urge the Government to take the one step further. I am glad to learn that the Commonwealth Bank has taken a very large share of the responsibility of this financial transaction. It is well that the Commonwealth should have such a bank ready and able to come to the rescue of the primary producers, in spite of the fact that the bank and those who created it were seriously criticised by the very party who are now enjoying the benefits and advantages of its action. I am pleased that the bank has done what I believe other financial institutions are unwilling to do, but it would be good public policy on the part of the Government to advance the further 6d. per bushel for the reasons I have stated. This is the time for growers to plan future operations and to decide on the area to be seeded. The £4,000,000 is available, and should be paid to them. The banks are in possession of the goods, whose value is unquestionably more than 2s. 6d. per bushel, for it is nonsense to say that, even though all the shipping required is not available, they are not worth more than half their value. I would urge the Minister to bring under the notice of the Government this opportunity to take a leading part in bringing about a condition of things which will help to overcome the labour troubles that must crowd upon us when the war is over. If the time is allowed to pass, the opportunity to put a larger area under crop will be lost. May and June are the last mouths for seeding our wheat areas, and if the money is not soon received by the growers they must put a reduced area under crop. This applies particularly to new settlers. The £4,000,000 will not make a great deal of difference to those who hold the goods, but will make an immense difference to the productive power of the country.
– I have not consulted any member of the party on the matter about which I am about to speak. I refer to the invitation of the British Parliamentary Association, through the Acting Prime Minister, to myself to visit England. On the night of 4th April I received from the honorable gentleman the following telegram: -
Empire Parliamentary Association, with approval British Government, invites ten members Federal Parliament, England, for July, and probably inspect battle fronts. Hotel accommodation and travelling facilities in England arranged by association. Understand association has arranged that certain shipping companies will provide free passage to and from England. Please reply whether you are favorable to acceptancethis invitation, and whether you are candidate for selection by the respective parties. Reply before Wednesday, 5th instant.
The first thing next morning I sent the following reply: -
Cannot favour acceptance of invitation Federal members visit England at present. Believe there is work for Parliament to do; am not a candidate for selection.
My first knowledge of this invitation was gleaned from a paragraph which appeared in a Brisbane newspaper, and which had reference to a telegram that had been received by another member of this Parliament. Later, in the Brisbane Standard of 7th April, I read the following:
A majority of the members of both Houses have informed the Acting Prime Minister (Senator Pearce) they are favorable to the acceptance of the invitation of the British Parliamentary Association extended to a delegation of ten members to visit England in July next.
In making the announcement concerning the replies received, Senator Pearce said he had consulted members of Parliament, and a large majority was in favour of accepting the invitation. The respective parties will proceed to select their representatives. Six members from the Ministerial party are to be chosen, and four from the Opposition. It will be for the parties to make their own selections, members of both Houses being eligible for selection.
– That was a concession to the House of Representatives.
– I am not sure that it was a concession to anybody. I merely desire to place these observations upon record, because I have publicly stated that personally I am opposed to the acceptance of the invitation by the British Parliamentary Association, inasmuch as I do not think the present time is an opportune one for members of this Parliament to leave Australia on a tour abroad. On 12th April I received the following wire from Senator Pearce : -
Please advise me urgently which two of the following members of the Labour party in the Senate you wish to vote for in connexion with the visit to England at invitation of British Empire Parliamentary Association, namely, Senators Barker, Buzacott, de Largie, Grunt, Guy, Lynch, Maughan, Needham, Newland, O’Keefe, Ready, Senior, and Watson. Also which four of the following members of the House of Representatives, namely, Messrs. Burchell, Chanter, Hampson, Mahony, McDonald, Poynton, Riley, Sharpe, Thomas, Watkins, and West. Your reply could be sent to me by letter, but matter urgent.
I received that wire late on the evening of the 12th April, and transmitted the following reply to Senator Pearce the next morning: -
In my wire 5th instant I did not favour acceptance of invitation, and declined to be candidate. Must now decline to take part in selection.
This matter we all recognise had nothing whatever to do with any political party. The invitation emanated from the British Parliamentary Association, and every member of this Parliament was at liberty to please himself in regard to the action he took in respect of it. When I received the first telegram from Senator Pearce I had been in Brisbane for some time. Indeed, I had not been very much outside of that city. On receipt of that communication I was naturally impelled to wonder whether the present was a time when I, as a parliamentary representative, should forsake the work which I had been elected to perform in order to undertake a trip abroad which might or might not be of a very pleasant character. I had been coming into contact with a considerable number of persons who were out of employment. I knew that deputations had been waiting on the Government of Queensland requesting that work should be put in hand in order to relieve the distress caused by unemployment. As a matter of fact, many men had approached me asking if I could do any thing to secure work for them. Many young men who had volunteered for service at the front, and who had been rejected, were unable to secure employment. Whenever they made application for work the first question put to them was, “ Are you married or single?” And as soon as they replied that they were single, work was refused them. The result was that the appeal to the Government on behalf of the unemployed was of an urgent character. The Treasurer of Queensland, to whom that appeal was addressed, stated that the Government were very short of money. He affirmed that they scarcely knew how to keep things going, but that they had sufficient money in hand to afford employment to those who were applying for relief upon the construction of railway earthworks. Upon visiting the secretaries of the various industrial organizations, I ascertained that numerous members of those organizations were unemployed, and were demanding to know what steps Parliament intended to take to relieve their necessities. I also came into contact with numbers of young men and young women, who, after completing their day’s work, were devoting their evenings to voluntary labour connected with various committees that have been called into existence owing to the war. I met others who were members of local bodies, including many business men who, out of pure patriotism, were sacrificing a large amount of their leisure to work of a kindred character. Simultaneously, I have heard nothing but appeal’s on the part of the Commonwealth for the observance of rigid economy by the people. The ex-Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, issued one of these appeals, and the present Treasurer had no sooner assumed office than he, too, stressed the fact that the present was a time, if ever there was one, when the strictest economy should be practised. The PostmasterGeneral also sent out a circular to various municipal bodies who had been demanding better postal facilities, requesting them to cease making such applications because their claims could not be considered owing to lack of funds. The very first paragraph in the latest document submitted to this Chamber is one in which the Treasurer makes an urgent appeal to the whole of the people of Australia to exercise the most rigid economy in their public and private expenditure.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the visit of the proposed parliamentary delegation will mean any expenditure to Australia?
– I have already stated that I am speaking for myself only, and I have given reasons why I declined to take any part in the selection of that delegation.
– One of those reasons is that it means greater expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth.
– I have pointed out what I saw around me in Brisbane, and I have stated that the conditions which prevailed there led me to conclude that the present was not a time for me - if the opportunity presented itself - to undertake a trip to England.
– Will the trip of the delegation from this Parliament cost the Commonwealth anything?
– I do not say that it will. I have read the wire which I received from the Acting Prime Minister, in which it is stated that the expenditure of the tour is to be borne by the British Parliamentary Association. Every honorable member of this Parliament was appealed to, and was at perfect liberty to take whatever action he chose in respect of that invitation. I did not run to the newspapers in order to say so-and-so.
– Did not the honorable senator do so? He ran to them quickly enough in Queensland.
– The honorable senator can look up all the newspapers that he chooses. I simply said that I had returned a negative reply to the invitation that I had received. I stated that the present was not the time for me to go to the other end of the world and to forsake the work which I had been selected1 to perform by the people of Queensland. I believe that there is work for this Parliament to do. We have had a Tariff Bill awaiting our consideration for some months. It is still hanging between earth and’ heaven. If anything were to happen which necessitated the sudden closing of this Parliament, we should have to revert to the old Tariff. That is one reason why I, at any rate, would not countenance the invitation forwarded by the British ‘Parliamentary Association. I am not saying whether the action of other honorable senators is right or wrong. I am confining my remarks strictly to an explanation of my own action. I repeat that the
Tariff awaits our consideration, and throughout every part of Australia there is a cry that we should deal with it. Today the manufacturers and many other persons do not know exactly wherethey stand. Seeing that there is plenty of work for Parliament to perform, I declined to have anything to do with the invitation forwarded by the British Parliamentary Association, and refused to become a candidate for membership of the Australian delegation. I conceive it to be my duty to remain here for the purpose of discharging the duties for which I was elected.
– During the course of his remarks, Senator Lynch had a good deal to say in connexion with the wheat scheme, and we all sympathize with the desire which he expressed that an extra advance should be made to the farmers who have placed their wheat in the pool. It is rather a difficult matter to discuss, because the Commonwealth Government have become part and parcel of this commercial concern, and we have to bear in mind that we are not likely to get the best deal in commercial transactions if we tell the other side all we know about the situation, and are not informed as to what is being done by it. That is largely our position in connexion with the wheat scheme. It would not be in the best interests of all concerned if we entered too fully into details at present. As honorable senators are aware, this scheme is controlled by a body known as the Australian Wheat Board, constituted by representatives of the four States in which wheat is largely grown in Australia (those States being represented by their Ministers of Agriculture), and by a representative of the Commonwealth Government. At the outset each State endeavoured to raise money from the private and Commonwealth banks to finance the scheme; but later on the Commonwealth came behind the States by guaranteeing payment by a certain date of the money advanced to the farmers, who were required to bring in their wheat to the railway sidings. The Commonwealth is, therefore, practically liable for all advances; and I would point out that in the early days of the scheme no one anticipated that the Australian wheat season would be so phenomenally successful. The arrangements for handling the harvest were not so com plete as they might have been had we known what the production would really amount to. As an illustration, I may remark that when asking the cooperation of the banks to bring the scheme to a successful issue, we underestimated the amount of money that would be required from those institutions; and honorable senators will realize that, at a time like this, it is neither fair nor reasonable to expect banks or any other institutions to produce millions of money at short notice. That, however, had to be done, and I am glad’ to say that while the original net overdraft was estimated at about £7,000,000 or £8,000,000, we have been successful in obtaining from the banks, or with their cooperation, about £15,000,000 for the purpose of handling the scheme successfully. I want it to be understood distinctly that the Board is not in any way lacking in sympathy with the farmers, but that, on the other hand, it is endeavouring to advance to them as much as possible. At the same time, we must remember that the States and the Commonwealth are responsible for money advanced. Anybody acquainted with the nature of the wheat crop will realize that if the Governments had not stepped in and handled this immense harvest on behalf of the producers, chaos and disaster would have befallen them. Right through the negotiations by the Wheat Board, a splendid spirit of co-operation has been shown by all concerned. It will be of interest to honorable senators to know that the wheat harvest amounted, roughly speaking, to 161,000,000 bushels. Of that total we have shipped about 6,588,000 bags, and we have sold to millers and on other local accounts 3,576,000 bags; while the stocks held by shipping agents, who are responsible for the wheat, total 34,797,000 bags, and stocks held by millers on storage represent 8,190,000’ bushels.
– Are they responsible for the safe custody of the balance?
– Yes. If this arrangement had not been made, no miller would have been likely to buy very far ahead, and in sufficiently large quantities to make use of all the storage available in Australia. On the financial side we have had a little trouble; but, as I have already said we were asking for a good deal from the banks when we re presented to them that we would require a net overdraft of £15,000,000, but through a splendid spirit of co-operation all round we were enabled to overcome our difficulties. Up to 3rd May the amount advanced on account of millers and other local sales was £2,682,000, and for overseas sales, £5,322,000, making a total to date of £8,004,000. Certificates issued at 3s. for wheat at sidings represent £23,890,000, and certificates paid at 3s. represent £21,681,000, the difference between the amounts being accounted for by the fact that in some of the States, in order to keep .the overdraft down, an allowance of 5 per cent, was made to any farmer holding his certificates. The amount of overdraft due to-day to the banks on all accounts is £12,259,000. In. this connexion, I think Senator Lynch paid a well-deserved compliment to the Commonwealth Bank, which holds 30 per cent, of the total involved in the wheat outlay. This is a very creditable record. Now, in connexion with a further advance against the wheat certificates, honorable senators will remember that a conference met recently in Sydney. All I can say is that we may be able to make an advance much earlier than anybody to-day anticipates.
– The farmers were led to believe that you had arranged to make the advance.
– I am not prepared to discuss any of the details just now. I know a rumor of that kind did get about. We have to remember, however, that we have a net overdraft today of £12,000,000, and although the security is, I think, gilt-edged, there is some difficulty in raising money for that purpose, but I am hopeful that further negotiations now going on will enable us to relieve the situation so that we may be able to. assist the farmer further at the earliest possible moment. I wish it were possible to give all other producers the same assistance. Although we are all anxious to help the farmers in every possible way, we must remember that there are other producers who are not so fortunately placed, and I believe an extension of the principle that has been applied to the Australian wheat crop would be in the very best interests of Australia as a whole. I refuse to believe that the attitude of the Wheat Board will deter wheat farmers from extending their operations in the future. The Commonwealth and the States are behind the farmers in this matter, and surely we can expect the farmers to take an ordinary sporting risk in a time of Avar like the present. I feel sure that we can appeal to them, just as we have appealed to recruits to go to the front, to take some share of responsibility and gamble a little on what the future may .bring.
– The farmer has not taken any risks yet.
– No, because the Government are behind the farmers; but we do not begrudge them this assistance, and I feel sure that in the future the farmers of Australia will take some of the necessary risks to help this country on during the period of war. The production of foodstuffs is essential, and whether the risks fall on the British Government, the Commonwealth Government, the Governments of the States, or on the farmers, it is our duty to produce all the foodstuffs we can during the currency of the war. The Board and the Governments have considered all the aspects of the problem, and I can give honorable senators an assurance that a further advance will be paid at the earliest possible moment. At present we are unable to determine when that advance will be paid, but the farmers can rest assured that members of the Board will do their best to make a further advance of, if not 6d., then 3d., or even 2d., because it will all be helpful. An announcement on this matter will be made at the earliest possible moment. Consideration of the figures will show that members of the Board have done very well in this matter, and that the farmers have some reason to be proud of what has been accomplished.
– I am sorry that the Government have not been able to do all that one would like them to do for the wheat growers of Australia, but, as Senator Russell has aptly remarked, there are other sections of producers in this country - men for whom the Government has not been able to do anything up to the present. There are the orchardists, for instance. They are not nearly as large a body of producers as the wheat-growers, but still they represent a large section of the producing community and deserve consideration. Probably it will be remembered that last year, when this question of financing the Wheat-growers and pooling the whole production of wheat was being considered by Parliament, I asked whether the Government would endeavour to do something in the same way for the fruitgrowers of Australia. The representatives of the Government then said that they would take the matter into consideration, but, I suppose, they have found that they are unable to do anything to relieve the fruit-growers.
– The honorable senator is aware that the Minister for the Navy secured space, and also kept down freights.
– The honorable senator has only anticipated what I was going to say. A great deal of credit is due to the Minister for the Navy for what he has done in the matter; but the Government has not been able to do anything in the way of financing a relief scheme for the tens of thousands of orchardists in Australia. I am not blaming the Government on that account, and mention the matter only to show that the wheat-growers have not, in the circumstances, very much to complain about. It is well known that there are many producers on the verge of ruin because there i3 a glut in the particular commodity they produce in every State in Australia with one exception. We do not hear of these producers refusing to go in for cropping in the coming season. I think that Senator Lynch rather exaggerated the case when he said that, because they were not going to get the extra 6d. per bushel, the wheat-growers will not in the coming year cultivate the area which they would otherwise put under that crop. Senator Lynch must admit that the wheat-growers have had a great deal done for them by the Government. I wish only to remind him that there are other sections of the producers of Australia who find themselves in a very bad way, but who are not crying out because the Government have been unable to do what they would like to have done for them. I do not think that Senator Turley, in his references to the rather personal matter of the acceptance of the invitation of the British Parliamentary Association, has done justice to those members of the Federal Parliament who have signified their acceptance of the invitation. The honorable senator, perhaps unwittingly, would lead the public to understand that the acceptance of the invitation by a certain number of members of this Parliament would involve expense to the Commonwealth.
– That is not so, because I read the wire.
– It was only by way of reply to an interjection that I made that the honorable senator admitted that it did not mean any expense to Australia. The honorable senator is well aware that when the matter was first mooted in the press the newspapers, perhaps because a Labour Government happens to be in power, immediately seized upon it, referred to the jaunt, trip, or picnic, and made it appear that if the invitation was accepted it would mean expense to the taxpayer. It is only within the last few days, when it has appeared that members of both political parties’ in the Federal Parliament are prepared to go to the Old Country, that a somewhat altered tone has been adopted in such notes as have been devoted to the matter in the newspapers.
– I have not seen those papers for months.
– In the first instance, I replied “ Yes “ to both the questions asked, indicating that I was in favour of the delegation, and was prepared to accept the invitation. It was purely for private reasons that I subsequently withdrew my name as a candidate for the delegation. I said “ Yes “ in the first instance, because, for many reasons which I need not go into now, I am of opinion that it would be a good thing in the interests of Australia that a delegation should go from this country ; and I rather resent the imputation contained in Senator Turley’s first remarks that the matter had anything to do with either economy or extravagance. It was only after I interjected that he said it would not mean expense to Australia.
– I read out the telegram, which was perfectly clear.
– Is it not a fact that the members of the delegation may have a lot to do with the business of the Commonwealth while they are away ?
– I think it is. It was because I thought they would be in a position to do some business for the Commonwealth that I considered a delegation composed of honorable members of both political parties would be in the best interests of Australia, and so replied favouring the delegation, though I was unable to be a can’didate myself .
– In connexion with the parlia mentary delegation referred to, I have been reminded of a particular phase of the matter by an interjection made by Senator Lynch. Although -I could not be a candidate myself, I am one of those who supported the delegation. A& Senator Turley has said, every man is entitled to view that or any other project according to his own judgment. In my reply to the Acting Prime Minister I supported the delegation upon instructional grounds, and because of the benefit which might follow from the interchange of opinions between the representatives of the different Parliaments. But I added a suggestion for the consideration of the Acting Prime Minister that valuable as the. opportunity might be to those selected and able to go, it would be a good thing if it were impressed upon them, or were understood between them and the Acting Prime Minister, that, while away from Australia, they should not be regarded as representing public opinion in the Commonwealth in connexion with any matter having reference to such subjects as the future relations between Great Britain and the Dominions, especially after the war. I did not regard it as desirable in the interests of Australia that we should have half-a-dozen bands of members of the Federal Parliament going in different directions and expressing opinions on Imperial relations after the war. I think that the good sense of the members of the delegation should indicate that, in justice to Australia and its National Parliament, it would be just as well that they should not say very much on those matters.
– Is not that a matter for their own judgment?
– Yes; but I am not prepared to leave it to their judgment.
– The honorable senator wants to send them with muzzles on.
– I desire that they should not be regarded as representing Australia when discussing such matters as Imperial relations after the termination of the war.
– Surely if the trip is to have any value at all they should be able to teach as well as to learn.
– My object in referring to the matter now is to give the Acting Prime Minister an opportunity to say whether he has considered the suggestion or thinks it worthy of consideration. If a member of the Federal Parliament expresses opinions on the other side of the world in regard, we will say, to the employment of black labour in the Northern Territory, which I understand is in a quiet way a burning question throughout Australia at the present time, his views may be taken as representing public opinion in Australia, although he may have no warrant from the people of Australia for giving expression to them. I trust that something will come of my suggestion. It would be very inadvisable for individual members of the delegation to give expression to their personal opinions on Imperial relations after the war as from the Australian stand-point.
– In connexion with Senator Millen’s complaint regarding the form of the Supply Bills, I direct attention to the fact that the votes in the schedule are really an epitome of the whole of the matters contained in the annual Estimates. They are submitted in this condensed form for the reason that honorable senators are already in possession of the Estimates on which the monthly Supply Bills are based. If they wish to ascertain how any of the votes are split up they can obtain the information from the Estimates. I take, for instance, the Department over which I have the honour to preside, and honorable senators will find that in this Supply Bill the Centra] Administration is dealt with in the space of a few inches. If Senator Millen’s suggestion were to be adopted, it would involve the printing in connexion with that vote of the matter contained in six pages of the Estimates, giving the whole of the details. These Estimates for last year have already been printed. Honorable senators have received copies of them, and they have only to turn to them for the information to which Senator Millen refers.
– Why give details of small items, and obscure the details of big items ?
– Nothing is obscured. The whole of the contingency votes are set out in detail in the Estimates. If Senator Millen’s proposal were adopted, it would involve the printing of the whole of the Estimates with each monthly Supply Bill. There is no neces sity for that, and it would be a mere waste of printing and paper.
– Why do not the Government give us the Estimates earlier in the financial year ?
– I agree with Senator Stewart that that would be desirable. The Treasurer also agrees with him, and will endeavour to do what he proposes in the coming financial year. I wish to say a word on the question raised by Senator O’Keefe about the shipping of products other than wheat. I agree with him that producers other than wheat producers have suffered.
– It is not a question of shipping for other products, but a question of financially assisting other producers in the way in which the wheat producers are assisted.
– The shipping is the main thing. Other industries have really had to suffer because of the assistance afforded to wheat producers. But it is a fact not generally known that, although there is a great quantity of apples in Australia that cannot be sent away, and apple-growers are suffering on that account, more apples have been sent away this year than in any other season in the history of Australia. Senator O’Keefe was not quite correct in saying that the Government have not done anything in this matter.
– You misunderstood me. I said the Government had done nothing in the way of financially pooling their produce.
– We tried to help the apple-growers by making space available, and more apples have been sent away than in any other year, although there are more left here, because they have had such a superabundant season. One orchardist last year obtained 600 cases, and sent them all away. This year he had over 2,000 cases, and has been able to send only 600 away. No member of the delegation from this Parliament referred to by Senator Turley goes to England with the idea that he officially represents Australia. He has no right to speak as its mouthpiece, but each has a perfect right to give his individual views on Australian or Imperial politics, and I am sure nobody would wish to send them to England tongue-tied. They will no doubt give diversified views, and the people of Great Britain will be under no misapprehension.
In the first place, they are not being sent by the Government, and they are therefore not the mouthpiece of the Government, which is the only official mouthpiece of the people as a whole. These members will represent their own individual views, which will be listened to and given the weight they deserve. The delegation will cause absolutely no cost to the Treasury. Senator Turley has not done himself justice in the matter. On reflection I am sure he will see that he has been unfair to those who took a different view of the question. It was quite proper for him to inform the Senate, as he had already informed me, that he did not believe that he ought to be a candidate, but he has done far more. He has given for his attitude some reasons which are in themselves a reflection on the attitude of others. He spoke of the necessity for economy, and for the need for people to help Australia by carrying on their legislative duties here. The only inference is that those who were candidates and those who are going are in some way wasting the resources of Australia and neglecting their duty. Otherwise his references to economy cannot be understood. Those who are going are in no way wasting the resources of the country, because they are not being helped out of those resources for the tour. He gave the names of a number of senators who were candidates, but he did not give the full list, as he did not mention the names of the members of the Liberal side.
– I gave the only list sent to me.
– The result of what he did will be to enable those who take a hostile view of the tour to pillory the members of his own party, but not the members of the opposite party who were willing to go. We are part of the British Empire, and will remain part of it, and this war will mean a big alteration in the viewpoint from which we shall have to approach world politics. Whether we wish it or not, the war will put us in a position which we did not occupy previously. We are one of the nations of the world, and are being dragged willy-nilly into the maelstrom of world politics. The politician who comes into the Australian Parliament will have to take an intelligent view of our relationship to other nations, and the man who can find time to travel and see other nations, particularly the man who can go to the United Kingdom and meet there men from other Dominions and discuss with them and members of the British Parliament questions of mutual interest, must come back here better equipped to carry out his duties as a legislator of theCommonwealth. I have never thought it a waste of time - and, even if it was a question of public money, I should not think it a waste of money - that members of the Commonwealth Parliament should be given frequent opportunities to visit, not only the United Kingdom, but other portions of the Empire, so that they might be able to bring a personal knowledge of Empire questions to bear on their duties here. Questions of the kind have already arisen. In our navigation legislation, for instance, we dealt with the question as it affects, not only Australia, but the rest of the world ; yet there are honorable senators here who have never had the opportunity of going beyond our shores.
– I am afraid they cannot learn much about navigation in Great Britain at the present time.
– I think they can. We can learn something of every subject we have to deal with from every country in the world. After my 1911 tour, I came back better equipped to deal with Australian questions, although I came back no less a good Australian, and with a stronger belief in my own country, and a stronger attachment to it than when I left.
– Conditions were normal then.
– And they will be normal again. The men composing this delegation will, in normal times, have to deal with these questions once more. I regret Senator Turley’s attitude, because there is a miserable section in the press of Australia endeavouring all the time to depreciate members of Parliament in the eyes of the people. Thereis a very good reason for this, from their point of view, because the press generally recognise that Parliament is ceasing to be under their influence as it was in the “ good “ old days. The press see in this independent Parliament that is growing up a loss of the power that at one time was theirs. Therefore, there is, on their part, what I believe to be a deliberate attempt, which is not confined to any particular section of the press - for both parties of the press are tainted with it - to belittle politicians, and to decrease in every way their influence with the people.
– What do you mean by both parties of the press?
– I believe the Labour press is open to the same charge as the Liberal press. They recognise that Parliament is, as it were, a rival to them in the control of public opinion. I put that matter to the test in this way: If the British Parliamentary Association had suggested that, instead of sending ten members of Parliament to Great Britain we should send ten representatives ofthe Australian press, every newspaper in Australia would have hailed it as the proposal of a statesman. There is a good deal to be said even for that proposition. It would be well if pressmen could visit other countries and broaden their view-point and intelligence. When we find the press deprecating the visit, we can only assume that the cause arises from the feeling of jealousy I have indicated. Senator Turley’s action is not in accordance with his usual broadmindedness, and savours of an attempt to play to that section of the press which is inclined to depreciate and attack members of Parliament at every opportunity.
– No man in this Parliament has played less to the press than I have.
– That is why I am surprised at the honorable senator’s action.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first and second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Land Tax and Large Estates - State Aviation School - Clothing Factory - Uniform Federal and State Electoral Rolls - Federal Capital : Railway Construction : Progress of Works - Telephone Directory - Regulation of Food Prices.
– Under the Department of the Treasury, there is an item of £8,600 for the Land Tax Branch. It has been stated here that the Federal land tax had reduced the number of large estates, but the figures supplied to me do not bear out the contention. Those well qualified to speak as to the facts are of the opinion that, while the number of large estates appears to have been reduecd, the transfers are really nominal, and have been deliberately made to avoid taxation. I have no doubt that that is the case. While the Labour party is pledged to an exemption of £5,000, and to a progressive system of land values taxation, it cannot be too frequently urged that that system has not had the effect which many of its advocates foretold. . I am one of those who never expected that a progressive land tax would burst up estates in the way that some persons imagined. I am not quite satisfied that the diminishing amount received from this tax is due to the fact that some estates have passed out of the realm of taxation by being reduced in value. I think it could be shown that in a very large number of cases the value of land for taxation purposes is something entirely different from its valuation for sale purposes. I hope that the Minister in charge of this Department will issue instructions to the Commissioner that in future he must see that these lands are correctly valued in order that they may pay to the Commonwealth the amount which they ought to pay.
– There is an item in the vote for the Defence Department connected with the Aviation School, and I wish to ask the Minister if he has any objection to statingthe nature of the arrangement, if any, which exists between the Defence Department and the Aviation School which is being launched by the Government of New South Wales.
– There is no understanding at all between the Defence Department and the Aviation School to which the honorable senator has referred. The Government of New South Wales simply informed us that they proposed to establish a school for the teaching of aviation, and asked if certain of our officers, who are experts in that particular branch of defence, could give them advice in the matter of the preparation of estimates. I agreed to allow them to do so, provided that the work did not interfere with their military duties. We are under no obligation to the New South Wales Government in regard to that school, and they are under no obligation to us. In short, there is no arrangement between the two Governments in respect of it.
– In view of the statement which he has just made, the Minister will be interested to know that in the prospectus issued by the New South Wales Government in connexion with this school, it is set out as one of the conditions upon which entrance can be obtained to it that successful students who obtain certificates during the war will be required to enlist. I invite attention to this fact for the reason that, whilst such an obligation is one which the State Government may impose upon those whom it undertakes to teach, it seems almost to imply a counter obligation on the part of the Commonwealth. It suggests that ifaman obtains a certificate in the State Aviation School, the ranks of the Defence Aviation Corps will be open to him.
– That is not the case.
– Well, many a candidate who enters the school will naturally think that it is so. I suggest that the Minister should obtain a copy of the prospectus so that, if he reads the paragraph in it in the way that I do, he may take steps to draw the attention of the New South Wales Government to the somewhat misleading statement that is made in that connexion.
.- I should like the Minister to state the exact position which obtains to-day in regard to the trouble which recently occurred at the Clothing Factory in Melbourne. I am aware that everything at the Factory is now working smoothly, but if the Minister has any further information to give to the country in respectto the disturbance which lately occurred there, the present seems an opportune time to give it. Perhaps it would be as well for him to say whether the cause of the recent friction has been removed, whether there is going to be any victimization amongst the employees, and whether he anticipates any trouble at the Factory in the future.
.- The men employed at the Clothing Factory who recently went out on strike have resumed work on the conditions under which they were employed previously. I have intimated to them that I am prepared to extend to them a benefit which obtains in respect of other Factories, by creating a Board to which disputes as to the interpretation of any award may be referred - a Board upon which they will have representation. I have also notified them that the rule which was in existence when they went on strike will be continued - that is to say, that we accept the award of the Arbitration Court as the basis for the rate of wages paid there, and that merit or industry above the average will be recognised by the granting of higher pay. These are the conditions under which the Factory will be worked. There has been no victimization in that every man who went out on strike has gone back to work.
– Some time ago a statement was made to the effect that a system was being devised by means of which a uniform electoral roll would be adopted by the Commonwealth and the States. I should like to know whether that project has yet reached fruition. Then, there is another item to which I desire to direct attention. It relates to certain proposed railways. I see nothing in this Bill regarding the construction of the connecting lines of railway between Canberra and Yass and between Canberra and Jervis Bay. To my mind, the position at the Federal Capital has for many years been unsatisfactory. Nothing whatever is being done to lay out the streets there. Some hitch appears to exist between the various authorities who are responsible forthat result. I would like to know why the work of laying out the main avenues has not been proceeded with. I understand that Mr. Griffin, who, in open competition with architects throughout the world, secured first prize for the design of the Capital, has now been appointed DirectorGeneral of works there. In these circumstances, I am anxious to ascertain why the work of laying out the streets and of tree planting is not being proceeded with. Also, I wish to know why nothing is being done in the way of constructing the railway to which I have referred. The line from Yass to Canberra is only a short one, and I should like to learn whether the New South Wales Government have agreed to carry out their share of that railway, and why the Commonwealth is not proceeding with its portion of thework. It seems to me that the two lines of which I speak should be proceeded with as soon as possible.
– In regard to the adoption of a uniform roll by the Commonwealth and States, we are negotiating daily with the different States, and our negotiations have reached a satisfactory stage except in regard to New South Wales, where the position may be said to be, not bad, but hopeful. Several States have intimated to me, through their Ministers, that it is intended to introduce the necessary legislation to give effect to the scheme at a very early date. I hope that similar action will be taken by our Government in the near future.
– What legislation will be necessary here ?
– Practically none. It will be necessary, however, to legislate in regard to subdivisions of electorates. We desire to take power under regulations to adjust the boundaries of subdivisions so as to make them coterminous. In regard to works at Yass-Canberra, we are necessarily guided by the advice of our experts, and nobody is more anxious than I am to see the Federal Capital completed. But there appears to exist a difference between Senator Grant and our engineers. They use their judgment, and, with the money made available by the Commonwealth Government, they do first those works which they regard as the most essential. A capital city at Yass-Canberra with well-laid out streets and nice gardens would be of no use without an adequate water supply. I have no doubt that Mr. Griffin and the other experts would be only too glad to build the Capital within six or seven years if the Commonwealth Government made the money available. With others I am anxious that the work shall be proceeded with as fast as the money can be made available for that purpose.
– I desire to say something concerning telephone administration in connexion with the Postmaster-General’s Department, but I do not see any item under the main heading that would enable me to do so. In the absence of an adverse ruling from the Chair, however, I presume I shall be in order at this stage. The matter to which I refer - the publication of the Telephone Directory - concerns me and a great number of people in the various States of the Commonwealth. In former years it was an interesting and informative publication, but now, while it may be interesting, it certainly is not too informative. When the telephone directory was first issued it was quite easy to find out who was who. That is to say, it was a double-barrelled directory, and if, for instance, Brown rang you up and you were not at home, the number of the caller up was stated, and there was a numerical index to enable you to ascertain the name and address of the person who desired to speak to you. Apparently the numerical index made the volume too bulky, and so it has been dispensed with, with the result that to-day if you learn that, say, No. 562 rang you up, it would be like looking for a needle in a hay-stack to try to find out who 562 is. Of course, having had the convenience of the numerical index for a long time, we all felt the inconvenience when it was taken away from us, but that is not my complaint so much as the practice which has been introduced during the last few months of divorcing the country telephone exchanges from the metropolitan exchange in publication of the telephone directory. I am informed that this has been done in the interests of economy, but I fail to see where the economy comes in.
– Cannot you ring up?
– Yes, I know all about that. When I made inquiries with respect to the reasons for cutting out country subscribers from the metropolitan exchange directory, I was told that it had been done in the interests of economy, and that a large amount of money had been saved. To-day, if we want to speak to a subscriber on a country telephone exchange, we are required to ring up 39 - I am speaking of Melbourne - and, although the ladies and other officials at the exchange are courteous and obliging, and are extremely anxious to reply as quickly as possible, as a rule, by the time one gets an answer from 39, his patience is very nearly exhausted. We ought not to be subjected to this inconvenience for the sake of a few pounds saved in the production of the telephone directory. The directory should be as comprehensive as possible. This is a matter upon which I feel somewhat keenly. A few days ago a friend of mine asked me if I could get him an old telephone exchange book. I asked him his reason, and he informed me that he wanted it because it would enable him to keep in touch with his country clients without all tEe trouble of ringing up “ Central “ to ascertain if they were on any country exchange. No person in any of the States should be required to ring up the central telephone exchange to ascertain if any other person is on a country exchange or not.
– What is done in the case of people who make arrangements to get put through to country subscribers? Is a private telephone subscriber required to ring up 39 in Melbourne ?
– He is required to do that unless he happens to know the telephone number of the person he wishes to speak to in the country.
– Are they not supplied with a country directory ?
– No . The directory supplied to metropolitan subscribers does not contain the list of country subscribers.
– It decreases the telephone traffic.
– There is no doubt about that; whereas, if every subscriber had a telephone directory giving the number of every other telephone subscriber in town and country, it would increase the volume of business, and be a convenience to everybody who wanted to engage in telephone conversations.
– The present system enormously increases the work of the officers in the Central Exchange.
– Yes. It is a penny-wise-and-pound-foolish policy. People are continually ringing up “ Central “ to get 39 for the purpose of ascertaining the numbers of subscribers to country exchanges. I intend to take the opportunity later on of ascertaining what amount has been saved by cutting out the list of country subscribers from the present telephone directory, and I think it will be found that the amount is infinitesimal compared with the inconvenience to the general body of telephone subscribers and users. We cannot advertise too largely the number of people who are on the city exchanges in the different States of the Commonwealth, for by doing so the volume of business will be enhanced, because the number of subscribers to the various exchanges will have a tendency to increase.
– I have listened to the complaints made by Senator Findley, who, I think, has made out a very good case.
This attempt at economy does not seem to fit in with the public convenience. The matter will be brought under the notice of the Postmaster-General. I think the case made out by Senator Findley is a strong one, and that the public inconvenience should be removed.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2, Abstract, Preamble, and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without request.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– On this motion, I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister who has control of the regulation of prices a question or two which I intended to deal with when the Bill was in Committee. I missed my chance then through being absent making inquiries, and I therefore take advantage of this motion, which is the only opportunity left me to deal with the matter.
– Order ! It would be much more appropriate for the honorable senator to say what he proposes to say on the third reading of the Bill. I do not know what particular line of argument he intends to adopt. He will be in order if he can point out any reason why the report from the Committee should not be adopted ; but I do not think he will be in order at this stage in bringing up the matter in any other way.
– I take it that the Bill covers certain payments which have to be made to a Committee appointed to regulate prices, and I fail to see why the report should be adopted until I receive certain information connected with the work of that Committee. The Committee recently sat in Brisbane, and made inquiries regarding the price of bread. As a result of its inquiries, a proclamation was recently issued providing that on and from the 27th April certain prices should come into operation. The prices for bread were to be - when purchased at shops or bakehouses and paid for at the time of purchase, per 1-lb. loaf, 2d. ; per 2-lb. loaf, 3½d. ; per 4-lb. loaf, 7d.
– I desire to obtain an expression of opinion from you, sir, on the question whether the honorable senator is in order. It seems to me, from his line of argument as developed so far, that if he is permitted to do what he proposes to do it will be competent for every member of the Senate to make this really a Committee stage of the Bill by reviewing every item contained in it. I am not at all clear, from what I have gathered from the honorable senator, that he is even discussing something contained in the Bill. He has been frank enough to say that he missed his chance to discuss the matter at the Committee stage; and it seems to me that, having missed his chance, he is now trying to get another. Whilst I may admire the pertinacity and ingenuity the honorable senator is displaying, I suggest that he should accept your advice. As he has refrained from doing that, I ask your ruling as to whether the honorable senator is in order at this stage.
– It is certainly very unusual to discuss in detail a matter of administration on the motion for the adoption of the report. I cannot rule that the matter to which the honorable senator has referred is irrelevant, because it is a matter of general administration, covered by the subject-matter of the Bill with which we are now dealing. As I do not know whether the honorable senator missed his chance or not, I am reluctant to rule him out of order; but I do say that the course he is taking is quite unusual. If I may offer a suggestion to the honorable senator, he would be in order in moving the recommittal of the Bill to consider the matter to which he desires to refer. It would then lie entirely with the Senate to grant the recommittal and enable him. to. go into the question at length.
– It would take much longer to do that than to conclude the remarks I propose to make. I will be brief, and I have only a few more sentences to add to what I have said.
– Then it would appear that the honorable senator does not desire the matter to be discussed at all. Apparently, what he now desires is merely to have his own say. He must know that if he has the right to express his opinion on the matter, every member of the Senate must have an equal right. There is no excuse at all for the honorable senator asking for an opportunity at this stage merely to express his- own opinion on this matter. The object of having any matter opened up in the way the honorable senator proposes is to bring it under the purview of the whole Senate, and in order that it may be open to dis cussion by the Senate. I have suggested the proper course to enable the honorable senator to attain his object.
– In deference to your wishes, I move -
That the Bill be recommitted.
I make the motion because a committee recently sat in Brisbane to decide what was to be the price of bread in that city. As a result of its inquiries, a proclamation was issued that, on and from the 27th April, certain prices for bread were to come into operation. When it was purchased at shops or bakehouses, and paid for at the time of purchase, the prices were to be 2d. for a 1-lb. loaf, 3d. for a 2-lb. loaf, and 7d. for a 4-lb. loaf. Although that proclamation was issued, and was to’ come into force on the 27th April, the bakers of Brisbane saw fit to defy the law; and to-day the people of that city are paying the same price for bread as they paid prior to the issue of the proclamation. I want to know why the Minister has not enforced the proclamation, and why the bakers of Brisbane are allowed to defy the law. I also wish to know whether, under the proclamation, bread bought at any shop in Brisbane - whether it be a bakehouse or not - is to be understood as bread purchased for cash without delivery. Some bakers hold the view that, unless bread is purchased at a bakehouse, the reduced prices fixed by the proclamation do not apply. My reading of the proclamation is that bread bought for cash, whether at a bakehouse or any other shop, must be sold at the reduced price. My object is to ask why the proclamation is not enforced, and also whether the reduced prices apply to bread purchased at any shop?
– Order ! The honorable senator cannot ask questions at this stage. To permit that would lead to an interminable discussion. He can ask these questions if he succeeds in securing the recommittal of the Bill.
– My purpose in asking for the recommittal of the Bill is to obtain information in reply to these questions.
– I desire to oppose the recommittal of tho Bill, because I think the matter the honorable senator wishes to refer to is too trivial to justify the adoption of that course. I think the honorable senator has gone a little too far in asking why the law has not been enforced. He can scarcely expect to have a proclamation brought into operation to-day and to have a man and his bakehouse, and his bread, brought before the Court to-morrow for a violation of that proclamation. I can assure the honorable senator that it is the intention of the Government to see that the law is strictly observed, not only in the State which he represents, but in every part of the Commonwealth. Inquiries are being made, and all necessary action in connexion with the matter will be taken at an early date. On the question of the definition of a shop, I have to say that the legal advisers of the Government inform me that, under the proclamation, a shop is any place where bread is sold and where people have to come to purchase for cash. All necessary action will be taken to see whether our law will stand, and the maximum charges for bread fixed by the proclamation will be enforced to the utmost by the law.
Motion (That the Bill be recommitted) negatived; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received fromthe House of Representatives.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
This is the ordinary monthly Supply Bill to enable current work to be carried on for the month.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is the fifth Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill for the financial year 1915-16. The first four provided £3,629,686. This provides £213,560, or a total to 31st May, 1916, of £3,843,246. The total included in Supply for new works exceeds the total provision in the Estimates. This is accounted for by the earlier Supply Bills containing provision for works included in original draft Estimates, the amounts of which have since been considerably reduced. The Appropriation Bill for new works, with the annual Estimates, will include a section providing that, notwithstanding anything contained in previous Appropriation Acts for new works during 1915-16, the total expenditure shall not exceed the total provided in the Estimates. There is nothing striking in the Bill, and most of the money is for ordinary works now in course of construction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– The road leading from the Port Adelaide railway station to the rifle range, a distance of nearly 2 miles, is in a very bad condition. Large numbers of citizens have recently joined rifle clubs, and some of them are at the range every day in the week. During the summer months the road is fairly dry and passable, but in the winter it is a perfect quagmire and utterly unfit for driving. Will the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs see that steps are taken to put the road into such state of repair that people may be able to drive or walk over it in some degree of comfort ?
– When I drove over the road in a motor car a few years ago it was all that Senator Newland described, but a large portion is in the boundary of the Port Adelaide corporation, and many of those who use it are ratepayers of that corporation. Why do they not bring pressure to bear on the council to have the road made properly ? It was suggested to me when I was there that because some riflemen walked over the road once or twice a week the Commonwealth should shoulder the responsibility of putting and keeping it in order. That would be an impossible proposition. If we did it at Port Adelaide we should have to do it at all the other rifle ranges in the Commonwealth’. The portion that I went over in the corporation boundary was unsafe to life and limb, but inside the gate the road the Commonwealth constructed and maintains was good. Those who have represented the matter to the honorable senator might well turn their attention to the Port Adelaide corporation. In the meantime I shall ascertain if any portion of the road in our boundary is in a bad state.
– It is all equally bad now, inside and outside the gate.
– If it is I shall be prepared to see that the portion inside the gate is put into a proper condition.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General take steps to expedite the erection of the new post-office at Port Adelaide? The question of the site has been settled for at least six months, and I hope the erection of the buildingwill be expedited, because the present post-office is very out of the way and unsuited for the requirements of a growing town. It is under three or four different roofs, and is most inconvenient and costly to work. The erection of the new building will give employment where it is much needed, and possibly representations to the Home Affairs Department may result in the work being pushed ahead. I trust also that the additions and alterations to the General Post Office, Adelaide, will be pushed on with. Plans have been prepared and settled for a considerable extension of the building to meet the growing needs of the Department in South Australia, and it is desirable that the work should be put in hand as soon as possible.
– I shall have the matter of expediting the construction of thenew post-office at Port Adelaide brought under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral. Knowing the views of that Minister on the question of providing proper postal accommodation, I am sure there will be no unnecessary delay.
– Why are the alterations to the Sydney Customs House hung up ? Some time ago all the officers in the building were removed to other buildings in Sydney, and the work of dismantling was begun. What is wrong, and when will the work be proceeded with ?
– I understand that owing to an alteration in the plans the matter has to be again referred to the Public Works Committee. This, I believe, was to be done either to-day or tomorrow.
– What is the object of the expenditure under the Defence Department of £65,000 for naval works, and of £25,000 for the “ construction of vessels for other Departments “ ?
– The details of the first item are set out on page 288 of the Estimates.
– Presumably this £65,000 is intended to represent a sum proportionate to the period covered by the Bill. But for the year 1915-16 an amount of £672,000will have been expended without reference - save in a few instances - to the Public Works Committee. It is quite true that Parliament empowered the Government to undertake Defence works in excess of £25,000 without reference to that body, so long as they secured an Order in Council authorizing them to do so. At the same time, I do not know that the intention of Parliament was that this procedure should be availed of by the Ministry to the extent that it has been. It is true that a few works have been carried out at the Naval Base after reference to the Public Works Committee. But apart from these, almost every undertaking covered by the £672,000 to which I have already referred, has been sanctioned without reference to that body. Then, again, the selection of a site for an arsenal at Canberra was referred to the Public Works Committee, but the proposal to construct the arsenal itself was not. I do not know why this differentiation was made by the Government. Broadly speaking, I think it is due to Parliament and to the Public Works Committee that an explanation should be given as to where the line is to be drawn between works which should he referred to that body for investigation and works which should not. I cannot say what principles influence the Government in their determination of the procedure which they adopt. But the fact remains that to-day a number of works are being carried out by the Naval Department, apparently to the satisfaction of the Minister, without reference to the Public Works Committee, which has been rightly described as the “ eyes and ears of the Parliament.”
– Does not the Committee clash with the War Precautions Act?
– It may, or it may not. The War Precautions Act is such a drag-net that we really do not know where we stand. When the Public Works Committee were inquiring into the relative merits of the sites proposed for the arsenal, the evidence tendered to it was of such a nature that it was deemed advisable for its members to sit in camera, and, consequently, the testimony given by experts on that occasion still remains a secret to the members of that body and to the Minister to whom the Committee submitted its report. I should like to know what position the Public Works Committee is to occupy, and whether the intention of Parliament has been faithfully observed by the Government in carrying out most of the works undertaken by the Naval Department without reference to it.
– I merely wish to say that there is no intention on the part of the Government to overlook the Public Works Committee. In the Act constituting that body Parliament provided that certain works could be exempted from reference to it by an Order in Council.I have the greatest respect and admiration for the members of the Committee, but I do not regard them as either high naval, military, or engineering authorities. The Act was passed for the express purpose of enabling honorable senators to look more closely into Government expenditure. But the works to which Senator Lynch has referred are of a technical character, works as to which the Government have the advantage of the services of high technical officers who have recently visited India and seen the arsenals which are established there. If the proposal to erect an arsenal at Canberra had been referred to the Public Works Committee it would merely have involved a repetition of the evidence which these men had already given to the Government. There is no reason why such a duplication should take place. After listening to the remarks of Senator Lynch, one would imagine that failure to refer projected works to the Public Works Committee had become the established rule. As a. matter of fact, it has been the exception. Save as to naval works and the proposal to establish an arsenal at Canberra, almost every undertaking has been referred to that body. Apparently its members have been so busy that they have now worked themselves to a stand still. I can assure Senator Lynch that there is no intention on the part of the Government to ignore the Committee or to strain the Statute by withholding the reference of projected works from it.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That standing order No. 08 be suspended for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half-past 10 o’clock at night.
Sitting suspended from 6.22 to 8 p.m.
Contribution of Australian Troops
Debate resumed from 9th May(vide page 7680) on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the paper (Ministerial Statement) be printed.
– Before I address myself to the specific motion now before the Senate, I should like to tender my compliments to the Minister of Defence, who has had such a large share of responsibility thrown on him by the absence of the Prime Minister; and it seems to me that that is a matter in which this Chamber, and, indeed, the other House may reasonably join. There is one other matter arising from the statement made yesterday to which I should like to make some reference, and that is the observation that we had met on the anniversary of the first meeting of the Federal Parliament here. I refer to it for this reason: Circumstances which exist to-day, and arise out of the war, justify the action which was taken for the inauguration of the Federation, because it has enabled us to put forward a more united effort in connexion with this war than would have been possible by the various States, had they remained as separate entities. Turning to the statement itself, it directly raises the question as to the extent of the effort which Australia is prepared to make in connexion with the war, and the methods which are to be adopted for its successful prosecution. In approaching this subject, I want to remind honorable senators of two facts. The first is that this war involves our national existence, and the second is that there is, I believe, a united determination that Australia should do everything possible, everything within its power, to see that the conflict is waged to a successful issue. To me the position is too grave to admit of any difference of opinion on these two points. It is the duty of each one of us, in approaching it, to free ourselves from all views; to shake off the influence of previous traditions; and, above all, to free ourselves- from the ties and limitations which are invariably associated with party sympathies and party aims. In other words, I regard the matter as so absolutely serious, that there is upon us an obligation to approach it with open minds, and with a single determination to try to look into any proposal upon its merits, and to see that the method adopted shall be such as will lead us, in the shortest space of time, to that victory which we all hold to be essential to the continuance of our national existence. In order that there may be no misunderstanding as to how and where I stand in the matter I should like to make it clear that, whatever system is adopted, I shall continue in the future, as I have endeavoured to do in the past, to put forward my best efforts to get the best results out of it. Other honorable senators will, I feel confident, take the same course; and, although they may differ as to the method to be employed, they will render the Government their best service. Having said that, I want now to refer more in detail to the position which confronts us; and, in starting, I desire to say that I arn proud, as every Australian and every Britisher must be proud, of the effort which Australia has put forward up to the present. I venture to assert that if, when this war broke out, it had been predicted that Australia would, under the voluntary system, put something like 250,000 men in the field, after eighteen months of war, no one would have credited the statement. Yet this is an accomplished fact to-day. But, whilst I glory in the effort which has been made, I must deprecate a little the tendency, manifested in certain quarters, to institute comparisons between what Australia has done, and what has been accomplished by other portions of the Empire. Comparisons are alleged to be odious, and I think in this instance they are most misleading. If some other por- tion of the Empire had put forward a feeble effort, it would not have been sound policy to argue that another portion of the Empire should be satisfied if it had put in the field, say, double that number. To my mind, it is not a question whether one portion of the Empire has acted as vigorously or more vigorously than another. The sole test ought to be whether we have done all that we are capable of doing. If other portions of the Empire are not so vigorous, it does not relieve us of the obligation resting upon us, and upon every portion of the Empire. Now, taking that as a startingpoint, I want to ask myself two questions : the first is, Are more men wanted in this conflict or not? and the second is, If they are wanted, is Australia capable of supplying them? It seems to me that the answer to the first question is very simple, .because it is a well-known fact - well known to everybody who reads his newspaper - that action in this direction has recently been taken in Great Britain. We know the traditional attachment of every Britisher to the voluntary system, and we have read of Mr. Asquith’s statement recently that under that system 5,000,000 men have been obtained. Here, again, I venture to say that if at the outbreak of war it had been predicted that Great Britain would raise 5,000,000 men under the voluntary system, and that she was still under the necessity of obtaining more, the statement would hardly have been credited. When Lord Derby started his recruiting campaign on 23rd October last year, he addressed his appeal to over 5,000,000 of men, and out of that number 2,950,000 replied in the affirmative. A considerable proportion of that number - I refer to those who replied in the affirmative - will undoubtedly be included in Mr. Asquith’s 5,000,000, but there will still remain a considerable number who have not yet been enrolled - those of the later groups. That number will still further have to be cut down by medical rejections, and many will undoubtedly be required in starred occupations - for munition making and other essential purposes. The 5,000,000 referred to by Mr. Asquith will have to be added to by others - how many I cannot say - who will be included in groups not yet called up. In spite of the fact that 5,000,000 men have been enrolled, and certainly some other numbers - probably a few hundred thousand willing to be enroiled - Great Britain has regarded it as necessary to abandon the voluntary system. There is some reason for this alteration of policy, and I ask honorable senators to consider this aspect of the question seriously, because they know, as well as I do, the attachment in the Old Country to the voluntary system. To my mind, the action of the British Government is a clear indication that every portion of the Empire will have to obtain larger numbers of men. This, I think, is a sufficient answer to the first question. Then, if more men are wanted, are they wanted now, or later on? One cannot read the speeches in the. Imperial Parliament without coming to the conclusion that the Imperial authorities are of the opinion that more men are wanted, and that they are wanted now, so that they may be in a position to make provision for several months to come. That being so, we have to ask ourselves whether, as an integral portion of the British Empire, anxious to co-operate to the full extent of our powers, we can do something more to supply the additional numbers of men which the Imperial military authorities now regard as essential. And here I submit two or three facts for consideration. The first is that the Minister of Defence, in a recent statement, referred to the “ untapped reservoir “ upon which Australia has yet to draw. It was a very happy phrase indeed. He was referring to the 120,000 single men who had written “No” on their census cards: those men who had deliberately stated that they were not prepared to offer their services to their country. It is quite clear that in this untapped reservoir there is a supply from which Australia may supplement the effort she has already put forth. Turning to the minute which the Minister read yesterday, I find there is this statement, “ The Government does not take the view that the effort of the Government exhausts the possibilities of Australia so far as the contribution of fighting men is concerned.” This appears to be conclusive evidence that in the mind of the Government we have not exhausted our possibilities in that regard.
– Under our present system.
– I am not dealing with systems just now. Our census cards show, and it is only a paper showing I admit, that there are available men. The Government, having reviewed the census figures, feel justified in telling Parliament and the country that they do not consider that we have exhausted all the possibilities for the contribution of men. More men are wanted, and Australia is in a position to meet some of the want. Here, then, we are brought up against the crux of the whole matter, and that is how we are going to get them. For some months past, in common with other members of Parliament in the Federal and in the State arena, I have been brought very closely into contact with the recruiting agencies in my own State, and I have to admit a very profound disappointment concerning the results of the efforts put forward. It is an incontestable fact, testified to, I believe, by every recruiting committee in New South Wales, that so far as the results of their efforts are concerned they have been distinctly disappointing. In addition to that, there is another factor, unpleasant to contemplate.but which it is necessary to take into account, and that is that a large number of those who wrote “yes” on their census cards are not translating that “yes” into action. I am told by those charged with the duty of carrying out recruiting work in various centres that a very considerable percentage of the men who replied that they were prepared to enlist, when invited by the recruiting committees to come forward and put their promise into action, find many excuses, and some of them not lacking in ingenuity, for not fulfilling their promise, with the result that there is a falling off in the number of those we were led to believe would be available in answer to the Prime Minister’s appeal. On that point I do not know that I can do better than quote the evidence of Professor Mclntyre, an active participant in the recruiting movement in New South Wales, a member of the State War Committee, and also, of the confidential committee having the duty of examining the replies to the census cards. In a published address the other day he announced that he had been through 20,000 cards, and that, having perused and examined them, he had become familiar with every possible form of excuse which the human mind can devise. I have no doubt he was correct. In many of the country towns where I have been, the committees have mentioned their difficulties, and in every centre I have been met with the one statement that a depressing percentage of the’ men who promised to enlist, for one reason or another, now say that they are unable to redeem their promise. If more men are wanted, if more men are available than are now coming forward, and if we are determined to stand in with the Empire to the extent of our resources, we have still to face the question, however unpleasant it may be, of how we are going to get them to the colours. The whole position, I think, is summed up very tersely indeed in a sentence used by Lincoln in his address to Congress in sending his message there advocating conscription. He said: “ There can be no army without men, and men can be got only voluntarily or involuntarily. We “have ceased to obtain them voluntarily, and to obtain them involuntarily is the draft or conscription.” Although the immediate outlook as to numbers may not, perhaps, be serious, in my view the outlook in a few months’ time will be. That being so, if our present system is not leading to the result we think necessary to insure that Australia will be properly represented at the front by putting forward its best effort in common with the Mother Country, we have to ask ourselves whether the time has not arrived when we should look to some alternative to the present voluntary system. I should mention that in a statement I saw recently in a Sydney newspaper commenting upon the proposal for conscription, which has been in the air for some time, it was pointed out with justifiable gratification that there has lately been an improvement in the figures returned from some of the centres. We are all glad to hear that, but the explanation of it may be that it represents the result of many weeks of work in connexion with the cards. It took time to sort the cards and to communicate with men who agreed to enlist, and ask them to present themselves; but it is quite clear that if our card system in full operation is yielding to-day its best results we must face the position that will arise when we have exhausted the crop of men which the war census has given us. Looking a few months ahead, I feel justified in saying that, unless some other means than those prevailing to-day are adopted, assuming that the war is not brought to an end within that time - and I see no prospect of it ending in the immediate future - the results from the present system will be negligible, and we shall have to ask ourselves whether we can afford to continue to rely upon a system which will have ceased to yield any numbers worth speaking about, or proceed to devise some other method which will give us the men we want.
– If the war continues for a long time, will there not necessarily come a time when the supply of men will be exhausted?
– Unquestionably ; and on that account we have to adopt a system which will enable us to command the greatest strength of which we are capable, in order that we may deliver a final and telling blow. It is one of the most tragic facts in connexion with the war that, owing to the extent to which armies are organized to-day, in any victories we may achieve we are bled almost white, and that is the very reason why we should consider what is best to be done to shorten the time when we can claim final victory as ours. I submit four points as constituting the reasons why, in my opinion, we ought to adopt the system - call it by what name we will - which will lay upon our citizens the obligation to perform a duty which hitherto it has been left to them to discharge or neglect as they pleased. I say that the safety of the nation depends upon a larger marshalling of our manhood strength. I say that it is democratically sound to ask that every citizen sharing the privileges of tho country shall share also its responsibilities, and I say further that that is economically the best system, and that it is not only wise, but humane, that we should immediately concentrate our strength, and thus shorten the conflict and reduce the toll claimed by death. First of all, as to the safety of the nation, I have already referred to the action taken by Great Britain. That, in itself, would suffice, but I wish to supplement it by a quotation from a recent speech by Mr. Lloyd George. Dealing with the action recently taken in Great Britain, he declared that the military authorities said that it meant all the difference between defeat and victory. He said, further -
The Government after prolonged examination -
I think we have to admit that the examination was prolonged - decided that it was absolutely essential to call up every available man and prepare him for the field.
That statement, in effect, means that the Imperial Government considered that the national salvation depended upon their capacity to bring to the colours every available man. What Mr. Lloyd George said was supplemented, I think immediately afterwards, by our own Prime Minister. My honorable friends will recognise that not only did Mr. Hughes leave Australia with a knowledge of the conditions in the Commonwealth, but he has since he has been at Home, in confidential intercourse extended to him by the Imperial authorities,- been placed in possession of information which makes him as well informed on the whole subject as is, perhaps, any single man in the world. I have not lie slightest doubt that ho is fully informed, not only as to the present position, but as to the future anticipations of the ‘Imperial authorities. Speaking after Mr. Lloyd George, he said -
Victory is dependent on organization. We must make a final blow, and the greater it is the more quickly the tide will turn. If we fail now to make the maximum effort, then, as surely as the Saviour lives, we will go down to hell.
That, in ordinary circumstances, might be regarded as extraordinary language to use.
– Who is the Saviour, and where is hell?
– I need not refer the honorable senator to anybody, and I simply say that he should possess himself in patience
– The honorable senator refers me to the devil.
– They say that all things come to those who wait. I venture to say that Mr. Hughes used those terms not for any mere idle platform effect, but because he was impressed with the fact that a supreme effort is necessary to-day. When we find statesmen from the Old Country and from this on the same platform making these declarations, it clearly points to the fact that, in their judgment, the national safety does depend upon ,our marshalling the man power of the Empire ; and Ave may safely accept that as a proof that danger to the Empire does exist, and that this is one means we have to ward it off. I submit, as a further proof of the recognition, at any rate by those who are in the best position to know, that the national safety does indeed depend upon the step which has been taken at Home, the altered attitude of many of the industrial organizations of the Old Country. A very few months ago they might be said to be distinctly hostile to any departure from the voluntary system ; but we have lately seen a distinct change in their attitude. I cannot dissociate that change from the happenings on the battlefields of Europe. The impression has been forced upon us that we are a long way from victory yet, and that Ave have to do something more than Ave have done if we wish to make an advance towards victory. We have seen the opposition on the part of organized labour at Home gradually toning down. until nOW, when the matter of conscription has been placed in almost a concrete form, there is practically no opposition to it in Great Britain to-day. That marvellous change of attitude has arisen from a clearer conception of the danger Avith which the Empire is threatened, and a clearer recognition of the only means by which relief can he obtained. This was crystallized in a phrase appearing in a manifesto signed by Mr. Crooks, amongst others, issued by a body, the exact political complexion of which I do not know, but which is called the British Workers’ National League. This body issued a manifesto in which this sentence appeared -
The time was never so critical. The Motherland, in its supreme hour, calls for the ungrudging service of all her children.
I submit that these considerations furnish ample justification for the conclusion at which I have arrived, that the time is indeed critical. We are bound to face the position presented by these speeches, and by the action of the Imperial authorities. It is a plain and simple declaration that the position is so grave and serious that only by resort to a measure of compulsion oan the authorities at Home confidently face the future.
– Is it not peculiar that the oldest . child of the Empire - Canada - has not taken that advice?
– I do not know whether Senator Blakey was present when I commenced my address, but I repeat now that I am not disposed to enter into any comparison between what Ave are doing and what others are doing. If there is any portion of the Empire that is not doing its duty, that does not relieve us of the obligation to do ours.
– The honorable senator has already said that Australia has done best.
– I have already said that I am as proud as any man can be of the effort this country has made - an effort which would not have been credited if it were predicted twelve months ago. I am not in any way deprecating what we have done. All I say is that, if we are capable of a yet more vigorous effort, the circumstances justify us in putting it forward.
– Was the honorable gentleman not referring to what has been done in England?
– I have referred to what has been done there, in order to justify the statement that more men are wanted. If this action has been taken at Home because more men are wanted, for what reason are they wanted? Mr. Lloyd George tells us that the military authorities advise the Imperial Government that the getting of the extra number of men would make all the difference between defeat and victory.
– That advice might have been given a long time ago.
– I have not the slightest doubt that it had been. We might have guessed it before, but we now have it on the authority of a member of the Imperial Government. I come now to the next point I mentioned. I have asked the question whether the system being adopted at Home, involving a departure from the voluntary system, is democratic. To my mind, that question admits of no argument. I have been surprised at the discussions which have taken place, and the contention that compulsion for military effort, in some way or other, violates the canons of Democracy. To my mind it is a necessary part of Democracy. I regard Democracy as meaning a community in which all “are equal, or where all at least have equal opportunities and equal rights; but surely that carries with it the obligation of equal responsibility. If a citizen of this country has the same rights and privileges as another, surely it is a parody on the meaning of Democracy to say that upon some rests the duty of defending the country while it does not rest upon others.
I accept the position that every citizen owes to his country the simple duty to take part in its defence.
– In every way in which he can.
– I should not ask that the cripple should be sent into the firing line. I merely say that it is the duty of every man to share in the defence of his country, wherever he is placed.
– If you put the manhoood of the country in a national pool, will you put the wealth of the country in the same pool ?
– Undoubtedly .
– All in?
– What do my honorable friends-mean by the “ conscription of wealth “ ? It is perfectly legal and constitutional to-day for the Government to take whatever portion of that wealth it wants. That right is there now, unchallengeable. I shall not raise, and have not so far raised, my voice against any action the Government have taken to enforce that conscription of wealth which is necessary to carry on the war. But if my honorable friends mean that because of the war the Government should take all the wealth of the country, whether it is necessary for the conduct of the war or not, it is quite another matter.
– You say, “ Take all the men of the country, whether they are wanted or not.”
– I was referring to the right of the Government to do so. The Government would not take them if they were not wanted, nor should the Government take the wealth unless it is necessary for the purposes of the war, or for the purposes of government. The Government have the right to-day to conscript wealth, and as they see fit, they will, by means of some measure of taxation or other take from the owners of the wealth such proportion as they think they need to carry on the war. We have therefore conscription of wealth. It remains for the Government to say to what extent they will apply it. Similarly with men. If we had conscription, whilst every man would be liable, the Government would not take every man and send him to the front. They would take such numbers as they thought suitable for the purpose, and as could be spared.
– Every man would be at the mercy of the National Government.
– Just as to-day every pound is at the direction of the National Government. If the Government said to-morrow, “ The safety of the Empire depends on taking the last pound in this country,” they would take it, and the Senate would support them.
– They have not done so yet.
– No; because I assume that the Government conclude that, for the purpose of the war, it is not necessary to take every pound of property which exists. I have endeavoured to deal with this matter in rather an academic way, in order that there should be no possibility of anything but the most careful and friendly consideration of a very serious problem. But I ask my honorable friends who are imbued with the idea that what they call conscription of wealth ought to precede or accompany the conscription of men, to look very closely into the matter, and ask themselves, Is there anything in the Constitution to prevent the Government conscripting such wealth as it needs? The Government already have the power, and I have no doubt that, as occasion arises, if this or any other Government feel they can advantage the country in the prosecution of the war by doing so, they will take whatever part of that wealth they want and when they want it. But if the Government conscripted all the wealth of the country to-morrow, it would not meet the question I am dealing with : More men are wanted; can we supply them? I was dealing with the question of whether the principle of compulsion, as applied to the raising of our Defence “Forces, was or was not democratic.
– While the honorable senator was discussing conscription in the Mother Country as a proof that more men were required, he was perfectly in order; but when he begins to argue that compulsion is the proper course for Australia to pursue, he immediately comes into conflict with standing order 419, which provides -
No senator shall digress from the subjectmatter of any question under discussion; nor anticipate the discussion of any subject which appears on the notice-paper.
Provided that this standing order shall not prevent discussion on the Address-in-Reply of any matter; and provided further that if a period of four weeks shall have elapsed since any Notice of Motion or Order of the Day was first placed on the notice-paper, and no debate thereon shall have been initiated, the rule as to anticipating discussion shall have no effect in relation to such motion or order.
There is, on the notice-paper, a motion by Senator Bakhap, which has already been debated, and which is now No 2 of the Orders of the Day for Thursday, 18th May, in favour cf compulsory military service. I must, therefore, ask the honorable senator not to argue the question whether conscription should or should not be applied to Australia while that motion remains on the business-paper.
– As this is a question on which every possible light should be thrown, may I ask whether there are not in existence some rulings which have become the practice of the Senate, to the effect that, where a matter of Government business is brought forward, the fact that a private member has given notice of motion on the subject does not preclude its discussion? The matter is important in any case, because a strict interpretation of the standing order may land us in difficulties. A member might, by putting a number of notices of motion on the paper, prevent the discussion of important matters looming in the future. He might do it for that very purpose, because he would have the power to postpone his notice of motion from time to time.
– If the motion remains on the notice-paper longer than four weeks without a debate having been initiated, the standing order will not apply.
– I am assuming the case where an honorable senator has moved his motion. Having moved it, it is still within his province to postpone the further dealing with it from time to time. Apart altogether from the merits of the question we are discussing, as a matter of practice it would be a very unsafe position for the Chamber to put itself in. I would ask you, sir, whether you have looked up the rulings I have referred to, because we are going to enormously limit our powers of discussion in the future if what you have indicated is to be the practice.
– The matter has come up for discussion on several occasions. In fact, I raised it myself on the floor of the Senate more than once. It is undoubtedly a serious one, but it is my duty, in any case, to administer the rules of the Senate as I find them. .Standing order 419 is exceptionally clear, and there is no mistaking its meaning. The Acting Prime Minister’s contention that a member could, of malice aforethought, leave a motion continuously on the businesspaper, and so block discussion, cannot hold good, because the Standing Orders provide that directly a motion has been moved, if its further consideration is set down for another day, it is no longer a notice of motion, but becomes an Order of the Day, and an Order of the Day is the property of the Senate, to be discussed at the convenience of the Senate. I have never felt myself bound to regard the rulings of my predecessors, which, after all, are only the interpretations they put on particular Standing Orders. If, in my view, any ruling given by any of my predecessors conflicts with the Standing Orders, while I should be inclined to pay a great deal of respect to their opinion, I shall obey the Standing Orders rather than be guided by their ruling. The only rulings given on this question are as follow : -
It is allowable to debate a Bill from the other House for a specific subject, notwithstanding that a notice in general terms referring to the same subject is on the businesspaper.
On the first reading of a Supply Bill a senator cannot anticipate the discussion on a motion or a committed Bill.
In regard to the first ruling, it would be intolerable to limit the discussion on a Bill initiated in another place and reaching us in the natural course of events simply because a notice of motion had previously been given. With regard to the second ruling, even though our Standing Orders provide that a senator can refer to almost any subject on the first reading of a Supply Bill, it has been held that standing order 419 still applies, and. that the discussion cannot anticipate a motion already on the business-paper. I must, therefore, rule that the honorable senator will not be in order in discussing conscription as applied to the Military Forces of the Commonwealth, although I have given considerable latitude and did not interfere with him when he was using the matter as an argument to show that our utmost efforts were required, and that we still wanted more men. I cannot allow any further discussion on the point of order, unless it is proposed to move to disagree with my ruling. I would point out, however, that the Senate is still the master of its own business. If it is found at any time that a standing order is irksome or unduly conflicts with the liberty of honorable senators to discuss a question, the simple remedy is for the Senate to suspend it.
– Should I be in order in moving that standing order 419 be suspended ?
– If the honorable senator moves such a motion without notice an absolute majority of the Senate will be required to carry it.
– I believe it is the desire of the Senate to give a full opportunity for the discussion of the question, and I therefore move -
That standing order 419 be suspended for the purposes of the discussion of the motion “ That the paper (Ministerial statement) be printed.”
The bells having been rung -
– There being no “ Noes,” and more than a majority of the whole Senate voting in the affirmative, I declare the motion carried.
– Not for what I have to add to the remarks which I have already made, do I desire to express my pleasure that the way is now open for a full and untrammelled discussion of a subject which, even if we were compelled to remain silent, would be very near our lips. I was affirming when I was interrupted that the principle of compulsion was an entirely democratic one. I am pleased to know that we have had expressions of opinions from two members of the present Ministry which indicate that they at least hold this view. In citing quotations from the utterances of these gentlemen, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not make them for the purpose of showing that their previous attitude on this question has undergone any change. On the contrary, their statements absolutely square with their previous attitude. It will be recollected that some time ago we had visiting Australia a Science Congress, to the deliberations of which Senator Pearce contributed a paper on the defence of Australia. It seems to me that in that paper he summed up the position showing the obligation resting on the peoplein a democratic country in very happy words indeed. He laid it down that -
In a Democracy it is not the duty of any class to defend the country. It is the duty of the nation. Where you have no standing army, and no military class, the responsibility for defence is not thrown upon the shoulders of any one class. Nor should it bc thrown upon the shoulders of those who are willing, imbued by a sense of patriotism, to give their services in the discharge of the duties which are neglected by those whose sense of patriotism is not so active.
It is quite true that Senator Pearce was applying that statement to our home service. But it is generally recognised in this Chamber to-day that the true defence of Australia at the present time is to be found on the battlefields of Europe. The remarks of the Minister appear to me to apply equally well to the obligation which rests upon the citizens of Australia to defend this country wherever that defence may be best asserted. Quite recently, too, we had a statement from the Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes, which seems to show that he also stands for the principle that in a Democracy it is everybody’s duty to take a hand in the common defence. Speaking, I think, on the occasion when he was presented with the freedom of the city of London, he said -
Since defence of country was a primary duty it was the primary duty of every free man, and a task which Democracy ought to undertake.
I welcome these declarations because they indicate that there is a tendency amongst a very large section of a political party, some cf whose members are opposed to compulsion, to affirm that on the score of its democratic or undemocratic character the principle of compulsion cannot be turned down. I pass now to the third point, which, in my judgment, calls upon us to adopt conscription, namely, that economically it is the best system. Here again I find that the Minister himself entertains that belief. In replying to a deputation which recently waited on him from the Australian “Natives Association, or from a body urging the adoption of compulsion, he pointed out that different men possess different values - that some men would be better placed in the battlefield, whilst others would be better engaged in home industries. This happy selection of men for the posts in which they can render the most effective national service is absolutely impossible under the voluntary system. When this war started Great Britain, adopting that system, soon found herself in difficulties, ‘and had to recall from the trenches thousands of men who ought never to have gone there. It was to their credit that they offered to take their places in the firing line, but experience soon showed that they could do more effective worK by remaining at home.
– That was not the fault of the voluntary system, but of* those who controlled it.-
– It is a fault incidental to the voluntary system.
– Not necessarily.
– It is a fault incidental to the voluntary system, because when a country requires a given force, and is relying upon that system, if the men whom it wants will not offer, it must accept the services of those who will offer. If, for example, a nation says, “ We must have 1,000,000 men in the field,” and amongst the million who offer there are 100,000 whose services are required at home, those 100,000 cannot be sent back, because there is not an equivalent number to take their places. Yet these men would not be working as effectively as they would be if their services were employed in making munitions at home.
– The honorable senator said that certain men were sent to the trenches and afterwards recalled, and my reply was that that was not th, fault of the voluntary system, but of the men who controlled it.
– The honorable senator appears to forget that there is an obligation cast on the military authorities to get a given number of troops to the front. Let me put a simple illustration. Let us suppose that I have to go down a particular street. I must get there. It may be said that one vehicle will suffice to take me. But if that vehicle is not available I must get another, otherwise I must walk. We know that the whole chance of victory for the Allies rests on massing a certain amount of man power in the field, and under the voluntary system the military authorities have to get that man power whether it be suitable or not. But under the compulsory system each man is placed where he can render the best service to the nation. In other words, it is a case of organization against disorganization. Mr. Lloyd George recently spoke of compulsion as being free from anything in the nature of degradation, seeing that it represents the organization of national power. It is the organization which’ says that every man shall be available for the defence of his country, and which determines the way in which his services can be best utilized.
– Might not compulsion open the door to favoritism by the military caste?
– I have not the slightest doubt that there would be favoritism if there were a military caste or if there were a caste anywhere. But in a country where all our forces are civilians I do not think that there will be tolerated for one moment, except for the purpose of creating a bugbear, anything in the nature of a military caste.
– It is getting very strong here.
– I do not know that my honorable friend can say that, even if the military element here is getting strong. There is, perhaps, a little clicking of the spurs just now, but it is quite natural. We must recollect, however, that the men who are clicking the spurs are still civilians, and will be back in civilian clothes shortly.
– Not if they can help it.
– I have sufficient faith in the practical character of ourpeople to believe that the great majority of those who have joined our Forces will, within a short period of the termination of the war, fall back into the ordinary ranks of private citizenship. I do think that a very casual glance at the proposition will convince honorable senators that we can only get the most effective results from national effort when we organize it, and that we cannot organize it whilst we adhere to the voluntary system. Only by some effort in the nature of compulsion shall we get sufficient man strength to enable us to look with confidence to a material shortening of the war. We have now been engaged in the conflict for twenty-one months, and I admit that I cannot see at the present moment any indication that we have yet commenced to win. I see no sign of any breakdown, economically or in a military sense, on the part of Germany. To my mind, during that twenty-one months the Empire has done marvellously well in being able to get its organization to its present state of perfection. But it has not yet commenced the task of beating down the mili tary strength of Germany. Are we to carry on this war indefinitely?
– For twenty or thirty years.
– Here is my bloodthirsty Scotch friend desiring a twenty or thirty years’ war. It is the instinct of the old border days manifesting itself. We all desire to see the war terminated at the earliest possible moment. Its early termination means a cessation of the awful toll that is now being taken of the’ lives of our young men. It means, too, a considerable saving in the material wealth which is being spent in the prosecution of the war. We ought, therefore, in the interests of the nation to put forth a stupendous effort to see whether it is not possible, by marshalling all our strength, to bring victory at the earliest hour. There is another reason why we should endeavour to shorten the war. Yesterday I drew attention to a newspaper statement, on the authority of the American Consul, that some of our boys, who are prisoners in Turkish hands, are suffering a good deal of hardship owing to insufficient clothing and food. Although the Government is doing everything possible to give relief to them, the fact remains that considerable hardship is being suffered by our men in enemy hands. That appeals to me very strongly. Fortunately, the number of Australians in the hands of the enemy is not very great, but the number of fellow Britishers is very considerable indeed, and we know that those who are in German prisons - unless they are being treated differently to-day from what they were in the earlier days of the war - are suffering more than if they were in the frenches. It is to relieve them that w» ought to see whether it is not possible to speed up in the efforts we are making to shorten the war, so that the doors of their prisons may be opened. Now, I am going to pass from that aspect of the question to another, and mention the fact that Mr. Hughes recently asked this question -
Was the war to drag on through lack of resolution to marshal every resource and utilize every legitimate civilized means to bring it to a victorious conclusion?
That is a question which is clamouring for an answer to-day. Are we going to allow the war to drag on? After consideration of this question in all its aspects, and having in mind the drop in our recruiting returns, as well as the requirements of Australia, I cannot resist the conclusion that at the present rat© of recruiting we shall not be able to maintain our reinforcement requirements. This diminution of recruits is taking place at the very time when all the evidence tends to show that we ought to be making an increased rather than a diminished, effort. For that reason I have been compelled to come to the conclusion that the duty which confronts Australia to-day is to adopt a measure of compulsion. There are in this community men who are not able to see that their duty is to defend it; so we must, seeing their inability to discover their duty for themselves, by legal compulsion oblige them to discharge that duty. 1 realize that there is a difficulty in bringing in compulsion. No man who approaches this subject should for a moment forget that difficulty. In the minds of a considerable number, there exists the fear that if we adopt compulsion we shall be breaking down those industrial privileges which have been secured by organized labour. Personally, I do not think that fear is well grounded, but I know it is sincerely entertained by a large number of people, and, therefore, those who, like myself, advocate conscription, are under an obligation to discover some means by which an assurance can be given that the adoption of conscription shall not jeopardize those privileges which unionism has obtained after many years of effort. So far as I am concerned, in advocating conscription I would insist that accompanying it, there should be a declaration that anything which takes place as the result of the war shall not be allowed to jeopardize the position obtained by those bodies.
– Mr, Brookes said he would prefer to live under Prussianism than under unionism.
– It is not my desire to introduce party questions. That will not help this particular discussion, and the consideration of the best thing to be done to overcome the difficulties which confront us.
– He is the representative of the employing classes.
– If I wished to adopt the attitude of the honorable senator, I might refer to some of those extreme utterances made at the Trades Hall, and which, I think, come within the pale of the law. But I do not wish to do that.
– The honorable senator evidently regards Mr. Brookes’ statement as extreme.
– I think it was a foolish one. I have stated, and I repeat, that it is the duty of those who advocate conscription to try somehow or other to remove the fear which exists in certain quarters that the adoption of this course will jeopardize industrial privileges. I think this fear is largely responsible for any hostility to the proposal; I do not think that hostility arises from any disinclination on the part of the industrial classes to take their part in this war.
– They have given ample evidence of that.
– One union has sent 27,000 men.
– I do not think that one class has done better than another.
– One class has.
– The whole of Australia, I think, has reason to be proud of the magnificent effort made. The honorable senator appears to think that the class with which he is more directly associated is doing more than its duty, and that other classes are not doing theirs. If that is so, he ought to become a very’ ardent advocate of compulsion at once, for one of the advantages of compulsion is that it cuts class out altogether. I can quite understand the fear expressed by Senator Blakey, that under compulsion there might be favoritism in the exemptions granted, but as long as human nature exists as it is to-day it will be absolutely impossible to avoid some amount of favoritism in big organizations. In speaking of conscription, I want it to be clear that I am referring to it only as relating to this war. If there is any fear of favoritism I do not think it likely that the Government would allow it to go unheeded, but, as I have said, it is quite possible that in big organizations some favoritism would be experienced. There is bound to be in an army some individual who would allow his personal inclination to shape his judgment; but I do say that the Government of this country would see to it that the best possible guarantee was given that favoritism would not be allowed.
– It seems to prosper more under a Labour Government than under a Liberal Government.
– Cannot the honorable senator leave party politics alone for a few minutes ? Personally, I have endeavoured, and I think I have succeeded, in not striking a single party note tonight. At all events, I sincerely desired to avoid it. I wanted to point out the difficulties which I see, and which advocates for conscription are bound” to endeavour to find an answer for, namely, the fear that unionism or organized labour may suffer, and that favoritism may rear its ugly head. To those questions I have endeavoured to furnish an answer. Difficulty might also arise from a continued and unreasoning hostility to conscription from that band which, claiming to be Democrats, yet threatens to carry on its opposition even in the face of an overwhelming majority. If the Government decided to adopt compulsion, I should regard it as a duty to assure them that it was part of my responsibility to assist them to overcome any of the difficulties to which I have referred. To me it seems that victory is still in the balance. I am not able - others may be more optimistic - to see that we are winning. Still, I have not the slightest doubt as to the outcome of this conflict; but I do say that if we are going to win we shall have to make a more consistent and more vigorous effort than we have yet made. It is because I believe that we have exhausted the voluntary system, although it has given us such magnificent results, that I have been compelled to address the Senate to-night.
– When Parliament adjourned last November, I was one of those who opposed the long adjournment, but I did not then foresee what has since happened. It appears to me that an endeavour has been made by certain persons to carefully organize this advocacy for conscription. They had on their side all the powers for the furtherance of this agitation, while those who hold the opposite views were entirely prohibited from giving expression to them. Those who favoured conscription had the platform, they had the press, and in very many cases they had the pulpit; while those who were opposed to conscription had no press, and no platform, because ‘if they expressed their opinion in opposition through the press or from the platform they ran a very great risk of coming under the provisions of the War Precautions Act. Since Parlia ment adjourned, six months ago, we have had very many illustrations of what the power of the War Precautions Act means, and how it has operated against free speech and the free expression of opinion in Australia. I do not say that the Minister personally is at fault. It is the system of which he is the head that has been responsible for the prevention of the free expression of opinion by Australian citizens on this very important question of universal service. We have had instances by the dozen in which the law has been put into operation against those who sought to oppose this movement which it was apparent to many of us was existent in an insidious way. Whilst the Minister has been good enough to draw a distinction between anti-conscription and antirecruiting, I leave it to honorable senators to say whether, if one got up to address a meeting against conscription, and there were present various officious individuals, it would not be a very easy matter, as I believe has been the case, for expressions against conscription to be proved in a Court of law as operating against recruiting, when anything might happen up to a fine of £50, or six months’ imprisonment, or both ? I listened attentively to Senator Millen, who stressed the point that the system which he advocates is essentially democratic. This is claimed by various organizations, and proclaimed loudly at the present time by almost the entire press of Australia. We are invited to believe by those in favour of conscription that the basis of. the movement is Democracy. I never could see, and Senator Millen has not proved it to my satisfaction to-night, that this system is democratic. The honorable senator certainly said that it is democratic, but I leave it to other honorable senators to decide whether he proved or endeavoured to prove that it is democratic. I do not wish to accuse the honorable senator of plagiarism, or to suggest that he is responsible for the application of the term “ democratic” to conscription. lean assure the honorable senator that’ I have been reading the term as applied to conscription in the conservative newspapers of Melbourne for the past six months. They have known better, however, than to attempt ,t’o prove that conscription is democratic, f hold that nothing in connexion with war can be described as democratic. The whole fabric of war is antidemocratic. The basis of militarism is anti-democratic. Democracy and war are incompatible. In my opinion, the greatest problem that the Empire is up against today is due to the fact that we are endeavouring to carry on a war in the modern style with a Democracy, whilst some of the other nations are carrying on the war under autocracy. That, in my opinion, is accountable for much of the trouble in Great Britain. If we look into the genesis of the war, we may well ask who are responsible for it. Will any one contend for a moment that the people of the British Empire were asked to say “Aye” or “ No “ as to whether the war should take place ? They were not consulted. The system operating to-day, as we are aware, is that a small and very exclusive coterie of people, officially known as the Foreign Service in Great Britain, has the undue power to tie up Great Britain by treaties and alliances. Very often we do not know with whom we are in alliance, or with whom we have entered into treaties. This very exclusive official body has the power to enter into a treaty on behalf of Great Britain, and, in effect, to drag Great Britain and the Empire into war, because, when the Foreign Service has made an agreement, treaty, or alliance, the Parliament and the people of Great Britain are in honour bound to stand by the agreement made, and to carry on a war if that is involved. Let us examine for a moment the persons who constitute our Foreign Service to-day. This consideration is particularly interesting from a democratic point of view. Before an individual can obtain a post in the British Foreign Service, he must have a private income of £400 a year.
– Is that all?
– Yes; they do not want any ordinary or common garden variety of Democrat there. They want a man who has blue blood in his veins, and he must have a private income of £400 a year before he can obtain a post in the Foreign Service of Great Britain. If they got the ordinary class of individual, they might get a little brains with him. If there is one thing in which our weakness has been shown in this war, it has been in connexion with our diplomacy and our diplomatic service. Under such a system, when the people are not consulted as to the right or wrong or wisdom of a war, it is idle to apply the term “ democratic “ to any phase of its operations.
– If a war is forced upon a Democracy, what can it do ?
– For the edification of Senator Stewart, I shall present the other side of the picture. Where does Democracy come in when a war is in operation? What about our censor system? What is the origin of that? It is this, “Why tell the people anything? What have they to do with the result of the war ? Whose concern is the success or otherwise of our army ? It belongs to our military caste. We will tell the people just what we like. We will withhold tlie general news, under the pretence that its publication might be useful to the enemy.” Is there a sane person listening to me to-night who will contend for a moment that the unadulterated lies and misrepresentation that have been handed to us about the progress of the war, the overwhelming defeat of the Germans by the Russians month after month, the statement made fourteen or fifteen months ago that Germany was in her last straits, and was calling up her old men, youths, and cripples, would have been of any value to the Germans. Such a contention would be ridiculous, because the Germans know more about their own position than we can tell them. They know the weakness of our diplomatic service, and, owing to that, they probably know more about the British position than do many of our own officials. The censor system is continued, and evidently the only concern of the Democracy and the common people in connexion with the war is to go into the trenches and do the fighting. Those in charge say to the Democracy, “We will not give you any voice in the declaration of war, and when war is declared, and is being carried on, we will not tell you the result of it. We will tell you just what we like. But we will take you by the back of the neck, and if you do not willingly go into the trenches, we will throw you there.” We can come nearer home in dealing with this aspect of the question. I think that Senator Millen made a claim, if not in these words, to this effect, that it is the duty of every person in a community to “ do his bit “ for the defence of the nation and of his country. This afternoon I asked Senator Russell, the Minister representing the Treasurer in the Senate, what amount was paid in brokerage, or commission, to members of the Stock Exchanges in Australia for their work in connexion with the two war loans, totalling £35,000,000. Senator
Russell replied that the amount paid them was £34,000.
– They got their bit.
– As Senator Guthrie very aptly interjects, “ They got their bit.” They were awarded - I will not say they earned - £34,000 for obtaining subscriptions to the war loan. Will any advocate of conscription say that these individuals have done, or are doing, their “bit”? Will any one say that the people who advanced the £35,000,000 of the war loan are “ doing their bit “ in comparison with the men who have gone to the front? I do not think that that will be contended for a moment, because the people who put their money into the war loan had the inducement of a very inviting rate of interest amounting to, perhaps, a little over 5 per cent. I contend that, instead of applying the term “ democratic “ to any phase of warfare, it is the very last term that should be applied to it. If conscription were adopted, and people were taken at the discretion of the military authorities, we will say, for the sake of argument, will it be contended that that would be democratic? I say it would not. I cannot adduce a higher confirmation of my opinion than by referring to the attitude of Mr. Watt, who at one time was Premier of Victoria. It will be remembered that when Mr. Watt rather blunderingly pushed himself into what was known as the Brennan controversy, and was challenged to enlist, he funked enlistment, or, at any rate, refused to enlist. And what reason did he give? He said that he was not prepared to enlist then, because, if he did, and the worst came to the worst, his children would not be sufficiently well provided for.
– Where did Mr. Watt give that explanation ?
– In Melbourne, either through the press or from the platform. I ask Senator Millen to accept my assurance that that is the explanation he gave, because I honestly think that I am making no mistake in what I have said.
– The honorable senator may honestly think that; but I would like some proof of it, because even he may make a mistake.
– I do not think that I am making a mistake.
- Mr. Watt did not go, anyway.
– Neither did Mr. Brennan.
– The point is that Mr. Watt gave that as his excuse; and I ask what about the provision made for his children by John Smith, who may have a family of seven or eight, and be in receipt of only 7s. or 8s. a day? If the worst came to the worst, whose children would be the better provided for? Senator Millen spoke of equality of opportunity. Where would be the equality of opportunity there?
– Conscription might send Mr. Watt to the front.
– I expected that interjection, and I thank the honorable senator for it. It is suggested that, under conscription, Mr. Watt would be taken, and John Smith would be taken, and then, if the worst came to the worst, whose children would be least sufficiently provided for?
– It depends upon Mr. Watt’s circumstances. The pension would be the same in each case.
– It would depend on Mr. Watt’s circumstances; but he has been Premier of Victoria for several years, and has been conducting a business. I do not wish to be personal in regard to him. It is reasonable to assume that Mr. Watt’s children would be better provided for than the children of a man working for 7s. or 8s. a day. The State makes no discrimination’ there. I contend, therefore, that it is undemocratic, and no one should apply the term “democratic” to conscription without endeavouring to give reasons for his contention. Another claim often made outside for conscription is that the basis of the Labour movement and of industrialism is compulsion. It is urged that we are inconsistent in opposing compulsion for military service, and Professor Masson, at a meeting of the National Council of Women in Melbourne, said the Labour party agreed to compulsion in their Caucus, yet opposed it for military service. It requires a great stretch of imagination to see an analogy between the two things. When we try to force men into industrial organizations, we say, in effect, to them, “ You must come in and help us to fight this industrial battle, and if we win you will share any advantage we secure equally with us.” That is the industrial doctrine we preach, but do those good people who advocate military conscription offer the same liberal terms? Do they say to the man whom they are advising to go into the trenches, “ If you go and fight our battles we will share with you when you come back every benefit gained by us and our class?” Not much. On the contrary, they say, “ We cannot go to the war. We are over the age of forty -five” - and by the way, I do not see any great rush by thes-3 ardent patriots in deputations to the Acting Prime . Minister to be allowed to serve with their gallant Allies in France - “ but we will provide the sinews of war at rates of interest much higher than pre-war rates, and when you come back we will throw you on to the commercial scrap-heap.” At any rate, that is what they mean, although they are careful not to say it. The Public Service Inspector in Victoria recently said that the returned soldiers were not anxious for work, as they were too well treated, and too much feted, and the Tory press of Melbourne advised commercial people who were asked by returned soldiers for money to ring up the military police. It is also frequently argued in support of conscription that the workers of Australia enjoy industrial conditions well worth fighting for, and warranting the introduction of compulsion for their retention. I admit that the masses in this country have a good measure of industrial liberty, but every liberty they now have they have had to fight for in the teeth of the opposition of the very people who are now advising them on the hustings to go away and fight.
– If the Germans come here you. will have to fight for that liberty.
– I agree. that if the Germans win we shall have to fight them industrially, but if the Allies secure a brilliant victory tlie workers of this country will still have to fight very hard to retain the labour conditions they now enjoy. The economic battle against the workers is in operation under our very eyes in every city of the Commonwealth. Men are being replaced by girls, and the prices of foodstuffs have soared to aeroplane heights.
– Be sure of your country first; that is in danger now.
– I love Australia more because of the conditions to which I have referred than because of the mere accident of birth. I love Ireland because of its sufferings and wrongs and injustices, although I was not born there, and probably had I been born in China I would not have had much love for the place. A friend of mine, not unkindly, referred to people being “ dragged up “ in Australia, but it is on account of having been “ dragged up “ here that some of us know more about the industrial conditions which operated in this country in the early days than do some of those who take the opposite view. Perhaps some of us were brought more intimately into contact with them, and find it hard to forget them. My father, having been driven off the land in Ireland by the exactions of rack-renting landlords, had the liberty to walk out. After that he had the freedom to go to England, and there he had the inalienable privilege of working twelve hours a day for six days a week for 2d. an hour in a steel furnace under the grand old Union Jack, the banner of liberty, the flag which floats over an Empire on which the sun never sets! In the boom days when our opponents held sway in Australia, we saw able-bodied men, many of them immigrants, offering to work in a farming community for 10s. a week. One man with five children used to work from before daylight until after dark for 10s. a week. I make no complaint against the man who employed him, because that was the ruling rate of wage at the time. Let me take honorable senators back to the time of the shearers’ strike in 1891. Those of us who come from Queensland and New South Wales know what liberty was practised by the employing classes then. As a grown boy, I well remember seeing -the Gatling guns going out west to shoot down the shearers who had presumed to go on_ strike for better labour conditions. We who represent Queensland know of the operation of the black-list amongst the squatters there - the black-list which contained the names of men who had made themselves prominent in advocating improved industrial condition.
– The same thing obtained in our mining districts.
– Nobody knows better than you, sir, of the freedom that was practised in the mining towns of
Queensland, at Gympie, Mount Morgan, and Charters Towers, where men who had committed the heinous crime of voting for Labour candidates were turned out of the mines in droves after every election, notwithstanding that many of them had large families. Many of them were driven from the fields, and were unable to obtain employment in any of the mines. Their homes were broken up, and, to my own knowledge, some of them afterwards met their deaths in min-, ing exploration. The mine managers of those days were not so bloody in their methods as the Germans, but they were just as relentless and cruel, and when they could starve men off the fields of Gympie and Charters Towers they did it. Indeed, many of them had the temerity to tell marked men to get off the fields as they had no chance of obtaining work there. It is just as well that those who urge the workers to go and fight fcliberty should be reminded of how much they assisted them to get the liberty which they now enjoy. It is said that if the workers were in Germany they would have no unionism and no combination. During the adjournment, realizing that Sir “William Irvine, who was at one time Premier of Victoria, has constituted himself the apostle of conscription, I took the opportunity of perusing the Victorian Ilansard for 1903, with a view to ascertaining the precise provisions of the famous coercion Act, with which his name is associated. It seems to me that the provisions of that measure, which was brought forward at the time of the Victorian railway strike, will very well bear repetition here. Let us see what all the trouble was about. It appears that the railway servants in Victoria had for some time been labouringunder a number of grievances. They had suffered many pin-pricks, and I find that Mr. Hamilton, who then represented Sandhurst, grouped their grievances under the following ten headings - percentage reductions, Ave days a week work, reduction of holidays, withdrawal of privileges, withdrawal of half-share voucher, stoppage of increases, stoppage of extra pay for higher-grade duties, income tax, separate representation, and nine hours a day. On top of these disabilities, the Government ordered their non-affiliation with the Trades Hall.
– That was liberty.
– Yes. How many times have we read since ohe outbreak of this war that if the unionists of Australia were in Germany they would not be able to combine for their mutual advantage. This was the awful crime which the Victorian railway men committed when the Irvine Government brought forward its memorable coercion Bill, a few provisions of which I shall quote, in the belief that they will prove both instructive and interesting. They will show how much this champion of Democracy was prepared to do for the railway workers who had the temerity to go on strike. The second clause of that famous measure reads -
Every person employed in the railway service either in permanent office or as a supernumerary, who, without the approval or permission of the Commissioners or before the expiration of fourteen clear days after giving notice of his intention to leave the said service, ceases to perform his duties, shall, if the strike is not previously concluded, be deemed to have joined in the strike and to have become a striker and to have committed an offence against this Act.
Then sub-clause 2 sets out -
The burden of proof that any such person is not a striker shall lie on such person.
Let us see what was the punishment which Mr. Irvine was prepared to apply to persons who committed the crime of going on strike. The Bill which he brought forward provided -
Every person who is guilty of an offence against any of the provisions of this Act shall, for every such offence, be liable on conviction before any Police Magistrate who, whether sitting in a Court of Petty Sessions or otherwise, shall have all the powers of a Court of Petty Sessions, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding £100 or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding twelve months or to both.
It is interesting to compare these penalties with tho penalties imposed under the Irish Coercion Act of f882. Dr. Maloney, who was then a member of the Victorian Parliament, rather appositely instituted this comparison. The provisions of the Irish Coercion Act set out that -
A person guilty of an offence against this Act shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding six months or for any such less term as in that behalf has been fixed in any section of this Act.
Six months’ imprisonment might be imposed under the Irish Coercion Act, and twelve months’ imprisonment or a fine of £100 or both, under Mr. Irvine’s Co- ercion Act. Notwithstanding all the ridicule and deserved contempt which has been heaped upon the Irish Coercion Act, the fact remains that it allowed a right of appeal. Mr. Irvine’s Bill did not. Other provisions in the latter measure were equally drastic. Clause 4 dealt with dismissals, and clause 5 with the filling of vacancies. The latter permitted of men being picked out of the street, insured them being given double pay for six months, promised them permanent employment for two years, and offered them other facilities without calling upon them to undergo any examination or any probationary period.
– And those who replaced the strikers shook the insides out of the passengers.
– I suppose there was very great danger to the passenger traffic around Melbourne at that time. Clause 7 is another very liberal provision to which I would ask Senator Findley’s attention for a moment. It reads -
Every person who prints, publishes, distri butes, issues, circulates, or posts up or exhibits any printed notice, notification, order, request, document, or paper, having, or which appears to have, as an object, the encouragement, maintenance, furtherance, extension, or continuance of the strike, or the collecting, receiving, keeping, distributing of any funds, or moneys foranysuch object, or containing any insulting or abusive language with respect to persons continuing in or accepting employment in the railway service, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.
Then clause 8 dealt with public meetings, and provided -
Clause 10 sets out -
It is remarkable that Mr. Irvine at this time claimed that the provisions of this iniquitous measure were the least that were necessary to quell the strike. The sentiments which he expressed on that occasion are set out on page 5 of the Victorian Hansard of the 13th May, 1903. He said: -
The matter of policy in question was, whether right or wrong, that it was against the public interest of this State that the employees of the Railway Department should have any connexion, by affiliation or otherwise, with the Trades Hall.
He went on to say that he had interviewed the Railways Commissioners, and suggested that certain action should be taken to bring about the severance of the men from the Trades Hall. The Railways Commissioners proposed, and the Government agreed, that the Executive Officers’ Association should bring about their severance from the Trades Hall or resign their positions. Mr. Irvine further said -
Through their long and constant employment -
This is a jibe at the railway men who dared to strike - at high rates of pay, these men have become quite unconscious and entirely forgetful of the terrors of want of employment, and the personal dangers which surround acts of disobedience on their part.
Mr. Irvine was rather surprised that the men had forgotten the terrors of want of employment and evils of dismissal. And this is the man who has been going about the suburbs of Melbourne lately asking the young men of Australia to go to the front - to volunteer to go into the trenches to fight in the name of liberty! Senator Millen did not mention the efforts made by his colleagues and his attitude towards unionism in those days. He conveniently forgot to do that, of course.
– I do not see that that has any bearing on the point.
- Senator Millen contented himself with arguments that the workers of Australia should be forced to go to the front.
– You pretend that there are no liberties to fight for.
– I say nothing of the kind, but I do say that we have nothing to thank Sir William Irvine or Senator Millen for in the matter of industrial liberty. Then, again, Mr. Irvine said -
There are some foolish persons who, as always happens in such cases, with an absolute want of recognition of the true principle, are willing to urge compromise, conciliation, or arbitration. No such thing can take place.
Mr. Irvine was not going to be bothered with any conciliation and arbitration, but at present he seems to be coquetting with Mr. Hughes, to be making amorous advances to the Prime Minister over the backyard fence with the idea, probably, of being elevated to the High Court Bench, seeing that it is the usual custom, when an y-j appointments are to be made, for the Government to look around and get the deepest-dyed Tory they can. The Labour Government should complete the appointment by making Sir William Irvine a judge of the Arbitration Court, in order that he may have an opportunity of handing out some of his own brand of liberty to the workers of Australia. Listen again to what this lover of liberty - this man who is now beseeching the manhood of Australia to enlist, and to fight for the glorious traditions which have been handed down to us - has to say. On. page 8 he is reported to have said -
It is our imperative duty to teach them a lesson that neither they nor any future railway servants in Victoria will ever forget. ….. It is only by a complete and absolute submission to the Department and to the public whom they have injured, that they can hope to be taken back again into grace and favour by the public or by the Government.
– They have never forgotten that, and that is why they take no notice of Sir William Irvine now.
– Evidently he wanted to teach them and their descendants, to the tenth or even a hundredth generation, a lesson which neither they nor any future railway servants of Australia would ever forget.
– They did not forget.
– If their memory were not so short Sir William Irvine would have been hooted off the platform every time he made an appeal now in the name of liberty. Sir William Irvine typifies the horrible system which we do not want in Australia. As Senator Guthrie mentioned, all the pension rights of the railway servants were swept away, and when the strike was declared off all were taken back except members of the executive, and about twenty others who were designated agitators. Mr. Irvine openly stated, and the report is contained in the volume from which I am quoting, that where a railway servant and a striker had been working side by side, all thingsbeing equal, the railway servant who had. not gone out on strike, or the blackleg who had come in, would get preferenceover the striker who had gone back. This is the same Mr. Irvine who, I believe, engineered or advised our Fusion friends to go for a double dissolution on the question of preference to unionists,, and on his own utterances, as contained in this volume, he was giving preference toscabs in connexion with the Victorianrailway strike. We are told that there is no eight-hours day in Germany, and that the workers of Australia would soon find that out. I believe we have had an eighthours union in Australia for something over sixty years, and yet I am not aware of any State in the Commonwealth in which there is a statutory eight-hours day. We may have it, but not to my knowledge. Let us come to the time when there was trouble with the sugar-growers of Queensland, when the men were working twelve hours a day for six days a week for a wage of from 22s. 6d. per week to 25s. a week. When the workers became organized they sent a letter through their representatives asking for a conference, but the employers would not meet them, and the men had to go out on strike, with the result that the whole of the resources of the Queensland Government were placed behind the refinery monopoly to keep those men working eleven and twelve hours a day. That was only five years ago. We can come even nearer. We can come to four years ago, to the time of the Brisbane tramway strike. What did the workers ask for there? They asked only for the right to display the badge of their union - the badge of liberty. But what was the answer given by the class represented by Senator Millen? They said, “No, you shall not wear the emblem of your union ; we will lock you out.” It is within the memory of every honorable senator what a howl went out to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, that the Military Forces should be sent to Queensland. I venture to say that if the Cook Government or the Fusion Government had been in power when that request was made by Mr. Denham, the military would have been sent to Queensland; but if they had it would probably have been the end of militarism in Australia. Personally, I am glad for many reasons that they were not, for I fear that if they had been sent there would have been bloodshed in Australia. In some quarters these strikes are referred to as illustrations of mob rule, but even if it is mob rule those responsible for it can claim that they are making no greater mess of Christianity and civilization than the rule of kings and constitutions have brought about up to date. The mob, at any rate, may lay the nattering unction to their souls that if they cannot do better they cannot very well do worse. It is also said that a duty devolves upon every man to defend his country, and that the Government are justified in taking men forcibly and sending them to the front; but I say that it is the province of no Government - I do not care what Government it is - to force a man to shoot down his fellow men. I cannot reconcile the attitude of some men, and especially clergymen, with my conception of Christianity, when they get on the platform and howl for blood, declaring that to shoot more Germans is the only way to win the war. I cannot grant it as the right of any Government to take any man by the back of the neck and force him into the firing line. Once conscription is introduced in Australia, we shall have a military caste here for all time. We are supposed to be fighting militarism in Prussia, and yet every day we are building it up here. What a degrading effect it has on the people. Let us consider what we have read in the newspapers. We have heard that in Germany girls of sixteen years of age may be married, without almost any permission at all, by a justice of the peace. We read, also, that the soldiers of France are periodically sent home to their families for economic reasons. Even Professor Masson, here in Melbourne, has said that married men have a better right to go to the front than single men, owing to the fact that their energy has been expended. Even Senator Pearce stated that single men are of more economic value than are married nien. This shows the trend of civilization under the curse of war. We find the highest public men discussing these matters from an £ s. d. point of view, for that is what it amounts to. It does not require a large stretch of imagination to conceive a time when we shall be talking of mating Australian boys and girls as we now talk of mating stock. This is to repair the wastage of war, and to carry out the hideous dictates of capitalism, because no war was ever yet waged that was not brought upon those engaged in it by the weight of capitalism. What an inviting prospect this holds out to the parents, and particularly to the mothers, of Australia. The fathers of Australia may believe that they love their offspring, and very likely they do, but with nothing like the pure, holy, and unalloyed love which their mothers have for them. When the mother iii Australia goes down almost to the gates of death in fulfilling the highest province of a woman, what a consolation it will be to her in the ‘f future, when, having brought forth her first-born son, and having reached that stage which is supposed to be the nearest approach to Heaven on earth, she places her wan face alongside the velvety skin of her babe, and all she can say is, “ Some day, my darling son, I may live to see you feeding the guns of capitalism and the enemies of civilization and labour.” If the child be a girl, what a consolation it will be to the mother to be able to say, “Some day I may see you mated to a man before he goes to the war, in order to repair the wastage of the war.” I cannot say that such a prospect appeals to me. And yet it is not so far removed to-day from Australia, or from the world at large. I cannot think that our opponents have acted rightly through their civil and military Courts, because they are the opponents of Democracy, and Democracy is opposed to conscription. Instead of prohibiting discussion on these subjects, it would have been far better if free speech had been allowed. It appears to me that the conscriptionists in Australia are awaiting the return of Mr. Hughes. We gather that from the conservative newspapers.
– The conscriptionists are not awaiting anything. If any one is waiting, it must be the Government.
– The morning newspapers say that those who advocate conscription cannot expect anything to be done until Mr. Hughes comes back.
– Expecting and waiting are two different things.
– They may expect something from Mr. Hughes. He has turned out to be the “ White Hope “ of the Tories of Great Britain. It appears to me that the. Tories in Great
Britain have been using him as a stick with which to flog the Asquith Government.
– Are there not Tories in the Asquith Government, too ?
– No, not merino Tories. The Tory of the Coalition brand does not meet with the approval of the merino Tories. An article appeared in one of the newspapers the other day stating that Mr. Hughes had been offered very strong inducements to lead the merino Tories in Great Britain, and throw out the Coalition Government; but, to his credit be it said, Mr. Hughes refused that very tempting offer. I believe that the Tories, not only in Great Britain, but also in Australia, have prostituted the Empire, its honour, and everything else ever since the war broke out, and always in the name of party. They are doing it now, not, of course, in actual words, but they never miss an opportunity, and it is party with them all the time while they talk of a political truce. Senator Pearce has said that 189,000 men have gone to the front, and that 62,000 who have enlisted are in camp, making a total of 251,000 enlisted under the voluntary system. Senator Millen has said that that has surprised everybody. I think he is right. At the time the howl was raised for 100,000 men shortly after the outbreak of war, it seemed a stupendous task to secure them. But, now that the quarter - of-a-million mark has been reached and passed, and the most intolerant and enthusiastic Jingo has been surprised, Senator Millen, in his next breath, says that men are not coining forward, and that not enough has been done. It appears to me that Australia- has exceeded all expectations, and is likely to go on doing so. If we have enlisted 250,000 men, and are getting 9,000 a month, according to the statement of the Minister of Defence, we have nothing at all to be ashamed of. We have overlooked altogether, in considering this matter, what has been done in the matter of equipment. That has been continually forgotten by our opponents, who, if they had their way, and but for the Labour party, would have made it impossible to provide the necessary equipment. They may criticise the output of rifles and of ammunition, and the output of the Clothing Factory, the Woollen Factory, and the Harness Factory, and claim that the
Labour Government could do more in the matter of equipment j but if the Fusion Government - the Cooks, the Irvines, and the Millens - had had their way, there would not have been one of those establishments created.
– Mr. Cook launched the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow.
– Every one of the institutions I have mentioned were most strenuously opposed by the party to which Senator Millen belongs.
– They were not; because the Cook Government launched the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, and Sir Thomas Ewing started the Cordite Factory in Melbourne.
– I accept the assurance of Senator Millen.
– Who started the Small Arms Factory?
– Mr. Cook did not start the Factory, but he sent Home for the tenders for the plant and so forth.
– The tenders for the plant were in and all ready for acceptance when Mr. Cook came into office.
– Who selected the site?
– Sir Thomas Ewing.
– He was not a member of your party.
– I remember reading how honorable members of the Opposition vehemently opposed the starting of these Government factories, and yet they now have the effrontery to say that not enough is being done. Could hypocrisy go further? Long ago I determined not to try to impress1 on anybody what the Labour party had done, but I know that it has done more than its share as compared with the Liberal party, who have only given their money at high rates of interest. If people are not satisfied with what the workers have done in connexion with the war, I can only tell them to “lump it.” I sincerely trust that if the question of conscription is referred to the country, the voting will be restricted to persons of military age and the mothers of Australia. I may say that conscription will not personally concern me, because I am burdened with a leg that will not stand a 5-miles march. I am not prepared to leave the settlement of the question to men who will not give their wealth voluntarily. I am sorry that many Labour members and organzations place conscription of men and conscription of wealth on the same basis. These should not be mentioned in the same breath; and I for one would never place filthy lucre on an equality with sacred human life. However; before 1 will listen to any argument for the conscription of life, there must be conscription of wealth. We have been told that the Government have the power to put the latter into operation, and, if so, they ought to exercise the power before they talk of conscription of men. So long as I have the honour of holding a seat here I shall vote against any such proposal to interfere with the liberty and democracy of the people. It would not be good for Australia to have fastened on it the thraldom of militarism, which is enveloping us every day.
– Would you abolish the Defence Act with ite compulsion?
– If I were forced to do any shooting and take life-
– The Defence Act enforces compulsion on our young citizens. Are you in favour of that Act?
– Yes, and I expressed in the Senate my approval of the measure, because I saw the good it would do to our young men physically. Had I had the same kind of training I would possibly not be now so weak chested. If were forced to shoot and take life, I say candidly that I would sooner shoot some of the food exploiters in Australia than go to the other side of the world and shoot at the head of a Turk whom I should not afterwards see.’ It would, in my view, be a lesser sin to shoot some of the butter ring who locked up 500 tons of butter in cold storage in Melbourne and sent up tlie price 3d. and 4d. a lb.
– A very fine recruiting speech !
– Just about as good a recruiting speech as any made by the friends of the honorable senator, one of whom, Sir Frank Madden, Speaker of the “Victorian Legislative Assembly, described the workers as “ lice.” I trust that the Government will not handle this serpent of conscription, but will first see that the man on top with the money does his fair share towards the defence of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lynch) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.32 p.m. ‘
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 May 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1916/19160510_senate_6_79/>.