6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the Chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Compulsory Military Service: Pro clamation and Regulations : Referendum.
– I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 3 p.m. on a date to be fixed by Mr. President, which day of meeting shall be notified by Mr. President to each honorable senator by telegram or letter.
I regret that by the action of a majority present on Friday last, taken in the absence of a number of those who support the Government in wishing to referthe question of compulsory service to the people, representatives of the other States have been kept in Melbourne unnecessarily. This applies not only to those who support the referendum, but also to many who intend to appeal to the electors to reject the Government’s proposal. I ask those who agreed with Ministers that the question of compulsory military service should be left to the decision of the people to vote for the motion now before the Senate. I do not appeal to those who are afraid to let the issue go before the people, or who object to the people being allowed to decide it, because.it would be useless to do that. But many who oppose compulsory service are nevertheless of the opinion that the people should have a voice on the queston, and I ask them to support the motion I have just moved, no matter what amendments may be brought forward with the object of trapping honorable senators. Friday’s experience justifies us in thinking that such amendments may be moved.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ trapping “ ? The word is a wrong one to use.
– I fear that an attempt may be made to put in a false position honorable senators who oppose conscription, but nevertheless wish to support the Government in getting the issue referred to the people. I appeal to Senator Findley not to make such an attempt.
– I do not desire to do so. The Government put us in a false position on Friday last by not giving us certain information.
– It was announced that when the Referendum Bill had been carried by both Blouses, Parliament would adjourn to enable its members to place the issue fairly before the electors. I appeal to the Senate to allow that to be done, and I am confident that the majority now present will support the motion that I have moved.
– In seconding the motion, I shall take the opportunity to say some things which I might not be able tosay later… In.- accordance with.- an understanding arrived at on the- last day of sitting,. I made .certain arrangements for this evening and for other evenings, but certain, happenings have interfered with these arrangements, and those whose views are like my own will, therefore-, be prepared to hold the fort, and to keep those here who are looking for fight as long as they wish for it. Senator Beady is able, if so inclined, to lay bare the whole position, and. if he does so, the members of the Senate and- the public will- be able- to judge of the justification for the present meeting of the Senate. It has been stated by those” who opposed this special- adjournment that sufficient reasons have not been given for the. proclamation that has been issued under the Defence Act. That was an argument that came from the lips of Senator Mullan, on. Friday. As a representative of Western. Australia, I say that all the reasons, necessary to satisfy me? have- been- given to justify the proclamation. The State which I represent will stand behind the Commonwealth’. Government- in doing whatever- it thinks necessary for the successful, prosecution of the war:. In. that attitude, ray- State is. sound as a bell> and. solid; as a rock, and- it will be well if the fact can: be. mads, known- throughout the- Commonwealth. It is useless at a crisis like this to. think one thing and. to say another. Since those of us who- have been so long in the fighting, line, who have- made, great sacrifices- for the movement that we- have helped to build, up, have been called names,, and have- had wrong- motives imputed, to- us, it is necessary to. look at the facts calmly, and- to show clearly where we stand.
– Is this not Satan reproving sin ?
– I do not wish- to be involved in personalities in-, the discussion of an issue which- calls for the best thought and the purest and highest motives of which we are capable. We should not now concern ourselves with trifles. To-day I do not put party, before country, much as I love the party to which -I am attached. For. me there is at the present time but one party, and-that is the party that intends to muster and marshal the- country and its. resources to their- utmost limit in- order to secure the successful termination”. of the was. Foi me there - is to-day only one policy; a policy containing- but. one- plank.. It is this : the war must be won, and Australia must pay current, not sweating, rates for her share of the cost of the struggle.. I speak authoritatively- regarding ‘ the present .position of Western- Australia. I may be called a traitor or a humbug, and other names- of reproach - the vocabulary of unpoetic epithets has been drawn upon to an unlimited extent by our opponents - but I still claim to represent Western Australia truly and absolutely. Western-. Australia, is behind the Government in what has been done, and I am behind it, too, because I know that those who form the Government have, before now; on many occasions, had the- utmost confidence, placed in. them. Upon their, word has depended the fate of not hundreds, but thousands’, of the citizens of this country. These men-, who have been trusted in the past, and upon whose.- word the confidence of thousands has been based:, are not, in the-, opinion of Western. Australia,, men who. to.-day will be false to their trust. Therefore, it is that in Western Aus- tralia, after two and. a half days’ debate, the representatives of Labour came to the conclusion by forty-one to twenty-six votes - let that ring throughout the Common-: wealth: - to stand behind the- Government.
They are called traitors, and. by whom ? Byron- has well- said that-
A man must serve bis time to ever; trade Save censure
Yes, they are called, traitors by the men- who would tear down,, whose composition is nothing but. that’- of- the wrecker, the men who- would ruin, and wreck this great, movement that it has taken so many long years of patient effort to build up. I am here to expose these men, and to tell them to their teeth, as Sydney Smith once said, that it requires more than earnestness of purpose to make a man a useful man. He said that there is not. a more dangerous thing, not even a Bengal’ tiger with his tail in the air going through a crowded village, than is the stupid man with good intentions. At the- present time there are, I will not say stupid men, but short-sighted men, squint-eyed men with the best intentions in the world, striving to advise the people of this- Commonwealth, and in. the words of Sydney Smith, I tell them that sincerity of purpose will not carry them through;, and. they must make- way for men who see> further and’ more clearly than they do, and who for that reason are better fitted to steer the Commonwealth through times that are more troubled than any we ever experienced before. I fling back the epithet in the false teeth of any man or woman who dares to taunt me with being a traitor.
– “Why this anger ?
– I will show the honorable senator. A flood of light needs to be thrown upon what is going on to-day. Here we have Western Australia, the pioneer Labour State of Australia-
– The pioneer State? Only yesterday it was a Crown colony. Victorians have made the Labour movement in Western Australia.
– We have scores of Victorians in Western Australia, but let me remind those men who stayed home in Victoria, in the State where the soup kitchens were while Western Australia was being developed, that that State offered them a home, and a chance for advancement, which they had not energy or opportunity enough to take advantage of in the State they left. Western Australia is the pioneer Labour State of the Commonwealth to-day. Today she has a line of steam-ships on her coast that is flying, not the house flag of a private company, but the flag of the people of Western Australia. There is an implement works there supplying every requirement from a steam engine to a garden hoe, owned and worked by the people of the State in the people’s- interests. There is a State dairy farm there, and right through the list of Labour reforms there is proof that if there is any State in the Commonwealth that has translated Labour profession into practice it is Western Australia. The people have demonstrated to the world that as a Labour State Western Australia stands in the vanguard.
– Is not the Western Australian Government Liberal?
– Let these small men be patient for a time. I repeat that Western Australia stands in a preeminent position as the pioneer Labour State in practice and profession, and it stands behind the Federal Ministry on the present occasion.
– Is that the reason they have a Liberal Government in Western Australia to-day 1
– I say, let these people go back to Victoria and Queensland, and do -something. Here we -have the representatives of Victoria and Queensland constituting those who are in opposition to the present proposal of the Government. Western Australia has a record, and” not merely professions, mouthings, and frothings to point to as a result of its efforts in support of the Labour movement. We are here to-day to stand as a target for the taunts and slings of men who do nothing except criticise, pull down, and groan at earnest men. The critic, as Beaconsfield has said, is a man who has failed in everything else. These men come forward, and taunt me, though I come from a State that “has shown them how things can be done.
– Then do not criticise.
– Will these small men keep quiet.
– .-Allow the big man to talk.
- Senator Turley talks about the big man. I am a big man because I am one of those who can estimate personal ‘worth, which is more than Senator Turley has been able to do. He had better keep quiet because there is a very large glass house surrounding him just now. When he talks about big men, I remind him that it would be better for him to keep quiet, or I may be obliged to tell him something.
– The honorable senator may tell me anything he pleases (concerning my past or present career. He need not worry about that.
– Let it resound throughout the Commonwealth that the State from which the “traitors” come is in a position that we need not be ashamed of. According to the new-found logic, fairness, and justice of Victoria and New South Wales, we are all traitors in Western Australia, or the majority of us. That is a nice position.
– Who said that?
– If those to whom I refer have not said it in words, they have said it by acts which indicate their character. They have expelled good men, and branded them as traitors. We have not done so in Western Australia yet. The position qf Western Australia is very different from that of Victoria, where freedom is still supposed to reign. Freedom 1 We have arrived at a lovely position in this party that rose on the ruins of other crumbling parties, and whose watchword was, “ Give ns liberty to express our thoughts.” In the past, men went round this country, and Senator Findley was one of them, telling the people over and over again that they had perfect liberty in everything outside the platform. Has Senator Findley liberty now? No; both he and Senator Ferricks are bound, and they are freely yielding to the clanking shackles, to-day as firmly as any slave ever was. They are following others as humbly as “ poor dog Tray.”
– As the honorable senator is following Mr. Hughes.
– I am wrong; poor dog Tray was never so humble. He was a’ rampant lion compared to these men who are supposed to be free. In spite of the fact that they are indulging in taunts, and are telling the people that outside the Labour platform they are as free as air, yet on a matter within the State sphere of action, and outside the platform, they are bound and tied. Fair play ! we are just on the eve of a dissolution because our party, unfortunately, so far as the official section is concerned, is usurping the position of those tyrannical employers who in years past sent me and other members of this Chamber towards the setting sun because we wanted freedom of thought and speech.
– And you are cheek by jowl with them to-day.
– There is in the minds of some men such a mountain of prejudice that to dig down to the bed of reason is almost as difficult a task as the excavation of the ruins of Pompeii. Figuratively speaking, you have to hit them on the ear-hole to bring them to their senses. Let it be understood that we in Western Australia are no traitors. The representatives of that State are here to support the Government in issuing their proclamation, because we have trusted them in the past, and we know that in the present circumstances they will not prove false to their trust.
We are told that the Senate has been brought back in order that the anti-conscriptionists may make a fight. The statement is too funny for words. This pretence of making a fight has come to them as an after-thought. There should be no after-thoughts on a great principle. If they are really fighting for principle, as they would have the people of Australia believe, they have neglected their oppor tunities. What sort of fight did- they put up when we were dealing with the Referendum Bill? You, Mr. President, will remember the mosquito known as the “ horse grey “ which inhabits the Gulf country of Queensland - a long-legged, grey, bodyless and bowelless representative of the insect fraternity, which, when it landed on its victim, shivered because it was so destitute of vitality. The fight which is being made by a section of the Senate is no better than the fight of that rheumatic mosquito. We well remember Senator Turley fighting in the Senate for two hours because some Queensland bandmaster could not get his uniform. We have known. Senator Barnes to debate at length paltry issues, but upon so vital a question as conscription they are mere shivering mosquitoes. Their hearts are not in their work, and the tragic aspect of the situation is that they wish the people to believe that their hearts are in sympathy with their tongues. What is in a man’s heart is in his mind if he is sincere, and if he has anything of the make-up of a man in him he will fight for that in which he believes or submit to be called something less than a man. These men fought no better than that rheumatic mosquito in Queensland that used to suck our blood, and yet was so shivering during its attack that it could hardly hold on to its victim. Senator Story, to hia credit be it said, made a speech extending over eight hours in the endeavour to convince the Senate that a factory was to be .placed on the wrong site. Why did not these anti-conscriptionists do as Senator Story did ? If he could make an eight hours’ speech on the choice of a factory site the anti-conscriptionists could have made a forty hours’ speech if they had any sincerity in them. On the selection of the Federal Capital site the Senate was kept engaged all through one night and the next day, but on a question so high that we cannot visualize it mentally these men who ask the country to believe that they have made a fight fought no better than that despised specimen of the insect fraternity.
I do not know what they have in their minds, but I know that the sons of toil in Western Australia have discussed this issue, and have viewed it from every stand-point, and in the end have said that if the Federal Government, in order to win this war, desire to introduce conscription they in Western Australia will support them. The Western Australian representatives have a record as independent men. We did not wait to hear what the people were saying. Senator Henderson and Senator Buzacott went before their supporters to face the music and give a lead. Labour leaders they were in truth and essence. These other men also call themselves Labour leaders. Heaven help us ! It is related by the French historian Lamertine that a revolutionary leader was asked why he did not check the excesses of his followers, and he replied, “ I have to follow them, because I am their leader.” The time was when we had Labour leaders throughout the Commonwealth, but apparently they have all gone to Western Australia.
– That is hardly fair.
– South Australia is an honorable exception, and I am hopeful of Tasmania. For the last 27 years I have been associated with the Labour movement, my heart has been in it, and I have believed in it, because I know that through its agency we can bring about the social regeneration of man. It is because I am a Labour man that I am a conscriptionist to-day. I say with all the sincerity of which my heart is capable that those men who are opposed to the Government policy, who have gone out of their way to revile me and mine, those foolish and designing men are about to bring the Labour movement to destruction. They, sooner than anybody else, will write its epitaph. Upon what have we relied in the past ? You, Mr. President, know what campaigning has meant in this country during the last 27 years, and do you mean to tell me that all the eloquence and logic which has been brought to bear on the conscription side of the argument counts for naught against the extravagant clamour of our opponents ? We have had in this country opponents of the Labour party - that party which grew, so to speak, from a grain of mustard seed into the spreading tree that it is today - who, owing to their bent of mind and their eager desire to forward the cause in which they had faith, did things which spoke in tongues of fire. Need I recall what Mr. Walpole did in this State when he affirmed that marriage was a luxury? There has never been a more burning, eloquent discourse delivered by a Labour man than is contained in that extravagant statement by this champion of capitalism. I am going to point an argument, which, I hope, will strike home into Senator Barnes’ honest breast.
– The honorable senator will not get Senator Barnes to follow the Walpoles, anyhow.
– Not all the eloquence of Labour representatives, not all the sacrifices endured by workers for twenty-seven years, have told so much in our favour as have the utterances of extravagant opponents in the political field. I was in the Arbitration Court in Western Australia when a leading capitalist was under examination. We asked him a question relating to women and children, and his reply was, “ I do not concern myself with women and children in the running of my industry.”
– The honorable senator should repeat that statement at Ballarat to-night when he is speaking from the same platform as Mr. Watt.
SenatorLYNCH. - Let me tell Senator Ferricks, as plainly as language can tell him, that so far as Mr. Watt, Mr. Cook, and Senator Millen are concerned, instead of me being in their company on this question, they are in mine. I declared myself upon it eighteen months ago, so that, instead of me going to the pack, it is Sir William Irvine, Senator Millen, and Mr. Cook who have gone to the pack. The honorable senator taunts me with being found in their company. Why, I have seen Senator Ferricks in this Chamber only too eager to link himself with them, and I can cite Hansard in proof of my statement.
– Prove it by the division lists. Prove it now.
– Instead of the honorable senator’s taunt having any sting for me, instead of these gentlemen having been the means of causing me to water down my principles, the position is. that they are in my company, and if any contamination has taken place they are the sufferers, and not I. I stand where I stood eighteen months ago.
– But this is not a party question.
– Of course it is not. But the interjection of Senator Ferricks shows the nature of the arguments that are being employed upon it. What I wish to point out to my comrades in this struggle is that there are no more powerful agents of the rooted, strong, and inveterate opponents of the Labour party than are men like Senator Ferricks and Mr. Frank Anstey in the other Chamber. These men to-day are the unconscious champions of capital. Senator Ferricks is bowed down with the weight of the burdens of our political opponents, and he doe3 not know it. So are all those who stand with him. On the other hand, the advocates of conscription know what they are doing. We do not fool the people for the sake of their votes. I told 1,500 miners at Kalgoorlie, “ If you think I have come here to buy your popularity by telling you nice things that will please you, I say damn your popularity.”
– That was rude.
– Did the honorable senator ever say that at the Trades Hall 1 If he had done so, we would have had a healthier Labour movement in Australia to-day. But Senator Findley is bound hand and foot - he is mentally in bondage. To the everlasting credit of the men on the gold-fields, the stamp of men who made this country, and the stamp of men who alone can hold this country, if our security is ever threatened, they heard me clean through, though they did not agree with me, and gave me an ovation on leaving, them. That is the right spirit. Western Australia has not prejudiced Senator Findley, but he has prejudiced the representatives of Western Australia. He has put us in an impossible position from our point of view. I realize that we are not at the parting of the ways, but that we shall be rushing headlong, to a precipice if the official heads of Labour in some of the States prevail. It is only because I know that the heart of Labour throughout the Commonwealth is sound, while the official head, in at least three States, is rotten, that I believe that those who were once Labour leaders will be wade to feel their feeble position, their plain dereliction of duty, and made also to think what they are about. But they will have to give a lead to the rank and file of the movement, as Senator Findley did once. What is he now ? He is like “ poor dog Tray.” He is following on. These men look for a lead because, by reason of their occupations, they are not able to weigh the pros and cons of a mighty problem like this. Where .do they get their lead? From the French political leader, who led from behind.
Oh, liberty ! God help us if the Labour movement is to have such leaders.
– Be .careful now.
– I am not careful about anything. What are the thoughts in the minds of the anti-conscriptionists? The thoughts of their greatgreatgrandfathers at a time when women and children were employed in the mines.
– The honorable senator is fighting side by side with the child-sweater now.
– My honorable friends are thinking the thoughts of their great-great-grandfathers on this question.
– Do not libel the dead.
– “ Me and ‘ Joe ‘ Cook” !
– Is it any use talking after an interjection like that? As I say, these men are thinking the thoughts of their great-grandfathers, who lived in the days when there was child and woman labour in the mines, and transportation to Australia for stealing a sheep. The system which they advocate never was good enough to win the battles of England, for in the days of the Peninsular War the British Government went abroad for mercenaries to the number of 54,000.
– Your leader is in favour of that policy.
– I know that what I say hurts, but I ask honorable members not to squeal, for if the Indians are coming to fight for them they will be all right.
– That is Mr. Hughes’ policy.
– Order !
– These men say that they require Indians, with their bangles and spindle-shanks, to fight for Australia.
– Who said that 1
– The advocates of voluntarism are driven from every corner in which they seek a refuge. Fair Australia is to be fought for by the poor benighted inhabitants of India ! That is what we have got down to, if we are to believe the anti-conscriptionist manifesto issued in Sydney.
– The manifesto did .not say what the honorable senator is now saying.
– Mr. Hughes said that, and it is in Hansard.
– If it were not so sad, it would be ludicrous to hear it soberly proposed that we should ask Indians, whom we will not allow to live or work with us, to fight for us. It is only a degenerate Australian who would ask a black man to fight for him.
– The honorable senator has been reading tue Argus, not the manifesto.
– I read the manifesto.
– The honorable senator is with the black-labour mob now, anyhow.
– I am a firm believer in the virtue and merits of the Labour policy as a regenerating agency in Australia, and for that reason I am a conscriptionist. If we lose the war, where will our party be? We shall have to bow the knee to that great Juggernaut which is threatening us. It is because I have seen twenty-seven years’ solid service as a member of the Labour party that I am going to fight for conscription, and I hope to have with me, not only my party, but the thinking people of the Commonwealth. I shall endeavour to make the public realize and awaken to the seriousness of the position - awaken to the fact that our destinies are at stake. That is what I am here for, and for that I shall remain to the end, independent of what may happen. Considerations of the past do not weigh with me. I look around and see a Democracy; and what is a Democracy if it does not mean the rule of the people by the people? Democracy does not mean that there shall be a privileged class; but there is a privileged class if, when the country is in danger, a man may please himself whether he fights- for her. A man who claims to be a Democrat, and yet seeks to preserve a privileged class, is a. downright, absolute fraud, or he. does not know what he is talking about. I advocate conscription because I am alive to Australia’s danger, and I support the policy of the Government because it seeks to make all able-bodied men stand to their guns in defence of this dear country. I have used what may be considered hard words, but I see no occasion to apologize for them. As I have- said repeatedly during the last eighteen, months, I am a conscriptionist because I am. a staunch and true believer- in. Labour - principles and in the Labour party. I am a conscriptionist because I am a practical Socialist, believing that if our country goes down neither party, platform, policy, nor anything else will count. I realize the danger, which, if not here to-day, is at the outer gates of our common, country, and I support conscription because I believe that the interests of the wealthproducers can be best conserved by that policy. T am in favour of conscription because I am an Irishman. Under the other system, and its iniquitous operationin Ireland, the best blood of that country has been spilled in more than fair proportion in the interests of the Empire, which was slow to give it a measure of justice. I do not want that to be the case iu Australia. If the men who now call me a traitor, to Ireland wish to see the best blood of the country spilled, as in Ireland, I do not; if that is their brand of patriotism, it is not mine, and never will be.
The matured and best intelligence of Western Australia is with me in the stand I am now taking. Australia, I recognise, is the greatest and- freest country on God’s earth. I have lived under the American, the French, and other flags, but it is here that I breathe the true atmosphere of freedom - that glorious freedom which has enabled some of the opponents of conscription to rise from the lower strata in the social sphere. It is our duty to take no chances or risks, but to see that the liberty we now enjoy is preserved for future generations. We require leaders to-day - men who are prepared to drop the party blinkers altogether. How many parties are there in Great Britain to-day on this war issue? How many parties are there in France? How many in Belgium; and how many in Italy? How many? Only one party. How many were behind Washington when he fought for and won. the independence of his country; and how many -behind Lincoln, when, by the instrumentality of a measure similar to this proclamation, he effected the emancipation of slavery in his country? There was only one party, and thus in this great crisis, as a Labour man, and as one recognising that if freedom goes everything is lost, I stand for conscription and equality of service. Otherwise we shall have the iron hand of the foreign aggressor on this free Australia of ours. It is because I have recognised this fact that for the last eighteen months I have been advocating a change of policy in order that Australia should play a manly part in this gigantic struggle.
We have close upon a quarter of a million men under arms. Surely that is fair evidence that we are at war. And having that number of soldiers at the front, it is unquestionably our duty to stand close beside the allied nations. Will Australia be content to allow other comrade nations to fight her battles? These men who are opposed to conscription say, “Yes,” but I say “No,” because when victory is won, Australia will cover herself with immortal and indelible shame if, not having done her fair share in the struggle, she seeks the fruits of victory. And if, in such circumstances, it were possible for me to stand in the position of the British Empire, when an appeal came from Australia in her hour of peril, I would say to Australia, “ What did you do when we wanted your assistance? What did you do for us when we were fighting for you in Flanders? You put up a fight of a kind, it is true, but you did not put up your best fight. From charitable motives we may assist you, but, as a matter of right, you are not entitled to any assistance at all.”
– According to your argument, Australia has done nothing.
– I am afraid argument is wasted on the honorable senator. I say emphatically that Australia must pay current market rates for her share of the victory, and that those men who are advocating the shortening of our lines in France propose to pay sweating rates for the fruits of victory.
Some members of the Labour party call themselves Socialists. But what are they doing in regard to the present struggle? What are they doing to assist Leibknecht who, with Homeric valour, has for so long stood up to the military despotism of Prussia ? I ask again, what are they doing in this struggle except to prevent help being sent to their fellow Socialists in France and Italy?
– Thirty thousand Socialists in the Australian Workers Union have gone to the front.
– But the honorable senator is not talking about the real Socialists; he is referring to the pseudo- Socialists.
– No true Socialist can stand idly by without sending help to Leibknecht, or responding to the message sent to us the other day by the British Socialists. What are our alleged Socialists in Australia doing to help? Why, they send a greeting, and call the Socialists of ‘ the allied countries “ Comrades!” If I were a French Socialist, coming from the trenches bespattered and blood-stained, and received greetings of that nature from the Australian Socialists or the Australian Labour party, I would say, ‘ ‘ Damn your greetings ; send us help!” And the French Socialists would be quite entitled to say that, because the alleged Socialists in this country are not even decently neutral. They want to prevent help from being sent to their comrades in France, though the Socialists of the allied countries are fighting as they never fought before, and fighting, too, for the Australian Socialists as well. If we do not help the cause of freedom now, and in some future crisis appeal for assistance, the Socialists who are now in danger, and fighting the common fight, will be entitled to say, “ When we were in trouble, you assembled on the Yarrabank, and talked about the conscription of wealth and the freedom of Australia ! But what did you do to help us ? Where were tEe men you could have sent? There were men by our side, it is true - men who were honest enough never to call themselves Socialists before - they were here with a rifle in their hands ; but you, cowards that you are, where were you ? Now that you know what trouble is, and you appeal to us for help, we send you greetings, and we call you comrades. That is as good as five army corps. Perish and die,’ because you, in your hypocritical hearts, said that to us.”
– That is a ,poor compliment for what Australia has done.
– He has been crying “ stinking fish “ all through the piece.
– Plain speaking is a tonic at times. I have never learned to do anything else since the days when I sat at my mother’s knee - Lord have mercy on her soul - and listened to her teachings. I have never dissembled my feelings. I have broken stones in this country, and I am prepared to earn my living in that way again, if necessary, rather than follow the lead of any man who wants to put me in mental bondage.
Thank God, I have still a spark of manhood in me. In this struggle we need to put up our greatest effort. We have to put up a manly effort, and unmanliness is as foreign to the Australian as virtue is to the serpent. We need to do our best, so that no Frenchman or Britisher who may meet us hereafter will be entitled to say to us, “ You did not do your fair share.” As one who has travelled over thousands of miles of this country, I know that every Australian desires, above all things, to be independent, and to be able to look the wide world in the face. Australians will never consent to place themselves in such a position that, in our hour of danger, others will be able to say to us, “ You did not do your share, you did not play the game, and now that you are in trouble you can fight your own battles.” Those men of our party who think that they are the soothsayers of the hour are the unconscious enemies of the country. It is because I want the Labour movement to progress, and because I desire that the freedom of this country shall be preserved, that I advocate, with all the power that I can command, the action for which the proclamation provides. I regret that I have detained the Senate so long. I have spoken, as is usual with me, in the calmest language I can command, and I trust that what I have said will have a beneficial effect on those of my party who differ from me on this question. Even if my remarks represent only a grain of seed dropped by the wayside, I hope that that grain will have fallen on fertile soil, and that it will germinate and fructify.
– After the hysterical outburst - the speech, or screech - in which Senator Lynch has just indulged, I think it is about time we got down to business and discussed the main question. Before proceeding to do so, however, I should like to puncture one of the arguments used by the honorable senator, who, I regret to say, has had to leave to catch a train. Had he remained, I should have dealt with other points raised by him; but I do not wish to be unfair by referring to them in his absence. The honorable senator said that the people of Western Australia were solidly behind the Government and behind conscription. I deny that. I saw a telegram from a Western Australian gold-fields centre in which it was stated that the anti-conscriptionists would win by four to one.
– Would it not be better to await the result of the referendum?
– The same remark might well have been addressed to Senator Lynch. One of the biggest meetings ever known on the gold-fields of Western Australia was held at the Boulder last Saturday night in support of an anticonscriptionist, who is fighting Mr. Scaddan, and who has every prospect of beating him. It is just as well that Senator Lynch and others from Western Australia, who say that that State is solidly in favour of conscription, should not count their chickens before they are hatched. The honorable senator threw out a challenge which I am quite prepared to take up, and in doing so I am sure I shall receive the support of many others. I hope we shall get a majority to support the meeting of the. Senate from day to day throughout this campaign, so that we may thresh cub this question. I should like the Senate to continue its sittings so that we may keep a watch on the Government. If the Government could play such trickery as that resorted to last Friday, when the Senate was actually sitting, what would it not do when Parliament was not in session? I should like to say, in passing, that there was no trickery in connexion with the amendment carried last Friday. Those who supported it were seized of their duties and responsibilities.
SenatorReady. - And knew that “ the other fellow “ was away.
– It was the honorable senator’s duty to see that “ the other fellow “ was not away. Those who remained here last Friday afternoon realized that the Government were about to evade their responsibilities to the Parliament and the people.
– What about those who had gone away in good faith?
– Every honorable senator is seized of his own responsibilities, and knows his own business. We realized that the Government were not complying with the laws of the country - that they were endeavouring to evade them - and it was in order to bring them before the bar of public opinion, and to expose their tactics, that we decided to bring honorable senators back to-day. A proclamation was issued last Friday, and, but for the questions that were raised cn the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, we should have known nothing about that proclamation until the Senate had been closed down. Regulations had also been issued in connexion with the proclamation, and we should have had no opportunity to discuss them but for the action of those who were responsible for the adjournment of the Senate until to-day. What is the law on the subject ?
– Chief Justice Mullan will now state the law.
– I know as much about it as Chief Justice Pearce, and, unlike him, am not advised by an army of clerks.
– I claim to know nothing about the law.
– I wish the honorable senator would be as candid regarding his administration of the Defence Department. Section 46 of the Defence Act provides -
As it happened, Parliament was sitting. It was therefore incumbent upon the Government, who are, in effect, the GovernorGeneral, to give to Parliament before it rose last Friday, or before we rise to-day, the reasons for calling out the Forces. Why was this not done?
– Is Parliament sitting now ?
– I will leave the honorable senator to answer his own silly question. Of course, Parliament is sitting, but the reasons have not yet been communicated to Parliament, and I claim that they ought to be. The truth is that :he Government were unable to give the reasons. They have called up the men ostensibly for home service under the Defence Act, but really they want them for service abroad. They gave no reasons, because they could not be candid and frank, and a proclamation which should have come before us last Friday was carefully locked up in a safe by somebody, until, as aranged, so I understand, Parliament was shut up. But there were other people alive to the situation as well as the Prime Minister and Senator Pearce. Section 60 of the Defence Act distinctly provides that, if Parliament is not sitting at the date of the issue of the proclamation, it shall be summoned to meet within ten days after that date. It is clear that if Parliament is sitting, Parliament should have all the information in connexion with the proclamation, and the reasons for issuing it, and that, if Parliament is not sitting, it must be called together within ten days. If Parliament had not been sitting, would any one argue, that we should not be called together, and what should we be called together for except to hear the reasons for the proclamation ? It, therefore, undoubtedly follows that when Parliament is sitting it must be given those reasons. I have tried to get some legal opinions on this matter.
– Was that necessary?
– It would not be necessary for an egotistical gentleman like the Minister for Defence, but a humble layman like myself considered it necessary to consult men with trained legal minds. I have gone to the trouble to obtain legal opinions on the proclamation, and shall submit them for the benefit of honorable senators. I put the question whether the proclamation was constitutional to Mr. Alfred W. Foster, barrister-at-law, Selbourne Chambers, Melbourne ; Maurice Blackburn, M.L.A., barrister-at-law, Melbourne; and Frank Brennan, LL.B., M.H.R., barrister and solicitor, Melbourne. Mr. Foster says -
In my opinion, the proclamation is invalid, and, consequently, of no effect. My reason for so stating is that the proclamatory power of the Governor-General is a matter dependent entirely upon the commission constituting his office, and upon any Statute conferring such power. There is no power to call out the citizens for military service under his commission, and the power conferred under the Defence Act is to be exercised only in strict conformity with that Act, and, so far as the published statements of responsible Ministers have gone, the conditions of the Defence Act have not been complied with. If this be so, the proclamation must be held to be invalid.
– Was this opinion paid for?
– I hope I am not like my honorable friend in that respect. Mr. Brennan said -
I have read Mr. Foster’s opinion regarding the scope and effect of the proclamation, and I agree with the view stated by him.
Mr. Blackburn’s opinion was ;
The power of the Governor-General to issue a proclamation calling upon persons liable to serve in the Citizen Forces to enlist and servo as prescribed can only be exercised in “ time of war.” “ War,” in the Defence Act, has a special definition to mean “ invasion or apprehended invasion of, or apprehended attack on, the Commonwealth, or any Territory under the control of the Commonwealth by an enemy or armed force.” Admittedly the powers are not being exercised in a time of “ war,” according to the foregoing definition, and are, consequently, an abuse of the Defence Act.
– Then he says that we are not at war !
– That is the legal view under the Defence Act. According to those opinions, the proclamation is invalid, and I believe that if a man were to disobey it he would be within his rights.
– It would be rather dangerous to advise any one to do so.
– I am not advising any one to do so, or in any way suggesting it. I am simply pointing out that, in view of the opinions I have just read, fortified by the language of the Defence Act, which is very explicit on the question, a man who disobeys the law in that regard would, I believe, be discharged by any honest tribunal. Leaving the proclamation, which is apparently invalid, and coming to the regulations, I understand that the regulation issued on Saturday last, Statutory Rule No. 20, has not yet been tabled, although the Senate is sitting to-day. The Government are not tabling it simply because they want to prevent the Senate passing an opinion on it. They know they can delay tabling it for fourteen days, and they know also that, in order to disallow it, we must keep Parliament open for fourteen days, and it may be necessary to do so. The Government are sheltering themselves behind the law. The Minister for Defence, who is primarily responsible for these regulations, seeks to save himself from public opinion and from being challenged in the Senate as to whether they are just or otherwise.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the thumb-print regulation ?
– I propose to deal with that regulation later, and to give honorable senators an opportunity of approving or otherwise of these Prussian importations.
– I am glad that the honorable senator refers to “ Prussian importations.”
– Yes; the thumbprint regulation comes from Prussia.
– It comes from America.
– No; it comes from the Prussian army. Evidently the Minister has copied it from Prussia.
– The honorable senator is more familiar with Prussia thanI am. The regulation is copied from America.
– Section 75 of the Defence Act says -
Any person who -
No one can take exception to that penalty so long as the person who is accused has the opportunity of attempting to prove his innocence; but the Government have gone further, and have practically violated that right which an accused person always has. Under a regulation which they have just issued, a man arrested for any of these offences can be interned without the opportunity of putting up a defence. The regulation overrides the provisions of section 75.
– The Government have no power to override any section of an Act.
– They have power to do many things, and they would do them but for the fact that there are some people who would challenge their actions. It is cruel that the Government should violate the spirit of the law in this way. These new regulations were issued on Saturday, and I had some difficulty in securing a copy of them, although there are plenty of copies available to-day. Section 9 of these regulations says -
Penalty: Imprisonment for six months.
– That regulation does not deal with the case of a person inciting another not to enlist.
– The Minister cannot get away from the point that under this regulation a man may be arrested and taken to a military depot before he has had an opportunity of proving his innocence. No man should be interned before he has had an opportunity of appearing before a Court. I do not say that the man himself should be the judge of his liability; but I cannot see why a registrar should ‘have the power to say that any person should be interned or dragged by a policeman or a military officer to a military camp. Before any man is condemned he should first be tried.
– The honorable senator is referring to a man who is liable to enlist and refuses to do so.
– Never mind whom I am referring to. The Government have never had the power that they assume under this regulation. Why should they assume it now ?
– The Government have the power under the provisions of the Defence Act.
– Not under section 75, which I have just quoted.
– That section deals with an entirely different matter. It deals with the case of one who induces another not to enlist.
– Does the Minister think it fair that a man should be dragged to a military camp without first being taken before a Court? Instead of summoning him to attend before a Court to answer a charge, it is proposed to send along a military officer or a policeman, and arrest him.
– Hear, hear ‘ The man has broken the law.
– A man may break the law in a hundred ways and not be arrested.
– If the honorable senator goes down the street and smashes a window he will be arrested, and tried afterwards.
– I would not be arrested if I gave sureties for my appearance in the Court on the following day. In hundreds of cases proceedings are taken by way of summons, but in this case, without any question of first establishing a man’s guilt, he is to betaken to a military depot and practically interned. No Labour Government should send a man to gaol or intern him before he has been heard in his defence. No matter how the Minister seeks to explain the matter away, he cannot avoid the charge that this man will be liable to what is practically gaoling - because an internment camp would be as bad as a gaol - before he is heard in his defence ; and no honorable senator should allow a Government to enforce such a regulation until Parliament has had an opportunity of assenting to it or otherwise. Now I come to the pernicious system that has been introduced - the thumb-print - to be succeeded, I suppose, by the thumb-screw a little later. This is a nice sample of the Prussianism that is being inaugurated by a Labour Government. The second paragraph of regulation 74 says that the military registrar or his assistant shall, “after taking the thumb or finger prints of the applicant “-
– Applicant for what?
– Applicant to enlist.
– I do not think ‘it means the applicant to enlist.
– I shall make the whole matter clear to honorable senators.
– If the honorable senator will read the whole of regulation 74, he will find that it applies to those rejected on the ground of medical unfitness, to prevent trading in certificates, so that an “ unfit “ certificate may not be passed on to a fit man.
– I do not care what it applies to. This is the first time in Australia that the obnoxious system of taking thumb-prints has been proposed in connexion with free men. It is a system that has hitherto been used only for the identification of criminals.
– Would not men who traded in certificates be criminals?
– It is proposed to regard all these men as criminals. Why not take every one’s thumb print? Let me read some of the regulations -
. . .
. . .
– Is not the honorable senator prepared to fight the Prussians ?
– I hope the Minister is.
– Yes, I am. .
– So am I, and I am doing it just as effectively as is the Minister. One of the strongest arguments in support of conscription was that the men in the trenches should get a fair deal ; that they should be relieved oftener. It was said that it was a shame that men who had come back here should be sent again to fight. The Government, however, are actually providing in these regulations that discharged soldiers shall be called up just like every one else. They are to have no exemption and no privilege. If we are going to have conscription - I do not think that we are - those who have been to the front, and have returned, should be given some privilege.
– What about the men actually at the front who have not had a spell ?
– I am dealing now with those who have come back from the front. This is what the Government propose in regard to them -
Of course he would not be exempt in accordance with these regulations if he were physically fit. I claim that those who have come back are entitled to some privilege. One of the strongest reasons used to get the Referendum Bill through the two Houses was that these men should have a chance, and should not be required to go back again.
– When was that said ?
– The statement was made in both Houses. It was made by all the advocates of conscription. It was said to be unfair that men who had come back should be forced to go to the front again while others were allowed to remain here.
– But the others are not going to be allowed to remain here. They are to be sent, too.
– Men are now being called up contingent upon the electors voting for conscription. Should conscription be carried, discharged men will not be exempt; they will have no privilege.
– You will not find the discharged men squealing.
– As I believe that the Government have tried to side-track the Senate in regard to the proclamation that has been issued, and have not given us an opportunity to discuss and, should we think fit, disallow the regulations that have been issued, I think that we should take certain action. Every man who helps Senator Pearce to get into recess now must be taken to approve of the first step towards conscription, namely, the issue of the proclamation calling up men. He must be taken also to be in favour of every one of the regulations that have been issued. He must be regarded as voting for the thumb-print system, and as wishing to imprison men without trial. I intend to put the acid on this Senate, so that the public may see where the responsibility lies.
– What would be gained by keeping the Senate sitting? The honorable senator should show what good would accrue from our remaining here, instead of insinuating in a cowardly way that we are afraid to face something, and are trying to avoid doing so.
– I am delighted to have been asked that question. I shall put the issue fairly before the Senate.
– Honorable senators are prepared to face anything they may have to face.
– It is provided that regulations under the Defence Act must be laid before Parliament, if it be sitting, within fifteen days of their issue, and most other regulations within thirty days. Either House of Parliament has the right to disallow any regulation within a prescribed time. Now the Senate is so placed that it cannot deal with the regulations which I have been criticising, because the Government have skilfully prevented it by not laying the regulations on the table. But these regulations must be laid on the table within fifteen days if we continue to sit, and Senator Watson, or any other honorable senator who may disagree with any of them, can move to disallow it if he compels the Senate to continue sitting for another fourteen days. The course which I am about to take is not intended to put him or any other honorable senator in an awkward position. My object is to let the people of Australia know the little scheme of the Government, and to show them that some members of the Senate are prepared to do what they can to defeat it. To put Senator Watson and others in the right, if they desire it. by giving them an opportunity to disallow any regulation, I move -
That all the words after the word “ on “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Tuesday next.”
If the Senate rejects the amendment, we shall know how honorable senators stand. Those who vote against it must be taken as voting for the proclamation andfor the regulations, and as indorsing every regulation.
– Why not move a motion of censure against the Government straightway ?
– That would not be effective. The Senate would adjourn for some weeks, and there would be no opportunity to disallow any of the regulations. The course which I propose is the only one which will give Senator Watson and every other honorable senator the opportunity to disallow these regulations.
Had the Government been straightforward, had they done what they should have done in an important matter like this, the regulations would have been laid on the table. They are dated 29th September, and are signed by the GovernorGeneral and “ G.F. Pearce, Minister for Defence.” Why were they not laid on the table last Friday? It may be said that there was not then a copy of them available. Even though that may be so, they could have been laid on the table today, because I was able to get a copy of them yesterday from the Government Printer. Every one knows why the regulations have not been laid on the table. The Minister for Defence is afraid that the Senate might disallow some of these Prussian regulations, which provide for the taking of thumb-prints and the imprisoning of men without trial. I did not intend to deal with these regulations at length ; this action was forced on me. My amendment gives the Senate the only opportunity it can get of discussing and disallowing the regulations should it so desire.
– I second the amendment, and I am pleased that Senator Mullan has moved it. It is inconceivable that regulations of the important nature of those which have just been issued should be kept from Parliament. In Saturday evening’s Melbourne Herald I noticed, under great headlines, statements to the following effect : -
On Monday every single man and widower without children between twenty-one and thirtyfive years of age in Australia will automatically be called to the colours, and may be retained in the ranks until the end of the war. Those affected must report in alphabetical precedence at the places and hours mentioned in the advertised lists. There will be a preliminary medical examination at the places of enlistment, and a final examination at the camps or elsewhere. Finger-prints will be taken to identify the men.
That statement was made public through the press on the Saturday. Seeing that the Senate was to meet to-day, it was only reasonable for us to assume that the Minister for Defence would, as his first action this afternoon, have tabled these regulations. If they can be given to the country through the press, it is unreasonable that they should be denied to the members of this branch of the “National Parliament. The proclamation and the gist of the regulations were telegraphed to the InterState newspapers on Friday, while the Senate was sitting, but the Minister of Defence, for reasons best known to himself, but which seem a little suspicious, as though he were afraid that they would be discussed or criticised, neglected to table them in the Senate. That is a position .which I do not think any Government can justify. The Minister for Defence talked of honorable senators responsible for the sitting to-day “trapping” other members of the Senate, but in saying that I thought he was living very convenient to a glass house. These regulations are of serious moment to the people of Australia, in view of the unprecedented action that has been taken in the issue of the proclamation, and in view df its consequences. In addition to those enumerated by my colleague, Senator Mullan, there are a number of other regulations to which I think public attention should be called. Regulation 8 provides that -
All officers in the service of the Commonwealth and of any State, and all officers in “the service of any local governing body, are authorized and required to furnish to a military registrar all such information as is required relative to the liability for military service of any person liable to serve.
By that regulation the Government are throwing upon every public servant of the Commonwealth or a State, and every servant of a local governing body, a responsibility which, in many cases, they will be unable to fulfil. The regulation has a subtle savour of the introduction of the informer, or spy, system amongst Australians. By what right is one of these officers to supply to a military registrar his opinion of John Smith’s qualifications for home service ? It is not fair to the public officer, nor is it fair to the men called up for service. Surely the military organization of Australia should be sufficiently elastic to do all that is required of it without the creation of what might be called a subsidiary organization of public servants to assist it. This appears to me to be an extension of the hateful secret service institution which I suppose is considered necessary in war time
– A registrar of births may be referred to to say when some person was born. What Prussianism is there in that?
-The reference is to the liability to military service of any person liable to serve.
– Does that not depend on age ?
– It might depend on many other things. Under this regulation, military registrars may ask. a registrar of births, or a shire clerk, his opinion regarding any man in his district. The military have no right to make such requests.
– I can do that now.
– Yes ; but no one is forced to give the honorable senator official information.
– Yes; if I offer him a shilling for it, a registrar of births is obliged to give me a copy of a certificate of birth.
– Quite so; but no information could be forced from public servants . such as might be forced from them under this regulation. I say that these public servants have not the opportunity to enable them to express opinions as to a man’s liability to serve. Regulation No. 13, dealing with members of the Australian Imperial Force, has already been briefly touched upon by Senator Mullan. I find that under regulation 17 it is provided that -
It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that a few days ago I questioned the Minister for Defence concerning the appearance of counsel in the exemption Courts. The Minister was not then so definite concerning the refusal of counsel as he is in this regulation. Neither counsel nor paid agent is to be allowed to appear in these exemption Courts. That is all right, as it applies to both sides, but under the regulation a representative of the military is to be before the Court as a party to each application.
– And he may be a legal gentleman.
– That is so. He is made a party to an application by any person who desires exemption. That is a lop-sided arrangement. Is it another instance of the democracy of conscription? A military officer, who by virtue of hia calling must be well informed on every question that is likely to arise, is to be a party to each application. John Smith, the wharf labourer, going before the Police Magistrate, is confronted by a military officer, with all his decorations and plumes, and attended probably by an orderly or a couple of orderlies, who is to have the right to state the case to the magistrate against John Smith’s application.
– John Smith has only to tell the truth, and he will be all right.
– If that be so, why should not the matter be left between the magistrate and John Smith?
– The honorable member would make the magistrate a party to the case.
– No; he would be the adjudicator.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of liberty to employ legal assistance?
– No; I agree with the Minister for Defence in preventing the appearance of counsel or paid agent in the exemption Courts.
– The honorable senator is in favour of a system which allows the Crown to be represented by a military officer, but will not give the right to a private citizen to be represented by counsel .
– No; that is what I am objecting to now. I say it is totally undemocratic, and it is unnecessary.
– Would the honorable senator not allow both parties to a case to appear in Court ?
– The application for exemption is lodged before an independent tribunal, and why should either party, then, be given a privilege?
– The honorable senator forgets that there are two parties to these applications.
– I consider this regulation neither democratic nor fair. In my view, it has been drafted to have a detrimental effect upon applications for exemptions which might be very generally made. I refer honorable senators now to clause 3 of regulation 20 -
When an application can be more conveni ently dealt with by another local exemption Court than by the local exemption Court to which the application has been made, the former Court may, on the application of either of the parties, hear the application, and the Court to which the application was originally made shall forthwith refer the application to the other Court.
I take strong exception.to that provision.
– It is the provision for change of venue which has been responsible for the conviction of more of our people in past times than any other method known.
– Yes, it is the power to change the venue. I was about to remark that it was one of the blackest of the many blots in Sir William Irvine’s Coercion Act at the time of the railway strike in Victoria.
– The right to change the venue was the cause of the gaoling of many unionists in Queensland.
– I was coming to that. In the shearers’ strike of 1891 in Queensland, men charged with the heinous offence of having gone on strike were taken away to places where the prosecuting authority felt sure that they would be sent along to the penal establishment at St. Helena.
– They frequently brought them before a Bench of squatters.
-Quite so. They always made sure of their juries. The arrangement of the panel was always carefully planned. The railway men who went on strike in Victoria were confronted with this danger: If the Government were not satisfied with the measure of severity that would be handed out in a particular district to those whom they prosecuted, they had the power to change the venue to any part of Victoria. This is a very dangerous power to invest in the military authorities. When we consider the rate at which they have been advancing since the agitation for conscription was set up, we can imagine to what length the military caste in Australia will go if given the unbridled licence which they will enjoy under the conscription system. It is absolutely essential that public attention should be drawn to these regulations. The members of the Senate who secured the adjournment on Friday to the present sitting performed a public duty to the people of Australia. I was rather surprised at the attitude adopted by the Minister for Defence when the Senate met to-day. Before waiting to see whether honorable senators desired to ask questions, or to have an opportunity to discuss matters of vital importance, the Minister at once moved that the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to a date to be fixed by the President.
– He got his blow in first.
– Getting in first in that way appeared to me to be very much like a trick. Senator Story comes from South Australia, and sharp practice is, therefore, not new to him.
– Senator Ferricks tried sharp practice in South Australia, but it did not come off.
– I say that my visit to Adelaide was educational. It confirmed the view I always held of the danger of leaving the destinies of the Labour movement in the hands of politicians. Under regulation 35, an application for exemption may be made on the ground that serious hardship would ensue if a man were called up for military service owing to his exceptional domestic or financial obligations. This is one of the grounds upon which exemptions may be applied for. I mention it now that it may be given due publicity. I know that many people in Australia may be involved, as they have to live upon modest wages, and it is due to them that the existence of this regulation should be made known. It is quite conceivable that many of them have not had an opportunity of reading the regulations, as we have had a brief opportunity of doing. I say feelingly that we owe no thanks to the Government for that opportunity. In regard to regulation 80, dealing with thumb-prints, I think the Minister contended by interjection that this system is to apply to exemption certificates only. The regulation reads - 80. (1) For the purposes of identification, thumb-prints shall be taken of the palmar surface of both thumbs, but if the palmar surface of one or both thumbs should be damaged, then the print shall be taken of the index finger or fingers, as the case may be.
– In each case the regulation deals with persons who, because of medical unfitness, or for some other reasons, are exempt. If a person is exempt, on his attestation form and medical certificate, his thumb-print will be shown.
– That is the point upon which I desire to be clear. Although nothing can make us wonder in these days, it would have been inconceivable that persons who had merely enlisted should have had to leave an imprint of their thumbs in the hands of the military authorities. But even in regard to those who have been granted exemption, can it be seriously contended that such an extreme precaution is necessary? I assume that the reason for that drastic regulation is the fear that persons might trade in the exemption certificates. If that assumption is correct, the Government are paying a very poor compliment to the Australian people.
– Hundreds of men went to Egypt who had never passed a doctor, but secured admission on the certificates of some other persons who remained behind.
– I hardly think that a man who had been granted exemption would dispose of his certificate to another, and so render himself liable to be called up again.
– If he were called up a second time he would again fail to pass the test.
– I agree that the military organization should be sufficiently safeguarded in its operations to prevent cases such as the Minister has indicated. But we know that the secret service system in Australia, as in every other country which is at war, is conducted on deeplaid lines. Nobody is able to discover what persons in the community are members of the secret service., That is illustrated by a Queensland case which we brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence. An Australian had been interned on the ground of disloyalty. During the Brisbane strike, in 1912, this man was a relentless critic of those men who acted as special constables or scabs, and he maintained that attitude subsequently. He was employed at the Ipswich Railway Workshops, and I believe that a conspiracy was hatched by some of the persons whom he had criticised in order to bring about hia internment. That man, Richard Gehrmann by name, went to school with me, and so far as I know there is as much German sympathy in him as there is in me. At our request the Minister granted an inquiry. Then I asked the Minister if the man might know the grounds upon which he was charged. The Minister replied, “No; the evidence will be given at the inquiry.” When the man was interned, he was not charged with the statements which he is alleged to have made, but only the vaguest information was conveyed to him as to why he was under arrest. When granting the inquiry the Minister for Defence told us that even if the Court of inquiry found in favour of the man, he, as Minister, would come to a decision, not only on the evidence adduced at the inquiry, but also on the evidence supplied to him by members of the secret service. I asked the Minister if it would not be fair to supply the man with information as to the statements he was alleged to have made, so that he might have an opportunity of either denying or confirming them. But the Minister told me, and I suppose his answer was feasible enough, that if such information were imparted, the whole secret service would break down. John Smith would be informed of the charge laid against him by members of the secret service; he would remember having made the remark and, consequently, he would gain an inkling as to what persons were members of the secret service. That just illustrates again the democracy of warfare and military rule.
– You assented to that when you agreed to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act by the passage of the War Precautions Act.
– We have found to our cost the mistake we made in reposing that trust in a so-called Labour Government.
– So-called ?
– Well, I will call it the Hughes Government. When a man is charged with having made certain statements, the least he might expect, in a freedom-loving country like Australia, is that he might be told what is the allegation against him.
– Did I say that any secret service man made a statement about that man ?
– Then your whole argument is based on an assumption ?
– We endeavoured to wait on the Minister for Defence a second time in connexion with this matter, but he refused to receive a deputation. It was the Minister who told me that, in addition to the evidence given at the inquiry, he would consider the evidence of the secret service.
– I said that was my practice in such cases.
– Yes. But the Minister said that he could not make known to us, or the man charged, the intelligence he had received from the secret service. Therefore, I say it is dangerous to give any Government wide drag-net powers, such as are contained in these regulations.
– You do not think the Government should have a secret service ?
– Oh, yes.
– You think we should let the Germans have it all their own way ‘
– I do not think that any such inference can be drawn from my remarks, which are intended to show that the secret service is a necessary, but evil, part of the military system, and I believe the evil will be multiplied a hundredfold in the application of conscription. The exemption ques’tion will present many difficulties, and I was much impressed by the following paragraph in last night’s Melbourne Herald -
One of the police magistrates who has been appointed to deal with applications for exemption suggested to-day that, in order to secure uniformity in decisions when reasons were practically similar, certain cases should be adjourned to permit of magistrates meeting at night and conferring. The magistrate said that heartburnings would be caused if one applicant were denied exemption in one district for reasons which were considered sufficient to warrant exemption in another district. If procedure were as near as possible similar in all Courts, there would be no ground for complaint.
Then he added this significant addendum -
It was easy to say that a higher Court could be appealed to, but appeals were not always practicable, even for people with meritorious cases.
There we have an admission by one of the magistrates appointed to deal with these applications for exemptions that appeals sometimes are not practicable, even when the case is meritorious. That is a very serious statement from a responsible source, and it just emphasizes how careful we must be if there is to be any approach to justice in the operation of the exemption Courts. Like other members of the Senate, I was considerably entertained this afternoon by the speech of Senator Lynch, who, I regret to say, has been called away to Ballarat to address a conscription meeting in conjunction with Mr. Watt. The honorable senator was hardly doing me justice when he stated that I advocated the hiring of other people to fight for Australia. I interjected at the time that his leader, Mr. Hughes, had expressed himself in favour of that policy. It has been stated repeatedly, without any attempt to produce proof or argument in support, that Australia was depending on conscript countries to fight its battles. I think Australia has done remarkably well. I do not wish to reiterate my previously expressed opinions in that regard, but it is necessary to point out again that Australian volunteers at Gallipoli did much to assist Russia by holding the Turks at bay when the Russians were sorely pressed, and a flank attack by the Turks would have done much injury to them. Therefore, Australian volunteers can claim to have done something material to assist those of our Allies who have conscription in force. On 31st July, 1901, as will be seen by reference to Hansard, page 3298, Mr. Hughes said -
I would not compel any man to serve in the militia who was desirous of evading service, if he chooses to pay a tax for the maintenance of some one to serve in his place. Any man who, because of religious scruples, business interests, or any other reason, was unwilling to serve, should be exempted from service, provided he pays a capitation tax.
Serious words, coming as they did from the leader of Senator Lynch in the present conscription campaign. Mr. Hughes would have exempted any person provided that person were willing to pay a capitation tax. Surely that is a very significant statement for the present Prime Minister to have made fifteen years ago. He continues -
I lay down as a basic proposition that it is the first duty of every man to defend his country, and if he is not willing to do so, he should pay somebody else for doing it.
– He was on the same platform then as the honorable senator is to-day.
– I do not think that Senator Newland ever heard me voice such sentiments. I say that the system then enunciated by Mr. Hughes was a vicious one, which was formulated in the interests of the wealthy people.
– I do not think he would acknowledge those sentiments now.
– I observe that Mr. Hughes then, as now, prated of Democracy, and gave utterance to almost identical sentiments. The situation appealed to me as a remarkable one, evidencing, as it did, how nearly a public man can adhere to the actual words used by him a long time previously. The quotation which I have made is an appropriate reply to Senator Lynch’s unfounded allegations. I have here another utterance of the present Prime Minister, which deals with the payment of soldiers who may be called up for home- service. We have been repeatedly assured that under .conscription the Government will not tolerate any change in the payment of our troops - that all will receive the same rate of pay, regardless of the duration of the war. What were the sentiments of Mr. Hughes on this matter as expressed by him on the -5th August, 1903, when the Defence Bill was under consideration ? On page 3094 of Hansard he is thus reported -
My amendment provides that all males between eighteen and twenty-one years shall be called upon to present themselves for fourteen days’ training in each year. These men number, according to the information furnished by the Government Statistician, about 108,000, of whom we may presume that about 100,000 would bo at our call.
Mr. Higgins. ; Are the men to go into barracks ?
Mr. HUGHES. I propose that they shall present themselves at such places as may be determined upon, not all at once, but in such numbers as may he considered convenient.
Mr. McCay. Are they to be paid?
Mr. HUGHES. Most emphatically, no.
Sir John Forrest. I suppose they are to have rifles and ammunition?
Mr. HUGHES. Undoubtedly ; the basic idea of my amendment is that it is the duty of every citizen to fit himself for the defence of the Commonwealth. The Minister proposes to take the power to make a levy en masse in times of danger. He does not propose to pay the whole of those who respond to that call.
Sir John FORREST Oh, yes, we must pay them.
Mr. HUGHES. Surely not. The Minister has power to call upon every male inhabitant of Australia, except those who are exempt from service - that is, those who are already in the Defence Forces - and who have resided for six months in the Commonwealth, and aTe British subjects, and who are between the ages of eighteen and sixty, to serve in the militia. It is inconceivable that when the whole nation has to respond to a call to arms, every man should be paid.
According to Mr. Hughes, it was inconceivable that men, upon being called up for home service - as they are ostensibly being called up to-day - should be paid. He continued -
On the very face of it, such an idea is absurd. Therefore, since the principle of general conscription is introduced, the Minister, and not I, must bear the odium of its introduction, if there he any.
He affirmed that no odium should attach to him by reason of the payment of these men. He proceeded -
The Minister surely does not propose to pay the population upon a levy en masse?
Sir John Forrest Yes, I do. Subclause 2 of clause 20 provides for that.
Mr. HUGHES. The authorities will have the right to call every one out. Does the Minister propose that every one called out .shall be paid?
Sir John Forrest. Yes; but I do not say how much.
All of which goes to prove that the idea in the mind of Mr. Hughes was that these men should not be paid. I wish to emphasize my contention by quoting still another passage from the speech of Mr. Hughes on the same occasion, which will be found on page 3097 of Hansard of 5th August, 1903. It reads -
The amendment, if agreed to, would provide an ample and efficient Defence Force, and the expense of carrying it into effect would not be serious. All that would be necessary would be to purchase a few more rifles, and to provide a little extra for the services of instructional officers and the holding of camps.
Sir John FORREST Does the honorable member propose to pay those who are in course of training?
Mr. HUGHES I have already said that I do not. If I did propose to pay thom, the right honorable gentleman would tell the Committee that it would cost, perhaps, ?500,000 a year to do so, and would ask honorable members if they are prepared to vote so large an amount of money. We do not pay men for doing their duty to the State by recording their votes, although in New South Wales, and, I suppose, in Victoria too, thousands of men lose a day’s work at every general election. Why, then, should we pay men for doing their duty in regard to the defence of their country?
I venture to assert that if we could get an exposition of the innermost soul of Mr. Hughes to-day, it would be found that he is animated by the same sentiments. The conclusion which I arrived at after a perusal of these reports is that if the war continues for any long period our financial burden under conscription will be more than Australia can bear. It would not be equally as heavy under the voluntary system. Experience has shown that we have not been able to send our men to the front as expeditiously as we would like, and the indications are that we shall be able to do no better in the future, on account of the less shipping that is available every day. Quite a large number of men will enter our training camps, and they will have to be equipped, maintained, and paid, so that the financial strain will be very great.
– There will not be much spent upon equipping them before the referendum is taken.
– But under the proclamation they will be called up for service “ during the continuance of the war.” That is a departure from what was generally expected, and the only conclusion which can be drawn from it is that they will enter our home service camps and will remain there during the continuance of the war. To some extent that departure has lessened the conviction which I had previously held that the action of the Government in calling up these men was invalid. The Government now say in effect, “ We are calling up these men, not until the referendum is taken, but ‘ during the continuance of the war.’ “ That is the plain unvarnished statement which is set out in the proclamation that has been signed by the Governor-General. When we consider what the financial responsibility and burden on Australia will be on account of this new departure, and the adoption of the Government proposals, does any honorable member think for a moment that Mr. Hughes may not change his attitude in regard to the rates of pay ? Mr. Hughes has publicly stated that he is prepared to eat his words as to the sending of men out of Australia for military service - words uttered in July of last year. The right honorable gentleman has publicly stated a dozen times since that he has eaten those words, and that he has been forced to do so by necessity and experience. Hence my fear that he is just as liable to change his opinion again; and I am fortified in that by the remembrance of his earlier speeches in another place. I believe that the Prime Minister was utterly sincere when he used those words over a year ago, as I think he is sincere in his whole-hearted Imperialism to-day.
– Do you never change your opinion?
– Oh, yes. I am afraid that Mr. Hughes will be one of the first to change his own opinion, and that of the Government, in regard to the rate of pay of Australian soldiers, seeing that he has apparently changed the opinion of his Government on the question of conscription. If I am convinced on any point, I shall certainly change my opinion. If the day should come for me to disagree with the Labour party or the Labour platform, I shall do so, but I shall get out of the Labour party to do it; and that makes all the difference. “We have to consider what Australia has already done, and the financial burdens which are heaping on us, and which must be continued even if the war happily were to end before the close of the financial year, as some judges are prone to prophesy. Certain people are taking to themselves the flattering satisfaction that the wealth tax proposed by the Government is the be-all and endall of that class of taxation. I welcome the modest proposal of the Government to impose a tax of lj per cent, on the wealth of Australia, spread over three annual instalments; but I am not sanguine or optimistic enough, to believe that we shall thus be enabled to get rid of our responsibilities financial and otherwise - repatriation, pensions, and so forth - as soon as the war is over. I am strongly convinced that, instead of this little instalment of lj per cent.-
– It is not a tax at all!
– It is a welcome little instalment, that is all.
– It is the first edition, anyhow !
– I think that, at the end of three years, public opinion will be so strong that whatever Government is in power - whether it be a Hughes Government, a Cook Government, or an Irvine Government - it will be compelled to do the people’s will. My idea is that, instead of the public favouring any relief from such taxation, the party in power will have to give the screw a few more turns.
– We will try to get the last “ bob I”
– I think that the Australian public will see to that; and I agree with it. Public opinion will be so strong in favour of the wealthy section oi the community doing its share, that no Government will be able to shirk its responsibilities. The other day those of us who had stated our intention to take the platform in opposition to conscription signed a declaration to that effect; and on une following day there appeared in the press a list of the names of those who had not signed. I think that was hardly an honest presentment of the situation, as existent in the different sections of our party. To have been honest, those responsible for the publication of the names in the newspapers ought to have done as we did - they ought to have attached their signatures to a declaration that they were prepared to go on the platform, and urge the people to adopt conscription.
– They had the opportunity of publicly stating that their name? had no right to be included in the list, and they did not do so.
- Senator Millen takes the view that silence gives consent, and it is a reasonable assumption, but we are forced to the belief that a comparatively large section of those whose names were mentioned will not go on the platform ‘ and advocate conscription, and, therefore, the press statement is misleading. In fairness to the people, these men should have made a declaration in “ concrete and definite terms,” to quote a phrase very often used by the Prime Minister. I have no more to say at this juncture, except to urge the Government and the Minister for Defence to see that the regulations are administered justly and equitably. Parliament will be denied the right of confirming or rejecting the regulations, owing to the fact that they have not been tabled, although they were given to the press and published throughout Australia. These regulations were denied the members of this Chamber, who would have been debarred from discussing them but for the action of those who secured the adjournment on Friday last. I trust that government by regulation, hateful and unfair as it is, will not be accentuated by government by hidden regulation - bv regulation which has not seen the light of day, and has not been indorsed or rejected by the Parliament of the Commonwealth. This circumstance will, I believe, have a most important bearing on the result of the referendum. Senator Lynch is optimistic regarding
Western Australia, but I have been informed that there is a strong opinion that that State will defeat the referendum; and, if that be so, God help the cause in the eastern States t
– The referendum, so far as Australia is concerned, is as dead as Julius Caesar !
– There seems to be in the breasts of the people deep and serious feeling on this question - a spontaneous uprising, as it were, not in demonstration, but in interest - and never bave I addressed such earnest meetings as I have lately on the question. In Melbourne, the meetings I addressed consisted of sympathetic audiences; but at Ballarat and Brisbane it was a pleasing fact that in the hall - and at Ballarat there were more outside than in - there was a big section who listened intently with their eyes fixed on the speaker.
– If the audience were listening, how can you defeat the referendum ?
– These meetings were of a class that a man likes to address, and the audience were evidently giving the matter their most earnest consideration. I have no apprehension in regard to the issue to be decided, though I admit with you, Mr. President, that it is a very hard matter on which to decide. When, however, we are told by such a Conservative organ as the Argus that there were from 55,000 to 60,000 people on the Yarra-bank at an anti-conscription meeting, we may take it that that journal has not over-estimated the figure. Such meetings are an indication to me that the people are taking a deep interest in the issue; and that is all that we who denounce conscription can reasonably ask. If the people continue to take that interest, it will make up for the handicap of the press oppression instituted by Mr. Hughes through the censor ; and it is one of the most hopeful signs for the defeat of the referendum on the 28th October. That interest, I think, will not only continue, but, like the snowball, will gather strength as it goes along; and, so far as one can possibly judge on so serious and so momentous an issue, I believe that the referendum is going to be defeated.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) T5.441. - I hope that the Senate will reject the amendment. As to the statements of Senator
Mullan, I have to point out that the regulations are put forward by the Government, and that the Government must, and does, take full responsibility for them.
– Why not give us a chance of seeing them ?
– Parliament is not responsible for the regulations until they have been laid on the table, and the time has expired within which’ Parliament can take action. The Government will take the responsibility; and, therefore, Senator Mullan’s statement that honorable senators who do not vote for his amendment are responsible for these regulations is absolutely inaccurate.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [5.45J. - I do not propose to detain the Senate long, but as the question has been raised as to the right of this Chamber, in common with another place, to consider the regulations, I should not like the vote I propose to give - which will be in support of the motion submitted by the Minister - to be given without some statement and explanation of the views I hold on the matter. I can find no fault with those who have taken the course they have in ventilating what they regard as the right, and which I accept as the right, of Parliament to have the regulations placed before it. I am not going to labour the question, but I do stress the point that the Defence Act itself distinctly provides that, if Parliament is sitting, the reasons for calling out the Forces shall forthwith be communicated by the Governor-General to both Houses. It would have been better if the Minister had made that statement to Parliament. As it is, the proclamation is issued, and the responsibility for it does not rest with this House, but with the Minister. There may or may not have been good reasons for the action taken, but it was the clear intention of the Act that Parliament should have the reasons for any such proclamation submitted to it by means of a Vice-Regal message. Having said that, I would now like to say a word or two as to the regulations. I regret that we have not had an opportunity of discussing them, because they contain matters which are open to debate. Indeed, it would be curious if a set of regulations were not so open to debate; but I feel that in these regulations there are some things which will be misconstrued and distorted by opponents of compulsion, and that it would have been much better if the Government had given Parliament the time and the opportunity to discuss them, with a view to their amendment, if necessary. Let me refer to one. In spite of the limitation placed upon it, the proposal that we should have thumb-prints is distasteful; and, even now, I trust that the Minister will reconsider his decision, and see if it is not possible to secure some guarantee, which he evidently requires, without resorting to a practice which, in the minds of Australians, and, I believe, of the whole civilized world, is associated with criminality. The Minister has stated that this action has been taken with a view to avoiding fraud against the Department. I would do- anything to prevent fraud, which would rob this country of its right to claim from every citizen that service which he should render it; but if the resources of the Department are not capable of detecting impersonation to that extent, may I ask the Minister whether it would not be better to resort to the passport system?
– They are using thumb-prints also on passports.
– But not in this country, I understand. I am supporting the Government war policy, but the matter of the proclamation and regulations having been raised to-day, I do not think I would be acting fairly to myself if I abstained from expressing my views on that subject, and I am making my appeal to the Minister because I do not think there is any argument that can be used against compulsion which will be more effective and more freely used by opponents of the Government policy than this practice of having placed on the certificate the thumb-prints of the men called Up. I understand the official explanation with regard to thumb-prints is that they are included with the object of identifying the persons exempted ; but it should be possible, even now, to devise some precaution which would be less objectionable to the public sentiment of Australia, and which would rob opponents of the Government policy of what might prove to be one of the strongest weapons in their armoury. When Senator Mullan was speaking, Senator Watson made a very pertinent interjection when he asked what good we could do by staying here, in view of the fact that we have agreed, by a decisive majority, to refer the matter at issue to the electors. I do not think it would be claimed that I am egotistical when I say that the qualifications and training of members of Parliament are such that they are better equipped for platform work than anybody else, and having debated i<he matter in this House they are in a better position than anybody else in Australia to enlighten the electors whose votes will decide the question. For that reason, if for no other, the sooner we terminate our proceedings here the better it will ‘ be; at any rate from the point of view of obtaining an intelligent vote of the people in regard to the referendum.
– There is no argument in it, anyhow.
– The honorable senator never made a more accurate’ statement in his life. There is absolutely no argument in it if by that he means the case for the other side.
– The people will show you on the 28th October.
– My honorable friends on the opposite side cannot find any argument against the Government policy, and so they have fallen back upon loud assertion and noise. But I should like to know where some honorable senators stand on this subject. Senator Ferricks, who claims to be anxious to do all that is possible to decide this war in our favour, has on other occasions said deliberately in this chamber that first of all he would not ask and would not compel any man to go to fight. Then, this afternoon, he said that he would not pay any man to fight for us. What is he going to do ? He will not have volunteers, conscripts, or mercenary soldiers, so by what wonderful stroke of magic does the honorable senator imagine that we are going to bring this war to a successful issue ?
– Apparently he is with Senator Findley, who says the war is finished.
– I said that Germany is beaten.
– I take it there is an obligation on those who are opposing the Government policy to be honest with the people and to prove their bona fides. So when they say they want to win the war they should submit some, practical and workable proposal. Now, what is the alternative according to Senator Ferricks, who is one of the spokesmen of the party, and whose opposition to the Government’s proposal is so pronounced that recently he was deputed to speak in the New South Wales capital, and also in South Australia ? He will not have volunteers, conscripts, or mercenaries. That being th© case, we must presume that the portals of Australia would be opened wide for the entry of the German hordes. Until these gentlemen show their bona fides by submitting some practical alternative course to that laid down by the Government, I am inclined to agree with Senator Barnes that there is no argument in the matter at all. But according to our opponents there is one alternative. We have this on the authority of the New South Wales Anti-Conscriptionist Council’s manifesto, and if we were not dealing with such a serious matter, I should’ almost be persuaded that I was perusing a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, instead of a proposal emanating from the New South Wales body referred to, which, by the way, is composed, I take it, of representatives of the Labour Council, and of the industrial section of the Political Labour League - together with the Industrial Workers of the World - and speaks for a certain section of the unionists.
– You are wrong.
– If they were in it I should get out.
– Well, it is rather a hopeful sign that honorable gentlemen «ire anxious to disclaim any responsibility for the Industrial Workers of the World in connexion with this matter, but it is a fact, nevertheless, that that body is standing shoulder to shoulder with anticonscriptionists. We have evidence of this in the fact that at the recent meeting on the Yarra-bank - a meeting which, apparently, was organized by one central body - there were a number of platforms, and at least one of those platforms was allotted to the Industrial Workers of the World.
– The honorable senator knows that nobody can allot platforms at that gathering. Anybody is at liberty to speak there.
– Senator Barnes is much too practical a man to imagine that a meeting of that kind could have been arranged without organization, and it is a fact that the platforms were allotted, and that at each a motion in similar terms was dealt with.
– You ought to come along, too, and get in out of the wet.
– I am sorry to think that at such an early stage in the campaign there is a possibility of a split in the ranks of the anti-conscriptionists, as evidenced by the desire of honorable senators to repudiate association with the Industrial Workers of the World. There is a very general belief, however, that the Industrial Workers of the World constitutes an integral portion of the anti-conscription movement.
– Are you not in favour of direct action in regard to this war?
– Certainly I am in favour of direct action. But I am complaining that if some honorable senators had their way we would have no action at all to save Australia. Now, let me get back to the alternative, which has been suggested by the New South Wales AntiConscriptionist Council, and that is that the Democracy of Australia, which has emblazoned upon its banner the policy of a White Australia, should now turn round and say, “ We ought to conscript the coloured people to fight for us.” Surely nothing could be more disgraceful, and nothing more repugnant to an intelligent Democracy, than that subject races of the Empire, the people of India, who are denied the freedom of this country, should be called upon to fight for us! Surely, if there is a sense of humour in Australia, the absurdity of this proposal will be apparent! It has, however, bean put forward as a definite proposition by one of the official organizations leading this movement against conscription. Senator Pearce was quite right the other day when he said that the proposal suggested degeneracy. It would, if it were adopted and indorsed by Australia; but I refuse to believe that the people of Australia would accept as their only alternative a scheme that would be a disgrace , to the Commonwealth, and which shows how utterly bankrupt of sound argument are the opponents of the Government proposition. Then there is the further proposal that Russians should be employed to do our fighting for us. One very strong opponent of compulsion, ex-Senator Rae, recently said that we could get ten Russians for the price of one Australian. That is a novel proposition to come from a so-called Democrat, who has stood for the policy of high wages, that Australia should employ Russians because they are cheaper than Australian soldiers. Let me say that, whether we are going to employ men because they are the coloured subject people of India, or the cheap labour of Russia, the moment any nation, no matter what its form of government may be, reaches the point at which, preferring a life of ease to love of country, it refuses to do its own fighting, that nation may write “ Ichabod “ over its doors, and pass out of history. There may be occasions on which nations may find safety by means of the courage and the military capacity of others; but, sooner or later, the nation that will not fight for itself must decay. History gives innumerable instances where empires, powerful at one time, have called in other nations to fight for them, and where there has been, possibly, some appearance of temporary success attending such a policy. But it has always been followed by one of two consequences: either the armies paid to do the fighting have, in turn, conquered those who paid and employed them, or the very action taken to employ them has not merely indicated a measure of decay, but - has fostered that decay, and has been followed by national disaster. Let Australians recognise that the moment it is published to the world that they are not themselves prepared to fight for their country, their ideals, their freedom, and, above all, for their homes and their women, they will not find other nations prepared to do the work for them. They may find other nations that are prepared to come and take their homes and their country from them, but they will never find a nation ready to fight for a country that is not willing to fight for itself. On this question of home defence, an attempt has been made - and it is an absolutely flimsy one - to show that there is a difference betwen compulsion for home defence and compulsion for foreign service. If home defence is good for Australia, it is good also for other nations. It cannot be a sound principle in Australia and absolutely unsound in Great Britain. Every man knows that if Great Britain once adopted the principle of military service for home defence only Australia would quickly go out of business. We are safe to-day, and have been safe for the last 120 years, not by reason of anything we in this country have done, but because of the knowledge that England would not stop to argue and palter over whether or not her territorial boundaries had to be passed in order to help us.
– Was not every man in the British Fleet a volunteer, until recently, at all events ?
– I wish that Senator Barnes had lived in the time of the press-gang ! It is immaterial to my argument whether all the men in the British Navy are, or are not, volunteers. When national necessity demanded it, Great Britain showed that she was prepared to adopt compulsion, and the same thing would happen in Great Britain again if Australia were threatened in time to come. She adopted conscription-
– Not wilh the voice of the people.
– If Australia were threatened with an invasion a few years hence, and we, knowing that we could not defend ourselves by our own unaided efforts-
– We could defend ourselves against the rest of the earth if we took the necessary precaution to arm ourselves.
– I am reminded of the book, T7ie Valour of Ignorance. To urge that Australia, with its scanty population, could, unaided, defend itself from great Powers at no great distance from our shores is to preach something which Senator Barnes might utter, but which no one would believe.
– I do not think they could land their men here as fast as we could cut their throats.
– That statement is utterly ridiculous, but I will examine it.
– Send all the men out of the country, and you give these foreign Powers their opportunity.
– We have already sent 300,000 out of the country, yet Senator Barnes has never before discovered this bogy. What is more, he is quite prepared to send another 150,000 men- to the front as long ‘as they go as volunteers. So far as his public utterances enable us to judge, he would not mind sending the last man out of Australia as long as he went as a volunteer. But, whilst we may denude the country of its men by means of voluntarism, the moment we proceed to denude it by compulsion the country, according to him, is in danger.
– My public utterances are quite the opposite of what the honorable senator has said.
– I never heard the honorable senator utter a single protest against the denuding of Australia of its men until this question of compulsion was raised.
– I said the other day that Australia had done enough, and that we ought to keep what men we have.
– That was after the question of compulsion had been raised. If, instead of proposing compulsion, the Government had said, ‘ ‘ We propose to make another appeal for volunteers, and lo send another 100,000 men to the front,” there would have been no talk on the part of the honorable senator about denuding Australia.
– We have enough men here to defend Australia if they are only allowed to remain.
– I regret to say - but it is true - that the military position of Australia is such that she could not hope at the present moment to resist a raid by a party which, in ordinary times, would be insignificant. She has to-day neither the equipment nor the men to meet any attack of the kind.
– If that is so, then the people ought to know it.
– Our safety to-day lies in defeating our enemies in Europe at the earliest possible moment, in order that we may be in a position, not only to throw our energies into the task of perfecting the defences of Australia, but to say that, as we did not shrink from the last ordeal of compulsion in order to do our share in this fight, we can look with confidence to the nations for whom we are fighting today to make the same sacrifice in coming to our aid should we be attacked.
– The soldiers of our Allies even then could only come as volunteers. The defence laws of the countries concerned prohibit the sending of men overseas, except as volunteers.
– Nothing of the kind. Is Senator McKissock going to submit to this Chamber by-and-by, when the French and the British are crossing the Rhine, a resolution for transmission to the French Government saying that, in our opinion, it is wrong and inadvisable for French troops to go out of France for the purpose of entering Germany ?
– I said they could not go overseas except as volunteers.
– The honorable senator, apparently, holds that these men could go overland, but they could not be sent overseas.
– Even Germany could not send her men overseas except as volunteers.
– Germany cannot send her soldiers overseas whether they be volunteers or conscripts, for the reason that Great Britain has not kept her forces tied within the territorial limits.
– Because of Britain’s volunteer Navy.
– Britain’s Navy is no more a volunteer Navy than her Army is a volunteer one.
– It was until quite recently.
– When face to face with a great necessity, Great Britain did what Australia is going to do. We shall shrink from no effort or sacrifice necessary to give effect to the brave words we have been uttering for the last two years. We shall show by our acts that we mean what we say. If we refuse to adopt the proposal of the Government, then Australia, or that section of it which secures the defeat of the referendum, will stand in’ the eyes of the world not merely ashamed, but condemned as the biggest braggart the world has ever known. We have declared that we shall see the war through, and that we shall never cry a halt until victory has been secured. On the last anniversary of the war, did we not pass resolutions to the effect that we would see the thing through ? But now that we are called upon to make a more strenuous effort than was contemplated in the early days of the conflict, we hear some honorable senators say, “ Let us take our hand from the plough. The furrow is but half through, but let us withdraw our hand. We have made a big enough sacrifice. Our effort has been strenuous enough. Let us be comfortable and leave the responsibility of completing this tremendous contract to the men who are fighting for us as well as for themselves.” I refuse to believe that Australia will indorse that attitude. Arguments, are being put forward to-day in opposition to compulsion which I find difficult to regard as sincere or bond fide. They so nearly approach a wilful distortion of the truth that I can only assume that they are part of one general scheme. I did hope that, having regard to the big issues involved in the reference of this matter to the people, there would be an effort to put the plain facts to the popular judgment. But there is evidence of a systematic effort to misrepresent the truth.
– If that is so, it is not peculiar to our side.
– The honorable senator admits that such an attempt is being made.
– I do not. I say I do not know.
– Evidence of such an attempt is to be found on every hand. If the honorable senator is moving about the country, he should know what is going on.
– If our case were put through the usual avenues, there would be nothing of what the honorable senator complains. In to-day’s papers there is a page of matter in support of conscription, and nothing at all from the anticonscriptionist side.
– I bought two pennyworth of a paper called the Worker the other day, and I did not see in it anything whatever of the conscriptionist side.I did see, however, page after page of anti-conscriptionist matter.
– Did they not publish the speech that I, a Labour Minister, made ?
– Not a word of it. I may tell the Minister that I do not remember seeing even a complimentary reference to him in the Worker. The whole issue was devoted to the anticonscriptionist cause.
– That paper has to do that, because, compared with the daily papers, which are telling your story, and not ours, it is a mere drop in the ocean.
– The honorable senator is again right for the second time in one afternoon. He says, “ This paper has to do that.” It has to do it because it is being paid by an organization to publish such stuff.
– Paid by an organization to publish the views of that organization, just as the other newspapers are paid to publish your views and those of the Government.
– They are not paid by me, and I am certain they are not paid by the Government.
– It would be interesting to know where the money is coming from in support of the conscription campaign. I know that the honorable senator is not putting much into it.
– The honorable senator is quite right. I am not putting much money into the campaign, because, first of all, I have not much money, and, secondly, because, so far, I have seen no necessity for anything of the kind. The daily newspapers, however, are giving more news of the anti-conscriptionist movement than the anti-conscriptionist journals are giving of the conscriptionist side of the campaign.
– What else could the honorable senator expect?
– I do not expect anything from papers such as those which are advocating the anti-conscriptionist cause.
– There are about 700 newspapers published in Australia. Of that number, five are Labour papers. All the others are fighting for conscription, while the Labour papers, as Labour always has been, are against the mob advocating conscription.
– I did not expect anything else. I did not expect the anticonscription journals to give any publicity to conscription news, but I did at least expect that my honorable friend would refrain from complaining against the action of conscriptionist journals which do give a little publicity to the views of anti-conscriptionists.
– They do not.
– I saw a report in the daily papers yesterday morning of the Yarra-bank meeting. That is one proof.
– The papers said there were 40,000 there, whereas there were 100,000. They will not publish the truth. All those people were against conscription, but the papers did not say so.
– There was an anti- conscription meeting in the Sydney Domain on Sunday last. There were several thousands there - I did not stop to count them, as it was raining - but is it to be claimed that they were all anticonscriptionists ? I was one of them, having gone with several others, as thousands must have done, out of curiosity. My object in attending was to see two things : the peculiar type of individual who would be advocating anti-conscription, and the still more peculiar type that would be persuaded by him. I did not consider my afternoon wasted; I came away a much happier man than I went, concluding that if the stuff I listened to that afternoon constituted ‘the case on which the “ anti’s “ relied, there was too much intelligence, patriotism, and common sense in Australia to be moved by it. If that is the strength of their case, it only needs a little ordinary effort on the part of those supporting conscription to insure a triumphant verdict on the 28th of this month. I propose to vote with the Government on this motion. I have expressed a little disappointment at their action in regard to the regulations, and their failure to acquaint Parliament with the proclamation, as the Defence Act requires. But one has almost to do this, whether supporting a Government to which one is ordinarily attached, or, as in my case, supporting a Government from which one is ordinarily detached. We must take things by and large.
– The honorable senator may have to take a portfolio very soon.
– I can safely say for every man on the Liberal side to-day that that is the last thing in his thoughts.
– I do not say that you are thinking of it, but I think you will get there, all the same.
– Before the Government proclaimed its policy, I announced in this chamber my belief that the necessities of the times demanded the introduction of compulsion. Having expressed the belief that the Senate had a right to discuss the regulation, whilst I should be the last to suggest any curtailment of the debate-
– Will you not help us meet next week to wipe out the thumbprint regulation?
– No; but I would ask those who take a different view from me whether, having made their protest, they think anything is to be gained by protracting the sitting?
– Yes; we can disallow the thumb-print regulation if we are sitting next week.
– It would meet my difficulty if the honorable senator would table the motion now, and let us get away to the country. I deprecate any attempt to keep the Senate sitting merely to detain us here.
– The Government will not allow me to move that motion, as the regulation is not before us.
– There will be . plenty of time after the 28th. The honorable senator knows that we have either to accept the Government proposition, which I propose to do because of the major issue involved, or reject it.
– There is an alternative: to meet next week and disallow the regulation.
– There is no alternative. As the honorable senator and his friends cannot hope to defeat the Government’s proposition, I appeal to them to allow the sitting to conclude, and ‘ enable us to get to the platform. They have made their protest and stated their case, and I would urge them not to take those steps which have been resorted to on previous occasions to drag the debate out merely for the purpose of keeping it going. I hope we shall arrive at a decision without any attempt to erect that not always effective structure known as a “stone wall.”
– I am glad that I was one of those responsible by my vote last Friday afternoon for calling the Senate together to-day, and I venture to say that those who were by that vote compelled to return to the Seat of Government will not have against me now that animosity which perhaps they might have felt when they received from the Government the telegram summoning them back, because, if I have done nothing else; I have, at least, given them the opportunity to hear the calm, dispassionate, and very classic speech of my colleague, Senator Lynch - I am sure they would not have missed that effort for a great deal - as well as the usual courteous and clever speech of the Leader of the Opposition. I would have travelled much further than from New South Wales to Melbourne for the opportunity of listening to my Western Australian colleague. If Senator Lynch were present, I should like to deal in detail with a few of his statements, but as lie was compelled to go to Ballarat to voice the sentiments that he so ably expresses in the Senate, carrying out the conscriptionist views that he so sincerely holds, I shall wait for the opportunity to reply to several of his statements on the public platforms of Western Australia, when he and 1 will be taking different sides. I do not concede to Senator Lynch the right to speak in this Senate for Westtern Australia wholly, so far as his views on conscription are concerned. I give him all credit for deep-hearted sincerity. In fact, I know of no man more sincere in his advocacy of his views; but, although I am a duly elected senator from Western Australia, the people’s votes having put me here, I cannot arrogate to myself the right to speak wholly for Western Australia in the views I hold.
– If you cannot, nobody else can.
– I pass by that satirical interjection. I do not assume certain rights which the honorable senator, as Minister for Defence, is assuming. That kind of interjection will not lend good temper to a debate. I am giving Senator Lynch credit for all sincerity. I give the same credit to every man who is advocating conscription, but no man has the right to speak for Western Australia on that subject. Neither Senator Lynch nor Senator Pearce has a mandate from,, Western Australia to do so.
– As I said, if you cannot, nobody else can.
– I hope the honorable senator means that in a political, and not in a personal, sense. I am not speaking in a personal sense myself. The views I hold are antagonistic to the views held by my colleagues from the West.
– The majority of the people in your State will indorse your views.
– I am not saying whether they will or will not. I have no right to say it. I express my own opinion here and on the platforms of Western Australia, and I will not assume the right to say I am speaking for the people of Western Australia. I am speaking for myself, despite the interjection of the Minister for Defence, which I consider personal, and put aside with the contempt that it deserves. It is very hard to avoid personalities when such innuendoes are thrown out, no matter how strong and resolute a man may be in his desire to conduct the campaign in a proper spirit. When such interjections are made it is a heavy strain on human nature to refrain from hitting back.
– Turn the other cheek, like a Christian.
– I am prepared to turn the other cheek as often as the next man, but I do not believe in turning it too often, or too long. It is remarkable that the members of this Parliament have to obtain important information from the columns of the public press, and not from the Government. I know there is no better channel for disseminating information to the public than the columns of the press.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to S p.m.
– The information that we obtained in the newspapers on Saturday morning should have been given to this Senate by the representatives of the Government. The Defence Act lays it down very distinctly that if Parliament is not sitting when a proclamation is issued under the Act it shall be called together within ten days, for the purpose of discussing the reasons for the issuing of the proclamation. In an interjection on Friday Senator Pearce said that every member of Parliament knew the reasons for the issue of the proclamation, but even admitting that this was the case, the Government were not fulfilling the law. Parliament must be called together to discuss the reasons for the issue of a proclamation, even if it is perfectly well acquainted with them, and if it is sitting at the time it should have the opportunity to discuss the reasons. Senator Millen has told the Government, which he is heartily supporting at the present time, that if they had come down boldly to Parliament with the proclamation and allowed honorable senators to discuss the reasons for it, it would have been the better course to follow.
– It would have been the straightforward course.
– Undoubtedly, and it would have been the legal course, which every Government should follow and to which every honorable senator should adhere.
– The other course may be technically legal.
– It may be legal under the War Precautions Act, but it is not legal under the Defence Act. The Government cannot expect citizens to obey the law . if they set a bad example by breaking it themselves. Senator Pearce also said on Friday afternoon that I had seen the Prime Minister hand a typewritten document to him. The statement is absolutely incorrect. At no time on Friday did I see the Prime Minister while the Senate was sitting, though I saw him in the Queen’s Hall immediately after the Senate adjourned; but, even if I had seen the Prime Minister hand the Minister for Defence a document, it would not validate the action of the Minister in not taking the Senate into his confidence earlier on Friday. Had he made earlier the statement that he made about halfpast 4 o’clock, that the proclamation was issued, my vote would not have gone in the direction it did on that afternoon. I registered that vote as a protest against what I considered was a breach of the law. However, we are meeting to-day, and have the opportunity of discussing the regulations that have been issued. They have not been laid on the table or distributed officially, but honorable senators have been able to secure copies by a fluke. I ask the Minister for Defence whether it is intended to exempt theological students from the proclamation ?
– They are not exempt from the proclamation, but if they are exempted under the Defence Act they will be exempted from service.
– About 1911 an amendment was passed through both Houses of Parliament exempting from the operations of the Defence Act students pursuing their studies with the intention of joining the Church. Parliament wisely thought that, as these students were preparing for an avocation which would not be of a combatant nature, so far as military service is concerned, their studies should not be interfered with by the military requirements of the Defence Act.
– Ministers of religion are exempted under the Defence Act, but I see no reference to theological students.
– I think the Minister will find that theological students are included in the exemptions. When speaking on the second reading of the Commonwealth Military Service Referendum Bill, I suggested that the destiny of a man seeking exemption should not be entirely in the hands of a stipendiary magistrate. Senator Buzacott also took that view. I also pointed out the penalty that would be imposed on the working classes by the different appeal Court provisions. The rich man will have opportunities to appeal from the stipendiary magistrate to the Supreme Court, and from the Supreme Court to the High Court. The working man will have the same opportunity, but, unfortunately, his stumbling block will be the fact that he will not possess the means for submitting an appeal to a higher tribunal. At a later stage, when I asked the Government if they had reconsidered the matter, I was informed that they had reconsidered it, but intended to adhere to their proposal. It is not too late to appoint exemption Boards in each district, comprising representatives of the workers and representatives of the rich men, with independent chairmen, and make the decision of these Boards final. I ask the Minister whether it is not possible to review the matter from that stand:point ? I cannot understand how any Government in free Australia, be it Labour or anti-Labour, should introduce such a repugnant principle as is contained in the thumb-print regulation which has just been- issued. No matter how one feels on the subject of conscription or anti-conscription, the taking of finger-prints suggests criminality. The two cannot be separated. That such a taint should be put on a free-born citizen in any part of the world is extremely repugnant. Senator Millen has pointed out the seriousness of such a suggestion in the regulation. I am always prepared to submit to the will of the majority, and to obey the law. During the last fortnight I have been asked on several occasions, “ What will I do if I am called out under the proclamation?” and my advice has always been, “ Obey the law.” Surely the Government and their advisers are not so destitute of ideas that they cannot find means of detecting that person who is desirous of evading the proclamation other than this finger-print business. In all friendliness and sincerity I appeal, even at this eleventh hour, for an assurance that this regulation will be revoked and cast into that limbo from which it should never have emerged . If the people were consulted in regard to it, they would with one voice cry “Anathema!” It is true that, on Friday last, I voted to bring about a meeting of the Senate today. For that action I have neither apology nor explanation, as I acted entirely within my rights, and I should act in the same way again should the occasion demand. But I realize that were I to support Senator Mullan’s amendment nothing would be gained. The regulations to which he referred were issued under the War Precautions Act 1914-16, in conjunction with the Defence Act 1903- 15, and, no matter what we may do, will take effect, because the War Precautions Act supersedes every other. It is true that I voted for that Act, and I take the fullest responsibility for doing so. I considered it necessary, in time of war, to give the Government wide powers to protect this portion of the Empire. I realize, however, that, like Frankenstein, I helped to create a monster, and were the thing to be done again, I should hesitate about agreeing to all the provisions of that legislation. However, I have made my protest. I have criticised certain of the regulations issued in connexion with the proclamation, and, having done so much, I can only throw myself on the hands of the Government. This Parliament is at the mercy of Ministers. I yield to no man in allegiance to the party of which I am a member, and it ill becomes any one, whether a senator or a member of the public, to say that a person differing from him in regard to conscription is false to the Labour party or to the movement.
– The honorable senator might say the same of those not in the Labour movement.
– I thought that I had made it clear that I give all my opponents the same credit for sincerity that I ask for myself. I refuse to be told by any man that, because I am opposed to conscription, I am false to the Labour movement, in which I was born, in which I am living, and in which I shall die. Before sitting down I wish to say to the Leader of the Senate that I shall not put on the. cap which he wished some of us to wear when he spoke about laying traps for fellow senators. I supported the Referendum Bill in order to give people a chance to determine this question for themselves, and I shall support the motion for adjournment, because I realize that, if we sat until the 28th October, we could do nothing. Into the merits and demerits of conscription I shall not enter to-night, though, if life and health are spared, I shall do so fully elsewhere in Australia, and shall stand or fall by the verdict of the people.
.- As one of those who on Friday brought about to-day’s meeting of the Senate, I resent the imputation that we were guilty of trickery on that occasion. Our desire was simply to obtain the fullest information regarding matters affecting every citizen of the Commonwealth. We desired a definite statement from the Leader of the Senate as to when the proclamation would be issued, and we wished to know what regulations would be made under it. The intentions of the Government were at the time veiled in mystery, and we feltthat, in justice to ourselves and to those whom we represented, we should do all that we could to get the information that we needed. I have never been a party to anything in the nature of laying a trap for a fellow senator, and none of those who voted with the majority on Friday last would do such a thing. We have no desire to place any member of the Senate in a false position, and we would be false to our trust if we tried to do so. We have made known our views regarding conscription. I have never hesitated to express my opposition to it, and I shall take every opportunity that presents itself to prevent this yoke from being fastened on the necks of the people. In the columns of the Melbourne daily newspapers lengthy and costly advertisements have been inserted, and if similar advertisements have appeared in all the leading newspapers of the Commonwealth, the taxpayers will have to pay a considerable sum for advertising. I wish to know, therefore, who is responsible for the errors made about the dates on which men are to be called up in different parts of the Commonwealth. It was stated that in some of the military areas, or constituencies, as they are better known, men were not to be called up until towards the end of November, although we had been told that men were needed as early as possible in October.
– In what district?
– In quite a number of the districts in the Melbourne metropolitan area. It has been stated in the newspapers that these errors, if they can be so called, were viewed seriously by the Defence Department. Who then, I ask, is responsible for them ? The Government and the military authorities have had ample time to make all their arrangements, and we should know who is to blame for these mistakes. We have been told that men are being called up for home defence, and that if the electors vote for conscription they will subsequently be sent overseas. According to the proclamation, if the electors do not vote for conscription, these men will be retained during the continuance of the war. I wish to know from the Minister whether it is intended, should the referendum be defeated, to keep these men in camp until the war is ended. If I am any judge, the electors will vote against the referendum by a large majority, and I think that, in that case, those who have been called up for home defence should again become free citizens. In the interval, they will be awayfrom their usual spheres of activity, and it may be difficult for some of them to get back to the positions that they left. The regulations are interesting, if not informative. Regulation 11 says -
Any person -
who claims to be entitled to exemption from service under the provisions of section 61 of the Defence Act, or
who claims to be entitled to exemp tion from service under the provisions of regulation 35, or
who is included in a schedule referred to in regulation 46, or
in respect of whom his employer makes an application for exemption on the ground that the employee is engaged on work of national importance, shall not be required to perform any military service pending the hearing of an application by a local exemption Court for the grant of a certificate of exemption to that person.
I draw attention to the concluding words of that regulation. According to section 61 of the Defence Act -
The following shall be exempt from service in time of war, so long as the employment, condition, or status on which the exemption is based continues: -
Persons reported by the prescribed medical authorities as unfit for any naval or military service whatever; and
members and officers of the Parliament of the Commonwealth or of a State; and
Judges of Federal or State Courts, and police, stipendiary or special magistrates of the Commonwealth or of a State; and
ministers of religion; and
persons employed in the police or prison services of the Commonwealth or of a State; and
persons employed in lighthouses; and
persons employed as medical prac titioners or nurses in public hospitals ; and
persons who are not substantially of European origin or descent, of which the medical authorities appointed under the regulations shall be the judges; and
persons who satisfy the prescribed authority that their conscientious beliefs do not allow them to bear arms; and
persons engaged in any employment specified by the regulations or by proclamation.
Provided that, as regards the persons described in paragraphs (g), (h), and (i) of this section, the exemption shall not extend to duties of a non-combatant nature.
Now I come to deal with other exemptions. Under regulation 35 it is provided that -
In addition to the grounds of exemption set forth in section 61 of the Defence Act, an application may be made to a local exemption Court by or in respect of a man for a certificate of exemption on any of the following grounds : -
On the ground that it is expedient in the national interest that the man should, instead of being employed in military service, be engaged in other work in which he is habitually engaged; or
on the ground that it is expedient in the national interest that the man should, instead of being employed in military service, be engaged in other work in which he wishes to be engaged; or
if the man is being educated or trained for any work, on the ground that it is expedient in the national interest that, instead of being employed in military service, he should continue to he so educated or trained; or
on the ground that serious hardship would ensue if the man were called up for military service, owing to his exceptional domestic financial obligations ; or
on the ground that he is the sole remaining son, or one of the remaining sons of a family of whose sons one-half at the least have enlisted prior to the second day of October, 1916; or
on the ground that he is the sole support of aged parents, or a widowed mother, or orphan brothers and sisters under the age of sixteen years or physically incapable of earning their own living; or
on the ground that he is the only son of a family.
I want to point out that this gives an opportunity to almost every man called up to make an application for exemption from military service. It is provided that any person making an application to be exempted under the Defence Act, or under this regulation 35 which I have just read, is not to be called upon to perform any military duties until his application is dealt with. He makes his application in the first instance to the local exemption Court. He has an opportunity subsequently, if his application is not granted, to appeal to another Court, and finally to the High Court. It has to be borne in mind that the military authorities have the same power to appeal, where they believe an application has been improperly granted, and so I say that if these regulations are complied with, numbers of people claiming exemption will be free from the performance of military duties until probably many weeks have elapsed. I want to know who is to bear the expense of all these appeals. Are the persons concerned to bear all the expense incidental to this procedure? I suppose that, where the military authorities appeal against the granting of an exemption, the expense will be borne by the Government, and that the applicants for exemption will have.to pay their own expenses if they consider it necessary to appeal. On Friday last we were told by the Minister for Defence that, in addition to these three tribunals for considering applications for exemption, there is to be a committee, com-1 posed of three or five gentlemen, whose names none of us know, and about whose responsibilities or powers we are quite in the dark, to be appointed to strengthen the hands of the Government from time to time in deciding what shall or shall not be considered exempt industries. We should be made aware of the personnel of the proposed committee, and also of the duties it is to be asked to perform. In to-day’s newspapers I saw a statement to the effect that men engaged in the railway services would not be called up immediately, and that it was the intention to ask for a month’s exemption in respect to some of the men engaged in State services. By whom is the application to be made ? No doubt there are to be starred, or exempt, industries, but we ought to know what they are.
– We should know that before the Senate adjourns.
– We have every right to ask what the Government have in mind in respect to these exempt industries. Those responsible in this State for the running of the tramways are, apparently, much concerned about their enterprise. I saw a statement to the effect that it was not their intention to employ women, because they consider the work of running the trams is not fitted for women. In the Old Country we know that women are performing various tasks, and are employed in many spheres of activity in which, they were not engaged prior to the outbreak of war. In the Old Country they have, and had prior to the war, what we have not here, and that is a surplus population. We have been spending large sums of money in Great Britain and in other parts of the world to induce people to come to Australia because of the opportunities offered to them here. In response to appeals and advertisements by the Commonwealth and State Governments, many women came to the Commonwealth, and their services were availed of by persons having employment for them as soon as they arrived here. If there was a desire to introduce female labour for some of the industries of Australia, I do not know whether women would be available to take up the work. Many of our industries involve work which is totally unfitted for them. No one would suggest that women should be engaged on our wharfs, or in driving railway engines. I have already said that the tramway people do not intend to employ women in the running of the trams. No one would suggest, I suppose, that the women of Australia, those physically strong women who live in our so-called better-class suburbs, with small families and big bank balances, however physically strong, would roll up “ bluey,” ‘‘« waltz Matilda,” and go shearing. Even if they were disposed to do so, there are not a great many of these women. No one will suggest that women will be available to do the ploughing and harvesting work of the country, or that they are physically fit to go deep into the bowels of the earth and carry on the mining industry.
– Is the honorable senator, then, in favour of stopping further volunteering?
– I never said anything of the kind. On the contrary, I have said times out of number that if men are willing to volunteer for military service abroad, I say to them, “ Good luck, and a safe return to Australia.”
– Will not further volunteering denude the labour market just as much as conscription?
– I am putting my case in my own way, and Senator Millen can do the same. I know that there are some who are extremely anxious that absolutely the last man should be sent out of Australia by conscription. The Statistician’s figures show that if the war continues for ten or twelve months more, these people will get the last man. Then they will be happy, no doubt. But those honorable senators who are so extremely anxious to see the last man go out of Australia are not so very enthusiastic about the “ last bob.” The “ last bob “ is the last word they utter, and we are far from securing the “last bob” yet. If there is one thing about which I was “ profoundly disappointed,” to use the words of some of our new-found friends in another place, it was the Government’s taxation proposals. Our new-found friends were not profoundly disappointed by the announcement in another place of the intention of the Government to tax certain forms of wealth. Their beaming countenances, when the announcement was made, proved to me that they considered they were having a day out. They expected that wealth would have been to a greater or lesser extent conscripted. But what are these financial proposals of the Government for securing the “ last bob “ ? It is proposed to tax - what? To tax amusements. If there is anything for which this party has stood, in season and out of season, it is that the great mass of the people should have more leisure, and some opportunity for the improvement of their minds; that they should have some mental pleasures which were denied them up to the advent of the Labour party. But to-day the Government propose, in order to help to finance this war, to tax the little kiddies who go to the picture shows at the rate of £d. for each 3d. ticket. What did the proprietors of some of the picture shows say recently? They said that the bulk of their audiences in the suburban areas are children. We know the joy which the children derive from attending these picture shows, which are educational and humorous. No grand opera is to me so cheering or inspiring as is the music of the laughter of the kiddies at the picture shows. What pleases them pleases me. This tax is to be imposed, not upon the proprietors controlling entertainments, because they say that they will pass on the tax. To whom will they pass it on but to the mass of the working classes? It is proposed, as a further help to finance the war, to increase the income tax by 25 per cent, on the amount people are paying to-day. By whom is this increase of taxation to be paid? In the commercial world to-day they are discussing this, and they say that they are not going to squeal because of the Government’s proposals. Of course, they are not. They say things will right themselves, and this taxation will be passed on.
– Does the honorable senator believe that?
– I do.
– Then please show me how I can pass my little bit on.
– I do not know in what line of business the honorable senator is engaged, but anybody who knows anything about taxation knows that there is only one form that cannot be passed on, and that is a tax on land values-. According to the statement published in the commercial columns of the newspapers, the commercial people of this country have stated that the income and wealth taxes will be passed on, and that the last measure of taxation imposed by the Commonwealth was so passed on is shown by the announcement of the Government’s intention to recover £3,000,000 from people who have been making undue profits during war time.
– The honorable senator says that he is disappointed in the measure of taxation imposed. If it is all to be passed on to the general public, he ought to be glad that it is so light.
– I am an advocate of direct taxation. I desire that those who are best able to bear the financial burdens of the Commonwealth shall shoulder them.
– But the honorable senator says that they will pass the taxation on.
– I say they will pass on indirect taxation, but a tax on land values they would not be able to pass on. An impost on incomes is indirect taxation. Whilst it may be justified to a degree as a matter of expediency, in the main it is a tax on industry, effort, and enterprise; a tax on land values is not. Every form of wealth other than land is the creation of effort. But the land is there; you can neither add to, nor take away from, it. Land values are created by the community, and the increments should be returned to the community from time to time. There is not a man in the Labour movement today but came into it because of his advocacy of land-values taxation, but some of them now seem to be afraid of such taxation. We are on the wrong track altogether with our taxation; let us try to get back to the right track. When I see the Opposition joining hands with the Government to carry through these taxation measures, and eager to give a hand to the Government to fasten the yoke of conscription on the people of the Commonwealth, I ask myself where in Heaven are we drifting. In a recent editorial, the Argus - that “friend of the masses,” that paper with one hundred eyes, above the editorial columns of which is the motto, “I am in the place where I am demanded of conscience to speak the truth, and therefore the truth I speak, impugn it whoso list” - it was stated, in the most heartless and cold-blooded manner, that the Government propose to increase the income tax by £1,000,000 a year, and that sum was to be made a free gift to the old-age and invalid pensioners, who are non-producers. In this Christian age, when the cost of living is abnormally high, this paper offers strenuous opposition to additional taxation because it will give an extra half-a-crown per week to an invalid man or woman who through total incapacitation are non-producers.
– Why did not the honorable senator oppose the income tax when it was before the Senate ?
– The taxation proposals of the Government do not meet with my approbation, although they are supported by the Opposition. I know that this taxation is merely the first edition. Sometimes we read the first edition of a paper, knowing that there is to be a second, a third, a fourth, and a final edition. We may be only partially satisfied with this first edition of taxation, but there is some comfort in knowing that it is by no means the final edition. The fact stares us in the face, however, that the first edition will stay with us for a very long time, and the people of Australia will realize that to carry on the war successfully they have to p->y.
– The honorable senator said the war was over.
– I said the Germans were well “ stouched,” and that the end of the war was within measurable distance. I admit that I am alone in that prediction, but I have stood alone in my views many times, and the event has proved me right in regard to many of them. I said that Germany was beaten, and that statement was accepted literally by those who wished to make capital out of it. I have attended football matches, and long before half-time some of the spectators have left the ground, and when asked why, have said, “ The game is only in the second quarter, but the blacks are beaten.” I have been on the Flemington race-course, and have occasionally staked a shilling or two on a quadruped which I thought to be more fleet than any other in the race, but after the first furlong a friend has said to me, “ You have lost your money,” and although only 1 furlong out of 16 had been run, I knew that my horse was beaten. I have the same conviction in regard to the war. Germany is well beaten, and the end of the war is within measurable distance. But there are some who think that, unless we conscript the single men in Australia - one of Mr. Hughes’ little jokes is his statement that he does not think it will be necessary to extend conscription to married men - defeat will overwhelm us. Mr. Hughes says that the single men only are necessary to bring victory to the Allies, to save Australia for all time, and prevent the British Empire from crumbling. I give way to no man in my admiration of the Australian for intelligence, resourcefulness, courage, and determination. He is as good as the best, if not better than some of the best. But if any one tries to “ kid “ me, to use a colloquialism, that 50,000 single men are going to “ wallop “ our foes, and that without their assistance the earth is doomed, and damned, and civilization is blasted, I say that person is talking so much “piffle.” The advocates of conscription discover now that the people of Australia realize that such statements will not bear examination. If the people really .believed them, possibly every Australian would alter his views accordingly; but the Australian people do not believe anything of the kind. I say that the enemy is beaten.
– Will be beaten.
– The enemy is beaten to-day. I stand by the authorities I have quoted. The recent statement by Mr. Lloyd George shows that there is no possible shadow of doubt as to the ultimate success of the Allies. So the contention of the conscriptionists that, unless we compel these few thousand single men in Australia to serve abroad, the Commonwealth will be a prize of the enemy does not hold water. My affection for this land of my birth is as deep-rooted as that of any man, and it is because of that affection that I have fears, not of the enemy of to-day, but of what may be in store for us in the future. Therefore, I urge the people of Australia to hesitate before they allow every available man to be taken out of the Commonwealth. Australia ought to be a land where every citizen need fear no foe, where there should be no nightmares about invasion. If I were a dictator in this land, I would so fortify it that we should have no fears of foreign aggression. I was one of the first men in the Commonwealth to point out the possibilities of aerial defence, and I said years ago that excursions through the sky would be as frequent as motor car trips through the country were at that time. That was twelve years ago, and there were men, some belonging to my own party, who said that I was a dreamer. I have lived to see the day when, according to a published statement by an aviator, there are more flying machines in Great Britain than there are motor cars. I know that past Administrations have given no encouragement to the establishment of an aviation school in the Commonwealth. The Minister for Defence will bear me out in that. Whatever differences I may have with the present Government in regard to the question of conscription, I give them full credit for having helped on a scheme in which I whole-heartedly believe - the establishment of an aviation school and the building of aeroplanes. I am strongly in favour of constructing aeroplanes by the thousand, and also of building a ‘fleet of dirigibles. This means of defence, if we were to go in for it whole-heartedly and systematically, would secure us for all time against an invasion. A fleet of flying machines and dirigibles would not resemble our Navy of to-day, which is nonproducing; they could be utilized for the conveyance of passengers and mails in different parts of Australia. Only the other day I read in an American newspaper that tenders were being called for the carriage of mails by air fleets, because it was held that by this means the mails could be delivered more expeditiously and economically than by existing methods. I dare say that in some parts of the United States of America mails are now being carried by flying machines. I am glad to see that some of the States of the Commonwealth are taking up this question enthusiastically. In Ballarat an aviation school has been established, and quite a number of men are qualifying as aviators.
– They go up every morning.
– And come down safely, too. I am satisfied that, ere long, these machines will be so automatically stabilized that a person will have no more hesitation in travelling by them than he has in travelling by the Sydney express. Experience has taught us that many of our fears are based upon superstition. We have only to carry our minds back a little more than a century - to the time when it was proposed to construct the first railway in Great Britain - in order to realize this. When that railway was projected, it was proposed that trains should travel upon it at a speed of 10 miles an hour. What was the result? Members of the British Parliament rose and denounced what they declared to be an insane and preposterous idea. One member of the House of Commons said that any person who would risk his life in a train travelling at such a speed was fit only for a lunatic asylum. Another affirmed that the smoke from the engines would injure the wool on the sheep’s backs. A third said that passengers who would risk their lives in travelling through the tunnels would contract consumption, catarrh, and kindred ailments, and, as a result, the hospitals would be full. Others declared that the whizz and the whirr from these terrible machines would drive “the people off their mental balance, so that the lunatic asylums would not be large enough to hold them. So strong was the opposition to the building of a railway station near the city that ultimately it was erected 5 miles distant. All this goes to show the progress that the world has made, and is making.
I have no fears in regard to the outcome, of the present war. I am strengthened in my opinion that absolute victory is within measurable distance by the statements of some of the best authorities who are engaged in it. It is because of my belief that I wish to see preparations made now for the future defence of Australia. Any man who can lightly view the possibilities of an invasion of this country must be blind to passing events.
– Is not that the position which the honorable senator occupies ?
– No. I have no fear that Australia will fall a prize to the enemy of to-day. But the future of this country is in our keeping, and it is our duty to look at the matter seriously, and to see that we do not denude the Commonwealth of its manhood, and thus prevent tlie possibility of our providing the money that is necessary to build up a scheme of defence which will make us absolutely secure in the event of a threatened invasion. If I were a dictator, aeroplanes in Australia would be as numerous as swarms of bees, so that if an invader attempted to set his foot upon our shores we could annihilate his battleships and decimate his forces.
– Who would fly all these machines ?
– Young Australians have proved their worth in the present war.
– How many vessels of the British Navy have been sunk by German airships?
– My honorable friend is not an enthusiastic airman, although he went up in an aeroplane once. When he was Minister for Defence he was never favorably disposed towards the establishment of an aviation school. It is an indisputable fact that on the western front to-day our successes are largely due to our mastery of the air. That such mastery is all -important is demonstrated by the circumstance that Great Britain is already making preparations in the building of air fleets, for another war. Only in to-day’s paper the statement is made that, if she possessed sufficient machines, they could travel to Germany in the day-time and annihilate Krupp’s works.
– A man from the Sopworth works told me, to-day, that those works alone have constructed 17,000 aeroplanes.
– The airships to-day are giving effect to the British gunnery.
– There is no doubt of it. The future defence of Australia is in the air and under the water. That was my prophecy a few years ago. I say that we should build additional submarines, together with thousands of aeroplanes, and a fleet of dirigibles ; that we should undertake the construction of strategic railways ; and that we should unify our railway gauges.
Australians have done remarkably well during this war, and we should hesitate before we make applicable to them that which they went out to kill, namely, conscription. Let no man or woman delude himself or herself with the idea that conscription, if once it is fastened upon this continent, will disappear when the war is over. Once the electors of the Commonwealth vote “ Yos “ to conscription it will remain with us for all time. The referendum upon which the people will vote is as to whether they will give the Government the same power to call up men for service overseas as they already possess to call them up for home defence. In other words, if the referendum be carried, everybody between the ages of eighteen and sixty years can be conscripted. I am aware that many persons who are past military age feel earnestly upon this question, and fear that unless conscription be adopted we may lose our heritage. They may be grandfathers or grandmothers, and consequently may be inclined to vote “ Yes “ on the 28th October. But they ought to remember that if they do vote “ Yes “ their grandchildren of to-day will be the conscript soldiers of to-morrow. When once the door to conscription has been opened - and especially when it has been opened by a Labour Government - it will be kept open by all future Administrations. The Minister for Defence has said that the voluntary system has failed, and must fail, in all big wars. That is a very significant statement to make. Although Australia’s contribution to the war has been a noble one, he says that the voluntary system has failed. That means, if it means anything, that the only way in which we can prevent failure in this and in all future wars is for Australia to have a conscript array. Personally, I am not in favour of that. I know that the nationalization of human life is merely a stepping-stone to the conscription of labour for industrial purposes. That has been the case in the Old Country, and it is because I see the dangers arising from the nationalization of life, and realize that it will be followed by the nationalization of labour, that I hope the people will turn it down. The advocates of conscription believe in the nationalization of human life, but the nationalization of monopolies is to them anathema. They do not believe in the referendum as an instrument, but on this occasion, when it is to be applied to the most serious and most sacred of questions, they are whole-heartedly in favour of it. Were they in favour of the referendum a little while back when it was proposed to alter the Constitution ? They then said that to have a referendum in time of war would create party strife and bitterness, and would disfranchise the soldiers at the front. It was pointed out to them that provision could be made for the soldiers to vote, but they urged that that could not be done. However, as I say, when it is a question of a referendum to conscript human life they say that the vote can be taken, and must be taken. We were also told that a referendum on that occasion would put the people of Australia into two hostile camps. Is this referendum not likely to put the people into two hostile camps? Shortly after Mr. Hughes’ return to Australia the principal daily newspapers of the various States, and their yapping echoes throughout the Commonwealth, airily assumed that the people were eagerly and anxiously awaiting the application of conscription, and that only an infinitesimal number were opposed to that policy. These newspapers urged that conscription is a democratic principle, and on that ground the Argus advocated it. Of course, we all know that the Argus is essentially a democratic newspaper, and representative of the workers ! We also know that the Argus maintains that some citizens should have only one vote, while others should have more than one, because they have more ‘ ‘ stake in the country ! ‘ ‘ Conscription, further, is advocated by the new apostles of Democracy - Mr. Joseph Cook,
Sir William Irvine, Sir John Forrest, Mr. Bruce Smith, and others. We all remember Sir William Irvine’s policy in the railway strike in Victoria. I must not forget to mention Mr. Watt, and a number of other anti-Labour men, who are also of the party, and who advocate the principle because it is democratic.
– What about Mr. Spence ?
– I have nothing to say in regard to that gentleman; he goes his way, and I go mine. I go my way because I am earnestly, wholeheartedly, and conscientiously of opinion that it is the right way, and it is better to go the right way than the wrong and easy way where the end is woe. We who oppose conscription have no newspapers on our side, nor have we any financial institutions to support us.
– And we have no secret service fund either.
– We have no powerful instruments of that kind, though. I am certain that we have the great heart and soul of the Labour movement on our side. . Efforts have been made to belittle the Trades and. Labour Councils of Australia, but I know that without those institutions the pathway of many industrial workers would not be so easy as it is to-day. I know the conditions that obtained here three decades ago. Our Labour movement first saw the light mainly because of militarism. I remember, less than thirty years ago, a meeting held on Yarra-bank, while within a building not far removed were the military, who had been specially called out. A famous historical address that will live to the end of time was delivered by a gentleman who has now gone the way of all flesh. He told the soldiers in lurid language what they had to do when the order was given, but I think that if I were to repeat that language I should be ruled out of order.
– Chance it.
– Well, I shall “ chance it.” These were the words that man was reported to have uttered : “If you see your father, your mother, your sister, or your brother, in front of you, and an order is given to fire, fire low and lay the adjectives out. Give the adjectives an ounce of lead in the guts, so that the dose will not need to be re- peated.” That was the address delivered to the troops that were assembled in the morgue at that time; and from that day of the maritime strike we have seen the growth of the great Labour movement. Men, like myself, have seen obstacles overcome that appeared at the time insurmountable. As I have said, militarism was largely responsible for the birth of our movement; and if there is any strength to-day in it - and I feel that it is just as strong and steadfast as then - there is no fear of militarism, as we understand it, in the shape of conscription. I shall have other opportunities of furthering the anti-conscription movement in this State. I believe that if a vote were taken to-day in Victoria the policy would be rejected by a very large majority. I cannot speak for other States, but when Senator Lynch said today that his voice was the voice of the West, I could not help thinking that his voice was north, south, east, and west.
– He, like yourself, only ventured on a little bit of prophecy.
– I wish to show that Senator Lynch is not in touch with the feelings of the people of . his own State. Only last Saturday night one of the biggest meetings ever held at the Boulder was one almost unanimously against conscription.
– What about Fremantle?
– I know that a meeting can be got up in favour of conscription - it would be a very poor cause on which there are not two opinions - and the probability is that before many days there will be a meeting at Fremantle against conscription. There is no doubt that the meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall was enthusiastically in favour of the policy.
– Admission was by ticket !
– No, it was not.
– We have the tickets here.
– A number of people were privileged to go into that meeting; they had passports, and passports are very handy things to have when conscription meetings are held. We, on the other hand, have no privileges and no passports; but we had a meeting at the Exhibition building, in Melbourne, much larger than the Town Hall meeting, and there was also a large meeting on the Yarra-bank on Sunday afternoon.
– Is that where Senator Lynch was refused a hearing ?
– I was not there to refuse Senator Lynch a hearing. Senator Pearce, when he talks about freedom of speech, ought to go to his own State and endeavour to get for anticonscriptionists that which he claims for himself and others. I read only the other day of a man who opposed conscription at a meeting in Western Australia, and he had to run for his life.
– That is peculiar, seeing that you say that the people there are all against conscription !
– I did not say that; all I said was that there was a large meeting at Boulder City against it. I do not know the feeling of Perth.
– You generally disputed Senator Lynch’ s statement.
– I dispute Senator Lynch’s statement when he says that Western Australia is whole-heartedly conscriptionist.
– How do you know it is not?
– I know that one of the biggest meetings ever held in Boulder City was held last Saturday night, and it was unanimously against conscription.
– And yet you say that anti-conscriptionists have to run for their lives?
– That was in Fremantle or Perth. It is not many weeks ago since a number of anticonscriptionists, who held a meeting on Yarra-bank, were threatened with a ducking in the river, and had to be escorted into safety by policemen. Then, again, in Sydney yesterday, we are told that while a procession of conscriptionists, with a band of music and carrying banners and bannerettes, was allowed to pass unmolested, a procession of anti-conscriptionists later in the day - a procession on its way to MacDonnell House, erected by workers - was intercepted by returned soldiers, had their banners and bannerettes broken, and suffered other maltreatment. I must say, in justice to the Minister for Defence, that when his attention was called to what had occurred on Yarra-bank, other arrangements were made, and nothing of the kind has occurred since. We can only hope that nothing of the kind will occur again.
– Hear, hear ! On either side !
– On either side.
– Neither in the House nor elsewhere.
– While men with strong opinions express themselves vigorously there has, so far as I know, been nothing in the nature of personal recrimination in this chamber. We give credit for sincerity to those who advocate conscription, though we believe them to be off the right track. We regard conscription as a vicious principle, and we believe that, once it is approved, it means conscription for all time for overseas service. I believe that the people of the Commonwealth will turn it down on the 28th of October.
– I wish to make a few remarks upon this subject, and, in order to clear up some misapprehensions, to reply to certain statements made by Senator Millen. The honorable senator appears to confound the Industrial Workers of the World, so far as New South Wales is concerned, with the industrial section, and I have no doubt that he honestly believes the two terms to be synonymous and interchangeable.
– They are running in the same paddock, and that should be proof enough that they are the same.
– I have no doubt that when Senator Millen made that statement he believed he was speaking strictly in accordance with facts, because he is prepared at all times to express his opinion; but for the information of honorable senators who may be misled by Senator Millen’s remarks, I desire to state that the two bodies are distinct from each other, and, generally speaking, are violently antagonistic. The body known as the industrial section of New South Wales is comprised of delegates elected by the various trade societies, chiefly in the metropolis, but some of them outside the metropolitan area, and they meet as a distinct body and quite apart from any other organization, to decide on the legislation which, in their opinion, should be passed to meet their requirements. The Industrial Workers of the World, as they are known, do not meet with that section at all. I suppose at the present time the industrial section comprises quite 150 delegates, elected by the various unions throughout the city. It will be seen, therefore, that Senator Millen’s statement has no foundation in fact. The honorable senator very pertinently asked : What alternative scheme is submitted by those who oppose conscription ? Well, I want the Senate to consider the scheme put forward by the Government.
– To win the war.
– The Government, we are told, want 32,500 men this month and 16,500 men for every succeeding month. In three months’ time that scheme will empty Australia of every eligible single man; I challenge contradiction of that statement. Apparently, the Government want us to believe that this enormous draft of men is required in three months to supply the gaps caused by the casualties. But what are the figures? For a time we had 20,000 men at the front. Later on we offered 30,000 more, and still later on another 50,000, or a total of 100,000 men, and in the course of two years they have suffered casualties amounting, in round figures, to 60,000 men killed, wounded, or missing. The Prime Minister and the Government would like the people of Australia to believe that we must have the number asked for in the ranks inside of three months; but that is a demand which cannot for a moment be entertained on the figures. We have enlisted, under the voluntary system, all the men who are at the front, and I say without fear of contradiction - I challenge the Minister for Defence to disprove the statement - that the Australians are prepared to continue to supply at least 6,000 men every month under the voluntary system. That number is more than sufficient for requirements.
– The enlistments under the voluntary system last month were less than that.
– I believe the enlistments from, the 1st J January to the present time have considerably exceeded 6,000 men per month, and that number, I repeat, is more than sufficient to provide for the casualties suffered during the two years up to date. No question ever submitted to the people of this country will cause such a division of opinion as this referendum. Men who are themselves too old to go to the front, and women also, should hesitate before they vote to send any young man to the firing line, and possibly to his death. I am confident that if we had a system under which every man from twenty-one to sixty years of age was summoned to the colours, and if we picked the men by ballot, irrespective of age, a considerable number of those who are now enthusiastic conscriptionists would probably modify their attitude on this question.
– Then you believe that there should be organization to decide who should go to the front.
– I have no objection to organization at all, but I say that, up to the present, Australia has done very well, and would still do well under the voluntary system. Why should Australia be called upon to send away all her young eligible men when Canada, or South Africa are not doing the same? Indeed, I doubt very much if Great Britain herself is doing so much. There is no justification for Australia to be forced to adopt this course so long as we can find 6,000 men per month to meet requirements. It is interesting to observe all the exemptions provided for under the proclamation. In addition to the exemptions mentioned in the Defence Act, young men engaged on works of national importance, or training for such work, are not to be asked to go into the firing line; and that exemptions will, also be authorized in cases of exceptional domestic or financial obligation, as also in cases where single men are the sole support of widowed mothers, aged parents, or of orphans, while remaining sons where half the family have already gone to the front will not be expected to enlist. In the face of all these exemptions, I want to know who will go. Does it not appear that, after all, it will be the unskilled labourers engaged on railways and works of that kind? These undertakings are not regarded as national works by many enthusiastic conscription advocates, who, if they had their way, would close them down, thus bringing about the dismissal of the men. This has been done many times in the history of Great Britain during war time, in order to compel such men to enlist because they were hungry. It has been questioned whether the workers of Australia are against conscription. There is not the slightest doubt about their attitude. They are in deadly opposition to conscrip- tion, and not because large numbers have not gone, because the records show that a very substantial number of them have enlisted. On every occasion where the organized workers have had an opportunity of dealing with this question, they have expressed their determined opposition to it. Bodies like the Sydney Labour Council, after having been addressed by the Prime Minister, resolved, by 116 to 60 votes, not to have anything to do with it. Other bodies, like the New South Wales Coal and Shale Employees Union, the Railway Workers Union, the Amalgamated Railways and Tramways Union, and the Australian Workers Union, have all declared their undying hostility to conscription. This is typical of the attitude of unionism in New South Wales, and also of the organized workers of Queensland, Victoria, and elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth. I do not object very much to the action taken by those honorable senators who were responsible for our being brought back to-day to review the position. I should not mind even if we were called upon to sit here continuously for a few days and nights to discuss this question, for I know of no subject of more importance that has been submitted to the Senate. When I received a message requesting me to return here to-day, I had already completed arrangements to address, under the direction of our executive, at least a dozen meetings in various parts of New South Wales. Whilst I am opposed to conscription, I believe that the question is one on which the electors should have an opportunity to express their opinions. I am glad that the responsibility of recording a direct vote upon the question of conscription has not been thrown upon me. The Prime Minister proposed to the party that the question should be submitted to the electors, and our party by a majority agreed to the adoption of that course.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Then why object to it now ?
– I am not objecting to the action of the Government in submitting the question to the people, but I avail myself of this opportunity to state that I, personally, am opposed to conscription, and that when the question goes before the people for their decision I shall do what I cau to urge them to vote against it.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.48].- Having regard to the debates that have already taken place upon this question, I do not think that much remains to be said on the present occasion. No one is anxious that our country should fall, and I am sure that no honorable senator would favour conscription unless it was absolutely necessary. There are honorable senators who have repeatedly expressed their opposition to the principle, but who to-day are voting for the reference of the question to the people, and will urge them to accept it because they recognise that something more than the voluntary system has become absolutely necessary. If the voluntary system had not failed to provide the requisite numbers, I am sure we should not have heard one word in regard to conscription.
– The honorable senator’s crowd were organizing for conscription fifteen months ago.
– The Universal League some fifteen months ago were working throughout New South Wales with the object of focussing public attention on the seriousness of the position. The members of that league have all along pointed out that the duty of service rightly falls upon every man in the community, and should not be confined to those who are patriotic enough to voluntarily risk their lives in the cause of their country.
– They were preaching conscription at their recruiting meetings.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I know, from reports of their meetings, as well as from speeches by some of the leading members of the league to which I have listened, that the position, so far as the Universal League is concerned, is that which I have stated. We are at death grips with a nation that we profess to regard as worse than barbarians. We express abhorrence of the atrocities committed by that nation whose armies have destroyed the whole population of villages and towns in Belgium, France, and Servia. They have practically destroyed Servia and Belgium, and are now trying to do the same with Roumania because the people of that country have elected to join the Allies in the fight for freedom and justice. And yet we are asked by the anticonscriptionists to say, “ We have done enough.
Let Great Britain and her Allies do whatever more remains to be done.” In the same breath, these men demand that when we come to the consideration of peace terms Australia shall be consulted. If Australia desires to be consulted, she must be prepared to do her share of the work yet to be done at the front.
– And “ Australia will be there.”
– I believe she will be. I believe that the heart of Australia will beat as true as the hearts of Great Britain and her Allies. We are glad of the declaration made a day or two ago by Lloyd George that, “ We are going to fight this through to the bitter end.” Germany, at the outset of the war, boasted that she would bring the Empire under the iron heel of the Prussian oppressor ; but- now that Britain and her Allies have prepared themselves to see the thing through, peace kites are being flown. We should be worse than poltroons and cowards if we were to adopt any other attitude than that voiced by Lloyd George. If the people of Australia are not misled as to the true position, and yet decide, on the 28th instant, against conscription, we shall be branded for all time in the eyes of the world as a nation of cowards and braggarts. The Labour party, at the last general election, declared that, if returned to power, they would help to carry the war to a fitting conclusion. They asserted that Great Britain would find Australia, under a Labour Government, prepared with men and money to fight to the bitter end. Is that promise to be carried out, or are those who are now speaking against conscription going to use their power and influence successfully to destroy the reputation and honour of Australia ? In the early days of the war, we heard much of the iniquity of the nation that was prepared to disregard what was described as “ a scrap of paper.” Are we to have no regard for our own honour ? Are we to forget our promise to our cousins overseas that we should be with them to the last ditch ? We are proud to belong to the British Empire, and as part of that Empire we must be prepared to recognise that rights involve responsibilities, and that our duty must be shouldered. It is difficult to understand how any one can oppose this proposition. If the voluntary system had not proved insufficient, tha position would be different; but in the last extremity we are driven to conscription. We believe that defeat is impossible. Over and over again we are told that the war is going in our favour, and we believe that it is. But it is not yet won. The Germans are still in Prance. Belgium is still under the heel of the German oppressor. The war has not yet been carried into the enemy’s own country. It is up to us, therefore, to do our very best to assist the Mother Country and her Allies to push whatever advantage they have gained. Let us do our best to end the war as soon as possible. When men are fighting hard, and supports are slow in coming up, they are apt to become a little weary. They may, in the end, be successful, but at what a cost. And so with the nation. We may be successful in the end, but unless every part of the Empire does its share, at what a cost will victory be achieved. We do not want the war to drag on. The sooner it is over the better for every man, woman, and child in the Empire. But if we are going to disregard every principle of honour, then God help Australia! Unless the people be misled, there need be no fear as to the result of this referendum. The danger is, however, that chey may be deceived bv the talk in which some people are indulging as to this being but the thin edge of the wedge for the conscription of labour and the loss of freedom. It would be deplorable from the point of view of the best interests of the Commonwealth if the people were so misled. Let them once understand the exact position; let them realize that, owing to the wastage of war, a certain number of reinforcements must be sent month after month in order to maintain our present strength at the front, and I am confident they will not turn their backs on what has been done. Senator Grant has said that there is not a union in Australia which has not sent its contingent of men to the front. Are there not thousands of unionists still in Australia who are prepared to back up their comrades? Is it to be said that we have not still in Australia thousands of men of the same courage and determination as have been displayed by the men of Anzac ? They have shown what Australians can do, and we desire to let the rest of the world see that we have still many more men of the same grit and courage who are prepared to fight in the cause of freedom.
Surely the people are not to be led to believe that they may safely follow their ordinary trades and occupations under the most comfortable conditions of life in Australia unless they are prepared to take still another step to make secure our rights and privileges. Those who declare their opposition to conscription should realize that the time has come when we must resort to that system in order to put an end to the system, of Prussianism which they so abhor. The Government ask only for the same powers to send troops oversea as they have now to call up the citizens in tho case of invasion, and only during the course of the war. How can any honorable man ask people to believe that once the Government are given the power for an emergency like the present, they will have it for all time, and injure Australia in every direction? The people in Great Britain, who dislike conscription and war quite as much as any man here does, had the situation brought home to them by sending some of their representatives te the trenches to see what war was like, and by reports of atrocities committed. Their objections then disappeared, and Great Britain to-day, with the enormous number of men who have consented to conscription, stands pre-eminent as a nation that has risen to the occasion, not from any desire to fight for mere fighting sake, but to bring to a successful issue the mission on which it set out. That mission means freedom to other countries, the maintenance of England’s own freedom, and possibly even the granting of freedom to residents of various parts of Germany who are now under the iron heel of Prussian militarism. The justice of ‘ the case seems so abundant that I quite fail to understand the position taken up by those who take the opposite view. I believe all the anticonscriptionists are anxious that Great Britain should win the war; but if they can suggest no other means than those put forward by the Government, what are they to do? Our desire for peace or objection to conscription will not help us one jot or tittle in dealing with the enemy we are called upon to face. Democracy, with its rights and privileges, carries with it obligations and responsibilities. If we want to be free, we must strike for freedom when freedom is threatened, and strike with the
Weapon that will he most effective. The question of calling up all the manhood of a nation is not novel. It dates back thousands of years, when men were called upon to fight to maintain the integrity of their nation. It is so to-day, and will be so for all time. I fear the day is far distant when battles will be determined by mere speeches, no matter how eloquent. If honorable senators who are opposed to conscription, and those in favour of it, will confine themselves strictly within such lines that there can be no doubt about the correctness of their statements, this issue can he fairly fought. I have never been a supporter of the present Administration as an Administration; but when Mr. Hughes went to England he had an opportunity to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the needs and necessities of the hour. I am certain that when he went away he never thought Australia would be faced with the question with which it has to deal to-day; but he is a man of considerable ability and astuteness, and is not likely to have been led into a mistake on this very grave question, of which he has made so particular a study. If honorable senators opposite have any confidence in him, they must believe that he had good reasons for taking up his present attitude.
– You did not say that about him when he was fighting for the alterations of the Constitution.
– It is all very well to belittle a man because he has changed his opinions, but a man who never changes his opinions when the facts call for a change is a fool. When new circumstances are brought to our knowledge, placing the position in a different light, it is our duty, as sensible men, to accept the facts, and see what can be done to meet them. I can see nothing for it but to accept conscription as proposed. If there was any alternative course, I should be perfectly willing to take it, because I have no brief for conscription or war, but I have a brief to maintain the integrity, dignity, and honour of Australia. In assisting to maintain that, I am assisting to maintain the honour and dignity of the British Empire, to which we, as Australians, owe so much ‘ of our happiness, prosperity, and freedom from danger.
When we remember that for more than a century we have been building up our nation with never a hostile foot landed on our shores, and without once being called on to fight an aggressor, we must admit that we owe a great deal to the British nation, and we ought to be prepared to do our share in return.
– The workers of Australia have been fighting the local enemy for many years.
– They have been fighting with the capitalists so earnestly and determinedly that they have obtained many things that perhaps otherwise would not have been granted. I will give the honorable senator all that, if he likes; but those workers ought to be prepared, if necessary, to fight for the integrity of the Empire. They ought not to halt, or attempt to draw back from the mission to which they are called. Every citizen must go to the front, and risk his life and his property, when the emergency demands it. It is nonsense to talk of each individual being able to hold his life in his own hands, and not being liable to serve his nation to maintain its dignity and freedom. I believe in the old principle that a man’s life belongs to the State where that is necessary. Senator Grant took Senator Millen to task for saying that the Industrial Workers of the World and the industrialists were one and the same body, but what Senator Millen distinctly said was that at certain meetings places were allotted to the Industrial Workers of the World as well as to many of the Labour organizations, showing that there had been a scheme of co-operation and organization to make the affair a success. Whether they are associated directly or indirectly, the fact remains that they are all fighting, each in their own way, against a certain proposal.
– But the important point was that the meeting was a great succ6ss.
– I say nothing on that point. You can get a great meeting in any of these great cities on any subject that is commanding public attention. There may be 50,000 or 100,000 men present at a meeting of conscriptionists or anticonscriptionists, but it does not follow that a tithe of them are in favour of the principles advocated there.
– The Yarra-bank is open to -the conscriptionists. Let them try how they get on there.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The trouble is Chat there is a noisy crowd of anti-conscriptionists there who will not listen to the advocates of conscription. One of the curses of this country is the intolerance and impatience shown by the crowd towards people who do not hold exactly the same views.
– Like the refusal of the City Council to grant the Melbourne Town Hall for a meeting of anticonscriptionists. That is the kind of intolerance you speak of.
– Intolerance was shown on the Yarra-bank when the crowd refused to allow men to speak on the other side. I do not claim that either side is free from it, but I am prepared, when I go to a meeting, to listen to men who hold views entirely opposed to my own.
– Then you would let them have the Melbourne Town Hall ?
– I have nothing to do with that building, and know nothing about the reasons that actuated the council ; but I do know that the people who look after these great halls are very chary of letting them if there is any possibility of the destruction of property.
– Good old sacred property !
– -If the honorable senator could get a little property, he would hold it the same as does any one else. He said that he had put his money into the war loan, so that he actually has some of that sacred property that he decries. I know what his answer would be if I offered to take his property from him, and risk all the opprobrium that it would bring with it. On the broad general question, if Australia does its duty on the 28th, as I believe it will, when the people realize the importance of the position, there will be no need to fear that the nation will stand branded as poltroons, cowardly, or braggart. Australia will not say that now we have gone so far we must withdraw our hand from the plough, and suffer a stain on our escutcheon which will take many years to wipe off.
– As Parliament has already decided that the question of conscription or anti-conscription shall be settled by the people, I am going to discuss that matter from the platforms outside, where I can put the case before the public in a fair and straightforward way. This Parliament was returned, as Senator Gould said, after the war began.
– But Mr. Fisher’s announcement was made during that election.
– I remember Mr. Fisher’s phrase, and, after all, it is only a phrase, like “equality of sacrifice,” a thing which is absolutely impossible. If any man had advocated conscription for service abroad at the last election, he would not have seen the inside of Parliament House. I believe I know what was the feeling of the people at that time. As I have always been opposed to conscription, I feel perfectly justified in laying my views on the subject before the electors, just as much as Senator Gould is. I have no objection to his putting his views before the public. All that those who are opposed to conscription are asking for is a fair deal and the right to be heard, and that the newspapers shall be allowed to publish our speeches, if necessary. Apparently, no news is being published now of what is actually taking place. I have heard to-night, for the first time, of large meetings being held in various parts of Australia against conscription. These are not reported in the newspapers, and what we heard to-night were apparently private telegrams.
– The information is not prohibited from being reported.
– Then it is most peculiar that these items of news which are usually sent from one newspaper to the other leading newspapers of the Commonwealth are not appearing at the present time.
– Conscription meetings are reported.
– They are faithfully reported. I do not know whether there is a conspiracy among the newspapers to suppress everything that they do not wish to have published; but it is apparent that those who are opposed to conscription are not going to get a fair deal in regard to having their views spread abroad. The honorable senator glared at me to-night when I interjected. He has taken up the role of Mother Shipton. He was prophesying as to all things that were going to happen during the next hundred years, and then he told us that they were going to happen in a military sense. He said that he had been to the races, and when the horse he had backed had run a short distance, he was told, “ You have done your money in,” and he was perfectly satisfied. If his prophecies are not better than his tips, I do not think that we need be very much afraid that they will come true. Certainly there will be advancements in all classes of machinery. Everybody looks forward to it. No one is surprised when science enables the people to get from one point to another more quickly. We are all looking forward to the time when distance will be further- annihilated, and the world from that point of view made smaller. I am sorry that Senator Lynch had to leave the chamber. One does not care about saying anything in reference to the remarks of an honorable senator who is absent, but what Senator Lynch has said can be read in Hansard, and if a previous engagement, or any other cause, induced him to go away from Melbourne, that is no reason why any one who remains here should not reply to what he has said. The speech of the honorable senator wasa very amusing episode. The honorable senator claimed that I was laughing. I was not the only one laughing. Most honorable senators were enjoying themselves. I have been to some entertainments in Melbourne, and laughed, but I have never laughed so heartily as I did at the antics of Senator Lynch when he was telling us all the little tales he was unfolding in regard to senators, and those opposed to the doctrine he supports. It is a good thing when one meets a person who can amuse an audience. I remember a reception that the people of Kalgoorlie gave, some years ago, to visitors from the eastern States. It was a large meeting, and the Mayor of Kalgoorlie, in introducing Sir George Reid, who was the man of the hour, finished up his eulogistic remarks by saying that he felt that Sir George Reid would say something that would amuse the people. I have heard some very crisp and caustic remarks made in regard to persons, but I have never heard a man get the dressing down that Sir George Reid administered to the Mayor of Kalgoorlie on that occasion. He described him in every conceivable way, and wound up by saying that he was the funniest thing he had seen for quite a long time. Then he pointed out that any one who possessed the faculty of being able to amuse others should certainly use it at every opportunity. If he was able to amuse a crowd, he thought that it was the best thing he could do, because people enjoyed life more than anything else. Senator Lynch stood in that role to-day; not that he was not in deadly earnest - I believe he was - but some of the statements he made were quite over the odds. He first said that he had no intention of indulging in personalities j he would not dream of doing so; he. simply wished to deal with ‘ the question as he understood it, but he finished by dragging in Senator Ferricks, Mr. Anstey, and Senator Findley, and telling us what abominable hypocrites they were. In fact, any one opposed to the ideas he holds is regarded by him as an abominable hypocrite. When I rise, without intending to indulge in personalities, I omit them, and I do not get worked up to a tearing passion and abuse every one within the sound of my voice who does not agree with me. Senator Lynch did not carry out the intention with which he started. He proceeded to tell us that he had made an ‘ arrangement to go through Australia. What was the agreement, and with whom was it made? If it was an arrangement with any honorable senator I know nothing of it. If it was an arrangement made with the Government it was not an arrangement with members of this House, and I therefore take exception to the public being led to believe that Senator Lynch, or any other person, had an arrangement with members of this Senate which honorable senators, by a breach of their agreement, had caused him to break. There was no such agreement with honorable senators, and we, therefore, committed no breach of agreement, as the honorable senator would lead the public to believe. He seems to have the idea that there is no one in the Labour movement to-day except those who are able to see eye to eye with him. “ I have been twenty-seven years in this movement,” he said. Many members of this Parliament have been in the Labour movement longer, but that does not enable them to do more effective work than men who have recentlyjoined it. A man who has joined the
Labour movement quite recently and is able to do good work for it is just as welcome in its ranks as those who have been in it longer. Even if a man is getting o.’d he is entitled to no kudos for having been straight for so long. The honorable senator cannot claim that because he has been in the movement for so many years - I have been in it longer than Senator Lynch - he should be able to carry more weight than those who are new-comers to it and honestly support its principles. I do not wish to say what the chance of the conscriptionists will be in Western Australia. I do not know what they will be. I cannot say what chance they will have in Victoria. I do not know what their chance will be in Queensland, though I take it as very significant that the newspaper that has been boosting conscription for the last few months is informing the people of that State that if conscription is not to be carried there the rest of Australia will carry it. That statement seems to be a good indication that Queensland will vote against conscription. I might, I believe, prophesy a considerable majority against it, because at the time of the last election the Labour party was totally opposed to conscription being imposed for service abroad. But I am not foolish enough to say that Western Australia may not carry the proposal. Senator Lynch’s remark that he comes from the “ premier State of Australia “ seems to me to be nonsense. The honorable senator says that it is the only State where they “do things.” They “ do things “ in some of the other States. I do not know that Western Australia even has a Labour Government. I believe that it is the only State outside Victoria that does not possess preference to unionists. That principle has been wiped out, and the workers in Western Australia have to abide by that decision whether they like it or not. Senator Lynch says that “ they are trying experiments in Western Australia.” They are doing the same in almost every State of the Commonwealth. Queensland has tried various experiments. Many of them have been successful. In the matter of public money put into works on behalf of the people of the State, Queensland is equal, if not considerably superior, to the State which the honorable senator calls the “ premier State of the Commonwealth.” This gibing by one State of another adds no dignity to our debates, and is not likely to create a good feeling among members of the Senate or people engaged in the Labour movement. Ve are told by Senator Lynch that men have been gagged and expelled from the Labour movement. It is true that at one time or another quite a large number of men have been expelled from it. In Queensland we have had to deal with a number of men in that way, because it was believed that they had acted contrary to the avowed principles of the movement. Two leaders of the party had to be passed out because they thought they were able to get on better with those people to whom we were always opposed. Coalitions and many such things took place. This is not the first case of expulsion from the Labour movement. The honorable senator says that” there is no freedom in connexion with it. On the contrary, there has been more freedom in connexion with it than in any connexion with any other brand of politics we have so far had in Australia. On a question like this I do not propose to go on the platform and defame people. I realize that the matter of compulsory military service was not definitely on the Labour platform at the time that the Senate was elected ; every one knows that. But if there had been any doubt in the minds of those who drew up the platform it would have been there, even if it had to be printed in big letters, and I do not think that there is one member of the party who would not have put his name to it had it been there at the time that he was returned to this Parliament. I further believe that not one of these men, had he subscribed such a plank, would have gone back on it. I am opposed to the policy of the Government, and as soon as I get the opportunity I shall tell the people so from the public platform.
– That is where we ought to be now.
– I have twice had to cancel mv arrangements. Last Thursday, and again on Saturday, I booked a berth, believing that I could get away, but I am still here. Yet Senator Lynch asks us why we do. not put up a fight. He made reference to a rheumatic Queensland mosquito. I have travelled a good deal through Queensland, and have been in the Gulf country, but have never met with that kind of mosquito. Possibly the Institute of Tropical Diseases at
Townsville may know something of such an insect, but Senator Lynch may have been referring to what is known as the Scots Grey. Years ago I helped to put up many a good fight in the Queensland Parliament, and could do my share now as well as any other honorable senator if it were necessary. I do not think it is necessary. It seems to me that when the numbers were against us, all we could do in regard to the Referendum Bill was to enter our protest against it, stating our reasons, and voting against it on every opportunity. Having done our best, we must be content to go before the people, and, stating our views, ask them to indorse our action. Senator Lynch stated that extravagant language had done a great deal to help the Labour movement. He instanced statements made by Mr. Walpole and others derogatory of those connected with the movement. But he, in his turn, made extravagant charges against those who cannot at present see eye to eye with him. I do not abuse him because I am opposed to him on this question. I , give him credit for sincerity in an attitude which he says he took up long ago. I never dreamt that any of us would live to see the day when this Parliament would be asked to vote for conscription. The honorable senator says that there should be but one party in Australia now. But less than two years ago the Labour party turned down that proposal, and it was one of the best things that it ever did. The honorable senator asked us to look at Great Britain, There they have a Coalition Government. But was not one of the causes of the success of Mr. Hughes in Great Britain, the fact that there was a Coalition Government in power which the press had been vainly trying to induce to do certain things it believed to be necessary ? When it was found that Mr. Hughes was on their side, the influence of powerful organs like the Times and others was put behind him, and enabled him to make a name such as no other public man coming from the Dominions had ever before made. Can it be said that the British Coalition Government, a coalition of opposing and conflicting interests, whose representatives are by no means happy together, is one party? By using Mr. Hughes, the newspapers were able to compel the British Government to do things which for months they had been unable to make them do. Who doubts that, later, the present coalition will fall asunder, and there will be harder fighting between political parties than ever before? Senator Lynch told us that there is only one ,party in Prance to-day. That is so. France has had conscription for many a year, and practically every one of its citizens has been sent to the front. We hear of its members of Parliament taking part in the fighting, being called together only when it becomes necessary to vote supplies for the war, the administration of public affairs being intrusted wholly to the Government. Are the people of Australia prepared to leave everything to this Government without parliamentary check ? I do not think so, and many members of this Parliament would not be satisfied with such an arrangement for five minutes. We have seen too much of the administration of this Government, even though St is the administration of a Labour Government. A good deal of soreness has been caused by it. I ask Senator Guthrie whether the men who were conscripted by the Navy Office, and made to work under conditions differing from those which prevail in the coastal trade, were not sore? We shall be told that nothing of the kind will happen again. Let us hope that it will not happen again. But I am disinclined to put unlimited power into the hands of any body of men, because abuse, is likely to follow sooner or later. Senator Lynch asked us to look at Italy. That country is much in the position of France; everything being left to the Administration, and Parliament being called together only to vote supplies. He asked us to look at Belgium. There, the affairs of the country are administered almost wholly by the soldiers who have overrun it. We look forward to the time when they will be driven out, and it will be possible to re-establish a Belgian Parliament for the conduct of affairs. Senator Lynch referred us to Washington; but in his time the United States of America were practically under the colonial government of Great Britain, and there was no opportunity, under the conditions then existing, for a number of political parties. Were there many different parties in Australia when we had the same system of colonial government? That was the system practically in operation in the United States of America in
Washington’s time. The legislators -were mostly nominees. There were practically none elected, and how could there be political parties under such conditions ? Then the honorable senator referred us to Lincoln. I ask whether there were not political parties in Lincoln’s time? Any one who has read the history of the United States of America at that time knows that there were not one or two, but at least half-a-dozen, different parties, each battling to get ite own way. It was only because of the tremendous power which the American Constitution vested in the President of the United States of America that Lincoln was able to withstand the assaults made upon him by the various parties and cliques in his time. Of what use is it for Senator Lynch to tell people who, like himself, have read the history of the United States of America that the condition of affairs in that country at that time was as he has stated it? There were parties in the United States of America at that time led by men whom Lincoln had himself placed in responsible positions only a little time before. They went back upon him and exerted all the influence they could to put him out of his position. It was only his enormous power as President that enabled him to brush aside all the opposition coming from those parties and cliques. Senator Lynch had something to say about the Socialists. The Socialist, according to the honorable senator, is only a comrade now, but he was not such a bad sort of chap some time ago. Senator Lynch asked us to consider the position of Leibknecht and his comrades in Prance and Germany; but it is somewhat significant that French Socialists have passed resolutions not to’ have anything whatever to do with the Socialists of Germany for quite a number of years. Socialistic societies in Great Britain have passed similar resolutions. I think they have decided not to have anything to do with the Socialists of Germany for the next ten years. In view of these facts, it is difficult to understand the passion which Senator Lynch displayed against the Socialists of Australia, because they happen to be opposed to the system which the honorable senator is advocating. I have no objection to his advocacy of conscription. If it squares with his conscience, the honorable senator has a perfect right, as has every other member of the Labour party, to support or oppose conscription, or any other matter that is not on the Labour platform.
– That should apply to every member of the party.
– Most decidedly it does.
– Then what about the action of members of the party who have expelled men who exercised that freedom ?
– I had no say in the matters to which Senator Millen refers. The labour organizations in the various States have taken that action. I do not know whether they did so wrongly or not. If they have the power, and they believe they are representing the big majority of their members, it seems to me ‘ that they have only repeated what was done in the movement on many occasion’s before, when they expelled people who had been advocating principles opposed to the principles of the Labour party. I am not going to vilify any man because he opposes the principles I hold. What I ask is that the misrepresentation at present in evidence shall not be made worse than it is. Speaking of myself, Senator Lynch said to-day, “ I will tell the people something about you.” The honorable senator is quite welcome to do so. The whole of my life in connexion with the Labour movement is an open book, which can be read by anybody. The honorable senator can go to the State from which I come and tell the people there anything he pleases concerning me, because they know that I have never acted contrary to the Labour principles I have always advocated, and I did not come into the Labour movement only yesterday, but, as I have already said, some little time before Senator Lynch came into it in Australia. There seems to be an impression that honorable senators who on Friday voted to bring about the meeting of the Senate to-day entered into some sort of conspiracy. It is suggested that there was some whip-up, and that they took advantage of their mates who had gone away in good faith. I was glad to hear Senator Millen say that he had no fault to find with the honorable senators who compelled him and his colleagues to come here from Sydney to-day, and that he thought they were justified in the circumstances. I wish to state exactly what happened, so far as I was personally concerned. The Government Whip came to me before the Senate met after lunch on Friday, and told me that, in all probability, the Senate would be sitting a little late, and that as some of our men wished to get away, he desired to know whether I would be here in order to assist to keep a quorum. I told the “Whip that I would be here. I mentioned that I had something to do down the street, and as others would be here to keep a quorum until twenty minutes to 5 o’clock, I would then go away, and be back in time to take the place of those who desired to get away.
– The trouble is that the honorable senator was as good as his word.
– I was. I always try to be as good as my word, and it is an accident if I am not. “When I came back I did not hear from Senator Mullan or any other member of the Senate that it was likely that the Senate would be meeting this week. I had booked my berth for Saturday. I entered the chamber only ten minutes or a quarter-of-an: hour before the vote was taken on Senator Mullen’s amendment. After entering the chamber and hearing the debate, I asked what was the matter, and I was told that Senator Mullan thought that there should be some promise from the Government that when the proclamation was issued Parliament would be called together, in the sense ordinarily understood by laymen, to deal with it. There was no such promise given. I heard the Minister for Defence say, ““We are going to act in accordance with the best legal advice given to us.” I shall not say whether that was right or wrong, as I am not able to criticise it. During the debate no one dreamt for a moment that the proclamation was already in existence until the Minister for Defence said, “ The proclamation has already been issued.” Inquiry was at once made by honorable senators as to why the proclamation had not been laid upon the table of the Senate, so that we might know what was happening. In my mind was a suspicion that the Government were waiting until Parliament had adjourned to announce the issue of the proclamation. It may be technically right to say that Parliament is sitting at any time between the opening by the Governor-General and the prorogation, but the majority of the people would interpret section 46 to mean that Parliament should be actually sitting.
– This proclamation was issued under sec- tion 60, which does not require it to be laid on the table of the Senate.
– The idea has always been in the minds of honorable senators that a proclamation of this description would necessitate Parliament being given an opportunity of expressing its opinion in regard to both the proclamation itself and the regulations to be issued in connexion with it. Realizing that the other House had adjourned, many of us were resolved that the Senate should have that opportunity of discussion. I have not read through the regulations. I did not know that they were available. Nowadays the Government seem to go direct to the newspapers with any information of importance, and we may be sure that they obtained copies of the regulations at once. But Parliament is the place where these regulations ought to have been produced at the earliest possible moment. From the dates on the proclamation and the regulations, we realize that the Government desired that Parliament should not have an opportunity to debate them. Even Senator Millen does not altogether agree with regulation 80 in regard to thumbprints. I am surprised that the Government did not proceed further in that direction. The police have a system of taking, in addition to thumb-prints, two photographs - one full face, and the other in profile - so as to be able to identify criminals. Could not the Government have done something like that? I do not believe that the’ adoption of the thumbprint system in connexion with men called up for defence work will meet with the approval of the people, although it may be a very excellent thing for the tracing of criminals passing from one country to another. In any circumstances, I should have been opposed to the proclamation calling up men for home service. The people have not yet had an opportunity of expressing their opinion, but our young men have been called up for home service for the term of the war. We know what that means. Those who are in favour of the policy of the Government believe that the people, by an overwhelming majority, will decide that these men shall be sent oversea. Therefore, it was decided to call them up at once, so that, before the referendum is taken, they may be given a few weeks’ training. That very action will militate against an affirmative vote being recorded, because the people affected will be far more active agents against conscription than they otherwise would have been. It has been said that there would not have been enough men coming forward if the voluntary system had been relied on, but I believe that had there been as much energy put into the voluntary system as is now being shown in connexion with conscription, we should have been able to maintain our position without resort to compulsion. I shall vote for the amendment, because I voted previously in favour of the Senate meeting again this week, and if there is anything I can do, by vote or voice in this chamber, to kill the conscription proposal, I shall be only too happy to do it.
– I did not expect a lengthy sitting today, but Senator Lynch was full of vigour, and kicked off the ball of debate. The consequence is that the Senate is still sitting. Senator Lynch says that he is entitled to speak for Western Australia, and to commit that State to conscription, because he has been guided by the consensus of opinion in the party that has placed him in this Senate. I remind Senator Lynch that he did not wait for the decision of the Western Australian Labour movement before putting forward his opinion in regard to conscription. He did that long before the Western Australian Conference gave its decision. Senator Lynch feels aggrieved on finding that there are some honorable senators who stand here to speak for the Labour movement as they understand it in the States to which they belong. Surely, if he is entitled to speak for the Labour movement in his State, every other representative in this Chamber possesses a similar right. With the exception of Western Australia, the work: ing classes of every State in the Commonwealth emphatically say that they do not want conscription. This afternoon, the honorable senator gibed at some of us because we did not see eye to eye with him on this question, and spoke as if we had only joined the Labour movement yesterday. He affirmed that he had been identified with it for twenty-seven years. I know that he has been associated with it for a long time, and that he has done very fine work in connexion with it. But I may tell him that, although he is an older man than I am, my record is a couple of years longer than his own, and consequently I am in a position to speak for the movement with just as much authority as he is. It has been said that those honorable senators who are opposed to conscription took an unfair advantage of the* Government supporters on Friday last. In what we did, we acted conscientiously, believing it was necessary that the Senate should be called together to discuss certain actions of the Ministry. I was under the impression, and so were many others, that before Parliament rose for the referendum campaign the proclamation and the regulation calling upon the citizens of this country to submit their thumbs for examination would have been laid upon the table of both Houses. We were entitled to expect that. When the proclamation was not presented to Parliament, some honorable senators became very suspicious of what the Government might do. They therefore resolved to watch them, and hence the vote of Friday last. It has been said that, in the forthcoming campaign, both sides will receive a square deal. But what is the position ? In the newspaper? of this morning a whole page is devoted to recording the doings of conscriptionists all over Australia, while only about ten lines are occupied with the doings of anticonscriptionists. Since the War Precautions Act became law, it has been used for quite a number of purposes for which I do not think the Government were justified in using it. I propose to tell them one way in which it may be used justifiably. They affirm that they are anxious that the people of this country shall not be misled upon this question. I give the advocates of conscription credit for the utmost sincerity, and I expect them to be equally generous in regard to myself. The Minister for Defence has stated that the Government do not conduct the newspapers. I am well aware of that. But they have recently done quite a lot of things in the direction of suppressing information which would otherwise have appeared in the newspapers. I hold that they should use their powers under the War Precautions Act to see that, in the forthcoming campaign, both sides are accorded a square deal by the newspapers. If these journals devote a page to recording the utterances of the advocates of conscription, they should devote an equal amount of space to recording the speeches* of those who are opposed to it. I am quite satisfied that if the newspapers did not give prominence to Mr. Hughes’ side of the question, they would very soon hear from him. It has been affirmed that the opponents of conscription wish to desert our men in the trenches, that we want to see them die with their rifles in their hands simply because we do not favour sending more men to the front. But I would remind honorable senators that only the other day the Minister for Defence stated that all the sacrifice which Australia was required to make at this juncture was represented by the despatch of an additional 60,000 men. He declared - as will be seen by reference to Hansard, page 8415 -
Wo have already 72,000 with which to meet that demand, and we should be able to realize from the 150,000 single men available the remaining 60,000 men, fit and without dependants, ready to stand by their comrades in the field, and to give them the relief they have every right to expect. That is the worst sacrifice Australia is called upon to make under the Government’s proposal.
The worst sacrifice the people are called upon to make under the proposal of the Government they know nothing whatever about, because the Government have not been frank with them. The Minister stated that the limit of our sacrifice was represented by 60,000 additional men. Yet, a little later, we were told that 32,500 men were required for last month, and 16,500 for each succeeding month. It will thus be seen that by the end of the present year over 80,000 men will have been called up. The people should be told these things. That is why the Government should use their powers under the War Precautions Act to see that the newspapers devote to the doings of anti-conscriptionists the same amount of space that they grant to the advocates of conscription. At present, they refuse to report our utterances, and, unfortunately, Hansard does not find its way into the hands of many people. The other day, when speaking in this chamber, I gave some figures as to the probable cost of the war to Australia. Further information from official channels has shown me that I was quite wrong in my estimate of our financial responsibilities. That, however, was not my fault. I endeavoured to obtain the desired information from official sources, but failed to do so, and, as a result, I had to be guided by the best information that was then available. Since then, however, the Treasurer has made an interim financial statement, in which he estimates that, by the end of next June, the national debt of the country will have reached £175,000,000.
– That is the Commonwealth debt? Senator BARNES.- Yes.
– That does not represent the aggregate of our war loans.
– It includes the war loans; that is the whole national debt. The war’ debt is £141,000,000, and the people have to consider that the war, in all probability, will not be over by next June, though I believe Senator Findley when he says that Germany is now beaten. My own opinion is that from now on Germany will only be sparring for terms of peace. That nation knows that there is now no possibility of conquering the earth as it set out to do; but it will hang on as long as it can - for as long as it takes our people to drive its forces over the frontiers. Senator Pearce, as I have said, told us that all the additional sacrifice that Australia had to make was 60,000 men, and yet, in view of the fact that the war cannot possibly end before June next year, we shall, for at least five months, have to continue to send monthly 16,500. The people of Australia cannot possibly vote on this question with a clear vision unless they know these facts. If, next June, we are faced with a total Commonwealth debt of £175,000,000, and we have 400,000 at the front, it will take at least two years to get these men back again, at an expenditure of at least another £70,000,000. We who oppose conscription are being charged with deserting the men at the front, but are really those who are standing to the promise that we made to them. We promised these men that, if they went to fight for the liberties we enjoy here, their dependants would be looked after, and that they themselves, if crippled, would be provided for; and I believe that the financial responsibility, as shown by the figures, is the limit to which this country can go in honouring that promise. It is time, as I have said before, that this country had the courage to cry a halt. Australia is a long way ahead of any other country on earth. Some honorable senators who come from other countries say that t’hey have the greatest affection for Australia, more affection than for any other country except the land of their birth. Well, Australia is the land of my birth, and I have no respect for the country that starved my father and mother out of it. There is no sentiment in me about that country, but I have a sentiment about the chaps at the front. It is suggested that Australia has to fight on the whole western front, and that if we do not send some more thousands of men we shall lose the war, and that the loss will be put down to the fact that we have deserted the men who up to now have gone to the “front. This is said, despite the fact that on every frontier there are millions of men who are not now being used. That fact is disclosed by this morning’s newspaper, and I suppose that the Argus would not say such a thing if they thought it would be of any use to us who are opposing conscription. Although we are informed that there are about 8,000,000 Russians available, but not now in the firing line, we have been twitted with desiring the Hindu, with his dirty shirt and doubtful turban, to do our fighting. In the name of Heaven, can any sane person believe that England, Italy, or any of our Allies, desires Australia to send a paltry 100,000 men - a mere drop in the bucket - 12,000 miles when these millions of men are not being used? These facts ought to be made known and thought about. Some who pose as patriots ought to remember that this country owes very little to any other country on earth. It has forged its way up by the efforts of the people who came here first, and, owing to labour organization and other means, it is now the country best worth fighting for. Britain is the next best country, and I wish to see her win the war, as I think she can, without any other sacrifice by Australia. If the Home authorities knew as much as we know, they would say, “ For Heaven’s sake, look after your own country, and do not be any further foolish.” So far ai I can gather, the people in France and Great Britain, when the Prime Minister went to England, were found to know so much of us that they were surprised to find that he was a white man, so that they cannot be expected to know as much of the conditions here as we do, or be able to judge as well as we can of our circumstances. Within the next twelve months it is proposed to take men from the industries of the country, and this means that we must repudiate the promises made already to the men at the front. Further, the policy of the
Government must pile up the cost of living, so that we shall eventually have the people almost eating each other. The lands of the country will be idle, with no harvest gathered, and no one knows this better than the farmers, who are not so stupid as to shut their eyes to the effect of draining the country of its manhood. Under such circumstances, our harvest can never reach the granaries of the world if we had fifty times the number of ships that Mr. Hughes bought in Great Britain. These are all facts that the people of the country ought to know before they vote on the referendum. Here, I should like to say that I cannot see the reasons why the Government are submitting our young men to the indignity of having their thumb-prints taken on enlistment. Was that done to the men who volunteered? If so, I am not aware of the fact. I feel confident that men who volunteered, if asked to do this thing, would have resented it to the utmost. They would have said, “ I am not a burglar, or a garotter, or anybody who has been associated with criminality in this country.” Some explanation should certainly be given to the Senate concerning the use of these thumb-prints, and the system should be abandoned immediately. Possibly it was introduced because of the fear of desertions, but, apparently, the Government did not fear desertions among the men who volunteered, and who are now at the front fighting the battles of Australia, and doing so well there. But what would a young man in the trenches think if his parents wrote and told him that his brothers left behind were being dragged up to recruiting depots, and were having their thumb-prints taken, just as if they were burglars or garotters
– It would not be very heartening to them.
– No, it would not. Now, on the question of the referendum among the soldiers, I draw attention to the fact that in the Argus of yesterday the military officer in charge of the electoral administration overseas stated that they would be ready by the 2Sth October to cable the results of the voting by soldiers, for the information of the people here. Now, I want to know if that vote is to be disclosed so that it may be used before or on the morning of the poll in Australia.
Personally, I do not care whether it is done or not, as I do not think that the Government will get anything like the majority they expect from the soldiers’ vote. I have been in conversation with quite a number of returned men, and they have told me the feeling of the men at the front, so I have no fear that the soldiers’ vote will have much influence in the direction of foisting conscription on Australia. I was informed to-day - and I hope the Minister will make a note of the statement - that the men who are going into camp now are being asked to sign an oath differing in some respects from the oath signed by the men who volunteered, and are now at the front, and that the oath binds them willy-nilly to go overseas to fight. I do not know whether there is any truth in that statement or not, but it ought to be replied to by the Minister. The men signing on now should be required to take no other oath than that laid down in the Defence Act. So far as Victoria is concerned, I believe we will get an overwhelming majority of “ Noes “ at the referendum. I cannot speak for the other States, but I hope that the Democracy of this country will never force conscription on its people. Those acquainted with the history of the Labour movement know why the power of the Government to call upon the people for war services was limited, and they know also that there is no authority for calling on the manhood of Australia to fight outside the Commonwealth. In all probability other people also know the reason for this decision. I want to make it clear that to-day I am fighting where I fought twenty-nine years ago - on the side of organized labour, which enabled me to get into this Parliament, and which captured the government of this country. I have been fighting all the time against the men who advocate black labour for Australia, against the men who sweated the women and children of this country until we got Judge Higgins and a few more Judges to work to prevent them. These people talk about patriotism! Tes, it is the patriotism by means of which they would shove other men into the trenches. Perhaps the men who volunteered were not able to put their thousands of pounds into the fighting fund, but some of them gave their lives, and some are doing it to-day. We have yet to hear of the patriot who has come forward, and placed his money at the service of the country for nothing. The women and nien who have sons overseas, some in the hospitals, and some .in the trenches, come forward to put a shilling or two shillings into our funds, and they are saying to us, “ For Heaven’s sake, give us literature to stop conscription. We do not want it, and we will not have it.” That is the sentiment of the people who are linked up with the Labour movement. Parliamentary parties do not count for very much in such a matter as this, for members of Parliament come and go, and it does not matter to the people whether a man is here for one year or ten years. The people outside, however, do want to know what we are thinking and doing, and, nakedly and unashamedly, I confess I care for no other opinion. The people outside are responsible for my presence in this chamber, as they are for the presence of every other honorable senator, and it has grieved me to think that during the debate of the last two or three weeks, so little regard has been paid to the opinions of the people honorable senators are supposed to represent. It is quite easy to get out of touch with the electors. I know that members of Parliament are busy, and, possibly, when they get in here they find other and more pleasant things to do than to go out amongst the people to keep in touch with them. I regret to think that this party may split, and, perhaps, vanish, but, after all, the Labour movement itself stands as firmly as a rock, and it will be unimpaired in vigour when I and other members of this Parliament have gone. The Labour movement is ever green, ever growing, and ever gathering strength. Those who think otherwise are making a huge mistake. Of course, Labour has made mistakes. No man’ and no movement that has ever been worth anything has avoided mistakes. Quite probably the Labour movement will make mistakes again, but it exists in the interests of the people, and I am satisfied that no other political body can so well care for the welfare of Australia. The Labour organizations that are fighting against conscription to-day are doing the right thing. I am satisfied that they will come back from this appeal to the people, as they have done on the last two or three occasions, with a triumphant majority behind them. They will deserve it, and I believe further -that the British, French, Russian, Italian, and German soldiers on the battlefields of Europe today will say, if we reject this proposal, that Australia has acted wisely. We have sent more men to the front than any other nation SO’ far removed from the scene of conflict would have ever dreamt of sending. The people of the Old World, many of whom thought we were all blackfellows out here, never dreamt that we would send as many to the front as we have. I venture to believe that those people, if consulted, would be the first to say, “ For Heaven’s sake, consider the welfare of your own country. After the war, complications may arise of which we know nothing at present. Do not leave Australia with none but its old men, its women, and its children to protect your magnificent heritage. Keep some of your fighting material at home.” Let us show the world that, although we have sent something like 300,000 of our finest fighting material to the other end of the earth, Australia has still a “ kick “ in her. Place in the hands of the men remaining here the means of putting up a fight, and I venture to say that we shall be able to protect ourselves against any nation that tries to trouble us. I do not desire to “ ski te “ about Australia, but, having regard to our geographical position, I am confident that, given a Government willing to spend on the equipment of our men one-half the money we have already spent on this war, there is no combination of nations - and you can chuck Great Britain in - that would trouble us.
– If we got word tonight that a raiding party of 10,000 had landed at Port Darwin, what could we do?
– Leave them there until a few Australian Workers Union men went up there shearing next year, ana they would account for them. It is not many years since the most powerful maritime nation on earth took on the job of defeating one of the weakest countries. A nation of 45,000,000 people, with the greatest Navy on the seas, took two and a half years to conquer the Boer Republic, which could only put in the field about one man to every seven that we could put in the field to-morrow. I believe I am well within the mark when I say that, given men decently armed and equipped, we need not worry about other nations taking Australia. I have no desire to import any bitterness into this fight. When we go into the country, our endeavour must be not to engender any ill-feeling in the minds of the people. I shall put before them the position as I see it. I shall tell them of the danger to Australia that I see in the proposals of the Government. Those dangers, to my mind, are very real, and the people of Australia are alive to them. Having said so much I shall leave it to the people to decide this question.
– As one of the loyal eight who voted against the adjournment of the Senate on Friday last, I wish to explain that, as a representative of Victoria, 1 felt it my duty to take that action as a protest against the failure of the Government to take this Chamber into its confidence by placing the proclamation, and everything relating to it, before us. . Had they adopted that course, there would have been no necessity to ask the Senate to meet again this week. The Government to-day, however, have not done much to improve the situation by telling us what they intend to do.
– Honorable senators will not give us an opportunity to do so. They keep on talking.
– The honorable senator should be one of the last to interject in that way, seeing that, although a little time ago he was a revolutionary, he is now the silent member of the Government. Having regard to the intricacies of the situation, it would be as well if the sittings of the Senate were continued, if possible, until the date of the referendum. It is advisable, I think, that the people should have a watchdog, in the form of a majority of the Senate, looking after their interests at a time like the present. We are asked to take a retrograde step. Notwithstanding our vaunted freedom and our knowledge of all for which Democracy stands, we are invited to throw back to some fifty years ago. We all remember the black-birding that was indulged in when kanakas were recruited from the southern seas. You, Mr. President, recollect the effect of that recruiting on Queensland. The result of the employment of kanaka labour in the cane-fields of Queensland was such as te cause grave concern throughout Australia, with the result that as soon as it was established, the National Parliament legislated to give effect to the policy of a White Australia, and the supporters of that principle did not cease to agitate until the kanakas were returned to their island homes, and Australia was made white. We intend to keep it white, and unless Australia is drained of its manhood by the adoption of the Government’s proposals, there will be no room here for any coloured alien races. In view of legal opinions that have been given, it seems to me that the action of the Government in calling up men ostensibly for home service, but actually for service overseas, is illegal and unconstitutional. I have heard it inferred by the Minister for Defence that in time of war the Constitution is cast into the national dust-bin. That seems to be the position to-day; but one good effect of the referendum, which I hope will be defeated, and of the proclamation which has been issued, is the fact that it will give the lie direct to those who have said that Australia has not done her duty in the way of voluntary enlistment. It has been shown already, within two days after the issue of the proclamation, that very few eligible fit men remain to be called into camp. The returns from two of the most important inland centres of Victoria are given in the Herald, tonight as follows: -
Hen called up for enrolment to-day comprised the E, F, G-, and H classes. Up to 2.30 p.m. eighty-one had been medically examined, and of these twenty-four had been passed as fit, thirty-two rejected as unfit, twenty-one referred to the Medical Board, and four deferred. Of the twenty-four fit men eighteen applied for exemptions.
Of the seventy-six men examined up to 2.15 p.m. to-day, thirty-eight had been accepted as fit for military service, but twenty-eight of that number claimed exemptions.
In the case of Ballarat, six are available out of eighty-one. I do not say that all those who apply for exemptions will get (hem, but a percentage of the applications will be upheld, and the figures strikingly show how few will go into camp from that district. This is a compliment to that and other districts, proving, as it does, how many public-spirited, patrioticallyminded men, lovers of their own free Australia, have gone abroad willingly and freely to serve Australia and the Empire. The Bendigo figures show ten available out of seventy-six, if all the applications for exemption are upheld. This afternoon, our honorable friend Senator LieutenantColonel Sir Albert Gould, to give him his full title, joined with that picturesque word-painter of rheumatic Queensland mosquitoes and Western dawns, Senator Lynch, in referring to those who have not gone as “ cowards,’ “ cravens,” and “ shirkers.” Yet to-day’s figures show how very few men who could have gone are still here, and no one knows whether the circumstances that prevented them from going before have yet been removed. Some may not have had the heart, and it is cruel, if they have no stomach for the fight, to throw them into the trenches, where they may be in the way of good men. Will Senator Lynch and Senator Gould remember that the same foul epithets were applied to those who did not respond to the first call of the bugle in the early days of the war? Yet, many of those so designated now lie in lonely graves on the Gallipoli peninsula. Last year public speakers and the press were also endeavouring to shame into enlisting, by the application of such names as “cold-footers” and “wasters,” many men who to-day lie buried in France, having made the supremo sacrifice for their country. So, to day, you may be doing an injury to men who could not go before. Only a few days ago I met a man who, in spirit, has been at the front all these heart-aching months, but could not go, because he had to stand by his invalid mother. Her death left him free, and he went, yet for two years he had to bear the taunts of those who call themselves patriots.
– Certainly not. Many of the “ would-to-God “ brigade, whose years protect them, say things of that kind of the younger men, without inquiring into their circumstances. Senator Lynch again made his oft-repeated statement that he is a conscriptionist because Ireland has been bled white under voluntarism. The members of the Labour party have had for many years to fight calumnies, including charges of tearing the marriage certificate to pieces, dissolving the marriage tie, conscripting the children of the nation and putting them into communistic nurseries, advocating polygamy, and stirring up sectarianism. That issue has been trailed through our ranks for years, but we thought that we had scotched it at last. Now, some of these people, and those standing behind them, are endeavouring to introduce that cursed, dastardly thing known as sectarianism into this fight, in order to throw odium cn those standing against conscription, using it as the LiberalcumConservative party tried to do in days done by, although unsuccessfully, to hoist themselves into power. In striking contrast to Senator Lynch’s statement, other people in this community have stated repeatedly in recent weeks that they are conscriptionists because Irishmen have not volunteered in Australia. What an incongruous position ! One man is a conscriptionist because Ireland has spilled her blood voluntarily, and others are in the same camp because Ireland has not. As a reader of history, one who knows his countrymen, and looking at the meagre returns coming in now as showing the few eligible men left, I know that Irishmen, Englishmen, Scotchmen, Cornishmen, and Welshmen have played their part manfully and well. It is unkind, it is unfair, it is a thing that we should not expect in a supposedly broad-minded country such as this, the recent fine deeds of whose sons will shine from the pages of history in letters of fire in days to come, rivalling the doings of the Irish Fusiliers in the great offensive on the Somme, that men calling themselves Irishmen should say they are conscriptionists because Ireland has given so much of her blood, while Others in the same camp bring in the sectarian serpent again by saying that they are conscriptionists because Irishmen in Australia have not volunteered. I refuse to believe that the position is as they represent it to be, but I take this opportunity to try once again, I hope for the last time, to get my heel on the head of the serpent of sectarianism.
– Sectarianism has nothing to do with this question.
– If the honorable senator does not know it,. I do. One of the surprises of this campaign is to find that it is as insidious as the serpent itself. If the honorable senator wants my authority, I can refer him to some of the leading men in this country, although they are not game to get on the platform; but if they can get hold of the ear of some old woman, whether in skirts or in trousers, they will pour the story out in order to get their unfortunate victim to vote “ Yes.” In characteristic style, Senator Lynch has reiterated the slander that has been levelled against the Socialists of Australia, but as progressive figures show that so many workers have gone to the front it is surprising that any representative public man would stoop so low as to try to discredit the great Socialist cause.
– Senator Lynch would never stoop so low.
– He has in this matter. The fact that a big percentage of those who have gone to the front are Labourites is admitted by conscriptionists and by the opponents of the Labour party. No Labourite is worthy of the name if he is not a Socialist. We are here in this chamber because Socialists have put us here, and we are expected to fight for them. I stand by those who put me here, and I say that they have played their part faithfully and well in the battles of this war,, and as bravely as anyother unit of the Empire or of the Allies who are with us.
– Does Socialism mean organization for peace, and not for war ?
– Socialism is essentially for peace, but the Socialist is not a peaceful man when he gets a crack in the jaw. As the honorable senator has experienced in many a campaign, the Socialist can hit back. We are expected to keep faith with those who have sent us to the Senate by not bringing in conscription. If we bring into being this accursed thing, which will brand every man it sends into the ranks as Cain was branded, those maligned Socialists and other free Australians who have gone to the front, leaving a country noted for its free institutions and its advanced thought, will return to find a Prussianized Australia. I have seen letters written from men at the front hoping that this thing will not be done. Despite the oft-repeated mentionings on the conscriptionist platforms to the contrary, our men at the front do not want Australians conscripted to bring them out of the trenches. 1 believe that they will fight their own way out of anything. Talking of the brand of Cain brings me to a matter which we did not suspect when, thinking that something which we should know and which we should debate might be done under the proclamation, we prevented the adjournment of the Senate. The thumb-prints of men who are called up and are rejected as medically unfit are now being taken. Those of us who have been on gold-fields know what fights we have had to make against mine-owners to prevent the personal search of miners and the imposition of other obscene indignities. Yet, now it is proposed to class with Chinamen, criminals, and lunatics the men who are called up for military service. I am pleased that I am, for once, in agreement with Senator Millen. He says that it is not playing the game, and that men should not be classed as criminals by having records of their thumb-prints taken. Another method should be adopted. A statutory declaration on the discharge certificate, with a notification that it must not be transferred to any one else under the pain of a heavy penalty, would make a man very careful about letting it go out of his hands. I do not agree with Senator Millen’s suggestion that photographs of medical rejects should be taken. It savours too much of the Rogues’ gallery, because the Criminal Investigation Department has photographs, as well as thumb-prints, of criminals. T think that the signed declaration on each certificate should be ample safeguard. I know that the Government are anxious that the Senate should adjourn, but I am not anxious to see the sittings of the Senate conclude. There is much to be watched. Ministers withhold too much. We know that they have quite enough to put up with, and we have no desire to increase their worries, but their position would be much better if they were franker and more candid with Parliament. The censorship is too rigid, and we know that the Government could secure from the newspapers more impartial treatment of those who are opposing conscription. At other times, if a public man secures one report of his speeches, he does not expect any more, but now it frequently happens that the same type of speech that a supporter of conscription is making appears time after time in the press; whereas the anti-conscriptionist, breaking new ground, and speaking possibly for the first time, does not get from the press that consideration that he should get in order that the people may be made acquainted with the principles and aims of those who are opposing the imposition of compulsory military service overseas. The municipal representatives are being asked to take a hand in this business.
Senator -Millen. - What is more important, they are responding to the appeal.
– Some of them are, and the ratepayers- later will want to know why. Urgent telegrams have been sent to the mayors and presidents of shires throughout Australia, many of whom have been in the past the opponents of the Prime Minister and of his party. They have been asked to call public meetings to foist conscription on the people, and to beat down the anti-conscriptionists. Last week I asked Senator Pearce where the money to pay for these telegrams was coming from. The amount must be considerable. I asked if the Government were paying for the telegrams. The honorable gentleman said that the Government was not paying for them, and when I asked who was paying, he very impolitely told me to mind my own business. I consider that, as a representative of the people, it is my business to know who is paying for these telegrams. As a ratepayer, I consider that the telegram sent to my district is an insult, and I object to the public halls in it being hired with the money of anti-conscriptionist ratepayers to advance the conscriptionist cause. What is being done shows the lengths to which the Government and its supporters are ready to go in order to strike down the anticonscriptionists, and to force conscription on Australia, so that our men may be cast into the trenches whether they like it or not. Our soldiers have done re-‘ markably well. Australia has given as much as she can afford in men, but not as much as she can afford in wealth. More will have to be done for the raising of revenue. It ill becomes those responsible for the present position to cast the odium upon us. Although thirteen years have elapsed since Sir William Irvine tried to coerce the people of Victoria, his action is remembered by the Democracy as though it were the action of yesterday, and after thirty-three years the people” will not forget this attempt to put a blot upon them. Unfortunately, the die has been cast so far as the Referendum Bill is concerned, but it is for the people to say whether they will indorse the action of Parliament. I believe that they will refuse to indorse it, and that Svengali and his Trilbies will find themselves one and all discredited when the vote has been taken.
. -I am very sorry that my health has not permitted me to take part in an earlier discussion of this matter. I am not equal to-night to the task of expressing all that I feel regarding the present position of affairs, but I wish to make it clear that I believe that the Government are doing the right thing in the interests of Australia. I believe that they are doing that which is making for the welfare of our country and of our nation. I agree with the two previous speakers that the anti-conscriptionists have as much right to express their opinion as the conscriptionists, but no power is so equal to the expression of an opinion on this question as the people of Australia. I hold that the electors have the right to express their opinion, and I wish it to be clearly understood that my vote on the referendum question will be “Yes.” When a candidate at the last election, I promised faithfully from the platform that I would do everything within human capability for the prosecution of the war to a successful finish, and I stand to that position still. I should regard myself as recreant, not only to my nation, but to my manhood, were I to depart from it at the present moment.
– Did the honorable senator tell the electors that he would advocate conscription?
– I told them that I would advocate anything that would win the war, and I say that now. If I were wanted to fight, I would do my share, old as I am. I am prepared to go to-morrow. It has been said that conscription will do an injury to Australia, that it will prejudice Australian interests, and interfere with our freedom of government. I have more faith in our people than to believe that possible. They will take all sorts of care, while thebanner of Democracy floats over them, that democratic principles are fully recognised. To use the word of Senator Lynch, it is hypocritical to attempt to persuade the people that conscription will cripple them for all time. We have four divisions at the front, four noble divisions of noble men. Many of my friends, men whom I adore, are among them. The anticonscriptionists ask usto give these men the go-by. They ask us to say to them, “ Fight on, but we are no longer prepared to assist you in the great struggle for our national existence.” In my opinion, it is infinitely better that Australia should be fought for in Flanders than that Australians should have to defend their country on their own soil. When we have to defend this Commonwealth in Australia, it will be God help Australia. I believe that every man’s common sense should impel him to a recognition of that fact. What can we do to defend ourselves in Australia? We are absolutely unable to fight for our own country. It is only because we have the big battalions of the Allied Forces on our side that we can consider ourselves secure. Some honorable senators have talked about Socialism, but I pass all that over. Socialism is all right, but what we have to consider is what is best for our nation. I am not going to upbraid the anti-conscriptionists. They may be against anything they please, but, so far as I am concerned, when I go on to the public platform I intend, not only to try to point out to the people the obligation we oweto the men fighting for us in the trenches, but to advise all I know to send as many of the able-bodied qualified men as we can from Australia to support them, in order that we may win a victory by which we can secure Australia’s welfare and the nation’s right at the same time. That is all I have to say.
Sitting suspended from 12.13 to l.15 a.m.(Wednesday).
– Mr. President-
– I rise to a point of order. I am reluctant to interrupt the Minister for Defence or to delay the proceedings, but I point out that there is an amendment before the Senate as well as the main question. The Minister has already spoken on the amendment. I submit that the amendment should first be put, and the Minister for Defence should exercise his right to reply on the main question. If he replies to the debate now any honorable senator who might desire to move a further amendment would be unable to do so by reason of the fact that the Minister for Defence had replied, not only on the amendment, but on the main question. I do not say that any further amendment will be moved, but some honorable senator might desire to move a further amendment, and I therefore think that the Minister’s reply to the debate should be deferred until the amendment is decided.
– I think Senator Mullan is right in his contention, and that the amendment should be out of the way before the Minister for Defence replies. The Minister will have the right of reply on the main question after the amendment is disposed of.
– I have no wish to deprive him of the right to reply.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Mullan ‘s amendment) - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– In replying to some of the points that have been raised, I shall not refer to the main question of conscription, because the proper place to debate that matter at this stage is before the electors. I propose to deal with some of the criticisms that have been directed against the Government with regard to the method of issuing the proclamation and regulations, and also with regard to the regulations themselves. As I said before, the Government have taken the responsibility of issuing the proclamation and regulations, and that responsibility must rest with them. The regulations were not completed before Friday last, and any honorable senator who carries his mind back over the last two or three weeks will realize how little time the Prime Minister and I, as the Ministers chiefly responsible for the formulation of the regulations, had in which to deal with them.
– The proclamation was dated 28th September, and the date had to be altered.
– The last revision of those regulations was completed only last Friday; amendments were made in them on that date.
– Can they be taken as final now?
– I do not think they can. This is an entirely new departure for Australia, and probably as a result of experience we shall have to alter many of the regulations. They are not, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unalterable, and it is the desire of the Government that this innovation shall be introduced with as little friction as possible. Indeed, any Government that consults its own convenience is bound to adopt that policy. The regulation which seems to have caused most criticism is that in regard to the taking of thumbprints. That regulation is confined entirely to the issue of exemption certificates for medical or other reasons. In this connexion, we have some experience to guide us. We have found that there were men who, though medically unfit, were anxious to enlist, and in very many cases - how many we do not know yet, but they number upwards of 1,000 - those men obviously went to the front on medical certificates that did not belong to them at all. Men who were physically fit had been examined and passed, and their certificates were later presented by men who have been found to be absolutely unfit, and obviously had been unfit for a considerable time.
– How long ago did you find that out?
– Some months ago.
– You did not have the thumb-print system.
– No; in that way the weakness of the old system was revealed to us. We had only the signatures to guide us.
– A bank relies on signatures.
– A bank deals with signatures that are well known, but the Defence Department is dealing with men who may disguise their signatures for a deliberate purpose. At any rate, we had to rely entirely on the signature, and it has proved an inadequate safeguard against deception. This has been most firmly impressed upon me in a report that came to hand from Egypt during the last month. In that document it was stated that over 300 men were being sent home, none of whom had ever done, or had ever been able to do, a day’s fighting. It had cost the country hundreds and thousands of pounds to equip them and send them to Egypt, but the doctors who conducted the examination in Egypt said it was obvious that the men had been suffering from infirmities for years, and could not have passed a medical test. Every one of those men must have secured a fit man to personate him in order to get a certificate. Then they went into camp, and the country was put to the expense of training and equipping them, sending them to Egypt, and finally repatriating them.
– Is not that only an assumption ?
– That is not the opinion of only one doctor. The Medical Board, which made a second examination of these men, said that it was perfectly obvious that they could never have passed a medical examination at any time during the past two years.
– Could you trace them with thumb-prints?
– We could. Those deceptions took place under the voluntary system, and it must be obvious that under the compulsory system the inducement for such practices is ten times stronger. Those were cases of men anxious to go to the front; under the compulsory system we shall be dealing with men who are anxious to avoid going.
– There have been quite a number of defaulters, under the voluntary system.
– That is a different matter. A defaulter is a deserter, and even the thumb-print would not help to find him. What we are trying to insure is that when men do evade the compulsory law they shall not be able to escape by producing a certificate of exemption which had really been given to another man.
– What would happen to the man who gave his certificate away? Would he voluntarily go into the training camp ?
– We do not know what became of him. It is just possible that he made a business of doing this sort of thing, and went from camp to camp. Now. I come to the question of the thumb-print. One honorable senator has suggested that we should do away with the thumb-print and substitute a photograph. 5Tet I heard another honorable senator say that the photograph is associated with criminality. So it is. But does that prevent the photograph being used for identification purposes? I cannot see the difference between a man putting his thumbprint on paper and putting his signature on paper, except that the thumb-print has been used very largely in criminal cases because it has been found the most effective method of detecting crime.
– Do you put these nien in the same category as criminals?
– I do not. But, after all, the impress of a man’s thumb upon a paper is only a modification of the impress of his signature upon paper. If we substituted a photograph, would it be argued that we were, therefore, making a man a criminal ? We all have our photographs taken at some time or other. The thumb-print is merely tho means which we propose to adopt to protect the State against fraud.
– In what way will it do that?
– Here is a -man who, having filled in his attestation paper without a thumb-print, goes up for medical examination. Let us assume that he is found medically unfit. To him will be given a certificate to show that he is exempt from military service. Surely the country has a right to see that that certificate is used by him and by nobody else. AL present the only protection that we have against fraud is the signature of a man, and experience has proved this to be faulty. Are we, then, to avail ourselves of no other means of protection ? But the only other methods open to us are those of the photograph and the thumbprint, and the same objection can be used against both. Both are used in connexion with criminal investigation.
– The Minister recognises that there is a stronger prejudice against the thumb-print ?
– Yes, but it is only a question of degree, and even the signature of a man is used for the purposes of identification. It so happens that the thumb-print is used more in criminal cases than is his signature. Those who argue against the thumb-print, view this matter in a very narrow light. Merely because it is used in one form of criminal investigation, they urge that it is associated with criminality.
– I would like to hear the Minister arguing against the use of the thumb-print.
– I am not going to please the honorable senator. The objection that has been urged against the thumb-print can also be urged against the photograph, and in a lesser degree, against the signature of a man. It has been repeatedly argued that the thumb-print is associated with criminality, and that we have adopted the idea from Prussia. But I would remind honorable senators that every soldier or sailor entering the United States army or navy has his thumb-print taken. Why? America is not Prussia. America is not a nation which is ruled by an oligarchy or a military caste. The thumb-print is taken in the United States army and navy to enable the authorities to trace deserters.
-Is the thumb-print to be made applicable to volunteers as well as to those who are conscripted?
– In the case of exemptions, on the ground of physical unfitness, it will be, on account of the numerous cases in which fraud has been perpetrated. I am not so foolish as to say that if any better means can be devised, I will rigidly adhere to the thumbprint. But I want to see that the Commonwealth is not defrauded in the future as it has been in the past. If honorable senators can suggest some better means of identification I am prepared to adopt it. At present I do not know of any other means except the photograph, which is not as reliable as is the thumb-print.
– But it is less objectionable.
– It may be from a sentimental point of view, although I do not by any means discount the power of sentiment.
– Are the attestation papers also to bear men’s thumb-prints ?
– When an exemption is granted to a man on the ground of physical unfitness or for some other reason, that exemption will be stated on the certificate which is issued to him. The Department will not hold that certificate. It will keep the attestation papers, and, in order that a comparison may be made between the certificate and those papers, the thumb-print will be impressed upon both. To make quite sure of this, yesterday I issued instructions to that effect to all commandants, because I saw that the regulation might be read to mean that the thumb-print was only to be put on the attestation papers when a man presented himself in response to the proclamation. But anybody who reads it closely will see that it refers only to those who are exempt after medical examination. However, I am quite prepared to give further consideration to the matter, and if I can be satisfied with some other form of identification I am not wedded to the thumb-print, although I think it is the most effective means of identification. In regard to exempt industries, Senator Findley asked what will be the nature of the committee which will be established to deal with them. My reply is that it will be a committee which will have nothing to do with individuals. It will be an advisory committee to the Government. The Government will have the right to accept its recommendations, to refuse them, or to modify them. The committee will consist of Professor Lyle, Professor of Engineering of the Melbourne University, who will be its chairman ; Mr. Leitch, Director of Munitions, who is in close touch with a great number of businesses, because, as honorable senators know, all importations of machinery or plant have to be referred to him before permission can be given for their introduction, in addition to which he is a business man, who has given his services for the periodof the war; Mr. McClelland, the Railways Commissioner, a representative of the Chamber of Manufactures, a representative of the Trades Hall, and a representative of the Mines Department.
– The Mines Department of each State?
– Who will appoint the representative of the Mines Department ?
– We intend to ask the Minister for Mines to nominate a representative.
– Which Minister?
– The Victorian Minister for Mines.
– There is a conspicuous absence of any authority on agricultural and pastoral pursuits.
– That is so, and it may be necessary to add such a representative. This is an advisory committee, and the Government reserves to itself the right to accept, turn down, or modify any recommendations.
– When is it likely that the committee will be brought into existence ?
– Within the next few days: and one reason why I did not desire the Senate to meet to-day was to enable arrangements to be made in this connexion. As I have said before, this body will not deal with applicants, who will have to go to the exemption Court.
– How will the Trades Hall representative be selected ?
– We shall invite the Trades Hall to send one.
– What Trades Hall?
– The Melbourne Trades Hall.
– Why the Melbourne Trades Hall?
– Because we cannot invite representatives from all the Trades Halls. As to theological students, I find that they are not exempt in time of war. Exemptions in time of war are dealt with in an earlier section; but these students are exempt from service in the Citizen Forces while they continue as theological students. Ministers of religion are exempt, and persons who have conscientious objections to bear arms may be allotted other duties, as also may theological students.
– Will the Minister give any information as to the reason for the alteration of the dates to which I called attention ?
– I am informed that that happened only in the State of Victoria. The central head-quarters sent out similar instructions to all the States; but, of course, you may get six men to read a document in six different ways, and, unfortunately, some officer in the Victorian office read the instructions wrongly, and gave the extended dates.
As soon as the notice was seen in the newspapers it was corrected; and in the Herald of Saturday the proper notification was published. I think it will be found that no one has been put to any considerable inconvenience.
– A considerable sum must have been paid for the advertisements.
– What honorable senators have seen on the front pages of newspapers is not paid for at all; the advertisements appear elsewhere, and are much smaller. Senator Mullan raised the question of the arrest of persons before trial under these regulations, and quoted paragraph 9. But the honorable senator has apparently not read the Defence Act, because had he done so he would have seen that the regulation is merely a repetition of section 122.
– Have you ever ar-. rested a man before trying him?
– Yes, under the compulsory service training section of the Defence Act. Where youths have not carried out their training the practice is to arrest them and bring them before the Courts, who decide upon the sentence; and a similar thing is done every day inthe week in the civil Courts.
– Can they get bail?
– They have every privilege of a defendant in an ordinary civil Court.
– They are not before the Court; they go into the camp or depot.
– Would you sooner have them taken to gaol than to camp before being arrested ?
– I can only say that where a prosecution takes place it will be before a civil Court. A man is a deserter who does not give the service he ought to under the Act, and he may be arrested by any policeman or member of the Defence Force, and brought into camp to render service. If he thinks he is not entitled to serve he may apply for exemption.
– What do you mean when you say that a man who does not turn up is liable to six months’ imprisonment ?
– That is so; he may be prosecuted before a civil Court, who may give him six months’ imprisonment; and my proposition is that he should be put into camp.
– Will he suffer a double penalty ?
– He cannot serve and be in gaol at the same time.
– Could one penalty follow on the other ?
– Therefore, it means that if a man expiates his crime by going to gaol-
– Order I Allow the Minister to proceed.
– Although a man may expiate his crime, he must still perform his service. It has also been said, in the course of the debate, that a man on going into camp is asked to sign an oath different from that to which other men have to subscribe, and that such oath compels them to go oversea. The oath that the men are asked to subscribe is that set forth in the second schedule, and it does not call upon them to serve overseas.
– The Minister has not touched on the main complaint, which is that the regulations have not been laid on the table of the Senate.
– I think I have dealt with that matter.
– You said the regulations were ready on Saturday.
– I said that the regulations were in process of formulation up to Friday, and were put before the Executive on Friday afternoon, when, as honorable senators know, the Senate rose for the week.
– There was a chance to lay the regulations on the table to-day.
– Is there any intention to alter the exemption tribunal ?
– There is no intention that any lawyer or paid agent shall appear, because it is in the employment of such assistance that the expense lies in appealing from one Court to another. An advantage that a wealthy client always has is that he may employ counsel, and go from one Court to another, a procedure which is denied to a poor litigant.
– It will cost something to go to the Supreme Court.
– Very little; it is the lawyers that cost the money.
– Could not one Court do ?
-Would the honorable senator say that there should be no appeal? I am satisfied that if I had come down with these regulations, and had stated that a stipendiary magistrate was to be the sole Court, honorable senators would have protested that there should be some Court of appeal.
– I suggested a board representative of the workers.
– I am aware of that, and at the time I submitted my reasons against that course. We have ample evidence in connexion with munition work that such a board would not be desirable. I think I have said all that is required on the present occasion, though I have not dealt with the main discussion on the question of conscription.
– Is it not a fact that, although a person appealing against the proclamation will not have the right to be represented by counsel, the Government might be so represented owing to the fact that the military representative might be a lawyer ?
– I can give the honorable senator an assurance that the military representative will in no case be a lawyer. I have already informed the military secretary that we are not to appoint, as a military representative, any person who in private life is a lawyer, but a person who follows some other occupation. I can only say that the desire of the Government is that these regulations shall be brought in with as little friction as possible, for we do not want criticism and trouble among those who are called up. There is one other matter to which I might refer, though it was not raised in the discussion, and that is the statement which has appeared in the press to the effect that discharged returned soldiers were being called upon to give up their discharges, and were not getting a receipt for them”. As soon as I returned to Melbourne this morning, I rang up the administrative offices, and found that the military secretary, Colonel Dodds, had already issued an order to all districts to the effect that immediately a returned soldier gave up his discharge he was to be furnished with a receipt.
– What objection has the Minister to laying the regulations on the table?
– I have no objection whatever to that course.
– Then why not comply with it?
– I will, later on.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– I ask the Minister for Defence - (1) What precautions are taken to secure a secret vote in the respective military camps on the referendum proposals? (2) Are scrutineers allowed access to polling booths? (3) If not, will facilities be given for scrutineers to be present ? (4) Will soldiers be given the option of recording their votes with Electoral Registrars?
– My information is that the polling booths in the military camps are to be conducted on exactly the same lines as polling booths in any other part of the Commonwealth. That is to say, whatever privileges are allowed in other polling booths will be enjoyed also in the polling booths attached to the different camps.
– It is not clear to me, from the answer given by the Minister for Defence, what will be the procedure when a soldier is recording his vote at the camps. Will it be necessary for these men to have their names on the roll, or will they simply vote by virtue of the fact that they are in uniform and of twenty-one years of age?
– All military camps in Australia are treated in exactly the same way as towns. Moreover, voting in the camps is no novelty, because soldiers voted in their camps at the last Federal election, and at subsequent State elections, and I have never heard of any complaint. So far as I understand the position, a soldiers’ camp is treated as a citizens’ camp, and the polling booth there is conducted in the same manner as any other polling booth.
– In regard to a statement appearing in the press that Brigadier-General McC. Anderson, who has charge of the arrangements for taking the referendum amongst our soldiers overseas, will be in a position on the 28th inst. - the date of the poll - to publish a progress report of the voting, I wish to ask the Minister for Defence whether that progress report is to be posted before or after the poll in Australia has been closed ?
– I have no information on the subject. The statement to which the honorable senator has referred is the first I have heard of the matter. I shall make inquiries and acquaint the honorable senator of the result.
– Will the Minister for Defence give the Senate an assurance that no progress report from any polling booth, either inside or outside Australia, will be published in the Commonwealth prior to the closing of the polling booths in Australia on the 28th instant ?
– No progress report from any polling booth in Australia can be published as suggested by the honorable senator, since the poll closes at the same hour throughout the Commonwealth. I cannot give the honorable senator any such assurance as that for whichhe asks with respect to progress reports from polling booths overseas. The poll there will close on the 28th instant, and the counting of the votes will proceed as soon as the booths are closed.
– We are ten hours ahead of the Old Country.
– Then, obviously, we cannot have a progress report before the poll closes here on the 28th. As to the poll in Australia, I would remind the honorable senator that the eastern States are some two hours ahead of Western Australia, so that counting might commence here and some progress reports might appear before the poll closed in the western State. That has happened in connexion with ordinary elections.
– Will the Minister for Defence state whether it is the intention of the Department to keep a separate record of the voting of the soldiers in Australian camps as well as overseas? If it is not, will he consider the advisableness of doing so rather than merging the soldiers’ votes in the general returns ?
– I have no information on the subject. The polling arrangements are being conducted, not by the Defence Department, but by the Electoral Department. I shall bring the honorable senator’s question under the notice of the Minister controlling the Electoral Department, and will ask him to forward a reply to the honor able senator.
– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister has stated that only men over the age of twenty-one who are entitled to vote will be called up under the recent proclamation, and, having regard also to the fact that the 15th
September last -was the last day of enrolment, will the Minister for Defence make a statement as to the position of those who have attained the age of twenty-one yeaTs since the closing of the rolls? Will the honorable gentleman state whether such men will be called up under the proclamation, and yet be debarred from voting at the referendum on the 28th instant?
– They will be liable for service. I cannot say whether they will be debarred from voting. I shall bring that question under the notice of the Minister controlling the Electoral Department.
– I ask the Minister for Defence if some relief can be afforded to men who took up obligations with respect to the war loan, and who are not now in a position to keep up their payments owing to the fact that they have been called up under the proclamation just issued, and their income has been considerably reduced.
– Senator Ferricks was good enough to tell me that he intended to ask this question, and during the day I got into touch with the Treasurer, who informs me that an arrangement is now in force by which soldiers who may be unable to complete their payments may surrender their loan bonds, and suffer no loss thereby. The Treasurer is prepared to make arrangements for further extended payments, and also to effect an adjustment of the interest payable in such cases. I told him of the representations made by Senator Ferricks, and he paid that he would give them the most favorable consideration. In view of the fact that some men had probably taken on this obligation when they were receiving a higher wage than they will get in future as military pay, the Treasurer has promised to meet them in every possible way.
– In view of the rumours now in circulation to the effect that Asiatic labour is to be imported into Australia to replace men called up under the Defence Act, will the Minister for Defence give the Senate an assurance that, during the currency of the war, no Asiatic or indentured labour will be imported into Australia ?
– I will give an absolute and emphatic assurance to that effect.
– Will the Minister say whether there is any truth in the rumour that a number of employees of the Harness Factory have recently been knocked off, and that the reason given was that the Department had bought a consignment of saddles from Japan ?
– There is absolutely no truth in the statement that we have imported saddles from Japan. It is true that some employees of the Harness Factory had to be put off because there was no work for them to do. The great rush of orders for the Light Horse, especially in the saddlery department, is over, and there is no work available for them. The Light Horse has not been required so much as was anticipated in the earlier stages of the war. It is absolutely incorrect to say that any saddlery has been imported for the Department from Japan, nor is it the intention in the future to import saddlery from Japan or anywhere else. On the contrary, we are communicating with the British Government, offering to make saddlery for them, and hope to get an order from them before long.
– Where there are two sons in a family, one son being an imbecile or otherwise totally unfit for military service, will the Minister for Defence state whether or not the remaining son would be regarded as an “ only son,” and be exempt?
– I am not prepared to answer the honorable senator’s question offhand. I shall give it consideration and acquaint the honorable senator with the result.
– Will the Minister give the same consideration as he promised Senator Barnes to cases where there are two sons in a family, one of whom is totally incapacitated physically from rendering any aid to his parents ? Will he regard the second son in a case of that sort as the only Bon ?
– Yes, I shall also give consideration to that question.
Flood: Punishment of Soldiers
– I ask the Minister for Defence if it is a fact (1) That the soldiers at Maribyrnong Camp were flooded out last week ? (2) That the men asked to be allowed to go to their homes owing to all the blankets being wet, and were refused ? (3) That 300 of them did go home, and when they came back next morning were immediately placed under detention, and are still there? (4) That they have no tents or blankets or anything else to sleep in ? (5) Will they get leave to go home before embarking ?
– The honorable senator was good enough to tell me this morning that he intended to ask this question, so I have had an opportunity to make inquiries, and have received the following reply: -
Owing to the wet weather practically the whole camp were given week-end leave from Saturday to Monday. When they turned up on Monday it was still wet, and leave was extended to Tuesday. On their reporting again on Tuesday they were issued with new blankets, put in buildings and huts, and everything was done to make them comfortable. It was on the Tuesday that the men, or some section of them, wished more leave, and they marched out of camp. On turning up next morning they were each fined £2, and awarded fourteen days’ detention. The question of final leave is not affected. Those who have not had their leave will get it.
– Arising out of the statement made by the Minister for Defence in reply to Senator Barnes, that certain men in the Maribyrnong Camp had been fined £2 for being absent for one day without leave, I desire to ask the Minister why there has been a departure in that case from the principle laid down in connexion with the Bendigo Camp, that one day’s pay shall be deducted in respect of each day that a soldier is absent without leave?
– Those who heard my explanation in reply to Senator Barnes’ question will know that in this case something more than absence without leave was involved. The men marched out of camp in defiance of orders, so that the punishment was for disobedience of orders as well as for absence without leave. The principle to which the honorable senator has referred relates to cases where men have overstayed their leave. These men asked for leave to go out, were refused, and, in defiance of that refusal, marched out of camp.
– Under great provocation.
– Under no provocation.
– Will the Minister for Defence be good enough to give the Senate the reasons which these men supplied to their commanding officer for their desire to leave camp on the particular date to which he refers, and why they were refused leave? I do not know the men, nor am I aware of the reasons for their action.
– As honorable senators are aware, Senator Barnes notified me after the Senate met that he intended to question me on the subject, and I have been in attendance here ever since. The answer I supplied to him waa that which I was able to get in response to inquiries made over the telephone. I shall have further inquiries made when I return to the Department, and if I find that these men have been harshly dealt with I shall mitigate the punishment. If, however, I find the circumstances to be as stated, I do not see that I can mitigate it. I shall certainly ascertain, however, whether there are any mitigating circumstances which would warrant a reduction of the punishment inflicted.
– Will the Minister for Defence state by whom such fines are imposed, and whether the responsible officer concerned has authority to fine men £2, £3 or £4, or any other amount that he may choose to fix? Further, is there any court to which soldiers so punished may appeal ?
– The camp commandant is the officer who determines the fine, and every soldier who is dissatisfied with the punishment inflicted by his commanding officer has the right of appeal to a court martial.
Review of Sentences
– A considerable number of soldiers have recently been returned to Australia to undergo, in some cases, terms of imprisonment ranging from two years to five years. I wish to ask the Minister for Defence what steps have been taken to review these cases ?
– I answered a similar question some time ago in the Senate. We have asked that when men are sent back to Australia to undergo imprisonment all the papers relating to their cases shall be returned with them, or as soon after as possible. A committee, consisting of Mr. Cohen, police magistrate, of Victoria, Major Mclnerney, who is a barrister as well as a military officer called up for duty, and an officer who has been returned, wounded, from the front, has been appointed to go into the facts of each case as disclosed by the papers. That committee has power to recommend a mitigation of the punishment inflicted. A number of cases have been dealt with, and in some instances a remission of the sentence has been recommended and granted. The remaining cases will be dealt with as the papers arrive.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting this day to the date on which the Senate next meets.
– The Minister, before the motion is put to the vote, ought to fulfil his implied promise that before the Senate rose he would table the regulations under the War Precautions Act and Defence Act.
– I intend to do so, after the motion is carried.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1911 and Referendum (Constitution Alteraton) Act 1906- 1912. - Regulation amended. - Statutory Rules 1916. No. 227.
Military Service Referendum Act 1916. - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1916, No. 239.
Defence Act 1903-1915. - Proclamation calling upcertain persons liable for service in Citizen Forces.
Defence Act 1903-1915. and War Precautions Act 1914-1916.- War Service RegulationsStatutory Rules 1916, No. 240.
Telegraph Linesmen’s and Postal Electricians’ Award. - Compulsory Military Service: Conscientious Objectors. - Referendum Campaign : Censorship : Dissemination of Literature: Soldiers’ “News Gazette.” - Home Affairs Department: Mr. C. E. Oliver. - Postal Assistants’ Award.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– An award has been given by the President of the Arbitration Court in the case of the Telegraph and Telephone Instrument Linesmen and the Postal Electricians Union. The law provides that, when an award is given under the Public Service Act, it must lie on the table of Parliament for thirty days before it becomes operative. I approached the Minister yesterday afternoon to ascertain whether the award would be laid on the table before Parliament adjourned. He told me that he would see if it was possible to have it officially handed to him, so that he could lay it on the table. Later in the evening he told me it was impossible to get the award officially, and consequently he could not table it. Under the award, the members of each organization have been given increases in wages. I do not blame the Government or the Minister for the delay. It is the fault of the Act. It is ridiculous that men who have fought their case through the Arbitration Court should be deprived of practically two months’ benefit of the award because Parliament will not assemble till a certain date. Outside organizations have their awards dated from the date of determination. If Parliament had been sitting, thirty days would have elapsed after the tabling of this award before it operated ; but under present circumstances the delay will be much longer. Is there any way, short of an amendment of the Public Service (Arbitration) Act, by which, when Parliament reassembles, the two organizations named can be given the benefit of the award from the date of determination? If not, will the Government take the earliest opportunity of amending the Act so that the people employed in our Service who are members of organizations within the Service will get the benefit of an award from the date on which it is given by the J udge?
– It is quite correct that I told Senator Needham that I would endeavour to have the award laid on the table before the Senate rose, but I find that if I had done so it would not have affected the position, because the award has to be laid on the table of both Houses in order to comply with the law. The delay has been occasioned by the fact that the award had been forwarded to the Attorney-General, whose certificate that it complies with the law has first to be obtained. There are difficulties that are encountered in following what is prescribed by the law. I cannot make any promise that the public servants referred to shall be paid from the date of the delivery of the award, though at the same time I hold the view that they should get the benefit of any improvement made in their conditions at the very earliest opportunity it is legally possible to give it to them.
– When I endeavoured to pass a few remarks before the last motion was dealt with it was merely for the purpose of drawing attention to another phase of the proclamation conditions, which I consider to be overdone. I refer to the questions that are put to conscientious objectors, which savour of the inquisitorial. I do not know that they will be very effective. Question 5b says -
What evidence can you produce in support of your statement? Please forward written evidence from persons of standing, if possible, which should be quite definite of the nature of the sincerity of your conscientious objections.
That question seems to be rather superfluous, and I do not anticipate that much benefit will be derived from it. I do not know how another person can vouch for the sincerity of one who claims to object on conscientious grounds. Question 6 says -
That question also is hardly necessary. I do not think it will have any beneficial application. There are no penalties among religious bodies in Australia. If a person who has religious scruples objects, it is not because of any penalty that may be imposed on him by religious organizations. As the question is a very delicate one, it might with advantage be deleted. Information to hand, I regret to say, indicates that the censorship has not been relaxed to the extent that we might have expected after the way in which the subject has been ventilated. When speaking previously on this question, I referred to the elaborate preparations which were being made by the Prime Minister to conduct the affirmative campaign, and disseminate literature supporting the Government’s proposal. I stated that the Prime Minister had engaged a prominent Sydney journalist to come to Melbourne and supervise the distribution of literature in favour of the affirmative throughout Victoria. In the Ballarat Star of the 2nd October appears a column of paragraphs arguing the affirmative in regard to conscription, and signed by Adam McKay, 390 Collinsstreet. This confirms my statement that arguments in support of the affirmative are being spread broadcast. We are not told who is bearing the expense of this propaganda - whether the money is coming out of the Consolidated Revenue or out of a secret service fund. There is another journalist in Sydney with a staff engaged in distributing literature in New South Wales. These people are not working for nothing, and it is due to the Senate to be told whether the expense is being borne by the Consolidated Revenue ; that is, by the people as a whole - whether they are opposing conscription or supporting it. We should know who is paying the piper.
– We should know whether public money is being used. If private money is being used we have no right to know who is paying the piper.
– We ought to be told whether it is public money that is being spent. On the last occasion the Minister did not vouchsafe any reply in that regard. In support of my contention that the censorship has not been sufficiently relaxed, let me read a letter that I received from Mr. Randolph Bedford, the well-known writer. I had an opportunity of seeing Mr. Bedford to-night, and asked Him whether the conditions mentioned in the communication were still existent. He told me they were intensely so. His letter to me is a follows: -
Melbourne, Oct. 3, 1916.
Dear Senator Ferricks,
I write immediately after seeing the Age of September 22, Senator Pearce’s reply to the statements on the censorship made by Senator McKissock and yourself. To instance the Age report of the Senate proceedings of September 21 -
– Instructions had been issued that they must say nothing offensive of Mr. Hughes.
The Minister of Defence. - Nonsense. Of course, it is nonsense, but it is also true. I have seen this typed instruction from the censor, and at little trouble can dig it up and send it to you. The irritatingly stupid censorship carried it to the length of censoring a theatrical paragraph in advance of Henry Lawson’s play, “While the Billy Boils,” because the comment on the fact of the play was that “ It had nothing to do with Billy Hughes boiling in England.” And the Minister for Defence, by the censor’s suggestion, is sacrosanct against criticism as a politician, because criticism of Senator Pearce is hostile criticism of military administration.
The censorship, whilst suppressing facts that could not help the enemy, has, on occasion, suggested the printing of falsehoods, and it has only broken down because Sydney editors threatened to leave the Sydney conscription meeting of September 18 severely alone unless the right of free speech were re-established. How old, too, are the censorship instructions against the mention of “White Australia” or “ Cheap Labour “?
But the worst of Senator Pearce’s replies, re the censorship, is that to the question of Senator McKissock(Age, September 22) - “ The Minister for Defence repeated that it was not true that there was trouble at Broken Hill, nor had the news about trouble been censored.”
That statement is untrue in spirit and in fact. Every newspaper knows that Broken Hill news is censored, and the Government has probably good and sufficient reason for censorship, owing to its faulty conception of the Australian character. If there is danger from any active enemy, a statement of the facts to the public would demand less of this amateur diplomacy, which is the science of lies.
One of the most flagrantly stupid examples of this diplomacy is that of the case of Mr. Noonan, proprietor of four hotels at Broken Hill. He left for Adelaide on holiday, having instructed his manager to send an urgent wire on anything of moment to his business. Trouble came along among the employees. The manager telegraphed to his employer, and the telegram was censored and suppressed. When Mr.
Koonan leisurely returned, he found his business disorganized; made trouble with the manager; traced the wire to the censor; and not beyond. And yet Senator Pearce says there is no censorshipof Broken Hill trouble; which is just as true as his denial of the fact that in Egypt Australian private soldiers are forced to travel third class on the railroad, whether they offer to pay first class or not.
Either Senator Pearce knows nothing of the military censorship, or he rivals Mr. Asquith in that which is called “diplomacy” in England, and “ side-stepping “ in Australia.
The stand taken by the Sydney daily newspapers against the dictatorship of Mr. Hughes confirms my statement about the suppression of resolutions by the Executive Labour bodies of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland denouncing Mr. Hughes and his proposals. That statement was challenged, but we know that the only information which the press was allowed to publish was that authorized by Mr. Hughes, with his own colouring. After the Political Labour League executive and the Labour Council of New South Wales had turned down Mr. Hughes’ proposals by immense majorities, he prevented the news from being published in the Sydney papers, and sent an authorized statement, with a colouring favorable to himself, or putting the best construction on the facts. The Sydney Daily Telegraph refused to publish his authorized statement, and the threat of the newspapers of Sydney to leave unnoticed a conscription meeting at which he was to speak had the effect of relaxing the censorship. But if things are to continue as they are, Mr. Hughes’ promise of a fair deal to both sides will not be fulfilled. We have reason to believe that the censor is again on the job, and is rather strict in regard to Inter-State news, such as resolutions passed in some of the States favoring temporary stop-work meetings as a protest against the proclamation calling men to the colours. It is strange that nothing has appeared in the newspapers regarding what is happening in the other States in this matter. The information which has been made known to-night about the holding of anti-conscription meetings in Western Australia is proof of the interference of the censor. Probably it was anticipated that the Senate would ad journ yesterday after a merely formal meeting. Obviously the despicable art of suppression is being again practised to an unwarrantable degree. I suggest that the Minister for Defence should here and now give the country an undertaking that the despotism initiated by Mr. Hughes shall not continue throughout the referendum campaign. If he does not, we shall be forced to a conclusion that Mr. Hughes desires to pursue the policy of a dictator. Mr. Randolph Bedford and others speak of the censorship as stupid, foolish, and unwarranted. I trust that serious consideration will be given to this matter, because, otherwise, those opposing conscription will have no chance of getting their views fairly represented by the press.
– I rise to complain that the Minister for Home Affairs is apparently treating the Senate with contempt. As it would be useless to bring the matter under his notice, I shall be glad if the Minister for Defence will bring it under the notice of the Prime Minister, so that when the Senate meets again the cause for complaint may have been removed. On the 13th September, I asked the following questions concerning Mr. Oliver: -
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
To those questions, Senator Russell, speaking for the Department of Home Affairs, replied -
Subsequently I asked that all the papers relating to the matter might be laid on the table of the Senate, and I received the reply that they would be laid on the table of the Library for the inspection of honorable senators. About a week later, I was informed that they had been laid on the table of the Library, but, on investigating the file, I found that only two or three comparatively unimportant papers had been produced. Although, in reply to my question, it was stated that Mr. Griffin recommended the engagement of Mr. Oliver to Mr. Kelly when he was Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, and also to Mr. Archibald when he held the position of Minister, the first of the papers produced is dated 8th May, 1916, or only two or three months ago. It is a document . from Mr. King O’Malley, as Minister for Home Affairs, informing Mr. Oliver that, on behalf of the Government, he engaged him as consulting engineer to report on the water supply and sewerage works required for the Federal Capital at Canberra. It lays down the conditions of engagement, and states that Mr. Oliver was to be at liberty to appoint an expert sewerage draftsman and a skilled water supply draftsman, that he was to have the entire services of both these men; that he was to have complete office accommodation and such a staff of clerks as he required, with full control of all these officers, including the right to appoint and suspend them. The conditions provided, further, that Mr. Oliver was to say whether the staff placed under his control should be engaged in Melbourne or at Canberra. It was further provided that he was to have all his expenses paid, including board and lodging when away from Melbourne. Some notice should be taken of this shameful waste of money by the Home Affairs Department, and I shall probably take a more fitting opportunity to deal with that aspect of the matter in detail. I wish now specially to direct the attention of the Prime Minister, through the Minister for Defence, to the fact that, whilst all the papers connected with the engagement of Mr. Oliver were promised, only a few comparatively unimportant papers have been produced. The first of these, as I have said, is dated 8th May, 1916, and the second is dated 25th May, 1916. This was a request from the Acting Prime Minister, Senator Pearce, to the Minister for Home Affairs not to finalize the contract with Mr. Oliver until He had supplied a memorandum setting out all the circumstances connected therewith. One would naturally expect to find amongst the papers a reply from the Minister for Home Affairs giving the Acting Prime Minister the particulars asked for, but amongst the papers that have been produced there is no document of this kind. There is a short scribbled note on the corner of one of the papers, I presume in
Mr. O’Malley’s handwriting, to say that the matter was settled by a private chat with the Acting Prime Minister. When the Senate meets again I shall be glad if Senator Pearce, who , should have some regard for the [dignity of this Chamber, will see that it is not flouted by a weak Minister of the Crown who is governed apparently by a gentleman who has been imported from America. From all I can learn, it would seem that ever since Mr. O’Mal ley assumed office for the second timeas Minister for Home Affairs that Department has been run wholly and solelyby Mr.
Griffin. Every recommendationm ade by that gentleman has been adopted by the present Minister for Home Affairs . Mr. Griffin has on more than oneoccasion treated the Public Works Committee with scant courtesy, and that expression scarcely describes the treatmentof that Committee by the Home Affairs Department. Mr. Griffin has practically defied the Public Works Committee. He has, apparently, influenced the presentMinister for Home Affairs to endeavour to discredit the work of the Committee. After careful inquiry, and the taking of evidence from practically all the sanitary engineers accessible in Australia as to the construction of sewerage works at Canberra after the submission of the Committee’s report to Parliament, and after the bulk of the work had been practically finished, Mr. Oliver was engaged at the very extravagant fee of £1,000, and perhaps another £2,000 or more for the expenses of the staff he was allowed to employ. This money has been absolutely thrown away at a time when we certainly have none to waste, apparently in order that the work of the Public Works Committee may be discredited. These who know anything about the Federal Capital are aware that the water supply works have been practically completed. The mains and service reservoirs have been completed, and the main sewer world have been practically completed, and yet the Minister for Home Affairs engages Mr. Oliver to report upon these works. The special grievance I desire to ventil ate on this motion is that the Home Affairs Department has in my opinion deliberately flouted the express desire of theSenate that all the papers connected with the engagement of Mr. Oliver should be submitted for the inspection of senators.
– Last week there was laid on the table of the Senate the award by Mr. Justice Powers in the case of the Postal Assistants Union. Though, in the main, I have been able to agree with the decisions given by Mr. Justice Higgins, Mr. Justice Powers, and other Justices of the Arbitration Court, I wish to enter my protest against the award given in this case by Mr. Justice Powers. The members of the Postal Assistants Union spent about £500 in getting their case before the Arbitration Court. Mr. Justice Powers, by his decision, has raised the wages of senior postal assistants by £6, namely from £126 to £132 per annum, but the wages of those in the junior gradesare left stationary at £126 by his award. As this may be the last opportunity to protest against the award, I wish now to say that I am totally opposed to Mr. Justice Powers’ decision, and formally enter my protest against it. I know the union has spent about £500 and levied fees to the extent of about a guinea per member, and yet, after fighting this case over a lengthy period, the men find that they are no better off than when they entered into litigation. I trust that the Senate will see that the award is altered.
– I cannot allow the opportunity to pass without once more referring to the vagaries of the censor - that military demon who is causing so much trouble. Over and over again we received assurances from the Minister and his departmental officers that the censorship was to be relaxed, but I find that the censor has been busy on a speech of mine made last Thursday. Of course, the censor could not touch the speech in Hansard, but somebody thought fit to republish it as a pamphlet, and the censor proceeded to mutilate it. I made a perfectly innocent quotation, although one necessary for the purpose of proving my point, but the censor has rendered the whole quotation useless. I was quoting a letter written by Mr. Ross, of the Socialist, and a portion which I quoted stated -
I have also to complain of the wording of a wire from myself to the Amalgamated Miners Association of Broken Hill being altered by the censor.
In the name of Heaven, what is there in that statement for the censor to take exception to ? Yet it is an important part of the letter. The letter continued: - “ The wire was not sent as written, and, consequently.” That also was struck out. Further, Mr. Eoss stated, “ I cannot now get Barrier Daily Truth through the post.” That has been struck out. What advantage can there be in the censor cutting up a speech in that fashion ? If a senator’s speech has been allowed to appear in Hansard, and it contains nothing of a seditious character or prejudicial to the safety of the nation, there is no reason why it should be mutilated.
– Are you not going to give us a rest?
– I shall give the Minister a rest if he will rise and give a definite assurance-
– You do not want any assurance. You. know that.
– The assurances are not of much value, I admit. I brought this matter forward last week, but I find it necessary to ventilate it again. I have here news from Broken Hill which it was desired to publish in the Socialist, but because the writer stated that “ batons were freely used “ at a certain gathering - a statement of fact - ;the news has been censored. That is an .absurd way of conducting the censorship.
– Are you trying to keep us here all night? You have had a fair innings.
– If I have had a fair innings, I owe no .thanks to the honorable gentleman for it. If he is dissatisfied, he has his remedy.
– And I feel inclined to use it.
– The honorable gentleman may use it if he chooses, and take the consequences.
– This is the second time that all this matter has been put into Hansard.
– This is entirely new matter. I have here an item of news dealing with the proposed general strike, which appeared m the Brisbane Daily Standard over a week ago, and yet when it was desired to insert the information in the Melbourne Socialist, the foolish censor intervened. I do not blame the censor for carrying out his instructions. That item of news merely. imparts general information as to the procedure to be adopted in Brisbane to-day in connexion with the stoppage of work, and if such, information could he allowed to appear in the daily press of Brisbane, there is no reason, except the stupidity of the censor,, why it should be refused .publication in Melbourne. I have other matter which appeared in The Worker, Sydney, some weeks ago, but, although it passed the censor there, tho Socialist is -denied the right to republish it. Can the Minister justify such action? I “have volumes of matter which show how stupid the whole censorship is, how difficult it is to control, and how impossible to have uniformity in connexion with it. The censor in one State has a certain plan, and the censor in another State a different plan.
– You cannot have the same censor in each State.
– No ; but we could have the same policy in each State. An item of news from Wonthaggi regarding the action which is to be taken there today in connexion with the stop-work protest has also been censored. There is nothing seditious in it, nothing that by any stretch of the imagination could be construed into jeopardizing the ‘safety of the nation, and yet it has been suppressed. I might quote volumes of matter .which has been censored for no good purpose during the past few weeks. J might usefully occupy the time of the Senate for an hour or two in showing the enlightenment which has been lost to the public through the stupidity of the censor. But in deference to the wishes of honorable senators I will not delay them longer. I make this final appeal to the .Minister to give u9 a fair deal in the forthcoming campaign. If the censorship as it is practised at present is to be adhered to, there is no guarantee that the opponents of conscription will receive a square deal. I hope that the Minister will prove him- self a big man in this matter by giving us unlimited latitude to discuss its pros and cons so long as we do not utter anything traitorous or seditious. #
– I do not propose to traverse ‘ the very many statements that have been made by honorable senators. Where those statements refer to questions which they wish to bring under my notice, I hope they will send me along a copy of their remarks. la regard to the observations of Senator
Mullan, I have already given assurances which I ask him to accept. A few days ago he inquired whether, in the event of arguments for and against conscription being allowed in the News Gazette, which, is circulated amongst the members of the Australian Imperial Force abroad, the Minister for External Affairs would see that equal space is given to each side. 1 brought that question ‘ under the notice of my colleague, who has furnished me with the following reply -
With regard to the news service recently inaugurated by the Government for the benefit of the troops abroad,’ I desire to state that the items forwarded daily are news items extracted for tha most part from the daily press. No arguments on the conscription issue are telegraphed. I attach copies cf the last two or three messages sent which indicate the class o( matter which is being transmitted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.3 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 October 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1916/19161003_senate_6_80/>.