6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took, the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills re ported: -
Supply Bill (No. 5) 1916-17.
Supply Bill (Works and Buildings) (No. 4)
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1914-15.
Supplementary’ Appropriation Bill - (Works and Buildings) 1914-15.
Telegram from TradeUnion Secretary.
– Has your attention been drawn, Mr. President, to a statement published in this morning’s Argus regarding the Senate? Referring to the breach of the’ privileges of this Senate by Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Hughes is reported to have said -
It is surely a very serious thing that men engaged in such arduous and responsible work as theirs cannot get the wages due to them merely because some members of the Senate, in order to serve party purposes, chose to bold up the Supply Bill.
I ask you, sir, as the guardian of the Senate, to protect senators from false and misleading statements of that kind.
– I have not read the statement, and, therefore, have not given it consideration. Anything that may be regarded as an attempt to unduly influence the Senate, or to threaten it, or to insult senators collectively, is undoubtedly a breach of privilege, but I am not able to say off-hand whether the remarks to which my attention has been drawn come under that head. It is open to Senator Gardiner to move a motion that would give an opportunity for the consideration of the matter.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Imperial Force: Monthly Summary of Net Casualties recorded from August, 1914, to end of February, 1917.
Defence Act 1903-1915. - War Financial Regulations - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 49.
Federal Capital:Royal Commission on Administration - Report,Part I. - Issues relating to Mr. Griffin.
Finance: Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during year ended 30th June, 1916, accompanied by Report of the Auditor-General.
Public Service Act 1902-1916. - Promotion of N. Buckman, Postmaster-General’s Department.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the wheat scheme whether there is any hope of getting a further instalment of wages for the farmers for the year 1915, two years back ? What are the present prospects? I guarantee that there will be no intimidation of the Houses of Parliament if anything in , the nature of an unfavorable reply is received ?
– I am pleased to be able to announce that we have finished with the question of wages, and are now giving attention to the profits that the farmers are to receive. It is the intention of the Wheat Board to make, with the assistance of the Treasury, a uniform advance ‘ throughout Australia, which will make the price paid for wheat 4s. per bushel, less freight and handling charges. The first advance to the farmers was 2s. 6d. a bushel, and the next..6d. The average charge for freight and handling is 5½d., and the proposed advance will give the farmers, on’ the average, 6½d:per bushel net. In some States, of course, the cost of handling is more than in others. ‘
– It. was . 9d. . ‘in Western Australia.
– Then the farmers, of Western Australia will get1s., less 9d., per bushel,’ or 3d. per bushel. As Western Australia has had excess payments, no injury will be done. The result of the arrangement made will be that each farmer concerned, throughout Australia, will receive 4s. per bushel, less handling and freight charges. Payment will be made by the middle or towards the end of April.
Proposed Royal Commission
– I ask the
Vice-President of the Executive Council if,’ since the Senate rose yesterday afternoon, he has had an opportunity of consulting the Cabinet, and has any information to give to the Senate as to whether the Government, whose honour has been impugned-
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in using such an expression in asking his question.
– I beg pardon. I recognise that the phrase to which exception is taken is somewhat out of order. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if, since the Senate rose yesterday, he has had an opportunity of learning from the Cabinet whether a Royal Commission will be appointed to inquire into the charges of attempted bribery made by Senator Watson-
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Gardiner justified, in the use of the words “ attempted bribery” in putting his question? We have no proof that there has been any kind of bribery. .
– The honorable senator was not perhaps putting his question in the most accurate language. If he had said “ charges practically amounting to charges of bribery “ _ it would have been more in accordance with the forms of the Senate. ‘
– Honorable senators will recognise that it is most difficult to express one’s mind in a way which will exactly conform to the. technicalities of procedure, ‘ but ‘ I will have another’ try: I ask the Leader of the” Government in the Senate whether it is his intention now or before the Senate rises to inform us whether the Government intend to have appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the charges made by Senator Watson, amounting to attempted bribery by the Prime Minister?
– Where are the charges ? Honorable senators opposite ran away from them.
– And into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the resignation of Senator Ready and the appearance of Senator Earle in the Senate ?
– The honorable senator’s question resolves itself into two parts; first, as to whether I have had an opportunity of consulting the Cabinet upon this matter; and second, as to the intentions of the Government. With respect to the first part of the question honorable senators will recognise that we were here yesterday for Thirty hours, terminating at a quarter past 9 o’clock.
– The same old gag.
– 1 want to tell Senator Mullan that I was at work during the thirty hours, whilst he slept.
– The Minister is quite wrong. I was present in the chamber when the honorable ‘senator was not here. I was here longer than he was, and did more work.
– If’ Senator Mullan was here longer than I was, he will know that as the Senate sat up to a quarter past ‘9 o’clock, we have had no opportunity to consult our colleagues, especially in view of the fact that the House of Representatives sat late last night. I have had no opportunity of consulting the Cabinet this morning; but I had the opportunity of a few minutes hurried conversation with the Prime Minister, and I want to say that the attitude of the Government in connexion with this matter is unchanged. It. has been stated that if any one will take the responsibility here or ‘elsewhere of making a definite charge, the ordinary procedure of the Law Courts will be resorted to to give those (-making accusations an opportunity to prove them. Further, I want to remind the Seriate that through a member of the Government this opportunity was definitely and precisely afforded by means of an amendment submitted here, and that the Senate declined to accept that amendment.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not argue the matter.
– Very well, I will say that the Government attitude is unchanged, and becomes .strengthened in view of the rejection of the amendment to which I have referred.
– Arising out of the answer to my question, I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether we may take his answer as a statement from the Government ‘that they do not intend to give effect to the will or wish of the Senate as disclosed by the vote recorded on the motion I submitted?
– No; unless some more definite statements are made than those which have yet been made in this’ Chamber.
-I ask the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Gardiner-
– Order ! I have ruled only quite recently that an honorable senator may only ask a question of a private member of the Senate regarding business which that private member has on the notice-paper. If general questions were permitted between one member of the Senate and another they would become interminable, and would retard the business of the Senate. I rule that the honorable senator is out of order.
– Has the Leader of the Senate received any information publicly or privately from the Leader, of the Opposition or Senator Watson that the latter is prepared to charge the Prime Minister with attempting to bribe and corrupt him ; also whether he has received any information from Senator Watson that he is prepared to release from the bond of’ confidence those persons with whom he has had private conversations as to’ his position as a member of the. Official Labour party? If the Minister has received an intimation of that kind, and the Government fail to appoint a Royal Commission, will he be willing to- do without my Vote when I support the Opposition on a motion of censure?
– lj have not received any : communication from Senator
Watson, nor, so far as I know, has any other member of the Government.. “
– I ask Senator Millen whether he did not hear Senator Watson definitely state in the Senate a few evenings ago that he is prepared to do what Senator Lynch now asks him to do ?
– The’ question asked by Senator Lynch was whether I had received a communication- -from Senator Watson to that effect, and I replied in. the negative. . .
– I ask. the Minister for Defence, without notice, if a young, mannamed Polkinghorne. employed in the Ordnance Department,-. Sydney, is the same, . young man who was secretary to the West Sydney Labour Council, and acted as secretary for, the Hughes Committee at the last election’. If so, what qualifications had he for” the position he now occupies?
– Obviously I cannot have- any knowledge to enable me to answer, a question of that kind; but I can undertake to, have inquiries made. All that the Defence Department can ascertain is whether, there is , an employee named Polkinghorne in the Ordnance . De- partment, Sydney, , and what qualifications he has for the position he occupies. .
– That, will do.
– I will have inquiries made.
Prolongation During War-time.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate if the . Government have considered the. machinery, suggested . in my question of a day or two ago, for altering the Commonwealth Constitution in the matter of the extension of the life of Parliament during war-time in such a way as to make it self-adjusting in times of national emergency ?
– I have. had no opportunity of putting the matter before the Cabinet since the honorable senator’s question was submitted.
Appointment of Administrator
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home and
Territories whether any announcement can be made in connexion with the appointment of Administrator of the Northern Territory?
– I can. only tell, the honorable senator that no decision has yet been arrived at,, but the matter, is . under consideration.
– In view of the importance of. the appointment of an’ Administrator to the; Northern Territory, and in view of the fact that the Government have announced the dissolution of this Parliament, I ask the Minister, representing the. Minister for Home and Territories whether, the Government . will not withhold such, an, appointment until after the elections 1 ,. …
– That is a question which is now under the consideration of the’ Government.
– Will the Minister representing the Prime Minister inform the Senate, what salary will attach to the position of chairman of the Murray River Waters Commission,, and whether the Gor vernment contemplate . making an appointment before the new Parliament assembles ?
– I understand that the salary has not yet been fixed. The gentleman who to date has acted as chairman has done so in an honorary capacity.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate how many, men, if any, are now employed at the site of the proposed arsenal at Canberra,, and how many appointments, in addition to that of chemist, which position has been gazetted at. a salary of £750 per annum, have already been made?
– It must be obvious to the honorable senator that I cannot give that information offhand, but, in view of the fact that the Senate will shortly be adjourning, I hope, I ask the honorable senator to give me a note setting out the information he . desires, and . I will, transfer it to the Department with a view to getting an answer.
– Have any steps been taken to fulfil tha promise given by Senator Lynch, when Minister for Works, that the complaints in regard to the workmen’s dwellings at Canberra would be investigated? If so, has anything been done to improve the dwellings ?
– J am not in a, position to answer the question at this moment. In regard to all questions of this kind, if honorable -senators will send me a note indicating the information they desire, I will endeavour to get replies for them.
– Senator Grant has on the business-paper a -notice of motion for the appointment of a Select Committee, consisting of Senators McDougall, Watson, . Stewart,. Blakey, McKissock, Barker, and the mover, to inquire into and report upon the management and administration of the Naval College at Jervis Bay, and the complaints made in regard thereto. . I ask Senator Grant whether, in connexion with this motion,. which indicates such a high standard of broadmindedness, he will receive a petition from honorable senators on the Ministerial side of the Chamber that at least .one member of the Ministerial party be given a seat upon the Committee ?
– ;I should not have the slightest objection to appointing half the ‘members of the Committee from the Ministerial side. My only desire is to ascertain definitely whether the charges made by Mr. Cusack in regard -to the treatment of his son,’ ex-Midshipman L. A. Cusack, are correct of not.- The personnel of the Committee was hurriedly arranged, owing to the limited time at my’ disposal. I shall be glad .to have the nomination of Senator Lynch in place of Senator McDougall, who indicates his willingness to withdraw. ‘
– Senator Watson has on the business-paper a motion for the appointment of a Select Committee, comprising Senators Grant, Maughan, McDougall. McKissock, Needham’, O’Keefe, and the mover, to inquire into the appointment, employment j “and dismissal of A. E. Walkeden, an engineer officer in the Naval Works Branch of the
Department for the Navy. I ask Senator Watson whether he will agree to the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into his proposal for the appointment of an ex parte Committee of this description ?
– It is extremely refreshing to hear this notice of motion mentioned, because such a reference indicates that we are getting nearer to the time when the matter will be dealt with. I have an open mind in regard to the personnel of the Committee. Prior to the notice of motion being submitted in the Senate, several honorable members of the Ministerial party were asked to become members of the Committee and refused. When later a reflection was made on the personnel of the Committee, I interviewed several honorable senators on the Government side, and asked them if they would be prepared to serv.e, on the Committee. -They refused to.be nominated. In order to prove my sincerity in this matter,- I am willing that the’ Committee should be selected by a ballot of the Senate. The circumstances should effecttually . dispose of any suggestion- that I am anxious to secure a prejudiced tribunal.
– I ask whether the mover of the motion is prepared to supply us with the names of the senators on the Ministerial side of the Chamber whom, he approached, and who refused to become members of the Committee?
– I cannot give an answer to that question off-hand. But I know that Senator Gould was one, Senator Bakhap another, and Senator Guthrie still another. If my memory serves me accurately, I also asked Senator Millen and Senator Newland. “
– -I ask Senator Watson whether it is not a fact that when he requested me to join the Committee there was already on the businesspaper a notice of motion setting out the names of his friends whom he desired to be appointed to that body?
– I have already stated that several honorable senators on the opposite side ‘ of the Chamber were asked to act on the Committee and had refused. When exception was taken to the personnel , of the Committee, I went over and asked Senator Newland and others if they would still be prepared tq act. I did so to show that there was no malice so far as I was concerned, and that I had the most honorable intentions regarding the composition of the Committee. I have already stated that if there is any doubt as to the personnel of the Committee, I am willing that its members should be selected by ballot of the Senate.
– Seeing that it has been stated that I was invited to become a member of the Committee, I should like to relate the circumstances under which the invitation was presented to me.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Vice-President of the Executive Council in order in making a’ statement?
– The VicePresident pf the. Executive Council is not entitled to make any statement of the kind without the permission of the Senate.
– Then I should like to ask the permission of the Senate . to make it.
– Is it the pleasure of honorable senators that the VicePresident of the Executive Council have leave to make a statement?
– The invitation to myself to become a member of the Committee - and I believe it was the same in the case of other honorable senators - was given to me in the following circumstances: - Senator “Watson showed me a list of the members of the Committee whose appointment was contemplated under the motion. I drew his attention to the fact that in forming such a Committee it was the parliamentary custom to give representation to both political parties in this Chamber. He then asked me if I would accept a position upon it. I told him that I did not feel free to do so. But that invitation was extended to me after the names of the proposed Committee had been set down.
– By way of personal explanation, I wish to say that several days before the notice of motion setting out the names of the members of the proposed Select Committee was printed, I, on behalf of Senator Watson, approached Senators Guthrie and Bakhap, and asked them if they were prepared to act on it. Senator Bakhap re fused to do so, on the ground that he was already a member of a Committee, and Senator Guthrie informed me that his official duties in connexion with his party would prevent him from acting.
– The honorable senator did ‘not ask anybody else?
– No, I thought that I had mentioned the matter to Senator Newland, but I was not sure about it. .
asked the Min ister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– This question was submitted to me as ‘ representing the Prime Minister. It relates to what is really a Defence matter, and has., accordingly been sent on to the Defence Department. Hence the delay in obtaining a reply. However, an effort will be made to get the desired information before the Senate rises.
– Arising out of the answer to that question, will the Vice-President of the Executive Council take this telegram from me in connexion with the matter, in order that the inquiry may be made complete?
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Government, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the action of the Government in -
– I am without an answer to the honorable senator’s question, but I shall endeavour to get one before the motion for the adjournment is moved.
Telegram from Trade Union Secretary.
Consideration resumed from 15 th March (vide page 11464) of the question of breach of privilege in connexion with a telegram received by the President of the Senate from “McCarthy, Secretary, Trades Hall, Sydney,” on the subject of delay in the payment of salaries.
– The circumstances which have projected this matter into our procedure will be fresh in the minds of honorable senators. If I may venture the suggestion, it does not seem to me that the consideration of this matter should unduly occupy the time of the Senate. It is a matter much too serious to be allowed to pass unnoticed, but I assume that there will be such unanimity regarding it that it can be disposed of with some brevity. I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, one McCarthy, giving the address of Trades Hall, Sydney, in forwarding to Mr. President a telegram insultingly and adversely criticising the conduct of the business of the Senate, and intimating that a strike would ensue unless the conduct of . business were altered, has been guilty of a grave breach of the privileges of Parliament, but, in view of the fact that no such attempt to influence the deliberations of the Senate has occurred before, the Senate is of opinion that the said McCarthy in forwarding the telegram was ignorant of, and did not appreciate, the seriousness of the oifence he was committing, and therefore deems it. sufficient to affirm that the telegram in question, both in its terms and purpose, constitutes an offence, and that, if repeated, other action will be taken.
By this motion, I invite the Senate to clearly express its opinion as to its duties, and at the same time to avoid going to the extreme of unduly magnifying what might, after all, have been the result of ignorance. This question of privilege is not by any means, as some people outside may be disposed to think, a mere matter of personal sensitiveness or vanity on the part of honorable senators themselves. It is essential to the free and proper discharge of the responsibilities resting upon a Parliament. It is not merely a theory that Parliament must be free from improper outside influences of any kind; it is absolutely essential to the proper discharge of a Parliament’s duty that that freedom shall be maintained come what will.- A Parliament can discharge its functions only in that way, and unless it is free to do so, it becomes not the preserver of and an aid to public safety, but a distinct menace to that safety..
– Hear, hear. Where does the junta come in?
– I do not desire to raise any question that is not actually involved in this matter. I pub forward this motion as a sufficient vindication, and as being at the same time a pronouncement of the view which the Senate takes as to the nature of the telegram received by our President. I pub ib forward as affirming our position, and as making abundantly clear, not only to the sender of the telegram, but to the whole community what that position is. Having done that, we shall have done sufficient at the present juncture without going to the exbreme of unduly magnifying the incident, or attempting in any way to make either a hero or a martyr of this gentleman who, I believe, has erred unwittingly.
Senabor GARDINER (New South Wales [11.44]. -It would have been well for ‘the dignity of the Senate if the Leader of the Government, instead of offering an apology and -excuse for the action of this man whom he is pleased to -speak of as “ one McCarthy “ - had proposed that’ he should be communicated with in .order that we might ascertain whether or not he had erred from ignorance. The Senate might very well withhold its decision until it knows whether or hot this telegram was sent under a misapprehension, or because the - sender of it did not realize the seriousness of his action. We could then deal with it in accordance with Mr. McCarthy’s reply. When this matter cropped up yesterday, you, Mr. President, permitted me to say - I quote from a newspaper report which is pretty well exact - -
Might I offer this suggestion: This is the beginning of a very serious threat to this Parliament, if. not dealt with strongly and firmly. I would suggest that McCarthy be brought to the bar of the Seriate.
In my opinion, another gentleman in commenting, on the . sending of. this message to the* President has committed a grave breach of the privilege of ..the . Senate, affecting the honour ,and reputation of every senator who took .part in the debate on. .the Supply Bill. , I- think it will be agreed that the Supply Bill was discussed by practically an equal number of senators on. both sides. ( . . ,
– No one on this side spoke for three hours.,
– The length of any speech has no bearing on the question at issue. Senator Bakhap, Senator Lynch, Senator Henderson, I believe, Senator de Largie and Senator O’Loghlin - all. sitting on ‘the Government side of the Chamber- took part in the debate. At all events’, quite a number of senators on both sides exercised their undoubted right to discuss the Bill, and to debate grievances before granting Supply. . As long as I hold a position in any of our free institutions, I shall not consent to be bullied or browbeaten, or told that I cannot exercise what ‘is one of the dearest prerogatives of a Briton, both here and overseas - the privilege of maintaining the liberties of our free institutions, and the right of members of Parliament to discuss grievances on Supply. A gentleman who is not ignorant of the privileges of .the Senate - the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes - 3s reported to have commented as follows on this incident: -
It > is surely a1 very serious thing that men engaged in- such arduous and responsible work as theirs cannot get wages due to them merely because some members of the Senate, in order to serve a party purpose, chose to hold -up the Supply Bill. . -
I’ appeal to honorable senators on both sides to say whether any attempt was made to hold up Supply > I appeal to honorable senators to say whether, although I spoke at length on the debate’ in question, my attitude was that df a man who wished to hold up Supply.
– ‘Supply was held up by the action of the day before.
– The Supply Bill was not then before us.
-It was held up. by the action of the day , before, when . you tore up the Standing Orders.
– If that is the way that the Leader of- -the Government here is going to. conduct the business of the Senate, I can well understand his attitude in finding excuses for McCarthy. The honorable senator himself -asserts that the Senate tore up its own Standing’ Orders. In making that assertion he is abusing his position,- and’ is himself ‘ guilty of a1 gross breach of privilege.
– When we adjourned at the ‘end of the previous week there was an intimation that the Supply Bill was coming here on Tuesday, and we proposed the suspension of the Standing Orders in order that we might bring on, that business. . ,
– I regret that the honorable senator desires ‘to “discuss the question on these lines. When the Government wanted ‘to send three gentlemen to London, the Leader of the Senate could call us together at 11 o’clock on Monday morning to discuss a question upon which their .going to London depended. Surely the granting of Supply to permit of the payment of His Majesty’s Public Service was of as much importance as ‘was the visit of these three gentlemen to London ! But whereas the Senate could be called together bn Monday morning to deal with that matter as urgent business, the introduction of the Supply Bill was left until the, last moment. We are now told, and impudently told, that we held it up.
– So you did:
– Every honora bIe senator knows that that is a- falsehood.
– I draw your attention, Mr. President’, .to the .honorable senator’s statement that something I have said is a falsehood. I will also direct your attention to the tendency of the honorable senator to make these statements, knowing that, although he will immediately withdraw them, he will have got them into Hansard.
– I did not understand the remark to be made with regard to Senator Millen. I thought it was applied to the Leader of the Government, but in any case it is contrary to the Standing Orders to use language of that sort in reference to a member of either House. I would, .therefore, ask the honorable senator to refrain from using expressions of that kind.
– I withdraw it. I regret that when dealing with men who deliberately misrepresent what has occurred I am too prone to use the vigorous English’ of the class to which I belong.
– Arguments do not possess any more strength by using language of that kind.
– I recognise it, but I have not had the advantage of the training which Senator de Largie has had in squirming, shifting-, and quibbling. My intention is that the words I use shall convey my thoughts. When the Senate adjourned on Wednes’day of last week there was a plain intimation that the Supply Bill would be brought forward on Tuesday. Even if that Supply Bill came through, was it any straining of the privileges of the Senate that we should move a motion to vindicate the honour of the Senate? The -‘whole of Tuesday was taken up with the most important motion that ever came before the Senate.
– Especially when you had an accidental majority.
– To the credit of the Senate be it said that the party machine did not bring Senator Keating and Senator Bakhap to heel on that question, and we were, therefore, able by the ample majority of 18 to 13 to vindicate the honour of the Senate. Yet the Leader of the Government here says that that vindication by the Senate of its own honour held up Supply. When a previous Supply Bill was before the Chamber a, certain telegram was read in another place and here. ‘ It was not sent to you, sir, in a way that would create a breach of the privileges of the Senate, but was engineered by the Liberal organizations to make out that my party in the Senate was holding up Supply. This Supply Bill came before us after the ordinary . business on Wednesday afternoon.
– If it had not been for your motion it would have come ber fore us on the Tuesday.
– Senator Gardiner’s motion was “ stone-walled “ all day long on Tuesday by members on the Government side. We were prepared to go to a vote at any moment.
– I am not quite sure, because my memory in these stirring times is. not too good, whether any other senator on this side beside myself addressed himself to Tuesday’s business.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - How many addressed themselves to Supply yesterday ?
– I shall deal with that point directly; The only speaker on Tuesday’s business from this side was the one who asked- for the appointment of the Royal Commission-
– You were afraid that the two absent men on our side might turn up.
– -The “fact remains that on the Tuesday’s business, which Senator Pearce says - led to the holding up “of Supply, only one senator on this side spoke, and senators on the Government side continued the debate to the end. As the Government were in charge of the business on that side they, and not the Senate, must take the responsibility if there was any holding up on the Tuesday. I asked a question on Tuesday, and if the Government had been anxious to get on with the business the matter could have been settled in a second by saying that they would appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the most disgraceful proceedings that ever discredited any Parliament in the world. But the Government tried to shirk their responsibilities.
– Order’! Ali this discussion is really beside the question, which is : Has a breach of privilege been committed by Mr. McCarthy, and, if so, what action will the Senate take? The whys and wherefores of business last week, or early this week, have nothing to do with that question, except so far as they have reference to the telegram received from Mr. McCarthy. If the Senate enters into a wide discussion of charges to be investigated by Royal Commission, the real subject before the Chair may be forgotten.
- Mr. McCarthy, in sending a wire complaining of the Senate holding up pay) committed a grave breach of the privileges of the Senate.
– It is the first offence of the kind, and he is the first offender. Why, then, make a martyr of him?
– I have no desire to do so, but he should be given the opportunity to say whether he was ignorant of the grave infringement of the Senate’s rights and privileges that he was committing, and also the opportunity that honorable senators are given of withdrawing and apologising. I do not believe in apologizing for him beforehand. His telegram is being used in certain quarters to show that there was some holding up of the business of the country by the Senate. No three-months’ Supply Bill ever went through a deliberative assembly on the eve of an election with the speed of the last Supply Bill.
– It was scarcely referred to in any of the speeches on it.
- Senator Newland is evidently quite unaware of the fact, which all other honorable senators know, that the Supply Bill constitutes a ground on which all the grievances of the nation may be brought before the Senate. If he does know it, he should not complain if other senators use the opportunity to ventilate grievances. The principle of the redress of grievances before Supply applies as much to this Chamber as to any other. The fact that there was no complaint from the President or honorable senators generally about the margin that we were exercising in debate proves that we did not overstep the bounds.
– The Standing Orders are perfectly clear that honorable senators can discuss anything they like on the first reading of a Supply Bill.
– Then, what right has any one, particularly a member of a union miles distant from here, to say that we were holding up Supply? If we had the Hansard record here, and the time occupied by each speaker could be taken, I think it would be found that more time was occupied by honorable senators on the Government side than by honorable senators on this side.
– Nonsense !
– I think that would be found to be the case. There were long speeches from both sides, but the speeches were not too lengthy.
– Your’ own speech was practically a repetition of all your other speeches, and occupied fully two hours.
– Its length was due to the warmth of the surroundings and interjections from the other side. However, the Senate cannot permit any one to say, and cannot, itself, with dignity say) that there was any undue discussion on the Supply Bill. It is the business of honorable senators on both sides to keep a quorum and conduct the business of the country; and in order that we might do our duty we sat up all night.
– What has that to do with the question ?
– The essence of the charge is that we held up. Supply, whereas, in point of fact, we sat up all night, much to our discomfort and inconvenience, to consider Supply. I had spoken early in the afternoon, and could well have gone home; but my duty was here, and I remained until the Bill had been put through. In any case, 1 the Supply Bill was passed by the time it was required for the payment of the public servants.
– But it had to be sent on to the GovernorGeneral for assent.
– And wires had to be despatched throughout Australia.
– I recognise that the Bill had to be sent to the Gover- * nor-General for assent, but it will be remembered that after it had been disposed of we passed two or three other Bills, and were dealing with quite other business before we went to lunch.
– The Supply Bill was not passed until about 12.15 o’clock.
– Had the Supply Bill been passed at 10 o’clock in the morning it would still have been necessary to send wires throughout the country. It would appear that Government business should be so conducted that no sooner is a Supply Bill presented than the Government should be able to make pay- ments under its authority. I venture to say that there was no delay in the payment of the public servants that could be said to be due to the action of the Senate ; and the’ responsibility for any delay that may have occurred rests with the Government. I hope that, even now, the Leader of the Government here - though I will not insist if time does not permit - will see that some proposal more in keeping with the dignity of the Senate should be put forward than that on which we are now asked to vote. It is assumed that McCarthy acted in ignorance; but I assume nothing of the kind. From the fact that he is a trade union secretary, I take it that he is a wellinformed, highly intelligent man; and I decline to believe that he is not aware of the danger of trespassing on the privileges of the Senate. The motion of Senator Millen is almost an apology to McCarthy; and I would much rather that the latter was called to explain why he abused the privileges of this Chamber, and, if necessary, compelled to withdraw and apologize.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.2].- I quite agree that honorable senators were quite within their rights and privileges, under the Standing Orders and practice of Parliament, in speaking on the first reading of the Supply Bil] at any length, and on any subject, they thought fit. But the question is whether it was meet and proper for honorable senators to speak at such length as to delay its passage. If we take the trouble to analyze the speeches delivered, it will be observed that they were not only cif undue length, if I may be permitted to say so, or, at any rate, of very great length, but that, in very few instances, did they touch the Supply Bill in any way whatever. The opportunity was taken to ventilate what are termed “grievances;” and, while I recognise that honorable senators had the right to speak as they did, nevertheless, it is a matter of good taste as to how long the speeches should be and how much they should be allowed to interfere with the granting of Supply. I, myself, was anxious to speak on one or two matters ; but I knew the urgency of the Bill,, and put them on one side. In all the circumstances, I do not think that honorable senators can altogether free themselves from responsibility. As pointed out by
Ministers, the Supply Bill came here on Tuesday. Our usual day of meeting is Wednesday, but it was determined to meet on Tuesday in order to consider Supply. However, the question of privilege was raised by the Leader of the Opposition when we met on Tuesday, and- the President gave a certain ruling from which the Senate saw fit to dissent. Why could that motion as to privilege not have been brought forward on the Wednesday, instead of the Tuesday ? The President, it will be remembered, pointed out that it was not competent to introduce the motion then, and, as I say, the Senate dissented. My personal view is that the ruling of the President was absolutely correct; and, had there not been some special reason that possibly actuated honorable senators, they might have accepted it. given notice of the motion, and had the debate on the Wednesday instead of the Tuesday. Had that been done Tuesday might have been devoted to the Supply Bill. It has been stated that the Opposition were taking advantage of the absence of a couple of honorable senators. I may say that it was quite impossible Tor me to attend on the Tuesday, but, as I understood that only Supply was to be introduced, I did not consider that my absence would be very material; and no doubt Senator Newland was in an exactly similar position. There was a march stolen on honorable senators who relied on the Standing Orders being obeyed, and on no attempt being made to introduce such a motion, unless, of course, the Standing Orders were suspended by an absolute majority. To suspend the Standing Orders there must be the statutory majority of nineteen, but by adopting the ingenious course of moving a dissent from the ruling, a majority of only sixteen was sufficient ‘ to comply with, the Constitution.
– That was all perfectly legitimate.
– Anything is legitimate, according to some honorable senators; but that is a Germanic principle.
– You do not deny that everything was done in accordance with the Standing Orders?
– It was.
– And the Standing Orders were suspended.
– The Standing Orders were not suspended. The President gave a ruling from which a majority of sixteen dissented; and, therefore,’ honorable senators were at liberty to go on with the motion of which, no notice had been given. However, what we have to consider is the motion before US; whether the ‘Prime Minister, or anybody else, has committed a breach of the privileges of the Senate is entirely beside the question. If any person or newspaper had seen fit to make the same remarks as were made by the Prime Minister, it would be the height of absurdity .to hold such person or the proprietor of such newspaper guilty of a breach of the privileges of this Senate. Whether I am or am not a member of this Parliament, I have a right to make certain statements that may reflect on the way in which the proceedings are conducted without being liable to be charged with a breach of privilege. Our rights arid privileges are exactly the same as those of the House of ‘ Commons. In May’s Parliamentary Practice it is laid down-
Breaches of privilege may be divided into: - 1. Disobedience to general orders or rules of either House. 2. Disobedience to particular orders. 3. Indignities offered to the character or proceedings of Parliament.
Clearly this is a case in which, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, it is within the power of this Senate to summon Mr. McCarthy to the bar of the House to explain his telegram. It is equally clear that if he declined to appear Mr. President would have the right to issue a warrant to bring that gentleman here, and to enjoin and command all policemen and others to assist in giving effect to that command. But we have to consider what would be the position if we brought this man to the bar of the House. We could take certain proceedings; we could reprimand him, order him to pay a fine, and hold him until the fine was paid; but the moment Parliament closed its power would be gone. We are going to close this Parliament within two or three days, so it would be quite impossible for us to take action in that way to vindicate the rights of Parliament effectively. Unless Parliament was in a position to carry .out. fully and completely whatever it determined upon, the act of bringing this gentleman to the bar of the House to deal with, him would only make the proceedings a farce, and perhaps bring Parliament into ridicule. There has been a clear and unmistakable breach of the privileges of Parliament, and Parliament should place upon record its feeling with regard to this matter. The public should be given to understand that, while Parliament has this power, no Court of law, not even the Supreme Court or the High Court, can interfere with what is done within the clear jurisdiction of Parliament while in session, though, as I have already pointed out, immediately Parliament closes, punishment so ordered must fall into abeyance.
– Would that be the case if the man were undergoing punishment?
– Yes. His release could be demanded by a writ of habeas corpus. I do not think we would have power to send him to gaol, except for the non-payment of a fine. In connexion with thi& matter, I should like to say that, of late, there has been a growing inclination on the part of outside organizations to take upon themselves the authority to command members of Parliament to take a particular course of action.
– Under, threat.
– Yes; as the honorable senator reminds me, this is being .done under cover of threats. Any man, of course, Kas a right to use his own influence in fair and reasonable argument to induce other people to take a certain line of action.
– But not to threaten.
– They have no right to do that by means of a threat. W.e find, however, that the outside organizations are taking up the position that they have the right to command members of Parliament re- presenting certain bodies to take a certain course of action. I think we should make some provision against, this, and I would suggest that.it would be very much better if we could define our rights and privileges by an Act, in which we could make provision for the punishment of people who committed any breaches of parliamentary privilege. I would not leave it in the hands of- Parliament, however, to mete out the punishment. Parliament could determine what . .actions were breaches of privilege, and proceedings might then be taken .against the persons concerned .in the Law; Courts, which would, if they found the breach proved, determine the punishment, . That, I think, would be the best way to maintain the dignity of- this Parliament, and free it from insult, and from outside influence. If this course were adopted, it would make people outside realize that Parliament has among its rights and privileges that of pursuing its deliberations without outside intervention. There is no question that the communication from Mr. McCarthy is an insult to Parliament and to you, Mr. President; and that it merits punishment. In view of the circumstances, however; which make it practically impossible for us to do anything more than is proposed by the Leader of the Senate, I intend to” support the ‘ motion, but I hope the Minister will also take into consideration the remarks I have made with regard to passing legislation to protect Parliament from threats, arid members of Parliament from interference in the legitimate discharge of their duties.
– I want to put the case on behalf of the organization of which this gentleman is a member. . Yesterday when you, Mr. President, read the telegram from Mr. McCarthy, I happened to be with Mr. George Brown, the General Secretary of the Telegraph and Telephone Construction and Maintenance Union, in this building. He came to see me in connexion with some business, and immediately you read the telegram from Mr. McCarthy, I -saw Mr. Brown, and asked him whether,- as -general secretary, he approved of the action taken by Mr. McCarthy. He said that he had no knowledge -of it, and that he disapproved ‘ of it. I asked him whether., as general secretary of the organization, he would make a statement on behalf of the executive body of his union repudiating Mr. McCarthy’s action; and this is what he has written and handed to me -
As. general secretary of the Australian Telegraph and Telephone Construction “and Maintenance Union, on behalf of my executive, I entirely repudiate the telegram addressed to the President. of the Senate by -Mr. McCarthy, the secretary, of the New South. Wales branch.
G-. A. Brown,
General Secretary. > 15th, March, 1917,
This statement proves that the organization repudiates Mr. McCarthy’s action, but lest the words of Senator Gould might be’ construed as showing ‘that there was intent on the part- of the union to interfere with the privileges of the Senate, I secured from the- President,- at Mr. Brown’s request, a copy of the telegram which I handed to Mr. Brown, who immediately despatched telegrams to the secretaries of the different branches throughout the Commonwealth. No replies have yet been received. 1 presume that they will come to hand later in the day. Mr. McCarthy is not a member of- the organization. Rule 6 of the constitution’ of the union reads as follows: -
Any qualified person applying for full membership shall pay to the branch secretary, organizer, local agent, or other authorized person, the prescribed contribution, and shall receive a ticket entitling such person, during its currency, so long as he. ‘shall remain loyal to the rules and constitution, and so long as he shall remain an employee of the Commonwealth Public -Service, to all rights and privileges of membership, and rendering such person amenable to the rules and constitution of the union.
Mr. McCarthy is not an. employee of the Commonwealth Public .Service..
– Has he lately been a candidate for Parliament?
– I understand that he -contested the selection ballot against Mr. -Riley, the member for South Sydney, but that fact has no connexion with the matter that we are now .discussing. Mr. McCarthy is simply the paid secretary of the -New South Wales branch of the union. Each branch has the power to appoint its own paid secretary, but the fact that a person is secretary to a branch of this organization- does not -make him a member of it. . … <
– The motion’ deals simply with the man himself.
– I understand that, but I was fearful lest it might be in the minds of some people that the organization was behind Mr. McCarthy in the action he has taken.
– At any rate, the organization is responsible for him.
– He is. the paid secretary, of the New South Wales branch of the union, but lie has taken action entirely on his own account, and independently of the organization.
– There is no evidence that Mr. McCarthy does not represent the
New South Wales section of the organization.
– I am endeavouring to make it quite clear that the organization has entirely repudiated his action. That is proved by the statement that Mr. Brown handed to me. I admit that Mr. McCarthy has done something wrong, but I do not think that’ we need go any further than what is indicated in the motion submitted by the Leader of the Senate. Some honorable senator has suggested that Mr. McCarthy is a first offender. He might reasonably be allowed to plead under the First Offenders Act.
– -The junta has no First Offenders Act in its legal code. It is a case of “off with his head ‘ ‘ for the first offence.
– As the honorable senator has had a strenuous time during the past few days, we must allow him a little latitude in order that he may rid himself of that spleen from which he :s evidently suffering. I have no desire to make Mr. McCarthy a martyr. The method of dealing with him suggested by the motion seems to me quite effective. Therefore I am agreeable to its adoption.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [12.29].- -There are two possibilities before the Senate in regard to Mr. McCarthy, either that he has acted in ignorance, not knowing the serious consequences of the action he was taking, or that he is merely notoriety hunting and seeking to get into the limelight, in which case the best way to please him would be to elevate him to the position of a martyr by taking serious action against him. In these circumstances, much as I feel that it is a very lame conclusion to come to, I do not see that we can do much better than what has been proposed by the Leader of the Senate. I wish to protest most emphatically against any insinuation that undue time was occupied by the Senate in the consideration of the Supply Bill.
– But you were not here on Tuesday.
.- I was not here on Tuesday, but I have already identified myself with the action of the Leader of the Opposition, with the exception of his disagreement with the ruling of the President.
– Had not that ruling been set aside, the matter could not have been brought on until Wednesday.
.- It is time that the’ Senate took steps to see that it is not called upon to pass a Supply Bill without having due time to discuss public matters. The first reading of a Supply Bill gives the members of the Senate a full opportunity to discuss any grievances which they think it is desirable to bring forward.
– You do not know what happened on the previous Wednesday when we adjourned.
.- I am not going back into past history.
– It all hinges upon that fact.
.- I am speaking now on general principles. I submit that on the eve of an election honorable senators ought to be allowed even undue latitude, and also time, to discuss various important matters. As regards the delay on Tuesday last, the consideration of the motion submitted by Senator Gardiner should not have occupied five minutes. In view of the imputations which have been made against the Government, they ought not to have waited for a moment before taking action. They should have accepted the motion; indeed, they should have anticipated its submission, and then there would have been no delay.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not refer to a previous debate of this session.
– I think that the Government ought to have taken the responsibility of paying to the public servants the money covered by the Supply Bill.
– What guarantee have we of getting an indemnity from this Opposition ?
– No one has suggested for a moment that any action which the Government might have taken in that respect would be questioned. I have no intention of censuring or blaming the Government in the matter. They have the responsibility to bear. Every Government has at times to do illegal acts, and a Government is not worth its salt which will not take the responsibility of acting. A Government of which Senator Millen was a member took the responsibility of promising men to go to the front to fight in this war. The honorable senator had no authority for giving that promise, but he knew that the whole country was behind him, and that if he had not done so he would have been committing a gross breach of our relations with the Mother Country. I desire to give one instance in point. I was concerned in a very similar matter. Numerous conflicts have arisen between the Houses of Parliament throughout Australia. In South Australia there was a conflict in 1888 or 1889. The Legislative Council took exception to something which our Ministry did, and adjourned the grant of Supply from the beginning of December to the middle of January. It adjourned the debate, and hung up the Supply Bill. On that occasion no civil servant went without his pay. We protested, naturally in the circumstances, that the Council was hanging up the Supply Bill and keeping the pay from the civil servants. But when the Council persisted, and we were faced with the responsibility of the matter, every civil servant was paid. I have no doubt that weacted illegally, but we took the responsibility. I think that on the recent- occasion the Commonwealth Government might have done the same thing. I regret very much that we cannot take some other drastic action to vindicate our position, but, in the circumstances, I see nothing else for us to do than to pass the motion.
– I intend to vote against the motion, because I know Mr. McCarthy. To say that he did not realize what he was doing is, I think, to do him an injustice. He is a keen political student. When I was out of the Senate, I knew more about public matters than I have known since I came here.
– You are learning backwards, then.
– You thought that you did.
– Probably so. After hearing the interesting reason given by Senator Gould as to why we should pass the motion, and the friendly encouragement from “Senator de Largie, I feel convinced that it is the very reason why we should vote against ‘it. I believe that the union is responsible, no matter what Senator Needham, says, for the action of its secretary. I believe that Mr. McCarthy knew what he was doing. I think that he would be delighted to have an opportunity to come here and defend his action, or to apologize for it. If, however, he has done a wrong, and any penalty is provided, it should be enforced. But he should be given an opportunity to explain. I resent the remark of the Prime Minister that members of the Senate delayed the passage of the Supply Bill. During my last trip to Sydney, I dived deeply into the ancient history of the Labour movement, and obtained the real facts from the very foundation. I was prepared to occupy two hours in putting before the Senate the real history of the Labour movement from its inception. The Leader of the Government here will admit that I. was as anxious to get the Supply Bill put through as he was. I told him that I would forego the opportunity to place on record very interesting facts in connexion with the great Labour movement. The Prime Minister says in this morning’s newspapers that the secretary to this union had some justification for his action. I take up that point, too, and say that he had. Either we should give Mr. McCarthy an opportunity to justify his action, or, if he cannot justify it, he should pay the penalty. For that reason, I intend to vote against the motion. If a wrong has been done deliberately - and I believe that it has been done for a purpose - Mr. McCarthy has to suffer, or be given the privilege of coming here to defend his action or to apologize.
– As one who has always been of the opinion that the grant of Supply should never be delayed beyond a point at which public servants could be paid on the usual pay day, I, in common with several honorable senators on this side, was quite prepared to forego my undoubted right to speak on the first reading of the Supply Bill, with the exception of occupying a few moments to clear up a point in dispute. In these times, when party fighting is so keen, I do not blame the Prime Minister for attempting to take a party advantage in the statement published in the press to-day. I mean that I do not quarrel with him over it, but it is just as well that the public should know the facts. The Prime Minister has imputed to the Opposition in the Senate-
– That question does not arise under this motion, and the honorable senator must confine himself to its subject-matter.
– 1 was referring to the Prime Minister because, in his speech, Senator Gardiner said that he was of the opinion that the Prime Minister also was guilty of a breach of the privileges of the Senate in imputing to it blame for the delay in passing the Supply Bill.
– Only a passing re:ference to that matter is permissible.
– I only desire to make a passing reference to it, sir. How did the delay occur? The Supply Bill was no’t passed here yesterday until,- I think, half-past 12 o’clock. I understand that- it would have had to be passed before 10 o’clock to enable public servants to be paid at- the ordinary time. As a matter of fact, a public servant was speaking to ‘me on the matter yesterday evening, and’ he blamed the Senate for the delay which had taken ‘ place. If the Leader of the Senate had chosen, and the members of his party had been’ prepared to vote with- him -on a matter which was discussed here -all Tuesday; it would have been -got out of the. way in ari hour or so on that day, and’ the Supply Bill could have been brought on.
– The vote had nothing to do with the length of time taken in discussing the Bill. The vote which opened the floodgates of discussion was ‘the vote disagreeing with the President’s ruling. No honorable senator on this side voted for that motion.
– The motion was discussed all day on Tuesday. If the Government had ascertained, as they might have done, what the voting on the motion for the appointment of a. Royal Commission would be, the debate upon it need not have lasted more than an hour or two. The Supply Bill was not reached until Wednesday because of the long discussion on- that motion. There was only one speech made upon ‘the motion from this side, though, many honorable senators here would have liked to speak to it. They restrained themselves because they were prepared to take a vote, ‘and desired to go on with the consideration of the Supply Bill.- That is why we say the Prime Minister, in his statement, misleads the public of Australia. If the motion for the appointment of a Royal Commission had been got out of the way, as it might have been, in an hour or two, we might have considered the Supply Bill on Tuesday, and it would have been passed before Wednesday night.
– Honorable senators opposite would not have had an accidental majority on the Wednesday, and they had to take that into consideration.
– The majority wa s with us at any time, as the Leader “of the Government in the Senate might have known if he had made inquiries. He would have learned that two members of his own party were prepared to vote for the motion seeking the appointment of a Royal Commission.. .
– The- honorable senator, knows that that was not the motion which caused the discussion.
– It did riot matter when the vote on the motion for the appointment of a Royal Commission was taken, there was a majority of honorable senators in favour of it. I, therefore, say that, the blame for delay in the passing of the Supply Bill rests upon the shoulders of honorable senators opposite. It was only when they discovered that the numbers were against them that they set up a “stone-wall” on Tuesday, ..in the hope that they would have two more senators on their side before the vote could be taken. When they discovered, that twosenators on their side would vote against them on . the motion the “ stone- wall ,T broke .down. The. Prime -Minister has said that, the delay in the passing of the Supply Bill was due to the action of the Senate, and the intention is . that the blame for the delay should rest on the Labour party in the Senate.
– It does rest on them.
– It does not, and never can. .If, as a result of the delay in the passing of the Supply Bill, there was delay in the payment of the civil servants, that was due entirely to the action of the party led by Senator Millen in the Senate. ‘ As one who resisted the opportunity to discuss the Supply Bill, I resent the imputation that the blame for delay in passing it rests upon the party on this side. We sat here for thirty hours, and, with the exception of a speech lasting only a, few minutes to clear” up a matter that it was necessary to explain, I refrained from discussing the Supply Bill. There were other honorable senators on this side who were willing to forego their right to discuss it.
– They might have been, but’ they did not do so.
– Many honorable senators on this side did forego their right to discuss the Supply Bill because - and I say it iri all sincerity- we were anxious that the Bill should be passed without an all-night sitting, in order that the civil servants might receive their pay in time.
– The actions of honorable senators on the other side, did not show that.
– The Supply Bill was discussed by. as many honorable senators on the Government side as on this side, though I grant’ that more time was taken up by honorable senators oil this side. The Supply Bill would have been passed in .plenty of time had not the discussion of the other question preceded it.” .
– And . honorable senators opposite were responsible for intro.ducing the other question.
– Senator Senior is responsible for a great deal of delay, because of his persistent interjections, many of which’ do not carry much sense with them. ‘It was the time taken up in the discussion of the matter ‘dealt with before the Supply Bill which delayed the passing of. Supply, but as I have said, that question could have been got’ out of the way if,the Government had ascertained, as they might have done, how the vote upon it would go. ‘
– The breaking dow.n of the Standing Orders by honorable senators . opposite is what caused the trouble.
– My vote, on the suspension of the Standing Orders was given because, although I admit there was a technical omission of two or three words in Senator Gardiner’s’ motion for the appointment of a Royal Commission, the honorable senator had made perfectly clear what he considered should be the scope of his motion. We had every right to submit a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders in the circumstances. The Senate is not established for. the Standing Orders, but they should be made to serve the convenience of’ the Senate. That is the view that I have always taken. I repeat that the blame for the delay inthe passing of the Supply Bill rests upon one side only, and that is the side led by Senator Millen.
.- We are told that chickens always come home to roost, and the matter we are now discussing is one of the consequences of the delay in the presenting of Supply Bills in the Senate which has been common to every Government that has been in power in the Commonwealth.
– Does not the honorable senator desire that the chickens should come home to roost?
– I do; and they are coming home with a. vengeance.
– The honorable senator mentioned the matter in order that the electors might. look into it?
– Yes ; I want them to sit up and take notice. I have been a member of this Parliament for sixteen years, and on every occasion when a Supply Bill has been brought forward I have had to complain of the short time given to the Senate for its discussion. For a long time I lived in’ hope that when we had a” Labour Government in power another rule ‘would be f ollowed, arid that the business of’ the country would be conducted rationally ‘ and on business-like lines. I found, however, that a Labour Government was just as anxious to stifle discussion- for that is really the purpose for which the introduction of Supply Bills is delayed- as were any other Government. Liberal, Labour, ‘and Conservative” Governments have succeeded each other, “and the same kind of’ thing has been going on all the time. Whether they work for a Government, a company, or a private individual, men should be paid at the proper time’, ana the Government are responsible for giving the Senate ari ample opportunity to discuss Estimates. I have been here since the beginning of Federation, and no Government has ever given the Senate a fair and reasonable opportunity to deal-with the Estimates. Each Government has sinned in this way, and now the sin is beginning to find us out.’ Mr. McCarthy is voicing a complaint which l have no doubt a great many other people are repeating to-day, when he says that the Senate is holding up Supply. But’ the fact of the matter is that the Senate is merely performing the duty imposed upon it by the people of the Commonwealth in discussing the ‘ Estimates- submitted to it, and examining and questioning them, and in bringing up grievances in connexion with them. Now we have a demand from people outside that we should- cease all this humbug. I say that it devolves upon the Government to see that the Senate is given ample time for the discussion of Supply. I have heard senator after senator complain of this, but the Senate has never taken any definite steps to bring about a better state of affairs. If I consider it necessary to discuss any matter I shall not permit the fact that men may not be paid at the proper time to interfere with the exercise of my right to do so. The blame rests with the Government for not bringing in the Supply Bill in time to give honorable senators an ample opportunity to discuss it.
– I do not think that there was ever a Supply Bill brought up as early as the last was.
– That does not matter, seeing that the last Supply Bill was apparently not brought up early enough.
– I regret having to occupy the time of ^ the Senate, but the persistency with which the statement is made that responsibility for the delay of Supply is chargeable to the Government compels me, in justification, to point out what are really the facts of the case. I want to say, first of all, that, in the previous week when Senator Stewart was present, I informed the Senate on the Tuesday that the position of business in another place precluded the possibility of the Supply Bill being available for our consideration on the following day. The alternatives were to keep honorable senators dangling their heels about here in the hope that work might be received from another place, or to adjourn until the Tuesday, meeting a day earlier than the Senate would ordinarily meet in order to proceed with business. Not a single dissentient voice was raised to the latter proposition.
– We did not anticipate the honorable senator’s party “ stonewalling “ our proposal for the appointment of a Royal Commission.
– This very absurd and parrot-like cry means that, so long as the Government will do as the Opposition want, there will be no delay. No such absurd proposition could be entertained by the Government, and only those who are trained to repeat the cries that are raised by their leaders would venture to do what Senator Mullan is doing. I want to remind honorable senators of what took place on Tuesday. We adjourned on Wednesday of the previous week on the clear understanding that it would be necessary to get the Supply Bill through on the next day of sitting. Who was it that interposed something to the passing of that Supply Bill - who drew a log across the track ? It was Senator O’Keefe and others, who, on a motion by Senator Gardiner, deliberately laid across the track of progress that log of theirs.
– We were prepared to take a vote without debate.
– That brings me back to the position which I have already stated, namely, that so long as the Government will say to the Opposition, “ What is it you want and we will fall in,” there will be no delay. But honorable senators opposite become resentful when the Government are not willing- to acquiesce in what they think should be done.
– We have a majority.
– The honorable senator’s party had a majority on Tuesday, and it was because of .that circumstance that they said, “ Rather than fol: low the procedure that is laid down by our Standing Orders, and run the risk of our accidental majority disappearing, we will set aside the Standing Orders.”
– It was not an accidental majority. Two members of the Ministerial party voted for the motion.
– That is not correct. No members upon this side of the Chamber gave a vote for the motion which Senator Gardiner submitted.
– That was a side issue.
– This attempt on the part of Senator O’Keefe to conceal the real facts of the case will not succeed. We could never have got to the motion of which he speaks save by dissenting from Mr. President’s ruling, which opened the floodgates of discussion. I am not going to question the technical rights of honorable senators to do what they did; but when they exercise their rights to do something, they cannot fairly say that the consequences which follow are chargeable to those who were not associated with them. But my honorable friends’ opposite took the responsibility, when the consideration of the Supply Bill was the important business to be dealt with, of saying that Supply should not be proceeded with until a matter which they desired to interpose had been dealt with. You, sir, pointed out that the proper course to follow was for Senator Gardiner to proceed with his motion upon notice, and thereupon my honorable friends said, in effect, “ Although that is the proper course, it does not suit us.” They balanced the relative merits of these two things, and their relative urgency, and they decided that the Supply Bill could wait. They were going to have their party matter dealt with before the payments to our public servants were authorized. They were content that these men should be kept without their ‘ money in order that they might take advantage of an opportunity which their accidental majority gave them.
– Were we responsible for the Ministerial supporters talking all Tuesday afternoon?
– Senator Gardiner now says that, because his party had an accidental majority on Tuesday afternoon, we ought to have held our tongues, and have allowed them to use that majority. I never heard such a proposition propounded before.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended” I was reminding honorable senators of the events which had preceded the reception in this Chamber of the Supply Bill. Summarizing these, they were - That this Senate adjourned on the Wednesday until the following Tuesday with a plain intimation by me that the Supply Bill would then be brought on for consideration, and that it would be necessary to finalize it in one day’s sitting in order that our public servants might receive their money when it became due. I placed before the Senate the alternative of sitting on the following Thursday, or Friday, on the chance that the other Chamber might complete its consideration of the Supply Bill, and make the measure available to us, or of at once adjourning and meeting a day earlier than usual during the following week. Without a word of protest, the Senate agreed to the alternative which I submitted to it. I corns now to the Tuesday - the day which hon orable senators by common consent had set apart for the consideration of the Supply Bill. The Bill was received here from the other Chamber, and was awaiting our consideration. The Opposition then took the responsibility of blocking its consideration. They may claim that they were justified in doing so. That may be so, or it may not, but the fact remains that they did draw across the track of progress a log which rendered progress impossible. An attempt has been made to show that the blocking of progress with the Supply Bill was due to certain votes upon this side of the chamber.
– To speeches delivered by Government supporters all the afternoon.
– The votes which made progress with the Supply Bill impossible were those which carried a motion dissenting from the President’s ruling. The Standing Orders are intended for the protection of honorable senators, and the Opposition elected not to observe the Standing Orders.
– I rise to a point of order. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that the Opposition elected not to observe the Standing Orders. Is that statement in order?
– To save trouble in the matter, I withdraw that form of words, and say that, instead of proceeding by the method which is prescribed for the regular conduct of business, the Opposition took advantage of ohe of our Standing Orders which enabled it to suspend all the other Standing Orders.
– I will take your ruling, sir, as to whether that statement is in order.
– As I understand the position, Senator Millen stated that the Opposition took advantage of one of our Standing Orders to suspend other Standing Orders. That statement, I think, is correct.
– I am not reflecting on the action of the Opposition. There were two courses open to them: One was to follow the normal procedure by observing the Standing Orders, and the other was to suspend the operation of those orders. In other words, there was the ordinary and the extraordinary course. The Opposition, instead of taking the ordinary course, took the extraordinary course. Had its members proceeded by the ordinary course, Senator
Gardiner would, on that day, have given notice of motion regarding this question of privilege.
– I again rise to order. I say that the honorable senator’s statement is not correct.
– There is no point of order involved. Senator Millen has been accurately stating what took, place. He has not reflected on anybody by making an inaccurate statement, and he is not out of order.
– Is it not a reflection on the Opposition to say that we did not’ proceed in accordance with our Standing Orders when, as a matter of fact, we did?
– When Senator Millen made that statement, he immediately withdrew it. What he ‘ now states is that the Opposition took advantage of one of our Standing Orders which enabled them to get away from the’ ordinary procedure, and that statement is correct.
– That is the position. As a result of the action taken by the Opposition the business ‘ which, had we followed the course that is usually followed, would have come on for consideration on Wednesday, ‘would have been the motion for the appointment of a Royal Commission, and’ we should have been free to consider the Supply Bill on Tuesday, which was the day that, by common consent, had been set aside for its consideration. However,, the Opposition elected to transfer that order of business.’ The Supply Bill was thus held up until a later period, and other business was interposed. It is altogether incorrect - and may I say that it is unfair, even in party warfare - to suggest that the Government are responsibe for tie Supply Bill being held over. It is nob fair of my honorable friends opposite,’ who will endeavour to take some’ credit outside for having’ interposed the motion for the appointment of a Royal Commission, to decline to accept responsibility for’ the consequences which followed their action. Nobody can claim ‘ credit for the advantages’ of an action and at the same time repudiate its ill-consequences. ‘ These gentlemen, having weighed the pros and cons, came to the conclusion that it would be better to bring forward ‘the’ motion df privilege on Tuesday, “ even ‘though our public servants had to wa’it for’ their money! than to delay the consideration of that motion for twenty-four hours, thereby allowing our public servants to be paid.’ The consequence was that the public servants were not paid. If honorable senators opposite “are entitled to .claim credit for the interposition of that ‘motion of privilege, they must also ‘accept full responsibility for the non-payment of our public servants’. I admit that every honorable senator has a perfect right to talk upon any question as. long’ as he likes.
– He should be given time to dp it.
– I want to say again Chat, in. the consideration of the Supply Bill, the urgency as to time - when I put the question before honorable senators - was not dissented, from by a single member,- so that if the course which was ‘ followed by me was the wrong one, the Senate must share that responsibility with me. I. admit ‘the right of any honorable senator to- speak on- any subject as long as he chooses, but it is quite another thing .for him .to exercise, that right at a time when .the passing of legislation is urgent. Look at the character of the speeches, that were delivered on the occasion to which .1 refer. When Senator Stewart brought forward his pet theory of land values taxation, was there a grievance .there which, had to be redressed ?
-It was more important than any other question discussed by the Senate, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council knows that. ‘
– If Senator .Grant thought that it was more important than any other question- . “Senator GARDINER - Seeing; sir, that you ruled- me out of ‘order before lunch for proceeding on similar lines to those upon which Senator Millen is now proceeding, I desire to know whether his remarks are in order ?
– It is quite true that the discussion generally has got beyond the limits of the ‘particular motion under consideration. Every” honorable senator who has spoken has’ ‘transgressed the bounds. Iri fact,’ Senator O’Keefe did not speak to the motion at all. He spoke generally on the matter, and I allowed him to ‘ proceed. Even after I had called Senator. Gardiner to order, he proceeded upon the same’ lines. I admit that I did wrong in allowing any honorable senator to ‘go beyond the limits of this. motion.
– You did not allow me to do so. You called me to order.
-I allowed the hon.orable senator to proceed after calling him to order., Seeing that honorable senators on the other .side, have had full latitude, I do not feel, inclined, now to limit the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– Therefore, there is” one set of Standing Orders for the Leader of the ‘Senate and another for the Leader of the Opposition.
The PRESiDENT.- There- is rio set of Standing Orders which is not applicable to every honorable senator,’ whether he’ is a member ‘of the’ Government or not.Insinuations against the impartiality of the Chair have ‘ frequently been thrown out bv Senator Gardiner. ‘Such’ reflections’ are riot conducive to the good order or conduct of business’ of the Seriate. Senator Gardiner has received as rauch lenity and as much liberty under ‘the Standing Order’s from ‘ me as ‘has any other honorable senator, and on occasion has received a great deal more, for which I plead guilty, and ask the pardon of the Senate. ‘ ‘ ‘ I
– I am sorry’ if I have said anything to perturb the good feeling which I still occasonally hope maY prevail iri this chamber, but I felt, after the many statements that have been made during the morning, that honorable senators themselves . in a spirit of fair play would see that, as- the Government had been attacked, it was not unreasonable, even in the Senate, to allow a Minister to speak in defence. If Senator Grant believes, as I know he does, that ‘the matter of a land tax is more important than any other, he was quite entitled to interpose it in his speech. After weighing on the one hand the desirableness of paying the public servants promptly, and on the other .the necessity for ventilating again in this chamber the economic question of land values taxation, the honorable senator decided that the latter was more urgent and important. I do not quarrel with him for so forming his opinion, but having made his decision he should not now try to escape from the responsibility for . it by saying that some one else was responsible for the. delay ito which public business was subjected.
– What a fine speech you could deliver on land values taxation if you were not chained up !
– I .believe I could, but I should not interpose it to delay any man who had earned his money getting it, or, if I did, I would be prepared to admit it and . take the. consequences. Senator Gardiner took exception to remarks made by the Prime Minister in a communication to the press. There is nothing in the words used by the Prime Minister with which the Senate has not become quite familiar, in criticisms coming every day from the platform or the press. If the Senate is going to take up the attitude that every adverse criticism is to call for some action here, it will place itself in an absurd and impossible position. .1 ask honorable senators to let me quote side by side with Mr. Hughes’ words a comment by the Age itself , The only comment I would offer regarding Mr.. Hughes’ remarks’ is that I wonder what has happened to him. They are so mild that it looks as if he had. lost his punch. If any note of complaint is called for by the Prime Minister’s . mild statement of the case it is that Mr. Hughes has ventured, to state the case so mildly when we might have expected something much more vigorous from him. His words, to which exception is taken are -
At the same time, I cannot help feeling that Mr. McCarthy, the secretary of the Linesmen’s Union, has reason to complain on behalf of his members. It is surely a very serious thing that men engaged in such arduous and responsible work as theirs cannot get wages due to them merely because some members of the Senate, in order to serve a party purpose, chose to hold up the Supply Bill.
No exception has been taken to the comments of . the Age. ‘ So far as I can see from the copy of the paper which I have here, the comments are entirely favorable to the Government ‘ party. I thought I had marked one or two particular passages, but, unfortunately, I find that I have not.
– Standing order No. 414 provides -
No senator shall read extracts from newspapers or other documents, except Hansard referring to debates in the Senate during the same session.
It will therefore not be in order for the honorable senator to make the quotation to which he refers.
– I accept the rebuke, but I would ask honorable senators to compare the comments made by the Age with those made by Mr.. Hughes. If they do they will come to the conclusion that if Mr. Hughes’ comments in any way trespass upon the dignity and privileges of this Chamber, if they are entitled to even passing notice by us, nothing less than the guillotine is fair punishment for the gentleman who wrote the article in the Age.
– I did not see it.
– I advise the honorable senator to look at it, because it holds a mirror up to him- The fact is that it is not the words themselves that form the offence with honorable senators opposite; it is not the criticism to which they object, but whenever they think they see an opportunity of venting the feeling which animates them against the Prime Minister they seize it.
– We object to the Government trying to make the public servants believe that the Labour party are responsible for delaying the payment of their salaries.
– But for the action of the Opposition they would have been paid before. If it was the language that was objected to, not one, but a dozen honorable senators would have found fault with the Age comments. If Mr. Hughes opens his mouth he is condemned at once, while others are allowed to indulge in much stronger criticism without complaint. The hostility is not to the thing done or the words used, but to the fact that William Morris Hughes, the Prime Minister, is responsible for them. I desire, by leave of the Senate, to amend the wording of the motion by substituting for “ adversely criticising “ the words “threateningly referring to.” That is a little better wording, and eliminates the reference to “ criticism,” which might be misunderstood.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Report of the Public Works Committee, relating to the proposed erection of a power house at Flinders Naval Base, presented by Senator 5TORY.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill -read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The principle is exactly the same as that of the Customs Tariff Validation Bill dealt with yesterday. It validates the Excise Tariff schedule introduced in the House of Representatives on the 3rd December, 1914. As that, schedule has not been adopted by Parliament, it is necessary in order to make the collections of revenue under it legal, and to enable the Treasury to retain the increased Excise duties which have already been collected under it, to pass this measure, which will continue that scale of duties in force until such time as Parliament otherwise determines. The amount of increased duty involved up to the present is £1,270,000. If Parliament were dissolved without this Bill being passed, it would be necessary to refund that sum to those from whom it was collected. - Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
– I beg to move -
That this Bill be’ now read a second time.
I should like briefly to place before the Senate the purposes for which this Bill is designed. It is limited to the period of the war and for six months afterwards, and is intended to meet the special circumstances arising out of the war. We are proud to know that a considerable number of our young men are on the different fighting fronts battling for the Empire in this war, and, obviously, it would be undesirable, as well as unjust, if whilst they are rendering the finest service that men can give to their country, they were denied the opportunity of’ impressing their will on the elections for this. Legislature. The Bill, primarily, is foi- the purpose of enabling our soldiers to exercise their votes at the next election. I do not suppose any one will demur at the. proposition that it is desirable . that our troops should be afforded this opportunity. Practically the only difficulty that might arise will probably centre around the method by which the object is achieved. There are many difficulties even in the way of taking a vote. Senator Bakhap a little time ago asked the Government to communicate with the Imperial authorities as to the practicability of taking a vote at a time when it might be assumed important military operations were in progress. The Government did communicate with the Imperial authorities, and the replies indicate that, while there are many difficulties in the way, the Imperial authorities, understanding well the desire of this Government and of- this Parliament to afford opportunities for our soldiers to vote, will not object to arrangements being made to enable our soldiers to exercise the franchise. Whilst that does not dispose of the difficulties altogether, it is an assurance that the Imperial authorities themselves will not only waive any objection to this procedure, but will also provide every possible facility. I remind honorable senators that we had some experience, as a result of the last Referendum Bill, of taking a vote amongst our soldiers at the front. But there is this difference with regard to the present proposal: that while the referendum was a comparatively simple matter - the men being merely required to put “ Yes “ or “ “No “ opposite the crosses - in the approaching election the difficulties will be multiplied by the fact that our troops will have thrown upon them in their several groups the responsibility of participation in the election of three senators for each of the six States, as well as seventy-five members of the House of Representatives. Under this Bill our soldier voters will be nominally electors for the district to which they belong, but no military grouping will conform to our electoral grouping. We can assume that a unit of, say, 1,000 men belonging nominally to New South Wales will have included in it men, not only from all parts of New South Wales, but, probably, from every other State and district in the Commonwealth. It is clear, therefore, that the’ ordinary voting paper will not be suitable for such a case unless at every polling booth we provide ballot-papers for every division of the’ House of Repre sentatives, and for the whole of the States in regard to the Senate election. In order to overcome this difficulty, the Government have adopted the method employed by the Dominion of Canada by providing that the ballot-papers shall have, in addition to the ordinary headings, the words “ Ministerial “ or “ Opposition “ to indicate the side on which a candidate stands. Outside the polling booth will be provided lists of the candidates named and the parties to which they belong. Every voter, therefore, will know exactly for whom he is voting, although the names will not appear on the ballot-paper. The Prime Minister will indicate which candidate is to be regarded as a Ministerialist, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Tudor, will indicate the names of the candidates which he claims are members of his party.
– Suppose there is a third candidate?
– Provision is also made for candidates unattached either to the Ministerial or Opposition side, for the names of independent candidates will also be set out on the publicity list outside each polling booth. The names are well known to us, but probably there will be some new names. If any voter wants to go a little further into the matter, and is not content to vote for a Ministerialist or Oppositionist, he will consult the list referred to.
– Will there be an ample supply of lists?
– Yes. I want honorable senators to approach this matter, as I think we can, merely with a desire to find out the best and most satisfactory expedient. We are confronted by peculiar circumstances, and we have to get over them the best way we can. The Government do not regard this Bill as a matter of high principle. There is.no principle in it at all. It is an attempt to arrive at a workable expedient to meet a peculiar difficulty. The majority of men at the front are no doubt like the majority of the electors here, and will be content to take their party grouping.
Senator- Ferricks. - Will those publicity lists term the party on this- side “Oppositionists “ or “Labour”’?
– I ‘do hot think we can make any error if we say that honorable members opposite are the Opposition paTty.
– Will you not allow us to be branded on the ballot-papers as the “ Labour ,party “1
– No, because honorable members on the left are the Opposition, and we on the right are the Ministerial party, and there are on this side members who still claim to be members of the Labour party and supporters of the Labour policy. In order to be fair to them we must not be unduly generous to our friends in the Opposition.
– We only want you to be just. But I suppose you will go on, as you have your majority.
– Nothing at all has transpired yet to justify the honorable senator speaking in that tone.
– You were simply asked whether you would allow this side to be termed “ the Labour party,” but you will not allow us to be’ so described’.
– I am aware of that, and also of the fact that while the electors of the Commonwealth know the full circumstances surrounding us to-day, quite a number of men at the front may not know exactly what has happened-. They might be members of the Labour party, and desire to vote for a Labour man. They might assume that Labour and Mr. Hughes meant the same thing, and so make a mistake in voting for -an Oppositionist under the name of “ Labour,” when, as a matter of fact, they might wish to vote for a Labour man of the Hughes brand. It would not be fair to the elector himself to do what the Leader of the Opposition . suggests. It is not a question of being fair to our friends of the Opposition. It is a question of being fair to the soldier elector, and of providing some workable expedient to overcome the peculiar difficulties surrounding the situation.
– Strike out “ Opposition “ and put in the word “ Labour.”
– Some of our friends on the other side are prepared to compromise with us every time if we will give them their own way.
– Why not make it “Labour Opposition”?
– Our friends opposite want to choose their designation, but would they allow us to term our candidates the “ Win-the-War “ party?
– We quoted figures the other day to show that the Labour party got more recruits than the Government. You are only getting about 4,000 per month now.
– If your people would help us we would get more.
-: - Yon have no right to be called “ Win-the-War “ party at all. You are a “ Win-the-Office “ party.
– I do not wish to speak at greater length on this subject. Unless we adopt the expedient proposed, we shall be1 faced with the enormous task and expenditure of printing voting papers, whereas by the means proposed in this Bill one ballot-paper will be sufficient. If there is a possibility of 1,000 men -voting at one polling place, then 1,000 ballot-papers will do. Further than that, no man is bound to vote for the candidate of either side.’ In the Senate election, for instance, . a voter might see three names, say, Senator Sir Albert Gould, myself, and some other candidate. He might say, “ Yes, I will vote for Sir Albert Gould and the other man, but I will not .vote for Millen.” If a man takes that view there is nothing to compel him to vote for the party group. He will, need only to go outside, consult the list, and choose his candidates. In that case he would write the names of the candidates selected by bini on his ballot-paper. It is reasonable to assume, however, that 90 per cent, of the men’ at the front will vote according to their party’ sympathies, and be content with the designation “ Ministerial “ or “ Opposition “ as a guide.
– You have not given’ the Socialists a chance. There are three Socialists up against you.
– I have just pointed out how they are given a chance.
– They ought to be bunched like the others.
– The Socialists will figure as Independents. We have no objection, if the Socialist party are going to run three candidates everywhere, to print their names. It happens that in one State, where, I suppose, their forces are greater, three candidates have been nominated. Suppose that a soldier wants to vote for one of the Socialists and two candidates of the Opposition party, he can do it. He can write in the names. But, because a few men will want to split their party vote and write in names, surely it is not desirable that every soldier voter shall be called upon to write in the names of the three candidates whom he wishes to be returned. I am told that many of these votes will have to be taken under pressure of time, and in circumstances which are not so deliberate and comfortable as obtain in Australia. If 90 per cent, of the men can be accommodated by simply putting a cross on the ballot-paper, it is obvious that we shall facilitate the work which we throw upon those persons who will be responsible for taking the vote.
– Have you copied the Canadian system in its entirety ?
– So far as the block system is concerned, we have; I cannot say as to other provisions.
– Has the Canadian system been reported upon favorably ?
– I have no information on that point.. The Bill makes provision for the appointment of scrutineers. They will be appointed by the respective parties, and there will be an equal number for each side.
– Will a soldier be allowed to state which electoral district he resides in?
– In view of the fact that the men come from many districts, it is proposed to assume that the addresses they left with the military authorities will mark their electoral districts. Whatever is a- soldier’s military address will be assumed to be his electoral address. I venture to say that that provision will meet the case.
– If that he so, on the northern rivers of New South Wales votes will be counted to Queensland.
– Certainly not. If a man in a Queensland unit says that his address with the military authorities is Grafton, on the Richmond River, in New South Wales, he will be allotted to the Grafton district.
– But hia papers show that he is a Brisbane man.
– No. The papers show that the man is in a Brisbane unit, but they also show that his address is Grafton, -in New South Wales, and his vote will be allotted to Grafton. That provision, I think, is sufficient for that purpose.
– Is there any reason why the names should not be written in ink?
– I would not like to say that ink could be obtained at all these places.
– It might be possible to get ink.
– There might be circumstances in which it would be difficult to get ink.
– A very large number of the men’s letters are written with indelible pencil.
– Yes; very often the letters are written in the trenches while the soldiers are waiting for the Germans to attack. One may assume that those who will be charged -with the responsibility of supervising the voting will, as far as possible, take every precaution to see that the record is not likely to be effaced by the process of time or travel.
– Will provision be made for counting the votes at the other end?
– The votes recorded in France will be sent to London, while those taken in New Guinea will be sent to Rabaul, the capital. I do not know that I need dwell further on that portion. of. the Bill.. In Part III., which deals with the disqualification of certain persons, I find this provision -
Subject to this Act, every naturalized British subject who was born in an enemy country shall be disqualified from voting at elections.
This question is very important and very many-sided. Briefly, the proposal is that any enemy subject born in an enemy country, even though he be naturalized here, shall be disfranchised. I think that, in this matter, no one can accuse us of acting with undue harshness towards people of this class who are resident here. To my mind, it would be an offence to the sentiment of our own people, and might, indeed, be some element of danger if we allowed natural-born Germans and Austrians to take part in determining the. creation of the National Parliament of Australia.
– That provision will be exercised here as well as beyond the seas.
– It is to be exercised in Australia. There is an exemption made to the disfranchising clause. A naturalized German who has sons at the front is exempted from its operation. It is taken for granted in such a case that we need not further raise the question as to the man’s loyalty. It is quite possible that amongst those who will be disfranchised are some persons who, although they have not sent sons to the front, are loyal to Great Britain and Australia. But we have to recognise that it would be a haphazard thing to assume that all people of that class are equally loyal. It may be doing some injustice to a few, but we expect them to submit to an injustice which is not intended, but which, in the circumstances, is inescapable. I shall be glad, as far as I can, to supply any information in Committee. I have endeavoured to briefly place before the Senate the main purposes and principles of the Bill.
– I recognise that, having asked the Government if they would introduce a measure of this kind, they could do no less than they have done, because no one in this country is desirous that our fighters at the front should be disfranchised. I think every one admits that not only should the men who have gone to the front have an opportunity of saying who shall govern Australia, but the Government should spare no expense in affording that opportunity. As regards that principle of the Bill Australia is at one, and with the parties in Parliament there is no difference of opinion. But the means by which it is proposed to give ‘the vote is, I think, open to reasonable criticism. I would like the Government, notwithstanding the expense it may entail, to give to the soldiers the same ease of voting as is given to civilians in Australia, and that is by having the ballot-papers printed. Why. give the vote to the soldiers when it will be so difficult to exercise it, and refuse to let them have printed papers? I venture to say that paper ‘and printing can be obtained in London as easily as in Australia. I think that it could be sent from’ London to the front as easily as it’ can be ‘sent to” distant places in Australia. Surely the expenditure of a few hundred pounds is not to be considered in this connexion. Upon the Government lies the responsibility of making this proposal acceptable. I do not propose to discuss the Bill clause by clause. I ‘wish to draw attention to the first definition in clause 5 - ‘ “ Member of the Forces “ means a person who is or has been a member of the Commonwealth Naval or Military Forces enlisted or appointed for active service outside Australia
I would like that definition altered so as to include all boilermakers and submarine workers who have gone away from Australia.
– Which boilermakers do you refer to ?
– I refer to the men who have gone under contract with the British Government.
– Their case is met.
– No; it is only the case of munition workers which was met in the other House.
– Numbers of men have gone away from Australia who have been called upon to take part in the war, and I venture to say that by the time the ballot-papers arrive a number of navvies will be there too. We should make the clause so clear as to be quite sure that it meets all cases. I do not think that any one wishes to disfranchise such persons.
– You will find that such cases are met by the phrase “ on service.”
– I do not know whether a man who has gone to learn to make submarines has gone ‘ ‘ on service,” but he is as much entitled to vote as is any one else. I do not know whether navvies will come under that classification. I do not desire to quibble with words. If Senator Gould will frame a comprehensive amendment, I will accept it. The case of these men should be met. I do not want to be told later that, in hurriedly dealing with this measure, we overlooked men who are helping to win the war. I come now to a provision which was explained at some length by Senator Millen. When I saw the description of parties in the schedule I angrily interjected. I can quite understand that my method of interjecting in that way may be annoying to the Minister . Is it hot desirable to make the ballot-paper easily understandable to soldiers at the front? In my opinion it is. Suppose that Senator Newland and I were candidates at the coming election, and that both he and I were described under the designation of “ Labour.” I recognise that the description would not be fair to Senator Newland, but I ask him to consider whether it is not fair that in our case a description shall be used which will be quite easy for a soldier to understand. It must be recognised generally that many of the soldiers do not know the political changes which have taken place in Australia during the last three months. According to the schedule, in the case of the Ministerial party, the word “ Ministerial “ will be printed on the ballotpaper, and in the case of the Opposition the word used will be “ Opposition.” Since October or November there have been three Governments in Australia. Public men have been first Ministerialists, then Oppositionists, and again Ministerialists. Yesterday I received a letter which was written from the trenches on the 17th January, and in which I was addressed as the Assistant Minister for Defence. I have been away from that position since the 27th October, yet et highly intelligent man in the trenches addressed me as Assistant Minister for Defence. That is an illustration of the fact that the soldiers have not in their possesssion the information which we have. What I suggest is that, as regards the Ministerial party, the words used on the ballotpaper should be, “ Hughes-Cook Coalition Ministerial party,” and, as regards the Opposition, “ Labour Opposition party.” If that suggestion is not acceptable to honorable senators, I ask them not to fling it aside on that ground, . but to suggest some words more acceptable. It is a fair proposition, I think. No matter what the additional cost may be, the soldiers are entitled to have the full names of the candidates and the divisions of their electorates printed on the ballotpapers. A Government which is not prepared to do so is not inclined to take .much trouble. I know that it will be troublesome. When we proposed to put the referenda questions for the amendment of the Constitution to a vote of the soldiers, there was not one-third of the- men engaged that we have now, and yet Sena-, tor Pearce assured and convinced me that it was impossible to take that vote amongst the soldiers. Senator Russell will agree that I am not overstating the case.
– I was never very sweet upon it, I admit.
– The point I make is that the Minister for Defence, who especially went into the matter, satisfied us that we could not take that vote amongst the soldiers.
– The honorable senator admits that it is difficult.
– I do. But I ask why we should increase the difficulties so far as the soldiers are concerned. If, in order to supply the soldiers with proper ballot-papers, it would be necessary to print some hundreds of thousands more than would otherwise be required, I say that we should not hesitate to go to that trouble and expense, in order to supply the soldiers with ballot-papers the same as those supplied tq electors within the Commonwealth. It might involve the employment of men in Great Britain to take the ballot in France, or wherever it is taken, but if it does we should do it in the interests of the soldiers. The description of parties proposed in the ballotpaper provided for in the schedule is so vague that it would puzzle hundreds of electors in Australia, and must be more puzzling to the soldiers at the front. I have no wish to labour the matter, but when we come to clause 8 in Committee, I shall submit amendments with the object of making the ballot-paper more understandable to the soldiers. ‘ I ask honorable senators opposite whether the ballot-paper proposed is sufficiently clear, and whether they do not think that a better form of ballot-paper might be designed. This is not a party matter.
– We do not wish to look upon it in that light.
– I do not think we should. I hope that the Government will be reasonable, and endeavour to .arrive at some compromise. I see no objection to the Ministerial party being described- on the ballot-paper as the “ Hughes-Cook Coalition Ministerial party,” whilst the- party on this side might be called the “ Labour Opposition,” or the “ Labo.ur party.”
– The Tudor-Gardiner -party.
– That would be too. much honour.
– Would not the “ Ministerial Labour party “ and the “ Opposition Labour party “ do?
– No. I think that would be more confusing still.
– Why not “ Opposition Labour,” or “ Government Labour” ? ‘
– The honorable senator’s interjection is quite pertinent to the discussion, but if the parties were described ‘ in the way he has suggested, a voter for New South Wales who desired to vote for Senators - Millen and Gould would scarcely record a vote for them under the designation ‘ ‘ Ministerial Labour party.”
– Senators Millen and Gould would be under the designation “Ministerial Liberal party.”
- Senator Newland will no doubt recognise that he is a Ministerial Labourite, but he will agree with me that it would not be fair to apply to the party with whom he is’ working now, the name of “ Ministerial Labour party.”
– They could designate themselves “ Ministerial Liberal,” or “ Ministerial Labour,” as the case may be.
– The honorable senator is overlooking the fact that we are dealing with a ballot-paper ‘ designed to describe not individuals, but parties. The proposal of the Bill is that those on the Government side should be described as “Ministerial,” and those on this side as “Opposition.”
– The honorable senator is asking that an ordinary ballotpaper containing ‘the names of ‘candidates should be issued to the soldiers at the front.
– I am, and if that were agreed’ to I should be quite satisfied. But I say that if we Cannot supply the soldiers with ballot-papers containing the names of the candidates, we should at least go to the trouble and expense which may be involved in providing them with a ballot-paper which will be more accurately descriptive of political parties in Australia than that provided for in the schedule.
– I favour the names being printed on the ballot-papers.
– The importance of catering for the convenience of our soldiers at the front is so great that neither trouble nor expense should stand in the way of our doing what is right by them. If information were wired to London immediately all the nominations were received. I think that by,a determined effort ballot-papers could be supplied to the soldiers in the same form as those which will be used in the Commonwealth.
– I should be prepared to agree with the honorable senator if there was an interval of more than a month between nomination and election.
– I recognise the difficulty, and I am. not underestimating it, but I ask whether we are going to shirk the trouble of providing the men in the trenches with the ‘ same ballotpapers as are to be given to the men who stop at home. I am in favour of going to’ the trouble and expense’ necessary to do so. Tailing that, I say that we should, by some compromise of bur different opinions, devise a ballot-paper for use at the front that will at least enable a soldier when recording his vote to know what he is doing.
– He should be given more information than the man iri Australia.
– I agree with the honorable senator. I shall not delay the second reading of the Bill further than to say that if the Government are prepared to make the Bill a more workable one we on this aide will do what we can to assist them.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.35].- I welcome this Bill as ari honest attempt to afford, the men at the front an opportunity to record their votes at the coming elections. I have listened to Senator Gardiner’s remarks with respect to the designation of parties, and I agree with him that it is desirable, if possible, to give more definite information than is provided for by the Bill to those who will be called upon to record their votes abroad. Many of the men at the front have been away from Australia for a considerable time, during which kaleidoscopic changes in politics have been taking place here. To afford them an opportunity to vote only for a Ministerialist or an Oppositionist might place th’em in a very difficult position. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that lists of the names of candidates will be posted at the various places where votes are taken, so that the soldiers may know who are standing for election. I do not see why that convenience should not be carried a little further. It would involve only a little additional printing to provide the soldiers with ballot-papers containing the names of candidates. Each soldier,, under the Bill, must record his vote upon some ballotpaper, and the Bill provides that he may vote for a Ministerialist or an Oppositionist, or may write in the name of the candidate or candidates for whom he desires to vote: I confess that I cannot Bee any insurmountable difficulty in the way of supplying the soldiers with ballot-papers containing the names of the candidates. I do not know whether it is contemplated that on the lists of candidates the designation “ Ministerial “ or “ Opposition “ shall be placed opposite the name of each. Provision is made that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition shall meet and determine who amongst the candidates nominated are Ministerialists and who are Oppositionists. I say that that determination must’ be cabled to those in charge of the’ election at Home, and if that can be done in time for the lists of candidates provided for, I see no reason why ballot-papers .containing the names of the candidates could not be issued to the men at the front. The ballot-papers could be printed at Home when particulars of the persons nominated were cabled to those conducting the elections. It might be somewhat difficult, but I think an effort should be made to carry it into effect. A man may desire- to vote in accordance with personal predilections for Senator Gardiner or Senator Watson and, at the same time, for Senators Millen and Gould.
-=-In that case he would write the three names on the ballotpaper.
– When it is proposed to give him the opportunity to write the names of the three candidates for the. Senate for whom he desires to vote,’ I do not see why he should not be supplied with a printed ballot-paper containing the names of all the candidates, and let him -put a’ cross at the side of the names of those- whom he favours. - I am afraid that the difficulties in the way of supplying proper ballot-papers to the soldiers have been somewhat magnified. Before- finally deciding what I shall do when we get into Committee, I should like to hear- what the Vice-President of the Executive Council has to say with respect to the course suggested by Senator Gardiner and supported by myself. We should do whatever may be necessary to have ari effective vote. We do not want people to be in a position to say after the election that the soldiers who voted did not understand the position of parties, and that if they had done so the result would have- been different. Senator Gardiner has directed attention to the fact that many men have gone from this country who have not enlisted for active service outside Australia or on a ship of war, and it is desirable that we .should know whether the definition of “ Member of the Forces “ will include these men.
– They were calling for 1,000 carpenters the other day. Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.’ - Does it include any men who left Australia under engagement to either the Commonwealth Government or the Imperial Government?
– All carpenters and munition workers that- left Australia under engagement.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - It includes a person engaged as a munition worker; but is a man who has gone Home to assist as a navvy, or a carpenter, a munition worker?
– Yes, if he goes Home under an agreement. These men are defined under a legal agreement bb “ Munition workers.”
– The Minister’s explanation clears up the difficulty, and it is evident that all these men will have the right to vote. That will overcome the difficulty of which Senator Gardiner is apprehensive. While he was speaking, it occurred to me that we might amend the clause by declaring ‘ that men engaged as munition workers, or in any other capacity in the Defence service, under ‘ agreement with the Commonwealth Government, should be allowed to vote. But,- after the explanation which has been given by the Minister for Defence, I am satisfied that the clause will cover all those whom it is intended to cover. Another very important matter in the Bill relates to the disqualification’ that is to be imposed upon certain persons. In the first- place, the question arises whether that disqualification should be limited to persons who were born in an alien ‘country, or whether- it should also extend to their children. We know that, in many cases, children born of alien parents will become especially attached to the country of their parents. Particularly is this so when they form part of a community in which the principal language spoken is that of the country in which their, parents were born. At a time like the present, we all realize how very difficult it is - to deal with problems of this sort. We recognise that it is a .very serious matter to deprive British subjects born in an alien country of all the benefits attaching to their citizenship here. But, in the circumstances, I cannot see how the Government could have adopted any other course than that which they have adopted. Many- persons who have been naturalized in Australia are thoroughly loyal, and it is very hard to be obliged to deprive them of the franchise. But we have to recollect that at the present time Australia is at war. We know that, in such circumstances, no British subjects would be allowed to vote in alien enemy countries. The course proposed by the Government is one which could not be obviated. We know that men of foreign birth who occupied high positions in Great Britain have turned out to be nothing but enemy spies.
– Did the ‘ honorable senator ever hear of any of them being disfranchised ?
.- I know that there was a strong movement in favour of disfranchising them in Great Britain. In all the circumstances, the Government may be congratulated upon having dealt with .this question in a very reasonable fashion, and doubtless they will be prepared to accept any reasonable amendment which is calculated to achieve more effectively the objects which they have in view.
– I understand that ‘ the weekly cost of the war to Australia at the present time is £1,500,000. Judging, by the remarks which have been made this afternoon, the only objection which can. be urged against electors who are now absent from Australia being provided with the ordinary ballot-papers is that of the expense which would thereby be incurred. That being so, I hold that the question of expense ought not to be allowed to stand, in the way for one moment. We must remember that between 260,000 and 300,000 men, together with a considerable number of women from Australia, are now abroad, and that, under ordinary- circumstances, they would be deprived of their votes. In view, of this fact, considerations of expense should go by the board, especially when that expense need not be excessive. The idea, that the names of the candidates at the forthcoming elections should be eliminated from the ballotpapers, and that the electors should be asked to vote for a party, is one which has gained ground in some directions. It is believed that in that way the will of the people will be more correctly ascertained. There may be something in that contention, and perhaps it would be stronger if the political parties here were more clearly divided.- But, in view of recent happenings in Australia, it would be quite impossible to get from absent electors a true reflex .of opinion under these two headings. I notice that honorable senators who lately withdrew from the Labour party, and allied themselves with their lifelong political opponents, still claim to be Labour representatives. They vainly imagine that they are still members of the Labour movement. But, as time goes on, they will doubtless, be given to understand where they are. In these circumstances, it is manifest that we ought not to consider the question of cost, but that each of our boys at the front should be provided with the ordinary ballot-paper. It would be quite an easy matter to do this, so far as the Senate candidates are concerned, but, of course, when it came to supplying ballot-papers for each division of the Army, the undertaking would be a much more expensive one. It must be recollected, however, that these’ men are keenly interested in the welfare of Australia, and they will be very much disconcerted if they are deprived of a vote at the forthcoming contest. Our object should be to obtain a true reflex, of the opinion of the electors, irrespective of whether those electors are at home . or abroad, and to this end no consideration of expense should be allowed to stand in the way. Senator Gould indicated an amendment covering something which .he believed was not provided for in the Bill. I understand that quite a number of persons in the employ of the Commonwealth Bank have recently left Aus- tralia for the Old Country. Their wives and families are here, but- they- themselves are temporarily absent. . In my opinion, these persons, should be allowed to vote at the forthcoming election.
– The honorable senator is advocating dual voting.
– No. They will not have a vote at Home.
– Oh, yes, they will. Many of the officers of the Commonwealth Bank will undoubtedly be entitled to a vote when they get to England.
– But they do not wish to be enrolled on any British roll. They desire to be enrolled for the Commonwealth. Their wives, their families, and their interests are here, and provision should be made in this Bill to enable them to exercise the franchise.
– They must be domiciled in England a long time before they can get a vote there.
– Exactly. Here every adult has a vote ; but it is not so in Great Britain. On the score of expense the ordinary ballot-paper should be provided, and other details such as I have mentioned should be attended to. Unless the ordinary ballot-paper is provided I am satisfied that a true reflex of the wishes of the electors will not be obtained. If the correct ballot-paper is provided, it will rest with the parties here to make known to the men abroad for which party each name on the ballotpaper stands. I “hope the Government will not use the postal and telegraphic services, or the provisions of the censorship, in such a way as to prevent every possible facility being given to the Labour party in Australia to make quite clear to the men at the front who are its nominees in the election. If no unfair steps are taken in that regard, and I am somewhat doubtful about it, in view of the actions of the Government during the recent referendum campaign-
– That was not this Government. It was the Government to which I belonged.
– I was not at all pleased with their actions, and am still somewhat doubtful about the present Government; hut, perhaps, I should give them the benefit of the doubt. We want the names of the candidates on the ballotpaper, and the postal and cable services left unfettered so far as we are concernedWhat I suggest ought to be done irrespective of the nominal expense that it would involve.
– I thought from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition that we would approach the consideration of this measure without any display of party feeling, and I regret that Senator Grant could not deal with it without casting reflections on Labour members who sit on this side.
– We do not recognise any one who sits on that side as a Labour man.
– The honorable senator’s recognition is not worth much one way or the other. Had his remarks come from some one whose words carry weight, I should have devoted more time to them, but Senator Grant is not worth it. I am anxious that we shall to the utmost of our power insure that the men doing so much for the Empire shall have a fair opportunity of recording an intelligent vote at the election. I approach the Bill with a view to improving the scheme for giving those men the vote, if it is possible to do so. The Minister for Defence has given us an assurance that all persons who have left this country in connexion with war work of any description will be enabled to vote, and I accept that assurance, but I should like it made more clear in the Bill. I want to place it beyond any possibility of doubt that no person who has gone away in connexion with war work - and that includes carpenters, navvies, and every other kind of workmen - will be overlooked. I did not understand from my reading of the Bill that navvies and carpenters were provided for. How then can we expect those concerned, who have not had the benefit of reading the reports of the debates, or who have not the general knowledge of current politics which the people of Australia have, to understand that they are covered by the provisions of . the measure ? I hope, therefore, that something will be inserted in the Bill to make the intention of the Government absolutely clear. That can be easily done in Committee by an alteration of the wording pf clause 5. The men at the front feel .very strongly that lads under twenty-one years of age who are fighting for their country should be allowed to vote. I know the Government feel strongly on this matter also, but I feel strongly on it too. Lads from eighteen years upwards who have gone to the front are performing an immensely superior service to the Empire than the young men of twenty-one and over who have not yet heard the call of Empire. I do not care a snap of the finger and thumb for the Electoral Act. The Constitution is not involved in this matter. At the worst it is only a breach of the Electoral Act; but the whole of this Bill, to a greater or less extent, is a breach of that Act, because it contains provisions which deliberately, take away votes from men who have exercised the franchise in the past, and who still have votes to-day. I do not see why we should not delete that portion of the Act which prevents young men under twentyone who have gone to fight for their country from voting. In Committee I shall insist, as far as I can, on every man who is fighting in the trenches having a vote, whatever his age is. I know from letters I have received from the front that a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction was caused there on this matter when the referendum vote was being taken on the conscription issue. Men of twenty-one and over were allowed to vote, and others under twenty-one who were doing equally valuable work for the Empire were debarred.
– You cannot alter the qualification of ft lectern
– We do so by clause 10, which disqualifies alien subjects. If it is fair to take votes away from one section of the community it is equally fair to give them to another.
– There must be an underlying principle.
– I do not care a snap for underlying principles. I am out to do the fair thing to the men at the front, and no law of the Commonwealth will prevent me from taking every step possible to do so. I am entirely in agreement with the principle of clause 10, but it does not go far enough to suit me. I agree with Senator Gould that in nineteen cases out of twenty the young Australian-born German is more German to-day than his father was. That father left Germany because his liberty was interfered with in some direction. Naturally he would paint for his children, born to him in Australia, the best picture he could of his native land, and ‘ these young Australians, never having experienced the disabilities of the land of their father, would add all the liberties and privileges enjoyed in Australia to the traditions of the German Fatherland, and so paint for themselves an entirely false picture of the greatness of Germany and its glorious liberties. Being connected with the recruiting scheme in South Australia, I know something of the response the young German has made. In the early stages of the war many young GermanAustralians volunteered for service at the front; but to-day the reports from our recruiting officers in South Australia are anything but satisfactory so far as the German districts are concerned. I recognise that it would be very difficult to place in this Bill a provision debarring Australian-born Germans from voting, but I do not know that we are doing a wise thing in permitting a naturalized German, who has sent some of his sons to the front, to vote. In many cases young German-Australians have gone to the front in the face of the keenest opposition of their parents. The Adelaide Mail last Sunday morning published an account of a young German who enlisted in Western Australia, and went to the war. His parents were living in Adelaide, and when he -came back from the war wounded the welcome he received was ‘ a beating from his father. Instead of his father greeting him heartily, he abused the boy to such an extent that the neighbours had to interfere.
– The young fellow could not have been much of a soldier.
– At any rate he came back wounded. I do not know that I could not tackle one of my boys to.-day and give him a hiding if he deserved it.
– It is one thing to fight the enemy and another to fight your father.
– I quote .this instance to show that the Government might very easily make a mistake by giving votes to’ persons of whose loyalty we have grave doubts. I realize that it is difficult for the Government, or the combined wisdom of the Senate, to frame a measure’ which will be fair to all parties concerned. I am not at all in favour of the schedule. Having regard to the somewhat mixed state of politics in Australia at ‘the present time, I do not think the Government proposal would make clear to ‘the soldier at the front to what party:any candidate belonged. The mat- ter of expense need not be considered in evolving a satisfactory system. If we are to give the men at the front a vote let us do it in such a way as to let. them know how they are voting. The men will vote very largely for the political parties to which they belonged in Australia, or in which they have the greatest confidence. For that reason, I shall favour the issue of a ballot-paper containing the names of the candidates, and also showing the party to which each candidate belongs. I can see no difficulty that should prevent the issue of a ballotpaper with the names of the candidates, and opposite each candidate’s name such descriptions as “ Ministerial Labour,” “ Ministerial Liberal,” “ Opposition Labour,” “ Opposition Liberal,” or “ Opposition Socialist.’,’ For the Senate elections in South Australia there will be in the field three Ministerial candidates and three Opposition Labour candidates, Let there be no doubt that the Ministerial Labour candidates in South Australia are Labour members still.
– They are Nationalists.
– There may be also in the field Ministerial Liberals; but as the three Labour candidates will also be supporters of the present Government, there will be a likelihood of confusion arising in the minds of the men unless a clear distinction is made between Labour men in opposition to the Government and Labour men supporting the Government.
– In the case you mention, the effect would be an absolute split in the Ministerial vote. Unquestionably,
Borne men would vote for Ministerial supporting candidates, and some for Labour supporting candidates, and the result would be a split in the vote, giving an easy victory to our opponents.
– The men should be able to vote for whom they please. This schedule seems to have been prepared to meet the , requirements of the House of Representatives rather than those of the Senate. In the elections for another place, the voter is called upon to select “only one man ;. but . in the Senate elections he must vote ‘‘cr three men, two of whom may be of one’ brand of politics, and the third of another brand. These difficulties “must be confronted and provided for. I think, also, that a state ment of the political position should be prepared for the information of the men at the front. Such a statement should emanate from both political parties in the Commonwealth. I suggest that there should be an official statement agreed to, and signed by the leaders of both parties, and forwarded to the soldiers. If that were done, we should avoid instances such as that mentioned the other day - a cable drafted by a State Premier to be sent to the soldiers at the front being delayed in Australia. The Government have promised that the censor will not unduly interfere in the coming elections, and I believe that promise will be honoured.
– That promise was given in connexion with the conscription referendum.
– I” am confident that there was little to complain of in regard to the censorship in connexion with the referendum.
– There was no ground for complaint by the conscriptionists, but the anti-conscriptionists have plenty of cause for complaint.
– I have read in the Conservative press of Australia complaints that the censorship was too strict from their point of view. The same complaint has been made by the press of the very opposite political faith. If the Government will agree to an authoritative statement from both parties being sent to the soldiers, what is said or sent to them by other persons will not make much difference. They will be guided by the official statement of the case made by the leaders of both parties. With a clear statement of the political situation and ballot-papers containing the names of the candidates, and the parties to which they belong, we shall be’ able to secure from the lads at the front an intelligent vote, with which we shall be much more satisfied than we were with the vote on the conscription referendum.
– I rise merely to intimate to the Minister in charge of the Pill that in Committee I shall move. to amend clause 5 to extend the voting facilities to “ any person otherwise engaged in doing work in connexion with ..defence.” If carried, that provision will bring within .the scope of the measure munition workers, navvies engaged on railway construction, engineers engaged in submarine construction, and carpenters. Those men are. not provided for.
– They are.
– In the legal agreement under which workmen have been sent abroad, they are all described as munition workers.
– At any rate, no harm will be done by inserting in the Bill the words I have suggested, so as to remove any doubt as to whether those persons will be able to record their votes.
– Both parties are agreed upon the principle of giving to the men at the front the best possible facilities to record their votes. But we recognise that it is dangerous to introduce innovations into the Electoral Act on the eve of an election, because if that sort of practice is countenanced by Parliament, the party in power for the time being might take advantage of it. We must be cautious, in making innovations. I entirely agree with the proposal to amend the Bill in order that Australians doing war service abroad may be able to record their votes: therefore, the only difference of opinion likely to arise between the Government and honorable senators on this side will be as to the method by which that shall be done. At the same time, I take exception to an interjection made by Senator Millen when Senator Newland was speaking. Senator Newland was pointing out the necessity for having upon the . ballotpapers the names of the candidates, and Senator Millen interjected, ,; That would give an. easy victory to the Opposition by splitting the Ministerial vote.” Senator Newland rightly replied that the soldiers should have the right to vote as they pleased. Parliament should leave nothing undone- to give the men the greatest POS.sible facilities to vote, and the fullest information as to bow to vote. Let them vote how they please, but be sure that they understand the political psition as it is to-day. Whatever may be said as to the merits of the party ticket, that method of voting will be most inopportune during the coming’ election, because within the last three months there have been three different Governments . in power in Australia, and quite a number of other changes. Men who, .three months ago, were Oppositionists are to-day Ministerialists, and vice versa. When most of the men at the front went away, members of Parliament who were Oppositionists then, are Ministerialists now, so that the whole position is very much involved. It is important that we should give the men at the front the fullest information as to what we represent and how we stand, but if they vote the party ticket they will not be able to discriminate between members of the different parties. If, however, we put the names of all the candidates on the ballot-papers, although they may not know our parties, they will know us as politicians. For instance, a man might say, “ I know Senator Millen, and I intend to vote for him.”
– What about a candidate who is making his first appearance, and is not known?
– It will be rather unfortunate for him, I admit, but some anomalies are bound to arise. Now that we have determined to give the vote to all at the front, we should see to it that they get as much information as possible concerning the candidates. I am satisfied that, on the party ticket, the soldiers’ vote will be a very mixed one, and that the position will not be so satisfactory as under a system giving the whole of the names on the ballot-paper.
– That would be too confusing.
– It would not be nearly so confusing as voting on the party ticket. Having agreed to give the men the vote, the natural corollary is to furnish them with as much information as possible, without unduly interfering with the principles of the Electoral Act, as to the two parties in the election, and what they represent. This can only be done fairly in one way. We have an excellent precedent, for when the referenda questions were before the people, each party’ was permitted to issue a pamphlet in which were set out the views of the opposing sides concerning the questions to be asked. Each side took the fullest opportunity of doing that. As the soldiers at the front have no means of .finding out for themselves what is the real political , position in , Australia, it would be fair for each party to write a pamphlet, say,, of 1,000 .words, or, if necessary, longer, setting out -the political situation, and have them distributed amongst the men. I am not asking for any advantage for my party, nor do I want our opponents to secure, any advantage. All I ask is that the men at the front shall be afforded every facility to find out where the candidates stand politically. There is another matter to which I desire to refer, namely, the provision that nobody under the age of twenty-one at the front shall have the right to vote. Senator Newland also mentioned this matter. As we are making an amendment of our electoral law to give our soldiers a vote, we should not discriminate now as to ages. The mere fact that a man has gone to the front, and, if necessary, is prepared to make the supreme sacrifice in the defence of his country, is the strongest possible argument in favour of giving him the franchise. These young men from seventeen up to twenty-one years of age are there by the thousand, and there can be no argument against giving them the vote, whatever may be said about changing the ages in the Commonwealth. These men at the front have established their citizenship, and have asserted their right to a say in the councils of the nation as no men ever did before. They are there in the capacity of soldiers. Every soldier is certainly a citizen, and every citizen should have a vote. The Government will not be conceding much if they agree to an amendment in this direction. It may be said that these ‘men . are not on the roll, but as against that I might point out that we are making provision that soldiers over the age of twenty-one, whether on the roll or not, shall have the right to vote at the coming election, and the least compliment we can pay to these young fellows is to say that they also shall have the right to the franchise in this election. In paragraph c, sub-clause 4 .of clause 10, it is provided that, notwithstanding the disqualification of certain persons, any person who. during the present war, has been a. member of the Commonwealth or State Parliament, shall npt be so disqualified. If this privilege is to be extended to those persons it ought to be equally applicable to other persons who at any other time prior to . the war enjoyed the confidence of the people of this country as members of a .State, or the Federal, Parliament. Then, again,. , the same privilege might be given to members of municipal councils and aldermen. If British people in this country consider a’ man sufficiently loyal to be an alderman or a member of a municipal council, surely he should be as much entitled to a vote as a man who has been a member of Parliament during the term of the war. I am not looking at this matter from a party stand-point at all, because I know that most of the aldermen -in Queensland would vote against my party, but I think the proposition is a fair one. I hope the Government will give favorable consideration ‘ to the few amendments I have suggested.
– I welcome this Bill because it is calculated to remove some of the abuses which would have been in evidence but for its introduction. While the disqualification of naturalized British subjects born in an enemy country will work serious hardships on many persons in Australia, it is impossible to draw the line between individual cases. Whilst loyal naturalized subjects will, for the time being, be disfranchised, this Bill will only operate during the war and for six months afterwards, so that all we are asking them to suffer is a temporary disadvantage for the sake of safeguarding this Commonwealth ‘against the votes of enemies within our gates. I believe that as loyal citizens, they will be prepared to make this sacrifice for the rauch greater advantage to be gained for the nation by preventing those known to be disloyal from using the franchise in order to put Australia in a false position. That is the only solace that can be offered to those good people in Australia. I am in entire accord wit,h the proposal to give votes to those of our soldiers under the statutory age, and I moved in that matter some months ago. I would infinitely prefer to give the vote to a young man under the age- of- twenty-one who is fighting in the trenches than to those sluggards who are over that age, but remain here and decline to go to the front. In justice to those young men on active service, I hope the Government will consider an amendment in this direction. Surely we can brush aside, as Sir Henry Parkes said, the cobwebs of the law in a matter like this. , Is it fair that, when the ballotpapers . are circulated among the troops, and men ,rush up -.to vote, any young fellow, who, perhaps, is more courageous than all the rest, shall be asked his age, and if under twenty-one be told to stand aside ? I speak feelingly on this matter, because my young namesake, a nephew, is. there. ‘ls it right to deny the vote to these young men, especially when thousands of men of military age are here living in luxury and security ? It is not fair, and I will not vote for the Bill unless the Government makes some provision for these young fellows on active service. I realize there might be some difficulty with regard to young munition workers, but they do not face the same risk as the men in the trenches, and that matter can stand aside for the present. Any difficulty in making an amendment may be got over in clause 7 by inserting the words - “ providing that notwithstanding anything contained in the previous clause, persons engaged on active service, irrespective of their age, shall be entitled to vote at any election.” I want to say, also, that I do Dot think we can expect to get an intelligent vote from men at the front unless we give to them, as best we can, information concerning the candidates. If we ask men to vote for “ John Smith “ or “ Tom Brown “ they will ask - “ Who are these men ?” We want our soldiers to cast intelligent votes, and in order to guide them we tell them that John Smith is a “ Ministerialist,” and Tom Brown is an “ Oppositionist.” They know that Mr. Hughes is Prime Minister, and they know, also, that the Government now in power in this country is composite in character.
– They may be ignorant of that.
– We- cannot expect those men who have been away from Australia for so long, andi are engaged in a very arduous and dangerous business) to realize as fully as we do, how the political situation has changed since they went away. How can we do that? If the names of all the candidates were printed on the ballot-papers, the. men at the front would still. be -in ignorance of most of the things happening here. The provisions of the Bill would be distasteful to me if they were anything but -a- mere temporary expedient to enable our absent soldiers, who, in the nature of things, cannot be versed in recent local politics, to exercise the franchise. They would’ be objectionable on the ground that ‘the’ procedure- to be followed resembles the American practice’ of voting on the “Ticket,” which advanced Democrats in the United States wish to abolish. Indeed, in State after State there the Australian ballot is being adopted. Our soldiers will know in a general way that there has been a change of Government recently. They will know who is at the head of the Administration ; they will have some account of the events preceding the formation of the Government; they will have some information regarding the constitution of parties, and will vote accordingly. But it is impossible to lay bare everything, and make plain to them the infinite variety of issues that will be discussed in Australia. We can only indicate the broad lines on which they must cast their votes. In conclusion, I repeat the hope that the Government may consider an amendment to ex- tend the franchise to ail the young men now absent on active service.
– I am glad of the introduction of the Bill, and am pleased with the way in which both sides have accepted the measure. The consensus of opinion seems to be that the men at tlie front should be given the opportunity to vote for the candidates for the next Parliament, the only differences of opinion being as to the means for accomplishing the end in view. The Bill creates a list system, the soldiers having their choice between Ministerialists and Oppositionists. Some may think that the names of the candidates should be printed on the ballot-papers, but, in my opinion, it is preferable to provide a plain ballot-paper on which the soldier may write the names of his choice. The political changes of the last few months have been very great. Only yesterday Senator Gardiner was a Ministerialist, and the Opposition was composed solely of Senator Millen and his friends. But both we on this side and honorable senators opposite desire to prevent confusion arising in the minds of our soldiers. I think that it would be well to distribute, freely printed cards giving the names of the candidates for the various districts. A soldier could then ask for a card with the names of ‘ the candidates’ for the district from which he came. The Minister has told us that’ the’ place of residence of each soldier is’ recorded,- arid that his vote will be’ allotted to ‘the division in which’ that :’ place of residence is’ situated. Knowing the candidates, he could, if the ‘ ballot- papers were plain, write down’ the name of the man whom he would like to see elected to the House of Representatives and the names of the three men whom he would wish to return as senators for his State. Similar information is published here, the electors being made plainly aware that “ Codlin “ is their friend and that “ Short” is not. It must not be forgotten that the tens of thousands of men we have sent abroad are now widely scattered, some being in the Arabian desert, others at Salonika, others on the Nile, some, possibly, in Mesapotamia, a great many in different parts of France, and many others in the English hospitals.
– There are also those who are serving on the Australia and our other vessels of war.
– Yes. Then there are the Australian workers in the British munition factories. It would, therefore, be impracticable to supply printed ballotpapers to all these men.
– But it will be necessary to supply plain ballot-papers to them all.
– Yes, and if the information regarding th’e candidates who are standing for the various electoral divisions was made available, they should have no difficulty in plainly recording their choice. I am in agreement with those who have suggested the circulation of a pamphlet setting forth distinctly and clearly, but without party warmth - there is sufficient high explosive there at present - the names of all the candidates and the questions at issue. The point of the suggestion is that the papers would be multiplied until it would create an extremely difficult position for the Returning Officer. One elector may want to vote for an obscure district in Queensland; another elector may wish to vote for Barker electorate in South Australia; and another elector may desire to vote for an electorate in Western Australia. For every one of these men a full set of ballotpapers would have to be provided. What we have to consider is not the cost of printing the ballot-papers, but the difficulty to the ‘ Returning Officers, and the slow progress in recording the votes. The names of the candidates for the various electorates can easily be exhibited on a sheet of canvas, and their qualifications stated in a pamphlet, and then each elector can make a selection from the list, and write down the name of the man whom he wishes to be returned. There are very few Australians who cannot write. Provision might be made for an assistant officer in the polling booth to write the names for any illiterate persons, As regards the suggestion of Senator Newland,’ I do not think that it will explode the British Constitution or destroy our own if we allow soldiers under the age of twenty-one to vote, but I perceive a difficulty in the fact that the Electoral Act has to be incorporated and read as one with this measure. Just as it eliminates those who cannot vote under its provision, but who could vote under the Electoral Act, so it is easy to include within its provisions those who cannot vote under the Electoral Act. I am sure that even the youngest of those who have gone to fight at the front has shown by his ability and patriotism that he is worthy of infinitely more at our hands than the right to record a vote. Senator Newland made a suggestion in regard to the inclusion of men who have gone forward as workers, but the definition clause covers the whole ground. The fact that those who are engaged for carpentering and navvying come under a common agreement brings them under the clause, so that no alteration is needed. They will have the same opportunity as the soldier at the front to vote.’ I wish the Bill a. speedy progress.
– It is only right that the citizens who have left Australia on service should be provided with every facility to record a vote. I recognise that there are a great many difficulties in the way. I suppose that the voting at any of the fronts will not be restricted to the period from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. as in Australia. I do not see why the vote at the front should not be taken in the same way as the vote was taken at the conscription referendum, when the opportunity to vote extended over a number of days. The adoption of that method would get over an enormous number of difficulties. It would also enable printed ballot-papers to be used effectively. The men have to be changed from time to time, and they could go to the polling booth when .they were sent back for a rest. I do not think that there would be any difficulty either in the case of the men who are laid up in hospitals if the Returning Officer were allowed to go through and see that the men were permitted to- vote. That would naturally protract the voting beyond the time prescribed within the Commonwealth. I recognise that eighty-one sets of ballotpapers will have to be provided in every polling booth, namely, a set for each of the seventy-five electorates in the House of Representatives, and a set for the Senate election for each State.
– I think that there is a bigger trouble. If men were to vote for a wrong division their votes would be informal. Everyone has not a knowledge of what his division is. I am afraid that a number would be disqualified.
– There is some force in that suggestion. We must not forget that even in Australia there is quite a number of persons who hardly know what division they live in, and if they are asked to give the name of their subdivision there is no possibility of getting an answer.
– You would be surprised to hear how few persons know the subdivision in whicE they live.
– A number of them do not know the division.
– I think that most of our people, know the division in which they live.
– You must realize that for a long time the men at the front have been thinking about something other than divisions.
– I know that that is a great difficulty. The vote of every man must be allocated to a division. If the ballot-paper is printed, and new men are standing for a division, they will be disadvantaged to some extent. But, on the other hand, such candidates are disadvantaged to a considerable extent here. At the same time, if men are to have the opportunity to vote for candidates they know as advocates of certain principles, it seems to me that it would be a long way better to adopt the method to which they were accustomed here. Take the different methods of voting which have been used. In Queensland at one time we ran the pencil through the name of the candidate whom we did not want elected, leaving clear the name of the candidate whom we did want to return. In the Commonwealth the system of a man recording his vote by means of a cross has been in existence for sixteen years. Let any one ask an electoral officer how many persons there are to-day who go into a polling booth, and vote in the same way as they used to do. I know that many electors have scratched out the name of a person whom they did not want elected, and then, thinking that perhaps that was not right, put a cross opposite to a little square, which would have rendered the vote invalid but for the power which is given to the Returning Officer. Another question is, Shall we give a person under the age of twenty-one years the right to vote because he happens to be in khaki ? In my opinion, this is not the time to make a change of that description. Again, surely the women who have left Australia to serve as nurses and attendants in hospitals must be as much entitled to vote as the lads who have passed the medical test and gone to the front. ‘ If a male attendant in a military hospital abroad is entitled to a vote, surely a female attendant in the same hospital is also entitled to a vote. No difference is made between a male and a female when they become of age. If young women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one years of age are to have a vote because they are serving in military hospitals abroad, are the young women working in military hospitals in Australia not to have a vote ? This is not a time when we should interfere in this way.
– We have never given a vote before to any one outside Australia, except, in connexion with the military service referendum.
– That is so ; but we may have occasion to provide for the exercise of the franchise by Australian citizens at a considerable distance, from this country. I have stated the position as I know it. I do not think it would be fair to differentiate between these young men at the front and those who have been will-‘ ing to enlist but have been rejected. Does any one think that many of our soldiers at the front are going to lose their votes because they are under twenty-one? I do not.
– That was my idea in regard to the military service referendum vote ; but I learn that great care was exercised in regard to the age of the voters.
– Quite a number of youths under twenty-one, who were in camps in Australia, recorded their votes on that occasion. There was no strict interrogation of such voters on the subject of their age, and. I know that a number of young fellows who were not twentyone recorded their votes. As one who has had to do with large bodies of men, I do not think the authorities will be so particular in ascertaining the ages of the men at the front that the majority of those under twenty-one will not record their votes.
– Then that does away with the honorable senator’s objection to the extension of the franchise to soldiers under twenty-one ?
– I repeat that I do not believe in ‘differentiating in this way between the young, people here and those under twenty-one at the front. Those who have volunteered their services but have been rejected are as much entitled to a vote as are those who were accepted. There should be no change at the present time. When the voting takes place, the ages of these young men who have gone to the front will be winked at. I am not going to say anything against that attitude.
– The honorable senator will strongly object to paragraph d of sub-clause 4 of clause 10.
– In that paragraph it is provided that nothing contained in the section shall be construed as preventing from voting - -
Any person who satisfies the presiding officer that he is a Christian, and either a Syrian or an Armenian.
I object to the franchise, being exercised bv an Asiatic. Our electoral law does not permit of such a thing. Syria is in Asia, and I am not going to differentiate in this way because of a man’s religious belief. We might just as well say that; a Roman Catholic shall not have a vote. I am opposed to any such differentiation. I come now to another part of this Bill, and the stand which I take in regard to it may not be a particularly popular one. I shall deal with it, however, from the point of view of justice. The feeling against enemy aliens is growing here. I was brought up in a school the graduates of which might bs expected to be more hostile to these people than any others. [ was brought up in the English mercantile marine, where any person who said “ Yah “ instead of “ Yes “ was thought to be opposed to the best interests of Britishers following that occupation. As a matter of fact, they were. They were prepared to accept lower wages, and to put up with conditions to which the average Britisher would not submit. Another objection to- them was that they nearly always secured preference of employment. and- without recourse to law. I have seen posted up outside a shipping office in England, when the master of a vessel has come along to sign on his crew, ‘ ‘ No English need apply.” The shipmaster wanted to engage men who were prepared to take the lowest wages, and to submit to the worst conditions. These were the Hollanders, Germans, Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes, who had crowded into the British mercantile marine. We had no time for them, because we knew how they affected our chances of employment. We have in Queensland, as well as in other parts of Australia to-day, a number of men” who were born in what are now enemy countries, and in the vast majority of cases, I believe, those men are as loyal to Australia as is any member of this Parliament.
– They are not disfranchised, at least not those who were born in territories which subsequently became parts of Austria or Germany.
– The last territory to be taken over by Germany was AlsaceLorraine. That was in 1871, and before that no territory had been taken over since 1866. I was speaking about people who in very many instances came to Australia to escape the conditions existing at that time in the various States dominated more or less by Prussia. I do not hesitate to say that the vast majority of those people are loyal to Australia, and would do nothing to injure it. We have a large number of them in Australia to-day, and they came here very largely as the result of State immigration policies.. In both the State and the Federal Legislature I have at all times opposed proposals to send immigration agents to any country outside the British Empire. It has always seemed to me a mistake to send missionaries or immigration agents to Italy, Greece, Germany, and other European countries outside the British Dominions with the object of inducing people to emigrate to Australia. We must not forget, however, that that has been done. In Queensland, pastors and others, some of them gifted men, have been engaged to visit these countries to promote emigration to Australia, and the passages of emigrants have been paid by the State. Page after page of the Queensland Hansard is filled with eulogies of these immigrants, and of the benefits they have conferred upon Australia. The State Governments who were responsible for their coming here did for them what th’ey never did for companies of British settlers.
– And what they have never done even for Australians.
– The best of the land was reserved for their use, and when an Australian asked for a selection out of such reservations it was denied to him. He was told, “ There is plenty of land yonder for you; this land has been reserved for German immigrants.”
– Because they were always good handy voters.
– I am speaking in this way, not because German settlers have been good Labour voters, but because of my love of justice. We have always had the German voters against us. In Queensland to-day there is a German who is said to control hundreds of votes in the electorate in which he resides, and that electorate is practically at his disposal. Those votes have never been’ cast for Labour, and I do not think they ever will be. I know of other electorates where the position is the same. I have visited those electorates during an election campaign, and know that year after year, and election after flection, we have had no hope. I do not think we shall ever have any hope of securing the votes of these people. That being so, it cannot be said that I am swayed by party considerations in taking this stand. These German immigrants were given free passages, and afforded every opportunity to settle on the land. The assistance extended to them was far more than could be obtained by any Australian or Britisher who required assistance in that direction. After they had resided here for a certain period, they were given naturalization papers, which they believed to be of value, and, in my opinion, they ought to be of value to them. They were told that unless they took out naturalization papers they could not secure the freehold of the land which they held under special arrangement with the Government. We are now invited to say to these men, “ Those naturalization papers are all right in so far as they allow you to hold your land, but they do not make you a citizen of the Commonwealth. They do not entitle you to take part in the elections of this country.” It was just to debar these people from voting on a matter like conscription, which was not a question which they should have been allowed to consider ; but here we are dealing with the question whether they should be allowed to vote at an ordinary election for a member of this Parliament. These people are not to be relieved of taxation, of the local government franchise, or of the right to vote at a State election. They may perform every duty of citizenship but that of voting for a member of this National Parliament. They are not deprived of the State franchise. They are considered as citizens of the States; but under this measure they are not to be regarded as citizens of the Commonwealth. In my opinion, that, is not fair. There is a provision in this Bill that any person who satisfies the Presiding Officer that he is, or has been at any time during the present war, a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, or of a State, shall be entitled to vote. Let us see how this provision is going to work. I have here a speech delivered by Mr. Stumm, .a member of the House of Representatives, on 12th January, 1917.’ He was asked to do what he could in connexion with recruiting, and at a recruiting conference he made this statement -
Mr. Jacob Stumm (member for Lilley in the House of Representatives), speaking under emotion, said he happened to bc of German descent. He had lived in Queensland for BO years, and his father had become a naturalized subject before the German Empire was established. He (the speaker) came to Queensland as a baby, and regarded himself as a Queenslander and an Australian. He had brought up his children as Australians. There were ten members of the Stumm family in Queensland, and seven of them were doing their duty. One, he was sorry to say, would never come back.. He had not previously said very much about what he or his family had done to help the Empire, but it was very hard to think that the family should be subject to humiliating treatment. His children were not of German descent on the mother’s side. Their mother was of Scotch descent. Why should he, the son of a naturalized subject, be called upon to produce a certificate to prove his loyalty? He should be treated as a loyal man. The position had become intolerable, and that was why he had spoken. What trouble had AustralianGermans given to the authorities? Was there a single town at which the police or Defence Forces had to be increased to keep order? He joined with the request that the DirectorGeneral should be asked to withdraw the regulations regarding Australians of German or foreign descent. He had felt it very hard the other day when the only son he had left in Queensland at present, and who had stayed here to manage the business in the interests of his brothers, went to record his -vote, and had been asked to stand aside so that his loyalty could be inquired into. That was diametrically opposed to the freedom that had made Britain the colonizing Empire she was.
I know the Stumm family, and have known thein for many years, journalists’, lawyers, farmers, or whatever they may be. I do not think that Mr. Stumm will deny that most, if not all, of them are, and have been, strongly opposed to the Labour party. Mr. Stumm entered the Queensland Parliament as a Liberal when I was a member of it, and, so far as 1 know, he has never altered in his political views. Under paragraph c of sub-clause 4 of clause 10, because he happens to be a member of the Federal Parliament., Mr. Stumm is regarded as. a loyal subject; whilst his brother is not so regarded, because he has not been elected a member of Parliament. Mr. Stumm will himself admit that his brothers have done as much for this country as he has done himself. Still, they are to be regarded as outside the pale unless they can establish their loyalty under some other qualification provided for, as I believe some of them can. Mr. Stumm, because he is a member of Parliament, is assumed to be a loyal subject, and is entitled to vote for the election of a member to this Parliament, but his brother is not entitled to vote.
– Is the honorable senator asking that every German in the country should have the right to vote ?
– I am asking something which I know is not popular just now. I say that if there are men in this country of enemy origin, who are believed to be disloyal, they ought, without exception, to be placed behind barbed wire.
– And every one whose disloyalty cannot be proved is to have the right to vote ?
– -I say that we ought to honour the citizenship which we held out to these people as an inducement to them to come to Australia. In every district in Australia men have been making inquiries touching the loyalty of persons of alien extraction. If there is any evidence of disloyalty, and it need not be very strong, it is known, and I say that every one of these persons whose loyalty is questioned should be behind barbed wire. .
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. -Would the honorable senator trust one of the Germans who are governing the affairs of that country to-day, when he knows that they have proved themselves liars and traitors ?
– I quite realize that they have, but I am talking of people to. whom we held out special inducements in order to get them to come to Australia. We sent them missionaries, lecturers, and immigration agents; we reserved land for their settlement in Australia, and we issued naturalization papers to them, which they value, perhaps, more than anything else; and now we say that all this is to be wiped out for the time being. I take the case of two brothers coming to Australia in one shipment of these people. One has a family of sons, and the other has a family of daughters. The sons of one brother grew up, and in the early days of the war offered to enlist, were accepted, and have gone to the front. This brother is entitled under this Bill to all the . rights of Commonwealth citizenship. The other brother, who may be just as loyal, and just as good a citizen, if we are to. be guided by the eulogies of these people which are recorded in the Queensland Hansard and the Queensland press, because he has a family of daughters, and not a family of sons, is regarded as a different animal altogether. He is not loyal to the country, because he has a family of daughters instead of a family of sons. I quote the following statement which bears upon this matter : -
Mr. L. E. Groom, M.H.B., referred to the conference held on the Darling Downs, when this subject was discussed for over an hour. Referring to the Stumm family, he said there had never been in Queensland a more loyal, industrious, and patriotic family.
I have said that I have always been opposed politically to Mr. Stumm and most of the family to which he belongs, and it therefore cannot be said that this is a political question with me. I say that the Stumm family have done xs much, as good, and as loyal and patriotic work in Australia as I, or any other member of the Senate, can claim to have done. Yet under this Bill we are going to say that the one who got into Parliament is an eminently respectable and loyal citizen, whilst his brothers, who did not get into Parliament, are disloyalists and rebels. That is rather over the odds. I confess I do not -like that sort of thing. I came to Australia from a country where such matters never came up. Do they disfranchise people naturalized on English soil ? They have never thought of doing so. The question was never raised. In this country the question is raised, and it gives opportunity for the exercise of every smallness of mind. When a man told me, speaking of another, who was an associate of his for twenty years, “ There is a fellow who, I believe, was born in Germany somewhere,” I knew it was merely an evidence of smallness of mind on the part of a man who wanted to take the other man’s job. This kind of thing gives opportunity for the play of everything that is vile in human nature. I believe that we ought to be just in dealing with this matter. Let us take a case that came before a tribunal in the Old Country. I quote the following report of a debate in the House of Lords from yesterday’s newspaper : -
In the House of Lords to-day the Lord High Chancellor, Lord Finlay, in moving the second reading of a Bill to deprive enemy princes and. peers of their British titles, said that the measure originated in the strong feeling against the unparalleled brutality of the enemy’s conduct.
Lord Courtney moved an amendment, shelving the motion.
Lord Lansdowne said that the measure required more consideration than it had yet received. It applied to the Dukes of Albany and Cumberland, and Prince Albert of Schleswig. It would be absurd to call them traitors, they having become domiciled in enemy country. The punishment it was proposed to inflict was paltry.
Lord Bryce urged that the proposal should not be proceeded with. He would refer it to a select committee.
Lord Curzon said the Government felt it to be its duty to introduce the measure in .view of Mr. Asquith’s pledge. He pointed out that Lord Lansdowne was then a member of the Cabinet, and did not object. Lord Curzon warned the House that the rejection of the measure would be liable to be misunderstood in the country.
Lord Buckmaster, the former Lord Chancellor, said that when the late Government decided to introduce the Bill it was advised that the alien princes were traitors. Now they learned that these princes were not legally traitors.
Lord Curzon said the law should extend to enemy orders. He would be glad to get rid of his.
Lord Middleton said he had asked to be relieved of his orders.
Lord Courtney withdrew his amendment after Lord Curzon had promised to refer the proposal to a select committee for the full elucidation of the facts.
These were men domiciled out of the country, and, although their case was discussed by aristocrats, it was decided that there ought to be proof of circumstances sufficient to justify the taking away of their titles. In my opinion, the decision arrived at was a just one; and I must say that sometimes I feel proud of the position taken up in these and similar cases in the country from which I came; indeed, it seems to me that in that country there is just as much liberty, in matters, of that sort, as in any other part of the world. Turning to another case, T should like to read the following extract from the Brisbane Courier of 27th July, 1916-
The Appeal Court has upheld the decision of the Court of King’s Bench in the case in which Sir Ernest Cassel and Sir Edgar Speyer defended their right to membership of the Privy Council.
A Privy Councillorship is one of the highest compliments that can be paid to a Britisher, and it is an honour that for quite a long time past has been handed out to Colonial statesmen, amongst whom are included Mr. Hughes, Sir John Forrest, and Mr. Fisher -
A cablegram on 17th December last stated: - The Court of King’s Bench to-day gave judgment for Sir Ernest Cassel and Sir Edgar Speyer, whose membership of the Privy Council had been challenged. In June last an order nisi was granted calling upon them to prove that they were entitled to be members of the Privy Council. Sir Edgar Speyer is a son of Gustavus Speyer, of Germany, and his mother was a daughter of Rudolph Rubino, of the family of Count von Stosch. Sir Ernest Cassel is a son of Jacob Cassel, banker, of Cologne. Both have been members of the Privy Council for some years. The Court decided that, as naturalized British subjects, Sir Ernest Cassel and- Sir Edgar Speyer possessed all the rights and privileges of British-born subjects, and were therefore entitled to be members of the Privy Council.
That is a case which speaks to me very clearly and distinctly.
– It was a decision on a. purely legal question.
– Have these men been interfered with in any way? Are they not still Privy Councillors?
– Yes; but .they are not called to the Council.
– That may be; but who, of all the Privy Councillors, are called to the ‘Council. We all know what the position of Privy Councillor was, and to what it has .degenerated. Membership is . now simply an empty honour which is bestowed on prominent citizens ‘in all parts of the Dominions. In many cases, public men object to the C.M.G. - which has been humorously translated as meaning “ colonial-made gentlemen “ - much _ preferring the P.O., and to many Dominion statesmen, who stood fairly high at the Colonial Office, the distinction has been granted. I was not regarding the matter from the legal aspect, but rather emphasizing the fact that these men in - England had to prove that they were entitled to this particular honour.
– It was purely a decision in law.
– The only reason I mention these cases is that they seem to me to represent what I regard as fair dealing. I have been friendly with foreign residents in Australia, some of whom left their native country wilh a desire to have nothing more to do with it, and to whom we were only too glad to welcome and give all the rights of citizenship. Travelling, as I do, a good deal throughout Queensland, I often meet them, and when they complain to mc of their treatment, I always tell them, if I had my way, any doubt as to their loyalty would justify their being placed behind barb-wire until the end of. the. war, .but that otherwise they ought to have all citizen rights. Eulogies by the column have been written of these men and women, for what they have done for this country; and my only desire is that they should have a fair deal. Senator Gould has pointed out that the sons of a number of these people went to the front in the early part of the war; and that is quite true. We have to remember, however, that the authorities began toshut down on every applicant with a foreign name they did not understand; and in a few months it became known that no one with a German name had any chance for the Expeditionary Forces. Lately, however, that plan has been altered, and such young men may enlist providing no one in the district from which they come reports adversely regarding them. This I regard as fair, and such reports may, I think, be trusted in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary. As to the disability of disfranchisement, I should like to read an extract from the Brisbane Courier; of 29th July, 1916,’ in reference to the attitude of - Sir Alexander Peacock and the Victorian Cabinet - i
Commenting on the decision of the Federal Cabinet to introduce a Bill “providing for the’’’ disfranchisement of naturalized aliens of - enemy origin, the Premier (Sir Alexander Peacock) said to-day that the State . Cabinet did not propose to submit a similar measure to Parliament. He was of opinion that Victorians, as a community, should take no action hurtful to citizens who had been living among them for. years, or any action for which Victorians might have reason to reproach themselves after the war. A German, or any other subject, who gave cause for offence could bo effectually dealt with by the Commonwealth, but he was totally opposed to the disfranchisement of all naturalized subjects.
It seems to me that the attitude of tha National Government is that, while the obligations of citizenship should be enforced, these people should be told to stand aside when it comes to the franchise, which is the right of all citizens. Although my attitude may be misrepresented outside, I must say that this policy does not seem to me just, and, for that reason, I have ventured to enter a protest against this portion of the Bill.
.- I have listened with interest to the various speeches made, and I think it would probably meet the convenience of honorable senators if, instead of giving anything in the nature of a reply now, I left the comments I desire to make until we reach the particular clauses in Committee. This will confine discussion to the particular point raised at the time, and I hope honorable senators will not consider me wanting in courtesy if I refrain from any. further remarks at present.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
In this’ Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Member of the Forces “ means a person who is or has been a member of the Commonwealth Naval or Military. Forces enlisted or appointed for active service outside Australia or on a ship of war, and includes a person engaged as a munition worker under agreement with the Commonwealth Government, , . ;
.- This clause is one that has invited some comment, and I desire to submit an amendment which will possibly meet the intention of the Government and also the desire of many honorable senators.
I move -
That after the word ‘° munition,” line 9, the words “’ or other “ be inserted,
The object is to include, not only those who enlist as soldiers, but also those who have gone from Australia in connexion with other branches of what may be called war work. It would be difficult to do more, because it would not be possible to identify individuals who go on their own account. The amendment will insure that every person who goes away under agreement with the Government will be secured the benefits of the Bill. I think that all such cases are covered by the terms of the clause as it stands, but to make it perfectly clear and’ meet the objections made, I submit the amendment.
– I am quite willing to accept the amendment in lieu of the one which I have outlined. I believe that it will meet the situation.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Subject to thia Act, every member of the Forces who is not under the agc of twenty-one years and -
is enrolled as an elector of the Commonwealth or is eligible to be so enrolled and is serving outside Australia, or
is not enrolled as an elector but is eligible to be so enrolled, and has returned from serving outside Australia and produces to the presiding officer the prescribed certificate shall be entitled to vote at the election as an elector of the division and State in which his place of residence, as shown on the prescribed list, is situate, or, if his place of residence is not so shown, as an elector of the division and State in which ‘ his next of kin, as shown on that list, resides.
– I did not hear what the Leader of the Senate had to say in regard to the necessity for giving votes to all members of our Expeditionary Forces who are below the statutory age. But, along with other honorable senators, I signified my desire some time ago that these men -should be endowed with the franchise. I think that in this clause we ought to provide that all persons on active service shall be entitled to the vote, irrespective of their age, and I would suggest that the consideration of this provision be postponed to enable an amendment to be drafted to give effect to my views.
– At this stage of the session it is hardly possible to consent to a postponement of the clause. We must make up our minds one way or the other what we are going to do. One’s sympathies naturally go out to those members of the Expeditionary Forces who are below the statutory age when the position is put in the plain form outlined by Senator Lynch. If a man is good’ enough to fight for his country he is good enough to vote for it. Fighting is clearly a service which demands recognition at our hands. But we must ask ourselves the form which that recognition should take. Coming to the question of the franchise we have fixed the age at which any person in Australia, may vote at twenty-one years. Why have we done that? Simply because we must draw an arbitrary line somewhere. I could make out just as good a case in favour of twenty years of age as of twenty-one years, or of twenty-two years of age as of twenty-one years. In the interests of the community we must say that below a certain age it is undesirable that a person should have a vote. A lad may be a most brilliant youngster, but in the interests of the country it is necessary that he should have some experience of the world before he exercises the franchise, and therefore we must say that below a specified age it is undesirable that he should have a vote.
– That standard is a very questionable one.
– Yet some honorable senators now come along and say that because a man has done some meritorious action, we ought to reward him. Such a deed admittedly gives him ‘ a great claim on our gratitude, but it does not entitle him to exercise the franchise. I wish to draw a distinction between this proposal as a franchise matter and as a reward for what a man has done. The members of our Expeditionary Forces are entitled to all the rewards we can give them. But I say, let those rewards be. suitable, and not come into conflict with the idea we have adopted here. If we give the vote to men in our Expeditionary Forces who are under eighteen years of age, we cannot very well say to men of the same age who are in our training camps, “ You shall not have it.”
– Give it to both of them.
– That at once raises a difficult question. Let us assume that there are two brothers, one of whom is over eighteen years of age, whilst the other is seventeen years and nine months.
– Of the two, who is the better entitled to it?
– That depends on the standard we establish. If we say that that standard shall be some maturity of age, obviously the elder boy is entitled to it.
– Go on; the VicePresident of the Executive Council is making converts.
– Whether I am making converts or not I do not wish to see the Senate do something which is not desirable. If we are going to bestow the franchise upon a man in camp who is eighteen years of age, are we going to refuse it to a man of similar age who has offered his services, but has not been accepted.
– In the early stages of the recruiting campaign no record was kept of men who were rejected, although the Defence Department keeps one now.
– This Bill also covers sailors, and if Senator Lynch’s suggestion were adopted I would remind him that on board some of our ships lads are to be found who are quite nippers.
– What age would they be ?
– I do not know what is the age of a powder monkey ; but there are on board our war-ships younger lads than can find a place in the Army. We have “ middies “ there.
– What about drawing a line at the military age ‘of eighteen years ?
– Our sympathy is entirely with these persons, but that sympathy should not be permitted to come into conflict with other principles which we have adopted. We should pause before agreeing to any amendment which would have the effect of opening up the many difficulties that I have sketched.
Senator GRANT (New South Wales) posed to aa age limit of twenty-one years being fixed in regard to the exercise of the franchise. I will welcome any proposal to liberalize that statutory provision. For years past, at all the InterState Labour conferences which have been held, a proposal has appeared upon the business-paper in favour of granting the franchise to all persons of eighteen years of age. Here is an opportunity for us to take a little step in advance. To my mind the suggestion that the vote should be extended to men of eighteen years in our Expeditionary Forces is a good one. I do not know how many would be affected by it, but I believe that the number is considerable. I know that efforts have been made to ascertain’ how many youths of eighteen years of age left Australia with our Expeditionary Forces. Unfortunately the Defence Department has not kept a complete record of them, and consequently it is not in a position to supply accurate information. But I have reason to believe that a very considerable number of our troops at the front- are under twenty-one years of age. Some of them are less than eighteen years of age.
– Some of them are only seventeen years old.
– The man who is good enough to take up arms in defence of this country is good enough to vote on any question whatever.
– What about the man who offers to take up arms? Is he not as good ?
– It is not proposed to extend the franchise to every person in the Commonwealth who is eighteen years of age, but it is suggested that it should be granted to those who are eighteen years of age and who are fighting for the Empire. I recognise that this is war-time, but while our troops abroad have been promised all sorts of concessions, some honorable senators seem prone to raise a great many imaginary difficulties in the way of extending the votes to them. As a matter of fact, there are no practical difficulties. We know that in England the women do not exercise the franchise, whereas in Australia we have adult suffrage. We know, too, that hundreds of women, who are partially trained as carpenters, have been sent from Great Britain to France, though there are hundreds of carpenters unemployed in Birmingham.
– If that is the case it is an extraordinary thing that they have sent out here for carpenters.
– - They do all kinds of extraordinary things. Senator Stewart has given us an instance of a Scottish glen from which more than forty people were expelled in order to make room for rabbits and deer, yet Chinamen are being imported, and I noticed in a cablegram the other day that a number of them met with a mishap in the Mediterranean.
– No Asiatic has been imported into Great Britain. Those Chinese were on the way to Marseilles.
– I intend to move an amendment to reduce the age to eighteen years. It is a reasonable request. Men who have shown that they are willing to fight for their country should have the right to vote.
– So has the soldier seventeen and a half years old, yet the honorable senator would deny him the right to vote.
– I would offer no serious opposition if the Leader of the Senate sought to amend the clause for the purpose of making the minimum age seventeen and a half years, but there is no occasion to go to extremes. For the present we could safely lower the age by three years, and later on, if we so desire, we can still further lower the minimum to seventeen and a half years of age. There is no doubt that in the near future the young men of Australia will insist on the right to exercise the franchise when they become eighteen years of age. When they leave school, at fourteen years of age, they are well educated, and they commence to earn their living. I move -
That in line 2 the words “ twenty-one “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ eighteen.”
– I am glad that I shall have the pleasure of voting with Senator Millen on this matter. It will- be an indication that we are not treating a war measure with the slightest party spirit. I have grave reasons for coming to this decision. Every honorable senator is desirous that our soldiers should have as much reward as they are entitled to,, but I object to any proposal to alter a great principle such as is involved in the fixing of the age at which the franchise is given in order to reward them. All my life I have believed that what entitles one to the franchise is manhood or womanhood, and not merit. If it comes to a question of merit, some of us may merit reelection, while upon services rendered others may have very little claim to re-election. I will go as far as any honorable senator in seeing that the soldiers at the front get everything to which they are entitled, but to go out of our way in order to do something which is altogether apart from the reward that they may expect is too grave a step for us to take. No doubt a young man is rendering splendid service to the country when he enlists to fight for it at such a cruel time as this, but to extend the franchise to him is not a reward. If it comes to a question of giving a reward for our soldiers’ services, I would rather that all parties should confer in order to give our men some permanent and beneficial reward on their return, and I know this will be done. I am reminded of an incident that happened some years, ago in Western Australia. A diver went down into a flooded mine. It was a marvellous feat of bravery. His name was Hughes, and I believe he was a’ Welshman. But if he had been a foreigner, would we have said, ‘ ‘ We will give you the franchise for what you have done “ ? The franchise is a sacred matter, and if it is a question of giving the vote to soldiers who are eighteen years of age we cannot separate them from those who could not come up to the military standard in the matter of height. Many have been rejected because of flat feet. An inch of height might have prevented a young fellow from enlisting and securing a vote at parliamentary elections. I think that all honorable senators are anxious that soldiers should vote, but I do not think that there should be any anxiety to prove that one section is more desirous of showing sympathy to the soldiers than another. The question of altering the minimum age for the exercise of the franchise is a serious one. Senator Grant sees in his proposal a chance of taking a step in the direction of something that he has been advocating for some time past, but this is not the time for such an alteration. Parliament has been promised an appeal to the country. That promise having been given, the only legislation with which Parliament can decently deal is essential measures. We have no right to go into any matter that proposes to alter principles. Certainly the Bill does effect some slight infringement of a principle, but our soldiers are so evidently entitled to exercise their votes at parliamentary elections that all honorable senators are willing to make provision for them to do so. But altering a set of conditions that up to this time we have considered to be right and proper, and to which no great objection has been raised, is a serious matter, even if we were practcally unanimous on the point. This is not the time to deal with such a serious question, and I hope that there will be no division called for. If a division is called for, I shall vote with the Government, because I believe that the only legislation that we should be responsible for, now that an appeal is to be made to the country, is measures that are absolutely necessary and essential.
– I support the amendment. When I spoke to the second reading of the Bill I indicated that I held the opinion that something should be done in the direction of giving every man at the front the right to exercise the vote. I quite recognise that all the logic is on the side of those who argue against the proposed alteration. Senator Grant has asked us to do something special and extraordinary, but the men who are fighting” for Australia are doing something special and extraordinary. The proposal is not put forward with the idea of giving our soldiers any cheap reward. It is put forward in a spirit that is right and proper for the purpose of recognising that the men who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of fighting the Empire’s battles should have the opportunity of taking a hand in the election of representatives of the people in Parliament. I am not inclined to the belief that it would be a good thing to give the franchise to all young men under the present minimum, nor do I think that those who have volunteered and have been rejected are entitled to vote equally with those who have gone to the front, but I believe that if we do extend the privilege to young men who are fighting at the front, we shall remove a good deal of disappointment that is now felt by many of them. It is asked that the age limit shall be reduced only to meet special circumstances, and not in a general way.
.- I support the proposal to allow the vote to men under twenty-one who have gone to the front. We have enlisted these young men of eighteen, and accepted their services at the front, where they are doing everything required of them equally as well as a man of forty-five, even to risking their lives for the Empire. So far we have admitted them to all the rights and privileges of manhood, and there can be no justice in stopping short at this one. Take the case of a young man of twenty years and eleven months in that position. There is no justice, sense, or logic in refusing him a vote. The nation in this time of war desires to secure all those who come within the ages of eighteen and forty-five, and for war purposes makes no distinction between them. I claim the vote for these young men as a right and not as a privilege. It is a very small thing, and all the plausible arguments against it are so much moonshine. We are dealing with new and extraordinary conditions, and should not be afraid to make special provisions to meet them. If you tell me that personal friends and relations of mine under twenty-one who have gone to the front are not fit to vote, you tell me something I cannot understand or accept. Those who say that these young men are not worthy of the vote are saying something that is a disgrace to themselves and unworthy of the times in which we live.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– The argument that if it is right to reduce the age at which people should vote, we should do it generally, still remains to be answered. There must be 10,000 young men in Australia still under age who volunteered for active service and were rejected. Why should they be debarred from voting through no fault of their own ? Take this case : A young man at the front is between eighteen and nineteen when this vote is taken, and is allowed to vote because he is in khaki. A few months afterwards the war ends, and he comes back at the age of nineteen. Another election takes place a little while later, and he is told he is not eligible to vote, although he is twelve months older than when he voted last time. Does Senator Grant propose to give the vote to all those under twenty-one who wanted to go to the war, and were rejected?
– Why penalize them ] . Why penalize young men under twenty-one whose parents refused ‘their consent? I know some who have volunteered three and four times and have been rejected. Will the honorable senator tell them, “ You are not eligible to vote, but if you had gone to the front you would have been quite competent? “ As the Minister said, some honorable senators seem to treat the granting of the vote as some reward. The only thing that seems to recommend it to some senators in these days of economy is that it is a concession which costs nothing. When the men come back, and we are called on to pay big taxation to give them something that is really a reward, I hope we shall hear from the same honorable senators as earnest arguments in favour of it as we hear now in favour of giving them a vote which, will cost this country nothing.
– We should try to pay a national tribute to the young men who have gone forward to fight our country’s battles. We admit that they are entitled to our praise, and these thousands of young men under twenty-one will have a distinct feeling of unfair treatment by the Government when they see their comrades who are over the statutory age allowed the privilege of voting. There is nothing in the argument that numbers of others under twenty-one volunteered, and were rejected. The fact that an injustice is done to them is no reason to deny justice to the others. If we had had a decent, voluntary system here by which all men of twenty-one and over had to join the camps, this difficulty would not have arisen. These young men of tender years have gone to the front because sufficient men over twenty-one did not offer. The distinction made by the Bill between ‘ soldiers under and over twenty-one is unfair, invidious, and unpatriotic. They are all fighting to preserve our liberties, and even our Constitution, which, if an invader succeeded in planting his foot on these shores, would be torn up. I am not in favour of lowering the franchise in normal times to eighteen, because the average being of that’ age has not arrived at the full use of reason, and one effect would be to make a youth of eighteen eligible to enter this Parliament. These young men who are playing a man’s part at the war are entitled to recognition, and after all this vote is a very cheap form of recognition. We should sweep minor difficulties aside, and grant the major justice. The mere fact of these young men enlisting has placed them before the nation as men who have put on the badge of honour. Senator Turley has drawn a distinction on most paltry grounds. What we are concerned about is that the vote should be given to all those men who are fighting for us in this mighty conflict. I am supporting the proposal.
– I addressed myself to this question on the second reading of the Bill, and I do not propose to repeat my arguments. I am pleased that the discussion has risen above the plane of party strife. It is fair that we should give the franchise to those men, although under twenty-one years of age. They have gone to the front to help to defend us, and it is fair that we should give them the opportunity to defend themselves. The policy of a Government might easily affect the’ future of those men. For instance, the repatriation scheme, pensions, and payment of the soldiers, are matters that are involved in the policy of the Government. Seeing that these men have made a sacrifice by going to the front, it is quite reasonable they should have some say in controlling the policy of the Government.
Senator SENIOR (South Australia) f8. 12] . - I look, at this question from the stand-point of manhood, and if anything has demonstrated the manhood of the young men in our Forces, it is their action in going to the front. If anything will develop character, it is the particular work in which they are now engaged. Many who left Australia as mere lads will, if spared to return, come back with the enlarged vision of a man. Under ordinary circumstances. I should not be in favour of the proposal; but I feel that if we did not support the amendment we would be withholding from them a right which is theirs bv the performance of the best service which they can render to this country at the present time.
. -This is an interesting subject, and in the discussion of it honorable members have been guided to some extent more by sentiment than by the actual merits of the proposal itself. I yield to no man in my gratitude to the young men who have gone to fight for us in this great world battle; but I believe that if all the young men under twenty-one years of age on active service were asked if they thought it fair that they should get the vote, while their brothers who had remained in Australia were denied that privilege, they would probably say, “ My brother was just as anxious to get here as I was, but there are two of us in the family, and our circumstances made it absolutely impossible for both of us to come, so he remained at home.” Our electoral laws do not allow the vote to be granted to any person beneath the age of twenty-one years, and, because thousands of young men in Australia have not been able to volunteer, they are to be denied the vote, while, according to the amendment, others who have gone on active service are to have that privilege.
– If they are in the camps in Australia, they will not get the vote if under twenty-one years of age.
– Yes; that is another phase of the question. I do not know whether twenty-one- years of age is a reasonable age limit or not. It may be that it would be fair ‘and reasonable to reduce it; but while it is fixed at twenty-one years I cannot see the fairness of refusing the vote to our lads under twenty-one - young men who may be doing just as important work in Australia - while it is given to those who have gone on active service. Then there is’ something to be said for the nurses.
– The term “Forces” includes nurses.
– The same argument could be applied to the nurses who are doing magnificent work in Australia.
– Many of them applied to go to the front.
– To my own personal knowledge, many of them wanted to go, but, for some reason or other, they were prevented. Under this proposal they would not get the vote, while nurses abroad on active service would, have that privilege. The whole thing is so inexplicably mixed that I cannot quite see that we would be doing the right thing in making any departure. For that reason, I feel compelled to vote against the amendment.
– I should like to remind the Committee, before it decides this matter, that if we carried the amendment it would confer the franchise, not only upon the men who are fighting at the front, but also upon those men under twenty-one years who have gone away in civil occupations, and are doing their bit just as effectively as men engaged in other services on behalf of the Empire. Then there are thousands of men working in our Commonwealth factories, all doing service for the Empire, just as are navvies, carpenters, and others who have gone to England. The amendment will make an invidious distinction between men who are here and those who are on’ service abroad. I am pointing out the effect of the amendment. That is one class on which the franchise will be conferred, and which I venture to say has no superior claim to similar artisans in Australia. But now let me point out a class which the amendment will cut out, and which is as much entitled to the franchise. Under the amendment a returned soldier under twenty-one years of age, who has been discharged, will not get a vote. He may have been doing his bit as a carpenter in England, but has returned a cripple.
– Include him.
– This man is no longer a soldier, but a citizen. We cannot draw a distinction between one citizen and another.
– The Bill is not applicable to Australia.
– You can change the definition of “.Forces” and include the discharged soldier if you wish to do so.
– Apart from the definition in the Bill, I wisn to remind the Committee that we are not creating a permanent army or military caste. When the Army has done its work we hope and intend that the men shall pass again into the ranks of citizenship. It ought to be remembered that when the soldiers are discharged they will be civilians again. In these circumstances I ask honorable senators to join with the Government in resisting the amendment.
.- I disagree altogether with the statement of Senator Millen that the men who remain in Australia are doing work equally as valuable as are the men who have gone to the front.
– I did not say that.
– There is no comparison between the men who are engaged in munition factories and at other work in connexion with the war and the men who are in the firing line.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator’s words conveyed that meaning to me.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Not to any one else.
– I have great respect for any opinion expressed by either Senator Millen or Senator Gould, but I think that purely as an oversight both of them have unwittingly misled the Committee, because the substitution of “ eighteen “ for “twenty-one” will not give the franchise to a returned soldier. If Senator Millen will refer to clause 7 he will see in paragraphb these words -
Is not enrolled as an elector, but is eligible to be so enrolled, and has returned from serving outside Australia, and produces to the presiding officer the prescribed certificate.
Provision is made there for the case of a returned soldier.
– The vote is for a returned man who is over twenty-one years of age.
– The substitution of “ eighteen “ for “ twenty-one,” of course, would have to be followed with a consequential amendment. It is quite clear from the clause that it is intended to give the franchise to a returned soldier.
– Only so long as he is a soldier, but not after he has been discharged.
– I call the attention of the Minister to the wording of paragraph b .
– The man is still a soldier, but the moment he is discharged he ceases to be a soldier.
– If a man has returned from serving outside Australia, and produces to the presiding officer the prescribed certificate he is entitled under paragraph b to vote, irrespective of whether he is enrolled or not, if he is eligible to be enrolled. The amendment will not interfere with that returned soldier, but the man at the front who is eighteen years of age and over, as well as the returned soldier who is eighteen years of age and over, will be entitled to exercise the franchise. I hope that the amendment will be carried.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 -
With respect to the votes of members of the Forces under this Act, the following provisions shall apply : -
The voting papers for the election shall, except in the case of members of the Forces who have returned from service outside- Australia, be in accordance with the form in the Schedule-,
Every vote given, by a member of the Forces in accordance with the form in the Schedule shall be counted as follows : -
in the case of a Senate election, a vote for a party shall be counted as a vote for each of the three candidates who have been recognised in the manner hereinafter prescribed as the three candidates representing that party in the State in respect of which the member is entitled under this Act to vote :
Provided that where the member votes by writing on the ballot-paper the names of three candidates for the State in respect of which he is entitled under this Act to vote, his vote shall be counted as a vote for each of those three candidates;
in the case of a general election for the House of Representatives, a vote for a party shall be counted as a vote for the candidate who has been recognised in the manner hereinafter prescribed as the candidate representing that party ‘ in the Division in respect of. which . the member is entitled under this Act to vote :
Provided that where the member -votes by writing on the ballot-paper the name of any candidate for the Division in respect of which he is entitled under this Aot to vote his vote shall be counted as a vote for that oandidate;
Such recognition shall be made -
in the case of the Ministerial party, by the Prime Minister; and
in the case of the Opposition party, by the Leader of . the Opposition in the House of Representatives ;
Within five days after tbe day of nomination the PrimeMinister and the Leader of the Opposition shall severally notify the Chief Electoral Officer of the names of tbe candidates recognised by them, and such notifications shall forthwith be published in the Gazette;
– I wish to move an amendment which I indicated in my secondreading speech, and which will enable a division to be taken on the question of whether the ballot-papers shall contain the names of the candidates or not. It will be remembered that I used the argument that those who bring forward a measure are responsible for showing that it can be made to work, and that the proposed change is advisable. The responsibility rests upon me now to show that my proposal is a workable one. Each State in the Commonwealth will have to elect three senators at the coming elections. It is reasonable, to suppose that in no one State will there be more than ten candidates. If no printed ballot-papers are sent to the front, it will be necessary to send a supply of paper for the men to write the names of the candidates on. On a sheet of paper measuring 8 inches by 10 inches the names of the candidates for each of the six States can be printed, not in the’ usual way, but in plain, clear letters. Assuming that there will not be more than ten candidates in each State, a sheet of that size will contain the names of the whole of the Senate candidates. When a man comes in to vote for the senators for Western Australia the presiding officer can run a pencil through the names of the candidates for the other five States, and hand the ballot-paper to the voter. When a . man comes in to vote for the senators for New South Wales the presiding officer will cancel the names of the candidates for all the States but New - South Wales, and hand to the voter the ballot-paper. To my mind, it is a plain and practical way of placing the names of the candidates before the electors at the front. I tlo not propose that any description of the candidates shall be given, but that a ballot-paper with- all the names of the candidates printed thereon shall be handed to each voter. The list of candidates for his own State will be the only list on the ballot-paper which will be unmarked. He will know that from that list he has to make a choice. I recognise that there are great difficulties in dealing with this matter. I remind honorable senators that if my plan should increase the cost a little, and entail greater effort, the soldiers deserve that consideration at our hands.
– Can that be done for the House of Representatives?
– Suppose that it cannot be done for the House of Representatives, there will not be the same difficulty or trouble in regard to the names of the candidates, because only one name will have to be written on the paper. But I venture to say that it can be done in connexion with the elections for the other House. Take the biggest State in the Commonwealth. There will be twentyseven ballot-papers.
– There must be one for every division. There may be a Queensland voter enrolled in a New South Wales Unit, so that you will want the whole seventy-five.
– Let me finish my argument. I think it will be generally agreed that ‘ I have made out a good case for the Senate ballot-paper. For the House of Representatives a ballot-paper,’ perhaps, a little larger would be required. In the case of New South Wales, provision must be made for twenty-seven electorates, and that would work out at about seventy candidates. These electorates could be set out on the ballot-paper in a column, and in the same way the electorates for the other States could be set out on the paper. I. see no reason at all why a ballot-paper for the House of Representatives could not be provided with the names of the electorates in columns, and the names of the candidates for each electorate also set out. I admit the difficulties of the task of dealing with this matter effectively. I know that when, some .years ago, it was proposed to take a vote on the referenda questions, Senator Pearce convinced me that it would be impossible to do so. I believed the honorable senator then, because of the difficulties in the way. But if provision is made for the adoption of a suitable ballot-paper, it should be possible to overcome the difficulty. We could arrange to cable at once to Great Britain to prepare the ballot-papers, with tho’ names of the electorates and the names of the candidates, and more than half the work could be done in London before the papers were sent to the front. I think that I have shown that I am anxious to deal with this matter, not from a party point of view, but purely in the interests of the Commonwealth and of our soldiers. We see names set out in separate columns in the newspapers every day, and with sufficient clearness to enable any one to indicate a choice of them. I have said that provision would have to be made for twenty-seven electorates for New South Wales, twenty-one for Victoria, ten for Queensland, seven for Western Australia, and five each for Tasmania and South Australia. In order to enable this to be done the ballot-paper required for the House of Representatives would not need to bc very large. I ask the Government to consider this proposal favorably. If such a case is not adopted we shall be up against the use of the unsatisfactory method of conducting the voting in the manner provided for by the schedule to the Bill, requiring the elector to vote for candidates as Ministerialists or Oppositionists, or to write in the name of the person for whom he desires to vote. I am not going to the country at this election, and I need not say that I am very glad of it, but if I take the case of Senator Senior, it will be agreed that when some thousands of soldiers left Australia for South Africa, the honorable senator was a supporter of the Government then in power. Under the schedule he would be branded as a Ministerialist. The information might be obtained from newspapers passing through the trenches that there is now a Cook-Hughes Government, in power. Some of Senator Senior’s best friends would probably never imagine that he is now following Mr.. Joseph Cook, and, thinking to VOte for ‘him, they would vote for the’ Opposition. . It is not fair to ask men to vote on a system that will be new to them. Even if the. system proposed were a satisfactory one, this is not the time to try such an experiment. I say that the names of the States and all the Senate candidates could be printed on a sheet of paper 10 inches by 8 inches, and the names of the electoral districts and the candidates for., the- House of Representatives in the whole of the Commonwealth could be printed upon a sheet of paper, say, 24 inches by 10 inches, and sufficiently plain to enable the elector to indicate his choice. I have shown that most of the work might be done in London, and my proposal, if adopted, would facilitate the work of those charged with the duty of conducting the election, whilst it would relievo all concerned of the pressure of the most difficult system proposed of writing in the names of candidates on the ballot-papers. I submit an amendment to give effect to my proposal in a form which will enable honorable senators to record a clear vote upon it. I move -
That after the word “ be,” in paragraph (a), the words 11 on a ballot-paper containing the names of all candidates “ be inserted.
If the Committee accepts the amendment, the Minister in charge of the Bill will,no doubt, see that consequential amendments are made where they are necessary. I ask honorable senators to consider the amendment on its merits.
– Senator Gardiner has put forward what I have no doubt he regards a practical solution of the difficulty. But the honorable senator has overlooked one very important factor, and that is the matter of time. He suggests that we should immediately get the cables to work so that the . necessary printing to give effect to his proposal might be done in London and elsewhere. But under the system he proposes it would not be possible _ to do anything until all the nominations are in. Nomination day is the 5th April, and the electoral officers inform me that it is very doubtful that they could be entirely satisfied as to the accuracy of all nominations throughout Australia in less than four or five days. If that time were to elapse before they were in a position to proceed it would not be possible to get the ballotpapers to such a place as Hew Guinea or, possibly, to Egypt. However much honorable senators may dislike the method proposed by the Bill, it would enable immediate action to be taken. An imperfect form of voting, if this be” so regarded, is certainly better than no voting at all. If the proposal of the Bill is accepted, all necessary instructions can be immediately issued, the papers printed at Home and elsewhere, and immediate steps taken to distribute them. It would be a very serious thing if, in. the effort to get something more than is provided for in this Bill, we found that in the end we should be denying to our soldiers the opportunity of voting at all. That is a practical difficulty to which T invite the consideration of the Committee. Senator Gardiner was quite right in saying that on a sheet of paper of the size he mentions it would be possible to set out all the constituencies and the names of the candidates. But I remind him that it would be necessary to have the ‘ lines sufficiently far apart’ to enable the elector to mark his cross without the possibility of confusion as to the name against which he desired to place it. The honorable senator will see the difficulty if he counts the lines of a sheet of newspaper. It is true that a larger sheet than that suggested could be used, but, in any case, it would be almost impossible to make the voting clear. As to the suggestion that ordinary ballot-papers should be used, I would remind the Committee that that would necessitate the issuing of eighty-one ballot-papers for every soldier in the field, only two of which would be required. If you printed the ballotpapers giving the names of Senate candidates only, you would have two systems - the men voting for individual candidates for the Senate, and for parties for the House of Representatives. That is, I think, a fatal objection. Should the names of candidates be printed without any indication of the parties for which they stood;’ that would ‘create difficulties. There will be many candidates whose names none of us have heard ; and how will the men at the front know the political ‘brand of these candidates without printed’ information regarding them? There’ are electoral divisions for which the sitting member’ does not intend to offer himself again, and entirely new men may be candidates there. How could the soldier abroad know which of two such candidates was the Ministerialist and which the Oppositionist? There is a further difficulty. Many persons in the community do not know what electoral division they belong to. The Electoral Officers say that it is a common thing for a man who wishes to record an “absent” vote to be unable to say what his division is; and still more frequently are electors found to be ignorant of their subdivision. Under the system suggested by Senator Gardiner, many votes would be informal because of mistakes made by the voters regarding their electoral divisions. A man living on the border of a division like Henty, the name of which does not correspond with any postal division with which he is familiar, might well be in doubt as to his electoral division. But if the soldiers vote merely for Ministerialists and Oppositionists, it will be the duty of the electoral officials to ascertain the name of the Ministerial or Opposition candidate for which each vote is cast, and credit it to the electoral division in which is the place of residence for which the soldier is enrolled. If it were possible, I would prefer our ordinary system, but that cannot be adopted; and the procedure provided for is the result of a consultation with the. Electoral. Officers, who are competent to advise on these details. It was adopted, after a review of all the difficulties of the case, EIS the best of many expedients that were considered and analyzed.
– I do not regard it as a serious objection to Senator Gardiner’s suggestion that if it is adopted some electors will be voting under one system, and others under another. I confess that I am not enamoured of the proposal that the men should be allowed to vote only for political parties, and not for candidates by name. The opposing parties will take very good care that the men are informed of the political views of the .various candidates. The Opposition will not be in as good - a position as the Government to do this, but I am prepared to take the risk of that. Senator Millen has admitted that there would not be any difficulty in using ballot-papers for the Senate ‘election.
– There’ will be’ the difficulty created” by’ the delay occasioned by the verification of nominations, which must precede the printing of the names of candidates. That creates a difficulty in regard to Egypt and Papua.
– The ballot-papers required for Egypt could be printed in Egypt, and I presume that from that centre they could be sent to Bagdad and the surrounding district with some slight chance of arriving there in time.
– Not if we have to wait for nomination day, which has been fixed for the 5th April.
– Any proposal to issue the writs earlier will interfere with a good many arrangements that are now being made. But I repeat that the ballotpapers could be printed and issued from Egypt so far as Salonika, Mesopotamia and Egypt axe concerned.
– What about New Guinea ?
– There is no reason why those required in New Guinea should not be printed in Brisbane.
– If there is a boat running to New Guinea.
– I am sure that arrangements could be made to get the ballotpapers to New Guinea in time.
– I am told that they cannot.
– If ballot-papers cannot be got to New Guinea within a month, our means of communication must be very defective. I venture to say that without the slightest difficulty the ordinary ballot-papers could be sent to New Guinea. If the Government will give’ this matter further consideration I think they will adopt a course which I have suggested. There might, perhaps, be some difficulty experienced in the case of the few troopships which are on the water, but it would not be an insurmountable one. Certainly no difficulty need be encountered so far as the men who are in hospital in England are concerned. The ballot-papers required for the Old Country and for use on the Western front could be printed in England.
– What about the men on the transports’?
– Those on transports coming from England could be supplied with ballot-papers printed in England, and those on transports leaving Australia could be supplied with. ballot-papers printed here. If one comprehensive bal lot-paper were printed, containing the names of the whole of the Senate candidates, there would not be the slightest difficulty experienced.
– Look at the number of informal votes.
– I am prepared to admit that there would be a number of informal votes recorded, but it must be remembered that in ordinary elections 75,000 informal votes are cast.
– About 5 per cent., I think.
– There would be no more informal votes registered with a general ballot-paper than would be recorded if we used the ordinary ballotpaper. I take it that the returning officer would be instructed to cancel all ballotpapers excepting those for the places for which the elector was entitled to vote. With regard to the House of Representatives a much larger ballot-paper would be necessary than that used for the Senate, but here, again, I see no difficulty. I am opposed to the idea of electors being called upon to vote for a party, because the Government will be controlling this election, and they are not -likely to give us the name by which we are known, , namely, the Australian Labour party. Some honorable senators opposite claim that they would not be accurately described unless they were designated as the Hughes Labour party.
– The National Labour party.
– Only the other day we -showed that honorable senators opposite had appropriated a name to which they had no title. I do not like the idea of voting for a party, especially in view of the present circumstances. If the men at the front were supplied with a ballot-paper, and were asked to vote either for Labour or anti-Labour, I would not object to the employment of the block system. But our party is not in office at present, and I do not imagine that the Government would do what I have suggested. In the circumstances the best thing is to print two ballot-papers - one for the- Senate, and the other for the House of Representatives, and to instruct the Returning Officer to strike out the names of the candidates- excepting those for whom the elector is entitled to vote.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New . South Wales). [9.7].- I have listened- to the- honorable senator’s remarks, and certainly the idea propounded by Senator Gardiner commends itself to me as one which I would like to see adopted, if it were practicable. But we have to consider the statements of men who ought to know the difficulties that would be encountered. Senators Gardiner and Grant have not the same intimate knowledge of those difficulties as have Ministers after consultation with the Electoral Officers. These officers have to foresee any difficulties which may arise, and I understand from the Vice-President of the Executive Council that they say it would be impossible to give effect to the amendment.
– In consequence of the element of time.
– Yes; but for that I should support the amendment, because I do object to labelling certain candidates as Ministerialists or Oppositionists, and on that asking electors to vote either for or against them. Each elector would have a much better opportunity of forming his own judgment if he were supplied with the names of the candidates. But the idea is not practicable, and very regretfully, therefore, I -shall have to vote against the amendment.
– I would not have spoken upon this proposal but for a remark by Senator Gould on a matter which was previously referred to by Senator Millen - a remark to the effect that time is the essence of the contract in regard to our men overseas voting at the forthcoming elections. I would point out that at the ordinary poll for the Senate, and for the House of Representatives, it is sometimes four or five weeks before finality is reached. In any ordinary election for the other branch of the Legislature, d<*-. lays which are caused by the non-arrival of absent votes frequently prevent the result being made known for two or three weeks. I therefore contend that if the non-arrival of the records-
– It is question not of arrival of the records but of getting the ballot-papers to the voters.
– The ballotpapers for the men in France and England could be printed in London, and those required for the men in Egypt could be printed in Cairo. As to .the men at Rabaul, the getting of- the ballot-papers to .them should not involve the lapse- of time spoken of. Even if the voting on the transports at sea did not actually take place on 5th May, the ballot would be conducted by responsible men, and we can rest assured that they would arrive here without causing anything more than the usual routine delay.
– As the mover of this amendment I think that I ought to reply to Senator Millen’s statements. He seems now to consider that the greatest difficulty in connexion with the adoption of this amendment would be the delay that would occur in reaching the men at Rabaul. I do not accept the figures that he quoted as to eighty-one ballot-papers being necessary in respect of each voter. Some 150,000 soldiers may record their votes, and under my proposal all that would be necessary would be a ballotpaper consisting of two quarto sheets. On the one page we could have printed the names of the Senate candidates for each of the six States. As to the ballotpapers for the House of Representatives
– The honorable senator recognises that with the seventy-five divisions for f e House of Representatives there must be at least 150 candidates. If there are more than two candidates for any one division that number will be increased.
– The honorable senator is assuming that we have separate ballot-papers for each division.
– Even if we had a ballot-paper consisting of one large sheet, all the names would have to appear on it.
– The ballotpapers should have the names of the candidates plainly printed on them. Assuming that there were ten candidates for the representation of each State in the Senate, all the names could be plainly printed on a quarto sheet. Coming to the_ House of Representatives, the names of the candidates for the twenty -seven divisions of New South Wales might occupy the next page. We may safely assume that the average will be two candidates for each division, because for some of the divisions there will be no election. Even if in respect of the House of Representatives ‘we required double the quantity of paper used for the Senate ballot-paper, that would mean only four quarto sheets. My-scheme would mean a great saving- of ‘trouble to the- men at the front. The Electoral Office here will avoid trouble, and so will those conducting the poll in London, but the men at the front who are to take this poll will, in the middle of their military operations, be put to infinite trouble under the system for which the clause as it stands provides. A soldier walking into the polling booth will have first of all to think of the name of the man for whom he desires to vote, and then write it down.
– He will not have to write down the name of a candidate under the svstem proposed in the Bill. He will simply obtain a ballot-paper for the constituency in respect of which he desires to vote, and, assuming that he wants to vote for a Ministerialist candidate, he will put a cross in the square opposite the word “ Ministerial.”
– Let us assume that Senator Gould, Senator Millen, and Mr. Josiah Thomas are the Senate candidates for New South Wales in the interests of the Win-the-War party, or whatever other nice name may be applied to the Ministerialists. Let us assume further that Peter Bowling, David Watson, and Arthur Rae are the Senate candidates for the Labour party. It seems by no means improbable to me that many who vote for Peter Bowline and Arthur Rae will want to vote for Senator Millen.
– I cannot conceive of any man forming such a combination.
– If a man does want to vote for those three candidates, how will he record his vote under the Government proposal ?
– By writing in Senator Millen’s name.
– And yet I was told a moment ago that under the Bill as it stands a soldier at the front would hot have to write in any name. The fact is that every man who does not want to give a party vote will have to write in the names. ‘ We are minimizing the trouble of the officers everywhere but’ at the front. If I had my way, a deputation of civilians would be sent from London to the front to conduct the poll. Under my amendment the officers at the front conducting the ballot would be relieved of much trouble.
– No. Their difficulties would be increased.
– Not at all. The names of all the candidates would be printed,’ and practically all the work done for them. Senator Millen said there would be some difficulty in regard to the names on small cards. Why should we not put at the foot of the card the words “ Strike out the names of the candidates for whom you do not wish to vote “ ?
– Oh, no!
– Little difficulties are always being raised.
– Under the honorable senator’s proposal a New South Wales voter for the House of Representatives would have to strike out fifty-three names in order to vote for one.
– Not at all. The honorable senator ought not to attempt to mislead the Committee.
– We have twentyseven electoral districts in New South Wales, and there must be at least fiftyfour candidates.
– In the case of the House of Representatives electorates each division could be set out separately on one quarto sheet. The names of the candidates for, say, North Sydney would appear under that heading, and those of the candidates for West Sydney would be printed under the name of that division.
– Think of what will happen. A soldier comes in to vote, and is asked, “ For what electorate do you desire to cast your vote?” He may say, ‘ I live in St. Kilda, but I do not know the name of the division.” The electoral officer would have to find out whether that part of St. Kilda for which the intending voter came was in the electorate of Balaclava or in that of Henty before he could give him the ballot-paper.
– The officer would give him the sheet containing the names of all the Victorian electorates and candidates. I do not think any one would object very much if some of the soldiers at the front did not vote for the division from which they actually came. Most of those who record their votes will do so, however, because they are personally interested in the election.
– They will know where they reside, but may not know what is their particular electoral’ division.
– Most of them would know the name of’ the division in which they resided before they ‘ left for the front, ‘and even if ‘a few did’ make a mistake, it would not be very serious, because there will be mistakes on both sides. I am very earnest in submitting this amendment, because I am sure that great difficulties will arise if the names have to be written in. The Government scheme will give trouble to the men where no trouble ought to be given. The soldiers are here to-day and moved somewhere else to-morrow. But the difficulty will be more than half removed if, at every centre where there are Australian soldiers, an electoral officer is stationed with the ballot-papers with him. That is a case where I would prefer a civilian officer to a military officer.
– Your idea would suit only those who do not wish to vote the block ticket.
– The block vote may be a good thing, but I do not believe in it. There was never an occasion when it was more difficult to define parties. If the Government are going to make a party vote of this ques-ti on, and have the numbers, they may do it, and provide a ballot-paper that will give them, perhaps, two-thirds of the votes at the front, because they will not permit our party to be called by the name which it ‘has home for the last twenty years. I will take all the time at my disposal to frustrate any attempt by the Government to use their power for party purposes. Either let us have the ballot-papers printed with the names on them, or adopt the proper party name, so that each candidate may be known by the name of his party. I admit the difficulty of the party name, but I will not have a ballotpaper going out to the soldiers with nothing on it to indicate to them that the Labour party are candidates.
– You came over and called yourself the Opposition while we were over there.
– Quite possibly, before the vote is taken, the present Opposition may become the Government. It is more than likely that more than half of the party following the Government, especially the reputable men in it, will get out of it when they hear of today’s decision of the Cabinet to have no inquiry into the suspicious circumstances that have happened in connexion with this Chamber. I have seen Governments go- down even more quickly than that. What confusion there would be if the soldiers were asked to vote for Ministerialists and Oppositionists and the news was flashed to them that there was a new Government! It makes me angry that the Government should bring forward a proposal to give the soldiers a vote, and, at the same time, shrink from the little extra cost and trouble necessary to give the men the same opportunity to vote intelligently as those who have not gone to the front.
– It was not necessary for Senator Gardiner to tell us he is angry. What we want to know is what made him so. While discussing the amendment as to the form of the ballotpaper, he was in his- ordinary amiable frame of mind, but he changed directly he rushed off on to the designation Proposed to be given to the. parties. Perhaps that is his real objection and the cause of the heat he showed. If so, let him attack the proposal to use the terms “ Ministerial “ and “ Opposition “ on the ballot-paper. What trouble is it to men to go into the booth and write the names ? How many will write them under the block system? The honorable senator says he does not like the block vote. I guarantee he does when he is on the ticket -for his party at election time. To show the effect of the block vote, at the last Federal election in New South Wales, where something like 700,000 votes were polled, 6,000 votes covered the first six senators, the highest vote being 344,000 for Senator Gardiner, while 338,000 were cast for Senator Watson, the lowest successful candidate.- Five thousand votes covered the next lot, so that, although one ticket did not get home, the block system operated so closely that 11,000 votes covered the first twelve men in a poll of 700,000.
– The block system on that occasion, if it had operated fully, would have robbed us of the valuable services of yourself and Senator Gould.
-It was the block system which gave the country the services which the- honorable senator has so ‘ rightly estimated. In Victoria, the difference between the first and sixth can- ‘didates was only 5,000,- the figures being 334,000 and 329,000. In Queensland, 152,000’ votes were cast for the highest and 150,000 for the sixth man, a difference of only 2,000, and there was a difference of only 3,000 between the top and bottom man on the defeated ticket. This all shows that the elector is more concerned to vote for the party than for the man. If the vast majority of the electors want to vote for a party ticket, the system proposed by the Bill will represent the maximum convenience to them.
– Yes; if they can distinguish the candidates by their names.
– I suspect that the real desire of honorable members opposite is not to have the names of the candidates on the ballot-paper, but to have the proposed designation of parties altered. They would be quite satisfied if they were allowed to substitute “ Labour party “ for “ Opposition.”
– I would sooner have that, but if I cannot have it I will accept the names of the candidates on the ballot-papers.
– As to the ‘trouble to the electors, the figures I have given, and the experience of honorable senators, indicate that the vast majority follow the party ticket; that is, if a man desires to support the Official Labour party, he votes for all the candidates nominated by that party. If he does not do so he knows that in ail probability he will not only lose the man he wants, but help to put in a man he does not want, and, being sensible and practical, he votes the ticket. The same influences will prevail at the front. Under the system proposed in the Bill, the great majority will only be required to place a cross opposite the party he supports. There will only be the insignificant number of individuals who, finding some fault with a man on- the party ticket, will be required to write in the name of the candidate they prefer. I venture to say that 9,999 will vote the party ticket to one who does not. As to convenience, whatever demerits the system proposed in the Bill may have, it has that advantage over the idea of Senator Gardiner. It is not, to my mind, a question of a better system, but a question of whether we may not disfranchise a number of voters by adopting a plan which will so consume the short time at our disposal that we shall never get the ballot-papers to the front. I have not worked the matter out myself, but I am entitled to rely on the advice of the Electoral Officers, who speak with all the experience gained in the referendum vote. I have no knowledge of the details but those responsible officers, charged with the duty of carrying out the election, tell me distinctly that if we wait until the nominations are in, on the 5th, and the ordinary procedure has to be taken to check them - as is necessary, seeing they are first sent by telegraph - there are certain places at the front where it will be impossible to get the papers to the troops in time, while there are other places in regard to which there is great doubt. If the Committee take the responsibility of altering the ballot-papers, they will do so with the knowledge of the possible consequence - that a large number of the troops will never see them at all. I ask honorable senators to adopt a safe form of ballotpaper rather than one involving the risks I have indicated.
– Assuming that at certain parts of the front it is found impossible to take the vote on the 5th May, will a vote be taken subsequently if opportunity offers, or will the strict rule be adhered to, irrespective of whether military operations render voting impossible within the time ?
– I am obliged to Senator Ferricks for asking the question, for it indicates still more sharply the danger to which I have referred. This vote is to be taken on the same principle as the referendum - any time between the issue of the writ and -the polling day. That is done for the reason that if one day were fixed a large number of the troops would never get near a polling place, whereas by spreading the polling in the way provided, the moving units are given an opportunity to vote.
– You cut the polling off short on the 5th May ?
– The polling stops on the 5th May. Under the circumstances, the earlier the ballot-papers are ready the larger will be the number to have an opportunity of using them. For instance, if the papers are not available at a certain place until the 21st April, it may be that a body of men, who were there on- the 20th, and have had to go elsewhere, will not return until after the 5th May. The longer the period during which the voting papers are available, the larger the number of men who will have an opportunity of using them.
– If the ballot-papers do not reach some of the soldiers by the 5th May, will those soldiers be given a subsequent opportunity to vote?
– This Bill does not give that opportunity, any more than it was given on the occasion of the referendum, for there must be a period beyond which voting cannot take place. From the issue of the writ to the polling day is, I venture to say, a sufficiently long and reasonable period, and on us lies the obligation to have the ballot-papers ready at the earliest possible moment.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The clause provides that the voting shall be in accordance with the form in the schedule- It is provided in the schedule that for. the Senate candidates there shall be -two. squares, with, opposite them, the word “ Ministerial “ (three candidates), and “ Opposition” (three candidates). Is that a sufficiently fair description of the candidates who will be contesting the election ?
– Of course, it is not.
– Might I suggest that this matter be discussed when we come to the schedule itself ?
– If we continue a discussion on every line of the Bill until we come to the schedule, the debate will be too protracted. I was prepared to have this matter discussed as a soldiers’ Bill, and nob on party lines; but the Government, simply by cracking the whip, can command their majority. The divisions are taken on solid party lines all the . time. If the Leader of the Senate is prepared to meet us half-way, and consider favorably any reasonable proposition for the better description of the candidates, I will sit down at once.
– It would be impossible to make that arrangement, for when I happen to disagree with the honorable senator he regards my attitude as unreasonable.
– Then will the Minister confer with Senator Maughan? If he comes to an agreement with him, I am prepared bo accept it.
– And if I could not agree with Senator Maughan, you would still say I was unreasonable and unfair.
– In a compromise, how can I go further ? The honorable senator can select any member of our party. I picked on Senator Maughan because, being a silent man, I thought he would be more likely to reach an agreement with the Leader of the Senate. I asked that the names of the candidates should be printed, but was told that the extra cost would be too great, and that it would be impracticable! There is no more impracticability about the proposal than by proceeding under the system proposed by the Government. The soldiers are entitled to know the men for whom they are asked to vote. Nobody will dispute1 that position. It cannot be’ said that “Ministerial “ would properly describe candidates standing in the Government interest, or that “ Opposition” would adequately describe members of our party. Ninety out of every hundred soldiers would not be able to recognise our candidates under that description any more than they would be able to recognise followers of the Liberal party or the Hughes party under the designation of “Ministerial.” If the Minister confers with any member of our party and comes to an agreement, I am prepared to accept it.
– Make a suggestion for a better name now. I am not going into any secret conference of that kind, because you would still regard me as unreasonable if I could not agree.
– We have two parties to this contest. There is the Ministerial-Coalition party, which I suggest would adequately describe candidates supporting the Government; and if I may suggest the name for our party, I would say our candidates should be designated as followers of the Labour party. If that is objectionable, however, I do not mind the term “ Labour Opposition.” I only want a name that will properly describe our candidates. The Government could choose a designation for their candidates, and I suggest “ Ministerial-Coalition.” We have .been known as the Labour party for. seventeen years, and it would be unfair to our supporters among the soldiers at the front, two-thirds of whom are unionists, if any other designation were used to indicate our candidates. We know that the result of this election will be felt in the Senate for six years, and the war may be over in six months. I am not asking for any advantage for our side. Why should the bias of a party prevent a reasonable arrangement being arrived at? The Government have an accidental majority - I am not using the term in an offensive sense - because two of our men are away ill ; and because they have a majority to-day, they refuse to meet us. Can .it be said that the schedule is fairly descriptive of the parties ? For my part, I can say that, although I have taken active interest in polities’ for many years, if I were given a ballot-paper in the form proposed in this Bill, with the words “ Ministerial “ and “ Opposition” on it, I would have- to ‘think .carefully before I knew which candidates represented : the
Ministerial and which the Opposition side. And every honorable senator is in the same position, with all the changes that separate one from the other. For the Government, in order to gain a party advantage, to use their weak-kneed followers who have not sufficient courage to give an independent vote when the party whip is cracked, and adopt this method of extending the franchise to 150,000 men who are away from Australia bearing the stress of battle - some of them have been away for over two years - means giving the vote on the one hand and taking it away on the other. If this course is carried out we shall all hear soldiers saying on their return, “ I thought I was voting for So-and-so, and. I find that I really voted for the other man.” But there may be sufficient reason among members of this Committee to see that the proposal in the Bill is not a fair one. I offer the suggestion to the Leader of the Senate to leave it to some arbitrator to fix upon a fair description of the parties which will enable the. soldiers to give an intelligent vote. I would accept the decision of such an arbitrator, but the silence of the Leader of the Senate when I offer the suggestion shows that he does not desire a fair description of the parties. The descriptions in the Bill are unfair.
– And absolutely misleading.
-They are misleading. It is not unfair to ask that we should be described by the name by which we ha;ve been called ever since it has been in this Parliament. It may be claimed that as the new party has only been iri existence for a few months- its name is not too well known. Then let it make its description as clear as it likes. Let it call itself the Hughes-Cook Coalition party, and let our party be called the Australian Labour party, or if that name is too long, simply the Labour party. Ministers are not prepared to accept that suggestion because it would rob them of the advantage of a trick vote, and of the advantage of securing by unfair means that which they cannot secure by fair means. With the purpose ‘ of recasting the clause, I move -
That after the word “. Schedule,” in paragraph la), the following word’s be added, “ on which the name of each party shall appear:”
We have had three Ministerial parties during the last .three months. How are the men at the ‘ front to know who are Ministerialists? If we put in the two names of the parties, who will be injured ?
– The Ministerial party.
– It is a matter of guess work. Ministers may claim that it is their supporters who have volunteered. If that be the case they will gain an advantage by the use of the true names of the parties. I have not the slightest objection to honorable senators opposite describing themselves as the “ National party.” My wish is to see names used, which are descriptive of the parties. Honorable senators have been calling themselves the “National party,” and if they think the name sufficiently descriptive’ of themselves, by all means let them use it. On the other hand, the party opposite may be Liberals, with a remnant of the Labour party. I understand the difficulties of that remnant, and I do not know how they can be ‘overcome. On the whole, I think that those who, after the split in our party, found it necessary to get a new name for themselves, so as to distinguish them from the Liberal party, could fairly be described for the purposes of this Bill as Liberals, because when the war is over, and Senator Millen and his friends are still calling themselves Liberals, the remnant of our party who are following them now will also be Liberals by reason of their long association with, the Liberal party. Evil communications corrupt good manners. It would not be possible for a decent Labour man to associate for any considerable period with the Liberals unless they assimilated Labour ideas, unless they adopted, as it were, the catchcries and catch-words of the Labour party. That being the case, I would not object to the ballot-paper being branded with “ Liberal “ and “ Labour.” I come now to the title of the “ Win-the-War” party. Suppose that the Ministerial party thought that, they would fool the soldiers, and decided to put on the ballot-paper the descriptions “ Win-the-War party “ and “ Labour party,” I venture to say that the average intelligent soldier would declare, “ I do not want to have anything to do with the blitherers who want to win the war in Australia by skiting. I will vote for the man and the party who did much to win the war while they were undertaking Australia’s share of winning the war, and that is the Labour party.” It might fool sentimental persons who think that a name is everything, but it would not fool the big, broadminded men who are fighting our battles at the front. The Ministerial party can put on that description if they like. It will be remembered that during the recent conscription campaign they said that it was only the shirkers and the slackers who would vote “ No.” But when the returns came back from the front showing a majority for “No,” what happened? There were so many votes cast for “No” that the present Government issued a regula- tion imposing a penalty upon any person for publishing what the vote was. They would not have introduced that regulation but for the fact that the “ No “ vote was very large. Only this week I heard Senator Lt.-Colonel O’Loghlin, who has been engaged on transport service, and in contact with different officers who had to do with the taking of the vote at the front, say that there was a big majority in favour of “ No.” He was of the opinion that the soldiers had turned conscription down.
– I think he said by a three to one majority.
– No; he said by six to one.
– I do not wish to misrepresent Senator O’Loghlin. He said that the impression of those with whom he associated in London and elsewhere was .that there was a big majority in favour of “No.” If we are not to get any information as to the actual voting of the soldiers at the conscription referendum - and it is quite apparent that we are not - we should be particularly cautious when we are drafting another ballot-paper for the soldiers to see that it shall contain some information giving them an inkling as to the candidates whom they are asked to vote for. I suggest that the Ministerial party may take the description of “ National party,” or “ Liberal party,” or “ Coalition party,” or “ Win-the War party.” They may, if they wish, say that they are the “ National Association party,” and that, in my opinion, would be very descriptive of them. If they want to be open and straightforward they can call themselves the representatives of the big trusts and big monopolies, or the party which represents the organized capital of Australia, and, perhaps, more than that, the organized capital of the world. As it appears that their leader, Mr. Hughes, was boomed by the Northcliffe press when he went to England they may, if they wish, say that they are the representatives of the Northcliffe press. They can call themselves, if they wish, the “ Lord Northcliffe “ party, and I will not object. It would be a perfectly legitimate title for them. Let ussee the advantages of that title to them. Here they are on the ballot-paper telling the soldiers at the front, “ We are the Lord Northcliffe party.” What will happen ? The soldiers at the front are fed up with the Northcliffe press. The press which played the part of driving out of the British Cabinet the two brainiest men in it, Mr. Asquith and Earl Grey; the Northcliffe press which is prepared, as Senator Ferricks reminds me, with a venom that characterizes all its attacks on newspapers, politicians, and everything else, could not even allow Britain’s greatest soldier to rest peacefully after his death. Unfortunately, his remains do not rest in an earthly grave, but this vicious Northcliffe press, which aims at controlling the world’s Democracy in the interests of organized capital, thinks that it. is uttering British opinion when it attacks the great war lord who did so much to organize Britain’s armies to face her foes. I have no objection to the Ministerial party taking upon themselves the title of the “ Northcliffe party.” Their leader, having been seduced by the Northcliffe influence from the principles of a lifetime, returned to Australia to say that the party that had made him politically, and made all of us who are Labour members, must be shattered and sundered. That was part of the return for the boom- ing which our then leader .received in England.
– What about calling them the Black Labour party ?
– They might choose to call themselves the Black Labour party.
The TEMPORARY’ CHAIRMAN (Senator Needham). - Order ! These remarks are scarcely connected with the clause.
– I am dealing with a clause which provides for the making of a schedule, and you, sir, will not say that I am out of order in suggesting that we on this side shall be called the Labour party, and that members on the Government side may, if they wish, call themselves the Coloured Labour party.
– I did not say that the honorable member is out of order, but I think he should keep as close to the clause as he can.
– I think ‘ we should be allowed a little latitude. We have only twelve men on this side, and we must talk until we get sixteen. If there is not to be reason, but an appeal to force only, force only will prevent us from asserting our claim.- As I said in my opening remarks, I am prepared for any reasonable compromise, but we will get no compromise from a party which, by refusing to give a pair, has an accidental majority of one. Although I . do not think the Ministerial side would adopt the name of the Coloured Labour party, such a title would be properly descriptive of them. Or they might call themselves the Magnificent Maltese party - the party which wanted to send our own workers willy-nilly out of the country, and, before starting to send them, had Maltese coming here to take their places. There would be only this disadvantage about that name, that if they openly adopted that title it would be such a burst of truthfulness that their own supporters would be staggered. They would say, “ Surely Ministers have lost their heads altogether when they let the Dc- mocracy know what they are doing.” Then, there is a whole list of names that are not new, and have been tested by experience, for at each of the last five elections this Coalition-Labour-National party has appealed to the people under a different name. Having sought at each election for a title that was new and catchy in order to secure votes, and having at each election found their supporters in the country diminishing ; having seen that the Labour party, which has been described by them through all the stages of its progress by all the vicious and vile names in their vocabulary, was gaining in strength, they are anxious to resort to some other means to save themselves. When Senator Lynch and I were younger in the Labour movement we were described as anarchists, and if there had been a Government in those days with a party behind it as servile as the present Ministerial party it would have placed on the ballot-paper, not “Ministerialist” and “Oppositionist,” but “ Ministerialist “ and “ Anarchist.” Senator Lynch knows the viciousness and vindictiveness and the keen shafts of misrepresentation and vilification to which we were subjected. He has experienced ail the irritation which is caused to a. man by being misrepresented by his fellows, by being held up to public scorn, and by having every shortcoming, whether his own fault or not, revealed, aggravated, and exaggerated. If one of the old Conservative Governments had been in control of this Bill with a majority as servile as the supporters of the present Ministry, they would have branded us as anarchists, and the soldiers would have been asked to vote for the saviours of the country or the anarchists. But much water has run under the bridge since those days, and the Labour party has not only grown in numbers, but has contested election after election, and, having stood the test of time, bears to-day the same name as that with which it entered the Commonwealth Parliament sixteen years ago. It is the same Labour party. That is the name under which we fought, and which has been ridiculed by the Free Trade press, the Protectionist press, the Liberal press, and die Conservative press - in fact, by every kind of newspaper ever published. We all remember the genial old leader of the Liberal party, after the Reid-McLean Fusion, going about Australia and depicting us as Socialists. What was their idea of Socialism ? Sometimes on an idle evening I would attend the meetings of one of their speakers, and he would describe the Socialism for which the Labour party stood. He would say, “ When the Labour party comes into power the thriftless, worthless fellow, who walks about the streets, and never works, and never will work, will share the wealth of the industrious, thrifty, and worthy individual.” By all the most ridiculous illustrations our opponents tried to make the electors believe that we were worse than brigands who robbed openly on the highway, for we intended by force of law to take from those who bad and give to those who had not. The Labour party successfully emerged from all that vilification, and, having won our name, we want it fairly placed before the people so that they may decide whether- they will vote for us or not. Is that an unreasonable request? Sitting opposite us to-day is Senator Earle, who led the Labour party in Tasmania with credit to himself and the party. A change comes over the spirit of the dream, and Senator Earle is here now to deny to the party that made him, politically, the use of its name to describe it on a ballot-paper. He is now found supporting the party controlled by the moneybags of Australia, and brought into existence because they feared that if the Australian Labour party remained in power those who live in luxurious homes, and not only carry on their business profitably while the war is raging, but make greater profits because of the war, would be called upon, as they cannot do the fighting, to do the paying, and make the provision necessary for our soldiers after their return. It was necessary to break the only political party in the Commonwealth that would make them pay, and they have broken us, but only for the time being. The party opposite will yet have to face the electors, who, I venture to say, will repair the breach. I do not think that by saying these things I shall be able to induce Senator Earle, whose political life belongs to the Labour movement, to be anything but a party man on this occasion. In fine, flowing sentences he told us when he entered the Senate that this ought not to be a party Chamber, but in a recent division on the question of having the names of the candidates placed on the ballot-papers, not one honorable senator on the Liberal side voted for that proposal, though some had earlier spoken in favour of it. We are asking only that we shall be described on the ballot-paper by the name made by good parliamentary representatives in all the Parliaments of Australia, and by the workers in the Labour movement in all the electorates of Australia. The Labour party has become almost a religion in Australia to the men isolated in the backblocks of this country, to those who dig for coal in the depths of the mines, who go down to the sea in ships, who toil on the wharfs, whose skill and ability make magnificent houses for wages which never enable them to live in them. Twenty-five years ago Senator Henderson, Mr. Rae, and I, addressing the people from a platform in a little village in the south of New South Wales, were proud of the name of the Labour party. I believe that the honorable senator is proud of it still, though he differs from honorable senators on this side as to the men who should lead the country at the present time. This is an historic occasion, when, for the first time in Australia’s history, Australian soldiers fighting the Empire’s battles are to be given the right to vote for members of this Parliament, and I ask Senator Henderson and those associated with him whether they are so forgetful of the name of Labour that they will refuse to us who are still fighting in Labour’s cause the right to so describe ourselves on the ballot-paper, that the soldiers may know for which party they are voting. Nothing but the strictest party discipline could make a man who has grown grey in the great Labour movement say that the ballot-papers handed to the soldiers should be in such a form that they will scarcely know for whom they are recording their votes. I appeal to honorable senators on the other side, who claim that they are Labour members still, to use their influence with . the party leaders to have this matter settled. I have confidence that if Senator Lynch were appointed arbitrator to write out a description of the parties that each could accept he would try to carry out the commission conscientiously. Why cannot the Government meet the proposal I have put forward and agree upon a description of parties* that will be acceptable to each”? If they will agree to do that I shall /not say another word. But they say the ballot-paper must not have the name of Labour upon it. I know that this is a clever and astute move - so clever and astute that one can readily locate the source from which it came. In effect, the Government say, “ Let us pretend that we are giving the soldiers a vote, but let us so arrange the ballotpaper that no soldier will know the way in which he is voting.” They wish to shelter themselves from the opposition of the soldiers’ friends - the parents, wives, and brothers and sisters of our boys at the front.
– They little know how they will rouse them.
– I have in my possession a statement of the number of our soldiers who have been killed or wounded at the front, or who became ill after enlistment. It serves to show the awful sacrifices that we have made in this historic war. I am justified in quoting these figures, because I believe that the great majority of the men who have paid the supreme penalty at the front were Labour men and unionists. Similarly, the big majority of the wounded - if they were here now - would be proud of the name of Labour. I can quite picture, in connexion with the forthcoming poll, some brave soldier who has been wounded in fighting the Empire’s battles, and who is scarcely able to make his mark upon the ballot-paper, looking vainly on that paper for the name of the party which he loves so well - the Labour party. We know that Returning Officers are usually very uncommunicative, and I can well imagine that this wounded man would be informed that there was no Labour party on the ballot-paper. In such circumstances he would probably say, “ Then I do not care whether I vote or not.” We all know that the war com- ing return shows the Australian casualmenced in August, 1914, and the follow- ties: -
I have read that list so that the Government may see the number of sick and wounded to whom the ballot-papers will be given. I want to bring home to them I he awful sacrifices our men have made, and are still making. Surely we have reached such a stage in our existence that the Government will not attempt, for the sake of a transient party advantage, to play tricks with men of the calibre of those who have gone to the front to fight for us, men whose honoured wounds lay them low in sickness and suffering, the only thought in their brave hearts being to get back and renew the battle. I appeal to the Government to let these men have a ballot-paper that they can understand. A man tortured with sufferings from his wounds, lying in hospital, and entitled to vote, if given a ballot-paper as the Government propose to frame it, will ask, “ Where is the Labour party? What has happened to Australia since I left?” Hundreds and thousands of them would not have gone to the war had they not thought that a party would be governing this country that would do them justice when they came back. It will not give confidence to the men fighting at the front if they are given a ballot-paper that bears on its very face the impress of a mean party trick. The men fighting in the trenches, the men carrying supplies to them, the men doing their lonely beat on sentry-go with the fierce winter winds cutting them to the bone, as cuts the bayonet of the German when they meet in their angry contests - what will these men say when on a ballot-paper from Australia the name of the party they fought for politically, the party that lifted them and theirs to a level of independence that no country in the world has yet surpassed, does not appear ? What will our glorious wounded say if by intrigue, by the force of the organized wealth of the men who do not want to pay their fair share of taxation for the repatriation and other funds, the name of their own party is kept off the ballot-paper handed to them ? They will never hear of the fight we are putting up, they will never get any of the communications we send to them; those things will be censored. Even our cables will be kept in Australia, although the money to send them will be taken under false pretences. We have had one experience of that already in the case of the cable lodged by the Queensland Government during the referendum campaign. That is why we are anxious to have a fair ballot-paper which will enable the soldiers to tell the truth at a glance. The Government are making an innovation in ballot-papers. Heretofore nothing but the/ names of the candidates has appeared on them. We have denounced Governments in this country for refusing to start on the path of progress, but it can be said to their credit that they never once attempted to use the power they undoubtedly possessed in their Legislative Councils and Assemblies to so manipulate the ballot-paper that it would not convey the truth at a glance. I appeal to those members who still claim to be as good Labour men as ever they were, although they support the present Government, to help us to place on the ballot-paper to be sent 12,000 miles across the water a sufficient description of parties to enable the Labour supporter, or the opponent of Labour, at the front to know at a glance whom to vote for. I am not asking for fairness for one party and unfairness for the other. Let the Government call their party anything they like - National League party, Colonial Sugar Refining party, Meat Trust party, or any other sweet name that it pleases them to work under; but let them give us the privilege of choosing our name. All we ask for is the simple words “ The Labour’ party.” We are the Australian Labour party, but we do not ask for the full term. No one will suffer by that concession. The Ministerial party is a strange compound, containing men with views on social questions as wide apart as those of Sir William Irvine and Senator Henderson. The Coalition is only temporary. From its very organization it must fall to pieces when the war is over. In normal times you could not get the men of whom it is composed to think together, act together, work together, or sit together, their views on social questions are so repugnant to each other. Seeing that the members to be elected to the Senate will hold their seats for six years, it is essential that the men at the front should be able to know which party they are voting for. It is distasteful to me to have party names on the ballotpaper; but when I tried to have the candidates’ names included instead, the Government raised so many difficulties that my proposal was defeated. There devolves, therefore, on the Committee the solemn duty of seeing that the ballotpaper is so devised as to be fair to both sides. I offered to compromise this evening in any fair way that would give satisfaction to both parties. That offer was not accepted. If it is said that politicians cannot agree on the question, 1 am prepared to write down the names of independent gentlemen altogether removed from party, and hand them to the Leader of the Government. Let the party leaders place before them the party names that they ‘desire, or that they will accept, and let those gentlemen select the names to go on the ballot-paper. Is that a proposal coming from a man who wants a party advantage? I would be quite prepared to let the Chief Electoral Officer decide. He has been trusted, and has shown himself trustworthy, for many years, and I would accept his decision as final. I am willing to let a Committee of any fair-minded men. in Parliament or out of it, make a final selection of the names. That shows that I am asking only for a fair deal in this most important matter, which affects the votes of 250,000 soldiers at the front. That is a perfectly fair proposal, and one which the Government could very well accept with credit to themselves. “With a majority of one, they may think they are entitled to have every line and every comma of the Bill passed as submitted, and if that majority of one will persist in voting for unreasonable proposals, we will have a ballot-paper that will not properly describe the political standing of the candidates. The Government appear to possess the magician’s wand. They can say to one man, “Disappear,” and he goes ; and to another, “ Come up,” and he springs up like a mushroom in the night. But the men who control the Government are not sitting in their places to-night, and they are not to be reached by telephone, so that the mandate which they gave as to the form of the ballot-paper stands until they can be communicated with. The Government taunt us with machine-made politics, when all the time they are creatures of a machine themselves, for they dare not alter the Bill in the slightest- detail in opposition to the interests which control them. The trusts, the Sugar Company, and all the other great combinations would wipe them out with a stroke of the pen if they dared to alter the measure. They know that former members of the Labour party - men who belonged to a stalwart band before they came under their malign influence - will now stand by them in all that they do, so they will not listen to any reasonable proposition or come to any compromise. They talk to us about the tyranny of outside organizations ! I would to Heaven that we had more of this “ tyranny,” which has helped into Parliament men who are prepared to stand up for the interests of the worker and watch over the cause of Labour. “We will fight to the last gasp to get a fair deal between the two parties in this matter. We are demanding, in the name of the Australian working man, that no ballot-paper shall be issued to soldiers unless it is fairly descriptive of the . candidates for whom they will be called upon to vote. The Government, having control of the cable service, will not allow us to cable any information . to Britain, and possibly they will also stop letters sent to the soldiers; but even then they may not be successful. Some method may still be found to prevent this manipulation of the elections and the soldiers’ vote. I repeat that if the Government will offer any reasonable compromise I am prepared to accept it.
– I thought, after the appeal of the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Millen would be prepared to make some offer that would shorten the debate.
– All right, get to a division.
– There are a few other senators who desire to say something on this question.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to the fact that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– This is a matter of great importance to the Labour party, because of the innovation introduced in clause 8, which provides that the designation of the candidates for the Ministerial party shall be settled by the Prime Minister, and those for the Opposition by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, and that these designations shall be printed on the ballot-paper. If the Government wish to be fair, they will not issue the ballot-paper in that form.
– Is there a quorum present ?
– You have just sent Senator Watson out. [Quorum formed.’)
– It is proposed to submit to the Australian soldiers who are fighting for the Empire a new kind of ballot-paper in a form which has never yet been heard of in Australian elections. They are to be asked to vote not for candidates, but for parties. We have endeavoured to induce the Committee to revert to the old method of having the names of all the candidates on the ballotpapers, but we have been defeated on that point, because Ministers say that the difficulties in the way of printing the names of the candidates on the ballot-papers are insuperable. An accidental majority of the Committee has decided that an innovation is to be adopted; consequently Australian soldiers who should have the right to say who shall represent them in the making of laws under which they will have to live are to be denied that right, and are to be permitted to vote for parties only - Ministerial or Opposition. There were two parties in Australian politics - Liberal and Labour - when many of our soldiers who will vote left Australia. Unfortunately, there has been a split in the Labour party, and about a third of its numbers have joined forces with the Liberals in. a Coalition. The honorable senators opposite are entitled to claim to be known as the Ministerial party, or if they prefer it, as the Coalition party, or again, as the National party; but we are equally entitled to claim to be known by our own title, that is, as the Labour party. ‘ Undoubtedly those who are on the Ministerial side will fight this election as one party. I had the honour, which I shall always cherish, of being a member of the first National Parliament of Australia, when there were three parties in this chamber - Free Trade, Protectionist, and Labour. Our leader was that magnificent old man, Senator McGregor, whose loss has been deplored by every Labourite from one end of Australia to the other. We can almost hear his voice still ringing in this chamber. To-day he would gaze with wonder if he could see his old colleagues sitting on the Ministerial benches with men from whom they were so wide apart on questions affecting the progress of Australia. We are still to-day the same Labour party that was led by Senator McGregor, and surely we should not be denied the right to retain the name by which we have been known through all these years. If Senator Millen will say that he is agreeable to altering the schedule in order to delete the word “ Opposition’’ and insert “ Labour” in lieu thereof, he can have all the rest of the Bill, so far as I am concerned-.
– But that is the sole bone of contention.
– It it the point for which we are contending. I am sorry that Senator Millen remains silent. Is it not unfair to ask us to chance the name by which we have been known? Many people have asked us to change our name. They like our politics and our printed platform, and the pledge which binds us to carry out our platform, but they consider that the. name “Labour” is too narrow. I do not think that there is any Labour man in Federal or State politics who has not been asked on many occasions why some other name was not chosen. I should imagine that Senator Russell has frequently heard the request from his friends.
– They have never asked me to support an arrangement that would, prevent a majority of the people from giving expression to their opinions.
– What we are now asking would not prevent a majority of the people from giving expression to their opinions.
– The reason that I am here on these benches is that the Labour party would not allow the expression of the will of the majority of the people.
– I have not mentioned the Honorary Minister’s name with any offensive intent, but simply because he was formerly .a member of the original Australian Labour party, and because I feel sure that he, in common with every other member of the Labour party, has had the request made to him that the name of the party should be changed. The name “Labour” is not considered respectable. During the sixteen years that I have been in this House personal and political friends have frequently said to me, “ I wish that your party would change its name.”
– This is very nice history, but what has it to do with the amendment ?
– I submit that my remarks are entirely relevant to the issue before the Chair. Clause 8 deals with the schedule, which provides that the soldiers shall be asked to vote, not for the candidates by name, but for -a party, either Ministerial or Opposition. As a member of the party on which the Government seeks to fasten the name Opposition, but which claims the name of Labour, I submit that I am in order in demonstrating to the Committee our right to the title for which we are fighting. We are only asking that the name by which our party has always been known shall be allowed to remain. You, sir, who until a few months ago, were a member of the party sitting on this side, but by a combination of circumstances over which we had more or less control, are now opposed to this -party, must admit that we ‘have some justice on our side when we say that the schedule shall contain the word “Labour” instead of “Opposition.”
– I do not object to relevant argument, but I object to the honorable senator giving a history of the Labour movement.
– The Labour party is justly proud of the name which’ it has borne for the last sixteen years in this Parliament. It is entitled to be proud of the men and women who have voted for it, and we fear that there will be a grave danger of those soldiers who have always supported the Labour party being misled if ballot-papers are presented to them in the form proposed by this Bill. For sixteen years those men have been voting for the party in Australian national politics which they believe can best handle the destinies of the country in the interests of themselves and their dependants. The name of that party is the Labour party. This Bill represents a proposal by our former leader to deprive us of the title, but for which our organization would never have grown to its present dimensions. It was the term Labour which enabled the party to come into power after the election of 1910, and to do more than all other parties that have held office since the inception of Federation to. place on the statute-book great progressive measures for the advancement of Australia. But by a scratch of the pen Senator Millen proposes to sweep away the title Labour party and insert in its place merely the word Opposition. Incidentally, I may be a member of the Opposition while still a member of the Labour party. But the whirligig of time brings about such changes in’ politics that within a couple of months I may be sitting on the Ministerial side of the chamber, though’ still a member of the Labour party. If that should happen, the term Ministerialist might be incidentally attached to me in the press, but I should be prouder of the fact that I was a member of the Labour party. If the Leader of the Senate will even now indicate his readiness to amend this Bill by only one little word, so far as I am concerned, he can pass the Bill in a few minutes. There are other amendments which I should like to see in the Bill, but I am willing to forego them if Senator Millen will agree that the proper name of this party shall appear upon the ballot-papers. It is only justice to the soldiers who are fighting our battles that they should have placed in their hands a ballot-paper which will enable them to know for whom they are asked to vote. “We do not care by what name the Ministerial party call themselves, but we ask that the party on this side shall be described by. its proper name. The Labour party has left its mark in history, and its legislation will live when we are dust. We who represent it to-day are entitled to be allowed to sail under its proper name. Honorable senators opposite ask us to give up our name and adopt that which they would foist upon us. It is not difficult to see why the Prime Minister desires that the party on this side shall be referred to as the Opposition. I am impelled to the conclusion that the reason is that he believes that the Australian soldiers who left the Commonwealth when the Labour j.arty was in power will believe that the term “ Opposition “ indicates the Liberal party. I am sorry that Mr. Andrew Fisher was not here during the last few months in his old position of leader of the Labour party. I am satisfied that if he had been here, the lamentable split in the party would . never have occurred. Fortunately for the people of Australia, the party has not been equally divided, since those opposed to the present Coalition Government represent more than twothirds of the original Parliamentary Labour party
Sitting suspended from 12 midnight to 12.J/.5 a.m. (Saturday).
– The Government are refusing our fair request, because they feel sure they can get a big party advantage out of this robbery, this stealing of the name of the Labour party. Most of the soldiers who left Australia went away when the parties here were the Labour and the Liberal parties, wilh the Labour party just returned to power, and the Liberal party, or the old Conservative party, a .conglomeration of a number of remnants of other parties, discredited at the hands of the electors. So, when asked to vote at a Federal election, the soldiers will naturally think the Labour party is still in power. They cannot keep abreast of our political movements in the turmoil of warfare. They will think this opportunity to vote is the gift of a Labour Government, and only what they would have expected from a Labour Government, and, not knowing the names of the candidates, they will naturally mark their ballotpapers for the Ministerialists. This Bill looks like a deliberate and malicious attempt to gain a party advantage by robbing the soldiers of their unquestionable right to make their choice without risking a mistake. Believing that they are still voting Labour, as they have always done, their votes will go to the Ministerialists, notwithstanding that two-thirds of the original Labour party still remain in the movement, and are opposing the Ministerial forces. “We ask only what is fair when we ask to be left in possession of the name under which our party has done such great things for Australia. We ask to be allowed to change only one little word in the Bill. We do not get the slightest indication from members on the Ministerial side of any intention to grant us even such a small act of justice. Senator Lynch, who tears a passion to tatters on occasions, and preaches eloquent sermons about justice, says not a word. It angers him to tell him that he is not a 0 Labour man, although he knows that if majority rule still holds good, he cannot claim to belong to the Australian Labour party. I appeal to his sense of justice to admit the indisputable truth that the Labour party sits on the left of the” President, because, in this Chamber at any rate, it contains more than double the number of those who ran away from it and formed another party. Let him picture the feelings of staunch Labour supporters among the soldiers if they find, after voting for “ Ministerial “ candidates, that they have assisted to return to power a few ex-members of the old Labour party, and a far larger number of members of the old Liberal party, whose names were anathema to them when they were in Australia. What will these men think when they find that they have been fooled, and have been deceived into voting for Mr. Joseph Cook and Sir William Irvine, whose name would be anathema to every Victorian Labour supporter? Sir William Irvine attempted to rob a large portion of the workers of their votes, and his name stands for everything opposed to progress and the welfare of the people. This Government contains also Sir John Forrest.
– The Committee is not discussing Sir John Forrest.
– The clause is so wide that one may range over a wide field when discussing it, and thus may inadvertently become irrelevant ; but I think that I am in order in showing how the soldiers at the front may be misled into voting for Sir John Forrest, Sir William Irvine, Mr. Watt, and others - estimable men, but men with whose opinions we and they do not agree. We wish to see in power a Government that will do all it can to bring the war to a conclusion, which will make adequate provision for the repatriation of the soldiers, and the maintenance of those who are wounded and the dependants of those who fall. That, too, is the desire of thousands at the front, who will be deceived by the clause as it stands. Our soldiers at the front will be deceived by the ballot-papers, because they will believe that the “ Ministerial “ party represents the Australian Labour party which was in power when they left Australia, and that the “ Opposition “ party means the Liberal or Conservative party. Unless we can alter the designation on the ballot-paper I am quite satisfied that thousands of our soldiers will make a mistake. We can well imagine their chagrin and disgust when they find that they have been so deceived by the action of the Government and their supporters, among whom I see many old political friends, including Senator Earle, who, at one time, fought so strenuously for the right to be called a Labour man. It was my privilege to render some assistance to Senator Earle when first he came out as a candidate for the Labour party. At that time he attached great importance to the term, which we members of the Labour party are now asked to surrender at the point of a pistol, pointed at us by these political brigands who say that, although we may have every right to the term, we are not to enjoy it because they have the numbers against us. I wonder how Senator Earle can reconcile this position with his Labour conscience. I remember quite well how he “ stonewalled “ all night at a meeting in his own State, because his opponents were waiting to carry a motion against him when he completed his speech, and he kept them waiting from 11 o’clock in the evening till 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning.
– I remind the honorable senator that the amendment before the Committee has nothing whatever to do with Senator Earle, and I ask him to confine his remarks to it.
– I admit that I had digressed slightly, because Senator Earle, who is now a supporter of the Ministerial or Fusion party in this Senate, at one time attached as much value as we do now to the name of our party. It is because of this strong feeling on this side that we appeal to the Government not to insist on the designation which appears in the schedule. A few years after the Federal Parliament opened, there was a movement to change the name of this party, and proposals to that effect were made at meetings of branches of the organization, but Senator Pearce declared that the name “ Labour party” was good enough for him; that having come into politics under that name, he would stick to it. He said that under it great things had been done for Australia. Should the amendment be carried, the schedule would be altered, so that the party names appearing in it would be “Ministerial party” and “ Labour party,” and the necessary consequential amendments would follow. The Committee has decided that the names of the candidates shall not be printed on the ballot-papers, and by this little trick that the amendment is designed to frustrate, the Government hope to gain some thousands of votes which, if the soldiers were properly informed, would be cast for the Official Labour party. Two-thirds of the young men who have gone from these shores are the supporters of Labour. Since they began to think for themselves, and to study political economy with a view to the intelligent exercise of the franchise, they have been convinced that it is the Labour banner under which they should enroll;’ and when the true history of this political chicanery has been written, they will find it hard to believe that these spieler tricks-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I ask the honorable senator to withdraw those words.
– I withdraw them. These cleverly and cunningly devised political tricks - -
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I do not think that the honorable senator should charge Ministers with having indulged in political tricks.
– Then I shall term them clever and cunning schemes which will not fool the soldiers. They are the acme of political cunning and dishonesty.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw those words. It is not in order to impute motives.
– it is true that to charge any one with political dishonesty might be held to be imputing motives, therefore I withdraw the words.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I ask the honorable senator to address himself to the question before the Chair.
– I thought that I was doing so in pointing out that this political device is calculated to mislead tens of thousands of our Australians at the front.
– On a point of order, is the honorable senator permitted to speak of the Bill as a cunningly devised scheme to mislead the soldiers ?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Honorable senators must not use words that impute motives.- If Senator O’Keefe does not confine his remarks to the amendment, I shall have to take some action.
– I do not wish to evade the ruling of the Chair ; but, in a political sense, it is unfair to place before the soldiers ballot-papers which will not put the position to them clearly. If the electors in Australia are entitled to have all misunderstandings cleared away by the advice of departmental officers, and by explanations given through the press, surely it is fair that the same facilities should be provided for those who are .at the front. The proposal in the Bill will simply cloud their judgment, and many of the men will not be allowed to know for whom they are voting. Until we can secure the amendment for which we are asking, we are entitled to use all the forms that’ the Standing Orders permit to show the country the intentions of the Government. There is evidently no intention to make the true position of parties clear to the absent voters. If thi3 were a haphazard system there might he, on the law of averages; a chance of probably half the soldiers voting as they wished to vote, but if the Government proposal is allowed to pass, the Labour party will stand little chance of getting more than a very few of the votes to which it is entitled. It appears as if the Government are attempting to take a party advantage.
– Order ! Those words are distinctly out of order.-
– I have heard that phrase used a hundred times in this chamber, and it has not been ruled unparliamentary, but as you, sir, rule that the remark should not be made, I withdraw it. The Government are not acting fairly to the Labour party and the soldiers who may wish to vote for it in proposing to place in their hands a ballotpaper that is distinctly misleading, if not wilfully so. Men who cast their votes for the Ministerial party will believe they are supporting the Labour party which was in power when they left Australia, and if they vote for the Opposition it will be in the belief that they are supporting Senator Millen and Mr. Cook.
– It would appear as if this measure had been kept back by the Government for the specific purpose of preventing the Labour party being in a position to place its views before the soldiers.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable senator must not impute motives. He must address himself to the amendment.
– My desire is that the words “Labour party” shall replace the word “ Oppositionist.” The cable and postal services are under the control of the Government, and after our experience of their behaviour during the referendum campaign, and their administration of the War Precautions Act, especially in connexion with the censorship, I believe they will leave nothing undone to prevent the soldiers abroad from learning the true position of affairs in Australia. The words “Ministerialist” and “ Oppositionist “ cannot possibly convey to the men abroad a correct understanding of the political situation. I am very jealous of the name “ Labour,” which adequately describes our party, and the determination of the Government to suppress the name can have no other object than to mislead persons who are not on the spot. I warn- the Government that, if necessary, we shall send representatives to Great Britain and to the front, because we are resolved that our views in regard to this matter shall be fully known to the voters abroad. The Government may, by their cussedness in refusing to make the amendment we desire, compel us to incur unnecessary expenditure in placing before the soldiers our view of the political position, but that will not deter us. In fact; their action will supply us with a good argument for the coming election campaign. We shall be able at every election meeting to denounce them as men who unscrupulously robbed us of our name. We shall leave nothing undone to place the true position before the electors. The present is a most inopportune time to introduce an innovation of this character. This is the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, or of the States, that a proposal has been made to remove the names of candidates from the ballotpaper. The object is to rob the Labour party of the votes to which they are entitled. I am at a loss to find words which will indicate what I think of the action of honorable senators opposite. They will get a press backing in the coming campaign which we cannot hope for ; but oura is a strong party, and it must not be forgotten that the defection of some of the members of the party in this Parliament does not mean that there has been a corresponding defection of members of the party outside. From the time Labour became a political entity in the Commonwealth we have been known as the Labour party. All the legislation on the statutebooks of Australia of which there is reason to be proud has been the work of the Labour party. In New South Wales at one time, one man having sufficient property might exercise as many, votes as he was physically capable of recording. Many had twenty or thirty votes each, and the contests for different seats were so arranged that they could record them all. The Labour party devoted one electoral campaign exclusively to that matter, and succeeded in carrying the principle of one man one vote. The same party must be credited with the extension of the franchise to women in New South Wales, and also with the adoption of the principle of adult suffrage in the Commonwealth and in each of the States. The Labour party in New South Wales is responsible for the best Local Government Act in force in any country in the world. The Government have held back this measure until it is almost too late for us to place our views before the men at the front. The great bulk of those men are members of unions and Labour supporters, but they have been engaged in a more important work than that of following the trend of politics in the Commonwealth, and many of them may be unaware of the political changes which have taken place. The Government proposal to rob the Labour party of their proper name is intended to mislead the men at the front in the hope that they may secure their votes. The Labour party in New South Wales are responsible for passing the Old-age Pensions ,A.ct
– The Bill does not deal with old-age pensions, nor does it detract from what the Labour party has done.
– It proposes to rob us of our name, and thereby to rob us of the credit to which the party is entitled. The object of the Government is to deceive the electors on tile other side of the world. No word but “ deception “ or “deceit” can adequately describe their conduct. They hope to mislead the electors so as to snare some of our votes. They can call themselves the Hughes-Cook combination, the Coalition, the Fusion, or the Calamity party, but they must not interfere with our name. No doubt many members opposite are ashamed of what they have done, and would be glad of a new name, but we are not in that position. Our party has been responsible in New South Wales and in other States for imposing more or less drastic land value taxation.
– Land value taxation is not in the Bill. Will the honorable senator kindly let it remain where it is?
– I object to honorable gentlemen opposite trying to rob our party of credit for the efforts we have made to place taxation upon the broad shoulders of the monopolists. New. Zealand ‘is in the unfortunate position of never having had a Labour party or Labour Government. Its’ people are apparently satisfied with the “ asgoodasLabour “ men, and it is their misfortune that they have never been able to get a party with a distinct name like ours. It has been absolutely unfair of the Government to hold back the Bill with malice aforethought to prevent us from placing our views before the men at the. front, and to bring in this innovation at the eleventh hour. These things are quite worthy of the gentlemen opposite, but I. warn them that we will expose them from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. We will go further. We will follow them to Rabaul, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Salonika, Great Britain, and France, and give them the doing of their life-time.
– All we ask is that both parties shall be properly labelled. There have been rapid developments in our political history during the last twelve months, and no less than three different Governments have’ been in power. Men who were Ministerialists when the soldiers went away are now Oppositionists, and vice versa and the descriptions of parties proposed by the Government will make it utterly impossible for the men at the front to make a true distinction. The Government’s object is plain. A number of men on the other side who have seceded from the Labour party are ashamed of the company they are in, and are afraid that we will let the men at the front know that they are in a Coalition with the traditional enemies of Labour. I am glad they have a little shame left. I am jealous for the Labour party, which has a great history and a great future, and, like every other Labour man, I am determined to do everything possible to protect the party and its name. The Government proposal is a trick to deprive’ the men at the front of their votes. The soldiers there are out of touch with our politics through no fault of their own. To them “ Ministerialist” might mean a rabid Labour man or a rabid Tory. To-day some rabid Tories are Ministerialists; a few months ago good Democrats were Ministerialists; sp the descriptions in the Bill are no descriptions at all. Since it came to light that the Anzacs gave such a splendid vote against conscription the Government have been terror-stricken. They dare not refuse the- Anzacs the vote for this election, so they resort to a mean subterfuge to neutralize the effects of that vote. That is not playing the game.. The Anzacs are putting up a great fight for us, and it is “up to us” to give them a fair deal. This the Government are not doing. To describe us as “ the Opposition “ does not convey to the lads at the front that we are the Australian Labour party. When these men went to the front, the greatest reactionaries that this Parliament has ever seen were in Opposition; and if we adhere to the designation in the schedule, our soldiers will probably conclude that “ Opposition “ candidates represent the same old crowd of brigands who were in opposition a couple of years ago; and possibly, on that account, they may vote against, instead of for, their own party’s candidates. When these men went to the front, we had in power a Government with a definite Labour programme, and with a great reputation - a Government that had been responsible for the White Australia policy, and which had given to the people of this country the widest franchise in the world. When the Labour party entered the political arena the vast majority of our citizens had no vote at all. The money magnates had the voting power, but the Labour party abolished plural voting, gave the franchise to the women of the Commonwealth, adopted adult suffrage, and placed the poorest man or woman upon the same political plane as the richest man or woman. It was by achievements of this character that we won our name of “ Labour “ members, and we want to be able to hoist that flag during the coming elections. Unlike the Government, we are not ashamed of our name,- and do not want to hide it from the people. Members on the other side have changed their political name so .often that many people have forgotten what they are. If they could get a definite designation for their political organization, perhaps they would be disposed to allow to us the term we demand.
– I call the honorable senator’s attention to standing order 421, which refers to irrelevancy or tedious repetition. I ask the honorable senator not to continue his repetition.
– I shall endeavour to avoid tedious repetition, but I do want the men at the front to know which candidates will represent our party during the coming election. The policy of our party is superior to that of the party on the other side, and, that being the case, the men on active service will naturally prefer to vote for our candidates. If the candidates are designated merely “ Ministerial “ and “ Opposition “ on the ballot-paper, how are our men to know which represents the Labour party? There is no reason why we should not be called the Labour party and members opposite the “ National Calamity party,” because the latter term would be a perfect description of Ministerial members, as their occupancy of the Treasury bench was the greatest calamity that could have happened in Australia.
– Why do you not obey the Chairman ? Are you looking for trouble ?
– You might call yourselves the “ Mystery Ministry,” or the “ Win the Election “ party, if you like. We would be quite satisfied. We can suggest scores of names, and will give you the run of the whole dictionary to find words properly to describe your party, though that would be difficult to do. You might even call yourselves the “ Conscription Cranks.” We will give you any other name within reason, so long as you allow us to be known as the Labour party. I guarantee that 70 per cent, of the men at the front are Labour men, who ought not to be deceived by the designation of our candidates on the ballot-paper. I know of nothing so contemptible as this effort on the- part of the Government to deprive the men at the front of their right to the fullest information with regard to this matter. We consider no trouble too great to afford facilities to the people in Australia to vote, and we should make even greater efforts to help the men at the front iu the discharge of their electoral duties. We might as well disfranchise them as deceive them. I do not say that they are going to be disfranchised in a direct way, because the Government dare not deprive them of a vote, but the next best thing they can do is to have that vote recorded in such a way that the men will not be able to vote for members of their own party.
– The honorable senator is offending again. I shall have to apply standing order 421 if he does not take notice of my ruling.
– I have not the slightest desire to do anything contrary to the good order of the Committee, and, therefore, will conclude my remarks by appealing to the Government to reconsider their decision. “We are not asking for anything unreasonable. Senator Millen must know that we do not desire to secure any advantage. All we want is a fair and square deal.
– The form which the Bill proposes that the ballot-papers shall take will not place before those who are fighting at the front the real political position in Australia. Those who left for the front at the outbreak of the war cannot possibly be cognisant of what has happened in political matters here, and it is not fair to put to them simply the bald question, “ Are you in favour of a Ministerialist, or are you in favour of an Opposition candidate?” These soldiers are not bothering about the fripperies and frupperies of politics; they are interested in the gr eater game. They are doing better work than we are doing here, and their time is not taken up by the consideration of political movements. Yet when they are casting their votes they are to be expected to discriminate between Ministerialists and Oppositionists. Many of us who have been in the hurly-burly of politics could hardly say what Minister was controlling any particular Department a few years back, yet we expect soldiers who left our shores over two years ago to have a fair knowledge of the state of political parties here. I am seeking no favours for myself during the forthcoming campaign ; but I do desire that the men at the front shall be in a position to discriminate among those who are seeking their votes. They cannot exercise any discrimination when they are not acquainted with the names of the candidates. Asking them to give a block vote is asking them to vote in the dark. However, seeing that, bv a decision of the Committee, the names of the candidates cannot be placed on the ballot-papers, the least we can do is to enable the soldiers to understand clearly the parties for whom they are voting. I do not object to being tagged as a member of the Official Labour party. I am a Labour man. I listened with a great deal of interest and pleasure to the suggestion thrown out by my leader, Senator Gar diner. He said that he did not care whether honorable senators opposite call themselves the “ Win-the-war “ party, the Nationalist party, the Hughes-Cook Coalition party, or the Fusion party, or any other name that they might choose to take to themselves so long as honorable senators on this side were given the right to be described by the name by which the party has been known since the establishment of Federation.
– There has been a split in that party.
– There has been no split in the Labour party. We are still members of the Labour party that was in existence in 1901. The split, if there has been any, has been on the Ministerial side. We on this side are still members of the old Labour party, and claim the right to call ourselves the Labour, party. Senator Russell is sitting alongside Senator Gould, who would resent any attempt to apply the term “ Labour party “ to him ; but no honorable senator on this side would be insulted by being termed a member of the Labour party. We simply desire that the men at the front shall know what we call ourselves. Objection has been taken in another place to our claiming the right to the title of Labour party. It has been said that this title has been commandeered by only a section of the Labour members of this Parliament; but I hold that we on this side are justly entitled to claim the name, and to ask that the soldiers shall be enabled to discriminate between the two parties that are asking for their votes. They will not be able to do so if the schedule is retained in its present form. There will be three Ministerial and three Opposition candidates for the Senate in Victoria. Soldiers who may be anxious to vote for me may think that, they are doing so if they put the cross in the square opposite Ministerial, because I was supporting the Ministry at the time of their departure for the front, and they will be misled. If we are described by our official title, which has been the recognised .title of the party since the establishment of Federation, they will recognise the party to which I belong. The Government have nothing to fear in making the alteration desired. It would obtain a better expression of opinion from those who are at the front. There is no desire to secure a party advantage. We wish to give to the soldiers the opportunity to vote for the candidates they think are best fitted to serve their particular interest, and 1 am sure that we ought to be able to come to some understanding on the matter. Some of those who are at the front may know exactly what meaning the words Ministerial and Opposition convey, but I do not think the bulk of’ the soldiers will know the position. Take the case of New South Wales, where Senator Millen and. Senator Gould will be standing for re-election along with Senator Watson. Some of the soldiers may think that by voting for Ministerialists they will be voting for the retiring candidates. If they knew that Senator Gould and Senator Millen were Ministerialists, and that Senator Watson and Messrs. Bowling and Rae were Oppositionists, they would vote otherwise. If the ballot-paper is in the form provided for in the schedule, they are sure to make mistakes. Many of the soldiers at the front do not know that the Hughes-Cook Government are in power, and that Mr. Tudor is Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, and Senator Gardiner’ in the Senate. What we require is a ballot-paper which will enable them to fairly record their opinions on the political questions of the day. We on this side are willing to allow the Ministerialists to take any title that will truly describe them, so long as we are called by the name to which we are justly entitled, that of the Labour party of Australia. Let the soldiers know whether they are voting for. or, against the Labour party. If that is done we shall be satisfied. The soldiers’ vote may affect the representation of the States in the Senate, even though it may not be a determining factor in the voting for the House of Representatives.-
– I have some further arguments to place before the Committee, and I think they should be listened’ to by a quorum. [Quorum formed.”] So far, we have been considering only how the proposed schedule will affect the supporters of the Government and of the Labour party. Clause 8 makes no provision for the other great parties in Australian politics. The Socialist party, for instance, has decided to nominate for New South Wales three candidates, not one of whom is a member of any Aus tralian Parliament. Those men are comparatively unknown to the public. Before they will be allowed to submit their names to the electors, they must deposit £25 each, and if when the vote is taken they have not obtained one-fifth of the number of votes polled by the lowest successful candidate, they will lose their de- posits. Speaking from memory, at least on three occasions that organization, composed chiefly of poor men, has had to forfeit £25 for each of its candidates. The schedule makes provision for only two parties, and if there are Socialist candidates their supporters at the front will not have any Socialist ticket before them, and will have to write in the names of the candidates. Is it fair to ask those men to render themselves liable to forfeit £25 each, and not give them an opportunity of having their names on the ballot-paper ?
– Your amendment will not help them.
– It will, because it provides that each of the parties shall have a ticket. The Socialist candidates whose deposits have been forfeited in the past have willingly made that sacrifice, because they believed that their hard-won earnings had gone to* .right a just cause. Always men who have been in advance of the times have been penalized, sacrificed, and even martyred, owing to the intolerance of men who did not see eye to eye with them. I -hope we shall find sufficient tolerance amongst members of the Senate to prevent Socialist candidates from having to lose their £25 deposits as a result of the adoption of a ballot-paper which will not give their supporters at the front an opportunity of knowing how they are to vote for them. I have a document here which I propose to quote as indicating how the press will probably deal with this matter. It is as follows : - :
Here is a True Picture of Melbourne’s Morning Dailies.
The servile, deceptive, cringing and trustowned newspapers shout at every opportunity that Socialism means murder and anarchy; that it would break up the home, destroy religion, incentive, and ambition, and stifle the noble and higher aspirations of life. They publish all this trash, which they well know is false, because they are paid to do it. Editors are compelled by the profit system to cringingly stultify themselves, in order to live. Not an editor in all Christendom would continue to do this slimy work if they owned their own papers, or did not depend on capitalistic advertising for support. To corroborate this statement, I quote the words of a well-known journalist at a New York Press Club banquet, in response to a toast “ The Independent Press.” “There is no such thing in America as an independent press. You know it, and I know it. There is no one of you who dare to write your honest opinions, and if you did you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid 150 dollars a week for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with - others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things - and any of you who would he so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know this, and I know it, and what folly is this to be toasting an ‘ Independent Press.’ We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks; they pilli the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities, and our lives are all the property of other men. We arc intellectual prostitutes.” - John SWINTON
What is true of the American press is rapidly becoming true of the Australian press. Honorable senators know that what I am saying in Australia’s Senate to-night will- not appear in the press of Melbourne, because I speak against a combine such as the men who control the American press. . On the last division I sympathized with Senator Lynch, who at one time was a free and independent supporter of the workers, and is now a follower of Senator Millen. When a division takes place to decide whether the name of Labour shall appear on the ballot-papers, we shall find voting against the proposal from this side honorable senators who have changed their opinions. I would not be in order if I referred to men who have been paid to change their opinions, and I doubt whether I should be in order if I said that the amendment would be defeated by a majority due to the powerful interests of wealth that sends one senator out of this Chamber and fetches another into it.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the amendment.
– As the amendment has been debated for some time, Iam prepared to bring my remarks upon it to a close. There are other amendments to be moved, and before. I conclude
I might give the Minister in charge of the Bill an idea of what they are, so that he may . be able to say whether the Government will be likely to accept any of them. We may move, for instance, in substitution for the proposal made by the Government, the insertion of the words “ Coalition Ministerial party “ for Government supporters, .and “Labour party” for the Opposition, or “Government supporters “ and “ Labour supporters,” or “Ministerial supporters,” and “ Labour Opposition “ ; and other parties by whatever name they like to register at the time of nomination of candidates. Before we take a division on the amendment now before the Committee, I should like the Minister to say whether any of these suggested amendments would meet with’ his approval. I want honorable senators to think over these suggestions. It is repugnant to my nature to see a body of men deaf to every appeal to reason, intellect, and conscience. I appeal to Senator Earle, who for some time was leader of the Labour party in the State which he represents. It is a sad reflection that a few years of office - : -
– Order ! We are not discussing Senator Earle.
– It’ may be irritating to you, sir, that I should prolong this debate, but in view of the fact that freedom of speech should be maintained at least in this one spot in Australia, it is important that care should be exercised in any rulings that are given in this Chamber. I say that it is a sad reflection that after a few short years of office men who have come from the workshops! and the factories are often found to be the bitterest enemies of their former friends. They may be said to’ have been Democrats by environment, and set out to make conditions better for their associates, and not merely for themselves.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask the honorable senator how the attitude of Senator Earle affects the question of the name of a party on a ballot-paper. I ask him to be reasonable in discussing the question.
– I think I have a right in discussing the question to appeal to the sympathies and feelings of honorable senators opposite, who at one time were fighting for Labour, as I am now. If you say, sir, that that kind of argument is out of order, I shall accept the ruling after the President has confirmed it, but not before. As soon as you think I am out of order I shall not take offence if you rule me out of order, and I know you will not take offence if I appeal to the President against your ruling. In this important matter I appeal to Senators Earle, Senior, Lynch, Buzacott, Newland, and Story.
– Order ! I must rule that the honorable senator is out of order in proceeding on those lines.
– I dissent from your ruling that I may not refer to honorable senators personally as one-time Labourites whom an appeal ‘ to their earlier sympathies might induce to vote for the amendment.
In the Senate :
– “When addressing himself to the amendment he had moved, Senator Gardiner referred to the attitude, past and present, of honorable senators. I, as Temporary Chairman, told him that that line of argument was irrelevant, and asked him to discontinue it. He continued, and I ruled him out of order. I cannot see how the attitude of any honorable senator now or previously can be regarded as relevant to the amendment.
– A hasty conclusion on the facts as stated might incline you, Mr. President, to say it is about time the Committee came to a decision, but I believe that your usually judicial mind will realize that something more than ruling me out of order for following the line of argument accurately stated by the Temporary Chairman is involved. I “was trying to induce one-time members of the Labour party, by appealing not only to their reason, but deliberately to their feelings, to vote for the amendment. I thought I might strike an old chord of memory of the days when they were enthusiastic Labourites. Perhaps I put my sentimental appeal in a way that the Temporary Chairman considered rather far-fetched, but I simply pointed out how strange it was that a few years of office, a few years of comfortable positions, a few years away from the mine, the workshop or the factory, so frequently changed men who came into the Labour movement Democratic by environment, into Conservatives by environment. I wanted to say that a short experience of an environment where one does not need to worry where the next meal is to come from brought about a change. I did not put this offensively; rather it was a sad survey of the situation. If honorable senators are to be tied down to a mechanical method of speaking, I am afraid I shall have to look for a seat elsewhere. I find it very difficult to measure out my words like sausages from a machine, chopping each sentence off at a particular place, and afraid that some one will say the machine is out of order if I make them a little longer or shorter. I appeal to you, sir, to consider the privileges of honorable senators. Is it fair for any Chairman to say that a senator must dress every sentence in a way that will fit in with his opinion? You have duties to perform, and have performed them to the general satisfaction of the majority of the party. But. I also have duties to perform, and could perform them much better if it were not for the restrictions which from time to time the Standing Orders place upon me. This is an occasion on which a fair, broad, and wise interpretation of them will make matters better, not only for me, but for every other member of the Chamber.
– I listened to the whole of, Senator Gardiner’s speech, and thought that he kept strictly within the standing order relating to relevancy. He endeavoured to show that voters at the front would naturally like to he quite clear as to the politics of the candidates for whom they were asked to vote. He assumed that a great number of them would belong to the school of politics known now, and also when those soldiers left these shores, as the Labour party. When he mentioned the names of several senators, including Senator Earle., who were members of the Labour party in Federal or State arenas when the soldiers left Australia, he appealed to them, in view of that fact, for consideration for his amendment. The Standing Orders are only a few printed lines within the four corners of a little book, framed for the convenience and privilege of the Senate; the convenience of the Senate is not made for the Standing Orders. Our rules of debate are not created to restrict the rights and privileges of honorable senators, but to protect them, and that applies to both sides of the Chamber.
– To be torn up “when you have a majority.
– That is an inane interjection. No Standing Orders have been torn up to-night. I urge you to remember’ that if the Temporary Chairman’s narrow and restricted reading of the Standing Orders is upheld, the Senate will be in grave danger of restricting its own rights and privileges.
– The point of order referred to me involves the questions of -irrelevancy and repetition. ‘
– I was not accused of repetition.
– So I understand. The Temporary Chairman, in stating the point, said the honorable senator was repeating statements with regard to the history of the parties on both sides of the House. If the point of order had been raised on the question of repetition, the Temporary Chairman would judge that issue, and I would not feel disposed to review his decision. I believe the Temporary Chairman did not take that point as his ground for ruling Senator Gardiner out of order, but relied upon the question of irrelevancy. Prom the brief resume of the proceedings given to me, it is difficult to say whether the honorable senator was transgressing the Standing Orders. There is no doubt that Senator Gardiner would be in order in making a passing reference to the history of the party when speaking to his amendment that the name of the Labour party should be printed on the ballotpapers, although in doing so he might have gone a. little beyond the bounds of relevancy. As I do -not know the extent to which he went, I feel inclined to give the honorable senator the benefit of the doubt, and rule that he was in order.
– I thank you for your ruling, Mr. President, and I feel sure it will give honorable senators hereafter a very much wider scope for discussion than we have enjoyed sometimes on a matter like this. As my remarks may be wearying to some honorable senators I will not, on this amendment, carry them to any undue length; but I would like to get from the Government an offer of some concession. No longer can this Senate be expected to pass a Bill without altering a phrase or a line. If the Government will say that they will put in a new clause, I will be satisfied. What will happen to Socialist or Single-tax candidates under the Bill as it stands ? If the Government will say that such candidates who may not be well known. to the general body of the public, will not be obliged to pay a certain amount into the Commonwealth Government if they fail to get a certain number of votes, I will take that as a concession. The soldiers are entitled to know the names of all the candidates, and the parties to which they belong. I have before me as intelligent an audience of men interested in the politics of Australia as I could get in the country, and yet I challenge any honorable senators present to give me the names of the three Socialist candidates selected to contest the Senate election in Victoria. I pause for a reply. If honorable senators here cannot give their names, how can soldiers on the other side of the world, - and among them men who may favour Socialist candidates - be expected to know them ? Of course, the Government do not care, because they have a majority, and the majority generally are indifferent because they have their Government. Both are quite happy. When I think of Senator Lynch standing on Sir John Forrest’s doormat waiting to know whether Senators Henderson and Buzacott, or somebody else, is to be dropped to make room for a Liberal candidate, I know there is no earthly hope of getting Senator Lynch to support my amendment. And what hope can I expect from Senator Senior in a matter of this kind ? If he dared to vote to put the word “Labour” in the schedule, he knows that that great orator from Victoria, that gentleman who has been in Adelaide for .the last day or two trying to make smooth the path for good Labour men, would have something to say. Mr. Watt is over in Adelaide exercising his influence, not with the Labour organizations, but with the Liberal junta. I dare say he is trying to find out whether room will be found for- Senator Story or for Senator Newland.
– Don’t you talk any more about ignorance as to candidates.
– Evidently the Leader of the Opposition does not know which South Australian senators are retiring.
– I do not know which are of the first and which of the second class. I know that Senator Senior is retiring, and I understand now that Senators Story and Guthrie are the others. The point I make is that under present conditions there is no hope of getting these gentlemen to vote for this amendment, because they might find that the Liberal junta in Adelaide would put up one or two, and perhaps three, men to run against them. We ought not to be called upon to deal with amendments under such conditions as these. If, while some important amendment was before the Senate, some trade union organizations passed a motion calling upon the men whom they had worked for to vote as they were expected to vote, there would be a great outcry from honorable senators opposite - many of whom were at one time great Labour members - but they dare not say anything when the Liberal machine is at work. If they voted to put the name “ Labour” on the ballotpaper, they would - incur the displeasure of the Liberal junta in Adelaide, upon which their political future now depends. 1 do not think that Senator Senior will deny that.
– Have you heard that Messrs. Lundie, Hill, and Butterfield have been selected as the candidates for your party?
– And properly selected.
– I dare say that our party has selected three estimable men. Mr. Lundie is a very old friend of mine, and is a most estimable gentleman. I know some people do not like his outspoken manner, but I do. Some people never did like men who. worked for the Labour movement. In . Victoria we have as our candidates Senators Blakey, Findley and McKissock; but under this Bill their names will not appear on the ballotpaper to be issued to the men on active service. Men who have made a name for themselves in the Labour movement should not be denied the right to have their names on the ballot-paper and be designated as candidates for Labour representation. The names of Arthur Rae, a member of the Australian Workers Union; Senator Watson, a northern miner : and Peter Bowling, a representative of the coal miners generally, are household words to organized labour in New South Wales. We are denying these men the right to have their names on the ballot-paper, but we should not deny them all measure of justice by prohibiting the use of a party name on the ballotpaper which will be recognisable by those who wish to vote for them. Senator Millen is still a Liberal. So, too, is Senator Gould. It may be that the name of their party has been changed, but their, views have not changed. They are as much opposed as they were to the Labour party. Would they be fairly described on a ballotpaper merely as Ministerialists ? There are Liberals at the front who, absent as they are, so far from Australia, may not be aware that these gentlemen have ceased to be Oppositionists. If Liberals must represent New South Wales, I would as soon see the gentlemen I have named as any others represent the State. In Queensland Senators Mullan, Stewart, and Turley will stand for re-election, and their names will appear on the ballotpapers in Queensland. But at the front their names will not so appear. They have grown grey in the service of their State, which, in many respects, has had its conditions bettered by their efforts. Those soldiers who would reward their efforts by continuing to support these honorable senators - nine-tenths of the soldiers who went from Queensland would be willing to so reward them - will be unable to do so, because the names of these senators will not appear on the ballot-paper. The combines who grasp in one hand Senators Gould, Shannon, and Earle, and in the other the remnant of the Liberal party–
– They would have a good hand.
– They have a mighty grasp. A hand that could take one senator from this chamber and reach out to Tasmania for another to replace him has, indeed, a grasp big enough to hold all these honorable senators, as well as Senator Lynch, who has been waiting on the doormat of Sir John Forrest to learn the fate of his colleagues at the hands of the Liberal junta in Western Australia. It is only since the 14th November last that these honorable senators ceased to be members of the Labour party on their own volition, yet already they are bound hand and foot by those secret juntas that sit in the places in the cities where rich men foregather. They do not dare to vote for this amendment. If Senator Senior dared to vote with us upon this matter his chance of standing for the Senate would be gone. A message would go to a rich club in Adelaide, “ Senator Senior has shown a spark of independence, his name must go.” The fate of Western Australian and South Australian senators is now hanging in the balance, . awaiting the decision of these secret juntas of landlords, wool kings, and so-called captains of industry. Senators Bakhap and Keating have paired on the matter, but one might reasonably expect Senator Earle to support the amendment. He has steered a Labour Government through many troubles, and one would think that his long experience, skill, and capacity would enable him to show us some way out of the difficulty. But he is in that unfortunate position that if he votes for us it will be “ Good-bye, Senator Earle.” He is prepared to show how pliant he can be to these secret juntas so that they will have nothing to complain of concerning him. When the selections are made the juntas will smile and say, “ That was- a fair test. We hold these Labour men entirely in our grasp.” But 1 warn these honorable senators that the harrowing chase, the determined tread, the insistent patter-patter of the following feet will surely be with them to their political graves. There will be no escape from that insistent patter, and the warning voice telling them that they are on the wrong track, until at length they realize the fact that they -have acted wrongly in a mistaken sense of loyalty to a man who has evidently been paid to buy and break the Labour movement. That is why it is almost hopeless to continue the argument. I rose to put forward the view that if the Government will not allow us to alter the ballot-papers they will do an injury to another party for which I have no sympathy, the Socialist’s party, which has already selected candidates. In view of the fact that the Bill will rob these men of the opportunity of getting the votes they are entitled to, are honorable senators opposite prepared to say that it will not rob them of the £25 each which they deposit ? Common . decency demands that if the Government will not insert an amendment to give those men a chance of saving their deposits it should make provision not to deprive them of their hard-earned money. I appeal to Senator Shannon.
– I think the Bill is all right as it is. Let it go.
– I will not let the Bill go. I have already sacrificed some hours of rest, but when I do get to bed I shall sleep the sleep of a man with an innocent conscience, for I shall know that I have made an honest effort to impress upon the Senate the injustice that will be done, not only to the Labour party, but to the Socialist party, by passing the schedule in the form- proposed by the Government. Ministerialists and the Labour party have an advantage over any new party. The schedule-provides for only two parties, Ministerial and Opposition. Already a third party is announced, and will any honorable senator contend that its name should not appear before the soldier voters? I contend that we should insert on the ballot-papers any name by which candidates choose to designate themselves on nomination day. Perhaps the strange indifference of honorable senators to-night is due to the fact that there is happening this week in the various capitals something that should not happen while legislation is being enacted. The juntas of the Beef Trust, the-.Sugar Combine, and other great companies which provide the money to fight the Labour party are meeting together to prepare’ their election campaign. A statement has been published that these combines subscribed £100,000 for the purpose of opposing the Labour party. It is these big sums passing from one to another that cause majorities in Parliament to fluctuate. There are huge sums of money in the hands of designing men who are seeking to get legislation under their own control, and they are now adopting the American principle that it is cheaper to buy the people’s representatives than to spend money on the elections. During the last few weeks I have suffered much pain at the thought that my old comrades for whom in years gone by I had the deepest regard, have been taunting me with being a mere instrument in the hands of the outside organizations. Why is it that they now work with machinelike regularity and vote obediently against amendments moved from this side of the chamber ? I do not know that I shall ask for a division on this amendment. I do not care whether we have a division or not, because it is a sad thing to sit in a division and see men voting against the party which gave them political being.Senator Lynch is unusually quiet tonight. No doubt he is perfectly happy because he, like myself, does not have to face the electors for three years, but if any one had assumed the role of prophet a few years ago, and said that Senator Lynch would be found waiting on the doorstep of Sir John Forrest to learn from him who were to be his political colleagues in Western “Australia, he would have indulged in some of that strong language which “we have heard from him during the last few weeks. The fair name of ourparty is being filched from us by honorable senators opposite, and I am satisfied that the Chairman of Committees recognises that all the latitude possible should be given to members from whom something is being taken. The people will ask what is the evil influence that has settled like a shadow upon this Parliament, when those who were their idols are found doing the last thing that the electors who sent them here would expect them to do. I do not know that Senator Shannon was ever a Labour man, but most honorable senators on the other side were once Labour men. Senator Millen was present at the conference at which the famous pledge which has been referred to here was drafted. I cannot understand why men who assisted to make the name of the Labour party something to conjure with will not support the amendment I- have moved. I recognise that it is hard to keep honorable senators up all night, and if Senator Senior will draft an amendment which will definitely distingush the political parties on the ballot-paper, I shall be prepared to accept it, and will not keep the Committee a moment longer. Is there not one former member of the Labour party on the other side who will say to the Government “ If you will not accept an amendment from the other side, will you accept one from me?” I do not ask Senator Shannon to do that, because the junta does all his thinking and directshim how to vote. I . am afraid it is of no use to appeal to Senator Millen’s Labour sympathies, though his voice was heard at one time demanding that the carriers of Bourke should be relieved from the oppression of the Afghan camel drivers. At that time the honorable senator would have been prepared to make it a plankin the platform of the Labour party that the ballot-paper should contain words fairly descriptive of the parties in an election.
– The honorable senator is transgressing.
– I am sorry, and as evidence of the earnestness of my apology, I will resume my seat.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Gardiner’s amendment) - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority “… … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should like to know what the honorable senator means by letting the Bill through.
– Without any undue delay.
– Our ideas of what constitutes undue delay may not quite tally, in view of the proceedings to-night. The other House, after waiting needlessly for the completion of the Bill by this Chamber, adjourned till 11. o’clock in the morning. I want the Committee, between now and then, to put me in a position to give another place some intimation as to what time they may expect the Bill to be returned. Honorable senators, no doubt, know their rights, and will exercise their judgment in the way they assert them, but if the Chamber wants the Bill to find a place on the statute-book, it will have to proceed within the next few hours with more expedition than it has done in the last.
– I move -
That in paragraph o ii. the word “ Opposition “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “Labour.”
A fresh development has occurred since we began to discuss the amendment on which we have just divided. According to the Age this morning, there is every likelihood of another party entering the field. The following telegram is published regarding the South Australian situation : -
Adelaide. - After Mr. Cook, Minister for the Navy, had addressed the council of the Liberal Union on Friday, the following resolution was carried, practically unanimously: - “ That this council agrees, as a final offer, to run one candidate for the Senate in conjunction with two members of the Hughes party.”
It was clearly stated that if that offer were not agreed to, three Liberal candidates would be run. A selection was. made, which resulted in Messrs. E. C. Vardon, Gr. Ritchie, M.H.A., and Ct. F. Jenkins being selected in the order named.
As the Bill provides for only two parties, this complicates the position. The attempt of the Government to dictate to the Australian people that there shall be only two parties in this election - for that is what the Bill amounts to - is evidently being repudiated by a very strong political body in the southern State. If the new party enters the field the Bill will be so much waste paper, so far as it relates to the soldiers’ votes. It provides that the ballot-papers for the Senate shall mention only two parties. Ministerial and Opposition, although there is another provision by which the voter may write in the names of the candidates. The soldiers will have great difficulty in finding out what other candidates, if any, are in the field. With the Socialists, there may” actually be four parties in the field. Some alteration must be made in the Bill later on to allow for other organizations, but if provision is to be made for only two par ties, they must be called by their propernames, as known to the soldiers at the front before they left Australia. It seams useless to appeal to any sense of fair play in the minds of Senators Millen and Pearce. Not a Minister has told us during this discussion why they refuse our most reasonable request. Our party has been treated with a distinct want of courtesy by Ministers in their stubborn silence. In sixteen years in the Senate I have never seen what we have seen tonight. Generally, Ministers vouchsafe some explanation of their attitude, but those two Ministers have sat here to-night hour after hour and absolutely refused to answer our arguments in favour of improving the Bill. Apparently, we cannot have a remnant of the usual courtesies of political life. Will any of the three Ministers present tell us one reason why they object to our amendment? Will Senator de Largie, who has suddenly awakened, do so? We are asking for a fair thing, not for our party, but for the soldiers. We are told that they are to be allowed to vote at great inconvenience and expense to the Electoral Department and the Government, but unless Ministers display a more reasonable attitude these boasted provisions will not be worth the paper they are printed on. I trust that even at this late hour we shall get some reply from Ministers.
– I cannot help feeling that the attitude of Ministers is due to the sudden and mysterious resignation of exSenator Ready.
– I want to tell the honorable senator at once that the resignation of ex-Senator Ready has nothing whatever to do with this amendment.
– I entertain a different view, but in deference to your ruling I will not say any more on that point. I warn the Government that they are treading on very dangerous ground by forcing this Bill through on their majority of one, because the working people, and the organized unions of this country, feel very strongly on this matter. I suppose that fully 80 per cent, of those men in the firing line belong to the working class, and it is dangerous for the Government so to emasculate the electoral law as to make it almost impossible for those men to know the positions occupied by the candidates for whom they will be asked to vote. The organized workers will not. tolerate this condition of affairs. ‘To-day we were advised for the first time of a sensational event in another country, and I point out that Senator Stewart made a prophecy the other night with regard to the various crowned heads of Europe. Some senators were amused, but we now see that the honorable senator revealed at least one such event that he mentioned a day before the cables gave us the news. I repeat that the organized workers of Australia will not tolerate a measure of this kind, especially designed by men who have deserted our movement and are holding their positions now by the grace of their life-long opponents.
– I protest against the attitude of the Ministry. The ballot-paper, as at present designed, will be confusing to any elector, even within the Commonwealth, much more to those who are actively engaged in the prosecution of the war. It has to be remembered that when the nien left our shores the political situation in Australia was totally different from that which now exists, and it would be utterly impossible for them to know which candidate represented the Opposition party. No one can cavil at the word “ Labour “ as applied to our party, because it is the name by which we have been known for the last twenty-five years. A party may be in Opposition to-day and on the Ministerial benches to-morrow, so it is unreasonable to expect men overseas to understand what is intended by the word “ Ministerial,” and what is intended by the word “ Opposition “ on the ballot-paper. On the Ministerial side today there are three different parties - the’ Liberals, the erstwhile Labourites, and the Independents. And with respect to the Opposition we have the Australian Labour party and anticipate also the nomination of candidates representing the Socialistic party. In addition there may be Independent Labour candidates, who will not ally themselves with the Ministerialists, and will, therefore, constitute another party. It will be impossible to get an intelligent vote in all the divisions of the Commonwealth with the ballot-paper in its present form. There can only be one proper method, namely, to adopt the name “ Labour party “ for candidates representing the present Opposition side. It is despicable in the highest degree that any Ministry holding a little brief authority should try to take- advantage of the situation. By this act the Ministry will light a torch that will illuminate the whole of the coming elections, and perhaps cause a re-action which they do not anticipate. I can quite understand the feelings of those whose sons are at the front when they realize that in all probability the votes of electors overseas will nullify votes given here. This will give rise to such a feeling of indignation that it will re-act on the Ministerial party themselves. The position is, however, of their own creation, and it is one for which we cannot be held responsible. The refusal of .the Government to accept our amendment is a further evidence of their determination to, at all costs, taKe advantage of their majority. We are faced with that unlucky number/ thirteen, but we have a consciousness that we on this side constitute the Twelve Apostles, and I am quite sure that our apostleship will be very high indeed after the election returns are published.
– In view of the special circumstances surrounding the present situation I ask the Minister m charge if he will give this side a pair for Senator Guy, who is ill and unable to be here to-night. Senator Guy has been a member of the Labour party since its inception, and he came into this Senate in 1914. He has always been associated with the Labour party in State and Federal politics, and is very anxious that the name of the party shall not be changed. I am authorized to ask for a pair for him.
– When did the honorable senator get that authorization?
– The honorable senator has had in his pocket a commission from Senator Guy, and after keeping us here for eleven hours over this matter he suddenly comes forward with a request that should never have been made on the floor of the chamber, and which if there had been any sincerity in it, or if it had been at all bond fide, would have been submitted before the debate started. The purpose of the amendment is to secure an alteration on the ballot-papers of the designations by which the parties are to be known. It is exactly the same purpose as that of the previous amendment, and that of the amendment before. These three amendments have been put forward one after another, and the same speeches made on them, occupying eleven hours of the time of the Committee. If any untoward fate overtakes the Bill owing to the conduct that has been displayed by honorable senators the responsibility must rest on those -who are sitting opposite.
– Appeals to the Government Whip for a pair for Senator Guy on other matters have always proved fruitless; but, in view of the particular circumstances of this Bill proposing a change in the name of the Labour party, I made the appeal to Senator Millen on Senator Guy’s behalf, thinking that he would not put any obstacle in the way of a member of his party giving us a pair.
– I am surprised at the manner and the language of the Leader of the Senate. No doubt we have been here a considerable time, but we put forward an offer that we would accept any designation that would be properly descriptive of our party. I have no particular objection to the use of the term “ Opposition “’ so long as the word “ Labour “ precedes it. Surely we are entitled to ask that something shall be done to prevent soldiers from being deceived. My opinion is that the Government do not intend to allow the soldiers at the front to have. the. vote. Knowing the result of the last vote, they will make any excuse to prevent the purpose aimed at by this Bill being effected. Does Senator Millen think that he can get amendments defeated by threatening to drop the Bill? I venture to say that he will drop the measure. At any rate, if it becomes law, Ministers will find some means of dropping it within a. week or two, because they do not intend to allow the soldiers to. vote. At the same time, they seek to place the responsibility on the Opposition. It is no way to meet the Senate to say, “The Bill, the whole Bill, every comma and colon of the Bill, or no Bill at all.” Yet that is the attitude of Senator Millen. It is an attitude which is as unwise as it is unfair. This is the first occasion in my lone1 experience of deliberative assemblies on which I have seen Ministers resent amendments to their Bills. I point out that I voted with the Government on one division during the night. Had I walked out of the chamber on that occasion Ministers would have been defeated. They cannot claim that I have shown any evidence of intent to wreck the Bill. I regret and resent the ill-tempered manner in which Senator Millen has made his threat. He should always remember that we are not a pack of children who can be bounced and bullied. If he has a scheme already concocted for the purpose of preventing, the passage of the Bill, why is he not manly enough to let us know it? I am prepared to take my share of the responsibility for what has occurred during this sitting.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out (Senator O’Keefe’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That in paragraph c the following words be inserted: - iii.In the case of any other party, by the General Secretary of such party.
The Government have not made provision to meet the requirements of any party except the Ministerial and Labour parties. It is within the knowledge of senators that in some States other parties will run three candidates for the Senate, and for some of the House of Representatives seats, and it is more than probable that individual persons will offer their services independently of any party. While I realize that those who are outside the Ministerial party or the Labour party must vote either with the Labour party or the antiLabour party, still on the ballot-paper some provision should be made for them in the same way as an effort is being made by the Government to make provision for the two existing parties.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 -
Nothing contained in sub-section 1 of this section shall be construed as preventing any of the following persons from voting, namely: -
– I take exception to the words “during the present war” occurring in paragraph c of sub-clause 4. A man described by sub-clause 1 may have been a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth or a State before the war, and there is no reason why discrimination should be made between him and a man who has been elected since -the war.
– It is fairly safe to assume that if the clause is left as it stands it will cover only those persons who have been elected since the war, and the fact of their having been returned to Parliament during the progress of the war may he taken as a fairly good indication that the community which knows them best is offering a guarantee as to their standing or loyalty. But there may be other men of whom we know nothing, and who, at some time or other, have been members of State Parliaments, living under conditions which permit of no inquiry into their nationality or loyalty. It is not long since a German who had been a member of the House of Commons was arrested in America for having acted as a German spy, and brought back to Great Britain. I do not say that there is any such person in Australia, but we ought not, in time of war, to open the doors unnecessarily wide. The clause does give recognition to those who have been elected since the war broke out. It is safe now, but if it is widened we cannot be sure that our interests are secured.
– I do not think many people will be affected, but I know of one case in which an injustice will be done. There is in Queensland a Mr. Theodore Unmack, a respected resident, who has been a Minister of the Crown for years in various Administrations, and about whose loyalty there can be no question. This clause disqualifies him for a vote. I admit the force of what the Minister has said, but we have means by which we can discriminate. If there is any question as to a man’s loyalty we can prevent him voting; in fact, we can intern him. I move -
That the words “ during the present war,” in paragraph c of sub-clause 4, be left out.
– What is meant by paragraph d of sub-clause 4? It sounds misleading.
.- The effect of the paragraph is that the person has to satisfy the presiding officer that he is a Christian and either a Syrian or an Armenian. There are many Armenians who are subjects of Turkey, and who, unless this paragraph is inserted, will be disqualified from voting. The Armenians have been tyrannized over by Turkey for years, and to disqualify them because they are under Turkish rule would be unfair to persons who have been struggling for centuries to free themselves from their oppressors. The paragraph is just, and is amply safeguarded.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland) T5.30 a.m.]. - This clause involves an extraordinary departure from an important principle of our electoral law, which at present provides that no aboriginal native of Asia shall be eligible to become an elector of Australia. Syria and Armenia are parts of Asia, and it does not matter whether people born in those countries are Christians or Mahommedans. If an exception is made in the case of an Assyrian, why not in the case of a Chinaman ; and if in the case of an Armenian, why not in the case of a Persian or a Hindu coolie ? How are the authorities to tell that these men are Christians ? Are they going to smell their breath?
– Perhaps the honorable senator will allow me to interpose. I am obliged to him for the opportunity to place before the Committee one or two facts which will show that his objections and fears are groundless. The provision to which he takes exception will not confer the vote upon any one. What it does provide for is that Assyrians or Armenians who already have the right to vote under our Constitution shall be allowed to exercise that right.
– How did they get the right ?
– Under the Constitution, which preserves to them the right acquired under State laws.
– They acquired the right before Federation ?
– No ; they acquired the right under the laws of the States, and the Constitution continues it to them under section 41, which reads -
No adult person who has, or acquires, a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
It is because of that section that this provision has been inserted. A number of Assyrians and Armenians have the right in their respective States at the present time to vote for candidates for both Houses of this Parliament if they choose to exercise it. But, being subjects of Turkey before they became naturalized here, they would be excluded from the exercise of the right under clause 10, and as there is no reason why they should be excluded this provision is inserted in the Bill. I impress upon the Committee that these people already possess the right to vote, and as they are unwilling subjects of Turkey there is no reason why they should not be allowed to exercise that right.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland) T5.35 a.m.], - I can quite understand from the honorable- senator’s explanation why the right to vote is preserved for these people, but why “ Christian “ ?
– Because that is the only means by which we can discover whether an Assyrian or an Armenian is a willing or unwilling subject of Turkey.
– And he is disfranchised if he does not happen to be a Christian ?
– If he is a loyal subject of Turkey he is not entitled to the exemption.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 11 and 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
The validity of any election shall not be questioned on the ground of anything done or omitted to be done under this Act, or on the ground of any omission or irregularity in connexion with the administration of this Act, or on the ground that for any reason whatever it is found impracticable for any member of the Forces to record his vote.
– I should like to know what this clause involves, because its phraseology is very sweeping. I can well understand that there may be extraordinary difficulties in the way of taking the votes of soldiers. It may be necessary for them to record their votes in exceptional circumstances, where the letter df the law cannot be complied with. But the sweeping character of the clause would enable the Government, if they so desired, to indulge in something more than an irregularity, and have their act justified. I do not say that the Government propose to do anything wrong, and no doubt the administration of the law will be in the hands of the Chief Electoral Officer, but there is danger in the sweeping character of the clause, which is sufficient to legalize wrong-doing if committed by the Government.
.- This Bill and the existing Electoral Act will together form the law under which the election will be held. Many of the votes recorded at the election will be taken under quite unusual circumstances, and some of them at places, comparatively speaking, near the front. It may happen that a stray shell will fall in the neighbourhood of a polling booth at a time when the poll could not be legally closed. In such a case the Returning
Officer will collar his box and clear out to a safer place. That would be an irregularity which, if we did not legalize it by this clause, would void the whole election. Imagine Senator Mullan about to be declared elected, and the whole election declared null and void because of such a slight irregularity. The calamity only requires to be stated to insure Senator Million’s hearty co-operation in the passing of the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 -
On the day appointed as polling day for an election of the Senate or a general election of the House of Representatives, no referendum or vote of the electors of any State or part of a State shall be taken under the law of a State.
– I point out that in some of the States there are Acts which make it mandatory upon the State Governments to do certain things on the polling day provided for under this Bill. In Queensland we have a Licensing Act which provides, amongst other things, that on the day of the next Senate election a local option poll shall be taken throughout Queensland on the question of the reduction of licences. That is one matter that would be interfered with by this clause. I know that we have a right to override a State law where it conflicts with ours, but this is a matter to which the States might take strong exception. On former occasions in Queensland we have had the Federal and State authorities taking polls of the electors on the same day.
– Has there been a poll for both State and- Commonwealth taken together?
– Yes; at the last Federal election the Queensland Government submitted the question of the Bible in State schools to a referendum of the people, and, as I have said, the Licensing Act now in force provides for the taking of a local option poll on the question of the reduction of licences on the day of the next Senate election.
– That is rather unfair. The State Governments should take those polls at State elections.
– I admit that there is a good deal to be said in favour of that. There was some debate some time ago on the question of the Government of Queensland submitting a referendum of its own on the question of the abolition of the Queensland Legislative Council at the same time as a Federal election. I see no reason why they should not be permitted to do that kind of thing to meet the convenience of the electors.
– I am rather surprised that any member of the Senate should raise this question. The honorable senator has indicated an effort on the part of a State Government to try to unload an awkward question on to the shoulders of unfortunate senators. There is no reason why a State Government should not provide that a referendum should be taken at the next State election. But the Queensland Government apparently looked around for the most inoffensive Legislative Chamber in the Commonwealth, and as the Senate fills the bill they said, “ Let us try it on the Senate.” I hope that that aspect of the matter will not escape the notice of honorable senators. Dealing seriously with the question, the Government take the view that it is not desirable to confuse or complicate big Federal issues by the introduction of State issues. The question of local option excites a great deal of public attention, and if submitted to the people at the same time as a Federal election might divert the minds of the electors from the larger Federal issues placed, before them.
– Notwithstanding all that Senator Millen has said, it is apparent that the Parliament and State Government of Queensland have taken a contrary view. As a member of a Chamber that is supposed to be the States’ House, I thought it my duty to see that the Government were not likely to interfere with some of the arrangements of the Government of Queensland. I have mentioned the matter now, and I leave the Government to take the responsibility for the passing of the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 and 16 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 16a.. Nothing in the War Precautions Act or in any regulation under that Act as at present existing or under any amendment of those regulations shall apply to this Act.”
A similar new clause was moved in another place. Clauses 16 and 17 give ample power to make regulations. My object is to prevent the possibility of anything being done by way of regulation that might be considered unfair, in view of the great amount of dissension caused previously by certain regulations under the War Precautions Act. No such regulations should be allowed to interfere with the proper and fair carrying out of this measure.
– I ask Senator O’Keefe not to press the amendment. It is impossible to say in what direction the powers- of the War Precautions Act may be required. It has already been found necessary to apply them to some of the work carried out’ by practically every Department of the Public Service. I can conceive of no way in which the provisions referred to by the honorable senator could be used injuriously to the purposes of the Bill ; but there is one way in which they are going to be distinctly beneficial, because it may he necessary to obtain power to enable soldiers already in our camps here to vote. I am not sure that the existing Electoral Act gives that power.
– You had no other power in 1914.
– We had no men in camps at that election, except perhaps lads under twenty-one. Any who were in camp and wished to .vote were given, leave of absence. It is not possible to do that on this occasion. Senator O’Keefe can rest assured that these powers are not likely to be used for any sinister purpose. No Government will entirely destroy the purpose of an Act by using unfairly the extraordinary powers that the War Precautions Act gives.
Senator GRANT (New South Wales)
T5.53 a.m.]. - Is it proposed that the men in camp shall be allowed to vote prior to nomination day?
– There is no reason to ask the men in camp in Australia to vote according to the form provided in the schedule, except in the case of a unit about to embark.
– Then the Government should not object to the circumscribing of their powers under the War Precautions Act. What is to prevent the men in camp casting absent votes?
– War Precautions regulations prevent any civilians going into certain areas where there are soldiers, and will have to be amended to allow the electoral officer to go to such places as forts.
– I understand that an order from the Minister will admit any civilian to any military area. The Minister therefore has the power to enable the electoral officers to enter the camps and take the vote.
– If you can trust the Minister in that case you can surely trust him to pass an amendment of the War Precautions regulations to make the authority general.
– All the regulations necessary for properly carrying out the Bill can be made under the Bill itself, and there should be no interference with the Bill or its regulations by any regulations issued under the War Precautions Act. Some very hard things have been said during the last few months about certain regulations under that Act, which have caused a good deal of heart-burning, dissension, and acrimonious discussion in both Houses as well as outside. I do not say the Government would have any intention to abuse their powers, but I see no harm in the proposed new clause, while it would remove doubts in the minds of many people.
– I presume Senator O’Keefe referred to certain regulations issued with regard to the referendum They were not under the War Precautious Act, but under the Referendum Act itself. I dare say similar regulations could be issued under the regulation clause of thi” Bill. Even if the proposed new claude were carried, the War Precautions Act would still be applicable to the principal Electoral Act, under which the enormous majority of votes would be cast. The honorable senator is making a mountain out of a mole hill.
– Under -what Act were the proposed secret regulations issued ?
– Under the Referendum Act itself. If the . Government liked they could have the 2,000,000 votes cast here recorded under the shadow of the War Precautions Act, while only a few thousand men in the camps would be affected by this clause.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 17 agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
Northern Territory: Notes by Administrator on Speech delivered in the Senate by Senator Newland.
Ordered to be printed.
The War - United States Peace Note: Translation of Allies’ Reply.
Customs Act 1901-1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 61.
– Perhaps you will permit me, Mr. President, to intimate that as I understand the other House has suspended its sittings until 11 o’clock, and as the only amendment made in this Bill is quite formal, and I think is certain to be accepted, you will be consulting the convenience of honorable senators if you suspend . the sitting of the Senate till 11.30 o’clock.
– In view of the state of business, and that the other House is to meet at 11 o’clock to deal with business from the Senate, and in order to meet the convenience of honorable senators, I suspend the sitting until 11.30 o’clock, at which hour I shall resume the chair.
Sitting suspended from 6.10 to 11.30 a.m. (Saturday) .
Telegram from Trade Union Secretary.
– I desire to acquaint the Senate that this morning I received a telegram which has relation to the question of privilege recently before the Senate, and which, for its information, I will read -
In reference McCarthy’s telegram to you kindly permit me to say McCarthy has no executive authority to make such statements or demands,. I absolutely behalf union repudiate any connexion with matter. My general instructed to convey same to Senate through Senator Needham.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
The PRESIDENT reported the message from the House of Representatives that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendment in the Bill.
Close of the Session and Prorogation of Parliament - Conduct of Business - Senator Gardiner and the President - TheWar: Enlistments and Casualties : Bereavement of Senators Story and Guthrie - Censorship - Case of F. Polkinghorne - Soldiers and Nurses - Lettercarriers’ Uniforms - Separation Allowance.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
So far as I can see into the future, although this motion implies a reassembling of the Senate on Wednesday next, I anticipate that a reassembling will be unnecessary, as that between this date and Wednesday Parliament will be prorogued. I make the intimation so that although the motion may appear to be one to adjourn until Wednesday, I anticipate that this is the last occasion on which we shall meet in this session. It reminds me of the fact that the session is unprecedented, not only in our history, but probably in the history of any Parliament in the world. It is phenomenal in that respect, and it arises from the unfortunate, tragic circumstances of the war. Honorable senators know the reasons which have prevented us from closing our periods of meeting in such a way as we ordinarily . do, making each meeting a session. In making that announcement I desire to follow the time-honoured custom of saying a few words to my fellow senators. I think that I shall express the hearty and sincere feeling of the Chamber by saying that we earnestly hope that before long the clouds of war will be lifted, and that once again over each country in the world the Angel of Peace will be spreading its wings. We are parting under circumstances which will necessarily involve, during the next few days, a period, not of rest, but of intense struggle and political strain. I earnestly hope that we can enter into that conflict with a strenuous determination to secure the vindication of principles, bearing no illwill to those who disagree with them. I sincerely trust that, breaking up as we are now, and saying good-bye to one another, we can at least forget the bitterness of debate; forget even those blows which we have received and which some of us have attempted to return. We can, at any rate, on this occasion part as combatants in the political arena who have been fighting animated by a regard for the views we hold, but free, as I think most of us can claim to be, from any personal bitterness which has arisen in consequence of the struggle. I express that hope, and I feel that my fellow senators share with me in offering them on behalf of the Government ‘
– A safe and speedy return.
– I wish these honorable senators a safe and speedy return to their homes, and may I recommend to some of them this obvious truth - that there are many charms about one’s home. It may be that the 5th of May will furnish some of us with the opportunity to enjoy home life a little more than we have done. Having offered to my fellow senators my personal good wishes and those of the Government, I would like, . similarly, . to offer to you, sir - and here I think that I can speak for honorable senators at large - our very best wishes on this occasion, and our thanks for the way in which, during the past few months, particularly in a time which has been obviously one of difficulty for a Presiding Officer, you have advanced the reputation which you have created for yourself since your elevation to the Chair. It is impossible to suppose that at the time when action is taken - when there are two conflicting bodies- we can all mutually appreciate the decisions from the Chair. But I venture to say, when honorable senators look back over the events of the months to which I am referring, that there will be a general and cordial recognition of the fact that, under not easy circumstances, you have upheld the best traditions of the office you hold. I desire to. offer, also, our best wishes to the officers of the Senate. They, too, have shared with us not an easy time. As heretofore they have discharged their duties in a way which has considerably eased the labours of honorable senators, and to them also our good wishes go out. The Hansard staff similarly are entitled to some little sympathy. And that sympathy, I am sure, will go out as much from the honorable senators who did not contribute to their labours as from those who did. I am sure that to-day we find Hansard discharging its duties with the same capacity in which, I think we can say with every regard to scrupulous truth, they have always been discharged - in a way highly creditable, not merely to the ability of the officers, but to their impartiality. One other intimation, sir, and that is that when these formal proceedings have terminated it will occasion the Government very much pleasure if honorable senators . will reassemble upstairs.
– I listened with pleasure to the very kindly remarks of the Leader of the Senate. I propose to shorten matters by simply saying that he has expressed my sentiments too. I, in common with other honorable senators, recognise that this session of our Parliament is quite unique in the history of parliamentary government. It has been so crowded with events during the last two years and six months, or a little more, that we have been in existence that not only does the period appear to be ten years, but I feel that we have aged by quite that much. The consideration of the nation’s welfare, which I quite conceive those who differ in politics hold just as dearly as do those who think with me, has been one continuous strain, one matter for constant anxiety to all sections of the community, and more especially to the parliamentary representatives of the people of this country. The session has seen four separate Governments controlling the destinies of the Commonwealth. I venture to say that it has never occurred before in the history of Parliament in Australia. First we had the Fisher Government; then we had the first Hughes Government; it was followed by the second Hughes Government; and now we have the Hughes-Cook Government. It is an extraordinary tiling that, during the period of one session, all these Governments should have come into existence, and have disappeared, with the exception of the one which is now holding office, and which is going with the rest of the members to the country in the very near future. I offer the wishes of goodwill, I do not say success, to our opponents, because my honorable friends would not think much of me if I uttered a sentiment of that kind. I desire a fair field, a fair fight, and the best men to win.
– You mean success to them in every sphere but the political one.
– Apart from the political sphere in which parties are the combatants, in every other sphere, personal and otherwise, I entertain the best of good wishes for those to whom I have been in opposition. 1 recognise how difficult and how strenuous has been the work of the President, the Chairman of Committees, and of the officers of the Senate. I recognise the impartiality with which all their duties have been carried out, and, perhaps, sir, you will take it as a high tribute from me when I say that all the members of my party have a much higher appreciation of the performance of your duties than I have. I do not make that remark to be personally offensive, or to strike one discordant note, but, rightly or wrongly, I have developed the idea that my latitude of debate has always been more curtailed than that of any other honorable senator. It is not a feeling of new growth with me. It originated two years ago. I feel that I have never once stepped over the bounds of correct procedure without being directly called upon to conform to the rules of the Senate. I do not complain that any decision has been given outside those rules, but it has always seemed to me that I have never once gone outside the scope of debate without being called to order. I do hope, sir, if you have carefully attended to the manner in which I have been speaking to-day that, in the next Parliament, you will always carefully attend to every one else. That remark may seem ungracious and one which should not be made at a time like this, but I know that you, sir, will appreciate it when I add that I do not think that one member of my party holds that belief. We will leave this arena to ,participate in a more strenuous combat in the next two months. No man is more easily influenced by nice remarks than I am. If Senator Millen, when he comes back to lead the Senate after the election-
– He will be leading the Opposition.
– I do not like to prophesy before the event, but I venture to say that if much of the strenuous business of the session had been conducted in the way in which the business or the closing hours was conducted, there would be a better understanding between us all.
– That is to say if Senator Pearce had as much tact in his whole body as Senator Millen has in his finger nails.
– If I want to get out of this session with one thing it is that I may not even hurl any unnecessary darts at an old colleague, Senator Pearce, with whom I worked for so many months happily and in harmony. I cannot, however, allow the session to close without putting a few figures on record. Some time ago I quoted certain figures here in regard to the wastage occasioned by the war. I estimated that wastage at about 5 per cent. I affirmed that 5 per cent, would certainly bo found to be much nearer the mark than the 16,500 reinforcements monthly which Senator Pearce claimed were necessary to replace the wastage of war. Yesterday the Minister tabled a return which so conclusively confirms the opinion which I had previously expressed that, even in the midst of all the nice things that have been said to-day, I’ cannot refrain from having it recorded in Hansard.
– Is it not already in Hansard?
– I took very good care that it should go into Hansard, because when I was speaking some time ago the Minister for Defence interjected, “ Then you refuse to accept the War Council’s figures?” to which I replied that I did. I know that when an Australian who is so far removed from the centre of operations has the temerity to say that he declines to accept the War Office figures in regard to the wastage amongst out troops, he is up against a tough proposition. But when the War Office affirmed that, with a fighting line of 100,000 men, 16,500 reinforcements monthly were necessary to replace the wastage, there was evidently something wrong. Without claiming to possess any military knowledge, I reduced the estimate of our losses to 5,000 a month, and I embrace this opportunity to show that, though the War Office is nearer to the heart of the Empire, it was absolutely wrong in attempting to place on Australia the awful burden of finding 16,500 reinforcements monthly. The return tabled by Senator Pearce shows that, whereas in September of last year the number of our dead totalled 14,977, in February of the present year it had increased to only 20,560 - an increase of less than 5,000. Of course, that is altogether too many, so far as we are concerned, and our hearts go out to those who have been bereaved. I come now to the wounded. From the’ same return I gather that in September last the wounded totalled 29,106, whereas at the end of February of the present year the number was only 26,823. It will be seen, therefore, that we have less wounded now than there were in September last, the reason being that men who had been suffering from only slight wounds had recovered and gone back to the trenches. In allowing for the wastage occasioned by war, we ought to take into consideration the fact that slightly wounded men recover rapidly and return to the fighting line. In September of last year the number of sick amongst our Forces totalled 21,898, and at the end of February of the present year it was 22,700. It will be seen, therefore, that, roughly speaking, our casualties up to September of last year numbered approximately 67,000, whilst at the end of February of the present year they numbered only 68,000. So that during all the intervening months there has not been a difference in our fighting strength of 5 per cent., or 5,000 men. . I venture to say that if these figures could be put before Australians, together with the record of the glorious achievements of our soldiers, it would tend to give a great impetus to recruiting. They prove conclusively that the wastage of war is nothing like what has been represented to us. Much as is the bravery required to face the awful conditions of modern warfare, thiB record shows that the number of casualties sustained constitutes a very small proportion of our fighting strength. I intend to give publicity to this fact wherever I may go, and I hope that other honorable senators will do likewise, because the only obstacle to recruiting in .the Commonwealth is the fear that is naturally entertained by men, who otherwise would offer their services, that those whom they leave behind may not be provided for in the way that they should be. If we can truthfully point out that the wastage is only what is shown by the figures which I have quoted, it should prove a great stimulus to recruiting. To-day our wounded number 26,823, and a month hence it will probably be less.
– Is not the honorable senator ashamed to advocate that wounded men should return to the firing line?
– I cannot understand the mind of the .honorable senator who asks that question. I know a young man who had a bullet through his lung, and who was told by his doctor that any sudden exertion might cause it to bleed, with; perhaps, fatal results. He asked me whether he ought to enlist under another name. Such men take a different view of fighting from that taken by the honorable senator.
– Would wounded men return to the firing line if plenty of men were available?
– I venture to say that ninety out of every 100 would. Of course, if the matter is always to be dealt with in a party spirit, and with a desire to gain a party advantage,’ I am content to let it end there.
– Why does the honorable senator bring it up now ?
– To show that the 16,500 reinforcements monthly, which was the estimated wastage by the War Office, is about 14,000 too many. I indorse all the kindly sentiments which have been expressed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and will thus conclude my last remarks in this Parliament.
– There is one matter to which I should like to make a reference, as.it affects two honorable members of the Senate. It is a matter upon which I think that I shall be expressing the feelings of all honorable senators: During the present session two honorable . members of this Chamber - Senators Story and Guthrie - have lost sons at the front. I am sure that .1 am only voicing the opinion of every honorable senator when I say that our deepest sympathy goes out to them, and to Mrs. Story and Mrs. Guthrie, in their sad bereavement. Their only consolation is that their sons died in a noble cause, and that they truly laid’ down their lives for their country; There are a number of departmental matters upon which questions have been asked and information promised before the Senate rises. The Vice-President of .the Executive Council has asked me to reply to a question put by Senator Needham in regard to the censorship of some article on finance in Western Australia. He requests me to say that a wire was immediately despatched to that State asking for a report on the matter, but that so far no report has been received. I have, however, seen a wire which Senator Needham himself has received, and which states that the . article in question has since been published with some deletions. When a reply is forthcoming it will be promptly forwarded to Senator Needham by mail. Then Senator McDougall asked a que*tion as to the employment of P. Polkinghorne in the Ordnance Department, New South Wales. The honorable senator wanted to know when Polkinghorne was employed, what is his rate of pay, and what arc hia qualifications? In reply, I wish to say that he commenced duty on 7th May, 1915, that his rate of pay is 12s. per day, and that he is a temporary examiner of softgoods in the Examiner of Stores Branch. Mr. Harper states that Polkinghorne is capable of examining softgoods comprising such articles as putties, hats, &o. He is generally employed at the mills, where he works under the supervision of the assistant examiner. Some time ago ex-Senator Ready asked me -
Is it a fact that no private is allowed to speak to a nurse in a street in uniform, either in Egypt or in England?
A cable was sent to Great Britain on the matter, and I have now received a reply stating that there is absolutely no foundation for the report. Then Senator Mullan raised a question in regard to the supply of uniforms to postmen in Queensland, and my colleague, Senator Russell, promised to obtain a report on the subject. I have that report here. It states -
With reference to your recent telephonic advice that Senator Mullan had made representations in the Senate that up to the 6th inst. summer uniforms had not been issued to the Queensland postmen, and that the supply to each individual postman in the past waB not in all cases sufficient, I beg to inform you that in December last advice was received from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, that owing to delays in delivery due to war conditions, the summer uniforms for 1915-16 were not completed until February, 1916, and that the winter uniforms for 1916 were not completed until the end of September last. In this connexion he has mentioned that the summer and winter uniforms supplied to all -places south of Rockhampton are identical, and that the khaki uniform supplied in the north is suitable for either summer or winter wear.
– I would like to ask the Minister for Defence whether it is true that sailors’ and soldiers’ wives in England are not receiving separation allowance, and, if so, why it is withheld ?
– At the outset I would like to remind Senator Barker that the Minister for Defence, having already spoken to this motion, has no right to speak again. Before putting the motion I desire to thank the Leader of the Senate, Senator. Millen, for his kindly references to myself in regard to the length of time that I have occupied the -chair, and the way in which he considers I have discharged the duties of my office. I also wish to thank Senator Gardiner for his candour in speaking on the same matter. I regret exceedingly that he apparently labours under a sense of having been treated somewhat unjustly by me.
SenatorGardiner. - It may be that my manner is responsible for it.
– I want to say that for most of the period of which Senator Gardiner spoke, he was a Minister of the Crown, and occupied a seat on the Ministerial bench.. During the whole of that time I never heard from him or any one else a complaint that I had treated him unfairly. It is only of late that he appears to have developed the impression that he has been unfairly treated by me. If I have treated him unfairly I have done so quite unconsciously. I have tried to hold the balance equally as between every honorable senator; and to faithfully and impartially administer the Standing Orders and the practice and procedure of the Senate as I found them; It is not my duty to alter or tamper with the Stand ing Orders or the procedure of the Senate in. any way. It is my duty to administer them fairly and impartially, and that I have endeavoured to do. I think the records of the Senate will show that, and that there is a general consensus of opinion on the part of honorable senators on both sides that my efforts in that direction have been satisfactory. If I have been unfair to the honorable senator–
– I make - no complaint of unfairness; I am complaining of strictness.
– I have no sense at all of having been more strict with Senator Gardiner than with any other honorable senator. If there has been a tendency on my part to be . strict with him, might it not have been due to the fact that there was a tendency onhis’ part to trespass a little beyond the bounds, as most honorable senators at various times try to do? I have frequently had to call a Minister of the Crown to order as well as other - honorable senators, and have . never hesitated to do so. Quite recently I set aside a Government measure as informal and refused to allow it to be put to the Senate. That was the first time in the history . of the Senate that such an. incident had occurred,’ and it shows. that I have not been subservient to any Government, any more than I have been subservient to any Opposition. During my term of office, which now extends over nearly four years, no ruling of mine had ever been disagreed with, nor had any ruling of mine even been attacked, until Senator Gardiner quite recently ‘ submitted a motion disagreeing with a decision I had given. I am perfectly willing to let my reputation for fairness and impartiality, stand on that one instance alone, and to allow any member of the public who is not an inmate of a lunatic asylum to judge who was fair on that occasion. I regret that, owing to the candour of Senator Gardiner, of which’ I make no complaint, I have felt impelled to make ‘ this short statement so that it may go on record with the honorable senator’s complaint. I desire now to pay my tribute to the assist- . ance that I have received from honorable senators on both sides. ‘My duty as President of the Senate, although sometimes strenuous, has never been hard. Generally I have received the full assistance and co-operation of honorable senators.
They have extended to me every kindness and courtesy, and for that I thank them. I appreciate very deeply their cordial good-will and the co-operation that they have always given. I also express my appreciation of the assistance so freely and courteously extended at all times to honorable senators, as well as to myself, by the officers of the House. I have found their assistance invaluable. The officers of the Hansard staff have ever had my sympathy for the strenuous work they have to do, and every honorable senator will agree with me that they have discharged their duties faithfully and well. The records of the proceedings of this Parliament can be taken exception to by no one. I join with Senator Millen and Senator Gardiner in their expressions of good-will towards honorable senators on both sides. We have passed through a long and strenuous session, a session which, as Senator Gardiner has said, is unique in the annals of parliamentary government. It has extended over some two and a half years and, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, it has seen the coming in of four Governments and the departure of three. That, in itself, constitutes a record. We have had some long and strenuous sittings, and have not had a recess the duration of which could be reckoned on with any certainty. Honorable senators have been liable to be called
Uipon at any time, and since they had to hold themselves in readiness to resume their parliamentary duties at any moment they have been unable to make such arrangements for spending their recesses as in other circumstances would have been possible. I join most sincerely with the Leader of the Senate andthe Leader of the Opposition in the hope that when we come back we shall meet under brighter and happier auspices, and that the Senate next session will continue its labours in more hopeful circumstances than those of the session just closing. The war cloud is still lowering over the world as darkly and as threateningly as ever it has been since the outbreak of hostilities. No man can say what the end may be, but we hope for the best. I give credit to honorable senators on both sides for being unanimous in the desire that the war cloud will speedily pass away, and that the blessings of happiness which can only be brought about by peace may once more extend their beneficence to us and the Empire to which we belong. In conclu sion, I offer my good wishes to honorable senators. in the campaign on which we are now about to start; I hope that the cordial relations which so long have existed between honorable senators on every side will continue, and that good fortune will wait upon all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.9 p.m. (Saturday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 March 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170316_senate_6_81/>.