26 June 1918

7th Parliament · 2nd Session

The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 6385



Senator GRANT:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Price Fixing, upon notice -

When are theregulations, if any, governing the operations of the Paper Pool under the control of Mr. Wm. Brooks to be issued?

Senator RUSSELL:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · VICTORIA · NAT

– The reply reads as follows : -

The whole question is under consideration, but thedate on which regulations will be issued cannot be stated at present.

page 6385



Senator LONG:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -

Is it a fact, as reported in the daily press of 24th September,1918, that the Amalgamated Wireless Company, which it is alleged represents the Australian interests of the Marconi and German Telefunken companies, was permitted to carry out long-distance wireless experiments between Australia and the United Kingdom ?

Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · NAT

– The Acting Minister for the Navy supplies the following answer : -

No such permission was applied for or granted. Permission was, however, given to the managing director to have a small station for experimental purposes.

page 6385



Senator O’KEEFE:

asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of Price Fixing, upon notice -

In view of the reportedgreat difficulty in procuring meat in Hobart during the ten days that butchers’ shops were. closed, and abnormal prices that had to be paid for such small quantitiesas were available, will the Minister arrange for a Government-controlled depot to import and distribute supplies of frozen meat at reasonable prices to the people of Hobart and any other centres in Tasmania?

Senator RUSSELL:

– The answer is -

The butchers in Hobart weregiven opportunities similar to those in New South Wales and Victoria to obtain frozen meat from the

Meat Administration in Sydney. They were urged by the Meat Administration and the Chief Prices Commissioner by telegram, and by the Prices Commissioner for Hobart personally, to expedite the placing of their orders, but they failed to do so. The position will be watched, and if necessary the Meat Administra tion will be asked to take steps toinsure sufficient supplies should a similar situation arise.

page 6385



Omissions from “Hansard.”

Debate resumed from 25th September (vide page 6307), of motion by Senator Pearce -

That during the progress of the present war, Mr. President be and is hereby authorized, at his discretion, to direct the omission from Hansard of any remarks made in the Senate in the course of debate, or in any other proceedings in the Senate, to which his attention may be directed by the law officers of the Crown as being calculated to prejudice His Majesty’s relations with a Foreign Power, or the successful prosecution of the war, or to imperil the safety of the Commonwealth.

Senator McDOUGALL:
New South Wales

– I take no exception to the purpose of this motion, because I believe that there should be some power of supervision of speeches reported in Hansard which would in any way interfere with the prosecution of the war by the Commonwealth and the Allied Powers or give assistance to the enemy. As to the necessity for this motion, I may remind honorable senators that yesterday, in introducing it, the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) informed us that two members in another place made certain remarks which, in his opinion, if published, would give information to the enemy, and that immediately he pointed this out to them they expressed their perfect willingness to have the statements to which exception was taken excised from the Hansard report. I do not believe that any member of the Senate would for a moment publicly give utterance to any statement that would assist the enemy. I stand here to-day as fully desirous as is any honorable senator on the other side of seeing this war brought to a successful conclusion. I stand, in this respect, where I stood at the beginning of the war. I have not budged from the position I then took up.

Whilst I do not object to the purpose of the motion, I cannot approve of the terms in which it is submitted, because I do not believe in giving one man, no matter who lie may be, the right of a judge to say whether a speech, or any portion of a speech, by a member of the Senate should be excised from the Hansard report. It is a most dangerous proposal to give to any one person the right to interfere with the reports of members’ speeches in Hansard. I agree that there should be some power of supervision, but the Government have tlie necessary power; they have exercised it, and there ‘is nothing to prevent them exercising it again. The motion under consideration would give to one person the power of a judge in this matter, and place him above censors, Ministers, and the King. In my opinion, it would be wrong to do that. I do not say this because it is proposed that the power should be intrusted to our President, since I have every confidence in the honorable senator, but because I do not think we should give the rights of honorable senators into the keeping of any one man.

I should not speak in this way if I were not prepared to submit a remedy for what I believe to be the defect of the motion as it stands. I intend to move an amendment upon it. My remedy is that, instead of a judge, as proposed by the motion, we should have a jury composed of members of this Senate, elected by the popular vote of honorable senators, in order that, before the speech of an honorable senator is omitted from Hansard or mutilated, there may be some body to whom lie can appeal. .1 move -

That the words, “ Mr. President,” be left out, with a view to insert in Heu thereof the words “ a Committee “of the Senate.”

It has been considered the sacred right of every member of every House of Parliament that the Hansard report should be” a correct record of the proceedings in Parliament. You, sir, have stated that you have striven to secure that in the report of the proceedings of the Senate. It should not be forgotten that the President does not differ- from other members of the Senate. He might make statements which should be eliminated from Hansard. Is he to be the judge in his own case, or is there any other person to pronounce judgment upon what he says? It is the duty of the President to see that the business of the Senate is conducted according to our Standing Orders, and it is not a part of his duty to interfere with the reports of honorable senators’ speeches in Hansard.

The Government propose to give the President this power because, in my opinion, they regard that as an easy way to get over a difficulty. They have made so many blunders in the past, because their Crown Law officers have been as blind as the proverbial bat, and they have prosecuted people all round the country for nothing at all. I was myself, amongst others, one of the victims of a prosecution by the Crown Law officers, who saw some crime committed by me in a few words to which I gave utterance. But they were only laughed at when the case was submitted before a common city Court. The prosecution was regarded only as a joke. The law officers of the Crown may commit similar blunders again, and then under this motion the President of the Senate would be given the right to decide whether certain remarks made by an honorable senator should be omitted from the Hansard report. He ought not to be given any such power.

The Government have the necessary power under the War Precautions Act to excise any statement appearing in Hansard, and they have exercised that power. T need only remind honorable senators that copies of the reports of speeches made by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) in another place were seized by. the Government because the Crown Law officers thought that they contained certain information which should not be published. This was done, ‘ although the remarks objected, to appeared in . Hansard, and were circulated to every school of arts and public library in the country. The Government exercised their power- to seize the copies of the honorable member’s speeches. We know that in Queensland the Government exercised this power, and seized the Hansard of a friendly State. I am not expressing any opinion as to whether they Were or were not right in doing so, but I am pointing out that they have the right to do what they release in this matter under the War Precautions Act. We gave them this power under that Act so that it might be exercised when necessary. In the circumstances I believe that the only ob ject of the motion now under consideration is to make it easier for the Government to close the mouths of honorable- senators on this side.

I do not expect that my amendment will be carried, but I hope that it will be given fair consideration, as it would enable every honorable senator to place his views before a jury of his fellow-senators. Every member of this Parliament should have the right to defend himself, and justify his remarks, and we. should not make provision for this one-man prosecution or persecution. Honorable senators have the opportunity to listen to what falls from any member of the Senate, and they are at liberty to discuss his remarks and put what constriction they like upon them. An honorable senator may go upon a platform at- a. meeting and say that a certain thing was said by another honorable senator, and if this motion be carried he cannot say that it was not sa:d by him. That is a wrong which I think should not be perpetrated. I have no desire to hamper the Government in the prosecution of the war. It might be said that information may be made available to the enemy because of words which may fall’ from an honorable senator in this House, but information of value to the enemy may be given in many other wa.ys. The Minister for Defence .said yesterday that there was a raider on the coast some time ago, and that information regarding the location of two Allied cruisers wasdivulged in another place. Why, I read in the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph where the farmers on the South Coast saw the Morse signals on a vessel out at sca. They were laughed at, and told there was nothing there. Where were the Crown Law officers then? Where were the secret service agents of the Government then? [Nowhere. They can go now and see the same signals from the -South Coast of STew South Wale3 visible to any vessel that is going by. Some enemy -subjects in this country knew more of what -was going on than the information! we got in the press. Those are the things that the authorities ought to look to, and not the few silly words that may fall from some senator in the heat of the moment, not meaning anything, or, even knowing anything. These enemy subjects to-day are working together on those mountain sides, and one of their workers has been placed in charge of a trunk line post-office, although I have objected to it. They say lie is a Frenchman. He may be, but he works with Germans, and has worked with Germans since he has been in the country. He is in charge, of that post-office on the trunk line to-day. Those are the things the secret agents of the Government should look at before they seek to interfere with the sacred rights of members of this Chamber.- I move the -amendment as a way out of what I consider a difficulty. If it is carried, no one will be constituted a judge to stand above all honorable senators; but a Committee of the Senate : Will be empowered to pass judgment on the words of any man. He will not be able to deny them because they do not ‘appear in Hansard, although they may be “ spruiked “ from every platform as showing what he has said ‘here.

Senator GRANT:
3STew .South Wales

– I doubt very much if it is a wise procedure to go on with this business at, all; but as the lesser of two evils, Senator McDougall’s amendment will have my support. I do not know what has taken place elsewhere; but as one who has paid very close attention to the remarks made in this chamber, I cannot recall an instance where anything of value to the enemy has been stated by any honorable senator. I am certain that if any one here inadvertently used a state- . ment which could be construed to the advantage of the Central Powers, he would, be only too pleased and ready to agree to its excision from the Hansard records directly his attention was drawn to it. I understand that when statements were made elsewhere, the members concerned at once agreed to their elimination. I am told that some remarks of the same kind have been made here; but that, even in that case, they were at once withdrawn by the senators concerned. If members were inclined to make remarks injurious to the Allies, the position would’ be quite different; but no member of .this Chamber would do or say anything that would directly or indirectly assist the Central Powers. I am sure the Minister is also convinced of that. It appears to me, therefore, that the motion, whether as put forward by the Government or as proposed to be amended by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, is largely unnecessary. I am entirely opposed to the 6388 The War: [SENATE.] Senate Debates. idea of restricting the members of this Parliament in the way in which they may please to submit their views, and I am convinced, from the Minister’s remarks andthe other speeches, that there does not exist at present any real necessity for the proposal.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I cannot agree to the motion as it stands, and on the principle of taking the less of two evils, I shall accept the amendment, if Senator McDougall will agree to a further slight amendment on it. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) yesterday gave the reasons actuating the Ministry in tabling the motion, and some of them certainly were weighty.He cited them as prompting the Ministry to take a course which, in ordinary circumstances, would be considered an unprecedented and unwarrantable invasion of what has hitherto been considered the rights of members of Parliament. As we are living in war times, every one of us is prepared, when good reasons can be given, to accept things which in times of peace would be considered unreasonable. The only reason given yesterday by the Minister which would appear sound to an unbiased listener, was that the power was necessary to be vested in you, Mr. President, and the Crown Law officers, because certain indiscreet utterances have been made by some members, either here or in another place. I am sure there is no honorable senator who would not be immediately willing to have deleted from the Hansard report of his speech any utterance which it could be shown might assist the enemy, or imperil the safety of the Commonwealth or the Empire. If the Minister for Defence takes any other view, he is making against members of the Senate a charge which I do not think he or any other Minister would seriously make - a charge of being anxious to assist the enemies of the Empire. . I believe all Ministers will agree that it is an absolute certainty that every member of the Senate is just as loyal, and just as anxious as Ministers, or as yourself, Mr. President, or the Crown Law officers, to prevent anything going out in members’ speeches that would imperil the safety of the Empire, or assist our enemies.

Senator Long:

Mr. Jowett says the only Empire the Labour party would assist is Germany.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I read that remark, which is absolutely contemptible, and the man who made it is not fit to have a place in the Commonwealth Parliament.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens:

– Order! The honorable senator must not reflect on any member of another branch of the Legislature.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– If I must withdraw the remark, I do so, because it was not made by a member of the Senate. I do not think any honorable senator would make it.

Senator Pearce:

-When a notice of question is handed in, the Minister does not see it until it appears on the noticepaper, although the officers see it.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– The motion refers more particularly to the Hansard report of the speeches of members.

SenatorPearce. - And the proceedings of the House. I gave an instance where information was given out in the form of a question. We did not see it until the notice-paper appeared in the House.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I am sure that every member of the Senate, no matter what his political views, would immediately consent to have any dangerous remarks made by him deleted. It is an old and well-established fact that the general public look to Parliament as the one place in the realm where statements may be made which might be for the benefit of the whole community, but which cannot be made outside. I do not believe the great majority of the public in this, or any other country, want to see that privilege taken from members, because, after all, members are the mouthpiece of the people who put them there. To place such a power as is asked for in this motion in the hands of yourself, Mr. President, to be exercised on the advice of the Crown Law officers, is to imperil the existing privilege of member’s of Parliament. That isa privilege which the great majority of the people want to see retained, not for the gratification of the members themselves, but as a right enjoyed by members as the mouthpiece of the people. See the danger there would be if an unrestricted power of this kind was placed in the hands of the Crown Law officers. One of them would first go through a member’s speech. He might have his own political views, and certain remarks in the speech might appear to him to be a danger to the Empire, or- of assistance to our enemies. But if those remarks were placed before an unprejudiced -tribunal, probably a very different construction would be put upon them. The motion would immediately place the censorship of members’ speeches in the hands of prejudiced partisans. At all events, there is that danger, because every man, whether he is a statesman or not holds his own political views, especially at such times of crisis as we are now passing through. Even you; Mr. President, may have your own political views. “While I am sure every one here has absolute confidence in the present occupant of the chair, and would- have confidence, I suppose, in any other person who might take his place, still, there might be an unconscious bias in the mind of the President which would lead him, when he read certain remarks, to say, “ I do not think that ought to go out to the public. It will prejudice the cause of the Allies, and assist our enemies.” If some other judge outside of politics, or some committee, had the same remarks before them, they might put an entirely different construction on them. I suppose I must vote for the amendment as the less of two evils. I understand that a further amendment on the amendment may be moved. I do not want to foreshadow an amendment which, it has been suggested, might be moved in order to allay any uneasiness that might exist in ‘the minds of honorable senators that the power proposed to be invested in the President might be used for political purposes; but I think it is possible, and perhaps it would meet the views of the Minister, that the fears of honorable senators would be allayed if the Committee consisted of the Leader of the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition, and the member whose speech was to be censored.

Senator Needham:

– That is not foreshadowing the amendment, anyhow.

Senator Keating:

– You have forestalled the honorable senator.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I have heard that it is likely that this amendment will be moved, and if not by Senator Needham, then I shall move it myself at the proper time. I think, however, that honorable senators would like to get the views of the Minister with regard to the suggestion that the power should be vested in the Leader of the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition, and the member whose speech is to be censored.

Senator Lt Colonel O’Loghlin:

– And the President.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I am not particular about including the President, because the President always has certain power in connexion with these matters; and I take it that the Committee would very probably consult the President. Ihave just heard the’ Minister suggest that this Committee would be two to oneApparently the Minister is under the impression that only the speeches of members on one side of the House will be “examined and censored.

Senator Earle:

– Not necessarily.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– Oh, yes.

Senator Earle:

– No; if a member on this side were concerned there would then be two to one against the Leader of the Opposition.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– .Evidently the Government consider it necessary, in the interests of the safety of the Empire, to take .this action ; and if the position, as indicated by Senator Earle, arose, is it likely that a supporter of the Government would hesitate for one second to accept the advice of his leader ? If Senator McDougall’s amendment - which I shall support as the lesser of two evils - is not carried, I shall submit the amendment which I have indicated ;- but I want to vote against the whole motion, which I regard as unnecessary, as the Government have already sufficient power.

Senator KEATING:

– When “ this motion was first brought under the notice of the Senate I was inclined to think it was unnecessary, and also somewhat ill-conceived; but as the debate has developed I have come to the conclusion that it is being submitted as a very necessary and justifiable proposition, and also that it is being submitted, in all the circumstances, in the best terms. At first I thought that, as the Government already have power to 6390 The War: . [SENATE.] Senate Debates. delete from Hansard unfortunate references of this kind, they were endeavouring by this motion to shirk their responsibilities, and to cloak themselves behind the authority of you, Mr. President; but as the debate proceeded I realized that the Governmenthave done the very best thing - the only thing, in my opinion - that could be done in the circumstances. It has been suggested, by way of an amendment already moved, and another amendment foreshadowed, that the discretion it is proposed to repose in you, sir, in this matter should be exercised by a Committee. Ithinka Committee would be wrong. In the first place it is essential that in such matters discretion should be exercised with despatch, because the publication of Hansard cannot be held up beyond the ordinary date. The President is always here. But if a Committee were appointed it is quite possible that one or more important members might not be in Melbourne at the particular time when it might be necessary to determine whether or not certain words should be deleted from the report in Hansard, and, therefore, it would devolve upon the remaining members of the Committee to come to a determination, or else the publication of Hansard would have to be delayed. I think, in all the circumstances,the Government might look to you, sir, as the permanent officer of the Senate, and as one who is reputed, and expected to be, in constant attendance in the vicinity of Parliament to do these things.

So much for the matter of the Committee in that regard. Now as to another. What has been suggested by the honorable senator who has just sat down seems to indicate that there exists in the minds of some honorable senators an idea that the object of the motion is to delete from the records of Hansard, and of the proceedings of the Senate, statements which might be made only by honorable senators who ordinarily are-opposed to the Government. I do not take that view at all . I take it that the indiscretions which it is desired not to have perpetuated in our records may be committed by honorable senators on either side of the House. I do not think, therefore, that the motion should be approached from a party point of view at all.

Senator Pearce:

– I may say in support of your supposition, that statements made by a Minister in another place have been deleted from the records of Hansard.

Senator KEATING:

– I can quite understand that.

Senator O’Keefe:

– But such drastic action has never been taken in either House against any supporter of the Government as against members of the Opposition.

Senator KEATING:

– We may assume that indiscretions which it might be undesirable to have placed upon permanent record may be made by honorable senators supporting the Government as well as those opposing the Government, and that, therefore, this discretionary power must be exercised in no party spirit at all. We all know the Government have power to do certain things.

Senator Barnes:

– Then let them stick to it and take the. responsibility.

Senator KEATING:

– The Government exercise that power, and they take the responsibility of deleting what they think desirable should be deleted from certain reports in Hansard; but the Government might very easily be accused of exercising their discretion in a party spirit.

Senator Barnes:

– And truthfully, too.

Senator KEATING:

– And the Government might be untruthfully charged with exercising their discretion in a party spirit, and the time and attention of honorable senators here might be distracted for hours from the affairs of the nation in order that some trumpery charge of party spirit on the part of the Government might be discussed. You, Mr. President, occupy an impartial position. The President of this Chamber does not deal with matters in a party spirit at all. Impartiality is the basis of his official position. The President is selected to see that the proceedings of the Senate are conducted in conformity with the Standing Orders and the general rules of debate; and member after member on the other side has risen and tributed you for your impartiality. What can be better, therefore, than that this discretion, which must be used by somebody, should be exercised by the one authority which both sides of the Chamber acclaim as impartial ?

Senator Lt Colonel O’Loghlin:

– But the President does not propose to exercise his discretion. He says he will take it as mandatory to do certain things if the motion is carried.

*The War :* [26 September, 1918.] *Senate Debates.* 6391 {: #subdebate-3-0-s5 .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING: -- When the President spoke yesterday I did not understand him to say anything of the kind. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- He was absolutely clear on that point. {: .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING: -- I understood the President to say that when matters were brought under his notice by the Crown Law officers he would take it as mandatory then that he should exercise his discretion. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- No; that he was to make the elimination from *Hansard.* {: .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING: -- Well, the President is here, and before this debate has terminated will be able to clear the matter up. I understood him to say that when the Crown Law officers brought under his notice any reports in connexion with the proceedings of Parliament he would regard it as mandatory that he should exercise his discretion as to whether or not certain statements should be deleted. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- No ; he said nothing of the sort. {: .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING: -- Well, I will take the President's statement on the. subject {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- So will I. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- You have not got the President's statement. {: .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING: -- The President read the motion in this form - >That during the progress of the present war **Mr. President** be, and is, hereby authorized, at his discretion, to direct the omission from *Hansard* of any remarks made in the Senate in the course of debate, or in any other proceedings of the Senate, to which his attention may be directed by the law officers of the Crown. ... That is clear enough, and I take it that when his attention has been directed to certain remarks then he will be called upon to exercise his discretion. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- No. The President said that he would regard it as mandatory upon him to give effect to representations by the Crown Law officers. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- Get the *Hansard* report of the President's speech yesterday. {: .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING: -- That, at all events, is the constructionwhich I put upon the President's remarks while listening to him yesterday. {: #subdebate-3-0-s6 .speaker-KLS} ##### The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens: -- Perhaps, if I intervene at this stage, I may be able to clear up a misunderstanding and remove a misconception in the minds of honorable senators. I cannot remember the exact wordswhich I used yesterday, but what I had in mind was that unless the remarks to which my attention might be directed were manifestly unconnected with the war, or. unless it was obvious that the use of the power given to me was being urged for political or other than war purposes, I would be bound to carry out the wishes of the Government as expressed by the Crown Law officers, and eliminate certain records from *Hansard.* I think honorable senators' will agree with me when I say that, as the Ministry are charged with the responsibility of conducting the war and carrying on the government of the country, there would be a. grave responsibility upon me if the Crown Law officers directed my attention to a matter which they considered a danger to the Empire, and I refused to. take notice of it. That is the position which I took up then, and which I take up now. Of course, I do not suppose that this motion would compel me to act as a mere automaton on behalf of the Government or anybody else, at any time, and I take it that the Government do not propose that. If the discretion is given to me I shall exercise it; but it would be the gravest responsibility on my part, unless the matter in question was palpably wrong, to turn down any proposition to which the Government, through its officers, directed my attention. {: .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING: -- That is the position. You, **Mr. President,** do not regard this motion, if passed, as putting you in the position of an automaton. You recognise that it vests you with a discretion, and you have stated that you will exercise that discretion. I think, in all the circumstances, that by virtue of the position of the President- a position of impartiality - no better authority could be referred to in the final resort to determine whether or not the record of such incidents as those cited by the Minister for Defence yesterday should or' should not be deleted from the reports of our proceedings and from *Hansard.* I think the appointment of a Committee must necessarily give to the exercise of that discretion a party atmosphere, if the Committee is to be based on the principles of party. For instance, the Committee is proposed to include the Minister leading the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber. ' It would be at once implied by that that the question of deleting certain words was to be approached in a party spirit; and we should endeavour to eliminate party atmosphere altogether from the exercise of this discretion. The very fact that the Government are turning, the matter over to the President is an indication that they do not wish to exercise this power, which they undoubtedly have, and which, if so exercised, would lead to occasional complaints that they had acted on party principles. In the circumstances, I cannot support the proposal for a Committee of any character. It is best that the final touches in this procedure should be left to the President, as reflecting the opinion of the Senate generally, and as dissociated from any party in the exercise of his discretion and in the discharge of his responsibility. **Senator** NEEDHAM (Western Australia) [3.491. - We have to be 'careful be-, fore carrying this motion. I have read it over a few times, and I venture to say that from the way in which it is worded - and supposing that the Senate carries it as it at present stands - you in your presidential capacity, sir, would not be exercising your discretion. You would be practically directed by the Crown Law officers. It would be a discretion on the part of the Crown Law advisers which you would be heeding. If you were untrammelled I would be the first to allow any utterances of- mine, or of any other honorable senator,, to be subject to your personal scrutiny as to whether they could be construed as being of assistance to the enemy and dangerous to the Empire. But a careful reading of this motion shows that you would not be untrammelled in your discretion. You are to be directed, by somebody else. . Therein lies the danger. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator Senior: -- The President's attention is to be directed. {: #subdebate-3-0-s7 .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- An analysis of the wording shows that somebody other than the President is to call the President's attention to something, and thus the President's discretion, or his action, or his judgment, would be, and must be, necessarily trammelled. In -the motion I see a danger that the Senate would be handing over to somebody outside the Senate a certain authority. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator Senior: -- Under the war precautions legislation the war authorities already have the power which you suggest should not be retained outside of this Chamber. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- The War Precautions Act has already conferred on the Government the power they now seek to place upon some one else's shoulders, and I am prepared to abide by the exercise of that power thus given to the Government. I would prefer that, rather than to place in* the hands of certain gentlemen outside of Parliament who are not immediately responsible to Parliament, the power to say whether or not a certain utterance of an honorable senator is or is not of assistance to the enemy. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- Do you say that the. Attorney-General is not responsible for his acts to' this Parliament? {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- The AttorneyGeneral is certainly responsible, but the Crown Law officers are not. I am wondering why this innovation is to be applied to the Senate. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- A similar motion is being mo'ved in another place. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- Then, I am led to inquire whether similar action has been taken in any other Parliament of the Allied nations. In -the House of Commons there is wide diversity of opinion- There are the Parliaments of France, Italy, and the United States, where there is also diversity of opinion. But in none of those Parliaments has such a resolution as this been introduced by any responsible Minister, namely, to the effect that the speeches of any member of the Legislatures of the Allies should be subject to a censor outside the precincts of the Parliament in question. {: .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator Keating: -- The parliamentary reports of the -United Kingdom are considerably briefer than ours. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- I admit that; but will the. honorable senator tell me that in the House of Commons a motion such as this has been brought forward, that **Mr Speaker,** at his discretion, is to determine whether or not the utterances of any honorable member are against the safety of .the Empire? I say that such a thing has not been done. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- Will you prove it? {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- I -candidly admit that any honorable member of any Legislature - 'be lie Minister, or Ministerial supporter, or in Opposition - may at some time use words unwittingly which, if sent abroad in the particular form employed, might be construed into being of assistance to the enemy. I am prepared, in the absence of a better proposal, to support the amendment of **Senator McDougall.** {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator Senior: -- That is too clumsy. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- I admit that it is somewhat laborious. **Senator O'Keefe** has foreshadowed another amendment, to the effect that the proposed action, where necessary, should be in the hands of a Committee comprising the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition- {: .speaker-KTD} ##### Senator McDougall: -- And the President. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- That was not proposed. But there was also to be the honorable senator who had uttered the remarks in question. I refer honorable senators to the statement of the Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce)** yesterday. He said that on one or two occasions honorable members in another place -had made certain , state.ments, and that those honorable members had willingly complied with the request of the Government that the words objected to should be excised. What better method could we. have now? . As to the motion, however, it would be better to have a Committee of the Senate, without any intervention from, the Crown Law officers, and without putting the whole of the responsibility on the President. Supposing Ave have the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the. Opposition, and the honorable senator whose words are under review. Such a Committee should meet the objection of the Minister for Defence that it would be a two-to-one affair. My suggestion would rob it of its party lines. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator Senior: -- Why not place the matter in -the hands of the President, to interview the honorable senator whose statements are in question? {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- My original intention was to have moved for the excision of the words, " at his discretion," The general effect of the motion would then be that the President be authorized, with the consent of the honorable senator whose words are queried, to make the omission. That would remove from the President the autocratic power which he does not desire, and would still leave to the honorable senator concerned the right to assist the President to decide whether or rot the words uttered were dangerous. I realize the necessity for some guidance, but I do not believe in giving to the President - no matter who he may be - such power. {: .speaker-KTD} ##### Senator McDougall: -- You do not believe in a secret junta. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- If he does not believe in it he has to obey it. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- I have never obeyed a junta in my life. . But I quite recognise that in time of warfare we must do things which we would not do in time of peace. I will support the amendment of **Senator McDougall,** hoping that if it is defeated a compromise may be arrived at. I object to the President being absolutely the dictator as to what may be said and recorded in this chamber. Further, I object to any outside authority interfering with the *Hansard* report, and **Mr. President** playing second fiddle to that authority. I hope that the motion will not be carried, but that there may bc a compromise, under which the privileges of honorable senators will be retained. I am sure that no senator on either side of the Chamber would wilfully do or say anything that could in any way help the enemy. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -Colonel O'LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.2]. - An interjection made by me when **Senator Keating** was speaking led to a discussion of the question of who, under the motion, would really exercise discretion in regard to the elimination of passages from *Hansard.* Personally, I have such confidence in the President, and in any Committee of this Senate, that I would be prepared to allow him or it to deal with the report of any remarks made by me, or by any other senator; but I object to the censorship of our debates by an outside authority. I understood you, **Mr. President,** to say yesterday that, should the motion be passed, and should the Crown Law officers call your attention to any statement which they thought should be omitted from the- *Hansard* report, you would regard it as mandatory to take action for its omission, and my recollection of what you said is refreshed by the *Argus* report of your speech - >The **President (Senator Givens)** said that the only authority he had had hitherto over *Ilansard* was to see that *it* was a correct record of proceedings. If .the motion were carried, he would take it as mandatory on himself. He would feel in honour bound to take action in each case to which his attention was directed by the Crown 'Law officers, unless it were palpably not a statement referring to the matters mentioned. That .was a very proper position for you to take. Under the circumstances, you would have to be guided by the views of the 'Crown Law officers, who would be held to have considered the matter in all its bearings; but I am opposed to the censorship of our debates by the legal officers of the Crown. I have no confidence in them or in the censorship staff, and the frivolous and silly prosecutions which they have instituted, prosecutions which set the Courts and the people of the country laughing, justify my attitude. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator Barnes: -- 'The Government lost nearly every case that was brought before the Court. **Senator Lt.-Colonel** O'LOGHLIN Yes. A few months ago, after **Mr. Tudor,** the Leader of the Labour party, had "been speaking in Adelaide, only, a travesty of a report of his speech was allowed to appear in the local newspapers, although a few days previously a speech delivered in the same city by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** was published verbatim. The censorship has been exercised in Australia in a partisan and reckless manner. A certain speech of the Premier of Queensland was .so censored that he refused to take responsibility for the report of it that was published. Although the Government may at present have sufficient power to prevent the publication of statements, which, in the national interests, should not be published, I am willing to strengthen their hand, so that it may not be possible for statements made in this Senate which might be- of value to the enemy to get abroad. Of course, no senator would wittingly make such statements : but I am in favour of intrusting to a Committee the duty of seeing that statements which should not be published are, excised from *Hansard;,* and the Committee which has been suggested, withMr. President as chairman, would meet the case. As this is a proposal to curtail the rights of, and to interfere with the privileges of, senators in the matter of freedom of speech, it requires thegravest consideration. My first view wasthat the right of censoring speeches might be given to the Standing Orders Committee. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- A difficulty might arise by reason of the absence in other States of the members of that Committee. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN: -- That difficulty might be removed by making the quorum a small one. I am not prepared to support the Government proposal. {: #subdebate-3-0-s8 .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES:
Victoria .--I am opposed to the motion, to the amendment, and to the further proposal that has been suggested. It is clear that the Government now have the power to deal with *Hansard* as they think fit, and to carry the motion would be to allow Ministers to shirk responsibility which properly attaches to them, by placing it on the shoulders of **Mr. President.** I do not believe that any honorable member of the Federal Parliament would wittingly say anything the publication of which would be hurtful to the national interests. The Minister has told us that on one or two occasions, when things have been said which have been thought unsuitable for publication, and the fact has been brought under the notice of those who said them, they have assented to the elimination of their statements from the *Hansard* report. In any case,- the Government have power to prevent the publication of such statements, and should take the responsibility for anything that may be done in that way. Should the motion be passed, one or more officials will be appointed to read the reports of the debates of the two Houses, and to advise the Government regarding statements which they consider should not be published. The reading of the reports of our discussions could not, of course, be done by **Mr. President** himself. These officials,, having advised the Government that in their view certain statements should be excised from the re-' port, the Government would throw on **Mr. President** the responsibility of directing that they be excised, although that responsibility should be a Ministerial one. I was, on a previous occasion, a party to *The War:* [26 September, 1918.] *Senate Debates.* 6395 giving to the Government powers which they have used in a most villainous manner, and I am not prepared to increase their powers, or to allow the privileges of this Chamber to be curtailed. Ministers might regard as harmful to the country many statements made by me and other honorable senators on this side, and they have already used their powers to suppress criticism or to misinterpret what has been said. The War Precautions Regulations have been put into force, not in the interests of the country, but for merely political ends. It is not fair for the Government to ask for the extension of power. Ministers have sufficient power already, and they should take the responsibility for using it whenever it may be necessary to do so. Senators will inflict wrong on the Senate, and injure the country, if they vote for the motion, or for any proposal similar to that contained in it. The history of our race shows how valuable to the people has been the right of free speech in Parliament. The representatives of the people have been able to say on the floor of the House of Commons things that, if. said elsewhere, would have exposed them to libel actions, and, perhaps, imprisonment. This freedom of speech has brought about the reform of abuses, and greatly made for progress. We should jealously guard the right of free-speech, and permit no interference with it. I have no doubt that the President would, were he intrusted with the censorship of our debates, act judiciously and fairly; but Ministers should not shirk responsibility by putting it on his shoulders. I hope that honorable senators on both sides will recognise that the Government already have all necessary powers, and will compel Ministers to shoulder their proper responsibilities. {: #subdebate-3-0-s9 .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator SENIOR:
South Australia -- I do not think that the. Ministry nave a very good case. It was admitted at the beginning that, whenever words had been spoken which it was thought should not be published, those who had uttered them were willing, on their attention being drawn to the matter, to have them expunged from the report. Under the circumstances, it is not fair to propose to make any one man, not even the President - in whom we have every confidence - responsible for action which it should be the duty of Ministers to take. To do so, would be to place the President in an invidious position. He is responsible to the Senate, but in the matter of the censorship of debates he would be directed, not by the Senate, but by the Government. The proposal is an evasion of Ministerial responsibility. If a senator refused to have words expunged from *Hansard* upon a direction given by the Minister through' the Crown Law -officers, they could still be deleted ; but it seems to me that this motion would not give to the Minister a power that he does not already possess. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- How could they be expunged? Only by a resolution of the Senate, on which there might be a three - days' debate. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator SENIOR: -- We have had some heated debates in this Chamber, but Ministers confess that the practice hitherto followed has been successful.They have told us that, in every case, the senator concerned has consented to the words complained of being expunged from the records. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- But the honorable senator spoke of the case of a member who refused to allow the words complained of to be omitted. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator SENIOR: -- My point is that we have not yet reached the position for which the Government now desire to provide. Are we likely to reach a position that could not be coped with as in the past? If it could be shown that a provision of this kind was necessary to meet an emergency that could not be dealt with as on previous occasions, I would consent to this motion; but, as it is, it seems to me merely an attempt to sidetrack the whole issue. This is a war measure. It is to remain in operation only during the continuance of the war, and under the War Precautions Act Ministers are clothed with full power to dp all that is necessary in a case of this kind. If that is so, this provision is unnecessary. On the other hand, if this is not a war question, then the Government are proposing to take from the Senate a privilege which we should carefully guard. As to the amendment, I certainly cannot favour the appointment of a Committee. The members of that Committee might be in other States at a time when 6396 *The War:* [SENATE.] *Senate Debates.* immediate action on their part was necessary. If the Government, at present, have no power to deal with this matter under a War Precautions regulation, they can quickly secure that power by passing a new one. Every day I find in my letter-box copies of regulations under the War Precautions Act which practically amount to new legislation. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin: -- The honorable senator is waking up rather late to the actual position. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator SENIOR: -- Not at all.I have raised my voice in protest before, but have been crying in the wilderness. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- Only the other day, the Government suspended, under the War Precautions Act, the whole power of the Arbitration Court in certain matters. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator SENIOR: -- That might have been necessary. In time of war, we do some things that we would not tolerate in time of peace. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- Having submitted a certain question to the Arbitration Court, the Government proceeded to suspend the power of the Court. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator SENIOR: -- The Government are responsible for their actions. If they do wrong, then, when an appeal is made to the people, the people themselves will answer. This motion takes us no further forward. It simply sidetracks the issue." If adopted, it will place upon the shoulders of the President a responsibility which the Government should shoulder. No one will say that the course which the President says he will follow if this motion be agreed to is wrong. He states that if Ministers of the Crown submit to him a case, he will feel it his bounden duty to seriously consider it before turning it down. The action taken would be tantamount almost to dictation on the part of the Crown Law officers. I favour neither the motion nor the suggested amendments. They will not meet the difficulty. If anybody should judge a matter of this kind it is the Standing Orders Committee. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- It is too large. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator SENIOR: -- But for such a purpose as this the number necessary to form a quorum might well be reduced. {: #subdebate-3-0-s10 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · Western Australia · NAT .- The Government cannot accept the amendment, since it would be unworkable. I should like to draw attentionto what would be the position under the amendment if, during the sittings to-day, a statement were made that ought to be excluded from *Hansard.* The Leader of the Government in the Sen ate **(Senator Millen)** is away on urgent public business, and cannot be here to-morrow. The Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Gardiner)** is ill. I hope his illness will not be prolonged, but since he is suffering from influenza it is extremely improbable that we shall see him here before next Wednesday. Here, then, we have a practical illustration of the unworkableness of the amendment. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- There is an Acting Leader on both sides. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I have to take the amendment as submitted, and it does not provide for any substitute. What is the proposed Committee to do? Is it, as a Committee of judges, to determine whether any words complained of should or should not be omitted? Is that to be its duty? If so, then I contend that no workable Committee formed from the Senate would be free from the charge of being too strongly representative of either one side or the other. If we had on the Committee an equal number of senators from each side a deadlock might arise. What, then, would happen? {: .speaker-KTD} ##### Senator McDougall: -- The same argument applies to the proposal to place this power in the hands of the President. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Not at all. We deliberately intrust the President with the administration of the Standing Orders, which apply to both sides, and the occupant of the chair is pledged to discharge his duties without regard to the *personnel* of the Senate. What is the duty that we propose to place on the President? The Government are charged with the responsibility of conducting the war so far as it affects Australia, and, through the Crown Law officers, who, in this case, are merely the conduit through which the communication is to reach the President, may report to him that certain information has been disclosed during the proceedings of the Senate which come within the definitions set out in the motion, and that, in the opinion of the Ministry, it ought to be expunged from *Hansard* and the other records of the Parliament. In such circumstances, the President is, by this motion, to be empowered by the Senate tq order the exclusion of such information from the records. The President has told us how he will exercise the discretion which the Senate - not the Government - will vest in him if this motion be carried. He has told us that, recognising as he does, and as the Senate does, that the Government are charged with the responsibility, of conducting the war, he would feel that he was taking a grave step if he refused to act on the suggestion of the Government, and that he would refuse only where it was patent to him that the request was not in accordance with the conditions laid down in the motion, but was really for some other purpose. This is not, as **Senator Senior** suggests, a proposal to relieve the Government of responsibility and to place that responsibility on the President. It is simply a proposal to provide more convenient machinery than has yet been operated, or can be operated in the future, to deal with this matter. I am speaking with the knowledge of what has occurred where remedies have been applied in cases of this kind. In some instances it has been too late to apply a remedy, but where remedies have been applied I have had to get in touch with the honorable member concerned, to follow him up, to argue, and sometimes to plead with him to instruct *Hansard,* with the knowledge of the President, to eliminate certain statements made by him. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- How often has that occurred ? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- In quite a number of cases. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- I thought the honorable senator said yesterday that only two cases of the kind had occurred. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- There have been two in connexion with the Senate, but more than that number in connexion with another place. I understand that under the War Precautions Act the Government can censor *Hansard.* Their power to do so may be disputed, but that, I understand, is the position. I contend it would be extremely undesirable to do anything of the kind. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- There would be a mighty row if such action were taken. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- We have had to censor' a State *Hansard,* and there is no doubt as to our legal power to do so. But surely it is undesirable that the Commonwealth *Hansard,* before .publication, should have to be submitted to the censor - a servant of the Government - and that he should have power to serve upon the Government Printer a notice to eliminate from *Hansard* certain paragraphs. **Senator Sen** : or has talked about our power to deal with this matter under the War Precautions Act. That is the power we have under it. Does he want us to exercise it ? {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- The Government have exercised pretty well every other power under the War Precautions Act. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- That is quite beside the question. I desire **Senator Senior** to realize what is the power that we have under the War Precautions Act.- It would ' be more objectionable, I think, than what we propose in this motion. It is opposed to the regard that honorable senators ought to have for the maintenance of parliamentary government. It is because the Government recognise that that is not desirable that they propose an alternative. If **Senator Senior** proposes another alternative, and tells the Government that if - .they think it necessary to take action they should do so under the War Precautions Act, I want him to know what he isvoting for. The other alternative which necessitates the Minister interviewing an honorable member, and by persuasion inducing him to make a desired alteration, is not a power under the War Precautions Act; it is not a power at all, but simply an arrangement between the Minister and the honorable member which may at any time fail if the honorable member is not willing. There is another class of case which **Senator Senior** has overlooked : the case in which the Minister does not notice what has been said. It is because no machinery has been set up to meet such cases that the Government desire to set it up now, and so provide that automatically there will be brought before the President or Speaker instances in which it is necessary to take action. The very cases I quoted were those in which information was given in the shape of questions, and it never came to the knowledge of any Minister until the questions were set down in print, having gone through the Government Printing* Office and been circulated to honorable members, the press, and in other directions in the records of the House. It was not until the questions came hefore the Minister who had to make the replies that it was known a member had disclosed information, and it was then, of course, too late to take action, tinder the proposed machinery the Crown Law officers will have the proceedings sent to them, and will note the questions that have been submitted ; and they will then be able to draw the attention- of the President to the fact that information is undesirably disclosed. At the present time the President has brought before him, through the officers of the House, cases where honorable senators, in their questions, transcend the Standing Orders, and the President has authority under the Standing Orders to strike out any objectionable portion. Surely the President ought to have the same power in regard to matters infinitely more important than any breach of the Standing Orders? Under the motion, machinery of an effective, and yet not of an objectionable, character, would be provided. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- Do I understand that the questions of honorable senators will be submitted to the Crown Law officers ? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- All the proceedings of this Chamber will, under this resolution, come under the surveillance of the Attorney-General's Department. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- In other words, this Senate will be under police supervision: {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- If the honorable senator desires to put the matter in that way, I cannot prevent him, but that is not the way in which I regard it. If the honorable senator's interjection is for the purpose of putting words into my mouth, I do not accept them. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- It is not. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Would the honorable senator say that because a question goes to the Clerk, and because he draws the attention of the President to the fact that it transcends some standing order, this Senate is under police supervision ? {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator Senior: -- Certainly not; but under the motion it would be police supervision. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The Clerk of the Senate is charged with the duty of seeing that the Standing Orders are observed, and honorable senators swallow that camel and strain at a gnat. They object to their questions being submitted to an officer who is charged with seeing that there is nothing in questions that affect His Majesty's relations with foreign Powers, or with the successful prosecution of the war and the safety of the Empire and the Commonwealth. They do not object, however, to an officer of the Crown - because that is what the Clerk really is dealing with their questions in exactly the same way. {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator Senior: -- How can the Crown Law officers know anything about the questions until "they are printed, ;and if they -are printed they must be in circulation ? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Does the honorable senator not know that there is such a thing- as a preliminary " pull " of the printed records of the Senate? The Clerk, before we. rise, will have a print of the questions .that has been submitted to-day; and before they are circulated to senators, if any are objectionable under the Standing Orders, he will draw the attention of the' President to them, and the President will make any alterations that may be deemed necessary. That has been the practice for years ; and **Senator Senior** has been sitting here dumb under this horrible tyranny and oppression - under this interference with the freedom of senators- {: .speaker-K5R} ##### Senator Senior: -- I am speaking of the general business of the House. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- When, however, it is proposed to carry out exactly the same procedure in order to secure the safety of the Commonwealth, and provide that no senator shall, in the form of a question, say anything offensive to our Allies, **Senator Senior** sees some objection. I frankly confess I can see no objection. The Government cannot accept the amendment, and I hope it will not be carried. {: #subdebate-3-0-s11 .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG:
Tasmania .- I am sure **Senator Senior** must feel very much enlightened as a result of the admonition ' -of the Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce)** - an admonition given because **Senator Senior** has dared to differ with other loyal senators on the Government side on this question. It is something new in the history of Government supporters that one should dare to exercise his free and independent opinion on a mat-tor of great public importance in the first place, and a matter of very considerable importance to the rights of honorable senators in the second place. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin: -- Perhaps it was not submitted to caucus. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- And, therefore, no doubt, **Senator Senior** feels himself perfectly free to think and vote as he sees fit. How pitiable it was to hear the. Minister for Defence endeavouring to draw a comparison between the Standing Orders and the duty of the Clerk to maintain the dignity of language that should distinguish honorable senators who frame questions, and the proposal submitted by the Government to hand over, holus bolus, to a new- Department of censors the utterances of honorable senators. "We are sent here to express the views of our constituents- This Chamber represents the people of Australia, and the sentiments and feelings uttered here, so far as this side of the Chamber is concerned, are, we believe, the opinions of a majority of the electors. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- The electors altered their opinion in May, 1916. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- (Honorable senators opposite have altered their opinion so frequently, in the last eighteen months that they have very few opinions left to alter. The Minister said - though surely he cannot he serious in the statement - that the first " pulls " of honorable senators' speeches will have to be submitted to the Crown Law officers (before they are allowed to be printed in the *Hansard* volume. We are told that the speeches of honorable senators must first be submitted to an outside authority to ascertain whether they are suitable to appear in print. That, in my opinion, is monstrous. .If honorable senators opposite are prepared to surrender their privileges to that extent, then their blood be on their own head. If the Senate are so apprehensive as to the welfare of Australia and of the Empire as a whole, why, in the name of common sense, did they not awaken to the danger months or years ago ? The war has been in progress for four years and two months, and 'at this late hour the Government come down with this proposal. They seriously ask the Senate to give them a power that they have possessed all that time, and which nothing can prevent them exercising in the future. The Minister has told us that, during the four years, on only two occasions has it been necessary, in the case of the Senate, to ask that certain eliminations should he made in the speeches of honorable senators. I was one of those senators, and I think the Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Gardiner)** was the other. The Minister has told us of the loss of time ' entailed by him or his colleagues in going round Parliament House in order to interview members in regard to these matters, and in persuading them to agree to any eliminations. -Then, the Minister has to conduct the member to the President or **Mr. Speaker** to get authority for the alteration. What happened in my case? The Minister, in his wisdom', believed that certain- statements I had made should not appear in *Hansard,* and he explained his reasons. I did not, for a moment, admit that the statements I made were incorrect, but, in view of the fact that he, as a Minister,_ was charged at the "time with the responsibility of seeing that nothing was sent broadcast likely to embarrass the Government with any of the Allied countries, I, without the slightest hesitation, agreed - I am sure the Minister will admit this - that the remarks should be eliminated. The whole matter was arranged in five minutes, and I guarantee there were not three members of the Senate who knew what had taken place. I do not think there is any member of the Senate who, if in the course of an address, he made statements that any Minister thought was likely to cause embarrassment to either this or the Imperial Government in relation to our Allies, would have any hesitation whatever in falling in with the wishes of the Government for the elimination of remarks from our records. I am sure there is no honorable senator opposite who for one moment would entertain the -idea that any honorable senator on this side would be guilty of such conduct. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- What about questions ? {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- Let me finish one topic at a time. I do not like the proposal of the Government, and I do not like the amendment; I do not like any proposal calculated to curtail, in the slightest degree, the privileges of honorable senators. I am content to go on as in the past. If it is found that there is subject-matter in a speech that ought to be eliminated, we can follow the simple, handy course that we have followed since the commencement of the war. If we are to have a censorship of our speeches, I, like other honorable senators, prefer that it shall be by the President rather than by some outside authority, who, in all probability, would place a highly technical construction upon the speeches. But I do not think it is fair to put the President in such a position. As **Senator Senior** has said, the Government have no right to shirk their clear and definite responsibility in this matter. If speeches are censored in the manner proposed by the Government, and honorable senators are dissatisfied and feel disposed to attack the authority responsible, whom will they attack? The presiding officer of this Chamber? No; it would be disgraceful if we .permitted such a state of affairs. The responsibility in the future must rest, as it has done in the past, with the Government. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- The Government do take the responsibility. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- There is nothing, else under the sun that the Government have not done under the War Precautions Act, and that Statute gives them ample power to do what they are seeking to do by the motion that is before the Senate, if they have the courage to accept the responsibility instead of transferring it to the President. I do not think that **Senator Senior** understood the import of my interjection regarding the powers that the Government have already exercised under the War Precautions Act in regard to the Federal Arbitration Court. The Government appealed to that tribunal upon a certain matter. They were represented by lawyers, and the case was argued for several days. The decision of' the Court was against the Government, but by action taken under the War Precautions Act the utility and value of that Court were wiped away, and its powers nullified. If the Government have power under that Act to take such a drastic step in connexion with the High Court of Australia, surely they can find sufficient power to deal with senators' speeches without placing the responsibility on the President. The Minister and senators on both sides have said that we trust the President. We do trust him implicitly. Why, then, place any limitation upon our confidence in him ? . ' If we must have a censor, why not allow the President to exercise his jurisdiction, and not be subject to the advice, of the Crown Law officers or any other outside authority? I am opposed to any motion or amendment that may be calculated to curtail in the slightest degree the privileges of senators who are here doing, according to their lights, the best they can for the people whom they represent. I sincerely hope that the Senate will reject both the motion and the amendments that have been indicated, and that future procedure will be along those lines of safety, prudence, and common sense which we have followed during the four years and two months for which the war has been raging. **Senator FOLL** (Queensland) I"4-52] When this motion was first brought before the Senate, I had a perfectly open mind in regard to it, but one remark made by the Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce)** seemed to me to contain the kernel of the proposition. The Minister pointed out, and I agree, with him, that on account of the good position occupied by Great Britain and her Allies at the present time, only one thing can rob us of the fruits of victory, and that is disunion amongst the Allies. Because I indorse that view I intend to support any motion which, in the opinion of the Government, will place an obstacle in the way of any person or persons who may intentionally or inadvertently give utterance to statements prejudicial to the best interests of the Allies. As a new member of the Senate, -I would be one of the last to vote away any privileges enjoyed by any honorable member of this Chamber, I know that the parliamentary representatives of the people in the British Empire enjoy many privileges that have been won for us by the hard fights made by our ancestors. Those privileges are dear to us, but I think that the Empire is dearer, and that its safety should be protected to an even greater extent than the privileges of honorable senators. In the heat of debate remarks may be made by an honorable senator which, when reproduced in print, do not express what he really intended to say. Germany's agents, in the search for- propaganda material, take extracts from the speeches of legislators in the British Empire and the countries of our Allies. ' In doing so, they do not quote the whole " Speech, and so make clear what was really in the mind of the speaker; they simply pick out a sentence that suits them and enlarge upon it. We can , quite understand that a senator, through no fault of his own, may do a great deal of injury to this country. **'Senator Senior** suggested that the Government should use the powers with which they are clothed under- the War Precautions. Act to deal with this matter. That Act operates during the period of the war and for six. months thereafter, and if the proposed' censorship were exercised under -that Act, honorable senators would be in an infinitely worse position than they will be if this motion is carried. It would be very undesirable to give to the President or anybody else a power of this description for one day after the war is concluded. During the first few months after the declaration of peace lots of things will be said in this and other Parliaments that ought not to be deleted from the records. When the war is over, and the Allies are victorious, as I believe they will be, legislators will be desirous of saying many things that they have refrained from saying during the war. And I would oppose very strongly the Government taking power under the War Precautions Act to interfere with the speeches of honorable senators, even for one hour after the conclusion of the war. The Minister has stated the reasons why the Government do not desire to proceed under the War Precautions Act. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- They have already done so. Did not the military raid this building in order to get copies of an honorable member's speech ? Have they not - raided the Government Printing Office in Brisbane ? {: #subdebate-3-0-s12 .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- This motion has no reference to anything that happened in Brisbane or anywhere else, I am referring to the power which the motion proposes to give to the President in regard to the control of senators' speeches. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- Will this motion give power to the President alone? Does not the honorable senator see that it gives the Crown Law authorities power to dictate to the President. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- If the motion meant that, I would oppose it without hesitation. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- According to my reading of the motion, the Crown Law officers - in reality, the Attorney-General - will draw the attention of the President to certain things, and the President will use his discretion as to whether those statements should be censored. The mot-ion merely says that the President " may at his discretion " direct the omission from *Hansard* of any remarks "to which his attention may be directed by the law officers of the Crown." {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- Would not that be an instruction from the Crown Law Office? {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I do not take it as such. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- The President clearly stated to-day that he would accept it as an instruction. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- He- has not said that. The motion simply gives the Crown Law officers power to draw the President's attention to something which they think it is not desirable to place on record in *Hansard,* and the President has the discretion to say whether it should -appear in the records. I support this motion, because I consider that the safety of the Empire comes even before the privileges of honorable senators. {: #subdebate-3-0-s13 .speaker-KNN} ##### Senator GUY:
Tasmania .- I am sincerely sorry that a motion of this character should have been submitted. I am just as sincere in saying that. I have never heard such a weak case put up in this Chamber as that which lias been submitted to us by honorable senators in * support of the motion. I am in complete accord with the sentiments expressed by **Senator Senior.** So far as I can see, there is no necessity for the proposal. During the -past four years of war, there has been no need for the employment of the method by which the motion seeks to supplant the existing practice of this Chamber. Every difficulty has been easily and readily met, yet it is now proposed to create a cumbersome piece of machinery in order to deal with some difficulties it is imagined may arise. How is it proposed to watch what every honorable senator says? Are we to appoint a number of censors, whether they be representative of the Crown Law Office or not, who are to sit here every minute the Senate is sitting, and note what every honorable senator says? If they are not in the chamber to hear what is said, how are they to prevent certain words which have been uttered from getting abroad? It will be necessary to employ four or five men working in shifts - and they will have to be paid fairly big salaries - if they are to carefully consider every word that is uttered, so that they may make a report to the President as to their import. I think that we will make ourselves the laughing-stock of Australia if we create such bulky machinery for this purpose. If these men are not appointed, who is to convey to the officers who are to submit reports to the President, what has been said in this Chamber? If the debates have first to be printed; some one may get hold of the records. The press representatives may have their reports, and it may be too late to take action in the other States if the censors of the debates in this Chamber have first to wait until they see a print of what has been said here.- Throughout Australia, there has been a good deal of acrimony, yet now, just as we seem to be approaching a more harmonious position, the Government propose to set up a spirit' of discord among the people again. The public .outside have already expressed their annoyance at this proposal. It is not to be . wondered at that any proposal for curtailing senators' speeches - which is quite capable of being used in a party spirit - should cause suspicion among those outside this Chamber. *"We* should endeavour to create harmony instead of spreading discord, and no honorable senator should give support to a proposal to place such a dangerous weapon in the hands of a Government. As the Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce)** has said, there is no honorable senator who, if he happens to make some slip of the tongue, will not readily agree to the elimination of the statement from the records of the House. Why, then, should we create a cumbersome piece of machinery for something whose likelihood of occurrence is so problematical as to he" almost impossible? There is already a considerable outcry against the creation of new offices. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- No new offices will be created. {: .speaker-KNN} ##### Senator GUY: -- The Minister's statement would convey the impression that there are men in the Public Service who are now idle. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- There are now men in the Department of the AttorneyGeneral whose duty it is to read through *Hansard.* {: .speaker-KNN} ##### Senator GUY: -- If that is the case, why do we require this new machinery? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- The same officers will continue to read through *Hansard* as before, but at present they have no authority to refer anything to the President. {: .speaker-KNN} ##### Senator GUY: -- They have power to refer anything to the Minister. The Government should exercise the authority themselves. They should not endeavour to shirk the responsibility which the public expect them to bear. The amendments may slightly improve the motion, but I hope that the Senate will reject the proposal because it is not necessary. {: #subdebate-3-0-s14 .speaker-K18} ##### Senator BAKHAP:
Tasmania -- If this motion involved any abrogation or super-cession of the powers of the Senate, I would be one of the very first senators to vote against it, but it does not do anything of the sort. It is a mere consolidation and vesting of certain powers in the President that are inherent in the Chamber. There is no honorable senator more jealous of the privileges and constitution of the Senate than I am, and I very much prefer making the President the sole judge in his discretion of the propriety of anything in connexion with our proceedings to leaving the matter to the discretion of a Minister. The President is the custodian of the privileges attaching to the Chamber by virtue of its constitutional position, and my knowledge of Presidents and Speakers over a political life of about ten years is that the office they hold has something in it which makes them very jealous of the privileges and powers of the assemblages over which they from time to time preside. A President or a Speaker would be a rather inferior individual if the fact of confidence having been expressed in him by his fellow - members in any particular Chamber did not bring to him a sense of his responsibilities. It almost invariably brings to him the realization that he is the responsible custodian of the privileges of the Chamber over which he presides. It is true that the terms of the motion make mention of the law officers of the Crown. If they gave to *The War :* [26 September, 1918.] *Senate Debates.* 6403 those officers any power to directly intervene, and have expunged from the records of the debates of this Chamber anything that appeared therein, I would at once get my bristles up, and say, ' ' This must not be." Law officers, no matter how learned they may be, or even if they are likely subsequently to be members of the Judiciary, should not be made the possessors of any powers to override the rights of Parliament. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- This motion gives them that power. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator BAKHAP: -- It does not. In pursuance of their duties as advisers of Ministers they are asked toadvise the President, who represents the dignity and power of this Chamber, that something which has been said here in the course of debate is likely to imperil the good relations of the Commonwealth of Australia with other national existences with which it may be necessary for us - because of the exigencies of the situation - to keep on good terms. A very wide discretionary power, in fact, a complete discretionary power, is retained by the President. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- He has said that he will not accept that responsibility. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator BAKHAP: -- He has said that in regard to a matter of law, and in regard to a matter which, in his discretion, does affect the well-being of a State or its relation with foreign Powers, he would proceed to carry into effect the advice of the Crown Law officers, but that if he thought that under the guise of advice from the Crown Law officers there was to be misuse of the power to be conferred by this motion, he would at once use his discretion and take no action notwithstanding the advice received by him. That in itself shows that he retains - and properly retains - his complete discretionary power. It may be that the terms of the motion could with advantage be a little amplified. For instance, it might easily be provided that the President should, as soon as possible after taking any such action, report the fact to the Senate. But I assume that the President, who is always careful to communicate to us any action that he may take in connexion with our parliamentary privileges, will so report, even if the express terms of the motion do not render it mandatory for him to do so. If, in the exercise of his discretion, he thinks it is necessary to conform to the advice tendered him by the Crown Law-officers, I take it that he will avail himself of the earliest possible opportunity to report his action to the Senate. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- The motion does not say so. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator BAKHAP: -- It does not, and perhaps it would be an advantage if it did. Nevertheless, I believe that the President will exercise his discretion in that way. Any President who disallowed the publication in *Hansard* of statements made in this Chamber during the course of debates would, I think, report what he had done to the Senate as early as possible. Let me further point out that in this Chamber we take action of the character that is now suggested, even in time of peace. Is it unknown in connexion with the proceedings of the Senate for a motion to be submitted affirming that certain statements should be expunged from the pages of *Hansard?* I think I have a recollection of something of that kind having occurred quite recently. In any case, the Senate possesses the power to expunge from the pages of *Hansard* anything which it may think should not appear there. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- Then where is the necessity for this proposal ? {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator BAKHAP: -- It is now proposed to vest a similar power in the President. If a majority of honorable senators at any time are of opinion that the President has exercised his discretion unwisely, they will be in a position to take the necessary action. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- After the next meeting of the Senate. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator BAKHAP: -- I cannot see that our privileges will be whittled away in any particular by the adoption of this motion. But I dosee that it will afford the President an opportunity of exercising his discretion in a direct way, whereas, in the absence of the power which it will confer, a Minister would have to report to the Senate that the Crown Law officers had advised the Cabinet in a certain direction, and would then require to suggest the desirableness of this Chamber taking a particular course of action. Now, it may frequently be necessary for the President to take action at the earliest possible moment. A statement of a most prejudicial character to our relations with foreign Powers maybe made at the very last sitting of the Senate in a session. Is it not desirable that the President should be vested with discretionary power to act in such a contingency ? {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- The Government have already exercised their power in that connexion. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator BAKHAP: -- I prefer that the President, as representing this Chamber in its corporate capacity, should exercise that power rather than it should be exercised by Ministers. Ministers are merely the servants of the Parliament, whereas the President represents the Senate as a legislative and constitutional body. {: .speaker-KNN} ##### Senator Guy: -- Is there an honorable senator who would refuse to consent to the elimination of any statement prejudicial to the best interests of the Allies ? {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator BAKHAP: -- That is not the point. Under this motion we are asked to formally vest in the President a power which really inheres in him if, at any time, a majority of this Chamber think that a particular course of action should be taken. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- Why vest the power in the Crown Law officers? {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator BAKHAP: -- At the present moment the Crown Law officers have power to tender their advice to the Minister, and under the terms of this motion they will merely tender their advice to the President instead. They will be in a position to invite his attention to any statements which they deem objectionable, and action may then be taken by the President more directly than would otherwise be possible. I really believe that the position of the Senate in regard to this matter will be improved if we vest this discretionary power in the President. I venture to say that it would not be altogether a violation of the privileges of which he is the custodian if, upon his own responsibility, the President at. any time suggested to the Senate that the publication of certain utterances made during the course of debate here was undesirable. If he were to take action of that kind on the ground that such publication would be prejudicial to the best interests of the' Commonwealth or of the Allies, I certainly would not regard him as having exceeded his functions. I believe that he would merely be doing his duty. As, in my opinion, the privileges of this Chamber will not be in any way impaired by the adoption of this motion, I intend to support it. {: #subdebate-3-0-s15 .speaker-K1J} ##### Senator PRATTEN:
New South Wales -- I have listened very carefully to what has been an informative and well-threshed-out debate. I, too, am jealous 'of the privileges of this Senate, which, as one honorable senator rightly observed, represents the whole ' of the people of Australia iu a way that, perhaps, the other branch of the Legislature does not. But I fail to see why this motion should not be passed its present form, for the many good reasons that have been advanced by honorable senators upon this side of the chamber. During the course of .his remarks, **Senator Senior** sought to make points out of certain aspects of this proposal. But I feel, sir, that the privileges and dignity of the Senate will be safe in your hands. I cannot 'agree that the adoption of the motion will have the effect of surrendering our privileges to the Crown. Law officers. It has been admitted that under this proposal the proofs of our speeches here will probably be read by those officers at the same time as we are reading them ourselves, and possibly a little mental irritation may thereby be engendered. But I feel sure that should you, sir, be called upon -to exercise your discretion in this matter it will be exercised wisely, and that you will immediately report its exercise to the Senate. We are hoW in the fifth year of the war, and, to my mind, one of the wonders of the struggle is the unanimity and cohesion which still exist amongst the Allies.. I know that two or three years ago some of our wisest leaders regarded the possibility of disunion amongst the Allies as the weakest link in the chain of our power against Germany. I feel sure that if honorable members will only reflect for a moment they. will be forced to admit that, perhaps, an innocent sentence uttered by them, or a pugnacious word or two, or a statement made with some certain ulterior object, altogether apart from the war, may be productive of incalculable harm. As. victory approaches discussion will begin to open up, and I believe that in passing this motion we shall not be abrogating 'any of our privileges which we cannot abrogate for the common good whilst the war is in progress. In my judgment we should give way to thegreater cause, and should remember that that cause is, perhaps, more important now than it -has ever been before. Neither by word nor deed should we allow . any disunion among the Allies to be engendered. I hope that the motion will be carried. If it is, I believe that, you, sir, will be the true guardian of the privileges of the Senate, and that we shall experience nothing to complain about. If we do, the remedy can be found upon the floor of this Chamber in a resolution of the Senate. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -Colonel BOLTON (Victoria) [5.27]. - I have listened with very great interest to the debate upon this question, aud 1 must admit that at an earlier stage of the discussion I was impressed with two factors in the proposal of the Government, which I regarded as of an objectionable character. The first is that under this proposal we are invited to place a very grave responsibility upon the President, and the second is that we are asked to bring the proceedings of this Chamber under the review of officers who are not connected with it. But if the object of the Government is a belated intention to deal more drastically, not only with what may be regarded as disloyal expressions in this chamber, but with disloyalty throughout the Commonwealth, I welcome the motion. The Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce)** affirmed yesterday that the only thing which can withhold victory from the Allies is disunion amongst them. .That observation struck me, and possibly other honorable senators, in different ways. I realize that since the very inception of this war the British Empire has been fighting disunion and dissension within its own borders. I am one of those who believe that no power, on earth could defeat the British Empire save disloyalty and treachery within itself. We know that during the first three years of the war, when the Empire was carrying the burden of practically the whole civilized world, it had the mongrels of disloyalty and treachery yelping at its heels. When it was fighting for its very existence it was threatened with these hostile forces. I intend to support any proposal which is calculated to destroy the elements of disloyalty and treachery within the Empire itself - forces which have proved such a powerful weapon in the hands of the enemy. **Senator FAIRBAIRN** (Victoria) every member of the Senate agrees that the power "to suppress the publication of injudicious expressions must rest with some one. The question is therefore narrowed down to a decision as to who is most likely in the exercise of this power to interfere as little as possible with the right of free speech, for which our people have fought for generations, and which we prize so much. We are at present at war, and we know that the slightest dissension between ourselves and our Allies might be followed by disastrous consequences. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we should take all possible care that uo occasion for dissension shall arise. The President of the Senate occupies his position by the choice of honorable senators. He is a man whom we know, and we have been delighted to see that he is following in the steps of his predecessors in the chair in holding the balance of power in this Chamber impartially. We have to consider whether the power of supervision of the utterances of honorable senators which is provided for in the motion is more likely to be impartially exercised by the President or by a Minister who is the political opponent of honorable senators' opposite. That is a view of the question which appeals to me. It . has been said that the law officers of the Crown are likely to advise the President, and may give him wrong advice. I take it that they will tender advice only from a legal point of view, and not on ordinary common-sense lines. The President is not a lawyer, and will not be guided by legal considerations only in the exercise of the power proposed to be given to him by the motion. Our trust in the President has been justified in the past, and we can trust him in the future to exercise the power which this motion, if carried, will give him, in an entirely impartial way. Should a decision in this matter be left to a Minister, the exercise of his discretion in a particular way might, be attributed to political motives. At a Convention recently held at Government House a common desire was expressed to smooth away every possible difficulty, and the motion now under consideration provides a means of smoothing over the difficulty which it is intended to meet. A member of the Senate might make use of some indiscreet remarks, and if they were omitted from the *Hansard* report by the exercise of this power by a Minister, motives for his action might be attributed to him which could not be attributed to the President. It is proposed that the motion shall operate only during the progress of the war, and that is entirely satisfactory, because I believe that the greatest treasure we possess in the British Empire is the right of free speech. As I feel that the motion is entirely desirable and necessary, and will be found to be in the interests of our friends opposite, I shall support it. Amendment negatived. {: #subdebate-3-0-s16 .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE:
TASMANIA · ALP -- **Mr. President-** {: .speaker-KLS} ##### The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens: -- The honorable senator has already spoken, but as I intimated at the time when he proposed to move a second amendment to the . motion that it could not be moved at that stage, I think he should now be allowed to move the amendment which he then foreshadowed. {: #subdebate-3-0-s17 .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE:
Tasmania -- I move - >That after the words " **Mr. President)"** the "words "and the Leader or Acting Leader of the Government and the Leader or Acting Leader of the Opposition in the Senate he a Committee" be inserted. {: #subdebate-3-0-s18 .speaker-K1J} ##### Senator PRATTEN:
New South Wales -- May I ask, sir, whether it is your intention, should the motion as submitted by the Government be carried, to report to the Senate whenever you have found it desirable to cause omissions to be made from the *Hansard* report? {: .speaker-KLS} ##### The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens: -- I have always made it a practice whenever I have found it necessary to take important action to immediately report to the Senate what I have done. Should the motion be agreed to, and T am called upon at any time to take action under it, I shall feel it my duty to report the matter to the Senate. {: #subdebate-3-0-s19 .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia .- The Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce)** when speaking to the amendment moved by **Senator McDougall,** referred to the preliminary "pull" of questions submitted in the Senate. He wants, by his motion, to guard against any information finding its way to the enemy. It would appear that the Empire is going to be imperilled because some honorable senator asks a- question in the Senate, and a preliminary "pull." of it is taken. But what about the linotype operator ? {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- I rise to a point of order. I hold that **Senator Needham** is out of order in referring to the discussion on **Senator McDougall's** amendment, upon which a decision has been come to by the Senate. I submit that the honorable senator may now. speak only to the amendment moved by **Senator O'Keefe,** and it is not competent for him to discuss **Senator McDougall's** amendment or the main question. {: .speaker-KLS} ##### The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens: -- I was trying .to fit the amendment submitted by **Senator O'Keefe** to the wording of the motion, and so was not closely following what wa3 said by **Senator Needham.** So far as I was able to follow him, it did not appear to me that he was discussing the previous amendment. He -referred to a matter incidentally mentioned during the debate on the previous amendment, but as that was not irrelevant to the question now under consideration, I must rule that the honorable senator is in order in the references he is making. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- I was wondering who would look after the linotype operator responsible for the preliminary " pull " to which the Minister for Defence referred. It is just possible that information of use to the enemy might be conveyed by that "pull." I have intimated my personal desire to assist the Government to provide some method of supervision. I believe that if **Senator O'Keefe's** amendment is not agreed to honorable senators, by carrying the motion, will -at once place themselves under police supervision. I have said that,, so far as you, sir, are concerned, I should be content to place everything in your hands, but I certainly object to allow the law officers of the Crown to direct you what to do. **Senator Pearce** referred to the fact that the Clerk of the Senate has sometimes to look after our questions, but the Clerk is under our control, whilst the law officers of the Crown are not. **Senator Foll** has said that he puts the safety of the British *The War :* [26 September, 1918.] *Senate Debates.* 6407 Empire before all the privileges of the Senate. He is not singular in that. We all do that, but I would ask the honorable senator how the safety of the British Empire is going to be affected, whether this motion be carried or not? I would ask him to look to the Parliament of the country of his nativity. The House of Commons has not deemed it necessary, in the interests of the Empire, to pass such a motion as this. What, then, is the use of such cheap talk as the honorable senator has given us? The motion, discuss it as we like- {: #subdebate-3-0-s20 .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- The honorable senator cannot now discuss the motion, because he has already spoken to it. {: #subdebate-3-0-s21 .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -If **Senator O'Keefe's** amendment is not carried we shall bring into the proceedings of this Chamber the censorship that is taking place outside. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- No, because the President will use his own discretion. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- That is the kernel of the question. If I thought the President would be allowed to use his own discretion I would not support the amendment. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- If he is not allowed to use his own discretion, what additional authority will be conferred upon him by giving him the assistance of the Leader of the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate? {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- If **Senator** O'Keefe's amendment is agreed to the President will not be asked to decide the matter alone. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- He has to come to many a decision unaided, and we indorse his decisions. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- That is so, but it is not wise to load you, sir, withtoo many labours. You have enough. It is quite enough for you to sit here hour after hour in your chair and listen to all that we have to say. I think the penance you endure in that regard is quite sufficient without increasing it. It is because I have contributed to that penance so frequently that I should not like to increase it by causing you to go through my utterances, so that my loyalty might be tested. It is wise, in the interests of parliamentary discipline, independent of our privileges, that **Senator O'Keefe's** amendment should be carried. Amendment negatived. Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided. AYES: 15 NOES: 8 Majority.... 7 AYES NOES Question so resolved in theaffirmative. {: .page-start } page 6407 {:#debate-4} ### MINISTERIAL STATEMENT {:#subdebate-4-0} #### Government Business Debate resumed from 25th September *(vide* page 6384), on motion by **Senator Millen-** >That the paper be printed. {: #subdebate-4-0-s0 .speaker-JYF} ##### Senator EARLE:
Tasmania -- I have pointed out that, should resolution *l* of the Official Labour Conference at Perth, forbidding interference by soldiers in industrial disputes, become law, it might constitute a double-edged sword by which the man sought to be' protected might be decapitated. Resolution *m* was as follows : - ' ' Citizens on the completion of training to retain the arms delivered to them whilst training." Would the author of that proposition publicly explain what was in his mind when he moved it? Will he admit candidly and openly to the workers of Australia what his motive is ? It requires no imagination to con- clude that the very essence of Bolshevism was at the bottom of the proposition. In case of rebellion or disturbance the men would be already armed. Such a proposition is a disgrace to the loyal workers of Australia, and their opinion of it will be expressed, I am sure, at theproper time. The next proposition is equally wise: "The proclamation of compulsory service to contain an express declaration of the immediate peril of Australia, and to be laid within fourteen days before both Houses of Parliament, either of which may disallow the calling up." That is to say, should war be imminent, or even declared, within the Empire, and it became necessary to organize the manhood of Australia to do its part in the defence of the Empire, before the Government or the military authorities could call up the Forces, the proposition to do so would have to be laid before Parliament for fourteen days, and Parliament would have to have the opportunity of voting on it. It is marvellous to me that a body of supposedly intelligent men could come to such a decision, and seek to make it the policy of the Labour party. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- Where did you get that' {: .speaker-JYF} ##### Senator EARLE: -- I have it from the *Daily Post,* the official organ .of Labour, published on 25th June, 1918.. There is no contradicting it, and 1 have no doubt of its authenticity. The next proposition is: "No raising of Forces for service outside the Commonwealth or participation, or promise of participation, in any future overseas war, except by the decision of the people by initiative referendum." Hence, if a war were declared within the Empire, there would have to be a referendum of the people before Australia could take part , in it. If war was declared, and the enemy was invading New Zealand, seeking to establish there a depot and a jumping off place at Australia, Australia could take no part until the question was submitted to the people by referendum. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator Barnes: -- Was that carried? {: .speaker-JYF} ##### Senator EARLE: -- It was absolutely carried. I know honorable senators on the other side are very much perturbed in their minds in consequence of that Conference, but here' is the report, published in the official Labour organ- a report submitted by a special committee, and adopted by the Conference. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- Do you say that it was carried? {: .speaker-JYF} ##### Senator EARLE: -- I say that I got it from the *Daily Post,* the official organ of th? Labour party. i {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- But I understood you to say that it was carried. {: .speaker-JYF} ##### Senator EARLE: -- I say that the report was adopted. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- It was not. **Senator Pearce.** - Then the report is wrong. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- Of course it is ; and so is the honorable senator for quoting it. {: .speaker-JYF} ##### Senator EARLE: -- I am speaking on the authority of the published report, which, has not been contradicted by any one authorized to do so. It was published by the official organ of the Labour movement as a record of the proceedings, of the Perth Conference in the middle of June, 1918. I do not desire now to say anything further than that it has been proved over and over again that the controlling power of the Labour movement in Australia today does not represent the workers of Australia. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator Barnes: -- Call it the junta, then. {: .speaker-JYF} ##### Senator EARLE: -- Yes, if the honorable senator wishes me to do so, I will call it the junta. At all events, it is the hidden power behind a certain organization which, while not publicly responsible, is making certain of the public men of Australia do its bidding, and is destroying everything that was good in the Labour movement. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator Barnes: -- But it took you a long time to find that out. {: .speaker-JYF} ##### Senator EARLE: -- No; it did not. Immediately they put the screw on me I released myself from the organization. The honorable senator himself has not. the courage to do that, though he knows very well that he ought not to be where he is to-day. The time is not far. distant, however, when the workers of Australia will have an opportunity of ridding themselves of this incubus, and elect to the Parliaments of Australia - State or Commonwealth - men who will carry out the true policy of Labour, and reject men who have proved themselves miserable, servile tools of an organization which is so unBritish and un-Australian. Let me repeat what I said the other evening: that those who are controlling this movement and exercised so great an influence at the Conference are the enemies of Australia. At the present time we are at' a stage in this terrible conflict when it behoves all the people of Australia to do their utmost, however little it may be, to further the interest of the Allies,. and insure the successful termination of the war. We are all looking for peace, but a peace by negotiation would be of no use to the world to-day, because there is something which must be removed from the internal administration of the Central Powers before a true peace can be established. I believe that " eventually the German workers themselves will exert an' important influence in this direction. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator Barnes: -- Then why are you not prepared to negotiate with them? {: .speaker-JYF} ##### Senator EARLE: -- The honorable senator must know, surely, that there is no possible chance of negotiating with them at the present time. We might as well try to negotiate the lamb from the tiger, or a leg of pork from a shark, as I heard some one say the other day, as to attempt to negotiate with the Central Powers as at present constituted. It is quite impracticable. Germany will have to be defeated before negotiations can be entered upon. There is no doubt about that. The German people will have to suffer, and be made to suffer, in order that they may realize in some degree the suffering that has been endured by the people of the devastated countries. This must be done, otherwise we cannot retain out self-respect, or think without blushing of the men who have laid down their lives in defence of our liberties. Little Belgium, to whom we must be ever grateful for her defence of our liberties, must be repatriated. Some atonement must be made to the people of that country who have suffered moire than we can imagine. The people of France, also, must have recompense for all they have gone through. Hence I. say that, as we in Australia have enjoyed so much of comfort and even of luxury in comparison with other belligerent countries of the world, we would be less than manly if we did not strain every effort to bring this war to a successful termination. I believe that much hard fighting will yet have to be done. I do not think that the war is nearly over yet, although we rejoice at the gratifying successes which have been achieved by the Allies of late. Tac powerful combination against which the Allies are pitted will, I fear, yet be capable of much stern fighting, so it behoves all of us in Australia, as well as the peoples of the Allied countries, to be prepared to make every sacrifice that may b3 necessary to see this war through, and so insure to lis the complete enjoyment of our rights and liberties. {: #subdebate-4-0-s1 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · Western Australia · NAT -- One question which **Senator Earle** touched upon, namely, the position of the wives and dependants of members of the Australian Imperial Force who have deserted while on active service, seems to call for some comment from me. The practice of the Defence Department is to cease payment to the wives and dependants of deserters after the lapse of a period of eighty days' absence without leave. **Senator Earle,** in criticising this decision, quoted some figures which appeared in one of the Melbourne newspapers, and which apparently conveyed the impression that in the great majority of such cases 'the men had a long period of active service to their credit. I do not know how the newspaper obtained the figures, and' so I am not in a position to say whether they are accurate or not, but information which I have obtained does not bear out the facts as published in the paper referred to. 1 am inclined to think, therefore, that the cases quoted are not by any means a fair sample of the great bulk of those which have engaged the attention of the Department: There are certain difficulties in connexion with this matter that have to be frankly faced by those who approach a consideration of them, and I suggest one or two to honorable senators. In the first place I ask them to consider what rate of payment is to be continued to the wives and dependants of deserters. Are .they to receive the same pay ais the wives and children of men who are fighting in this war, and facing the risk of death? Then, again, for how long should the payments continue, because we must assume that a deserter from the Australian Imperial Force does not intend to rejoin either his unit or his wife and family ? {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- All the more reason why you should give the dependants some assistance. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The honorable senator must beaT this aspect of the question in mind. I ask honorable senators to remember also that it is an obligation on the States at present to maintain the wives and families of deserting husbands. Moreover, there are some features of this question which I am not prepared to divulge to the Senate, though I will he pleased to give the fullest information to honorable senators privately, and I can assure them that the figures are rather illuminating. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- I should like to get the information. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The figures which I have in my possession show that a proportion of these men joined the Australian Imperial Force as a means of deserting their wives and families. They did not go overseas to fight for this country at all, but in order that they might evade their personal obligations. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- Is not the proportion of that class of men very small? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I am not going to say any more than I have said already, namely, that a certain proportion of the men joined the Australian Imperial Force for this purpose; but I will give honorable senators privately the figures upon which I base this stater ment. There is every reason why I should not make the information public, for if we announced to the potential deserter of his wife and family that if he joined the Australian Imperial Force, and then deserted, his dependants would be cared for, desertions would be much more prevalent than they are at the present time. As I have already said, the States recognise a certain liability in regard to the wives and families of deserting husbands ; not, of course, anything like the obligation cast upon the Federal Government in regard to allotments and separation allowances to the wives and dependants of soldiers. There is not the slightest doubt that certain men would have been deserters had they not joined the 'Australian Imperial Force, but some States, have a reciprocal arrangement by which deserting husbands may be arrested and sent back to the State in which the wife and family (reside, and the question arises whether, if they join the Australian Imperial Force and go abroad, the States evade their responsibilities. ' This consideration Has been before the Government. The difficulty is not quite so easy of solution as some of our press critics seem to imagine. There are certain aspects of the problem which have to he looked at. T.he3e have received consideration at the hands of the Federal Government, and negotiations are now proceeding between the Commonwealth and State authorities. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- You gave the people to understand that the Federal Government would not acknowledge any responsibility. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- No; but that it was not a question for the Defence Department to acknowledge the liability. The act of desertion breaks the contract which the deserting 'soldier has made with the Defence Department. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- But it does not break the contract which the Department made with the wife and children. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The contract with the soldier ceases with the act of desertion. The War Pensions Act, which the honorable senator" helped *(o* pass, also contains the same principle. There is no pension for the wife and family of a deserter. So, if the Defence Department acted on a wrong principle, Parliament has done the same. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- Do you mean that if a man deserts, the pension then ceases ? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- In the first place, he- would not have a pension before his desertion. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- How about the separation allowance? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- It ceases within eighty days. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- How can the Minister connect a pensioner with a deserter?' {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I am following up the interjection to the effect that there is a contract with the wife and family, and I point out that under the* War Pensions Act Parliament did not recognise that principle. Therefore, the Defence Department has acted in accordance, at any rate, with the principle laid down by Parliament. Whether the Government should take up that liability is at present the subject of negotiation. We have not approached it in any spirit of vindictiveness towards the wife and family. They have a right to the sympathy of the community. But it is purely a question of where the liability should be placed. The argument has been that it should be placed with the Defence Department. I do not think it should be. If the liability for support is. to be placed upon the Federal Government it should be a charge upon the Treasury. These deserters are' not giving any military service. Hence, if it is to be a charge on the Federal Government it should not be on the Defence Department. But the point is to be cleared up as to whether there is a charge upon the Federal Government, or as to whether it is a joint liability with the State Governments, and, if so, to what degree. The presumption is, as I have already indicated, that some of the deserters were potential deserters prior to the war, and that the Australian Imperial Force provided them with a safer means of desertion than they otherwise could have secured. Question resolved in the affirmative. *Sitting suspended from 6.19 to8p.m.* {: .page-start } page 6411 {:#debate-5} ### PAPER The following paper was presented: - >Report of His Honour, **Mr. Justice** Harvey, on his inquiry into the case of certain Irish internees, dated 11th September, 1018. {: .page-start } page 6411 {:#debate-6} ### AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE {:#subdebate-6-0} #### Long Service Furlough SenatorGRANT (New South Wales) [8.1]. - I move - >That in the opinion of the Senate, all members of the Australian Imperial Force who have been absent from A'ustralia for a period of three years should be granted at least six months furlough, and facilities be placed at their disposal to enable them to visit Australia. I desire to express my approval of the action of those who have succeeded in securing furlough to members of the Australian Imperial Force who embarked for Service abroad in 1914. The decision of the Imperial authorities in this connexion will be hailed with immense satisfaction throughout the Commonwealth, and will provide quite : a number of our troops with a well-merited rest. When war was suddenly declared in August, 1914, I venture to say that very, few persons either in the Commonwealth or in the Empire believed that the struggle "would "last four years. But unfortunately not only has it lasted for that period, but the most expert (wnongst us is unable to say when it will be brought to a successful termination. Had it been known at the outset that the war would have continued for so long, I believe that some time limit would have been imposed upon the service of those who enlisted, after which they would have been entitled to furlough. But the dura tion of the struggle could not be foreseen, and consequently no such arrangement was made. At the inception, of the war the Commonwealth offered the British Government a preliminary draft of 20,000 men. That offer was at once accepted.- These men constituted the very flower of Australian manhood, and we are all glad to know that those amongst them who still survive are now about to enjoy a well-earned respite. In common wdth other honorable senators, I am the recipient of numerous letters from mothers who are anxious to learn if it is the intention of the Government to keep their boys perpetually in the firing line without affording them any opportunity for a protracted rest. Unfortunately, 1 am unable to supply them with any answer beyond that which is embodied in , the announcement that has been made in respect of those soldiers who embarked in 1914. I feel sure, however, that the appeal of these mothers must strike a sympathetic chord in the . breast of every honorable senator. So far as I can ascertain, all , the other belligerent nations have an arrangement under which their troops are entitled to a certain term of leave, after the lapse of a definite period of service. A little time ago I saw in 'Sydney a number of French troops who were returning to their homes in New Caledonia as a matter of course. The New Zealand Government,, I know, has made a somewhat similar arrangement. Canadian troops, too, have already been afforded an opportunity of revisiting their homes. In fact, all the other belligerents have an arrangement under which their troops are entitled to certain leave after they have been- on service for a definite period. I know that the position occupied by Australia is somewhat different from that- occupied by other countries because of its distance from the actual scene of conflict. But that has not been the. reason why furlough has not been granted, because the New Zealand Government has been able to secure leave for its men. Australia is the only nation which has not an arrangement of that character. There is, ' I submit, a limit to human endurance. . I do not know how many of the men who enlisted in 1914 still survive. But 'there is a limit to the endurance of the most robust troops, and when men are subjected to the strenuous climatic conditions that obtain in Egypt, France, and elsewhere, it is only reasonable that they should be afforded some measure of relief from the strain of active service. Probably noclimate is more trying, even to Australians, than that of Mesopotamia or the northern portion of Palestine. Consequently, it does seem to me that this motion is one which ought to command the support of the Government. I recognise that very strenuous representations were needed on the part' of the Commonwealth to induce the British authorities to grant furlough to the men who embarked in 1914; but I believe that if persistent efforts are made in the direction indicated by this motion, success will ultimately be achieved. It is quite true that the war is not yet finished, and that nobody can predict when it will end. But that fact only furnishes a stronger reason why the Senate should express a definite opinion upon the question of whether the men who enlisted three years ago should not be entitled to leave. I am not wedded to a period of three years, or, indeed, to any arbitrary term, though the shorter the period the better I would like it. Of course, it may be urged by those who are opposed to this motion that we lack the necessary transport facilities to return these men to Australia. But we have to recollect that when vessels leave- our shores they are fitted up to carry troops, and, consequently, it should be easy for them, upon their return voyage, to accommodate troops who have been granted furlough. There ought to be no difficulty so far as troopships are concerned. Three years is quite. long enough for any man to remain at the Front without being afforded a definite spell. If the public knew that after the lapse of a specific period those who enlisted would be entitled to furlough, it would stimulate recruiting more than would anything else. I cannot say how many men would be affected by the adoption of this motion. The enlistments from August to December, 1914, totalled 52,56.1, and those from January to July, 1915, 89,490. But whether the number of troops who would be affected by this proposal be large or small, I hold that the knowledge that after a fixed term of service abroad they would be entitled to furlough for a de finite period, would be a distinct aid to recruiting. It has been repeatedly urged by conscriptionists that if we only adopted conscription everything would be all right. Their attitude reminds me very much of the silly chatter which we see in the *Worker* newspaper from the pen of **Mr. H.** E. Boote in regard to a cooperative commonwealth.. He affirms that if we only had a co-operative commonwealth, and one ' big industrial union, everything else would be added unto us. Similarly, those who advocate conscription tell us that if we adopted their pet fad everything else would be added unto us. They are fully entitled to hold that opinion. They have expressed it so often that possibly they now believe it, but they must permit honorable senators on this side also to have some opinions of their own. The position to-day is entirely different from what it was prior to the entry of America into the war. We are informed that the United States of America are landing in France every month between 300,000 and 350,000 men. In one month they are putting into the struggle almost as many men as Australia has been able to send during a period of four years. I read to-day that, according to some of our cable " crammers," it has been announced in some of the German newspapers that, there are 2,000,000 . Americans . now in France ; that 5,000,000 more will be coming across within the next two or three months, and that in six months' time there will be 20,000,000 of them there. Apparently the Germans are beginning to become afraid' of the Americans, and not without very good reason. {: #subdebate-6-0-s0 .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator GRANT: -- What I have stated **Senator Foll** will find published in this afternoon's issue of the Melbourne *Herald.* We do not know whether the press' statements as to the number of men that America is putting into the conflict are correct or not, but we may take it as approximately correct that America is putting into the fight at least 300,000 men every month, fully equipped with all necessary materiel. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- More power to her. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator GRANT: -- I quite agree with the honorable senator- the more the better. I say, therefore, that the position to-day is entirely different from what it was prior to the entry of America into the war. We have evidence of that in the fact that the Australian Government have *so strongly* represented the position to the Imperial authorities that they have at last agreed to grant a period of leave to the men who embarked from Australia for the Front in 1914. That being so, there does not appear to me to be any difficulty in the way of securing an extension of the number of Australians to whom leave may be granted. My desire in .submitting this motion- is to secure an expression of opinion which would be regarded by the Government, if not as an instruction, as at least the expressed desire of the .Senate, that they should endeavour to secure from the Imperial authorities an understanding that Australian soldiers shall be entitled to some leave after a fixed period of service of, say, three years. I understand that the other Dominions - Canada and New Zealand - do not hand their men over absolutely to the British authorities in the same way that Australia does. **Senator Colonel Rowell.** - Tes, they do, or they would not have them. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator GRANT: -! understand that the. position is not so, and that New Zealand and Canadian soldiers are entitled to leave after a certain period of service. It will not be denied, I presume, that the New Zealand Government have an underStanding with the Imperial authorities whereby their men can be relieved. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- Because they have adopted a definite scientific method of reinforcing them. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator GRANT: -- "The honorable senator may contend that it is because in New Zealand they have a regular system of reinforcements. That statement may be true or it may not. I am not prepared to accept it, and I think that the honorable senator has no justification beyond his mere assertion for making it. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- It will stand examination,, anyhow. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator GRANT: -- I do not think it will. It is merely an effort to back up the honorable senator's own idea in favour of conscription. The fact remains that the New Zealand Government apparently have an arrangement by which soldiers from that Dominion are granted leave of absence after a certain period of service. That being so, I. think that the Australian Government should now endeavour to bring about a similar arrangement with the Imperial authorities. Apparently, when our men reach the other side they are handed over to the British authorities to do just as they like with them. I do not, perhaps, complain of that any more than to say that, in my opinion, there should be an understanding that our men, after a certain period of service, should be entitled to- leave. I know that honorable senators opposite, who are enthusiastic conscriptionists, would be prepared to give us long discourses upon the advantages of the system of conscription for the reinforcement of our troops at the Front, but up to date, so far as I know, over 360,000 men have voluntarily left Australia for the Front. I think it was an oversight on our part that, prior to our men going abroad, definite arrangements were not made to secure them leave after a certain period of service. In view of the fact that we cannot say when the war will terminate, it is, in my opinion, only fair that even at this late stage the Government should endeavour to bring about an arrangement with the Imperial Government under which Australian troops will be entitled to leave after, say, three years' service abroad. With that object in view, I submit the motion to the favorable consideration of honorable senators. I hope that if it be agreed to. the Government will accept it as an instruction, and see whether what it proposes cannot be carried out. {: #subdebate-6-0-s1 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · Western Australia · NAT -- This motion is one the terms of which must excite the sympathy of every well-wisher of those citizens of Australia who have voluntarily gone overseas to fight for the liberties of this country, and who for three long years have been enduring sacrifices, and hardships, and all the horrors of war in order that their country may be safe. There are none in this community who would wish more earnestly that it were possible to give immediate and full effect to this motion than would- honorable senators sitting on this side. There are none in this community who have endeavoured more .strenuously to make that possible than have honorable senators on this side. It would be quite fitting for such a mo- < tion to be submitted by any honorable senator on this side,' but I do say that it does not lie in the mouth of **Senator Grant** to. move such a motion as this. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- But I think that it does. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The honorable senator pointed out that every other Government in the British Empire, save that of Australia, is able to give relief to their soldiers hard pressed in the field. He said that the Government of France does so. I know that to be a fact. I have myself seen and spoken to drafts from New Caledonia, who, at the expiration of a period of, I think, two and a half years' service, have passed through our cities on their way back to New Caledonia to a well-earned rest. The honorable senator has informed us that the Governments of New Zealand and Canada have done likewise for .their troops. That is a fact, and the Government of Great Britain does the same. And why ? It is because every Government the honorable senator mentioned has adopted the principle of conscription, which those on this side endeavoured to. induce the people of this country to adopt, a principle the adoption of which **Senator Grant** and those with whom he is associated did their utmost to prevent, aud which, if it had been adopted, would have enabled this Government to do exactly the same as the Other Governments, to whom he has referred, are doing. In these circumstances it would have been fair, because then the men who had done their turn at the Front would have been enabled to come, back, aud the others remaining in Australia equally fit, and equally eligible for military service, and with equal interests in this country, if they had not the manliness to come forward and do their part, could have been compelled by the Government to go and do it. **Senator Grant** and those associated with Mm prevented us from being in a position to do that. Let me tell the honorable senator this: He speaks of the Government of New Zealand, and what it is doing in this matter. New Zealand put into the field, as we have done, a certain definite num ber of units, and. she does not break up those units. She is maintaining her units at their full strength. The relief being given to the New Zealand troops is not given by withdrawing men from the field, but by putting new drafts into the units, and keeping them up to strength, and allowing those who have been longest in the firing line to have their turn of rest. Canada is not reducing the strength of her units in the field. France is not reducing her strength in the field, except to the extent to which' it is reduced by the casualty lists in view of the fact that the limit of her man power has been reached, and there are no more drafts upon whom she can call, except those who are coming of age. Great Britain is not reducing the number of her units in the field. All these countries are giving their troops relief, and at the same time maintaining their strength. But to give effect to **Senator Grant's-** motion, as our position is to-day, we know, and the honorable senator knows, that we should have to withdraw Australian units from the field to weaken the already depleted units, and put those left through a period of greater sacrifice and trial. All the arguments we have heard here tc-night from **Senator Grant** have their basis- in what we told him and the Senate, and the country, would be the consequences of adherence to the voluntary system. Those very arguments resounded in this Chamber when he and others were warned that, unless they adopted the principle we put before them, it was inevitable that these results would follow. Did we not point put the injustice of these men being kept in the field year after year, wounded and sent into hospital, and back again into the field, while others equally fit and eligible remained in this country, and took no risks ? Has **Senator Grant** only just discovered this? If he has, his ears must have been stopped for the last' three years. He and others did r.ot tell us that they would be in favour of the Australian units being weakened, nor did they tell the country that they were in favour of these men being retained in the battle line for three or four years. What they said was that they were just as anxious as we were that these units should have a rest, and that they should be kept up to strength. They said it could be done byvoluntary enlistment, and that the method by which they would do it was voluntary enlistment. What is their position to-day ? It is all very well to talk of bringing these men back, but what does **Senator Grant** propose to do to replace them? Does he propose to withdraw the Australian Army from the field? He must mean that, unless he has some proposal to replace them. But the honorable senator, and those associated with him, have received an instruction that they must not even participate in voluntary recruiting. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- That is really untrue. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Is it untrue that **Senator Grant** has received from **Mr. Evans,** the General Secretary of the Political Labour League Executive of New South Wales, an intimation from that executive that, until the Labour ballot is held in November, he must not take part in recruiting meetings? {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- It is not true. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- If the honorable senator has not received his notice, **Mr. Webster's** Department must be to blame, because I have seen one of those notices sent to a New South Wales Federal member. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- Have you seen one sent to me? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- No; but I have seen a copy of a circular sent to all Federal members from New South Wales, and signed by **Mr. Evans,** the general secretary. In it, attention is drawn to. the fact that some of the Federal members, and some of the State members of New South Wales, have been taking part in the recruiting campaign. Their attention is directed to the resolutions of the Perth Labour Conference, and they are informed that, in the opinion of the State executive cf New South Wales, until the Labour ballot is held in November next, if they take any further part in recruiting meetings, they will be acting in defiance of the resolution of the executive, and will be dealt with accordingly. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- The first statement you made was that they " must not " take part. That statement is untrue. The next time you examine our letters, take a copy of them, and have it on hand. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- It is splitting straws to quibble about the word "must." I have quoted from memory a letter I have seen addressed from **Mr. Evans** to one of the New South Wales Labour members. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- Have you not prosecuted **Mr. Evans** for circulating a letter of that character? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- No. Before you can prosecute, you -must have certain' evidence. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- You are producing the evidence now without proof. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I am content to let the public judge whether my statements have not strong circumstantial backing from certain other statements that have appeared in the press emanating from . the same source. What is the attitude of honorable senators on the benches opposite towards voluntary recruiting ? {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- What is your attitude? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Our attitude is to assist voluntary enlistment to the utmost of our ability. The attitude of honorable senators opposite can be judged from the attitude and actions of the official organization to which they have subordinated and given over their liberty, because it was the crucial question of the control of members of Parliament that caused those senators to sit opposite and others of us to sit on this side of the chamber. They elected to place themselves absolutely under the. domination of the organization outside on questions on the platform or off the platform. We are here because we refused to place ourselves under that domination. The organization, therefore, determines the attitude of honorable senators opposite on this question of voluntary enlistment. We must, therefore, examine their attitude towards the question of relieving those men who deserve this long-earned rest. Their attitude is that they must not take part in recruiting' when the question of recruiting is to be submitted to a ballot of the . Labour unions. In that ballot they are to be asked if they are willing to take part in recruiting, subject to conditions so impossible that not one of the Allied countries would think of accepting them. **Senator Grant** has subscribed to a manifesto in which he points out that an affirmative answer to the ballot means the abandonment of our men iii the field. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- That is not so. Read the manifesto carefully. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- My reading of it is that it contains 'the plain statement that, if the answer is " Yes," the ballot destroys voluntary enlistment, and means the virtual abandonment of our men in the field. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- No doubt you would place that interpretation upon it, and we say so. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I am giving what I believe to bo the purport of the protest signed by **Senator Grant** and others. .The honorable senator and others have appealed to the unionists to vote " No " on the ballot. What is their position in the interim? I know there has been a sudden disappearance from the recruiting platform of all those members of the Official Labour party .who, prior to the Perth Conference, were taking part in the recruiting campaign. That needs some explanation. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- Who were they? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I am glad to say that, before the Perth Labour Conference was held, in every State of the Commonwealth members of the Official Labour party were appearing on the recruiting platform. One notable instance was that of **Mr. P.** If. Collier, the Leader of the Labour party in my own .State. After coming back from the GovernorGeneral's Conference he addressed a recruiting meeting at Midland Junction, in which he said that he had determined to drop all party conflict, and throw himself heartily into the recruiting campaign. But since the Perth Conference was held he has not addressed a single meeting. This is the manifesto which **Senator Grant** signed, with other Federal Labour members - >At the elections of 1914 the Labour party issued a manifesto pledging the movement to participate in a vigorous prosecution of the war. Since then an election, and on two occasions a referendum, have been held, and in each campaign the movement has stood firmly by the voluntary system, and we have repeated our pledge to continue our efforts until a just and honorable peace can be achieved. This attitude had much to .do in defeating conscription. To vote " Yes " in this ballot would give the Government the alternative of introducing conscription bv regulation pr statute law. To abandon voluntary .enlistment now would mean pulling out of the war, and leaving those trades unionists who are in the trenches without the help we should give them. The proposals you are asked to adopt may be interpreted to mean that as a party we should take no further part in the war. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- We say " may be interpreted." Of course, that is your interpretation, but it is not ours. That was out there as a special trap for **Senator Pearce** and others to fall into. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The manifesto says - . The proposals you are asked to adopt may be interpreted to mean that as a party we should take no further part in the war. This would be a distinct breach of faith with the electors, and a base desertion of our soldiers. Such a step would be disastrous to the movement at a time when all should aim at solidarity, and closing up our ranks to make a united effort to secure the reins of government in the Federal and State Parliaments, in order to protect the interests of the people in th? very serious industrial and financial problems that will arise after the war. At this critical juncture, in order to protect the interests of labour, we earnestly ask you to vote " No." That justifies absolutely what I have said as to the attitude of the Official Labour party towards voluntary enlistment. I repeat that the policy of that party is not determined by the gentlemen who sit opposite. It- is determined by that official organization which has directed the trade unionists of this country to vets "yes.", on the ballot. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- That is not so. They made a recommendation, but .did not direct them. Why don't you speak the truth? ' {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Some of the officials of the organization to which **Senator Grant** owes allegiance have told **Senator Grant** and others, in no mesured terms, that the issue of that manifesto is a breach of discipline for which they may be dealt with later. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- That statement is quite incorrect. If you read the first paragraph of another circular you will see that your statement is without foundation in fact. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I am referring to the statement of **Mr. Arthur** Rae. I come now to **Senator Grant's** statement as to the favorable position in which the Allies find themselves today. He says that is due to the intervention of the Unite"d States of America, and points to the number of troops the "United States are sending to the Front. What number would the United States be sending to the Front to-day if they had been unfortunate enough to follow the example of Australia, and depend on voluntary enlistment? It is a fair paraphrase of **Senator Grant's** statement to say that the Allies owe the favorable position they are in to-day to the fact that America adopted conscription. America could not, and would not, have put 1,000,000 soldiers into France had she not done so. One statement which **Senator Grant** made to-night I wish at once emphatically and publicly to contradict. **Senator Grant** .said that apparently there was some arrangement between the United Kingdom and the Government of Australia in regard to our troops in the field that differed from the arrangement between the Government of the United Kingdom and Canada, and the United Kingdom and New Zealand. I want to give that an absolute, flat, and emphatic contradiction. There is absolutely no agreement with the British Government in regard to our troops in the sense insinuated by **Senator Grant.** There is nothing to prevent this country and this Parliament withdrawing every Australian soldier from France to-morrow. Nothing at all. This Government and this Parliament are absolutely free. The British Government has never attempted to take up such a position regarding the Commonwealth, and I am sure they have never attempted to do anything like that with regard to any other Dominion. The only position taken up with reference to our soldiers in the field is this: That as the British Empire is one, so the troops of the Mother Country and of the British Dominions, once they enter the field of action, ooma under one common British command. The Government of Australia are in exactly the same position as the Governments of Canada and New Zealand in this matter. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- My statement was not quite so definite. I said that apparently ' there was some such arrangement. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The honorable senator certainly insinuated that some different arrangement had been arrived at. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- I did not. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The honorable senator said that New Zealand had an arrangement whereby her men could get leave after a certain period. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- So they do. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I point out, however, that that is not the result of an arrangement with the British Government, but with the people of New Zealand themselves. Periodically a draft is made of the men of New Zealand as required, and those men are sent forward to take the places of soldiers who return on leave. That is the New Zealand arrangement, and that is the arrangement which **Senator Grant** has helped to prevent this country from giving effect to. I shall endeavour to amend the motion, and so I move - >That after the word " furlough " the following words be inserted": - " The Senate, However, recognises that at this crucial stage of the war it is essential, in order that effect may be given to this, and at the same time to maintain the fighting strength of the units in the field, that sufficient reinforcements should be enlisted to enable this well earned rest to be given. The members of the Senate therefore pledge themselves individually and collectively to do all in their power to assist in making the forthcoming appeal through the voluntary ballot a success by assisting the recruiting authorities in every way possible." , The amendment points the way by which **Senator Grant** and others may do something to make the wish expressed in his motion a reality. It is no use our passing pious resolutions which are merely a mockery to the men at the Front. There should be some meaning behind them, and some attempt made to find men to support those for whom furlough is desired. In my heart of hearts I do not believe that **Senator Grant** knows the character of the men he is dealing with. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- Don't I? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Let me relate to him an incident which came under my notice .recently in Western Australia. Some returned Anzacs home on furlough, married men who had been in the field since 1914, came to me in a body, and reporting the position of their families, asked me whether, now that they were on furlough, it would not be possible for them to be discharged. It was my painful duty to tell them, however,, that when General- Birdwood, intimated that he was sending them out to Australia on furlough, he informed me that owing to the shortage of reinforcements, if the Government took upon themselves the responsibility of discharging .them when they arrived here, he would, of necessity and .in justice to those who remained on service, have to cease sending out any more on furlough. When I gave the men General Birdwood' s message, with one accord they said, " If that is the case, we want to go hack." This is the class of men that the honorable senator has to deal with. He should realize that those who are now fighting would not ask to come back to Australia if their coming meant that they were leaving their mates behind to carry the job through. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator Long: -- When you were speaking to the men did you mention anything about ships to take away the recruits who are in camp iri Australia? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- No; I told them just what I have said, and I have given the Senate their reply. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- Can you say if the places of the men who are now on furlough have been filled? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- No, unfortunately, they have not. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- Then why not extend the privileges to the three-year men? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- If that is the honorable senator's argument, then it means that the Australian Forces are to be pulled out of the field altogether. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- That is not so. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Already some of the battalions have been broken up, and there is not the slightest doubt that the return of these Anzacs will mean that a number of other units will have to be broken up, temporarily at all events. If **Senator Grant's** proposal is carried, without anything being done to insure adequate reinforcements, more battalions will have to be broken up, and the Australian Army will practically disappear. If that is what **Senator Grant** means, .why does he not say so. {: .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator Grant: -- I do not say so. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- Already German orders are out commenting on the fact that the Australian troops are not being reinforced. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I submit the amendment because it is the only way in which the Senate can assist in giving those men the rest they deserve. {: #subdebate-6-0-s2 .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG:
Tasmania .- In discussing this proposal I have no doubt that one will be permitted a little latitude to offer a few observations on another question which, in my opinion, is very closely related to the one now under discussion. Dealing with this question of furlough to those men who have been on active service for four "years, and, in **Senator Grant's** motion, for three years, one may be permitted to refer to that class of soldier who would be precluded from the benefits of furlough, although they may have been on -active service - that is to say, those who entered camp four years, and two months ago.. Yesterday the Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce)** informed the- Senate that only those soldiers who had embarked in 1914 would get the benefit of the six months' furlough to Australia, and, in a question to the Minister, I suggested that that would constitute a very grave injustice to a considerable section of the Australian Imperial Force. However, the Minister said that a line had to be drawn somewhere. With that, no doubt, the majority of the Senate will probably agree. I point out, however, that some men were in camp, and, therefore, really, on active service, for nearly five months in 1914, but because the enlistments for certain units weregreater than the demand, they were not allowed to go overseas. By all the rules of justice these men are entitled to the same consideration as is being shown to those who enlisted in 1-914, and were able to take their departure from Australia in the later part of that year. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- Some men had been in camp eighteen months before being sent away. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- Yes; and the fact that they were not sent away is a circumstance for which I am not holding the Government responsible. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- But do you compare the position of men in camp in Australia with that of men on active service in France? {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- I do not make that comparison, .but I say that men in camp necessarily have a strenuous time. Coming to **Senator Grant's** motion itself, I think the Minister found that it gave him an excellent opportunity to have a tilt at his former comrades on this side of the Senate. He grew quite eloquent over the suggestion that if honorable members on this side of the Senate, though insignificant in numbers, had not prevented this mighty " Win-the-war Government " from getting the necessary recruits by the method they proposed, those men would have been reinforced to-day. Was there ever such a pitiable admission from a responsible Minister of the Crown, representing a Government returned from the country with a mandate definite and clear to follow a certain course of action in regard to which the country had said, " Your way of reinforcing the troops at the Front is the right way - go ahead." We know how this mighty Win-the-war Government went ahead when put to the real test whether -it should be the sacrifice of their Ministerial seats or of the boys at the Front. History tells us how this great, patriotic, and loyal Ministry and their followers acquitted themselves. Now the Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce)** says, " Why did you prevent us from following that method which we said was fair and just in order to send the necessary reinforcements?" It has never been my lot previously to have heard such a humiliating admission from a responsible Minister of the Crown. **Senator Pearce** said his Government were charged with the responsibility for the conduct of the war. He stated that his Government had a mandate to do so. Then, why did they not do so? It was for the reason that they were too craven to give effect to those principles on which they fought the general elections. The Minister for Defence - this imported gentleman from the other end of the world, who has never yet done justice to the country which has done so much for him - has never lost an opportunity of sneering at Australians and the wonderful and magnificent effort they have made in the war. Prior to the transport of any troops from America, Australia, under the voluntary system - the system for which we have stood - had transported over a distance of almost 13,000 miles the greatest army carried overseas in the history of the' world. {: .speaker-JRW} ##### Senator Crawford: -- Did Australia transport them ? {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- Australia transported them. {: .speaker-JRW} ##### Senator Crawford: -- In Australian ships? {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- Australia made those men available. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- Those men made themselves available. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- Certainly, and underthe voluntary system, and that constitutes a still greater achievement. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- When was I imported from some other country? {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- I understood that the honorable senator came from, the other end of the world. I am sorry. It makes my grief .all the deeper to know that an Australian-born would indulge, as he has from time to time, in slanders against his own country. The Minister for Defence has put forward an amendment, and has said, in effect, " If **Senator Grant** and those who may support his motion will do this, we will do something else." What is the position to-day so far as America's contribution is concerned - that contribution which the Minister has held up as a glorious example? Does he know that his own chief stated the other day that if America had performed its duty as Australia has done, the United States would have sent 10,000,000 men ? , That is what the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** said in America, and it should be remembered that he had to go to America to give Australia the due which she has earned in the eyes of the world. The Minister for Defence told us of a touching interview with a number of returned Anzacs in Western Australia. We have no reason to doubt one word of what he has said; but did he say all that General Birdwood had stated regarding reinforcements ? He told these men, and he has now repeated to us, what General Birdwood said. There was something further, however, which General Birdwood reported but which **Senator Pearce** has not told us. The General commanding the Australians said that in consequence of the lack of shipping he felt it would be impossible to give that relief to the Anzacs which he thought they were entitled to. {: .speaker-JRW} ##### Senator Crawford: -- When was that? {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- It is on record, at the time that there was some public move-- {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- About' eighteen months ago. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- If the shipping position was acute eighteen months ago, what is the position to-day? The Minister for Defence knows, although he seeks to throw the responsibility on this remnant - but only momentarily so - of a once mighty party for the insufficiency of reinforcements going forward. He has made that accusation to-night, knowing, as he" does, that ships are not available to take from Australia at present the men who are coming forward. The purpose of his cheap heroics at the expense of. this party was to cover up a" breach of faith on the part of the Government, not only with the soldiers at the Front, and not only with the people of Australia, but with the people of Great Britain. . The one vital question above all others which ought to have been tackled years ago had relation to shipping. Today, we see the spectacle of millions of people being rationed in the Old Country. They are short of those commodities with which the cool stores and other storage places in Australia are crammed ; and we, through the inactivity, the carelessness, and criminal neglect of the Government, are not able to get any appreciable portion of them away. {: #subdebate-6-0-s3 .speaker-KLS} ##### The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens: -- Order ! I ask the honorable senator not to make any more references to that subject, since it is not relevant to the motion. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- Very well, sir, I have no desire to come into conflict with the ruling of the Chair; but I thought that, as the Minister was allowed a good deal of latitude in discussing this question, and in referring to the alleged sins . of honorable senators on this side, I might also be neimitted- The PEESIDENT. - Order ! The honorable senator must not reflect on a . ruling of the Chair. I listened to the remarks of the Minister for Defence, and they were strictly relevant to the subjectmatter contained in the motion. The comments of the honorable senator to which I have just drawn his attention were not. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- I accept your ruling, sir, without question, and do not propose to go further than to express the hope that, without any more camouflage, the Ministry will view the subject in the light in which ir. was presented by **Senator Grant,** The war position to-day, thank God, is far different from what it was six months ago. {: .speaker-K2L} ##### Senator Reid: -- No ; it is thank America. {: .speaker-KRX} ##### Senator LONG: -- Yes; we shall owe a debt to the United States for her entry into the war, and for the part her troops are playing - a magnificent part, and one which will have the effect of wcldirig the two English-speaking peoples more closely than ever together. The position at the Front is much more satisfactory from the view-point of the Allies than it has ever previously been. We are all hopeful that six months hence matters- will be even brighter; and, if our hopes are realized, we should be able to look forward with some degree of confidence to the Government of Australia adopting the course suggested in the motion, and extending that same consideration now being given to the men who have seen four years' service to those who, at the end of the present year,, will have completed three years at the Front. {: #subdebate-6-0-s4 .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator DE LARGIE:
Western Australia -- The tenderness of honorable senators opposite when any one on this side hits at them' is amusing. We see them at every opportunity attacking members of the Government, and particularly the Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce).** Yetj when that gentleman gets an opportunity to hit back, the squealing such as we have heard to-night reminds one of rabbits caught in a trap. There is always squealing when honorable senators on that side meet with the same sort of stuff that they are continually firing this way. The Minister for Defence has proposed an amendment which will give honorable senators opposite an opportunity to put themselves right in the eyes of the public. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- We are very thankful to him. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator DE LARGIE: -- **Senator Needham** may say so, but he does not look it, and I am sure he does not feel it. He and his companions, if they vote for this amendment, will next begin to ask themselves the question that has lately been put very often, in Caucus and elsewhere. They will want to know, " Where do we stand when the next ballot for selection comes along?" If they vote in that direction to-night, what is to become of them in the light of a certain letter addressed to them from a **Mr. Evans** with whom they are acquainted? If honorable senators opposite had had the courage to take a proper course when a strong - proposition was placed before them about two years ago, they would not now find themselves in the pitiable position that they occupy. I cannot give **Senator Grant** any credit for the action he has taken. It is camouflage, and nothing else. His motion was brought forward to do a little bit of cheap electioneering, although it is too early. Any one in the community must know full well that it is utterly impossible to put his proposition into practice. Suppose it were possible, what would be the result? Would the men accept the opportunity to leave their job and return to Australia? When I was in France about two years ago I met quite a number of our boys, and I chatted with them whenever the opportunity presented itself. They inquired of me when I would be returning to Australia, and when I told them the date they remarked, "You are a lucky man to be getting back." Thereupon I asked them whether they would like to be going back, and their answer was, "Yes." I then inquired if they were sick of the war. Their reply was, " No, we shouldlike to go back to Australia, but we have no desire to return until this job is finished." That reply evidences the spirit of these men, and I am certain that if they were afforded an opportunity of returning to Australia now very few of them would avail themselves of it. Just imagine theboys who to-day are chasing the Turks in Palestine knocking off their job to come back to Australia. This motion, emanating, as it does, from the Opposition, partakes very much of the nature of crocodile sympathy, in view of their attitude towards the war during the past two years. What about the wretched ballot which the honorable senators opposite aTe taking at the present moment? Never did a political party occupy such a humiliating position in the eyes of the civilized world as does the Official Labour party of Australia. The purpose of that ballot is two-faced and dishonest. The object is to stop recruiting; but the Australian Bolsheviks are too cowardly to say so.The Leninites of Russia cut no worse a figure in the eyes of civilized humanity than they do to-day. SenatorFoll. - **Mr. Oatts** and **Mr. Considine** had a fight yesterday. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -It is very manly on the honorable senator's part to sneer at men who are not here to defend themselves. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator DE LARGIE: -- It is no wonder that they are talked about. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'Keefe: -- They are not hereto defend themselves. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator DE LARGIE: -- The honorable senator and his comrades are here to speak on their behalf. I hope that the members of the Official Labour party are at length beginning to pluck up a bit of manliness. I trust that, as members of the Commonwealth Parliament, they will not in future obey every circular that emanates from the Trades Hall. I hope that they will exhibit sufficient courage to say "We have at least some manhood left. We have a responsibility to our electors, and we intend to discharge that responsibility at any cost, and take the consequence. " {: #subdebate-6-0-s5 .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE:
Tasmania -- When honorable senators upon this side of the chamber are desirous of obtaining a lesson in manliness they will hot go to **Senator de** Largie for it. If they possess very little manliness now they would certainly possess less after they had accepted the honorable senator as their tutor. It is one of the unfortunate traits of the honorable senator's character that he can never take part in a debate without indulging in sneers at those who, at one time, were accustomed to work with him. "Evidently he has taken the Minister for Defence **(Senator Pearce)** as his mentor, and has copied the honorable gentleman's methods. I do not intend to adopt the tone that has been adopted either by the Minister for Defence or' by **Senator de** Largie. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- Superior man ! {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -I do not claim to be superior to most men, but I do hope that I am superior to **Senator de** Largie in my treatment of others. It is a pity that a big question like that which we are now considering - a question which is exercising the minds of tens of thousands of mothers and fathers, sisters" and brothers, from one end of Australia to the other - cannot be discussed upon -its merits. It is a . pity that a gentleman occupying the position of the Minister for Defence should not be content to deal with it upon its merits, and without seeking to make political capital out of it. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- The honorable senator has not yet referred to the motion. Ever since he rose he has been indulging in personalities. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- I fear that I have been following somewhat closely in the footsteps of **Senator de** Largie, although I had no intention of doing so. During the course of this discussion some mention has . been made of the magnificent part which America 13 playing in the war. I suppose that if any man dares to say that . the United States of America will require to eqiiip and transport by the end of this year five times the number of men she has already sent to France, before her effort equalsthat of Australia, he will be called disloyal. But I have made that statement upon the public platforms of this country, and I have no hesitation in repeating it here. "When the Minister for Defence endeavours to enlist the sympathy of people outside this Parliament by affirming that the passing of this motion would only have the effect of throwing a greater burden upon the Australian troops who would, be left in the field, he know3 perfectly well that his statement is not in accordance with fact. He knows that the whole of the Forces fighting on the Western Front to-day are under one command - the command of Marshal Foch. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Senator Fairbairn: -- Thank "God for it! {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- Yes. The acceptance of a unified command appears to have been a magnificent move on the part of the Allies. But does **Senator Pearce** wish the people of this country to believe that if we carry the motion now under consideration, the Australian troops who will be left in the field under the command of Marshal Foch, will be worked to the point of exhaustion, considering that within only fifteen or sixteen clays' journey from the fighting front, millions' of Americans are awaiting transportation? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- I do know that, under Marshal Foch, the Australians have been fighting continuously since the middle of March. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- When men have completed . three years on active service they are entitled to a rest; and I say that Australia will not sacrifice her selfrespect if furlough be granted to those of her troops who possess that record. To me it sometimes seems remarkable that men do not look the facts connected with this war squarely in the . face. What are those facts ? During his speech **Senator Pearce** asked where we would havebeen to-day if America had not adopted conscription. He put the same question in regard to all our . other Allies. I say that his inquiry is a serious1 reflection upon the pluck, the spirit, and the patriotism of Americans, because it suggests that when their country entered the war they would not have enlisted under the voluntary system. If he believes that, will he go further, and say that the Americans are made of inferior clay to that of which Australians are composed? {: .speaker-K2L} ##### Senator Reid: -- If America could obtain the troops she required voluntarily, why did she adopt conscription? {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- That is America's business. I'have no doubt that she could" have obtained sufficient men under the voluntary system. I believe that the American is just as patriotic as is the Australian. Earlier in the evening **Senator. Bakhap** interjected to the effect that, so far, America has only been a year in the war. But when Australia had been in the struggle for that period, she had already sent as' many troops to the Front, in proportion to her population, as America has done; {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator Barnes: -She had most certainly sent -more. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- Then she had sent more troops to the Front, under the voluntary system, than America has sent under conscription. That . is a fairly effective answer to **Senator Bakhap.** {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- The obligation of Australia was greater. There was no particular obligation for . America to get into the war. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- Does the honorable senator mean to say that America went into the war for a picnic? {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- No; but in order to maintain the liberties of the Democracies of the world. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- The honorable senator knows, as does every man who is possessed of a grain of common sense, that America entered the "war to secure her national preservation. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- What could Germany do to America ? {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- That was why America entered the war, though she probably has her. eye on something else now. {: .speaker-K2L} ##### Senator Reid: -- Motives attributed straightway. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- After her national preservation America is probably looking now - and good luck to her ! - for the commercial supremacy of the world. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- What have 100,000,000 of people in America to fear from Germany? Was it not in our interest that America came into the war? {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- America came into the war because she resented the German treatment of passengers on American boats, as well as for other reasons. But once she came into the war the American people know, as we do, that America's national life was at stake. {: .speaker-K2L} ##### Senator Reid: -- Civilization was at stake. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- I grant that. But America knew that her national life was at stake-. The American people are as fond of freedom as are the people of Australia. It is remarkable to find how honorable senators - on the other side forget these facts. We are told that our cousins across the Pacific in the. United States of America deserve the thanks of the civilized world. Do they deserve those thanks as much as do the Australian people, or any more than the people of the other Allied countries! The Americans are *not,* in this fight because they love fighting, or for a picnic, but because they believe that their national life was imperilled. {: .speaker-K18} ##### Senator Bakhap: -- They are fighting for the independence of France, because France fought for their independence. {: .speaker-JZ9} ##### Senator O'KEEFE: -- That being so, will any one dare -to say that it is disloyal to mention -the fact that when, at the end of the year, as promised, America has 2,000,000 men in the firing line she will then have done, under the system of conscription, only one-fifth of what Australia has done under the voluntary system ! It is rather remarkable that the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth never appeared to be anxious while in this country to blazon forth to the world the achievements of Australia under the voluntary system. He left it until he got to -America to say what Australians have done. **Senator Pearce** has said that to give effect to **Senator Grant's-** motion would involve either the breaking up of Australian units at the Front or compelling those left, to undergo greater trials, sacrifices, and burdens. I wonder what would have happened if **Senator Pearce, Mr. Hughes,** and those associated with them, had got their way in 1916, when they told the country that they must have 32,500 men in September, because recruiting had fallen off previously, and 16,500 every month afterwards. Months ago, if they had- had their way, there would not have been a single eligible man left in Australia to supply reinforcements to. those at the Front. The position then would have been that which **Senator Pearce.** suggests might result to-day if **Senator Grant's** motion were carried. When the Government asked for such an impossible number of. men, did they think what would happen if the war lasted for a couple of years *1* Apparently, they did not. **Senator Pearce** is appealing to the public to-day very much in the same way as he did at that time. He is now, as he did then, side-tracking the merits of the question under discussion. The honorable senator makes an heroic appeal when he says that if we withdraw some of our men to give. them relief we must either break up our units or force the men still left at the Front to endure greater trials and sacrifices. It is time that the honorable senator and the Government to which he belongs were prepared to tell the people of this country the truth, and that is, that the time has come in Australia when, in view of the industrial and national requirements of the Commonwealth and our requirements for home defence, we shall not be able to send very many more men to the Front: It is time that the Government were prepared to tell the truth when a motion of this kind is submitted, and to 'deal with it on its merits instead of trying to make party capital out of it, -because it seems to them to afford a splendid opportunity to do so. Amendment agreed to. Amendment (by **Senator Pearce)** agreed to - >That the words " and facilities be placed at their disposal to enable them to visit Australia " be left out. Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 6424 {:#debate-7} ### ADJOURNMENT Motion (by **Senator Pearce)** proposed - That the Senate do now adjourn. {: #debate-7-s0 .speaker-KMP} ##### Senator GRANT:
New South Wales -- During the course of the recent debate a statement was made by **Senator Pearce** concerning honorable senators' correspondence. I should like to know from the honorable senator whether ifr is the usual practice of the Defence Department to censor all correspondence to and from members of this Chamber. Personally, I do not very much mind; but I should like to know, as a matter of public information, if that is the practice of the Defence Department or of the Post and Telegraph Department? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- That is not the practice, and that is nob the means by which I saw the letter referred to. Question' resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 9.41 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 June 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.