7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
SenatorPRATTEN.-I ask the Leader of the Senate with a view to testing the accuracy of statements contained in the matter read in the Senate yesterday in reply to my statement relating to the tin scrap position in Australia, and in view of my desire toassoon as possible acquaintthe Senate withthetrue position, will he give me an opportunity to-day, or to-morrow, or next week, to movethe motion standing in my name for the appointment of a Select Committeeto inquire into the matter, and which now ap-: pears last on the list ofprivate members’ business, without the delay necessarily imposed by the forms of the Senate?
– The opportunity . which the honorable senator has to proceed with his business isthat which he enjoys in common with other honorable senators. I have no desire atall to delay the consideration ofthehonorable senator’s motion, but I remindthe Senatethat there is on the business-paper a list of a considerable number of measures presented bythe Government : for its consideration. I am notprepared topush those aside for the purpose indicated, but I will see during the next day or twoif it be possible, without encroaching upon the steady progress- of Government business, to create the opportunity which the honorable senator seeks.
– I ask the Leader of the Senatewhether he is prepared to permit Senator Pratten’s motion to go as formal ?
– I am not prepared todo that.
– Order ! This isanticipating discussion.
-Was my question not in order?
– . No. The opportunity toconsider the matter will arise immediately the business is called on.
The following papers were presented : -
War Precautions Act 1914-1916.-Regula- tions amended - StatutoryRules . 1918. No. 301.
Lands Acquisition Act. 1906-1916. - Land acquired atMelbourne, Victoria - for Defence purposes.
– Some days ago I addressed to the Minister for Defence certain questions relating to the case of one Jenssen. I should like to know if the Minister is now in possession of the information for which I asked ?
– On the 19th November, Senator Needham asked the following questions: -
The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable senator will be supplied as soon as possible.
Indemnity for Australia
asked the Minister representing the Acting PrimeMinister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Punishmenton “ Australia.”
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice - .
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, andthe honorable, senator will be informed as soon as possible.
Suspension of Work
asked the Min ister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1, 2, and 3. Pending the visit and report by a British Admiralty expert, it has been decided by the Government that works at Henderson
Naval Base should be stopped except such dredging and other related works as are considered necessary to preserve the work which has been done. Arrangements have not been quite finalized, but it is expected that the suspension of most of this work will take place at the end of this month. . The number of men. whose services will be dispensed with cannot at the moment be stated.
Short Payment of Men Demobilized
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– All men lately in training at Broadmeadows were paid for every day they served in camp, plus fourteen days’ furlough from and including date of release.
asked the Minister representing the. Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
If, in view of the fact that “ Tattersall,” a legalized institution in the State of Tasmania, is now a special contributor to the revenue of the Commonwealth, the Government will take steps to remove the embargo placed upon “ Tattersall’s “ correspondence by the Postal Department?
– The Government do not approve of the suggestion contained in the question of the honorable senator, and are not prepared to authorize the removal of the postal embargo.
Extension of Operation
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In the event of a contemplated shortage of shipping space for the export of Australian apples to Britain during the 1919 season, will the Government take steps to extend the operation of the Apple Bounty Act 1918, to cover evaporated apples to be exported during 1919?
-The matter is receiving attention, and on receipt of information sought by cablegram from the Imperial authorities, the question of extendingthe operation of the AppleBounty Act will receive the consideration of the Government.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by SenatorEarle) agreed to-
That a return be laidupon the table showing the total expenditure on military ‘recruiting since the 1st of November, 1916.
.- I move-
In support of the motion I maysay that- -
– Order! A motion declared formal cannot be discussed.
– I was quite under a misapprehension, Mr. President, when I declared this motion to be formal.
– Order!I cannot help that. The motion having been declared formal must not be debated. Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
Question put. The Senate divided, Ayes … … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Disallowance op Regulation: Public Meetings.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [3.26].- I move-
That Statutory Rule, No. 301 of 1918, Regulation under the War Precautions Act1914-16, be disallowed.
I must preface my remarks by thanking the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) by laying this StatutoryRule upon the table of the Senate to enable meto deal with it without any undue delay. In order that honorable senators may understand the purport of mymotion, I willread the Statutory . Rule in, question. It is as follows-: -
Regulation Under the War Precautions Act 1914-1916.
I, . the Governor-General in and over the Commonwealth of Australia , acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby make the following Regulation under the’ War Precautions Act 1914-1916 to comeinto operation forthwith.
Datedthisthirteeth day of November, 1918.
ByHis Excellency’s Command,
Minister of State for Defence
Amendment of War Precautions Regulations as Amended to this Date.
After regulation 27c of the War Precautions Regulations, the following’- regulation is in.serted : - “27d. (1) The Minister or a competent military authority may, by order in writing under his hand, prohibit the holding of any public meeting which is, in his opinion, prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the Commonwealth. “ (2) An order under the last preceding sub-regulation may prohibit the- holding of a public ‘meeting within any period: or in any place specified in the order. “ (3) Any “person attending any public meeting, the holding of which has been prohibited under this regulation, shall be guilty of an offence. “ (4) If an order is made in pursuance of this regulation prohibiting the holding of any public meeting in any premises, any officer of- police and any person thereto authorized in writing by the Minister, or by. a. competent military authority,, may, for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of the order, enter if need be by force and search or occupy the premises referred to in the order.”
There is no occasion for me to make a long speech in asking honorable senators to assist me to carry the motion. This regulation was issued after the signing of the armistice, and when peace, for all practical purposes, had arrived. It is dated 13th November, ^ whereas the armistice was signed on. “the 11th November. Here is a Government who, notwithstanding that Parliament is in session, and that all its functions are at their disposal,, deliberately lay themselves out to interfere with what I regard as one of the most ancient privileges of Britishers - the right of public meeting. In the Bill of Rights itself, the right of public meeting is provided for. ‘ Here is a Government, whose members not only prohibit the holding of public meetings, but make it an offence for any person to attend them. If there were anything to warrant the Ministry in taking, to themselves powers of this kind, I could understand it. But the war is over,, so that even that excuse has departed. It may be said”, however, that, in the absence of such a regulation, pub lic meetings might be held, at which adverse criticism might.be indulged in - criticism which would affect, the peace terms’, and which, therefore, ought to be suppressed. But if Ministers’ were wise1, instead of attempting to prevent public discussion, they would invite it.
I recognise, as does everybody who is acquainted with public feeling throughout the world that there is the spirit of revolution abroad. That spirit is never fostered in an atmosphere of free speech. It grows under the oppression of Governments. When Governments forcibly endeavour to prevent men expressing their views, the latter will naturally appeal to force in order to express them. We all know that we ‘have in Australia the most law-abiding people in the world. They have given the Government no cause for complaint during four and a half years of war, when, had there b.een any num.? ber of dissatisfied persons in. the community, they . might have occasioned untold’ trouble. During . the whole of that period ‘the Government have had to encounter no difficulties, nothing in the . shape of dissatisfaction, discontent, or revolution. Yet here we see a Government going out of their way to trespass on the rights of a free people in the holding of public meetings.
Not only have. . the. Government said that public meetings shall not be’ held, but this regulation is so framed that any military officer may be authorized to issue an authority that a meeting shall not be held. I am not prepared to hand over the freedom of Australia to even the best of our military officers. We have been under a deep debt of gratitude to our military officers during the past four years ; but that gratitude is npt of such .a nature that we should be ‘prepared to put the civil rights of the people at the disposal of the military.
The only reason that I can advance by way of explanation of the action of the Government in drafting this regulation since the signing of the armistice is that they must be preparing for some action which will cause- the- people- to hold public meetings; wherefore- the- Government are getting ready. The War Precautions Act is to be extended, with the help of servile majorities in both branches of the Commonwealth Legislature, practically for “ as long as the- Government desire. The first extension proposed is to cover a period of six months after the signing of peace. Any man who is looking for the signing of peace within the next six or twelve months must be of avery hopeful disposition. I can see prolonged discussions being’ carried on over many months before peace will have been signed.
No doubt Senator Pearce will promise that the Government will employ the added powers granted to them by this regulation with all discretion. We have had examples of such promises; for instance, in relation to military censorship of political matters. Actually, there was a case in Sydney recently of the censoring of the Sermon on the Mount. A certain newspaper writer was so disgusted at the censor’s mutilations of his contributions that he copied out the Sermon on the Mount from the Scriptures, and tendered that to the censor. But the latter would not allow it to be published.
-^ Just as ‘ the honorable senator would wish, I too would like to avoid judgment until the last possible moment, because I know what each of us would deserve. At the same time, I do not think the quotation would -be interpreted by the honorable senator as meaning that we are not to form judgments. We can well judge this Government on the experience of the past two years; and, surely, we would be merely using our intelligence if, going upon those experiences of the past, we expected certain specific things in the future. Senator Pearce will argue, no doubt, that there will be cases and occasions when it will be necessary for the Government to avail themselves of the new regulation, despite the fact that the war is virtually over. Why should not the Australian Parliaments exercise all the powers that may be desired, under our ordinary Constitutions ? There is now no need to exercise extraordinary powers under the War Precautions Act and Regulations. That Statute was only passed for the preservation of the realm during the time of war; and, if there are causes still for the drastic government of the people now that the war is over, it should be the duty of the Parliaments of Australia to pass . adequate laws ‘ in the ordinary course. In time of peace it is not the duty of the Government to take to themselves such powers, nor are .our Parliaments called upon to grant such authorities.
The War Precautions Act was passed by this Parliament to deal with the enemies of the nation. It was definitely laid down that it would only be employed in cases where _ the ordinary laws could not be adequately applied to deal with the enemies of the country. Under this Act we have witnessed the sad spectacle of the most loyal men in Australia undergoing persecution. There never was a more fitting opportunity than the present for Parliament to express disapproval of the actions of the Government under the War Precautions Act and Regulations. Possibly the intention of the Government may be to break up public meetings of their opponents at the next general elections. Those elections may be held about sixteen months hence. If peace is signed within the next six or eight months, and the War Precautions Act is extended for six months after that time, we shall be within reasonable distance of polling day. During the campaign the Government may use this regulation wherever their opponents are holding meetings, and are revealing facts to the people which mr.y threaten the life of the Government. It may be that a military officer will be authorised to issue an order, whereupon public meetings will become illegal, and the people will be prevented from attending them. Of course, the Government may disclaim any idea of such a procedure.
– The honorable senator himself does . not believe we shall use the regulation for such a purpose.
– I do not believe in placing a weapon such as this in the han’ds of the Government at all.
I read a statement in the Argus only this morning, from which it appears that the Minister for Defence made a reference to the repudiation of debts. If the matter had not escaped my notice during question time I should have asked the Minister for Defence if he really made the statement attributed to him in the Argus.
– I did.
– I never believed that the Minister, with the knowledge that he possesses, would make a statement ofthat kind.
– I make it on the facts, and I give the facts.
– But for the Minister’s admission I would never have believed that he would make such a statement.
– Order! That matter is not under discussion at this juncture.
– I recognise that it is not, but the Minister asked me if I believed what I was saying. Interruptions are always disorderly, and lead to disorder; butI find I am the only one pulled up when a disorderly incident of that kind occurs.
– Order! The honorable senator must not reflect on the Chair in that way.
– Well, I cannot.When Senator Pearce, with his interjection, and you by calling me to order, put me off the track, I was pointing out that under this regulation it would be possible for the Government to prohibit any public meeting until the War Precautions Act expired. With their present servile following in both Houses I cannot foresee a time when the Government-
– On a point of order, I call attention to the word “ servile,” which has been used more than once in Senator Gardiner’sspeech. Is the honorable senator in order in referring to the following of the Government as servile?
– The Standing Orders are imperative that a senator must not reflect upon individual senators. I think Senator Gardiner used the word in its collective sense. He may not even have referred to senators. He may have meant the Government’s followingoutside, and he is at liberty to say anything he likes about people outside. Unless he is more explicit, I do not think I can rule him out of order.
– A Daniel come to judgment! I used the word servile because I did not know one more descriptive of the following of the Government, not only inside, but outside Parliament. When a Government trample on all forms of freedom, transgress all the rules of fair play, and descend to the level that this Government have descended to in putting before us regulations interfering with the liberties of the people, I think I was letting off very lightly their following, both inside and outside Parliament -if they have any there - by using the mild term “ servile support.” It is worse. It is a cringing, cowardly support. It is a support that a Government can insist upon only until the public become aware of the true condition of’ things, and then, of course, it terminates.
This statutory rule is the worst attack upon the people’s liberties that we have had. since the war ceased. I could quite understand that Senator Pearce, in time of war, carried away by nervousness, due probably to the great responsibility which he carried, may have imagined dangers from certain quarters, and taken all kinds of precautions to prevent them. He may have gone to excess in his desire for the safety of the realm while the war was on, but now that thewar is over, nowthat peace is signed, he and other Ministers, and the members of their party, take power to prohibit the holding of any public meeting which in his opinion is prejudicial to the public safety or’ the defence of the realm. Let us suppose an election going on, and the honorable senator facing the electors, as he will have to do within, I suppose, another eighteen months. Suppose a regulation of this kind is in force, and the public meetings are enthusiastic in their condemnation of his administration. Probably by that time the war and his war administration will be forgotten. He may then consider those public meetings to be a grave danger to the nation, and a simple note under his hand can prevent and prohibit them. Senator Senior smiles broadly as if I were drawing upon my imagination ; but when the last election took, place Senator Pearce went to Western Australia and actually started an immediateprosecution against one of the most loyal men in that State, on- the hearsay evidence of bitter partisans. I refer to Mr. Collier, who was taken before a Police Court, before bitter partisans, merely for the political purposes of the Minister for Defence. I heard those statements made, and honorable senators may read them in the official report of the Recruiting Conference which met at Government House at the invitation of the Governor-General. It was shown there in deliberate speeches how vindictively Senator Pearce had used his powers as Minister to prosecute a political opponent. I am not inclined, now that the war is over, to give Senator Pearce extraordinary powers when we know, how he- used the powers he possessed in the past.
Why is this regulation put forward if the Government do not want these powers for some motive that is not apparent on the surface? No fair-minded senator can say that there is any justification to-day foi- giving a military officer power to prohibit a public meeting. The very term “ public meeting” conveys the idea of more wisdom than is possessed by the Minister for Defence, the Prime Minister, or any military officer. The fact that the meeting is public presupposes that a number of persons will be gathered together, and where that happens no oneman can claim such superiority of intelligence that he should be the judge of whether the meeting should be held, or not. That being the case, the Government would be well advised to let this kind df legislation rest, especially now that they have lost the support of that section of the community who would back them up in their most drastic measures so long as -the war continued, saying, “ In the conduct of the war, no matter how much we disagree with the Government, we are prepared to support them.” Now that the war has passed away, the sooner the Government get back to-normal conditions and deal with the Australian public in a normal way, the better for themselves, and the better for the good and peaceful government of this country. In times of peace-, the people will not stand what they have stood in time of war. A free people will not permit its rights to be trampled on. They will- not tolerate a. military officer riding roughshod over their rights, or a military censor interfering with the writings of a free people. All that kind of thing must stop now, and the sooner it stops the better for the good feeling, good government, and the peace and welfare of the Commonwealth.
I am venting my. indignation: on this regulation because it has been, passed since, the war terminated by a Cabinet and Executive deliberately meeting right in a time of peace. Senator Pearce might have some information of. dangers confronting the nation. If those, dangers are real, this is not the kind of means to save the nation from them. If they are- real, this is the kind of thing that will create support even for . a. discontented few. Any cause that can show oppression by a Government when no oppression is necessary will win sympathy. If there . is discontent, dissatisfaction, or’ disloyalty in the country, the way to beat it is to leave the persons who are trying to rouse those feelings ‘without, a grievance. That is the way to govern a free people. If you give them . a grievance, so that they may claim that their liberties are taken from them ; if you decree that the old British right of public meeting, which has been preserved “from ‘the Bill -of Rights down to the present day, can be taken away by a Minister or a military officer ; if you decide that a police officer, or any one authorized by a military officer, may by force enter any place where a meeting is to be held, you are only creating the very trouble you wish to avoid. What will happen if force is indiscreetly used? Let me suppose that in some quiet country district I am addressing a meeting of the most lawabiding people in the Commonwealth, who have sent me to this Parliament, and some military officer, for his own purposes, declares that meeting illegal, and brings force to end it. What would be the result? We should meet force with force, and that would be good-bye to good government in this country. We can only have good government in this country by never testing the force which the Government have, and by trusting in the confidence which the public have that the force behind the Government will never be used for an improper purpose.
Because of the speed at which the Government will probably move, Ministers will very likely secure the surrendered German vessels, as I suggested yesterday, to bring our men back from the Front, and we may have within the next six months 50,000 of our soldiers returning. Suppose that they are returned under the conditions under which soldiers’ wives are brought to this country, as set out by Senator McDougall, upon a motion for the adjournment of the Senate, recently. They will probably desire to protest against such conditions. The Government may decide that a meeting of returned soldiers for such a purpose would be absolutely dangerous to the realm, and they -might send a military authority, first of all, to declare it illegal, and then to suppress it. That would be challenging force without the force necessary to support the challenge. That kind of thing wants nipping in the bud. Owing to the crowding of a great many men on ‘a vessel, the conditions under which the ‘soldiers will be returnedwill probably,at the best,be intolerable, and we mustexpect thatmanyofthemwillbe grievously disappointed. They may desire to hold a meeting to protest against their treatment,and under this regulation one of their own officers might be employed to declare the meeting illegal,though its only purpose . might be to let the public know how badly returning soldiers were treated. Their own officers might desire to” prevent the meeting in order that the public should ‘not. know what the men have had to put up with, and in orderthat their grievances mightbe hushed up, exactly as honorable senators opposite would hush up the inquiry into the tin scrap scandal.
It is possible to hush things up with the aid of a majority and of military force for a time, but not for all time. Murder will out, and so. will tin scrap scandals, and Government authority based upon force. I have frequently said in this Chamber that the cause that rests upon force alone is doomed. The force to whichwe should appeal in Australia is the intelligence of our liberty-loving people. We want no such regulations as this to control the people of this country. The more we leave them to the exercise of their civil liberties, and the more - we permit them, shall I say, to ventilate their grievances, the less likely’ are those grievances to create a discord in the community.
The Government have been concentrating their efforts for so long upon matters connected with the war that now, when peace has come, they are looking forward to the. continuation of war conditions. The issue of a regulation of this kind shows their desire to dominate public thought in the community. What will the Minister for Defence say” is the reason for the issue of this regulation? There was a public meeting to be held in Brisbane, and it was necessary for the Government to stop it. I am told that the military authorities did stop that meeting, but they permitted the National party immediately afterwards to use the same building for the opposite purpose. It was not right for one party to hold a publicly-advertised meeting in a certain building, and sothe military authorities were called in toprevent it, -and , -yet the same building . was used . immediately afterwards by other persons to. put the other side before the public. That -kind ofthing may go -on -for avery brief periodof time -until -the public become alive to -what is happening, , andthen there-is. areaction, due to public feeling. The idea is (gaining ground everywhere that the presentdiscreditedGovernment are usingthe . forces they possess . toprevent the causes which have broughtthem into discredit becoming public.
Regulations ofthis kind are usedto prevent the spread of. public opinion. People in Australia . are rapidly being driven to public meetings andthe public platform to put their views and grievances before the public. The Government control the press. Shall I say thatthe Government own the press, or that the press own the Government, or is there a combine amongst them for their mutual benefit? This renders public meetings only more necessary than ever if our rights and liberties are to be maintained.
The motion which I submit will, at any rate, give this branch of the Federal Parliament an opportunity to say whether it approves of the continuation of the tyranny of the present Government or not. Honorable senators, on this motion, will have it in their power to say whether they approve of the continuation of the government of this country by regulation or not. They are now afforded the opportunity to say whether they do not desire any longer to have constitutional government under constitutional law, but to have the government of this country carried out under Executive authority over which Parliament has lost all control. I have used my opportunities in the Senate to take the responsibility from the shoulders of the Government and place it upon the shoulders of honorable senators. They can exercise a choice in dealing with my motion.
Honorable senators opposite may say that, as loyal supporters of the Government, they must support the regulation to which I take exception. I say that they are, or they should be, loyal representatives of the people of Australia, and for the Senate to approve of a regulation of this kind would be to brand the people of Australia with a reputation that they do not deserve. The most loyal and lawabiding people in the world are treated under this regulation as if they were a danger to the community. A military officer or a police officer, without any authority but his -own will, may, under this regulation, enter any place .by force and break up a public meeting. That is a nice condition of affairs at this time of day; but that is what honorable senators opposite, by their votes on my motion, must approve or disapprove. I submit the motion trusting that even the section of the people that I have designated as a servile following of the Government in Parliament and out of it, will be found to have some spark of manhood remaining, and will decide that these acts of tyranny should now cease. There cannot be a tittle of excuse left for the continuation of this kind of tyranny now that the war is at an end.
Senator NEEDHAM (“Western Aus motion, but I do not desire to do so formally. The Senate and- p.eople of Australia ‘ should be grateful to *Senator ** Gardiner for the vigilance he has shown in discovering the recent issue of this Statutory Rule 301, which otherwise might have escaped notice. It is well known that since .the passing of the War Precautions Act Statutory Rules - have been issued under it a’s easily and as frequently as sausages ‘ are put through a machine. It has been a most difficult matter even for the members of this Parliament to follow the numerous regulations issued under the Act. I thought that when the armistice had been agreed upon there would have been a cessation of the continuous outpouring of Statutory Rules under the War Precautions Act, and particularly in connexion with the military authorities. It strikes me that certain people iri this country having for a time enjoyed military dominance, and having established what might be termed a military caste, are now eager to perpetuate those conditions. If proof of this were wanting it is found in the fact that this Statutory Rule 301 was agreed to by the GovernorGeneral in Council on the 13th November, 1918. On Monday, the 11th November, word was flashed across the British Empire that the armistice had been signed. On Tuesday, the 12th November, the people of the Empire and of the Allied countries were rejoicing in the fact. We in Australia thought that at least we would have, no more of the domination of the pernicious War Precautions Act,- and that we would hear no more of it, but two days after the signing of the armistice the GovernorGeneral in Council met to give further power to the military for the purpose of deliberately preventing free speech.
I can quite realize that during the time of the war it was necessary to do many things which could not be approved of under normal conditions. Here and now I plead guilty to the fact that my vote was cast in favour of the War Precautions Bill when it was passed by the Senate. .
– Was not Senator Gardiner a member of the Government who introduced the measure?
– I think he was, but I am not concerned with that. I say that, as a member of the Senate, I voted for the Bill because I thought that in time of war such a measure was necessary. At that time there was’ a Government in power comprised of members of the Australian Labour party, in whom I then placed, implicit trust. I did not think that the members of that Government, or, indeed, of any Government, would use the powers invested in them under. the War Precautions Act except for the safety of the realm and the prosecution of the war. It is, however, well known that during two years of the war, between 1916 and 1918, the powers vested in the Government of the Commonwealth under the Act have been used, not always for the prosecution of the war, but often for the persecution of political opponents of the Government.
– We have not got level with the honorable senatoryet.
– I should be sorry to stoop so low as to reach Senator de Largie’s level.
A regulation similar to that now under consideration has been in existence, under which public meetings have been suppressed and public speakers prosecuted for expressing their opinions. It is strange that during two years no man advocating the policy of the party on the other side has been prosecuted. Nor have any of their meetings been interfered with. The action taken by the Government has been all on one side.
– Hear, hear! The guilty side.
– Senator Needham’s argument might be used by a thief, who might complain that the Government are always prosecuting thieves.
– The honorable senator, I know, is not a thief, and so the regulation wouldnot affect him.
I do not think that this regulation will be in existence when the next general election takes place, unless it happens very suddenly, and, of course, one never knows when it might take place.
– One thinks and shudders.
– It is easy to understand, from remarks made by certain members supporting the Government, that they are dissatisfied, and that a general election might be precipitated, but I do not think that either the Government or their supporters are very eager for this to be brought about.
– Nor are members of the Opposition.
– Whilst a few dissatisfied Government supporters criticise the Ministry very severely , they hesitate to take a certain step, fearful lest it might force them before their masters, the electors.
For what purpose can this particular regulation be used ? It can be used to prevent public meetings of citizens in any part of Australia who, in exercising their citizenship rights, determine to , criticise the Government. That is where I see the danger. There is a vast amount of discontent throughout Australia with the present Government. Only last night, or the night before, in Melbourne, and within a stone’s throw of this Legislature, police constables came along, and took the names of speakers at a public meeting. Again, last night, we saw mounted constables in the street dispersing people who had been to a meeting. Probably that action was all right in time of war, but I see no necessity for the perpetuation of this military dominance now that the world is, at last, thank. God, at peace.
Let us turn to another nationf or an example of what should be done. The United States of America has rendered valuable assistance to the world in connexion with’ the titanic struggle that has just ended, and, like other nations engaged in the war, deemed it then incumbent to pass certain measures of a similar nature to our War Precautions Act and Regulations. But in the press of yesterday there appeared a report of President Wilson’s speech to Congress, stating that while it had been necessary to harness up the nation so that the United States of America might bear its full share in the struggle, as soon as the armistice was signed they were -released from the harness by the removal of the “restrictive measures to which I have referred. In Australia we take pride in our Democracy, but now we are perpetuating the very thing which millions of men nave laid down their lives to destroy, namely, the military dominance of Germany. A few people here have been able to strut about in military clothes’, dressed in a little brief authority, and perhaps they regret that the war is over, because, like Othello, they fear their occupation is gone, and per medium of this War Precautions . Act, and per medium of a pliant Government, they are seeking to perpetuate this objectionable state of affairs.
– You are indignant!
– Indignant ! The time has long ‘gone by for one to be indignant. As far as I am concerned, I am going to support the motion for the disallowance of this regulation, and I shall’ vote for the disallowance of any other ‘regulation of a similar nature, now that the war is over, so that we may at once revert to .the position we occupied - prior to the 4th August. 1914, when our freedom was untrammelled by such regulations as ‘the one under notice. .Senator. PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [4.12].- Senator Gardiner, in his usual fashion, has torn a passion to tatters* and has imagined. all sorts of vain things in connexion with this regulation. But he himself .applied the touchstone which disclosed the . insincerity pf his attitude when he said that the Government, with Parliament sitting, had promulgated this particular regulation. If the Government had any. such vile intention as he suggests, they would indeed have been fools to take this action with Parliament sitting, when, on present - appearances; we were within a few weeks of the time when Parliament will not be sitting. The fact that the regulation was promulgated whilst Parliament was sitting is a clear indication that the Government had no ulterior motive. It is quite true, as Senator Gardiner has suggested, that, if this country were governed by imbeciles, all the mad things which he has suggested might be done under this regulation. So they could under almost any law on our statute-book. Every law and every regulation passed, if administered by people who are without their wits, could, turn this country, into a place that would be impossible to live in. But nobody, not even Senator Gardiner himself, suspects that the Government are going to do- anything of .the kind. The Government brought in this regulation,, with Parliament sitting, knowing full well that they had the support of Parliament. They knew that Parliament would not permit the holding of meetings for the purpose of stirring up strife in the interests of Germany, and in order to prejudice this country with our Allies prior to the Peace Conference. We were perfectly satisfied that in this action we had the support, not only of Parliament, but of the people of this country. The Government have not the slightest intention of using the regulation in any -way” to interfere with the political or religious freedom of any people in the Commonwealths What we. are prepared to do is to prevent licence, in this country, being used in the interests of our enemies.
This regulation has been in force for a few weeks now, and has been used on one occasion. Senator Gardiner referred to that occasion. He could not have produced a better example of the use to which the Government intend to put this regulation. . A meeting was proposed to be”’ held in Brisbane by those elements, those very self-same elements, which, in the case of Russia, played the game of Germany, and destroyed the Russian rer volution. The real Russian revolution displaced the Czar, and was proceeding to put’ in place of the monarchical Government a democratic form of government, but the paid agents of Germany, paid by German gold, got to work in Russia, and destroyed the revolution. Those elements which succeeded in destroying the Russian revolution had the audacity to propose holding a meeting in” Brisbane to . celebrate their victory. But we were determined, and were prepared to take responsibility for our action, that such a meeting should not be held in Australia-
We bad no misgivingat all in this matter: We have full proof of what was intendedtobe done.
– Are those people still at large?
– They are.
– Then you ought to be ashamed to say . it.
– The honorable senator, by his vote, no doubt, intends to record . his disapproval of the regulation which seeks to prevent these people from propagating their . noisome doctrines throughout Australia, and yet he expresses indignation that they are still at large.
– B - But how have you got along for four years without this regulation ? my seat,I shall give instances to show that probably it would have been better if we had had this’ regulation in force at an earlier period of our history, because the activities of this country in the war were to a large extent sapped by propaganda of the kind that destroyed’ Russia.
Senator Gardiner drew a fancy picture of. myself as a candidate for election using this power to preventpublic meetings being held in opposition to myself and the Government. That would be the act of a lunatic. Any action of that nature would make the success ofour friends opposite a certainty, and Senator Gardiner; when he drew th’e_picture, knew quite wellthat the Government would not be so foolish as to. attempt anything of the kind, even if we had the will and we have not the will.
It is said that this regulation will only affect those elements in the community that are animated by a grievance, and thatthe way to prevent trouble is to remove the grievance. One of their grievances is that this country is under the British flag. Another is that the Empire, of. which this country is a part, has defeated Germany, and is now going to the Peace Conferenceto dictate terms to Germany: Well, we have no intention of removing that grievance. Honorable senators are not soblind to what, has been transpiring in thiscountry as not to know that these elements have been vocal. Senator Gardiner, in the course of his remarks, used an argument “that was employed by the Premier of Queensland; and, if I may be permitted to say so, it was about the most foolish and childish argument against the action taken by this Government in regard to the Bolshevik. element that I have ever heard. Wo prohibited the Bolshevik meeting - a meeting convened by Russian Bolsheviks - for that very purpose, and the Premier of Queensland thereupon said that . we allowed a party of loyalists to hold a meeting in the same hall. Of course, we did. That is the best possible proof that allof Senator Gardiner’s harangue this afternoon is quite beside the question. This regulation is not intended to . interfere with loya] men. But it is intended - and I make no- apology for the statement - to prevent meetings being held to advocate Bolshevism in this country. We knew who were the instigators, and what were the objects, of that meeting, and we had had plenty of indications from prior experience as to what would be. the statements made at that gathering.
Let me give a few examples of the kind of freedom with which this regulation may interfere. Here is a sample of the use. which was made at a critical juncture in the war of the right of public meeting. It will berecollected that the German offensive commenced in March last, and that in Mayit hadreached its maximum. Up till then it. had experienced no check anywhere. . The German armies at that time were within gun range of Paris, and it looked as if theAllied cause was lost. Onthe 1st May, 1918; in the city of Brisbane, a meeting was called by the International Socialists. . It. was described as a “May Day Meeting..” The chairman was”Comrade” J. S. Collings: I intend to quote from the report of that meeting which was published in the Brisbane Courier of 2nd May last. Before calling upon the speakers, I find that the chairman offered a few remarks in reference to the day they were celebrating, and -
The secretary expressed -the hope that next year the. workers would go off for the May Day demonstration -without any notification to the bosses, and the suggestion was applauded. He also . tendered the opinion that’ if they wanted to win anything they would neverget it as they were at present. Freedom would only be gained by fight. He deplored the fact that men were going overseas to fight the workers of other lands.
In other words, he-deplored the faot that our troops were going overseas to fight for freedom and liberty. The report continues -
One of tha features of the evening was, apparently, to hare been the presence of a Herman “ comrade,” but in this there was disappointment. The announcement was made by “Comrade” Collings, who told of the intention to have had “ a speech by a German comrade in German.”(Loud applause).
A letter from the German thanking the convenors for the invitation to speak ‘ was ‘ then read by the chairman. The writer said he waa sorry that he was not in a position to comply, as he had had more than one warning from the authorities, and for the. sake of his family, he was not prepared to risk internment. That, said the German, was what militarism, and a spurious militarism at that, bad brought us to in Australia. (Voices : Shame.) “ Shame “ that a Gorman because of hia attitude towards this country and’ the war had been warned that if he persisted in that attitude he would be interned. This man was the “comrade” of those who were present at this meeting, and of those who were killingour troops in France at that very moment!
Addresses in Greek and English by “ Com rade “ Sargeant and by Miss Hotson were the. ensuing items, and then it was announced that “ Comrade “ Collings, on Saturday, would speak an “Shall this War Continue?” The person who made the announcementanticipated the answer. ‘ He said he was sure it would be “ No, it’s time this bloody madness ceased,” and there was loud applause:
It was time for the war to cease . when Germany was on the winning side! “ Comrade “ Stewart took- advantage of the opportunity to applaud the I.W.W., which, he said, had been declared an illegal organization; because in the eyes of the capitalistic classitwas an international organization that barred no man, whatever his colour might be. . ‘ . . . . “ Comrade “ Collings -
– Who is “ Comrade” Collings? .
SenatorFoll. - He is a. leading man in the Official Labour party.
-“ Comrade” Collings continued -
From the moment their comrade was interned, the Queensland Government had done all it could to force the hands of the Federal Government, and, so far, had not been successful.
That is the report of a meeting held by those who spoko of our German enemies as “comrades,” and who . deprecated men from this country going overseas to fight. Those men were going overseas to ‘ fight, in the defence of the flag of. this country and of its liberty.
– Will- the honorable senator say how that meeting has any bearing on this regulation?
SenatorPEARCE. - These same people are still in Queensland, and that same spirit is still there, and in other parts of the Commonwealth. As these individuals played the game for Germany during the war, so they will attempt to play it prior to the Peace Conference. The way in which they will attempt to play it is obvious. The interests of the Allies will be diverse. Many points will arise upon which a division of opinion may take place. Many of those who were prepared to play the game of Germany during the war are now prepared to continue to’ play it, by endeavouring to promote dissension and to prejudicethe cause of the Allies when the latter meet at the Peace table. That is the only direction in which the Government intend to. exercise this regulation, and in that direction they will fearlessly exercise it. In doing so, they will be merely making a just, lawfid, and proper . exercise of the defence powers of the Commonwealth.
Until.peace has actually been signed, we must remember that the state of war has not passed. To-day, there is an armistice only, and the various opposing powers are manoeuvring for position. Nobody who is a student of history can doubt for a moment that Germany and Austria are to-day manoeuvring to get into a position of advantage-
– That is why they gave up their fleet.
– They gave up their fleet because they were compelled to do so.
– And by the same process they will accept terms of peace.
– But the power of compulsion on the part of the Allies depends upon the solidarity that is behind, their determination. Anything which tends to weaken, that determination, to set the’ Allies one against the other, will he & weakening of their cause at the Peace table, and a strengthening of the cause of the .enemy. Just as the Government used the War Precautions Act to prevent the enemy dividing us,’ and playing his game here as be played it in every other .country on ‘earth, we have a right to see that he has not a” free hand to exercise, his powers in Australia in the way in which he has shown himself to be so capable of exercising them elsewhere. I give honorable senators an assurance that the Government, have not the slightest intention, nor have they the will, to use this regulation in any other way Chan that I have indicated,’ namely, to prevent by public meeting the’ propagation of views emanating from our enemies - . views which are intended’ to divide the Allies, and to prevent them doing what they, think is right at the Peace (able. 1 invite honorable senators to support the Government in the retention of the regulation.
, - 1 very rarely ‘ address the Senate for the reason that I recognise the futility, of. doing so, in view of ite present composition, whenever I. know that the. Government have made up their minds upon any question. But upon this occasion, I feel impelled to make a few. remarks, because the Minister for -Defence (Senator-.Pearce) has imported into - this debate the question of the peace ‘terms which will Boon have to be settled. He has suggested that a. Tew persons in thiB remote portion of the Empire may possibly hold a public meeting at which views may be expressed, the dissemination of which may have the effect of dividing the Allies at the Peace Conference table. A more extraordinary argument .1 cannot imagine.. The thing is so ridiculous that only those who are seeking for’ something more than appears upon the surface, would venture to - Use an argument of that description. . I have been connected with the public, life, of this State, for more than thirty years. During that time, iE baa been my privilege to combat attempted inroads upon liberty - inroads upon free speech,’ and the right of public .meeting. By means of public meetings, we have been able to attack many abuses, and by the publicity given to those gatherings, we have been able to secure redress of many grievances.-
Hitherto the enjoyment of freedom, of speech has been the boast of every.. Englishman. No matter how much theopinions expressed may have been - opposed to the views of the Government of the day, the right of free speech has always been recognised as something- in the nature of a safety valve. We know that the. political exiles who went to England, were allowed freely to promulgate their views there. No attempt was made to coerce them, or to suppress their meet- ings. The Minister for Defence has assured us that this regulation will be used only in certain emergencies. We are now permitting the Government to become .a sort of military police, so that they may have the opportunity to determine what meetings shall be held and what class of meetings shall be prohibited, and so that they may say. whether the people shall or shall not attend meetings, and whether, if they do, they shall’ or shall not be deemed guilty of. breaking the law. I can scarcely imagine the people tolerating such a situation. Anything that may be termed disloyal should naturally be controlled by the Government. But peace is in sight’; fighting is oyer. » Why should the Government now seek this additional power? The explanation of Senator Pearce does not justify the Government. Let us consider the meeting which was held in the Princess Theatre an evening or two ago. Did that disturb the peace of the community? Did the meeting which was held’ at the Auditorium disturb the peace? Did the expressions of the speakers upon those platforms disturb the peace ? . Could they . influence the minds of the men who are to determine the conditions of peace at .the Conference in Europe ? Could ‘ anything be said by anybody at any public meeting here which would carry any weight with those -who will gather around the Peace table? Could anything that may be said in Australia have influence with the President of the United States, or with the Prime Minister of England, or of France? We would ‘be labouring- the- question if we were to assume that a few people” who might be gathered together at a meeting here, and who might pass a resolution, could be/so powerful in the expression of theirviews that they might divide the Allies’ representatives at the Peace. Conference. There are some people who are probably not responsible for’ their utterances.They may make wild statements; but what value is. placed upon them? To attach value to what some people say would be to ascribe worth to something which is valueless of itself.
The Government are trying to clothe themselves at this stage, when the war has ceased, with powers which transcend even those that they took to themselves during the war. I havebeen going down to the Yarra Bank regularly for years; and what has been the result of all the meetings held there? Meetings are still held along the Yarra Bank every Sunday, and thousands of people listen to the. views of various ‘ speakers, on . all manner of subjects. After all, it is the only opportunity for the people to give expression to their opinions; and what harm do they do? Those meetings are merely safety valves, and to suppress them and their like would be to shut down the safety valves. The curtailment of freedom - -not licence -of speech always re-‘ acts against those in authority. It is the boast of the Briton that once he has con- . quered his enemy he treats him in a fair and manly way. If’ there areenemies still among us, the Government . should have dealt with them long ago. They have had the power to do so, and they do not require this added power’. They should have put such personsin the only fit and proper place, namely, somewhere out of the daylight; and they should have done so long before now. I cannot believe for a moment that there are still such dangerous people among us. The great bulk of our people, are loyal, and have shown themselves truly loyal. This. drastic regu-: lation is intended to deal merely with a’ few folk. .
Years ago Sir William Irvine, when Premier of Victoria, brought in a’ Coercion Act to suppress therailway strike. It waseven worse than the Coercion laws of Ireland. Its object was to suppress meetings. . . Even if half-a-dozen persons get together and were talking aboutthe strike among . themselves the authorities could demand admittance, and, -if it was not gran ted, they couldforce their way in and arrest those, persons and hold them in. durance at the pleasureof the Government. . Those who’ were, responsible for bringing into being such a law were soon ashamedof it . and of themselves. The Commonwealth Government will soon be ashamed of this. new regulation and many others under the War Precautions Act. I raise my protest against it. The Government should not endeavour at this time to secure- more arbitrary powers than they already possess;Theycan only bring upon themselves the deservedopprobrium of a free people.
SenatorGRANT (New South Wales) [4.44]. -I listened carefully to the remarks of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), but his arguments carried no conviction.. The Government have full power, in almost every direction, at present to deal with persons who may make disloyal statements. : That being so, this new regulation is unnecessary’. The Government must havesomeother objective. What it is I do not -know. It is all’ very well for the Minister to point out that the ‘Government would not’ have drafted this regulation after Parliament had. adjourned, -and’ that they have afforded members of ‘Parliament an opportunity to discuss it. “ ‘But the Government “have a working majority,, which will agree -to whatever proposition is placed before them ; so they know that it actuallymat ters little - whether this regulation had been placedbefore Parliament nowor at a later date.
Had’ members . of the Commonwealth Legislature realized, when the War Precautions’ Bill was before them originally, what was tobe the outcome of it all, it’ would never have seen daylight in the form in which it was passed. Parliament was prepared to give the Government full power to deal with enemy subjects in our midst, and to suppress any word or action which might have tended to interfere with the success of the Allies. But we know that the War Precautions Act has been usedfor many other purposes. The censoring ofpress articles -and. the prohibition ‘of thereportsof public speeches were never contemplated when the Act and its’ regulations first came before -the Commonwealth Legislature.
The illustration of Senator Pearce with regard to a meeting in Brisbane appeals to me as very good electioneering material for the Nationalist party; that is, if the statements are true. But does any one believe that such statements are likely to interfere with the success of the Allies at the Peace Conference? . I would suggest, now that the war is over, that it would be far better for the Government to withdraw this regulation, and to let the public know day by day of the withdrawal of other regulations which may be done away with. - While the war is not yet technically over, it has practically ceased, and the Allies are. victorious. If I bad my way, I would abandon, not only the War Precautions Act, but all the regulations thereunder. Almost every day we bear of. a new Board being appointed to conduct some phase of Government business. I understand that quite an army is still being employed in the Defence Department in censoring newspaper articles. How much longer are those gentlemen to continue their unnecessary and valueless work, at very high’ salaries? How much longer are the workers of the country to submit tamely to providing those salaries, in order that censors shall lead lives of affluence and semi-idleness?
It can scarcely ‘be said that there is any danger of a revolution occurring in. Australia. Although such outbreaks have occurred in Russia and Austria, and, to a certain extent, in Germany, there certainly should be no fear of similar disturbances in the Commonwealth. In the best interests of Australia, the Act and all its regulation should be at once rescinded.
.- I suppose it is vain to hope that any of the Government supporters, with the exception, perhaps, of one or two, will have the courage of their convictions, to- an extent sufficient to cause them to vote for Senator Gardiner’s motion to disallow this regulation. I doubt if there are any on -the Government -side of the chamber who have- made- themselves familiar with the terms of the regulation, and the effect it is likely to have on the liberties of the people. I shall read it once more, so that its real effect may find lodgment in the minds of honorable senators opposite. During the whole four years of the most tragic struggle in the world’s history it was never found necessary .to enforce a regulation of this kind. To-day Germany and its militarism are as effectively crushed as ever they will be, and. no one knows it better than -the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). The last bridge that the Germans had was burnt by the most ignoble surrender of their fleet into the custody of the British nation. All the precautions necessary to - secure the world against the possi-bility of another German outbreak will be taken by those who, on behalf of the Allies, and more especially on behalf of the British- Empire, have successfully conducted all the mighty problems involved in this great war. For the Minister to tell us now that there is a section of the community that wants to play the Germans’ game is so much camouflage, and if it did not come from a Minister I would be inclined to describe it as so much bosh.
The Ministry, on behalf of a little bigoted section, have been looking for some one upon whom to visit the wrath of that little sectarian- group. After some years they were able to lay hands on some old-age pensioners who, they said, had designs for the disruption of the British Empire, and had sent £20 overseas to buy battleships, equip armies, &c. That is the worst example of sedition that the Government, aided and abetted by that miserable little sectarian section outside, have been able to raise to justify some of the drastic- actions they have taken in the past. Their actions have been directed at one section only, and only at one political party. When the Government are asked for proof s, they say, “ These men have been doing, this all along.” . When’ we ask who they are,- the Government do not know. - All; they do” knew is that- it is good political pabulum to go on with this kind of camouflage. There were meetings in the Auditorium last night,, and a week or two ago, that were calculated, if any meetings could be, to create disunity amongst the. people, but no attempt was made to suppress them. It did not suit the Government to do so because the promoters were supporters . of theirs. There we had a miserable insect of the Palmer type, and craven . insects of the Snowball type, saying that the whole responsibility for the war rests on the” Pope, and a person like Palmer saying that he knows for a fact that in every village throughout Victoria the word was passed round, “ Let the Protestants enlist, and let the Catholics take their good positions.” The Government make no attempt to suppress meetings where such diabolical utterances are made and published, because those .responsible are their supporters. If they hold any more meetings of that kind, the effect, which the originators desire, will be to create a mighty lot of disorder in the community, and, in my judgment, they will get more disorder than they are looking for. If that section. of the community, who have .made such noble sacrifices for the Empire and the Allied cause, are not to be protected from the diabolical slanders of those people, they will protect themselves, and the Government “can look out for some fun in the future.
.- I had not seen this regulation until this afternoon, and when I read it over it appeared to me outrageous. I wondered what justification would be given for it,-, and, therefore, I paid the greatest attention to the justification offered by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). I must confess that I have seldom heard a weaker case put up by a Minister. Doubtless the Minister is a very capable man, and if any one can put up a case he can. If he fails, we can be satisfied that there is not much of a case to put up. We must all have been struck by the futile weakness of the Minister’s argument, that if a few people held a meeting and advocated “disloyalty, the news would be - sent to the Peace Conference, and the representatives of the Allied countries would believe that that little coterie was voicing the sentiments of the Australian people. Ivo one within hearing of my voice would pay the slightest attention, to such a poor, weak argument, yet that was the whole burden of the Minister’s speech. “News of that sort,” he said, “would be carried to the Peace Conference, and would influence the delegates to do something that would be against the interests of the Allied countries.”
Power to act under the regulation is given to a military officer - a man, for instance, like some of the censors. Let me repeat a little experience I had with the censor. We were advertising a public meeting, and in a hurry I drafted a little dodger, on which I put, “ Come, and hear the truth.” The censor struck that out.
– A little truth is dangerous.
– That is evidently what the censor thought, for he would no allow that dodger to be issued to advertise the meeting unless that sentence was struck out. I suppose if I had been bold enough to say, “Come, and hear some lies,” he would have let it go.
– Why did not you give us the opportunity of giving him the sack ?
– I am telling the honorable senator about it now. I also mentioned it in this Chamber eighteen months ago. That was the censor in Launceston. Paney an officer with that kind of partisan spirit having the power to disallow a public meeting I
– No, he would not.
– That man is a prominent military officer.
– The officer has to be appointed by the Minister, and that man would not be. The regulation says “competent,” which means that he has to be specially authorized by the Minister.
– If the man was competent to be authorized to act as a censor I should imagine that the Minister would think enough of him to intrust him with the power contained in this regulation. The people of Australia would be in a very sorry mess if an ^officer .of that kind were given power to suppress a public meetings”
Everybody knows what .has happened in connexion with the censorship. In nearly every case where prosecutions have taken place they have been directed against the supporters of one party, who have been heavily fined, even where “it has been proved that there was no evil intent, and that anything done was done inadvertently. Almost every prosecution against newspapers has been directed against papers that supported the Labour party in .politics. Recently a newspaper in Tasmania supporting the Government issued a very scurrilous circular in connexion with which they failed to carry out the law requiring the printing of the name of the publisher. That went, on for months, and nothing was done until in the Tasmanian Parliament some one asked whether it was not time that the persons responsible for the issue of this circular should be prosecuted.
– That was an offence against the State law.
– The persons responsible were taken to Court, but whilst th*> proprietors of newspapers supporting the Labour party were when they were prosecuted fined £20, £30, or £50, the proprietors of this newspaper were fined only 10s.
– That action waa taken under the State law, and not under the Federal law.
– It -is quite evident that action, was not always taken under the State law. One could not but observe that the War Precautions Act was administered in a strong partisan spirit.
If, as suggested by the Minister for Defence, there is to any large extent a spirit of disloyalty amongst the people of -Australia, I must say. that I am surprised to hear it. I have not met any body of disloyal people wherever I have been. There may .be a few people here and there who give voice- to sentiments which in time of war may be considered disloyal, but for the most part such people are somewhat unaccountable for their actions, and are considered by the rest of the community as cranks. If honorable senators ‘go down to the Yarra Bank, where the Minister for Defence used to go once upon a time, and where he delivered some very fine speeches, they, will find that the crowd, after listening to a man for a time, will move away with the words, “ Oh ! this fellow is a crank.” After all, it is a safety valve for the community to let such people “blow off” steam. They do no harm. I .do not think that there is any danger that any British community, much less the Peace Conference, will be influenced by the sentiments expressed by a few cranks.
I could not help noticing, whilst the Minister for Defence was denouncing some persons in Queensland, that the speeches which he quoted were very much like speeches of his own in connexion with the Boer war which I remembered to have read. If the honorable senator was justified in making those statements at that time, the people whom he condemned to-day had just about the same justification for what they said. We know that the members of the Society of Friends do not believe in the shedding of blood, but no one will say that they are disloyal; because on that subject . they express sentiments akin to those voiced by their brethren in other parts of the world, and of other nationalities. I agree with Senator Long that this regulation is a piece of camouflage, but I hope that we shall hot put such power into the bands of any man as will enable him- to suppress public meetings of the citizens, of Australia.
– I am very pleased that there is not much left for me to reply to. I must congratulate honorable senators on my own side for the concise way in which they have put their views before the Senate, and have supported me in the endeavour to induce this Chamber to disallow the regulation to which I take exception. ‘ I intend to reply to what was said by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), although the honorable senator’s own speech itself supplies the best reply to it. I agree with Senator Guy that when the Minister could not make out a case in defence of his action in the issue of this regulation, it is because no such case could be made out. The honorable senator turned up a report of a meeting held in . May last in Brisbane, and quoted an extract from a paper called the Brisbane Courier. When I tell honorable senators that that newspaper is more vicious and vindictive against the Labour party than is the Argus, I need say no more about it. What can honorable senators say to the Minister for Defence going for evidence in support of his. case to the columns of a newspaper which is the most discredited newspaper in the Commonwealth in its partisan opposition to the Labour party.
– In its editorial columns it may be partisan, but its reports of public meetings are accurate. The reporters for that newspaper are as good as are those of any other newspaper in Australia.
– So far as its treatment of those politically opposed to it are concerned, I put the Brisbane Courier down as the low-water mark of journalism in Australia to-day’, and I put theArgus next to it. Other newspapers reach varying higher standards, but I will say that the Brisbane Courier is the dizzy limit of unfair journalism: Yet Senator Pearce puts its report of a meeting forward as evidence tosupport this regulation. It would appear that at a meeting in Brisbane some one called a German “ Comrade.” If in thereport of a meeting of the Salvation Army in time of- war, one member of the Army; called a German” Brother,” would that be disloyal? If, in the report of. a Methodist meeting, it was ‘ shown that some one referred to a: visiting. German as a “Brother,” would the Minister for Defence say that that person was disloyal, and against the war? When Senator Pearce is . driven to such a line of argument, it is plain that he is vainly reaching for some straw to save himself.
There is quite a . number of enthusiastic respectable people nowadays who are anxious to indicate their loyalty to Great Britain by clamoring that the Kaiser should be hanged. I have been informed, though I do not know whether the information given to me is correct, that at the time the war started, the Kaiser had reached the highest - position in the Masonic Order in Germany.. I wonder whether people who, belonging to that Order, would call him “” Brother,” seeing that he held one of the highest positions in the organization, would be considered disloyal. No doubt, the members of kindred institutions in Australia would have referred to the Kaiser as “their beloved brother.”
– No fear!
-We know where this clamorous loyalty comes from, and how deep it is.
I intend to call attention to the way in which Senator Pearce used another regulation for political purposes during the conscription campaign. Of his own will, and without consulting the Crown Law officers, he instituted proceedings against a prominent Labour man in Western Australia, who ha’d frequently gone upon the recruiting platform. For political purposes, and in the hope of discrediting this gentleman, Senator Pearce, armed with the power of a regulation under the W<ar Precautions Act, and in the middle of a political campaign,’ issued, instructions to a solicitor- to issue summonses against this gentleman, .and endeavoured to have the cases tried on the eve of the vote. I intend to give the Senate the facts of the matter, as, fortunately for me, they are recorded in print, and have not been questioned by the honorable senator.
– Yes, they have. They have been absolutely denied. They are not facts.
– Then I will give the honorable’ .senator the opportunity to deny them . again, because I shall put them on record in Hansard, and he ‘ can reply to them when he pleases.
– I have already replied to them.
– The honorable senator does not deny the truth of the statements to which I refer.
– I do, absolutely.
– Then I must say that the honorable senator -is progressing very rapidly.
– They have been proved to be untrue before.
– Mr. Collier is the Leader of the Labour party in Western Australia, and any one who is acquainted with him will know that he was not opposed to the war. If any person in Western Australia helped recruiting, it was Mr. Collier. He makes certain statements, which I quote from page 92 of the “ Proceedings , of the Recruiting Conference,” convened by His Excellency the Governor-General -
It certainly means that I oppose conscription ; but. I took the recruiting- platforms until I was practically driven off them by- the ‘ attitude of the Minister for Defence.-
Mr. Collier went on to say
As a matter of fact, whilst I had two summonses in my pocket at the. beginning of the year,. I received a pressing invitation from the officer in charge of* recruiting in Perth to address a public meeting in that connexion, in the Perth Town Hall.
Mr. HOLMAN. ; Summonses for what?
Mr. COLLIER. For offences, against the War. Precautions Regulations. One summons was for having made statements likely to prejudice recruiting, and the other was based upon a drag-net regulation, under which almost any man in the Commonwealth may ‘be prosecuted. I went to the officer in question, and told him that I .should be very .pleased .to accede to his request, that T had ‘been addressing recruiting meetings ever since the commencement of the’ war; but, if there was any justification for the prosecutions which had been launched against me, my presence on the platform would have the very opposite effect to that which he desired. In other .words, I should be hindering, rather than assisting, recruiting.
Mr. TUDOR.. What was the result of the prosecutions?
Mr. COLLIER. ; One was dismissed, and upon the second charge I was fined ?25. Whilst upon this matter, perhaps I may be pardoned for giving members some information. The prosecution arose out of a meeting which was held on .the 16th July of last year. Upon that date a meeting was held at Kalgoorlie, :at which about 1,000 people were present, for the purpose of protesting against profiteering, or the high cost of living. The gathering was addressed by Mr. McCallum and myself, and notes were taken of our remarks. The statements we were alleged to have made were presented to the officials upon whom rests the responsibilities of taking action if there has been any breach of the law. They decided that there was no cause of action. That decision was arrived at about three weeks after the meeting was held. Thus matters remained from the first week in August until the middle of December last, when Senator Pearce arrived at Kalgoorlie on his way to Western Australia to take part- in the referendum campaign. Upon his arrival there these notes were revived, notwithstanding that the military authorities and others had previously set them aside. Upon .their presentation .to him - and I make this assertion notwithstanding that lie has denied its accuracy - Senator Pearce, without reference to, and without the advice of, the Commonwealth solicitors, issued instructions that summonses should be taken out,’ and that prosecutions should be instituted.
Mr. TUDOR. Five months afterwards?
Mr, COLLIER. ; Yes1; and right in’ the middle of the referendum campaign. Mr. Holman and other members of the legal profession will, I think, admit that it was part of the duty of the Commonwealth solicitors to frame the charges against me.
Mr. HOLMAN. ; Ordinarily, that is so.
Mr. COLLIER.; But, in this case, ite charges were drawn up and handed .to the solicitors, who were instructed- to “ Issue summonses against -Collier, and these are the charges to be laid.” The solicitors had nothing to’ do with the matter beyond handing the summonses to me. That is the assertion which I make, and which I can prove. I challenged Senator Pearce in West: ern Australia to prove otherwise, but he failed to do so. In a statement which he subsequently made to press representatives here, that gentleman said, “ The remarks that- Mr. Collier made were shown to me, in .addition to which a newspaper report of his speech was presented to me, and I read it.” Now,. as a matter of -fact, not one line of what I said at that meeting -appeared in any newspaper in
Western Australia, and I challenge Senator Pearce to produce any newspaper containing, such a report.
Mr. HOLMAN. Perhaps he had seen a report. which hadbeen suppressed ‘by the censor.
Mr.COLLIER. That is impossible, because no shorthand reporter was present, and no notes of the speech were taken. The Commonwealth solicitors were instructed to get out these summonses, the intention being . that the hearing should take place prior to the 20th December last, the day upon which the referendum was to be taken. However, the authorities were unable to locate me in time, as I was travelling about the country, and, as the hearing could not be fixed before the 20th December, it was fixed for the 21st December. But, having farled to get the cases heard before polling day, the authorities evidently said, “ We need not bother about the matter at . all now,” and the hearing did not come on till March of the present year. When I inquired what was the cause of the delay, 1 was informed that the matter had been, referred to Melbourne.Prosecutions against other men charged with offences under the War Precautions Act have been launched within a few days after the commission of the offence. But my case “was referred to Melbourne, and on the 8th March last I was fined ?25 for an alleged offence which was committed nine months earlier.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. Who fined you?
Mr.COLLIER. A magistrate; but I do not wish to say anything about that.
Mr. MORBY. ; You have not paid the fine yet?
Mr. COLLIER. No; I have lodged an appeal to the High Court, the hearing of which will not come on till October.”
Here is a definite statement made by a man believed by every one who knows him. No man stands higher in the public life of Western Australia than Mr. Collier.
– A good many people will not believe that statement, anyhow.
– A good many were so satisfied about the iniquitous proceedings that they offered to pay the fine’ out of their own pockets. Here is evidence of the misuse’ of the War Precautions Regulations. Five months after the alleged offence had been committed, the Minister for . Defence, while passing through Western Australia, issued instructions that a summons should be taken out against Mr. Collier. The Minister will not deny that.
– I do.
– Does the Minister deny that while he was “ travelling through Western Australia he issued instructions for a summons to be taken out against Mr. Collier?
– I do not deny that I transacted all ‘ departmental business while I was journeying in Western Australia. This particular matter was included, but I do deny the construction you have placed upon my actions.
– It was in July that this alleged offence was committed, but the military authorities did not think it sufficiently serious to justify action.
– I issued instructions as soon as the matter came under my notice.
– Exactly ; and that is the construction I put on the Minister’s attitude. In July the alleged offence occurred, but the local military authprities of the Commonwealth did not think there was sufficient grounds for prosecution.
– That is not correct. It is another of the incorrect statements Mr. Collier has made.
– Well, the offence occurred in July. Is that correct?
– I do not know when it occurred. I do not remember. It is not correct to say that the military authorities did not consider a case was made out.
– I do not like to be offensive to the Minister, but if he will persist in his method of trying to misrepresent what I am saying, I must reply in the only way that will fit the circumstances. Here was a case in which a gentleman, speaking at a meeting to protest against profiteering and the high cost of living, is alleged to have made statements which brought him under ‘ the War Precautions Act. The alleged offence was committed in July. August, September, October, and November all passed by without the local military authorities and the legal gentlemen connected with the Commonwealth taking action against him. But December comes, and when Senator Pearce was travelling through his own State on a referendum campaign, partisans brought this matter under his notice, with the result that he issued instructions that Mr. Collier was to be brought before the Courts. There is no getting away from the facts.
– You have not deduced facts at all. You have only proved certain statements to your own satisfaction.
– If the “honorable senator is not satisfied that what I am saying is a fact, I am prepared to go a long way in order to substantiate my statements, if he is prepared to do the same and prove otherwise. But Senator Pearce admits that in December he gave instructions for a summons to be issued. Does that satisfy’ Senator Senior 1 _ The Minister ‘does not deny it. He cannot deny it truthfully. And now we are asked to indorse a regulation giving, similar powers to a Minister capable of -using his authority in that way.
– I have to consent to every prosecution. There is nothing unusual in that.
– I think I have shown that there was something very extraordinary and unusual in the action of the Minister. Any Minister who instigates prosecutions without the advice of the Crown Solicitor is running amok. Senator Pearce, while travelling through Western Australia, and in order to get a little political advantage for his party in connexion with the referendum campaign, issued instructions for a summons to be taken out against a* man who stands as high in the public life of Western Australia as any other man in that State - against a man who had used all his energies’ to get recruits.
I have dealt with this matter because it is a clear case of a War Precautions regulation being used for political purposes, and because the Government are asking for further powers in the regulation now under notice. We can quite expect that Senator Pearce, and possibly some of his colleagues in the other States, will ‘ attempt to use the same powers of coercion given to them under this regulation as the powers were used by Senator Pearce under the regulation to which I have referred. Notwithstanding Mr. Collier’s position and the esteem in which he is held in Western Australia, Senator Pearce issued instructions that he should be proceeded against, in the hope, no -doubt, that he and the cause he was then advocating would be discredited.
Senator Pearce has referred to the proposed meeting in Brisbane, but he has taken his information from a tainted source, the Courier, which, I think, occupies a lower position even than the Argus, if it is possible for any paper to get lower in regard to the manner in which it” treats its political opponents. The Minister quotes the Courier’ s_ statements as a reason for the action of the “Government. If I had been - in Senator Pearce’s position, and I had been informed that statements were to be made at a meeting rendering it necessary to take certain action, Iwould have waited, and then taken good care to’ intern the persons. I would have placed them where they could do no harmto this country. We all know, of course, that Senator Pearce has caused other men to be interned on. the most flimsy grounds. Take the case of Mr. Scott, of The Circulating Sovereign. iHe was interned on the biased statement of a partisan. He never uttered the sentiments with which he was charged. Any honorable senator who reads the evidence from beginning to end will agree that that man was interned on the most flimsy pretext. It is absolutely preposterous that the liberty of men shall be taken away from them in this way.
This regulation was not required when the war was on ; but now, when the war is over, we aTe told that it is necessary, in order to prevent rash statements being made at public meetings. When submitting my motion, I said that the Government had prevented one political party or organization from holding a meeting in a certain hall in Brisbane, but had permitted their opponents to hold a meeting there. .Senator Pearce admits the soft impeachment. He says he did prevent a meeting that was going to be held, because he had reason to believe that the persons attending the- meeting were going to say disloyal things, and that the people at the other meeting were going to say loyal things. That was the difference.
– No. He distinctly said that one partywere disloyalists, and the other were loyalists, and that he allowed the latter to hold the meetingbecause they were loyal.
– I am prepared to accept SenatorSenior’s correction. The Minister said, usimg Senator Senior’s words, that he refused one party, who wanted to hold a meeting, because they were disloyal, and allowed the otheT party to meet, because they were loyal.
– L - Loyal to the Government.
-But can Senator Senior justify the action of the Minister who, not waiting’ for men to speak at a meeting, but anticipating that disloyal utterances would be made, prevented them from holding a meeting, while he allowed his friends to hold a public meeting?
SenatorSenior. - Do you applaud them for their German sentiments?
– I cannot allow Senator Senior, by the wildest stretch of the imagination, to tack the label of proGermanism on to me. All my utterances, public and otherwise - and they have been loud enough for Senator SenioT to hear them - will prevent him from trying that mean trick with any degree of success.
– Do you indorse them?
– Members of the Senateknow what my views are on this subject, and I cannot allow Senator Senior to come down to such dirty low tactics as to impute to me sentiments that I have never expressed.
– ‘Why father that meeting in Brisbane?
– I am not doing that. Just now I am asking Senator Senior if he can justify the regulation.
– But you asked for examples.
– There was another meeting in Brisbane some time ago.
– That was a public meeting “held in May, and this regulation was not given effect to until the 13th November, so it could not have been meant for that meeting. There has been no justification for the action of the Government, and the Minister will be well advised not to continue the exercise of this power.
Reference hasbeen made to the fact that we are living under the British flag, but I point out that the virtue of the British flag lies in the fact, not that it is abit of bunting, but that it flies over free men.
– And allows free speech.
– It is a flag; that protects the right of free speech, the right to hold public meetings. These are the things that have given virtue to the flag, and which have caused millions, of men to fight for it in order to keep it afloat. Take away these virtues andthere are none so poor as to do it reverence. Senator Pearce and his Government are doing those very things that will bring discredit upon the flag.
-if that crowd had their way it would not fly for very long.
– It is the red flag they want, not the Union Jack.
– I am merely answering the statement made by Senator Pearce about the British flag. I am trying to impress on the Government that its virtues consistin the fact that it stands as the emblem of freedom in all British communities, and particularly in law-abiding Australia. It is petty -tyrants like Senator’ Pearce who seek to deny us our freedom by these War PrecautionsRegulations. Such men are just as great a danger to the community as that greater tyrant the Czar of Russia, who finally paid the penalty of tyranny. The. same end comes to all tyrants.
– Russia has a worse tyrant now in the Bolsheviks.
– Their end will come - the Minister for Defence need. not worry about that.
Here is a Government, governing the freest and most law-abiding people in the world, whose members desire to introduce the methods of Russia to suppress freedom of speech, to tyrannize over liberty, and to say to the populace, “ The things you have enjoyed for years, if not for centuries, you shall enjoy no longer, because we fear that the freedom which has made the nation what it- is has now reached the stage when.it is calculated to disrupt it.” What was there in the report quoted by the Minister for Defence which, affected anybody in the community? Had the honorable gentleman and his . colleagues desired to do anything less than fool the people, instead of giving wide publicity to the statements of such irresponsible individuals, they would have suppressed them.
– What about the opinions expressed by the Minister for Defence upon the Boer war ?
– I- do not go back upon one word that I said in reference to -the Boer war.
– I shall not attack Senator Pearce on his attitude towards that war, because I recollect there was not much difference between the opinions which he then expressed and my own views. But on that occasion I followed the lead of Mr. Watson, and held to the opinion that when once we were in the war we had a right to be loyal to the Empire, irrespective- of whether the war was right or wrong. The Minister for Defence may have differed from me upon that point. I have no. desire to drag into this debate what Senator ]Pearce said sixteen or seventeen years ago, because his judgment has matured since then.
My reason for submitting this -motion’ is not the hope- that the Government will be defeated, but the wish to bring home to them the dangers of government by regulation. Our soldiers are returning from the Front. In a very short time they will be returning in thousands, and will the Minister put this regulation into operation in regard -to their meetings?
– That is an infamous suggestion, and one that the honorable -senator should be ashamed to make.
– -I am not in the least ashamed to make it, because T recognise that the action of the Government
Senator- Pearce.- Our soldiers are loyal. They are not the men at whom this regulation is aimed. They are not coming back “to disrupt this country. They will deal with some of the Bolsheviks when they return.
– I am not afraid of them coming back. The Minister and his supporters made great predictions in regard to the result of the referendum .on conscription, but those predictions were sadly disappointed.
– All our soldiers are thoroughly loyal - that is very clear.
– And everybody else in this country is loyal. In free Aus-“ tralia nothing has happened which can-‘ brand any portion of the community as disloyal.
– Only a very small portion.
– Even that very small portion cannot be branded with disloyalty. It can only be charged with holding views which are not acceptable to the warring class. Senator Lynch. - There should be no warring class.
– There should be sufficient toleration in all of us to cause us to respect the views of those who may differ from. us. To brand the pacifists as disloyalists is absolutely the most foolish. thing ever attempted in this country. Because they disagree with war in every shape and form, and because they think that under a proper system
Of government it can be avoided, those who do not agree with them say, “ If you are not in favour of the war you are disloyal.”
– Does not the honorable senator think it is rather significant that the very same pacifists did. not rejoice, but remained very silent, when the news of the armistice arrived? On the other hand, some of them have been sneering at. peace.
– I am astonished at the Minister’s lack of knowledge. I was on the race-course at Flemington - perhaps I ought not to confess it - on the Thursday when the false rumour was received that an armistice had been signed.
– The pacifists, do not go there.
– Judging by the way in which the news was received, all the good loyalists go there. There was a great crowd, composed of men who, we were told only a few weeks previously, had shirked their obligations, and would not fight. But when the news of the armistice reached them, a careful observer, watching its effect upon them, was compelled to say that it provoked a spontaneous outburst of enthusiasm and loyalty.
– No doubt of it.
– Assuming that from 10,000 to 20,000 people were there, the Minister says that they did not participate in the rejoicing over the signing of the armistice.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– A few days later I was in quite a different atmosphere. When it was officially reported that an armistice had been signed, if one could judge from the streets of Sydney, between the hoursof 11.30 a.m. and 11.30 p.m. the rejoicing on the part of the people there was equally spontaneous.
– That was over a peace won by victory, not by negotiation.
-The negotiations are commencing now. Much as honorable senators opposite have endeavoured to discredit the idea, the armistice has already been signed, and the next six months will witness the negotiations. However, I shall not complain be.cause some honorable senators in their enthusiasmoverlooked the fact that before peace could come there must be negotiations. I think the newspapers this afternoon report that President Wilson has started for the scene of the negotiations.
– The honorable senator and ‘his party wanted the Allies to negotiate.
-I rejoice in the fact that they are negotiating.
– They are not negotiating.
– I would have rejoiced still more if the negotiations had taken place two years ago, because the price which has since been paid constitutes too big a sacrifice to the God of War. Peace is coming by negotiation. And because of that these statutory rules, which trample upon the people’s liberty, should cease to be operative.
– The honorable senator would have us believe that he is really indignant.
– I do not think I have ever been able to make Senator de Largie feel other than antagonism towards me. I can remember the time when I sat side by side with Senators Pearce and Russell, and when Senator de Largie was regarded as one of the loyal supporters of the Government. But I never thought we could get any measure through” the Chamber until he was absent from it. He was the loyal supporter who always caused trouble.
– The honorable senator does not mean that.
– I am very glad that Senator Senior nods his assent to my statement.
– I was thinking of how loyal you have been.
– It is only when Senator Gardiner gets his feet under the Ministerial table that he is loyal.
– Did the honorable senator say that it is only when my legs are under the Ministerial table that I am loyal ?
– Yes, judging by the honorable senator’s attitude since then.
– It is quite possible that I could have occupied a similar position to thatwhich is now occupied by Senator Russell had I chosen to follow his example. But I preferred to take my owncourse. Now that the war is over, I may go further and say that if Senator P.earce will forgo the habit he is cultivating of falsely representing the views of our party-
– I think I may reasonably assume that Senator Russell could have crawled back.
– I think so. The honorable senator did so once, and doubtless he could do the same thing again. Senator Lynch has said that I am loyal only when my feet are under the Ministerial table.
– Yes. The honorable senator was the most rebellious follower we had.
– My reply to that statement is that if I desired to fall back upon evidence as proof of my loyalty, that evidence is to be found in my two years’ leadership of the Opposition in this Chamber during the war. I seek for no better evidence than that. I know that to Senator Lynch and others it is quite a source of annoyance that I am not treading the same path as they are treading. But the war is over now, and peace has come. In these circumstances I am prepared to meet Senator de Largie, Senator Lynch, and others, with a view to seeing if we cannot arrive at. a peace by negotiation. I am not at all anxious that we should continue cross-firing at each other.
– What about sending the matter on to the Conference at Versailles, so that Mr. Lloyd George, M. Clemenceau, . and others may have a “go” at it? .
– Order! That matter is not under consideration.
– I realize, sir, that I have been drawn off the track by this constant cross-firing.
If a copy of this regulation were sent Home for the perusal of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George), he would be able to state that, with all the dangers which have threatened Great Britain, the Government have had too much respect for British liberty to bring in a similar regulation.
– They have had such a law in existence for years.
– The The Minister cannot produce an Act or regulation issued by the British Government which sought to prohibit public meetings just as the regulation under discussion is intended to do. The very cause of Britain’s unpreparedness at the outbreak of war was the national antipathy of libertyloving Britons towards the military caste. Now that the nations which have been fighting each other are to sit down at the Peace table, this Win-the-war Government would do well to ‘try to avoid military methods in Australia. The control of public meetings by a military officer, or by the Minister for Defence, should never be tolerated. If an officer in Brisbane wished to stop a meeting, which was to be held in the Exhibition building, and Senator Pearce despatched a wire to him to the effect that a proclamation had been signed, and if copies were nailed to the doors of the building, every person entering through those doors would be liable to punishment. That is too serious a possibility to be permitted to pass unchallenged, in view of the fact that the war is virtually over. We should return as quickly as possible to normal conditions. But the Government, intoxicated with the powers which they have exercised under the War Precautions Act and regulations, not only added this final insult, two days after the signing of the armistice, but they propose, at the same time, to extend that Act for a further term. If they secure the desired six months’ extension after the war is over, what is to hinder them from asking their majority of followers to grant a f further extension ? The Government have the power, and they have the following, and that following will accept any excuse which the Government may advance.
The Government have the most loyal and obedient following I have ever known in any Parliament. I never -dreamed that I would live to see such a situation in Australian politics.
– The last division in the .Senate indicated that. .
– The honorable senator know3 that I would not be permitted to refer to that subject, and that I would not be allowed to state the reasons which prompted honorable senators in giving the decision which was arrived at. Here was a grave scandal, which ought to have been cleaned up, and yet there was a number of legislators who chose to prevent investigation. I have no desire to further discuss that matter; but when the reputation of the Senate itself is at stake, and a tribunal to vindicate its honour is refused!-
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss that.
– I realize, of course, sir, that I would be out of order indoingso; but I just desire to add-
– That you. did not secure the party win which you expected.
– The honorable senator’s standard of measure, which he applies to everything I do, is the standard of party bias arid party advantage. Even my action in regard to that last division has been so adjudged by Senator de Largie. And so my attitude towards the motion now before the Senate is being regarded. . Yet the freedom of the people to discuss public matters at public meetings is to depend upon the authority of military officers. This regulation authorizes a. police officer, without instruction from the Government, to enter by force any place where he may believe that a public meeting, is being held. I only hope that thepolice will try that on at a meeting which I may be holding. The police will learn that there is a force to appeal to’ which is stronger than the law; and that is the outraged conscience of a free people. That is a force which the law and the police, in safeguarding the law, cannot control.
– How many persons constitute a meeting?
– Under Irvine’s infamous Act, the number was two; and underWade’s Coercion Act, the gather ing together of three people constituted a meeting. If a police officer came to my house and tried to set a military order above the liberty which Britons enjoy - well, I can only invite the Minister for Defence to send him along.
– Why these heroics?
– TheMinister is putting into the hands of a police constable, who is not authorized by the Government, the right to enter a private home.
– That is incorrect. A police officer could only do so when an order had been given prohibiting a meeting.
– The regulation states -
If an order is made, in pursuance of this’ regulation,prohibiting the holding of any public meeting on any premises, any officer of the police, and any person thereto authorized in writing by the Minister ….
I invite honorable senators to note the distinction which is made. Officers of the police may enter a private residence without any written authority; but any other person must have written authority. It is not necessary for the police to be authorized by the Minister. They may act on their own initiative.
– I deny that a policeman can do that until a specified meeting is prohibited, and then he may act upon an order.
-Suppose that a meeting is. to be held, whereat returned soldiers are to protest against treatment, received’ in quarantine. Suppose that a few returned men decide to hold such a meeting in my home. And suppose that the Minister states that such a meeting may not be held.
– The Minister would not be such a fool.
– I am citing a case that may possibly occur.
– The Minister would require to be medically examined within twenty-four hours.
– The Minister would have the power to issue such an instruction; and ‘a policeman, without any further authority, might enter my private residence by force.
Public meetings do not constitute a danger to the community. They enable people to ventilate their grievances, and they indicate to the authorities those persons who are spreading dissatisfaction and, possibly, disaffection in’ the community. If public meetings are suppressed, the public will be driven to hold private meetings. - If meetings within the law are prevented, the people will be driven “outside of the law.
For four and a half years the Minister for Defence has had to contend against many grave and pressing difficulties. During that time nothing has happened which might be construed as endangering the welfareof the realm. I challenge anybody to point to anything that has occurred which could be described as being calculated to hinder the Government in carrying on the war.
-What about that rebellious old-age pensioner?
– If one is to believe the Crown Prosecutor in the case to which the honorable senator alludes, there were certain people who sent some £20 out of this country to buy Dreadnoughts and big guns, and flying machines, with which to attack the British Empire.
– What particular measure are you “ stone-walling “ ?
– The honorable senator, by his interjections, has drawn me from my subject; and then, when he finds that I have occupiedmore time than might have been the case, he talks about “ stone-walling.” I have no desire to “ stone-wall.” I spoke briefly in submitting the motion, and I have been longer than I intended in replying. I am . reminded by Senator Senior that anything like a prolonged speech is objectionable to honorable senators, presumably because they do not like hearing their sins denounced in a voice which compels them to listen.For the first time since war was declared the Government have discovered the necessity of putting this power into effect. It was not necessary during the whole course of the war, but now that peace by negotiation is approaching, they are deliberately making it law, and theSenatewill deliberately confirm it. If we could get through the war without it, we can certainly manage without it in peace times. That being so, I urge honorable senators to treat the regulation, not as a question of party tactics, but as it deserves. Let the Senate say to the Minister, “ There is nothing in this country that justifies such an attack upon the liberties of the people.” War conditions having passed, let us get back to peace conditions as quickly as we can. I trust honorable senators will be sufficiently loyal to the people’s liberty to vote- against the continuance of a regulation of this kind.
Question-That the regulation be disallowed - put. The Senate -divided.
Ayes … … … 9
Noes … … … 16
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 4th December (vide page 8683), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the following new standing order be adopted by the Senate: -
No senator shall speak : for more than one hour at a time in any debate in the Senate, except that in the debate -on the AddressinReply, or on the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, or in moving the second reading of a Bill, he shall be at liberty, to speak for one hour and a half. Any senator may move that the limit of one hour or of one . hour and a half may be extended for thirty minutes ; such motion shall forthwith be put without debate.
In Committee no senator shall speak for more than a quarter of an hour at any one time, or more than twice on any one question before the Committee : provided that no limitation shall apply in Committee to a senator in charge of a Bill, or to any senator during the proceedings in Committee on the Tariff,or to a Minister of the Crown, in Committee on an Appropriation or a Supply Bill, in regard to the number of his speeches in connexion with any Departments which he represents.
– Ipropose at length to give a few reasons why the motion should not be agreed to. I sometimes feel a little discouraged to think how. poorly my efforts in this chamber are rewarded by results, in comparison with the labours I undertake.
– This motion is one of the results.
– I remind Senator Thomas that this is a Senate, and not a circus. The Government, or the Minister responsible for this motion, might at least have submitted the proposed new standing order to the Standing Orders Committee before tabling it in this Chamber. That Committee was appointed by the Senate to deal with questions of procedure. I do not think it is called together very often, and its members are not overworked. An occasion arises like the present when the Government think a change should be made in the Standing Orders. Surely if any matter should be referred to that Committee, this should be.
– It would still have to come to the Senate.
– But it comes to the Senate now, possibly as the work of one man. In that form, it may or may not meet with the approval of the majority of the Senate, but if it had been referred to the Committee first, not only would no harm have been done, but due consideration and respect would have been shown to the Committee. I am wondering whether it is not straining the spirit of the Standing Orders, if ‘ not breaking their . letter, to present to the Senate any amendment of the Standing Orders, except through that Committee. That is a matter for you, sir, and not for me to decide.
– It is a well-known principle that the Senate is. superior to, and can override the decision pf, any Committee of the Senate.
– I thank you for your ruling, because it shows that the legality of the course which the Government have taken is not open to question. At the same time it is a gross infringement of the rights of the Committee for this matter to be introduced over their heads. Nothing would be lost if the Government allowed this question to stand over till next week to give the Committee an opportunity to deal with it. The Committee is composed of those senators who are considered most fitted to deal with the Standing Orders. It is quite possible that this standing order, if submitted to them, would be made even more effective for the -purposes of the Government, and a much more efficient piece of the machinery of Parliament than it is now. We should not lose the opportunity to take advantage of the advice, experience, and wisdom of. the members of the Committee.
– I understand that you do not object to the purpose of the motion ?
– Not yet.
– I am afraid you are appealing to the vanity of the members of. the Standing Orders Committee.
– The honorable senator should not lightly make such sa charge against me. I could not mention the name of one member of the Committee, ‘nor do I care who is on it. Much good might result even now if the Government would submit the proposal to the Committee before it is finally pressed on the Senate. It would be discussed by a Committee of experts upon procedure, altogether free from the bias of party - a Committee whose members are supposed to have a full knowledge of the duties they are called upon to perform. I am under the impression that that Committee has not once met since this Parliament was called together. They have never had occasion to meet unless it be the first meeting at the beginning of the session, when the whole of the Standing Orders were approved of. If that be the case, and if a very grave change in- the procedure that -has obtained for the last seventeen years, that is, since the first meeting of the Senate is, in the opinion of the Government, absolutely necessary, I venture to say that as an act of courtesy the members of the Standing Orders Committee should have been invited to consider the matter. The Government would not have lost dignity if they had shown their willingness .to consider the opinions of the members of that Committee by referring the matter to them. Even now I appeal to the Minister in charge of this motion to submit the proposed new standing order to the Standing Orders Committee. It is quite possible that if that course were adopted with a full opportunity for consideration, a better standing order to achieve the purpose in view would be submitted than that we are now discussing. The proposed standing order brought before us in this way, will naturally be opposed by the minority, and will be carried by the Government majority.
– In the matter of physical effort the Opposition will gain most by the proposed standing order. I speak from considerable experience
– Before I conclude I think I- shall be able to show that Senator Millen is mistaken. If I have an opportunity to submit some figures prepared for the consideration of this motion, I think I shall be able to show that if the Leader of the Senate believes that by carrying the proposed standing order he will” curtail the debating power of the Opposition he will find that he is mistaken.
– That is not the’ object of the proposed standing order.
– What is the object of it?
– To expedite business.
– I can hardly believe that the Minister for Repatriation honestly affirms that a standing order of this kind is necessary to expedite business in the Senate.
– I should not have moved it if I did not think it is very necessary.
– If there is one complaint which more than another can be justly made against the Senate it is that its business is expedited in a manner that has been scarcely warranted, in view of the importance of the measures it has been called upon to pass. Instead of devising means to enable the Senate to pass measures more rapidly, we should be well advised if we considered means by which important measures might receive greater consideration.
– The honorable senator mistakes the purpose of my motion.
The proposed standing order is to prevent individuals monopolizing too much of the time of the Senate.
– It is socialistic; it provides for more equal distribution.
– It is, in my opinion, tyrannical. There is nothing socialistic about it. It is the panic legislation of an overwrought Government - of a Government who, harassed by moderate criticism, are trying to adopt means to prevent even the small measure of criticism to which they have been subjected in the past being levelled at their measures. I have carefully obtained some .figures which will show that, instead of. having to complain of any delay in the passing of business in this Chamber, it has been carried through at a speed which is unexampled in any other legislative chamber in the world. Let us consider what is proposed. In Committee on . a clause an honorable senator will, if this standing order be passed, be permitted to speak only twice for a quarter of an hour each time. Suppose that a Bill, which requires some legal knowledge for its proper consideration, is at the Committee stage in the Senate, I ask honorable senators to imagine Senator Keating being tied down to two speeches of a quarter of an hour each on a clause of an important measure of that kind. The honorable senator might call attention to a grave danger which would not be apparent ‘ to honorable senators not possessed of his legal training and expert knowledge of the law. I ask leave to continue my remarks on the resumption of the debate.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That, inasmuch as the financial stability and progress of the Commonwealth arise from and depend upon the corresponding prosperity of the various industries being carried on, and since wheat raising stands out conspicuously as the leading rural industry in point of production and volume of labour engaged in it, and as the returns obtained over .an extended period bear no just or equitable relation to the amount of capital and. toil expended in that industry, the Senate is of opinion -
That a thorough investigation should be made into and report obtained upon -
That as this matter is one of exceptionalurgency, theGovernmentshould give immediate effect to this resolution in order that whatever remedial’ measures subsequently discovered or suggested, may be considered and put into operation for the purpose of giving relief to an overwhelming- section of the population who have borne their burden over long wiith commendable patience.
The purpose of the motion is to direct attention, not only in this Chamber, but in the Commonwealth Parliament, of which this Chamber forms a part, to the position of the wheat-growing industry in Australia to-day. In this age. Governments have largely forsaken the accepted role they once occupied, namely, that of simply performing the functions of government largely in the matter of preserving civil order. Governments must do more nowadays than merely keep the ring, so to speak, and let each industry fight its own battle. To-day there is every warrant for any Government, if they wish to see the industries of the country progress, and with this- progress the welfare of the people to improve,to extend a helping hand to industries that may need assistance.
Wheat-raising, in point of production and the number of personsengaged in it, has occupied pride of place in the Commonwealth during the last two years. In 1915-16 and 1916-17 the value of the product was no less than £74,000,000, wool-growing,- which hitherto has been instrumental in advertising Australia throughout the world, occupying second place. No other industry remotely approaches that of wheat-raising from the point of view of production and number of persons engaged in it. According to Mr. Knibbs’ estimates in 1911 there were 235,000 farmers and employees engaged in farming, the chief activity of which is wheat growing ; the pastoral industry employed 90,000 persons, dairying 56,000 persons, fruit-growing 14,000 persons, and the sugar industry 5,000 persons. There is however, an explanation with regard to the last-named. When the census was taken of the sugar industry, no account was made of the large number of labourers, employed intermittently, and so acomparatively small number of persons engaged in that’ industry was shown in the official figures. Wheatgrowing employs more thanall the other industries puttogether. As far as my recollection serves me, there have been special inquiries into the iron, sugar, fruit, flax, shipping, and many other industries, but this is the first time that any - special attempt has been made to throw some light upon the life and surroundings of those engaged in raising wheat in this country. The Government, in my opinion, should occupy a paternal position’ in relation to this industry, if they desire the country over whose destinies they are presiding to keep pace with other countries of the world, where special care is taken to extend a. helping hand even to the point of lavishness to all industries that can establish any claim for public assistance.
Wheat-raising is a white man’s industry, I am glad to say, and when we remember the overwhelming proportion of people dependent upon this industry directly and indirectly, it is quite plain that it is of no small importance to Australia. It has been calculated that every person engaged in a basic industry, such as wheat-growing, can reasonably carry five other persons on his back. The truth of this is demonstrated >y the Mildura .settlement. There y on will find in an isolated community a comparatively small number of persons directly employed in fruit-growing, but a large proportion supported by the industry in other walks of life, both in the town and elsewhere, handling the products of the Mildura settlement. It ‘will be seen, therefore,- that the claim that every person engaged in this basic industry of wheat-growing supports five others has some semblance of truth and soundness about it. It -is, as I have already stated, a white man’s industry, but se far no attempt has been made by the Govern– ment to assist it to the extent of a brass farthing, either by means of s bounty or through the Customs House. And yet’ wheat- growers hold their own in “the markets of the world under the most trying and adverse conditions. They are hard against the compe’tition of countries where ill conditions and low- - paid, servile labour obtain, and yet hold their place. But this has been done at the heavy outlay of hard and continuous toil, denying themselves many of the necessities of life, and sending their children out into the” world to fight their battle,’ but ill-fitted to fight it for want of skill and education.
The wheat production of Australia represents something’ like .£40,000,000 annually. Of that huge total, no less than about 50 per cent, has to find an outlet overseas. In . other words, the home consumption roughly- runs, into onehalf of the. wheat we . produce within the Commonwealth . It is quite clear, therefore, that the. wheat-growers of this country, and the large population which is dependent upon them, have to rely on the foreign market for a considerable portion of their prosperity. If we could not dispose of that £20,000,000 worth in the -Home market, we could not hold our own to the- same -extent as -we are doing to-day. We could not maintain the wheat-growing industry - as a white man’s industry. Now this industry, I submit, has not in’ the past received that assistance which it merited, and the time has now arrived when a helping hand should be given to it after a thorough investigation has been made’ into every aspect of it.
– All the growers have made fortunes out of it.
– I am quite prepared to admit that over brief cycles, of years our wheat-growers have made money. But I ‘ am not considering, the men, who, in the State which Senator Guthrie represents, during a short- cycle of five or six years were successful”, so much as their sons who came into the occupancy of the same farms, and who to-day are not able to get a wheelbarrow out of the industry. The honorable senator needs to extend his experience over a longer period .than five or six years.
– :Their sons ought to have been in France.
– We are in entire agreement upon that question. Owing to the inflated values given to the wheat - lands of South Australia, as the result of accepting a brief cycle of time as a normal period upon which to base values, hundreds of persons have been’ landed in difficulties. They got in, not upon the ground floor, as the -Americans say, but upon the floor two or three stories higher up and consequently’ : they paid much more for their land than- it -was worth.
– That remark does not apply to- South Australia alone.
– In regard to the men who have been successful, I, do not blame them if they were able to put aside a little for. a rainy day after their long years. of waiting, struggle and privation. On the contrary, I say, “ Good luck to them.”.
I am now dealing with wheatgrowing as a white man’s industry. Here, in Australia, it is exposed to all the blasts that blow from the four corners of the earth, including the coloured labour countries. Wheat grown here has to take its place alongside the products of India, df Egypt, and Russia, where men are employed under conditions that resemble those . of serfdom. I desire to improve the conditions of our wheat-growers, who, so far, have succeeded in holding their own, in order that they may be able to enjoy a decent standard of comfort, ease and civilization. The industry is one which lends itself to the decentralization of population in a most commendable manner. To the student of political or sociological questions to-day, there is nothing so ‘ appalling as is the tendency of our Australian population to drift into large centres, to the disadvantage of the country. In at least two of the States - South Australia and Victoria - more than 50 per cent. of the population is to be found within the metropolian areas.
– Within two miles of the General Post Office.
– Yes. In this connexion, I would remind honorable senators that Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of American Independence, said, “Big cities are the festering sores of our civilization.” Realizing that from the physical, moral, and national stand-point, big cities as centres of population should be discouraged, it will be at once evident that we can best achieve our purpose by encouraging those industries which will lead people away from our cities and into the country. If a wise and determined public policy will not create conditions to beckon people on to the country side rather than clustering in congested areas, then all our efforts will be in vain in turning the tide of population to urban instead of rural life.
– Where does the distributor come in?
– He sticks to the city. We cannot have “it both ways. We cannot have unnatural attractions around our metropolitan’ areas without drawing population more and more to the cities. The figures relating to the’ past six years disclose that an alarming percentage of the people has drifted to the cities.
I wish to focus public attention upon the wheat industry in order that we may discover how the lot of the persons engaged in it here compares with that of the people who are engaged in it in other countries. Then we must remember that wheat growing is one of the industries which fulfils a most importantrole in the industrial life of this country. It helps to unite the capitalist, on the one hand, and the man who complains of capitalism and of its evils, on the other hand, in the most happy fashion. The first stage on the journey of the individual who is endeavouring to get away from his position as a wage earner is that of a share farmer. Share farming at present undoubtedly throws a fierce light upon this industry. It is a branch of it which does not adequately recompense the share farmer as compared with the land-owner. The lattergets the better of the deal.
– Not always.
– I believe that circumstances lean more towards him from the stand-point of advantage than they do towards the share farmer.
This industry, too, offers a chance of solving the problem of what we are to do with the capitalist. It opens to the individual who wishes to engage in a primary industry a path, the treading of which will, at least, give him a chance of success. The man who engages in wheat farming, after he has succeeded in saving a few hundred pounds, is the type of citizen that we wish to encourage. We desire to insure that intelligence and labour applied to this industry shall guarantee to him just as much progress as would be assured if he devoted his skill and labour to the earning of a wage. So that wheat growing, to a great extent, offers a solution of the labour problem, because it draws from the ranks of labour those who have been thrifty and adventurous and affords them a chance to earn a livelihood by becoming masters in their own homes. That is an additional reason why we should give the best assistance that we can to this industry.
Our position in Australia, so far as wheat raising is concerned, is certainly not a favorable one. We are situated relatively at the extreme end of the globe from the consuming centre. Our wheat to-day has to stand a maximum charge. The freight upor? our wool, for example, represents a charge of 4 per cent. upon the value of that commodity in the overseas market. I think that a half-penny per lb. has been - the normal freight over a number of years. Dairy produce occupies a very similar position. The freight charge upon it amounts to about 4£ per cent, of the value of the article. But in respect of wheat, we occupy no such favorable position. To-day, even at the prevailing pre-war freight charge of £2” per ton, that impost represents from 33 to 40 per cent, of the value..of this staple overseas. It- will be seen therefore, that wheat, as compared with wool or dairy produce, occupies a most disadvantageous position. Now, the question naturally arises, “How can we help the industry?” My purpose is Jo stimulate an exhaustive inquiry into it with a view to affording our wheatgrowers a better chance of succeeding than they have had in the past. The wheat-grower in Canada and the United States of America stands in a markedly better position than does the Australian wheat-grower. The man in the Argentine, from the point of view of freight charges, is even better off, with the added advantage that the cost of labour and land there is not nearly so high as it is in Australia. It is evident, therefore, that while we in Australia stand at the opposite end of the world, at the remotest point from the consuming centre, we are obliged to pay the highest freight upon our wheat, and the- best wages in the world, in addition to a higher price for the accessories which are essential to the progress of the industry, than is paid by the wheat-growers in any competing country. In these circumstances, a solemn obligation rests upon this Parliament to inquire into the position, with a view to placing the wheat-growers of this country in a better position than they have occupied hitherto. The wheatgrowing industry cannot continue to bear these handicaps unless those engaged in it are to be condemned to a life of impecuniosity and drudgery, with every chance blotted out of their being able to afford their children any reasonable opportunity of improving their positions or fighting their battle, as they should do, with success. There are men who have made fortunes at this occupation, and who are making fortunes to-day. But, as is the case with every other industry, side by side with men making their fortunes there are those who are eking out a bare existence. The vast majority of wheat-raisers are’ unable’ to make ends meet, and are not in a position to give to their children the schooling they should get. As Henry Lawson has said, these men are engaged in “ an everlasting struggle with the elements.”
On the question of costs, it may be asked, in what position is the wheatraiser of the country? In Australia, he stands in the most disadvantageous position of any wheat-grower in any part of the world, in that he is the farthest from the consuming centres. He pays the most for the things he requires. He pays the highest, perhaps, for wages; and,, as to the wage paid to the farm labourer, I might add that I desire the industry to be kept at a high, level, in order that the farm labourer of to-day may be the farmer of to-morrow. As for the position of the industry here, it may be best shown in the report of a Commission which was appointed in’ New South Wales to inquire into the rural, pastoral, agricultural, and dairying industries, with particular reference to share-farming. The report was tendered last year. There are a multitude of matters dealt with, but in regard to bags, .the price was some years ago 5s. per dozen. Now, according to the report, tho cost is 12s. I know that in Western Australia we are paying lis. The Commission went exhaustively into the subject of wheat raising, in New South Wales, and calculations of the cost varied from as low as lis. 8d. to as high as £2 18s. 4d. per acre. If we strike an average of those extremes, the average cost of production for that State would be £1 15s. an acre. The yields for the past ten years, inclusive of 1916, averaged “ 11.4 bushels to the acre, and the average price was 3s. 4d. The Commissioners, in commenting on those figures, added that if a further 2d. per bushel was deducted for the middleman’s profits, wheat in New South Wales, on the yearly average, has been produced at the rate of 2s. 3d. per bushel, or 36s. 5d. per acre. Summed up, the’ average cost per acre has been £1 15s., and the value of -the average yield, £1 16s. 5d., -which, leaves a credit balance of ls. 5d. per acre. The Commissioners, in their report, mentioned that though wheat-growing has been extended in its operations, it does not necessarily mean that the industry has been carried on profitably. They added -
It probably means that farmers on their own holdings have pulled through because of other operations carried on in conjunction with wheat-growing, and by .the increase which has taken” place in the value of their lands; and in the case of share-farmers, that they have been able to engage their plants and their labour, or their labour only, in other forms of occupation in the off seasons.
It is most significant that a Commission should have to admit that if the industry has been established on sound lines, it is only because of the fact that farmers have engaged in other industries to “keep the pot boiling” while growing wheat at a loss.
The “position in Victoria is much the same as in New South Wales. I find from the records in the Agricultural Department of this ‘State that working costs are similar to those in New South Wales. I have before me” a table of costs for working an acre in the Mallee country, and it runs out at £1 9s. 4<L; that is to say, from the moment of putting a plough into the land until the farmer has carted the last bag to the market. The costs include everything, not ‘forgetting the rent of the land. . In the Wimmera district the costs, amount to 46s. 6d. It must be emphasized that all the undertakings of a farmer are not included within an eight-hour. day. I do. not know of any farmer who works an eight-hour day. If bis occupations were carried on upon that principle he. would not, in my opinion, be getting 6d. an hour for his labour. The farmers must work very much longer if they desire to make ends meet, and we should ask ourselves whether it is right that, in an industry occupying the activities of 200,000 men, scattered all over Australia, they must work ten - and twelve hours, and even longer, Sundays included, in order -to make an average profit of ls. 5d. an acre. Surely, such being the case, inquiry into the whole subject is warranted.
The experience in South Australia is much the same as in Victoria. Mr. Brinkworth, who is a prominent farmer who occupied second place in the election for a farmers’ representative upon the Wheat Board - which in itself .shows that he is a man of standing - has estimated that for working an acre in South Australia the total costs amount to £2 12s. 2d. And those working costs must bear the same ‘relation to returns as in the other two States which I have quoted.
Regarding Western Australia, I can speak from personal knowledge. . At present there are numbers of farms untenanted. They were taken up for wheatgrowing, and have been abandoned. ‘ In certain instances the reason may be given that the war occurred, and men, finding themselves heavily embarrassed, simply walked out and left the burden to be carried on by the mortgagees. Scores of wheat farm’s can be secured in Western Australia to-day practically for the asking. I call Senator Grant’s attention to that fact, It is well that a man who wants to place a tax upon land should get his own neck into the collar, and know where the blister is, and then he will wince when anybody puts forth a suggestion for the imposition of taxes on such a doubtful proposition.
With regard to wheat-growing in America, it should be remembered that that country is the formidable rival of Australia in the world’s market. We produce only 2 per cent, of the wheat of the world. America’s proportion is relatively very high. ‘The percentage grown by Canada, I understand, is about 4 or 5 ; but that Dominion has great geographical advantages over us. I shall quote figures published by the American Bureau of Census and Statistics. Details were secured from no less than 5,000 correspondents all over the Union ; and returns were tabulated for 1911 regarding how much it cost. to work an acre of land under wheat production, and what were the average returns. When 5,000 acute minds give their opinions, and those views are tabulated officially, we may take it that we are dealing with facts. In the matter of production, the items are set out in detail, and they cover every cost, from beginning to end of the industry. The expenses as tabulated, include fertilizers - which item was set down at 2s. 5d. per acre - preparation of land; seed; planting; harvesting; preparing for market, including threshing; miscellaneous costs; and land rental, or interest on land value. The total expenses were £2 6s. 6d. per acre in the year 1909.
– Theyget their fertilizers cheaper than we do.
– Yes. Ours cost 3s. 3d. per acre. The wheat-growing area of the United.. States of America is divided into five parts - North. Atlantic, South Atlantic, South Central, East North. Central,West North Central, and far Western - and owing to this minute subdivision the returns are most thorough and reliable. According to the same authority, the average value of the return per acre was £3 8s. 7d., leaving a net gain or profit of £1 2s.1d. per acre. The yield per acre was 15.8 bushels all over the union, which is much higher than the average result obtained by the Australian grower.
– Because in Australia we plant so much in districts where wheat should not be planted.
– I can quite believe that. I could also give figures for Canada and the Argentine, ‘ but as my time is overrun, I have quoted sufficient to show that, if we want the wheat-raising industry in Australia to hold its own, and the people engaged in it to live decent civilized lives, we must do much more on their behalf than has been done up to date: This Parliament has done nothing on behalf of the wheatgrowers. The industry carries on its back half-a-dozen other industries, if not more. The man who goes out prospecting for iron, who opens up an iron mine, and produces iron from the ore, gets so much protection upon his product. When it goes through another process, another Customs duty is imposed to protect it, and finally, when it is. converted- into farming implements, still further protection is afforded to it. The farmer, there fore, in the iron industry alone, bears a number of special imposts in that and his other requirements.
– Does that apply to all protected industries?
– I should imagine so. He has to pay his share of the triple tax without getting one farthing’s benefit from it. It is so in the case of the farmer. It is not fair to allow the great number of people engaged in the wheat-growing industry to be subjected to the conditions which are their lot today. It is a staple industry, and yet it is a parasitic industry, dependent on other industries to keep -it alive, and, further, is saddled with all these imposts, and there is little or no chance of the burden being lightened. This Parliament should, therefore, come to the rescue of the wheat-grower by putting him- on a more solvent and satisfactory footing. Mine was no new-born sympathy for the farmer’s grievance. I raised my voice in this Parliament on his behalf when the farmer did not want to see me here. I may be told that men have made fortunes out of wheat-growing, but in every industry the two extremes’ are to be found, and this industry employs scores of thousands of people whoeke -out only a bare existence instead pf being happy and prosperous. The industry is a leading one ; our prosperity is based on it, and we, as a Parliament, who have been so eager to help other industries in the past, should at least cause an inquiry to be made in order that thisparent of industries should be put on a more solvent and satisfactory footing.
Debate (on motion by Senator de - Largie) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 23rd May (vide page 5011), on motion by Senator Thomas -
That the progress report from the Select Committee of the Senate on “ Intoxicating Liquor - Effect on Australian Soldiers and best method of dealing with sale “ presented to the Senate on 1st May, 1918, be adopted.
.I should have much preferred to have the complete report and recommendations of the Committee before us for discussion rather than the progress report only. When this debate was adjourned some months ago, I naturally thought that when it was resumed the complete report would be before us, and that we should be able to deal with the whole matter in the one discussion. My personal views * on the question are well known. Although I suppose that, politically, I suffer because of those views, I shall never jettison my convictions for the sake of popularity .or gain. In the work of the Committee, I endeavoured, as far as possible, to sink my own views, and be guided in my conclusions by the nature of the evidence that I heard. When the appointment of the Committee was first moved for, we were told briefly that there was a necessity here, that the necessity had been felt in Great Britain and other Allied countries, for considering how far intoxicating liquors were preventing “the people from doing their best in the task before them, and that great disabilities were suffered in countries where liquor was fairly free for the use of the publicAfter the case had been put to the Senate, the Senate unanimously agreed to appoint the Committee, which would justify the conclusion that the Senate was seized of the importance of the question, and of the need for an inquiry.
The Committee examined a very .large number of witnesses in every State, and the anti-shouting recommendation was supported by every unbiased witness. About fifty-six out of the seventy witnesses examined up to the time the progress report was made definitely pronounced in favour of anti-shouting, and of the balance only about five were opposed to it. The others were not asked the question. Most of the five were engaged- in the trade, and were, naturally, pecuniarily interested. One could not help being struck by the serious manner in which some of the witnesses gave their evidence. They were impressed by the evil that was being caused by intoxicating liquor, and honorable senators who read the report will find that the great majority believed that that evil was preventing us from » doing our best in the struggle in which we were then engaged. When I took my seat on the Committee, I did not expect to get the evidence that we did get. I did not expect to find people so pronounced regarding the evils wrought, by intoxicating liquor. If any one had told me at the outset that from 75 to 80 per cent, of those examined would definitely pronounce in favour of anti-shouting, I should have very much doubted it; but it was so.
As we went round the Commonwealth I found that public opinion was fairly strong on the question, not only at the Committee meetings, but outside. Public men approached me, and, without any invitation from me, stated that that was the biggest question that had ever been before’ a Committee or Commission in Australia. These men were not total abstainers, and in previous years had not been in favour of drastic legislation on the subject, but .they were very, seriously considering it now. I am glad the war is over, and recognise that these recommendations, if we adopted them in full, could not very much affect the war; but we still have to deal with the serious problem of repatriation. Practically every doctor that we examined, every chaplain but one, many of the inspectors of police, and many of the State Commandants, pointed out the difficulty of the problem in dealing with the returning men with practically unrestricted facilities for obtaining liquor in Australia. One could not but be struck with the sympathetic and earnest appeal made by -matrons of hospitals and persons in charge of places where returned men received accommodation and assistance, that the Parliament should do what it could to keep drink out of the reach of such men. It was stated of many of these men that only one drink might possibly send them mad. I shall read a few extracts from the evidence, but will not detain the Senate at length in doing so. I wish to give honorable senators a sample of the kind of -evidence which was submitted to the Committee. It will probably be agreed that* the various State Commandants are men of an impartial character. Some were not so pronounced in this matter as others, but practically all admitted that the use of alcoholic drink was preventing Australia doing its best in the war.
– Of course, the honorable senator understands that the Commonwealth Government could not carry out the recommendation of the Select Committee except under the War Precautions Act.
– Yes, I . understand that.
– Then the honorable senator is in favour of the continuation of the operation of the War Precautions Act?
-I will deal with that when I come to it. Brigadier-General Lee, when asking the question whether the efficiency of our Army had been lessened by a number of soldiers taking drink, said -
Yes, certainly, just the same as in civil life. Soldiers who take more drink than is good for them are not nearly so efficient as those who do not.
When asked -
Do you think that these men who do drink have, to some extent, interfered with our efficiency in the war? he replied -
Yes, I do, because they influence others.
He was asked -
Does drink interfere with efficiency? and his answer was -
As I said before, drink does interfere with efficiency.
Brigadier-General Williams, when asked a similar question, gave this evidence -
Any man who takes drink unduly or immoderately, loses his efficiency, whether be is in the Army or out of it.
When asked, further, if a percentage of men, when on leave of an evening indulged in drink, they would be as fit next day for drill as if they had not done so, he answered distinctly, “No.” Colonel Clark, of Tasmania, when asked if drink had been the cause of that State losing 1,191 men of those who enlisted in Tasmania, and who failed to embark, said that he would be inclined to think so. When asked to what extent, he replied -
To the extent that it made them slack. However, I cannot prove that.
That was his opinion, from his personal observation. He also gave the following evidence : -
Do you think that drink has in any way interfered with the Tasmanian quota, or lessened its efficiency in any way? -I think so, but not to any considerable extent.
Do you believe that total prohibition would enable Australia to make a greater supreme effort in a military direction than could be done without it? - I think it would.
Brigadier-General Forsyth, State Commandant of South Australia, gave the following evidence: -
You think that drink does affect the efficiency of the soldier? - As regards efficiency, it is the worst enemy of the soldier.
You might state your views from your personal experience on the question of the effect of drink upon efficiency?- I say emphatically that I consider that drink is the greatest enemy to discipline and fitness that there is. lt goes without saying that even a man who gets slightly drunk or muddled is not as good a soldier as he would be if he remained sober. During my service I have had experience of some very hard drinkers; and, though I cannot prove it, I have often stated my belief that 90 per cent. of all the trouble and “ crime “ that comes to the soldiers comes to them through drink. I have here a statement supplied to me from the camp just before I came away, which seems to substantiate tbat.Ours is not’ a big camp, but I find that during the last six months we have had 588 cases of absence without leave, some for short periods and some for months. The Commanding Officer of the camp says that the records show that about 60 per cent. of these cases were due to drink. That is the percentage due to drink in the case of that one “ crime “ alone of absence without leave. In minor cases of absence without leave I find that the excuse which the men most frequently give for not coming back to camp is that they got “ tight.” In Egypt, most of the “crime” in my regiment when I had only aregiment’ was due to drink. I know that, because I tried all the cases myself. In my brigade, while I commanded it, I fought drink tooth and nail, as I had done in my regiment. I consider it the unpardonable sin in a soldier, whether officer or man, to be drunkat the Front.
I might quote a great deal more to the same effect from the evidence of BrigadierGeneral Forsyth, but Ipass to that of Colonel Courtney, the State Commandant of Western Australia. When he was asked whether of those eliminated as undesirables from the number enlisted before embarkation, many were turned down because of drink, he replied -
Quite a number. At least 70 per cent. of what the Army calls “ crime is due to drink.
When Brigadier-General Irvine, State Commandant of Queensland, was asked whether, in his opinion, drink interfered with the efficiency of our soldiers, and prevented us putting forward our maximum effort in connexion with the war, his answer was -
It has affected the efficiency of our Forces in only a few cases.
I have quoted the opinions of all the State Commandants, and it will be seen that, while Brigadier-General Irvine said that drink affected efficiency in only a few cases, the other witnesses were more pronounced as to its effects. The evidence of the doctors examined by the Select Committee was more pronounced- -still as to the evil effects of drink than was that of the State Commandants. Dr. Bird, who was, I think, the first medical witness examined, said -
Alcohol diminishes a man’s efficiency. If I had special work to do myself, I would not touch alcohol. I never take any liquor before performing an operation. I think that te do so would be a great mistake
When he was told that it was stated by some people that total abstainers who were invalided or wounded made quicker recoveries than men who were not total abstainers, he said that, speaking generally, he thought that was true, and he went on to say - ‘
General Birdwood, with whom I was very friendly, was much criticised by the older men for having knocked off the rum ration during the hot weather in Gallipoli. He was quite right while the hot weather lasted. I have been told, on the other hand, that this tot of rum supplied to men in- the trenches in France is very beneficial, and that, to quote their own words, “It is the little . bright spot in their whole damn day.” … If, however, it is supplied before a long day’s work, beneficial results are not likely to follow. The rum ration in certain circumstances does seem to put new life into the men, especially in cold, weather.
He also gave this evidence -
Then” do you think the problem of repatriation will be rendered more difficult by the continued use of alcohol in our community? - I should say that without alcohol the difficulties you mention would be decreased undoubtedly. … I might add that experiments made recently on human beings as regards the effects of alcoholic drink have shown that a man with an absolutely clear brain may send an impulse down to move his little finger almost instantaneously with the will to move, whereas a man with even a little alcohol exhibits slight hesitation. This shows that alcoholic drinks have an injurious effect on the individual.
I might quote at length in similar terms from the evidence of Dr. Bird. James Henderson, Deputy Controller of the Department of Repatriation, Queensland District, gave the following evidence: -
Have you _any knowledge of the probable percentage of “the undesirables returned because of excessive indulgence in alcohols’ - In my unit, I should say about 40 per cent, of those returned as undesirables were alcoholics, and the rest were returned because of physical defects.
When asked whether drink bad- interfered to any extent with his work, he said that it had interfered to a great extent with it. He referred to twelve men who had to be sent to. an Inebriates Home. On this point he gave the following evidence: -
You say that twelve men have been sent to the Inebriates Home. Were .any of these men ever in the firing line? - I should say half of these men have been actually under fire. The other half were men “had a trip to Egypt,” and who did very little except make a nuisance of themselves.
I should like now to quote something from the evidence given by Professor Mclntyre. He spoke with force, and one listening to him could not but be convinced of the earnestness of the man. He had had very considerable experience, as he was Director of Recruiting in New South Wales for some time. On the question of anti-shouting, he said that if thisParliament failed to put an anti-shouting Act upon the statute-book it would fail in a very obvious duty. Speaking of early closing, he said it bad effected an enormous amount of good; and be went on to say -
It seems to me that one of the most practical measures that could be taken would be the passing of an anti-shouting law. I take it upon myself to press very earnestly upon the Com1mittee the necessity for such a measure, applicable not only to soldiers - as that, I think, would be unfair - but to the whole community. … I do not know whether I am entitled to say it, but I want to say that, in my opinion, if an anti-shouting law is not passed, Parliament will have almost criminally failed in its recognition of the true interests of Australia.
That was a pretty strong statement, but on another occasion he said - 1 am more than ever in favour of an antishouting law. You must enact it or deplorably fail your country. I cannot put it any plainer.
One witness after another gave evidence as to the necessity of an anti-shouting law. If we leave out witnesses who were engaged in the liquor trade, an absolute majority of those we examined favoured prohibition.
– Why .leave out those engaged in the liquor trade?
– Because they are personally and pecuniarily interested.
– Every parson is interested on the other side. If it were not that they had the drink traffic to fight, they would lose their jobs.
– Senator Foll may hold any opinion on that subject he pleases; but it is most illogical to say that men who have to pay more taxation because of the drink traffic would be pecuniarily interested in the passing of prohibition to the same extent as would those who make a living out of the sale of liquors
– There are many people who are making money out of fighting the drink traffic.
– Well, I have never made any, and I have been fighting the drink ever since I was a child. On the contrary, I have lost money, but I am prepared to go on doing that.
I should like now to quote from the evidence given by Mrs. Shoobridge, matron of the Hobart Hostel, and one of the most earnest witnesses we had in Hobart. Her whole soul seemed to be wrapped up in the interests of the returned soldiers. She was asked -
Has drink interfered with some of those with whom you have to deal?
These men, I might say, are all returned soldiers, and in her reply she said -
It is impossible to say that it has not. Drink has a very bad effect on the men. Returned men get large cheques when they draw their deferred pay at the barracks, and there are people who are on the look out for them, hotel touts, and all sorts of men who want to be treated. They shepherd the returned soldiers, and some of them never leave them until their cheques are all gone.
You know that for a fact? - Absolutely. Young fellows who have received their cheques have been brought to the hostel by a couple of companions, who have taken them out of an hotel and brought them to me in such a state of intoxication that they could hardly walk. They have said to me,’ “ I know that he has money on him, because we have searched him.” [ have said, “How much have you got? “-and he has said. “Look.” I have taken up to ?20 from some young fellows, and locked the money up in’ the safe, and put them to bed. Next morning we have called them early to catch the train, and sent them away awfully grateful that they have been taken away from the hotels and sent home with their money in their pockets. That thing occurs dozens of times.
Mrs. Shoobridge. continuing, said ;
I was at a conference the other day, called by the Commandant. Things were painted in too rosy a light. I went home from the meeting to find a man at the hostel suffering from delirium tremens. He had to be taken from the hostel to the cells. I have been trying for weeks to keep him from the public houses. He was anxious to be pulled up. He caine back to me two days after with his brain cleared, and cried. He said that he was never going to fall again. Of course, lie did. He says that he is going to re-enlist, but lie is not tit to go to the Front. I have had, I cannot tell you how many, cases of men who did not want to drink, and whom I pulled up and secured employment for. One man, who suffers from shell shock and cannot speak above a whisper, comes back to me again and again. He is a sailor, but he ‘cannot go on a big boat because lie has no voice. He gets employment on the river barges, and though he does not want to drink, he gets drunk. On the Saturday night after the’ conference called by the Commandant there were a dozen men at the hostel, all drunk. It was after pay day, and they were all ashamed of themselves.
Subsequently, in answer to my question if she could say what proportion of those who had passed through her hands fell under the influence of .drink, she said -
I should say that about one-third -of the .men are pretty well slaves to it. Tt is no use shutting one’s eyes. Because they do not happen to make a disturbance and go before a Police Court or their superior officers, it docs not say that they are not drinking.
The good lady, of course, did not know what we knew, namely, that” the police had been given instructions not to notice drunken soldiers. This evidence was given to us over and over again by police authorities. She added -
Many of the men who are habitual drunkards do not care whether they work or not, but there are numbers of men - and this is a very grave side of the question - who drink enough not to care whether they get employment or not. We are losing to the country a great deal more than we are ever gaining by the sale of intoxicating drinks in what I call ineffective man-power.
I should like, if time permitted, to quote further from this lady’s evidence. She was burning with enthusiasm, not necessarily for the temperance cause, but with a desire to help the soldiers. I think that her people had given up their home for a hospital, now known as the Roseneath Hospital; and, if I am correctly informed, she has no interest in it whatever, her one desire being to see the soldiers are well cared for. If I were to repeat the whole of her evidence honorable senators would see how deeply she is interested in the welfare of our soldiers. She declared most emphatically that, generally speaking, the soldiers did not want drink, but that the temptation was so often in their way that, in their shell-shocked and nervous condition they fall victims to it. I am in full accord with the statement made by Dr. McIntyre that, if we fail to pass some legislation to prevent these men being subjected to temptation, we shall fail in our duty to our country and to all those who have gone away and have done so much for us.
I propose to quote now some extracts from the evidence given by Mr. John Yale, the district secretary of the Independent Order of Rechabites in Victoria. His statements are simply irrefutable. The society which Mr. Vale represents has sent over 4,000 men to the Front, and each benefit member has had his life insured by the society. Therefore, Mr. Vale had to keep a specific record of the doings of every man, and for that reason his evidence was as complete as that of a statistician. Mr. Vale was asked -
Are you of opinion that drink in any way is interfering with the maximum effort which we as Australians could put forward in this war ?
In his reply, he said -
I think it has done so. To some extent the evil has been combated, but undoubtedly drink has hindered our putting forth our best effort in this war. The best evidence I can give as to that is in regard to the experience of Rechabites who have enlisted. I have an impression, derived from many conversations with soldiers and others, but, so far as my personal evidence is concerned, the most valuable is in relation to our own Rechabite members. The Rechabite Order is composed of totalabstainers. When the war began; we decided that we would pay the contribution of all members who had enlisted. Subsequently we reinsured them with the Government for the sickness benefit. More recently we have taken advantage of a provision of the Victorian law which enables us to suspend the- payment of the contribution of absent members, to be refunded subsequently; the object being to havea lighter levy spread over a long period. We have to return to the Government Statist every quarter a list of the members still away and still on active service, and whose contributions are in part suspended. We have also to furnish a certificate of the auditors of every branch concerned that the statement is correct. We have also to deal with another agent, the re-insurance agent - a State Government officer under the ‘ re-insurance scheme. We pay every year a premium of £35s. 9d. for each man who has enlisted, and the Government pay the sick pay on account of those men. We have to furnish that officer’ with lists from time to time. Up to the end of May of this year, 3,480 of our benefit members had enlisted.I am speaking of the Victorian district only. There were also about 1,000 hon- orary members, but we do not have to keep “their records. They are not entitled to benefit. The Commonwealth Chief Justice stated that, up to 31st December, 1917, there were 68,937 enlisted men who did not go to the war. Some had died, some had deserted, and some were discharged.
I want to draw attention to the great difference between the total abstainers and the bulk of the men that comprise the Australian Imperial Force. The comparison is hardly a fair one to the Rechabite Order, because there are in the Australian Imperial Force a number of total abstainers not connected with the society.
That number represents 17.7 per cent. of the total enlistments. Assuming that our Rechabite experience had been equal to that - if we had had our share of the deaths, desertions, and discharges - it would amount to’ a total representing something over 600. I am able to find out of the total who enlisted only twenty-seven of whom I have records, showing that they did not get away. In the early days of the war, conditions in camp were bad, and there was a great deal of sickness. Seven of our members died in camp. One. other was killed by accident on his final leave; nineteen were accepted and, while undergoing training were deemed to be physically unfit, and they did not go away. That makes a total of twenty-seven. There may have been some other instances which have not come under my notice; but I believe, at any rate, that the very large majority have come under my notice. However, even if you double that number, and then add more, it would work out that, if the whole force had come up to the Rechabite experience, at least- 60,000 out of the 68,937 would have got away. That is where the chief advantage of our abstinence principles came in- that the number rejected after enlistment was very small indeed. And we are not aware of any desertions. Reference has been made to about 11,000 men who returned without having fired a shot. Up to 31st October, 1917, the men who returned represented altogether 14 per cent, of the total number of our Australian troops who had embarked. Up to that time, the Rechabites who had returned represented 7 per cent. Senator Pearce, in Sydney, recently gave figures regarding embarkations and returns, and it would work out that, up to 30th June, the returns were 21.9 per cent, of the men embarked. Right up to date, the Rechabite returns - there are 541 who have come back - would represent 15.5 per cent. The Rechabite percentage who have returned represent half of the average of returns of the whole Force. It follows that, as we go on, the difference would be less, because the ineffective men are weeded out first, and . the comparison, as you continue, is with the men who endure. Taking Senator Pearce’s figures up to 30th June last, the total number who returned after having embarked from Australia, represented, roughly, 22 per cent, of those who had embarked; and, right up to date, the Rechabites who have returned number 541, representing 15.5 per cent. My point is that the total abstainers endure longer than the “ average; and that, I think, is borne out. When the war began there was an appeal, issued by some famous medical scientists at Home, to all men about to serve the Empire, and they set forth certain things which drink did. Among them item No. 5’ stated that it lessens resistance to disease and exposure; and No. 6 said that drink increases shock from wounds, and so on. We had many thousand copies of that appeal printed, with the pledge form on the back, and we got them into camp and on to transports. A large proportion signed the pledge as the result of that appeal. I am trying to convince yon that our Rechabite experience has confirmed the judgment of the scientific men at the beginning of the war. We pay sick pay, and we even pay to relatives, if we have the authority from the men themselves, who, for example, may be in hospital in England. They send out a declaration, and instruct us to pay their next of .kin. So far, we have .paid out in death and sickness benefit, £32,000 to our members; so that, based upon that business, we have a fairly wide experience. I find that a large .proportion of our members who have been wounded have recovered and returned to the fighting line. That is borne out by the fact that their returns to Australia are fewer. They stay on. Early last year figures were published to the effect that of the original Anzacs there were 25 per cent, still on service. Of our members who went away with the First Division, there were, at that same date, more than 50 per cent, still on service.
Had we been a teetotal nation, we would have been able to do more with the men we sent away to the Front? - I think so. I put abstinence as one of the factors. A man who is a total abstainer may have strong moral principles generally, and is less likely to get into other bad habits. As to the question of further steps which should be taken by the Commonwealth, my recommendation would be war-time prohibition; but especially .with a view to preparing for the return of the great body of our men.
I thought- it wise to read that statement, because it shows very clearly that if all the men who went to the Front had been members of the Independent Order of Rechabites, not only should we have sent more men overseas, but less would have been returned as the result of illness, whilst many less would have died from wounds or sickness.
– How far did the evidence obtained in other States agree with that testimony? ‘
-In none of the other States had the members of the Independent Order of Rechabites been insured. It was that which compelled Mr. Vale to keep the record which he did. He had to furnish certain necessary information to the Statistician.
– It is reasonable to suppose that a good many members of the Independent Order of Rechabites enlisted from other States than Victoria.
– Quite reasonable. I know something about the Independent Order of Rechabites, because I was a district secretary once. I am aware that there are a large number of Rechabites in South Australia, possibly more in proportion to population than there are in Victoria. I have very little doubt that similar results accrued in other States to those that accrued in Victoria. I would further point out that the comparison which has been instituted is not a comparison between total abstainers and moderate drinkers, but one between total abstainers and a mixed body. If the full figures were available, I have no doubt that they would be even more favorable to the total abstainers.
I have no desire to deal with prohibition farther than to say that I am in favour of it. The recommendation pf the Select Committee, however, is that an anti-shouting law should be enacted. After taking evidence in all the States, the Committee unanimously arrived at that recommendation. It decided that such a law would prove of great advantage to many of our soldiers by preventing them from getting into trouble similar to that into which they have got on many occasions.- If I were to turn up the. evidence that we obtained in Adelaide and Western Australia in regard to the awful scenes which had come under the notice of some of the witnesses, honorable senators would be filled with horror. Upon one occasion the evidence was so bad that the censor prevented the newspapers from publishing it. That was evidence taken in South Australia. We also took evidence iri Western Australia which was pretty bad. In justice to the Department, however, I must say that during the latter portion of the war, conditions improved very much.
– What, was the nature of the bad evidence which the Committee took in Western Australia?
– It was evidence of what happened in Fremantle.
– What was it all about?
– He cannot tell you that.
– Yes, I can read it if necessary.
– There was some evidence which we did not even put on record.
– Because one witness said that there had been 90 per cent. of the men drunk in Fremantle.
– That was evidence given in Adelaide by Chaplain Forsyth. But there was evidence given in Western Australia on pretty much the same lines.
– The evidence given by the Reverend Corly Butler disclosed some horrible scenes that had been witnessed there.
– That was before the hotels were closed on the arrival of troopships.
– Yes. An inspector in Sydney told us that during the early days of the war hundreds of soldiers could be seen lying drunk in the streets every night. I have already admitted that conditions improved very materially later on. As a matter of fact, Archbishop Riley and nearly every chaplain who appeared before the Committee strongly advocated prohibition. But if we cannot get prohibition we ought to accept the next best thing, namely, anti-shouting. That is what the Committee have unanimously recommended. If we enact an anti-shouting law, we shall do muchto protect the returned soldier, who in his weak, nervous, and shell-shocked condition, is so easily tempted. Numbers of witnesses, including Mrs. Shoobridge, matron of a Young Men’s Christian Association hut in Queensland, a matron in South Australia, and another in Hobart, urged us to do something to protect these men against the temptation of drink.
– The honorable senator is endeavouring to make out that the soldiers are a very bad lot.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not so. I havealways said that the soldier is as good as is the rest of the community, if not better. When men return from the Front, as
Mrs. Shoobridge remarked, they do not want to drink. But in their weak condition they are easily tempted, and one drink may drive a man mad. What is more, the effect of the drink does not depend on its quality, but on the state of the men’s nerves. I strongly support the recommendation contained in the progress report; and, when the full report is under discussion, I shall support the dissent of the minority, and shall urge prohibition.
Debate (on motion by Senator Foll) adjourned.
government control of metals : tin Scrap.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Owing to the forms of procedure of the Senate I was unable this afternoon to say a few words in connexion with the division taken upon my motion for the appointment of a Select Committee.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing a matter which has been already debated to-day.
– I desire to make a brief reply tothe statements read by Senator Millen yesterday from Sir John Higgins, Colonel Oldershaw, and Mr. Knowles. An attempt has been made, in the replies to my statement in the Senate last week, to have the Senate believe that, with regard to the complaint which I made against the administration of the war powers of the Government, that complaint was exclusively a charge against the personal honesty’ of Sir John Higgins and Colonel Oldershaw. Thereby the whole gist, the gravamen, of. the complaint which I brought forward has been camouflaged. The purpose of my remarks was to demonstrate that the bureaucratic system of control of industries was open to abuse and had been abused. I did not attack the Protectionist policy of the Government. With that policy, and with the creation of new industries for Australia, I cordially agree. I hold, however, that the method by which that policy has been carried into effect in these particular instances is in violent conflict with the purposes of the Government, and with the best interests of the country. Sir John Higgins occupied a vast amount of space in discussing the real purport of my complaint; but he wholly ignored the gravamen of my charges, namely, that the effect of his administration has been to cause a large sum of money to be lost to the wealth of the nation.
– I rise to a point of order. I notice that Senator Pratten is reading his speech from a statement in print, and I ask if that is in order?
– It is not in order for an honorable senator to read his ‘speech. I was not aware that Senator Pratten was doing so, since I was engaged at the moment in referring to the Standing Orders. I ask Senator Pratten not to read his speech. He may refresh his memory by looking at notes, but he may not read a speech or read from a written document.
– I have not a complete statement before me, but a fairly liberal supply of notes. I am making a statement which is very important. I am weighing every word which I utter, and I object to the reflection that I am reading my speech.The honorable senator who has taken objection is sitting next to me, and I invite himto watch me as closely as he may care.
The effect of the administration of Sir John Higgins has been to cause the loss of a large sum of money from the nation’s wealth, and to cause thousands of tons of a valuable commodity to be cast on the tip; and, with no other object in the shape of good than to bolster up an industry of trifling importance. I probably would not have made a statement tonight had it not been for the fact that the names of two life-long friends in Melbourne have been imported into the business by the statements of the officials concerned. The names of Mr. Ambrose Pratt and Mr. A. W. Palfreyman, and of Messrs. Dalgety and Company, have been brought in through the official replies.
– And another name - Neuendorf.
– That is so; but I have referred to life-long friends. Messrs. Pratt and Palfreyman are my friends. Mr. Neuendorf I do not know. In fairness to my friends, I must traverse a few statements reflecting upon them. I have before me a library in the replies which have been made by the officials concerned. It is, of course, utterly impossible to traverse all those statements in detail now. But for the information of the Senate,- 1 wish to pick out just a few of the statements, and to indicate what they amount to. Colonel Oldershaw states, in paragraph 12 of his reply -
Senator Pratten asks why a highly.placed Government official is concerned in outside business at all. I know of no reason why I should not, in common with the rest Of the public, take shares in a limited company.
Neither do I; but it is a very different thing to take shares in a limited company and to be chairman of directors of that company. That was the gravamen of my charge,’ so far as Colonel Oldershaw was concerned - not that he was a shareholder in a limited company, but that he was chairman of its directors.
– I have tried to follow the honorable senator in his remarks so far; but I point out that the Standing Orders are emphatic that a question, once it has been decided, cannot be re-opened. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), after having . read the statements of the officials concerned yesterday, moved “ That the papers be printed.” The sole object of that motion was that there should be given to honorable senators every opportunity of discussion. Senator Pratten, in common with other honorable senators, could have availed himself of that opportunity. It must be apparent that, if matters were to be continually revived, there would be no end of discussion in this chamber. I am afraid, therefore, that I must rule the honorable senator out of order - that is, unless he has some new matter to bring before the Senate.
– May I respectfully point out that, in the reading of those letters, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) occupied about an hour, and he read them rapidly?
– And you had an opportunity of speaking for three hours upon them in reply, if you had wished.
– This afternoon?
– Either yesterday or this afternoon.
– lor the information of. the Senate, will honorable senators allow me to point out that the question of opportunity does not appear to arise here. It was open to any honorable senator to move “That the debate be adjourned” - after the Leader of the Senate had moved for the printing of the papers - in order to permit of time being granted so that those who desired to speak might be afforded an opportunity to make themselves acquainted .with all necessary particulars. If ad that been done, I have no doubt that, following the usual practice, the motion would have been agreed to, with the concurrence of the Leader of the Senate. Senator Pratten could have moved for the adjournment of the debate. Having failed to do so, I do not think the matter can be revived now.
– These voluminous replies of the officials have only been in my hands to-day.
– The -honorable’ senator has missed his opportunity. He should have moved for the adjournment of the debate; whereupon - with the resumption of that debate - -the whole question could have been traversed. If Senator Pratten had been denied his opportunity, the circumstances would have been different, of . course.
– Then, may I be allowed, by leave of the Senate, to make a few remarks? Statements have been made, in connexion with the reply of Colonel Oldershaw, particularly, that threats have been used’ to him by Mr. Ambrose Pratt and Mr. Palfreyman. Those gentlemen are prepared to go into the witness-box and, upon oath, to give emphatic denial to that assertion I know a little about the matter personally, -and I think what they say is true. Still another most serious statement has been made in regard to those gentlemen; and I emphasize that they are of just as high standing and probity of character as any Government official, and as any Minister. There have been’ most serious statements made by officials, which are quite inaccurate and untrue. Since you, sir, have ruled that I cannot traverse these matters, I only wish to say that a most emphatic denial is given to this first particular statement, and that there are many other statements, which were placed before the Senate yesterday, to which also emphatic denial can be given. In conclusion, I wish to state-
– I do not wish to rule the honorable senator out of order if he has any new matter which he desires to bring forward.
– Then, sir, would you consider such a factor as the emphatic denial of certain statements, new matter?
– Yes, if it can- be supported by new evidence.
– Then I shall avail myself of the opportunity.
– If that is to be your decision, Mr. President; and if certain statements which I read yesterday are to be commented on, may I ask if, in reply, I shall ‘have an opportunity of buttressing those statements by reference to the original statements themselves which Senator Pratten now proposes to traverse ?
– In the circumstances, if Senator Pratten proposes to present new matter, the Minister will be equally entitled to bring forward any new matter bearing upon the question.
– B.ut what if 1 wish to show that the alleged new matter is only introduced in answer to. the old matter? It is impossible to discuss the subject in the way we are- proceeding now.
– If the honorable senator takes a point of order, I must rule in strict accordance with the standing order cri. the subject. I have been inclined to allow considerable latitude to Senator’ Pratten, because he is comparatively a new member, and appears, through want of familiarity with the’ forms .and procedure of - the Senate, to have missed tho chance which he undoubtedly had to .debate the question. The Minister having now taken a point of order, I must rule that Senator Pratten is entirely out of order now in discussing the question, which, having been once decided, cannot be re-opened in the same session.
– Then you rule, sir, that I cannot refer to the statements made yesterday by the officials?
– A full opportunity having been given, and not having been taken ‘.advantage of, and the question having been decided on a vote of the
Senate, I must rule that it cannot be re-opened.
Senator- PRATTEN. - I exceedingly regret it, but I acknowledge at all times your fairness in the Chair. I am sorry that an opportunity has not been given to me-
– You closed your own mouth this afternoon when you called “ formal “: to your own motion.
– Yes, in order to bring the matter on, and to get a division. Apparently that was the only chance I had of getting a decision.
I wish to inform the Government that, on the question of Boards, Committees, and Controls, the commercial section of the community, both in Sydney and Melbourne, is seething with indignation at the unfairness that is being perpetrated in some directions. I come from Sydney; I know what is going on there, and I hope the Government will take the matter into their serious consideration. I was pleased to see in this morning’s paper’ that they have. given up the idea i>f licensing imports. - That is something in the right direction, and I urge them in the most friendly way, now that the war is practically over, to subject the commercial and manufacturing community to the minimum control possible. Patriotic as they have been, they have been seething with indignation for years, ‘putting up, while the war was on, with these controls, which, in many directions, have been unfairly exercised;, but the people will not stand it- very much longer. I called attention to this. matter, not. for any personal reason, not to attack persons, or to attack the Government, but to bring forward an illustration of how this power - can be abused, innocently, if you like, but still abused. Many other illustrations have come under my notice, which may be right, or may be wrong; but I do urge upon the Government that this bureaucratic control by Boards and Committees should be jettisoned at the earliest possible moment.
– The Government have already promised that.
– I hope that promise will be redeemed at the earliest possible moment. Representing very largely the commercial community in the queen city of Sydney, which haa a population of three-quarters of a million, I say deliberately that a large number of these people are dragged over from Sydney, week after week, and month after month, in connexion with these controls. They can do practically no business in Sydney, because reference has always to be made to Melbourne. I protest against the continuance of these things now that the war is practically over. I tell the Government in the most kindly manner that they should seriously consider what I have said.
I rose to-night to endeavour to traverse a few statements that have been made here, and to show that they were inaccurate and untrue. I regret your ruling, but the matter will have to rest there. I was actuated by three reasons. The first was to show that the gravamen of my charge - the autocratic use made of the powers that have been delegated by the Government - had practically not been touched upon. My second reason was to point out that two life-long friends of mine had been accused of making threats, and were willing and anxious to deny that accusation on oath. My third reason for rising was to point out that the charge does not affect persons so much as the principle of these controls, which the business community will be glad to see. the end of at the earliest possible moment. They will not cry if they cease to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 December 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19181205_senate_7_87/>.