7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT ( (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Sentences for Breaches of Discipline
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy if his attention has been drawn to the savage sentences imposed upon certain men on board H.M.A.S. Australia for breaches of discipline?
– I understand that the question is already on the noticepaper.
– - I may explain that Senator
Gardiner’s question does not appear on the notice-paper because I disallowed the word “ savage,” on the ground that it was comment. Senator Gardiner intimated to me that he would prefer that the question should not appear on the noticepaper to having it appear in the way I proposed. Consequently, it is in accordance with the honorable senator’s wishes that his question does not appear on the paper. I regret that the honorable senator has disregarded my ruling by repeating his question without notice today in the form in which I took objection to it. What is not permissible in & written notice of a question is equally not permissible when the question is put without notice.
– I may be allowed toexplain that whatI consider is permissible is that I should be allowed to ask my question in my own way. When I wish you, sir, to explain how I should ask a question, I shall come and ask you.
– The Standing Orders lay down the procedure in this matter, which I am bound to follow.
The following papers were presented : -
Papua: Annual Report for the year 1917-18.
Sheepskins - Purchase by Imperial Government, Season 1917-18: Financial Statement, Appraisement and Disposition Statement, and Fellmongering Account.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether his attention has been drawn to theresult of the recent cases heard before the Privy Council in England, and, if so, have the Government considered the advisability of so altering the Constitution that the High Court of Australia may be able to decide these constitutional questions without litigants having to go abroad for decisions?
– To what cases does the honorable senator allude?
– The cases which Mr. Ryan won recently in England. Senator MILLEN. - The honorable senator will recognise that his question is one which I cannot answer without notice; but if he cares to give notice of it, I shall endeavour to secure an answer for it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether the Government have considered the question of the early continuation of the building of the Federal Capital at Canberra ?
– I think it is almost unnecessary to answer the question whether the Government have considered the matter. The honorable senator can rest assured on that point; but I am not in a position to-day to make any statement on the question.
– Arising out of the answer to my question, may I ask whether, in addition to considering the matter, the Government view favorably the early renewal of operations?
– Having already informed the honorable senator that I am not to-day in a position to make a statement on the matter, I think he will see that his second question does not help him.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Does the Government propose to issue the proclamations necessary to bring into effect the provisions of the Commonwealth Navigation Act before introducing the amendments forecast by the Ministerial statement made on 25th June by Senator Millen?
– No ; but it is hoped shortly to announce the date when the Navigation Bill will be proclaimed.
Cost of Communication
asked the Min ister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice. -
What has been the cost to the Commonwealth for radiograms and cablegrams between the Commonwealth Government and (a) the Prime Minister, the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes, P.C., M.P.; (&) the Minister for the Navy, the Right Honorable Sir Joseph
Cook, P.C., M.P.; and (c) Senator the Honorable George Foster Pearce, Minister for Defence, during their respective periods of absence from Australia?
– The information will be supplied in proper form if the honorable senator moves for a return, which, however, will take some time to compile.
Senator Pearce and Demobilization
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s question are very lengthy, and perhaps it would be better if I laid the paper on the table.
– May I ask whether the reply is bunched for the five questions, or whether the lengthy part of it is in relation to one or more of them? If some of them are answered succinctly the Minister might give those answers, and as regards the others the statement might be laid on the table.
– Two of the questions are answered briefly.
– Will the answei’3 to my questions appear in Hansard?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) . - Nothing will appear in Hanmrd that is not read.
– As these are rather important questions, the answers to which should, I think, appear in Hansard, I hope that the document will be read.
– The rule regarding Hansard is that it must be a correct record of everything that is said and done in the Senate. If, the answers to the honorable senator’s questions are not read, they will not appear in Hansard.
– Then, sir, I ask that the answers to my question be read.
– The answers are as follow: -
Towards the end of 1917, owing to the lack of shipping facilities, the position with regard to the supply of sheep dip was becoming acute, and the wool producing interests which were dependent on supplies of dip from overseas were threatened with serious loss-
– I rise to a point of order. I ask your ruling, sir, as to whether the Acting Minister for Defence (Senator Russell) is not transgressing our Standing Orders by supplying, not merely answers .to questions, but reasons also.
– Whilst the Acting Minister has not progressed sufficiently far in his reply to enable me to form a very mature judgment on the matter, it does seem to me that the objection raised by Senator Gardiner is well founded. The rule that applies to the asking of questions applies equally to the answering of them. The answers to questions should merely give information, and should not contain any arguments cr comments. Consequently, I rule that the reply of the Acting Minister for Defence is out of order. In so ruling, however, I would point out that there is nothing to prevent the honorable gentleman from laying any paper on the table of the Senate.
– Without in any way questioning your ruling, sir, which, if I may say so, I quite indorse, I would invite your attention to the fact that honorable senators frequently putMinisters in a most awkward position by reason of the way in which their questions are framed. For example, the particular question which has given rise to this discussion asks “ upon what grounds “ certain action has been taken. The Minister is thus placed in the position either of laying himself open to a charge of discourtesy by declining to give the information desired, or of transgressing the Standing Orders im the way that von have pointed nut.
– The proper course is for the Minister to lay the paper on the table of the Senate.
– May I point out in regard to question No. 1-
– The honorable senator must resume his seat.
– j am only asking for information.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to do that. There can be no debate at this stage unless my ruling is challenged.
– Suppose that I put. it in this way-
– Order ! The honorable senator is not entitled to speak. The only question which can be put arising out of an answer is .a question without notice.
– Well, I want- -
– Order! The honorable senator must resume hie seat. Unless he is about to challenge my ruling he must resume his seat.
– I am not doing: that.
– Then the honorable senator is not entitled to make any remarks.
– I think, sir, that you have placed an absolutely wrong construction upon my meaning. It is my intention-
– Order ! Will the honorable senator resume hie seat. It does not matter what axe his intentions. They may be the most admirable in theworld, but lie is nevertheless out of order-
– I understand that the Acting Minister for Defence will lay the paper on the table of the Senate at the proper time.
– The honorable gentleman may lay the paper on the table at any time.
Development of Resources
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister in Charge of Shipping, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table- of the Senate a statment ‘ showing -
Where the Commonwealth-owned ships have been engaged?
Their purchase price, including all commissions (if any).
The profits (if any), made by the ships?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Suspension of Operations
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers are -
The Minister for Works and Railways informs me that the honorable senator gave notice of this question at the end of lost session, and there not being an opportunity of answering it in the House, a letter was sent to him on 24th January last explaining the position, which was - that owing to suspension of work pending report of expert on Naval Bases, the officer-in-charge at Henderson Naval Base was instructed to reduce staff to minimum, consistent with dredging work required, and in doing so to give preference to the retention of the services of returned soldiers.
Notice of motion (Senator Grant’s) withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator O’Keefe) agreed to-
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Guy on the ground of illhealth.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend section 6 of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Lighthouses Act 1911.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Trade Marks Act 1905-1912.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the registration of aliens.
Motion (by SenatorFoll) agreed to -
That a detailed return be supplied showing the total amount of rent paid by the Government for each Department in Melbourne, including the Parliament.
.- I move-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend section 2 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905-1915.
I feel sure that Senator Gardiner, in objecting to this motion being taken as formal, must have been under some misapprehension in regard to the character and nature of the Bill, which is purely technical. In the drafting of the Wireless Telegraphy Act the words “ or telephonic” were omitted, and, I understand, there is a distinction between wireless telegraphy and wireless telephony. The alteration now proposed is with the object of making the Act quite understandable and to cover all necessary purposes. Seeing that no principle is involved, I ask the honorable senator not to press his objection to the motion.
– My only objection to the motion being taken as formal was, that I desired some information, because I realize the formidable nature of the financial organizations known as the Marconi, the Telefunken German Company, and the Australian Wireless, which are practically one concern, and I know the pernicious influence which they are exercising over the Government, and their danger to the interests of the people of this country. I cannot understand why wireless telegraphy is not handled by the Government as a monopoly in the same manner as the telegraph and telephone services are controlled, and I was anxious to get information, at the start of this business, in order that members may know what is going on. Too long have I accepted with confidence statements and assurances from Ministers. That was my reason forasking that this matter be not taken as formal. From Senator Russell’s statement, which I have no reason to doubt
– I will make a full statement on the second reading.
– I can see that my suspicions were probably not justified. I have no wish to delay Government business, but I hope that honorable senators will be alert in regard to any measure that may come along seeking to confer unwarranted power upon the wireless companies.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 25th June (vide page 10014), on motion by Senator Millen -
That the paper be printed.
– I just want to say, so as not to take honorable senators by surprise - particularly those on the other side who may desire to speak upon the motion - that, it will be as well if they hold themselves in readiness to speak, as probably I shall not occupy as much time as I ordinarily devote to an important paper of this character. I have been informed - whether credibly or not Icannot say - that senators oppositehave been ordered not to make any speeches; but lest they put the blame on me for any break-down of the debate, I warn them now that I do not anticipate speaking for any great length of time.
– Members of your party are the only ones who obey orders like that to which you refer.
– I am glad to have a party that obeys orders, but I am sorry to think that, so early in the session, I have raised the anger of the honorable senator, as I hoped that the closing session of our joint appearance in this Chamber might have been a peaceful one. I do not remember any occasion in the history of this or .any other Parliament as important as the present. I do not remember any document so full of verbiage and yet containing so little with which to give satisfaction as that read yesterday by Senator Millen.
– You made the same remark in commenting upon a previous document of the same nature.
– A good thing cannot be said too often. That, however, is one of the misstatements which Senator Millen is in the habit of making. I challenge ‘him to find anything in any previous remarks of mine resembling that statement. This document is most disappointing. It is more than that. It is the most serious evidence of the inaptitude of the Government that has ever -been placed before Parliament.
I do not wish to traverse a; tremendous breadth of ground to-day, or to occupy as much time as some honorable senators may expect me to do; but I can, and shall, in a few words, deal with Senator Millen and his attitude toward the subject of repatriation. If any honorable senators who have listened to the facts and figures put forward ‘by the Minister have come to the conclusion that everything is all right, and going splendidly, and thai the Department represents a magnificent achievement in the creation’ of something without precedent, then my only comment is that those honorable senators must, in their hearts, know far better. Things are not all right with our repatriated soldiers.
– Things never will be all right with some of them.
– I know that is so. I recently read a definition of an optimist. That individual, according to a caricature which I have in mind, was described as one who, falling from the top of a ten-story building, at every window he passed on his way to the pavement was heard to say, “All’s well, so far.” I had thought that that was merely a caricature; but, when listening to Senator Millen speaking upon the subject of repatriation, I realized that I was face to face with an optimistic gentleman who, as he passed each window upon his downward way, was crying out, “All’s well, so far.” All is not well in the matter of repatriation, and the sooner that is realized by the Minister, the Government, the Parliament, and the public, the better it will be for Australia and her returned soldiers. My reasons for holding that view are so numerous that I am physically unfitted for stating them, and could not do so were I to speak for ten hours.
– ‘Give us just one reason, and we will let you off the rest
– I will give a good one. In December last year Parliament passed. a measure- inaugurating a housing scheme for repatriated soldiers. In that Bill it was provided that millions of pounds sterling might be so spent. An individual was appointed to carry out the work, and a high salary was granted to him. But not one brick. has been laid to-day for the establishment of a home for a returned soldier.
– That is not correct.
– I will leave it to the Minister to say whether it is or not. In’ my State, at any rate, not one brick has been placed upon another in such a cause.
– If the honorable . senator has nothing worse than that ‘belief to bring against the Department, it certainly is all right.
– We have passed that window.
– Yes ; and the magnificent optimists sitting on the opposite side of the. . chamber are content; but I warn them that we may all bump the pavement together. Optimism, which does not realize its failings and cannot be aroused from its selfsatisfaction, is highly dangerous.
– I will show the honorable senator facts to disprove his assertions.
– I will welcome them. Since this is a continuous session I presume I may be permitted to refer to remarks which I made when discussing the Minister for Repatriation and ‘ his Department. In December last year, shortly before the adjournment of Parliament, Senator Millen stated -
Coming now to Senator Gardiner’s very praiseworthy efforts to fan the flame of mystery-mongering which seems to he running throughout this country just now, I can say that no difficulty need be experienced, and no vp.ry heroic efforts required to make mystery about anything. All this mystery has simply been conjured up by journalists, or others who have spread the rumours, and on this have charged the Government with want of frankness because they have not made any declaration concerning “ things which do not exist. That is exactly the position in regard to this case.
Those references by Senator Millen had to do with my questions concerning the rumoured departure* of Senator Pearce for England. The report of the proceedings continues : -
– I asked if Senator Pearce was going to London. I think three Ministers there are not required.
– The position is this : Senator Gardiner himself referred to certain rumours, and upon these rumours he proceeded, in his well-known and vigorous manner, to belabour the Government for not having told the people about things which are mere rumours. But there is something more. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) has already made a clear and definite statement on this very subject, and nothing has transpired since then to justify any one in suggesting that there is any mystery, or that the Government are suppressing anything. I may add, as Senator Gardiner has put a specific question, that Senator Pearce informs me that he certainly has not booked his passage to London. He does not know whether any one else has done so for Wm-; but that is very unlikely. And, as to the officers who, it is alleged, he is taking with him, possibly that rumour arose from the fact that certain officers of the Australian Imperial Force on leave in Australia are returning to re-join their regiments. It does not require a very lively imagination .for those who are out to create mystery to assume that these men were booking their passages as a kind of staff to the Minister.
– Is the Minister for Defence going to. England?
– The Acting Prime Minister’s statement in that regard still stands.
– Is the Minister for Defence going to England ?
– At present there is no such arrangement. I do not want to be offensive; but I cannot help saying that, after the Acting Prime Minister has made a definite statement on this subject, it is hardly decent, and certainly does not add to the decency of public life, to have that statement questioned, and doubt thrown on the veracity of the acting head of the Government.
– You have not answered my question. I am not talking of Ministers in the other House. Surely we are entitled to an answer to these public questions. I want to know if the Minister for Defence is going or not.
– If the’ honorable senator means for all eternity, I cannot say. But if he asks me this question : “ Have the Government arranged for Senator Pearce to go to London?” the answer is “No.”
– That is satisfactory. Thank you.
Senator MILLEN. I can only again refer the honorable senator to the lengthy statement made by the Acting Prime Minister.
I do not pretend to be able to understand the Minister for Repatriation, but if those remarks did not convey that the rumours upon which I was basing my questions were not backed by facts-
– You asked a specific question, and you got a definite answer.
– If they did not convey that my questions were based upon newspaper reports and rumours which were groundless, then I shall never hope to be able to understand the Minister. His whole remarks constituted a shameless disregard for the decencies of public life. An honorable senator is blamed for persistently asking; a question. He is accused of not believing an assertion by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt). And then, when Parliament rises, this country is informed of exactly what newspaper reports and rumours foreshadowed, namely, that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) did go somewhere. Where did he go? Senator Pearce is not here to-day. As a matter of fact, I believe that in the closing hours of last year’s sittings a Ministerial statement was uttered on the subject, but it was when most members of Parliament were returning to their homes for Christmas. The Government - and not myself - were the creators of mystery. I repeat, “Where is Senator Pearce to-day?” I have before me a long and considerable document which has been placed before Parliament regarding the business proposals of the Government. I have had little time to study it, but have failed to find the name of Senator Pearce within it. There is no mention of his absence from the chamber.
– Yes, there is a paragraph referring to it.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will tell me where I will find it. I have one paragraph marked which hints at Senator Pearce. Referring to the task of demobilization the statement says : -
The success winch is attending this great task amply confirms the step taken by the Government in placing the work in the hands of a responsible Minister in London.
Does that refer to Senator Pearce ?
– I thought so when I read it.
– -If, like little Jack Horner, one opens his mouth and shuts his eyes he can be satisfied with anything. I say that the mystery was created by the Government. A week before Parliament went into recess they made deliberate attempts to suggest that Senator Pearce was not going to London. If it is- a fact that the honorable senator did go to England, and is responsible for the demobilization of our troops being carried out successfully, then I can only say that I would not care to have as colleagues men who would in such circumstances keep my name out of an official document such as this. Did the honorable senator go to England ? Will Ministers inform Parliament whether he did or not, or am I impertinent in asking the question ? Is he the Minister in London responsible for the very successful demobilization scheme to which reference is made? If he is, the public are entitled to the information. The mystery is with the Government. Senator Reid has assumed that Senator Pearce is the Minister in London responsible for the success* of demobilization, but I may just as well assume that the reference is to Sir Joseph Cook, Minister for the Navy. For all I know, he is the Minister responsible for the rapid demobilization of our troops. If. the demobilization is as rapid as is suggested by the very optimistic Leader of the Senate, I rejoice with the honorable senator. The Government will not find me complaining of the good work which they do, though I have to complain- of their bad work. I again direct attention to the deliberate mystery with which the Government surrounded the departure of Senator Pearce. I based certain questions on private information in my possession as to whether Senator Pearce’s passage had been booked. Though the facts suggested in my questions based on rumour were absolutely true, I received direct negatives from Senator Millen to those questions. Almost up to the very close of the last sittings of the Senate it was announced that Senator Pearce was not going to England. Now it appears that he did go, and if the passage which I have quoted from the Ministerial statement refers to him he is doing good work in connexion with the demobilization of our troops, but his name is not allowed to appear in an official document announcing the success of the demobilization scheme to Parliament. That is the business of the Government. Senator Pearce may not have done work sufficiently good to justify the mention of his name in this document, but we should know where he is and what he is doing. One can scarcely accept any statement which appears in the newspapers lest he should be accused of acting merely upon rumour.
The Government have submitted a very lengthy Ministerial statement. I do not intend to go through the paragraphs of it seriatim. I direct attention, however, to one important paragraph, which reads: -
The Government have prepared and forwarded, for the consideration of the Governments of Britain and the Dominions, a scheme providing for the administration, conversion, and extinction of the war debts of the Empire.
I venture to say that a scheme of that character might very well be tabled in the Senate. I have no doubt that it is an absolutely perfect scheme, since the Government have prepared it, and have considered it worthy to be sent to the Government of Britain. It must be a magnificent scheme, and I am wondering whether we shall be allowed to have a look at it. In the various States we represent a great many of the people of the Commonwealth, and I think that we are entitled to know something about a scheme of such pretensions. The Minister was not limited to time yesterday, and ho might have put this scheme before the Senate. One of the chief functions of Parliament is to inform the nation. Is this scheme so magnificent that the Government must keep it in the dark? Apparently, the British Government is to have an opportunity of considering it, but the Australian Parliament must know nothing about it. I do not Marne the Government in the matter, because per-, haps no more could have been expected from a Government with a following sufficiently servile to make no demands for information for their constituents. Under the party system, Governments have developed in such a way -that when the mouthpiece of a Ministry speaks the followers hold their .peace and listen with bated breath. They do not speak lest they should arouse opposition to the Government. I have not the slightest doubt that the Ministerial Caucus knows what this scheme is, though the rest of Australia is to know nothing about it.
– Has the honorable senator not seen the scheme in print?
– In view of the way in which I was upbraided by Senator Millen for referring to something I had seen in print in the earlier stages of the session, I hesitate to again -refer to what I have seen in print; but I venture to suggest that this is the one place in which we should be given information about this scheme.
– Has not the scheme been circulated amongst honorable senators?
– I am not aware that it has, but I should object even to that method of giving it publicity. If the .scheme is of .sufficient importance to justify its being printed and distributed amongst members of ,this Parliament, there is no earthly reason why it should not be made known to the Senate. The Ministerial statement was put before ns for discussion, and in it there is a reference to a scheme suggesting a possibility at which the imagination almost reels, and that is the extinction of out national debts. We could welcome a scheme like that. ,
– The honorable gentleman has apparently not read it.
– I have not read it. I do not belong to the Ministerial Caucus, and have not seen the scheme in print.
– The honorable senator has had the same opportunity to see it as we have had.
– Then my honorable friends opposite did not have the matter discussed in Caucus. Senator Pratten smiles with a smile that is childlike and bland, ‘but I am too good a Caucus man to try to force Caucus secrets from the honorable senator. A scheme proposing the extinction of the Empire’s debts is one which might well engage the attention of the Senate, and might have been submitted to it. Are we to have it submitted to us? We are not told that we are, but we are informed that it has been submitted to the British Government. If it is “a good scheme to provide for the extinction of the Empire’s debts, Australia, in submitting it, will be doing as creditably as she did during the war, and this scheme must be of sufficient importance to have warranted the Government calling Parliament together to submit it to Parliament before it waa sent to Britain. With the approval of this Parliament, the scheme would have a great deal more weight than it can possibly have when sent to Great Britain by the Government during recess, and before it has been submitted to Parliament.
We were informed the other day by the Acting Prime Minister that peace had been signed. I do not blame him for a mistake in a wireless communication. It may not be a mistake, and it is possible that peace has already been signed. But I venture to say that if it has, or if we are on the eve of the signing of peace, this Government takes an event of this magnitude with a calmness that must be considered creditable to Australia. Parliament meets, and the references to the matter are of the vaguest character. There is nothing in them to stir or thrill the community. In the coldest platitudes the Government informed Parliament and the nation of the greatest event in our lifetime, and possibly in the history of the world. A glorious peace is achieved after an awful war. Australia can rejoice in the peace whole-heartedly, as her people have done more than their share in the great struggle in proportion to their numbers and their wealth. There can be no question about that. When we survey what has occurred in this country from the day war was declared until the signing of the armistice or the signing of peace, if peace has been signed, there is no man in Australia who may not feel a thrill of pride in the fact that in the provision of man power and money for the prosecution of the war, this, the youngest nation of the world, has done nobly and well. There has been a good deal of political bitterness, some trying to discredit o’thers, and using the usual political weapon as to what they were and what they were not; but we have reason to be satisfied when, forgetting the past bitterness, we survey the - operations of the war in the calm light of peace. Our future is no longer imperilled. We can see the dawn of a long day of peace breaking in the eastern skies, and can anticipate that the same energy, the same courage, and the same resourcefulness that enabled Australia to do her share so well in the war will enable her to recover from the awful effects and aftermath of the war. The day is breaking now, and I commend the Government that they do not propose that the populace’ should be overstirred, and so refer in the coldest of platitudes to the glorious events that are now happening.
There was a distinct cleavage between political parties during the war. For the first, two years there was no party in Australia, and in man power and military effort this country exceeded the expectations of its most hopeful citizens, and did more than any one dreamed it would be able to do in such a titanic struggle. I might sum the matter up by saying that in two years from the declaration of war, when the management of the country had been for the first five weeks or so . in the hands of a Liberal Government, and for the remaining period in the hands of the Fisher and the Hughes Governments, Australia had transported oversea more than 266,000 men. That was a mighty effort. We sen’t that number of men to the other side, and they were men who willingly offered themselves in the great struggle for the continuance of human civilization, freedom, and the rights of nations to govern themselves.
So far as political parties are concerned, the duration of the. war might be divided into two-year periods. At the end of the first two years there came into existence in this country a powerful movement running through all parties, because men became imbued with what I held at the time, and still hold to have been, the wrong view that we were not in Australia doing enough, and conscription was necessary to force us to do more. ‘ We all know the disastrous division which took place in public opinion when the Hughes Government persisted in calling up 31,000 of our young men in October, 1916, to cover the September and October drafts, and expressed their intention thereafter to send 16,500 men monthly to the Front. Fortunately, the people, realizing what we had already done, and recognising that every legitimate effort had been made to insure a constant stream of reinforcements, prevented the Government from giving effect to their scheme. I am not going to blame those who thought differently from me on this question. I am not going to sit in judgment upon them ;’ but because of the vigour with which they put their case, I propose to justify the attitude which I adopted on that occasion by quoting some figures which were published in the Sydney Morning Herald of 9th May last, relating to the casualties sustained by Allied belligerent countries during the war. These figures show that the British Empire mobilized 8,000,000 men, and lost during the war S52,024:. The figures for the Australian mobilization are not given, but from a statement made by the Defence Department, I learn that the men who answered the call to the colours numbered 428,000. The deaths which occurred in the Australian ranks from wounds, in battle, and otherwise, amounted to the enormous total of 58,000.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - Up to what date?
– Up to the end of March. During the same period, the Canadian Forces lost 35,138 killed. In studying these figures, we have to realize that Canada is a great deal nearer to the theatre of war than is Australia. It is practically distant from it fewer days than we are weeks. Yet Canada, which conscripted her people, lost only 35,000 men by death; whereas Australia, unfortunately, has to mourn the loss of more than 58,000 dead.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - And Canada has a 60 per cent, larger population.
– Precisely. Canada also had conscription. Further, she secured huge contracts from the Imperial authorities, which enabled her to carry on successfully. Then, again, Australia paid her own Forces from the day they enlisted, .all through the fighting and until their return home. She also paid for all the ammunition which they fired away. On the other hand, Canada’s Forces, from the date of their embarkation, were paid by the British Government. These facts ought to be known. ,Senator Fairbairn. - We ought to know about them.
– We ought to know about them, because when it comes to repayment for losses incurred, if we have a legitimate claim for a higher amount than Canada, we ought to get it. France mobilized 7,000,000 men, and lost by death 1,385,000.
– Does the honorable senator know the special reason which operated in the case of Canada, and which explains why she did not send a greater force than she did?
– I do not. If the honorable senator knows, he is at liberty to mention’ it when he speaks. The United States of America mobilized 3,500,000., and lost - by death, 36,154. Italy mobilized 5,500,000, and lost by death 460,000. Belgium mobilized 267,000 men, and her death -toll amounted to 20,000. Russia mobilized 12,000,000 men, and lost by death 1,700,000. Japan mobilized 800,000 men, and lost by death 300. Roumania mobilized 750,000 men, and her deaths total 200,000. Servia mobilized .707,000 men, and sustained losses by death amounting to 320,000.
Montenegro mobilized 50,000 men, and lost by death 3,000. Greece mobilized 230,000 men, and her losses by death were 15,000. Portugal mobilized 100,000 men, and lost by death 4,000. I may add that the Western Australian Worker sets the losses by death sustained by the Belgian Forces at 16,000. But, for the purposes of comparison, I am prepared to accept the higher figures, and to assume that Belgium lost 20,000 men. That, country mobilized an army of 267,000, whereas Australia mobilized an army of 415,000. Australia sent considerably over 300,000 men to the Front, and had fighting in Belgium to resent the breach of Belgium’s neutrality by the Germans when they invaded that country a greater army than the Belgians themselves. Not only did Australia do that, but for every man lost by Belgium, Australia mourns the loss of three of her sons.
– That was a matter of circumstance. They were on the defensive.
– It was a matter of circumstances, and now, in the calm light of peace, this comparison which I have instituted should be vividly kept in mind, particularly by those who were anxious that we should do more than we did. They used to taunt our party with Mr. Fisher’s statement that we would stand by the Empire in this momentous struggle to the last man and the last shilling. I say that literally we adhered to the pledge. We stripped ourselves of our manhood to such an extent that we would have been powerless had we been attacked. So far .as the last shilling is concerned, not only did we spend it, but we borrowed money upon which we shall have to pay an annual interest bill of from £20,000,000 to £30,000,000. I have gone to the trouble of putting these facts and figures before honorable senators because I think that they, should be placed upon record. At the outbreak of the war it looked as if nothing could prevent the foe from winning. At that time Germany appeared to be a worldconquering force, whose objective was the domination <of civilization. As one who has given this matter very serious study, and who feels deeply, I «ay unhesitatingly that it w.as more than a human power which beat ‘the Germans during the first six months of the struggle. If ever the intervention of Divine Providence was manifested in the affairs of mankind it was manifested then. When the ruthless rush of the Germans took place in March, 1918, and the destiny of nations trembled in the balance, we who read of the doings of that time and the succeeding two or three months, stood wondering why this mighty military, force had not conquered France at the .very outset of the war. Unquestionably it was Divine Providence that saved civilization, and I am content to leave it at that.
Now we are confronted with the Peace proposals, and I know that there will be much diversity of opinion as to what should be done. “The culprit must be punished,” will be the thought that will instinctively rise to the mind of every man. If the culprit could be centred in one man or even in a number of individuals there is no doubt that civilization would insist upon their punishment. But an enduring peace cannot be obtained unless it is based upon justice. Without justice we shall be sowing the seeds of future discord. Of course it may be argued that no consideration should be extended to men who were guilty of the acts of which our enemy were guilty. But the people who will govern Germany and Austria in the future will not be those who created this war. When it is urged that they indorsed the war my reply is that the first duty of citizenship is to offer one’s life if necessary in the defence of his country. In the hour of danger the first duty of a citizen is to fight for the country in which he lives. If we accept that maxim none of us can .punish the German soldiery for fighting for their country. We may insist upon reparation being made for the wrong which has been done, but with sentiments like those in our hearts we cannot say that the men who answered the call in Germany were doing other than their duty to their own nation. These truths must be kept in mind in the peace that is now being forced upon the world whether by the strong arm of the military power or by wise counsels at the council table. I believe that Peace has been signed, and that the German people will, if they have agreed to certain proposals, carry them out. We have only to look back to the occasion .when Germany conquered France in 1870 and 1871. I suppose that the most powerful German statesman at that time was Bismarck. Bismarck was_ forced by the pressure of public opinion in Germany to assent to an unjust peace, a peace that took much territory from France. He himself pointed out the dangers attendant on a peace that would leave France with a lasting grievance, and that, I believe, was one of the Teal causes of the present war. Probably that was the germ - a nation proud in arms as France was, being humiliated by cession of territory - that was responsible for this awful world conflict. Let us beware that history does not repeat itself. Let us beware that in the hour of out triumph, we do not seek to impose upon Germany an unjust peace that will leave a lasting grievance in the minds of the conquered.
– Then would you advocate giving the Pacific Island® back to Germany?
– I am not going into the details of what I would advocate, and I do not think the honorable senator wants me to do so. But, so far as the Pacific Islands are concerned, and as far as I can read of proposals for balancing compensation, I believe that hitherto too much attention has been given to trade, and too little attention to humanity. Trade is all in all with the men who draft these arrangements.
– Are you referring to President Wilson when you speak of trade as being the predominant note?
– We have much to thank President Wilson for. I believe that his peace proposals, when they became known in Germany, materially helped to break down German resistance, because they believed that it was not the ambition of the Allied nations to wipe Germany. -and her people off the map, but that, on the contrary, there was a sweet reasonableness about Germany’s antagonists, and a possibility of a peace based upon justice, with reparation and restoration for damage done.
– If Foch had been in charge for three weeks longer, we would have heard nothing about the fourteen points.
– I am not going into a discussion as to the conditions of peace. Surely we can dissociate ourselves from our own interests sufficiently to realize what are the possibilities, and how we would kick against unjust conditions of peace if any conqueror sought to impose them upon us?
– If Germany had won we might have been kicking without much effect.
– Exactly. And from my long experience of Senator Newland, 1 know quite well that although he might be conquered in a struggle, his spirit would still be sufficiently strong and his resolution sufficiently firm to resist to the very last against what he thought were harsh conditions. And I venture to say that, even if a mighty nation like Germany is conquered, we must see to it that the conditions to be imposed are sufficiently just to make the peace a lasting one. It is impossible to obliterate 70,000,000 of people the equal in intelligence and education of any other people in the world. So far as their system of government is concerned, they were so satisfied it was superior to that of any other, that they sought to impose it upon the rest of mankind. I say that we cannot wipe out a people of that character, and. so far as I can learn, nobody wants to do so. Nobody wants to do the impossible. In the hour of our triumph we can show that we are as great in peace as our men proved themselves great in war. That should be the aim of all the nations, atd particularly the conquerors in this great struggle. We must so comport ourselves that, in the conditions of the peace imposed upon Germany, there shall be no suspicion of injustice.
I now leave what I may call these large matters of State, which occupy first place in the minds of the people, and turn to what our own Government are doing. As a British people - but I would rather regard myself as an Australian - we pride ourselves that what is best in us comes from the Old Land. We claim that our system of justice and freedom surpasses that of any other nation. There is one principle of justice that dates from 1215, when King John signed the Magna Charta, which insures that no man shall be kept in prison except after trial by a jury of his peers. Are we trying to live up to that principle? I think not. When Senator Grant yesterday brought before the Senate the treatment meted out to a citizen of America-
– Is he one?
– Well, Senator Russell yesterday ‘flourished a sworn statement, made by this man, to the effect that he was an American citizen, and if he is not, then the Minister has a splendid opportunity of laying an information against him. This citizen of America, to whom I am referring was taken from his civil occupation, placed upon a vessel, and sent back to his own country. That action was flagrant abuse of. the right to a fair trial possessed by every Australian living under the British flag. I notice, also,’ that Senator Millen chuckled at the reference to the 1915 regulation, passed under the War Precautions Act, because T was in the Ministry then, and, apparently, the fact that the regulation was made at a time when I was in the Government was sufficient justification, in his present frame of mind, for Senator Millen’s attitude. But let us examine the position. Suppose that a man were engaged manufacturing rifles in 1915, and were subsequently wounded by some one using one of those rifles, and that when the accused was brought before the Court, his counsel said, “ Why, you are charging this man with shooting with a rifle that you yourself made.” Would that be sufficient justification for the injury done? It is true the Government of which I was a member passed the War Precautions Act in 1915. by which the safety of this nation could be maintained in time, of war, but Senator Millen now gets hold of a regulation made under the Act, and degrades his position by using it as a justification for the action of thi9 Government against an innocent citizen.
– Are you sure?
– I never speak; unless I am sure of my facts. Senator. Senior asks - “Are you sure?” I am sure there was no excuse for the action of the Government. Not only am I sure that Paul Freeman has had a criminal charge laid against him, I am sure, also, that this Government are doing far worse. There is no bigger-hearted senator in this chamber than Senator Senior, yet, despite the degrading acts by this Government, equal in my judgment to the brutality of the Huns, Senator Senior will still support them.
– But you have been pleading for leniency for the Huns. Have you no mercy for them now ?
– But these are the acts of a Government, who are not even sparing innocent boys and girls. PaulFreeman, I say, was deported without a trial.
– Is he a boy or a girl ?
– He is a fullgrown man. I can quite understand the honorable senator’s desire to drag me from my point, but he will not succeed. This Government sent a circular to a number of the wives of interned Germans in this country, and with Hun brutality informed them that they must be deported with their husbands, with or without their little Australian sons or daughters.
– But you would have complained if the Government had not sent their wives with them, and you are weeping because they have done so.
– The honorable senator can interject as much as he likes, but he will not take me off my subject, and as I said before, I am quite sure he will support the Government, no matter how brutal their action may be.
– But I fail to see any brutality in that course of action.
– If it is not an act of brutality, to say to an Australianborn child of tender years, “You must sever yourself from your parents or be an exile from your native country,” then I do not understand the meaning of the word.
– They were unfortunate in the choice of their parents, that is all.
– In the circular to which I refer these Australianborn wives of German husbands were given only a brief period of time in which to prepare for deportation.
– How can you speak like that, after reading how Germany treated our own people ?
– I can speak thus because personally I decline to be a consenting party to the deportation of any person without a just trial.
– And so, no matter how great a traitor a man may be, because he is married to an Australian woman he may stay here. Is that your doctrine ?
– I am speaking of the position with regard to Australianborn children whose mothers received the circular to which I have referred, giving them the choice of talcing their children with them or leaving them in Australia.
– Do you not approve of that?
– I approve of tempering justice with mercy. The war is over now.
– And would you keep traitors here?
– If brutality has been committed by the enemy, we need not come down to his level. I can imagine nothing more brutal than the deportation order which would separate Australian-born children from their parents.
– Can’t you? Then the Germans would teach you.
– Physical pain, the rack, and the thumb-screw, are not worse. Surely the time has gone by for this form of brutality.
– We hope not.
– I am sorry to hear Senator Newland defending the Government in an act of this nature. It is rather a disgrace.
– I think more of Australia than the honorable senator evidently does.
– That is a matter entirely of opinion.
– The honorable senator is a good old Hun advocate.
– I realize that, with that animosity which Senator Newland and the Government are prepared to nurse within their breasts, they will not stop at punishing Australian-born boys and girls because their parents happen to be German. I realize that punishment is being meted out to innocents, not because certain persons committed acts calculated to injure Australia and the Empire, but for the reason that they are German. T have before me a letter written by Mr. James Martin, of Boonah, Queensland. He is a member of one of our labour organizations in that State. His communication states -
To-day, I heard of a German minister’s wife (Mrs. Seybald) getting one of these deportation notices. She is a delicate woman, and yet she and her little children are notified to bc ready to go in three weeks. Her husband is interned, and has been for some time, for what reason, no one knows. He i» not even allowed a day off to fix up his affairs. Hia family are all small children, and one a cripple.
The writer then refers to what he describes as the tyranny of the Government in perpetrating acts of this character. He remarks that he has before him a circular which was sent by the Government to that German wife and mother. I may say that I have not seen that circular, but I have read one which was issued, to the wives of internees, and, in my judgment, the issuing of it equals in brutality anything that I know of the Hun himself having committed.
– Germany is a good place to live in, is it not?
– What has that to do with it?
– If it is, why do you. complain of Germans being sent back to Germany ?
– I am calling attention to a tyrannous act towards women and Australian-born children.
– Does the honorable senator believe in the deportation of those interned men at all?
– Not without trial; but, even if those men had done something to deserve deportation, nothing would make me believe that anything so serious could have resulted to Australia and the Empire as to warrant Australian-born children being sent out of this country.
– I would take it as an act of kindness that the children should be sent with the father and mother.
– It must not be forgotten that men of the type of these fathers - and, no doubt, these very men . themselves - were originally welcomed to this country. Now, the war being over,; and the opportunity for their doing Australia an injury having passed, would it not be merely an act of humanity if this dire edict of the Government could bewithdrawn ?
– It all depends upon the offences which those men committed.
– How did these men respond to the hospitality with which Australia welcomed them here?
– Very often we took the course of interning a man’ because of grave suspicion that if he were’ permitted to remain at liberty he might do something calculated to endanger our cause.
– You interned nien on suspicion, then.
– And without trial..
– As a Cabinet, Minister in a time of war - and I would do the same again were the position the . same - it was my duty to take such steps as were necessary to insure the safety of the country. If our country were threatened by the acts or intentions of an enemy subject, that person should be interned without trial, for the urgent reason that the, interests of Australia and the British’ nation must be protected at all costs. But I would not treat such an interned person as a prisoner. I would simply intern him as a safeguard, and would not dream of treating him as a criminal, and of imposing a sen’tence upon him. The Fisher and the Hughes Governments, of which I was a member, did not deport one man from the Commonwealth. There is all. the difference in the world between the practices of those Administrations and the actions of the present Government.. When I stated yesterday that Paul Free-j man was entitled to a trial by a jury of’ men of this country, Senator Russell ‘ stated, “He has had it. That jury con’sisted of the Cabinet.” But the accused was not heard before the Cabinet. He did not plead his case before that jury..
L have information now that the. date’; on which Freeman was ordered to ‘be ‘ deported was 24th December last. That was a pleasant action on the part of the Government, just on the eve of Christmas - truly a case of “ peace on earth, good-will toward men.” > Senator Lynch. - Would the honorable senator have this country the dumpingground for the undesirables of other countries ?
– The honorable senator knows full well that I would have it as it is - the freest country in the world.
– Yes; and this country would pay for its folly in letting everybody in.
– Even so, it would still be the greatest and freest country in the world. I must voice my deep disappointment at the manner in which my references to the women and children of interned men have been received by honorable senators opposite. When I called attention to what the Government were doing, I fully expected that honorable senators opposite, if they did’ not exhibit the shamed silence of men degraded by their relationship to- such an Administration, would have expressed outspoken indignation. I believe that their sympathy would be aroused.
– We are rather well pleased with the Government in this matter.
– I am sorry to ‘ hear such an interjection. On mature consideration Senator Newland will be sorry for it.
– I was referring to men deported for disloyalty. I said nothing as to women and children being sent out of the country, and I will not have the honorable senator fasten such an allegation upon me.
– Does Senator Newland agree with the action of the Government in deporting women and children, or does he consider such a thing discreditable ?
– The Government are not deporting women and children.
– A circular letter has been issued informing women that they must be deported with their husbands, and that their Australian-born children are to be given the option of remaining here or going with them.
– It is a pity the honorable senator has not seen the circular, lie has apparently forgotten that if a woman is a British subject she is given the option of remaining here.
– She ar.d her family may elect to remain in Australia.
– And starve?
– That is twisting it another way. It is all a great plea for the Hun.
– I am interested in what Senator Millen has just remarked. I know full well that if one can only talk to the Minister long enough one will reach the truth.
– That, at any rate, is a comment which has never been said of the honorable senator.
– For the good reason that there has been po need for it. The Minister has stated the case in regard to women of British birth; but how about wives who are of alien birth ? What choice have they? They must go. They have the choice of taking their children with them or of leaving them here to the tender mercies of a Government who could perpetrate such tyrannical action as I complain of. One thing certain is that if such acts of tyranny continue I shall make it impossible for me to hold a seat in Parliament. That is what I think of my association with such administrators.
– You wash your hands of them!
– I emphatically do so. I realize, if the honorable senator does not, that we are passing through very grave times. There has been war. There is plague, and there is famine in Australia to-day. Profiteers have forced prices so high that people in humble occupations are starving. If war and plague and famine do not result in revolution, then history has been read in vain. I hoped that the Government would have been convinced of the serious plight of Australia to-day. I expected that they would have risen to the responsibility of guiding this country through the awful times ahead of us. What they have done, however, is degrading to public life. They are not fit to be members of the British Empire.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bakhap) adjourned.
Senator EDWARD MULCAHY made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as a senator representing Tasmania.
– We are all gratified to know that we meet here at so auspicious a time, when at last the long, dreadful war in which we have been engaged is over. It has clouded Australian as well as allworld questions. Its conclusion is in the direction we all had hoped and prayed for. I think there is every reason throughout this far-flung Empire of ours for the British people to congratulate themselves upon the outcome of four years of struggle. The Leader of the Opposition, in his address on the Government programme for the ensuing session, commenced by giving a little description of what, in his opinion, is an optimist. He described an optimist as a man falling from the roof of a ten-story building, and as he passed every window saying that he was all right so far. May I give another description of an optimist that I once heard ? An optimist is a man who thinks things are ripe, as distinguished from a pessimist who thinks things are rotten. I am afraid that any one listening to Senator Gardiner’s remarks must conclude that he is a pessimist within my interpretation of the term, because he had not one good word to say about the many things put before us by the Government for consideration during this session.
It is apparent to all thinking people that, although peace may have been signed yesterday, or be signed to-day, or to-morrow, that is not the end of the disruption that has taken place in international and social relationships brought about by the war. I feel that it may take almost as many years of peace to get back to the conditions of concord and amity previously existing, as it has taken years of war to get away from those conditions. I suggest to my honorable friends- who think that no good can come out of Nazareth - that nothing which the Government propose can be for the good of the people of Australia - that our leaders and statesmen, and particularly those representing us now at the Peace Conference at Versailles, are together with the other leaders and statesmen of the Allied countries building a bridge. A bridge has- to be built from the rocks and precipices, the reefs and quicksands of war, to the sunny, grassy slopes of amity and concord. We are all engaged in building the bridge, whether we be in the ranks of the Ministry or be members of the Opposition. I do think that in view of the present great unrest- that is going through the world like a prairie fire we have our responsibilities and obligations to help in building this bridge. At least, we should give reasonable assistance in its building, and cheer those engaged in the actual work. There are plenty of people in this world of ours who, if they can, will stop the building of the bridge, and even demolish it -altogether. I therefore feel that the programme put before Parliament by the Ministry of the work we are to be called upon to do during the ensuing session sets out something which we can do in the building of the bridge to cross the chasm between war and peace, and it will, I hope, take us a little further on our way than we are now.
Senator Gardiner gave us some figures to show what has been done by Australia to achieve the victory we have won. I do not cavil at his figures. I am with him in saying that Australia has done her full share, and those glorious men of ours have placed Australia’s name indelibly on the scroll of history in their achievements from Gallipoli to the Scheldt. I should like to add that, although the war has been won and victory achieved, and a good many people who took no hand in it and did not help in any shape or form will try to take some of the credit, the war has been won, not only by those officially in authority, but by the selfsacrifice of patriotic people, who have loved their country sufficiently well to make that sacrifice. That only has, I think, enabled the British race in Australia and in the Motherland to win the war.
A comparison has been made between the efforts of Australia and those of Canada. I have no complaint to make on that score, but I ask that we should also remember the stupendous efforts made by the people of Scotland. The people of Scotland sent a greater number of men in proportion to population than did the people of any other part of the Empire, and men equal in determination and bravery to any of their brethren of the Empire. Scotland alone has, I believe, sent nearly 15 per cent, of her population to help’ to win the war. The next nation in point of sacrifice and numbers was gallant little Wales. I do not think that I need remind honorable senators of the stupendous sacrifices that have been made by the people of the Motherland. I do not wish that invidious comparisons should be presented to the people of Australia in connexion with our effort as compared with those of Canada unless they are invited at the same time to remember the stupendous efforts that have been made by the people in the Motherland. For instance, the Motherland emerges from the war with a load of debt per head of population double that which is now loading down the people of Australia. Millions of our fellow countrymen there have been engaged in munition making. Efforts of immense magnitude have been made by the people of England. Comparatively speaking, the cost of living has gone up there more than it has in any other part of the Empire. Then, with regard to numbers, cost, and sacrifice, the people of Australia, badly as many of them have been hit as a result of the war, have not suffered in anything like the way in which the people of the Motherland have suffered.
– More luxuries were bought in England last year than in any year before.
– We are well aware that millions of munition makers were in a position to obtain luxuries which they could not have dreamt of before the war. That was due to the vast amount of money circulated in the nature of war expenditure. I am saying that Australia does not stand alone in the matter of sacrifice, and when comparisons are made with other parts of the world it should not be forgotten that Scotland sent most men, and that the debt of England to-day is double that imposed upon the people of Australia, as the result of the war.
During the last fifteen or sixteen months, members of the Government have been representing Australia at that epoch-making Peace Conference that is, I hope, on the eve of completing its labours at Versailles. I think it will be generally agreed by those who have followed the course of international events that none of us anticipated twelve months ago that the conclusions arrived at by the Allies in connexion with Peace settlements, and now accepted by Germany, would be anything like as favorable as they are for the future of the world’s peace. Intricate and complicated problems of moment have arisen, and dozens of world-wide questions have had to be settled in all directions. The question of reparation, alone would be a stupendous question if no other questions had to be considered. So far as our information enables us to form a judgment, we can congratulate ourselves that, so far as Australia is concerned, we have a. fair chance of coming out of the war reasonably well comparing our obligations with those to which other Allied Governments are committed. I need not weary the Senate with details of the problems that have had to be’ faced. Suffice it to say that these statesmen and leaders of the Empire, and of Australia, have been faced with questions the settlement of which necessitated a compromise. Compromise must necessarily be the basis of all settlement. Although .the entry of the United States into the struggle at a late stage in its history gave that great country perhaps a preponderating voice in the final settlement of the Peace terms, I am not going to say that President Wilson’s ideals are wrong, or that his forcing of them on the Peace Conference will do other than further assure the future peace of the world. Complaints have been made, and justifiably made, that America reaped a large profit from the war from its very inception, and that President Wilson has dominated the Peace Conference to a greater extent than was reasonable in view of the small contribution made by America. But the great moral effect of that country’s entry into the struggle has made only for the good of humanity, and as citizens of the world we can congratulate ourselves upon the final peace achievement.
Coming more closely to the programme which has been submitted by the Government, I believe that the great consensus of opinion in Australia regarding our representation at the Peace Conference by the Prime Minister is that he completely justified his selection by his action in respect of one matter alone. I allude to his fight in connexion with racial equality. The press has told us the position that he took up in regard to it. Personally, I believe that he expressed the views of 90 per cent, of the electors of Australia, and nothing, therefore, could be more satisfactory to them than the attitude which he adopted. Whether for weal or for woe, we have determined that this continent shall be preserved for the white races, and I believe that the Prime Minister, by adopting the attitude which he did, gained the respect of hie. opponents by reason of his honest utterances, while he certainly won the support . of the electors of Australia, because of the fight which he made for them.
Coming to some of the matters set out in the statement read by Senator Millen, I should first like to say a few words in regard to repatriation. Of course, we hear complaints about the work of the Department. That is inevitable, seeing that amongst every huge aggregation of average citizens, there are bound to be a lot of grousers whom nothing will satisfy. In contradistinction to Senator Gardiner, I desire to say that I have had a good deal of experience through ascertaining the feelings which are entertained by returned soldiers. Many of these men are glad to get rid of khaki, and to resume their places in civilian life. They do not want anything from the Government so long as they are treated fairly here. There isalso a very large section of returned soldiers who admit in their “ dinkum “ Australian way that they are being given a fair deal by the Repatriation Department. My own experience is that not 10 per cent, of our returned soldiers are real grumblers and growlers.
– Nothing like it.
– In this connexion, perhaps I may be pardoned for relating a little experience of my own. Some months ago, I went into the question of what the Department was doing in the matter of placing some of our returned soldiers in businesses. It appears that certain regulations have been framed (under which it is difficult for a man to be [placed in a business unless he has had Lome experience of it prior to his enlistment. Several men came to me to bespeak my assistance in getting them placed in businesses. Amongst these was one, a returned Anzac, who had been wounded two or three times, a very decent man, who was particularly anxious to get into a business that he had under review. I gave him letters to the Department, which treated him courteously and fairly, but which eventually told him that he could not be placed in the business he desired, because he had had no previous experience of it. At that time I thought the decision of the Department was a very harsh one, but I have since had occasion to change my opinion. After four years of fighting I thought it was particularly hard that this man should be defeated by a departmental regulation, and in a weak moment I advanced him the money to acquire the business that he wanted. With a knowledge of how things are going with him now, I am afraid that I shall lose my money. I have come across very many cases in which the men have had a fair deal from the Department, and I am inclined to the opinion that when we find men grousing and agitating, it is because they want more than a fair deal. I am not going to stand for that, notwithstanding the votes which I may lose by my action. Last year Senator Pearce described me as a “ general “ supporter of the Government, as opposed to a generous one, and I think it will be admitted that I have,onall occasions, expressed my opinions of Ministerial measures with the utmost frankness.
– Why this mildness to-day?
– Perhaps the honorable senator will be satisfied if he listens to me a little longer. May I say, on behalf of the business community, that I applaud the action of the Government in jettisoning a good many of the War Precautions regulations, which, during the course of the war, have hampered their operations in development. I have no complaint to make regarding the determination of the Government to submit special legislative proposals in connexion with the wheat administration. I believe that the bad old times, in connexion with the sale, control, and risks associated with wheat, have gone, never to return. Although I consider the conception of a Wheat Pool was a statesmanlike one at the beginning of the war, there are many things in connexion with its administration to which exception can be taken. I am informed, on excellent authority, that the clean-up of the four Wheat Pools in New South Wales will result in a very heavy loss. Some of those in a position to know consider that in New South Wales alone, when the whole clean-up is made, the loss occasioned by the mice- plague, weevils, and damage by rain, will amount to nearly £2,000,000. I do not think that any honorable senator will stand for a control which has done no better than that. I trust that the Government, in continuing the wheatpooling arrangements, will give sole control in the matter of the care of the stacks and the marketing of the product to the men who own it - the farmers themselves. I hope that the Government control will not amount to anything more than the Government representation which will be necessary by reason of the financial arrangements between themselves and the farmers. Another Bill which is forecast is intended to continue some of the governmental regulations, so far as our forthcoming wool clip is concerned. I understand that it will enable control to be continued to 30th June, 1920, and that it will virtually control the market ing of the next clip. I have, from time to time, objected to autocratic control in connexion with this matter. Quite a number of complaints have grown up in connexion with subsidiary interests. Whilst I do not think that any complaint can be justified in connexion with the woolscouring industry, consideration will certainly have to be given to the fellmongering industry, and to the leather and pelt trade. I hope, therefore, that the Bill which I have no doubt has been prepared by the Government contains provisions for controlling what I regard as the autocratic powers of the present Central Wool Committee, so that more general satisfaction may be given to those concerned in this industry. I do. not say that Australia has had a good deal. Australia, I think, has sacrificed much, as we now find in connexion with the sale of our primary products. .America has fallen all over us in regard to some products, particularly metals, and the Government would be well advised to’ decline further control of that commodity. The present position is a tragedy. Copper, lead, and our rare base metals industries particularly, are almost in a state of stagnation. We all fear that the world will take some time to re-adjust itself; and our metal producers have a strong claim upon our sympathy, because during the war Australian copper was selling at from £108 to £110 per ton, while American producers, who practically controlled the market, have averaged during the past twelve months nearly £150 per ton. Our rare base metals - molybdenite, wolfram, and tungsten - have brought very much less, controlled, than the world’s parity. The Government, therefore, would be well advised, so far as the metal situation is concerned, to allow producers to do exactly what they like, within reasonable limits, to resuscitate this stagnant industry. The prohibition on ‘the export of ores which has been in _ full force for some time has directly and indirectly been responsible for the shutting down of a good many small mines. This control had been exercised in the so-called interests of the Empire; but, so far as T have been able to ascertain, a clear line of demarcation must be drawn between the political and commercial side of our dealings with the British Government. I do not believe that in trade matters we should view suggestions from the Imperial Government in the same way as the early Christians regarded the word “ Mesopotamia,” for I know there has been a good deal of profiteering behind some of these controls. The inter-Allied tin control has resulted in the Malaya tin producers being scaled to the extent of £15 or £20 in regard to the sale of tin oxide, for the benefit, not of the British Government, but of some one else in London.. I suggest, therefore, that this very important section of our primary production be not controlled by the Government without a full knowledge as to who is controlling it, what there is in it for the people overseas, and withou’t consideration being given to the question where the metals are going and the price paid to the producer.
– Order! There is a continual buzz of conversation in the press gallery, to which I must call attention. The press gallery is provided for members of the press, to enable them to take accurate reports of the debates; not to disturb the proceedings by talking.
– I repeat that this so-called British Government control of our metals has resulted in our producers getting less than the American producers; and, as I have shown, the tin producers in Malaya have been obliged to accept less than London parity, not to mention the American price. It is a very good thing for Australia that the inter-Allied tin control did not extend its ramifications and operations to this country. If it had, I believe our tin producers would have obtained much less for their tin oxide than they were able to get. In connexion with this metals question, I urge the Government to make the most exhaustive inquiries; to be satisfied with nothing but facts, not camouflage, before they bring down any Bill seeking to continue control of metals, even in a sectional way.
My honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) has, I think, referred to the increase in the cost of living in Australia. But Australia is not alone. This increase is world-wide. The cost of living has not increased in
Australia to anything like the same fixtent as in other countries, and strange as it may appear, the cost in Queensland, which is so ably represented by my honorable friend, Senator Maughan, has gone up to a greater extent than anywhere else in the Commonwealth.
– Are you sure of your facts? Have you seen Knibbs’ latest figures?
– This increase in the cost of living is a world-wide movement, and is an extremely complicated subject. The issue of paper money made by this and other Governments, as’ a war obligation, has had some effect upon prices, and I am quite sure that the very abnormal taxation in England, in relation to excess war-time profits, income, and other matters, has also had a very great effect upon the cost of living. I am not here to say that one Government or one party has been responsible for this state of affairs, or even that there has been so much of that profiteering which my honorable friends are so glad to talk about from time to time.
– But you admit that there are profiteers?
– Yes ; but with all due deference to honorable senators opposite, I say that profiteering in Australia compared with the profiteering in other parts of the world is as the scourging with a whip to the scourging with scorpions. Let us see what happens: As honorable senators know, I have had some experience in the jam and fruit preserving trades of Australia. The ordinary 1-lb. tin of jam, which the average housewife buys two or three times per week, to-day is costing 2d. more per tin than before the war. In other words, there has been an increase, approximately, of 50 per cent., and as the average housewife will buy about three tins per week, she will be paying 6d. per week more for this commodity than prior to the war. But how has that increase been brought about ? Honorable senators will say - and I think quite rightly - that the fruitgrower does not get any of it.
– He does not.
– I admit that. The manufacturer gets 50 per cent, more than under pre-war conditions; but it must be borne in mind that Id. of that 2d. increase goes to the tin plate manufacturer of South Wales, 1/2d. to the sugar grower of Queensland, and the other £d. is accounted for by the increased cost of labour and local material. Here, then, is an illustration of what my honorable friends opposite call profiteering - an increase of 50 per cent, on pre-war prices, all accounted for.
– Even the sugar grower has to pay an extra price for his labour now.
– That is so. _ If we analyze these charges of profiteering, it will be found that in many cases the devil is not so bad as he is painted, at least so far as Australia is concerned. I am not prepared to admit that the whole of our manufacturers are profiteers, though I admit that some have been doing well as a result of the war.
– You mentioned manufacturers. The importers are worse.
– Yes ; but my honorable friend forgets that very often the whole of the Australian manufacturers are included in this broad sweeping statement of profiteering. Indeed, the Australian manufacturers are sometimes specifically referred to, and in the case quoted, I have accounted for the rise in price of Australian-made goods. In a great many other cases it will be found, also, that the increase in the cost of production is solely and wholly due to the increased cost of raw material. The flour millers are compelled to give a certain price for wheat, and are restricted so far as the sale of their product is concerned. Although millers’ balance-sheets may show an additional profit as compared with pre-war conditions, I do not think any reasonable man will object to a firm which works, say, three shifts in twenty-four hours, showing a little more profit. The wear and tear upon the machinery would be very much greater, and it would be necessary, for that reason alone, that the profit should be increased. I could follow the question of profiteering in many directions. I could show that the real reason for the price of most articles of Australian production having risen is the cost -of raw material which, more often than not, has been imported from abroad. I cite such domestic articles as buckets and tubs made from imported galvanized iron. We in Australia are not responsible for the price of galvanized iron having been increased, as the result of the war, from £20 to £80 a ton and more. The raw material of those buckets and tubs, manufactured in Australia, was galvanized iron which cost at one time nearly £100 a ton. In such circumstances prices were bound to soar, and none but the most elementary political economist would say that the Australian manufacturer was profiteering.
According to a press report last week, honorable -senators opposite are preparing’ to commit political hari-kari. I am given to understand that in the platform of the Labor party there is a plank to the effect that if the party ever again secures power it will abolish the Senate. Its members realize, I hope, that first they must alter the Constitution, and that that cannot be done in a day or a year or, perhaps, a decade. The stated intention may be, of course, merely a pious aspiration involving no risk to Labour representatives at present in this Chamber; but I desire to discuss the practical question of what we should do while the Senate is still in existence. I believe in proportional representation. In a Chamber constituted as this is - essentially a States Chamber - there should be representation of minorities as well as of majorities. It does not require much imagination to see how, in certain circumstances, there may be 36 members of the Senate belonging to one party and no representation of any other. In view of improvements recently effected with regard to the election of representatives in another place the Government will be well advised if, instead of tinkering with a sort of preferential vote which will confer no advantages over present methods, they adopt the proportional representation system. That would insure to the votes of the electors their proper reflection in the Senate. Despite the insinuations of the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber, I do not know the intentions of the Government;, but among the electors there is a growing appreciation of the benefits of such a system of voting. Illustrations of its operation in Tasmania have emphasized that proportional representation would send to this Chamber representatives who fairly, and, therefore proportionately, represented the electors. I trust that the Government will not experiment with systems which may look good enough- and may suit them, but that they will say emphatically, “We shall have proportional representation.” The party to which I belonged prior to the war committed itself -to the system ; and, after full discussion, I feel assured that a majority of honorable senators will favour the mathematical form of representation.
I hail with satisfaction the decision of the Government to revise the Tariff at an early date. We are faced in Australia with the obligation of paying off a huge war debt amounting to £300,000,000. If we include our notes fund and other obligations our total debt becomes £350,000,000. The veriest tyro in .politics must see that our only hope of bearing this load lightly is by increasing production and by exercising a determined care for the balance of trade in our favour - without which we shall very soon get into a financial bog. Since the war even such eminent Free Traders as Mr. Asquith, formerly Prime Minis’ er of England, have become converted to the doctrine of the balance of trade. Before the war the economists of the old school - the middle Victorian era - set up the theory that the more we imported the richer we grew. I was glad to learn, over two years ago, that a Free Trader ranking as does Mr. Asquith, should have admitted his conversion, and should have said that as a result of her war obligations England must see to it that the balance of trade as between imports and exports should never be against her. In other words, the late Prime Minister’s view was that the greatest concentration possible should be made upon the development of exports, and that in every way possible imports should be discouraged. In Australia we have a certainty of immense primary production. Our imports have lately grown considerably. At the present rate of expansion they will soon exceed exports. I am deeply satisfied, therefore, with the announcement of the Government respecting the Tariff. I trust that its consideration will not be left too late in the session. One of the many angles of discussion upon that subject will probably be in relation to the increased cost of living in certain directions as the result of alterations of the Tariff. I do not intend to stand for the imposition of duties which will surely increase the cost of necessary commodities. If Australian manufacturers are given a fair chance, especially against the possible surplus dumping of out Allies - and two of them, particularly - internal competition will bring down prices; and, although imports may perhaps be restricted, our internal development - if the Tariff is scientifically revised - will assuredly not increase the cost of living.
I hope the Government will go slow in regard to Naval policy. The details and ramifications of the Peace terms are not yet understood, nor, indeed, known in Australia. I hope the peoples of to-day will witness a general disarmament, and I firmly trust that Great Britain will be given the policing of the seas for the League of Nations. In that case it will not be necessary for Australia to burden herself with very large additions to her Naval Unit. I do not believe that the Government, in considering Australia’s future Naval policy, will ask Parliament to commit itself to anything in the way of development until we can fully appreciate what will follow the establishment of the League of Nations and the task of Britain as the policeman of the seas.
I am sorry that such apparently heavy sentences were imposed in Sydney some days ago in connexion with the so-called mutiny on board the Australia. Although we call our navy “ the Australian Navy” it is really under British control ; and, until the war is over and our naval policy is approved by Parliament, it must remain under British control. I hope that our future naval policy will provide for a Royal Australian Navy in fact as well as in name. At present all the officers on our warships are loaned by the Royal Navy. There is considerable dissatisfaction amongst the rank and file of our Navy, because of the narrowing of their chances of -promotion due to this reason. Only last week two fights occurred in George-street, Sydney, between Australian and British jack .tars of the same ratings and off the same ship. There was no personal animus between the contestants at all; ‘but their quarrel started in connexion with this system of promotion. Officers, even down to warrant and petty officers, are chosen from the British Navy, and our own men are debarred from chances of promotion.
– Owing to the system ; and I am now suggesting to the Government that that system must be very carefully reviewed.
– When the honorable senator speaks of the system, is not length of service a dominating factor?
– That may be under British Navy regulations; but I say again that if we are to have an Australian Navy we must see that as soon as we can we make it an Australian Navy in fact as well as in name. Although Che system debarring from possible promotion the rank and file of out men who have joined, our Navy has been in force during four years of war under British Navy conditions, I say it is an obligation upon the representatives of Australia, and of Australia herself, to see that those conditions do not always obtain.
I do not intend to weary the Senate by referring to many other matters included in the very big programme of suggested legislation which the Government has placed- before us, but I must say, as a representative pf New South Wales, that I regret that there is not a single word in the Ministerial statement that applies to the Federal Capital. The construction of the Federal Capital is the only obligation of our Constitution’ that has not been kept. Our obligations to Tasmania and to Western Australia in financial matters have been fulfilled. The Commonwealth has built the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway ito link up Western Australia with the eastern States. In other directions the Commonwealth has stood to the bargain made in 1901, when Federation was accomplished. I shall not labour the matter of the Federal Capital now, but I think I ought to mention it. If the Government are in earnest in connexion with that matter, I have no doubt that ways and means might be found to continue the work. If it were possible for this Parliament to meet at Canberra, in Federal Territory, away from the loaves and fishes of Ae cities, and away also from the pull-devil-pull-baker system that operates here in connexion with some Federal administration, we should be able to take a more dispassionate and more equitable view of the big problems with which we are. faced. I hope that the Government will take into consideration the question of proceeding with the Federal Capital. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) informs us that we shall have a reasonably good surplus, and, while I have no wish to ear-mark that, nor any indemnity we may get from Germany, I say that in connexion with repatriation alone there are ways and means of going on with work at the Federal Capital, thereby keeping Che sacred and honorable compact made with New South Wales when Federation was achieved.
– In the document placed before us by the Government there is certainly ‘plenty of food for discussion. I object straight-, way to one of the first paragraphs in it, in which it is stated that-
Until the protracted deliberations of the Peace Conference were approaching finality, it was considered inadvisable to summon the Houses for the discussion of public business. Even now, the information at the disposal of the Government as to the terms of Peace is not sufficient to warrant the submission of the matter to Parliament, and it appears probable that it will have to await the return of the Australian representatives.
I join issue with the Government when they contend that it was necessary to keep the doors of this Parliament closed, and to govern the country under the War Precautions Act, simply because Peace had not been signed. During this time, Parliaments have met in Great Britain and in France. If it was wise that Parliaments should meet in Great Britain and in France - within a stone’s throw of the actual scene of the war and the centre of the deliberations of those charged with the settlement of great problems - to deal with legislative matters other than those involved in the terms of Peace, it does seem to me that in Australia, so far removed from the scene of conflict, there was justification, and, indeed, necessity, for Parliament to meet earlier than it has met to deal with the vast problems awaiting our solution.
There are a number of matters referred to in the Ministerial statement which are bound to be fully discussed, and which will take a long time to deal with in both Houses. The importance of many of them warrants the fullest discussion, and if this Parliament is to give legislative effect to the matters included in the Ministerial statement, it’ will not be possible for us to rise before this day twelve months. We know that we must rise early in the new year, and it may be found inconvenient for this Parliament to sit at all in the new year. The people of Australia have been wondering why the doors of the Federal Parliament should have been kept closed for six or seven, months in view of the important problems awaiting consideration. Some of them are mentioned in the Ministerial statement, and many of them might have been dealt with without the slightest reference to the Conference being held on the other side of the world. A number of matters referred to in the statement before us could have been brought forward several months ago, as they are not affected by the signing of the Peace terms.
Two or three paragraphs are devoted to the question of repatriation, and we are told that -
The powers of Local Repatriation Committees have recently been greatly extended, and it is anticipated that this decentralization will insure the treatment of applications with a minimum of delay.
I am not going to quarrel with Senator Pratten’s statement that the Repatriation Department has done good work. With the control of so’ much expenditure it would not have been possible for such a Department to avoid doing some good work. The Minister in charge of the Department would not be the type of man we know Senator Millen to be if he were not able to say that he had done some good work, and some that had given general satisfaction. At the same time, I disagree with the system of control of the Repatriation Department. Whet* Senator Millen claims, as no doubt he will, that the -system adopted is the best, and when Senator Pratten, who apparently believes that it is the best system; since he does not object to it, makes the same claim, I can inform both that meetings of returned soldiers’ associations in different part3 of Australia have objected to the present system of control. They have advocated that, instead of the great problems of repatriation being allowed to. depend for solution upon honorary, efforts, the whole business should he vested in three well-paid Commissioners, to be chosen because of their known or;ganizing ability, even though we should have to search the world for them. They should be paid according to the value of, the work they have to do and the magnitude of the problems with which they will have to deal. There are, in pro-: portion to population, as many returned soldiers in Hobart as in any other city, in the Commonwealth, and at a meeting of the association held recently there, the secretary, who was a member of the State Parliament, and is a trusted officer, with other leading members of the association, spoke in very adverse terms of the work of the Repatriation Department. They were not blaming the Minister for what they regarded as faults, nor were they blaming any of the local committees. They were blaming the system of control I felt very interested in this matter, because they carried resolutions which were exactly to the same effect, and almost in the same words, as proposals which I endeavoured to get embodied in the Repatriation Bill when it was before this Chamber. I am not going to deny that good work has been done by the local Repatriation Committees. I am as grateful as anybody to them for the work which they have performed in an honorary capacity,but I claim that the job is too big for them. The problems involved are too vast to be allowed to rest on honorary effort. Millions of pounds have to be expended in properly restoring to their civil avocations the men, who, if their interests are not looked after, will suffer because they were game enough to leave Australia to fight for a good cause. I repeat that the job is too big to be allowed to rest on honorary effort. I believe that if we could get into touch with the Repatriation Committees in the bigger centres of Australia we should find that many of them entertain the same opinion. I am fortified in this conviction by the resolutions which Were passed by the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Association in Hobart. That a great deal has been done for our returned soldiers we all know, but I am sorry to say- that, in some instances, they are not being as well treated by private employers as’ we were led to believe they would be. I recognise that many private employers have been true to their pledges. 1 admit that many institutions have kept their promises to these men. But there are individuals and institutions which have seized .upon any trivial excuse, so long as it meant the saving of a few shillings, for refusing to reinstate these men in their former positions. Then again there are cases in which employers, in a mistaken zeal to keep their pledges, have gone too far in the other direction. I know of cases in which the very best tradesmen in their own callings - men with families dependent upon them - have been regretfully dismissed in order to make room for returned soldiers. 1 know of a linotype operator, with a family dependent upon him, who is acknowledged by his employers to be one of the best of workmen, and who was dismissed to make room for a returned soldier who was a single man. I do not believe that the “ dinkum “ returned men stand for that kind of thing. But these incidents serve to show the difficulty that will be experienced in finding employment for returned soldiers without dp ing very grave injustice to others. That is all the more reason why this difficulty should be dealt with by men who are qualified to undertake the work, and who will be well paid for doing it. They should be men of great organizing ability, l.hope that, ere long, we shall see a change in the system of control, and that we shall have .paid commissioners who will be responsible to the Minister for Repatriation, who, in his turn, will be responsible to Parliament.
Paragraph 4 of the Ministerial program contains a reference to the outbreak of influenza which has played such havoc in various parts of Australia. It says -
The influenza epidemic in our midst has caused regrettable loss of life and widespread distress.
Although quarantine is in the hands of the Commonwealth, important health powers still reside with the States.
When an outbreak of this disease appeared probable, the Government, with a keen desire to unite all the administrative forces of Australia in its attack, entered into an agreement with the States, which provided for complete concert and co-operation.
This agreement was abrogated by several State Governments, who, in defiance of constitutional rights, imposed their own quarantine measures on land and sea traffic.
The result was a lamentable disorganization of the shipping services, occasioning serious shortages of food supplies and fuel in many parts of the Commonwealth, and grave delays in the debarkation of our returning soldiers.
The futility of such methods was, however, . gradually recognised by most of the States, and nearly all the local regulations have since been withdrawn.
I wish to point out that there is one State which has not withdrawn the regulations imposed by its own health authorities. That State, in defiance of the Federal quarantine authorities, and backed up by the opinion of its own health authorities, has insisted upon retaining a seven days’ quarantine as the only safe precaution against the introduction of influenza. So far it has been fortunate enough to escape any outbreak of the disease. Whilst it is true that influenza cases have been brought to Tasmania bv the Wyandra and other vessels, those cases have been disembarked at the Quarantine Station in Barnes Bay, on the Derwent, some miles distant from Hobart. There they have been compelled to undergo a period of seven day’s detention, as recommended by the health officers of Tasmania. The Chief Health Officer of that State, who is also the officer in charge of the quarantine arrangements for the Commonwealth, has expressly stated - and his opinion is upheld by every medical man in Tasmania - that seven days may be regarded as a safe period of quarantine, but nothing less than seven days. The paragraph which I have quoted does not say that when our health officers refused to shorten this term of quarantine, the Acting Prime Minister, advised, I suppose, by Dr. Cumpston, the Chief Commonwealth Health Officer, sent a brutal ultimatum to Tasmania, stating that if the period of quarantine were not shortened to four days, such little shipping as Tasmania had at that time would be withdrawn. When the Acting Prime Minister took advantage of a chance Act of Parliament to send such an ultimatum to a State whose only desire was to keep the scourge of influenza outside its territory, he sadly misunderstood his functions. What benefit would it be to anybody if, by reason of shortening the period of quarantine, a. State which had hitherto been clean, became infected? The only reason advanced by .the Acting Prime Minister for his action was the lamentable disorganization of the shipping service. He may have had some reason to point out to the State Government that as far as possible they should co-operate with the Commonwealth Government, but when he sent his message threatening to withdraw what shipping Tasmania possessed at a time when hundreds of our producers were faced with ruin on account of the almost total absence of shipping facilities with which to transport their perishable products to the mainland-
– Tasmania declined to allow us to land troops from vessels which had been declared clean.
– The Acting Minister for Defence is making a statement which I have never seen in print. I do not know the particular incidents that h6 has in his mind, but I do know that at the time of which I speak Tasmania was suffering from a tremendous scarcity of shipping. Yet because its health officer said that seven days’ quarantine provided a safe margin in the case of influenza, while four days did not, the authorities there were told that if they insisted upon keeping ships in quarantine for seven days the little shipping which Tasmania already had would be withdrawn. Seeing that the threat could be made only by reason of the powers conferred under the War Precautions Act, the Acting Prime Minister was taking an unfair advantage of the powers vested in the Government.
But for the War Precautions Regulations,. Ministers could exercise no control whatever over shipping. Consequently theActing Prime Minister seized upon apiece of emergency legislation to seriously interfere with the livelihood of a very large number of people. Hundreds of Tasmanian producers were faced with absolute ruin if they did not accept the verdict of the Commonwealth Government, and on the other hand, if they did not indorse the view of the State Government the whole of Tasmania was in danger of becoming infected. The fact that Tasmania has escaped the influenza epidemic is the best possible evidence w.e could have that our own health officers were right, and Dr. Cumpston was *wrong about the quarantine period.
– Hear, hear!
– We all join in congratulating Tasmania upon her immunity.
– I am glad to have the Minister’6 assurance, but if he had attended some of the public meetings held in the chief centres of Tasmania, he would have realized that there was an impression that the Acting Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Government do not care two straws what happened to Tasmania so long as shipping facilities were not hindered by the longer period of quarantine. Senator Bakhap will bear me out in that statement.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is quite correct in saying that the people of Tasmania had the impression that the Acting Prime Minister did not care two straws what happened to Tasmania. Their impression was that the State Government were right in their attitude. That is beyond question.
– It is six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. This is no party matter. I have gathered in conversation with groups of people everywhere that the general impression was thai the Government did not care so long as shipping was released.
– We are supporting our own Government to a man. That is the point. “
– That is so. No party interests are involved in this mat- ter. There were big meetings in Hobart, Launceston, and elsewhere, attended by both opponents and supporters of the present Government, and there was a general chorus of condemnation against the action of the Acting Prime Minister and the Government. The Controller of Shipping (Admiral Clarkson) seems to Have Tasmania in his grip, and does just what he likes in connexion with quarantine matters. In an interview I had with him the other day, he informed me that he did not believe that there was any more influenza in Victoria than in . Tasmania, but I told him that, in such matters, I preferred to accept the views of our own health officers.
– Fortunately, we are not losing our population, at all events.
– Admiral Clark- son seemed to have the idea, that the medical officers of Tasmania did not have a: proper grip of the position, because they had not been over to Victoria. That was a most remarkable statement to come from a man in Admiral Clarkson’s position. 1 submit that the Government have treated Tasmania very unfairly in connexion with’ the shipping during the past six months. We are only a small State, numerically and -geographically, and probably that is the reason why we havenot received more consideration.
– We ought to receive first consideration as regards shipping, because that is our only means of communication with the mainland.
– Undoubtedly we should. There is no comparison between the difficulties encountered in Tasmania by shipping quarantine, and difficulties in the other States, because Tasmania is completely isolated. The other States may have their troubles, but at least they have some means of communication between the capital cities, so they are not in the same position as Tasmania, which has been absolutely cut off from the mainland for two or three weeks at a time. With shipping withdrawn, it has been impossible for our people to get supplies which are absolutely necessary, and impossible, also, to transport to the mainland their perishable products, which have been piled up for months past on all the wharfs. Pears must be marketed within a few days after being picked, but owing to the withdrawal of shipping, thousands of cases have been allowed to rot on the trees, to the ruin of orchardists, who are a very fine type of citizen, engaged in the very best type of closer settlement in Australia.
– And representing one of the principal industries of Tasmania.
– Apple-growers have suffered in like manner, because in ordinary seasons they look to the. Brisbane. Sydney, and Melbourne markets to absorb a certain proportion of their crop; and as no oversea ships have been available of late, they were relying upon the Inter-State markets to take a larger proportion this year than usual.
I come now to another aspect of the shipping position. Paragraph No. 6 of the Ministerial statement reads -
A large number of thefleet of steamers which are owned in Australia is still under Imperial requisition, but their release is expected within a few months. The vessels remaining in Australian waters are requisitioned under powers conferred under the War Precautions Act. As a result of the governmental control of Inter-State shipping, Australia has, during the war, enjoyed more favorable freights and fares than any other belligerent country. The urgent question of maintaining, after the present control expires, the cheap coastal services in the face of the tempting rates earned by tonnage in other waters, is at present engaging the attention of the Government.
– If we released those boats they could earn enormous profits overseas.
– What does the paragraph mean?
– It is an intimation that we do not intend to let them go.
– I am glad to get that assurance from the Minister, because of the inference that probably the Government might allow these vessels to earn a lot of money in other parts of the world, instead of bringing them to Australia and working them in Australian waters. Some people might say that that is good business ; that as these ships are owned by the people of the Commonwealth, they should be run as a commercial proposition. I am very glad, indeed, to know that the Government have no intention of continuing to employ these vessels in other waters merely because they would earn more money there. This will be very , good news, indeed, to the people of Tasmania. Recently, one of the biggest deputations of business men ever held in Hobart approached the Premier and asked him to communicate with the Federal authorities to see if the shipping situation could not be eased by having one of the federally-owned vessels put on the run between the mainland and Hobart; and another between the mainland and the north coast. I tell the Government candidly that, unless something is done to ease the position pretty soon, hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of our very best producers will be absolutely ruined. The wharfs along the northern coast - at Stanley, Burnie, Devonport, andUlverstone - have been stacked up with produce for months past, awaiting shipment to the mainland. The position is perhaps intensified down south, because the northern produce is not so perishable. There was an impression that when the Government spent over £2,000.000 in purchasing a fleet of ships, they did it, not with the intention of running those vessels all around the world merely as a trading proposition, but with the sole purpose of easing the situation in Australia. I trust that as the steamers return to Australian waters the Government will free them, so far as possible, from overseas engagements, and that as many of them as may be required for the shipping services of the Commonwealth will be retained. Unless that autocrat of shipping, Rear-Admiral Sir William Clarkson, can see his way clear to take action at once the position will become still more serious.
– What . was the matter with the steamer which came across empty to-day? Could she not have brought Tasmanian produce to the mainland? On account of the seamen’s strike, she would not have made the passage if she had been asked to carry cargo. The Wyandra could have crossed with a full load of Tasmanian produce for the mainland markets but for the strike.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that that is due to the seamen’s strike?
– A very large share of the responsibility must rest upon those responsible for the seamen’s strike.
– It is a question which must be discussed at length, and I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senateadjourned at 6.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 June 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19190626_senate_7_88/>.