7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether, in view of the need for assisting in an effective way the repatriation of Australian soldiers, and in view of the promises made by the Government at the general elections in 1917, it is intended tobring down an amending Tariff Bill to secure effective protection to Australian industries ?
– The honorable senator is aware that on several occasions, in the case of similar questions, the reply has been that it is not usual to disclose Government policy in answer to questions.
– In View of the desirability of increasing our primary products, will the Government give ample consideration to that matter before any artificial means of giving employment are taken in hand ?
– The Government will undoubtedly regard it as their simple duty to consider all interests in shaping any legislation dealing with trade or industry.
The following papers were presented
Papers presented to British Parliament - Germany - Economic conditions prevailing, Marchand April, 1919. - Further Reports by British Officers.
Protocol supplementary to the Treaty of Peace, signed at Versailles, 28th June, 1919.
Customs Act 1901-1916.- Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 205.
Defence Act 1903-1918. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 204, 200, 207, 208.
Entertainments Tax Assessment Act 1916. Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 121.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1916. - Land acquired at-
Adelaide, South Australia - For Repatriation purposes.
Brisbane, Queensland - For Repatriation purposes.
Port Adelaide, South Australia - For Customs purposes.
Northern Territory. - Ordinance No. 10 of 1919.Deputy Administrator.
Public Service Act 1902-1918. - Promotions, Department of the Treasury - W. Hayes and J. A. W. Stevenson.
H. Kinnish, H. C. Higgins, C. T. C.
Hills, and P. G. H. Garrett.
G. C. Allen, M. D. Briggs, and E. O. Walters.
War Precautions Act 1914-1918- Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 203.
Limitation of Speeches
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether, in view of the possibility at an early date of a discussion on the Peace Treaty, he will give notice of a motion whereby the Senate, if it so desires, may suspend the standing order limiting the duration of speeches, for the purposeof that discussion?
– It is unnecessary to give such notice, because the Senate can do what the honorable senator suggests if it wishes to do so.
– I askthe
Minister representing the Prime Minister if he can inform me how the 2,000 unemployed returned soldiers and 3,000 unemployed civilians in New South Wales are going to carry out the Prime Minister’s desire to increase the production of wealth unless they are given some work.
– It is not possible for me to say exactly inwhat way what the honorable senator suggests can be done ; but, obviously,the securing of work for the unemployed persons referred to would lead in that direction.
– Some time ago I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question with regard to the number of persons imprisoned under the War Precautions Act, and now in gaol. Is the honorable senator yet in a position to supply the information?
– I am now able to inform the honorable senator that the answer to his question is “ four.”
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he will make a definite statement with regard to the position of Australians who joined the Army or Navy in England or elsewhere, and have been returned to Australia? Will he say whether they are entitled to the benefits of the provisions of the Repatriation Act?
– Any Australian who served with any unit of the Imperial or Dominion Forces is entitled to the full benefits of the Repatriation Act.
Disposable Surplus of 1916-17 Wheat,
– I ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether he is prepared to make a statement astothe disposable surplus, if any, of the 1916-17 Wheat Pool.
– A statement will be made in the course of the next two or three days in regard to the whole wheat position.
– I have received the following letter from Senator Barnes : -
I desire to inform you that to-day I will move that the Senate adjourn until Friday, 12th September; at 10 a.m., in order to discuss a matter of urgent , publicbusiness, viz., The dismissal of persons from the Commonwealth Public Service as the result of Commissioner Barnett’s reports.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
.- I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Friday, the 12th September, at 10 a.m.
In bringing this matter before the Senate, I may say that I have endeavoured to obtain full particulars from the Department in regard to the case I shall bring under notice. It appears to me, from the information . I have received, that grave injustice has been done to some ten per sons mentioned in a report given by the Minister a few weeks ago. Owing to the fact that the Government refused to give me access to the papers in regard to this matter, I have no other remedy but to bring it before the Senate. The Minister has informed the Senate that some 760 eases were dealt with by Commissioner Barnet. The object of the inquiry was to find out how many persons of alien extraction were employed in the Public Service, and whether they were so employed to the detriment of the people of’ this country. If such were the case, the Government had power to discharge them from the Service under section 50a of the Public Service Act, which reads; -
If, after inquiry, a Royal’ Commission appointed under the Royal Commissions Act 1902-1912 to inquire into the origin of birth and parentage of persons inthe Public Service or employ, reports to the Governor-General that it is of opinion that the continuance of any person . in the Public Service or employ is detrimental to the public safety or the defence of the Commonwealth, the Governor-General may dismiss the person from the Public Service or. employ.
I take it that persons dismissed under that section would be dismissed because it had been established that they were either enemy aliens or of enemy alien extraction, or that their services were a menace to the Commonwealth. I refer specifically to the case of. Robert Leslie Reinitz,. a young man employed in the Postal Department ofthe Commonwealth. He had been so employed for a period of five years, according to my information, and there was not a solitary black mark against his conduct while in the Service, yet he was dismissed under this section for some reason which I have been unable to ascertain. The Government will not assist me in the matter by giving me access to the papers. In cases relating to those of alien extraction, the facts appear to disclose that grave injustice has been done. This man, like most of us, did not choose his parents.His grandfather was a German named Gerard Reinitz, who came from Oldenburg, in Germany, and landed in South Australia in 1854, at the age of twenty-seven. He lived in South Australia for a time, and came to Victoria in 1855. He was married on 10th April, 1859, to a woman named Mary Ann Rush, who was born in Maitland, in New South Wales.
He was naturalized on 15th June, 1860, and of the issue of the marriage there was a son, who was named John Reinitz. This man married a girl who lived near Ballarat, and of the issue of that marriage was the boy employed in the postal service.
– Was he Australianborn?
– Absolutely. His mother and father were born in Australia, but his grandfather was bom in Germany. If the Government have no better excuse for dispensing with the services of such persons than they had in this case, it is time the country knew it. The Reinitz family is a very large one, the members of which live in and around Ballarat, and the brothers and sisters of this young man are numerous. They have been loyal subjects throughout the whole period of the war, and the sisters of this boy have been particularly energetic in connexion with patriotic work done in the district. One sister possesses some musical talents, and the members of the family generally have rendered great service in connexion with patriotic work. In addition, the father and brothers of this man have invested largely in various loans, and have contributed generously to all calls made upon the community during the war period . The family were naturally grieved that one of their members should be made conspicuous by being discharged from the Commonwealth Public Service solely because he was of alien extraction. From the information I have given the Senate, it appears that there was nothing to warrant his dismissal. If my information is correct, there was no mark against the conduct of this man whilst he was in the Public Service. There seems only one reason why the Government discharged him, and it is apparently vindictiveness, because Reinitz, who was of eligible age - twenty-two - did not offer his services for the war, and it would appear that the Government took action because of that. The verdict of the country has been unmistakable in regard to conscription, and I do not think the country will tolerate the Government recommending an employee’s dismissal because he did not enlist.
– Was he guilty of any indiscretion in his public utterances?
– Not so far as I know. The Government are called upon to make out a case, and, if they can, I have nothing further to say. I would like to read a couple of letters written by people of standing, who know this man, which have come into my hands.
– Was he in temporary or permanent employment?
– He was temporarily employed for a while, but at the time of dismissal was on the permanent staff. I shall read a letter written by the secretary of the Bungaree Shire Council to a brother of this discharged young man. The brother is president of the Bungaree Shire Council, and has some standing in the country. The letter reads -
Leigh Creek, June 30th, 1919.
Dear Councillor Reinitz, .
In case your origin, nationality, or loyalty should be brought into question at any time, I am writing you this letter as a testimony of my personal knowledge of your sentiments for the past four years. As a returned soldier, holding the rank of major in the Australian Imperial Force, I can truthfully say that, as a councillor, you have always shown a spirit of loyalty that would put to shame thousands of the so-called and self-styled loyalists, and have shown that consideration for the returned soldiers which so many British-born subjects have failed to do. As president of the shire you have never failed, when called upon, to uphold the dignity of your position in asserting the rights of the Allied cause, and showing an example of loyalty to the Throne and the nation befitting the public position you occupy as the chief magistrate of a British municipality; and if at any future time you require my assistance in further proof of your fidelity to the nation, you need not hesitate to ask for it.
Wishing you all prosperity in the future, (Sgd.) Julius S. Lazarus.
Further testimony to the character of Leslie Reinitz is contained in a letter addressed to me, which reads : -
Rocky Lead, 30th June, 1919.
Re the case of Leslie Reinitz, of the Postal Department, I beg to certify that I have known his parents for forty-seven years, and the whole of their children since their births, and that I have never found either parents or children anything but most loyal British subjects.
During ‘the currency of the war the whole family has taken a deep interest in patriotic work, assisting largely in local Red Cross branch, singing at concerts, playing music for dances, and assisting most constantly and willingly in every way. Also Mr. Reinitz, the father, has invested all the money he could spare in the war loans, and the children have bought war savings’ certificates to the amount of £50. It surprises me, as one whohas very intimate relations with the family, to find that any one can be found who will doubt the loyalty of any member of the family, as parents and children, of whom there are twelve, have always been to the fore in every patriotic movement started in this place.
The whole family, the eldest son of which is at present president of the Bungaree Shire, are noted for good moral character, good neighbourship, and straight conduct.
I have much pleasure in bearing this testimony and hope that Leslie may be reinstated in his position.
I am, sir, yours respectfully,
C.C. Phillips, J.P.
I understand that I have met the writer of that letter, although I do not know him. But I am informed that he is a school teacher, and that it has fallen to his lot to be the instructor of every member of this family. Nobody, therefore, is better qualified to testify either as to their loyalty or their characters. I regret that I have been obliged to bring this matter before the Senate. But if my information be correct - and I am satisfied that all the statements regarding the births of these individuals are true, because I have personally examined marriage certificates and naturalization papers supporting them. Leslie Reinitz has been the victim of a grave injustice. If this sort of thing be allowed to pass without comment, it will be a grievous wrong, not only to this particular individual, but to every person in this country. I do not think that either honorable senators or the electors of the Commonwealth would countenance such treatment being meted out to a young man who has spent the best years of his life in qualifying to become possibly a future Postmaster-General, and who has rendered loyal and efficient service for the remuneration which he has received. If be is to be discharged from our Public Service merely because he is of enemy extraction, half the people of this country ought to be discharged from their employment.
– According to the honorable senator’s own showing, his enemy extraction is very remote.
– It is too remote to warrant any notice being taken of it.
– Does the honorable senator say that young Reinitz was fitting himself for the position of PostmasterGeneral?
– He is a very ambitious and pushing young man, and in all probability he, in common with many other persons in our Public Service, will yet be qualified to fill the highest positions open to them, and, if so, good luck to them. Because of matters which were absolutely beyond his control, Leslie Reinitz has been dismissed from the Commonwealth Public Service, and, as a result, it may at some future time be thrown into the teeth of his relatives that one of their number was fired’ out of that service because he was of German extraction, and because he must have been doing something which was detrimental to the interests of the people of this country.
– But a tribunal has intervened between the Government and this individual.
-According to the information supplied by the Leader of this Chamber, Mr. Barnet, the Commissioner appointed for the purpose, inquired into the cases of. 768 aliens in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, out of which number he recommended consideration by the ‘Government of only thirty-five cases. The Government considered each of these cases, and afforded an opportunity to the individual charged of answering the accusation which was made against him. I understand that this privilege was accorded to Leslie Reinitz, and that he supplied to the Commissioner and the Government the information which 1 have furnished to the Senate.
– There can be no allegation of vindictiveness against the Government.
– I am warranted in attempting to force the Government to supply the Senate with the fullest information, and I am justified in adopting my own method to achieve that end. I am of opinion that the Government fired this young man, not because he was of alien extraction and not because he was doing bad work in his office, but because he did not offer himself for military service overseas.
– That is a gratuitous assumption.
– I am making the statement quite frankly, so as to afford the Government an opportunity of removing that impression, if it be a wrong one, from my mind. There are thousands of persons to whom this family are well known, and it is not fair that an aspersion of this character should be cast upon its members without the fullest justification for it. I shall be very glad to hear, the reply of the Minister to my statements.
– I take no exception to the action which Senator Barnes has seen fit to take this afternoon. I say that more particularly because I am. induced to hope, from the last portion of his address, that he is not attempting to take up this case in any spirit of pro-Germanism, but merely because he desires to insure that no injustice shall be done to one or more individuals. I wish to remind honorable senators of the circumstances which led to the appointment of the Commission to which he has referred. Some honorable senators and persons outside were responsible for the statement that there were being retained in the Commonwealth Public Service numbers of’ men of enemy parentage whose loyalty to Australia at the time of its great crisis was open to suspicion. This statement was made frequently, and with very great circumstantiality. The Governmentfeltthattheythemselves were ills-equipped to make an inquiry into this particular matter. They felt, however, that some inquiry was called for. It did not appear to the Government, nor dbes it appear to me now, that there was the slightest justification for retaining in out Public Service any man regarding whose loyalty there was reason for doubt. The Government, therefore, feeling that an inquiry was called for, but. recognising that, apart from the matter of time, they themselves were under some disability because of the readiness with which thoughts of political influences arise in the minds of many persons, decided to hand over to an independent gentleman the duty of conducting this inquiry. They selected Mr. Barnet for the job. There ; may be honorable senators who, whilst they know of Mr. Barnet, do not know him personally. . Let me assure them that he is both an experienced and a trusted public servant. His career as a police magistrate - a position: which he held with great credit for many years - is sufficient guarantee of his qualifications.
– Was this the same gentleman whom Mr. Mahon, when Minister for External Affairs, intrusted with the conduct of an inquiry in the Northern Territory?
– I am not sure, but I think it is the same gentleman. Anyhow, he was given the task of. inquiring into the cases of those members of the Public Service who were of enemy descent, and to ascertain, not merely the facts of their parentage, but of their loyalty. The latter point is one to which Senator Barnes has made no reference. The inquiries were held. It was open to every one called before Mr. Barnet to present any evidence which he could bring forward in his own favour. These belated certificates which Senator Barnes now introduces, not with regard to the loyalty and integrity of theindividual referred, to, but concerning certain of. his relatives-, count for very little. They would have proved more effective had they been presented to the Commissioner at the time of his inquiry.
– These people never dreamed that, anything, of this nature would be. required of. them. They thought that everything was so clear that there was no room for doubt as to the young man’s treatment.
– If every man upon suspicion-
– What would Senator Millen have done if he had been met with such a charge ? That young man thought he was as innocent of wrong as the Minister or I would have thought ourselves.
– If I had been any one of those ten individuals, or of some of the larger group for that matter, I would have marvelled at this country having kept me in its service for so long a period. The honorable senator does not seem to recognise what war means. No other country in the world, except Great Britain herself, would have dreamed of retaining in its Public Service men of enemy parentage as we have done. No country, excepting only England, would have admitted such individuals to its Service.
– This man was Australian born.
– I am speaking of those of enemy parentage who were in em- ployment in. the Public Service. In our attitude towards men coming within this category we have not been rigid or harsh ; we have been actually tolerant. Senator Barnes quoted the fact that there had been some 700 cases inquired into. Does it look like vindictiveness that, among such a number, only ten persons have been dismissed? When 700 odd cases have been_ inquired into, does it appear that there has been any harsh or vindictive spirit at work, seeing that, finally, only ten of the total have been retired from the Public Service?
– If one of those ten can show that five of his immediate ancestors were English, and that only one was a German, and that that one was ais grandfather-
– Then he may be an English disloyalist, and not a German disloyalist.
– Honorable senators must couple two points in considering this problem. The ‘fact of enemy parentage alone was not sufficient to bring about dismissal from- our Public Service. That is proved by the fact that only ten persons of enemy parentage were dismissed among 700 of enemy parentage whose cases’ were inquired into. Some factor other than that had to be taken into account. I stress those figures, because I resent the suggestion of Senator Barnes that there was, on the part either of Mr. Barnet or of the Government, any vindictiveness displayed. In no case was a man dismissed who had not been recommended for dismissal by the Commissioner, after full inquiry. In .addition’, it should be remembered that the Commissioner recommended that thirty-five persons be retired from the Public Service, whereupon the ‘Government gave those thirty-five an opportunity to appeal, and, after hearing them, decided to give the benefit of a doubt in twenty-five among the total of thirty-five ‘cases. Only ten in all have been dismissed. Surely that is a sufficient and complete answer to any ‘suggestion that a wicked or vindictive policy has been pursued!
– Was suspicion held concerning those 700 individuals?
– It was impossible for the Government to go round collecting evidence, and to say to the Commissioner, “ Examine the case of this man, but not that of . the next.” The Government, rather, gave a general com mission to Mr. Barnet to inquire regarding those persons in the .public employ who were of enemy birth or ‘origin, and Mr. Barnet, thereupon, set’out on his inquiries.
– But can it be said that, among 700 suspicious cases, only ten persons were convicted?
– They were not suspicious cases. They were the cases of individuals employed in the Public Sendee who were of enemy parentage or origin. The Commissioner inquired whether’ their loyalty was open to suspicion or not. That circumstance sweeps away any suggestion of a vindictive desire on the part of the Commissioner or of the Government to hunt out of the Public Service certain individuals’ who were under no disqualification.
In regard to this particular case, I have not the full measure of information before me which I would like to possess. Although Senator Barnes followed the course usually adopted when honorable senators propose to formally move the adjournment of the Senate of giving me notice of his intention to do so, he did not give me notice until this afternoon, and thus did not afford me sufficient opportunity to ascertain the particulars of this case as fully as I should have liked to do. But I have secured a report from the Commissioner regarding this man, Reinitz. It is based upon the evidence which the Commissioner gathered ianthe course of his inquiry. From the document, it does not appear that Beinitz produced any evidence other than that which he himself gave. The Commissioner states that Beinitz was an assistant in the mail branch of the postal service. The facts concerning- his parentage are as Senator Barnes has 6et out. I shall quote the only portion of the report which I think pertinent, and, therefore, desirable and necessary to place before honorable senators -
His deliberate and reiterated statement, inter- alia, that he has nothing to fight for, and would gain nothing by so doing, carries with it a strong inference of disaffection and disloyalty - in times such as those we are now passing through, and as a consequence I recommend that his services be not retained.
– And quite sufficient reason, too!
– That is the recommendation of the Commissioner. He refers to- the deliberate and reiterated statements of this person. I am entitled to draw from that, not that the young man uttered such remarks casually and on the spur of the moment, but that he went round preaching the gospel - as it were - ‘and that he repeated and reiterated those sentiments. This was at a time when our country was fighting for existence, when the men of this country were laying down their lives for it. It would be extreme foolishness for the Government to maintain individuals in the Public Service the while those persons were saying they had nothing to fight for. It would be unwise on the part of the Government, to say the least of it, if, while certain persons were eating its bread, it permitted them to talk like that. No one in time of warfare is free to .utter such statements. Ordinary civilians, outside the Public Service, have been prosecuted for uttering statements no worse than that. In times of peace, the Government can afford to ignore remarks of that character. Persons indulging in such talk can be dealt with in the ordinary way. The fact is that, in Australia, we have never been brought face to face with the inner workings of conditions of warfare. In any European’ country, if one were to make statements of the nature indicated here, one w,ould not be so lightly dealt with. Much harsher treatment would be meted out.
Apart from the policy involved, I emphasize that this particular action was not taken by the Government, but by the Commissioner whom the Government appointed. The Commissioner made his recommendations, and the Government saw no reason to depart from them.
– If this young man had nothing to fight for, why did he wish to stay in the Service?
– He had nothing to fight for, apparently, when blows were being given, but he evidently had something to fight for when Senator Barnes could be got to fight for him.
– I suggest that this person is really a disloyalist of English descent. He is not a German disloyalist. His German ancestry is too remote. Plenty of Germans have proved more loyal than some persons of British extraction.
– That has been shown. That a name was of enemy origin was not sufficient to bring about dismissal from our Public Service. We can look down our glorious deathroll, and there find many Teutonic names, and we honour the men who bore them, and their relatives, for that fact. The real charge against this man, and the reason for which he ‘was retired from the public pay-roll, was that, being of enemy extraction, he had given utterance to statements which indicated a want of loyalty on his part. We have any number of loyal men capable of filling all the posts the Government have to offer. Our returned soldiers have a claim in that regard. They demonstrated their loyalty, and now that the war is over, it is more in keeping with the public sentiment of this country that its Public Service should be carried on, not by those whose loyalty is open to question, but by those who proved their loyalty in the -face of death.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [3.41]. - I listened with interest to the concluding portion of Senator Millen’s remarks, and, notwithstanding the almost unanimous cheers from the Government benches, I still think the Government are wrong.
– -Not in this respect. This man had a fair deal.
– If the Public Service of this country ‘has reached the stage when a man’s fitness for a position is tested by somebody else’s opinion of his loyalty, I am ‘ afraid it is in a bad way. Here is a British subject - an Australianborn citizen, I understand - and the only thing against him is that his loyalty has been questioned; that is to say, that he dared to say upon some occasions that he had nothing to fight for.
– We have no time for men who have nothing to fight for.
– I can quite understand Senator Bakhap having no time for a man who says he has nothing to fight for, because he was prepared to. let all our men fight without pay. He. said that on the floor of the Senate.
– Plenty of Australianborn Chinese died for the Empire.
– I can quite understand the ultra-conservative viewpoint of the honorable senator with, shall I say, that Eastern Toryism which believes - I am not saying this offensively - that human kind are mere chattels, to be used when authority dares to use them.
– To fight for their own liberty, yes.
– Let me come to the point. Here is a man removed from the Public Service, and the one test of his loyalty or disloyalty is that he was supposed to have said that he had not much to fight for. .
– Nothing to fight for.
– I accept the honorable senator’s correction, as I have no wish to minimize the seriousness of the statement. Have we become so intolerant as to say that a man who expresses the view that he has nothing to fight for is to be hounded down ? That is the logical conclusion of Senator Millen’s remarks. If the Commonwealth have no time for the services of this young man, we are entitled to go a little further, and say that the community have no time for him.
– Then, is this young man to be driven out of the community and ostracised from society?
– There is no room for a man who won’t fight for his country.
– There is room, absolutely, for the free expression of thought.
– There is no room for a lucifer match in a powder magazine.
– What is the offence for which this young man has been removed from his position? Let us take it at its very worst. Honorable senators opposite, no doubt, will say that the expression of the view that he had nothing to fight for implied some reflection upon those who held different views. There was no such reflection at all. I can quite understand the attitude of men whose whole existence and environment have been such that they reach manhood without thinking that they have anything to fight for. Honorable senators opposite may have had such a splendid time in this world that they may think no man ought to be in that frame of mind, and because of the war they have been suddenly elevated into the position of being, not only the judges of loyalty, but the masters also of other people’s thoughts and utterances. I say that the right to live in a freedom-loving country implies the right to the free expression of opinion. How is freedom obtained?
– By fighting for it.
– No one is objecting to his expression of opinion.
– I am glad to have that interjection, because we have been told that the expression of certain views cost this young man his position.
– He may express certain views, but that is no reason why we should keep him in a Government billet.
– I can quite understand that, if it comes to the position of two persons seeking employment in the Commonwealth, it is desirable for the Commonwealth to give the post to the man who believes he has something to fight for. That is a legitimate position to take up. But does the honorable senator tell me that this young man must lose his position, because, through inexperience, perhaps, he actually dared to say that he had nothing to fight for, and probably he said more than he thought ?
– Do you say that he was inexperienced ? He is twenty-two years of age, and some people in this country want to give votes to lads of eighteen years of age.
– It appears that this young man is to be removed from the Public Service because he dared to express views - we know not whether uttered in a truculent spirit or otherwise - in opposition to the opinions of an intolerant majority. While I agree with Senator Senior that there is no room for a lucifer match in a powder magazine, it appears to me that there is to be no room in this country for anybody who thinks differently from the occupants of the Government benches. That is what is meant by this action in regard to the young man referred to. Nothing could be more contemptible.
– Ask Rosa and Willis what they think about the free expression of opinion.
– You thought worse things years ago, when representing Broken Hill.
- Senator McDougall has happily reminded me of an incident in Senator Thomas’s career. Senator Thomas, I understand, was struck off the roll of justices of the peace in New South Wales some twenty or thirty years ago because of his disloyalty.
– No. It was because I was sticking up for the Labour party.
– I thank the honorable senator for his correction. Because he was sticking up for the Labour party at that time, a brutal and ignorant Government struck his name off the roll of justices of the peace.
– My name was put on the roll again.
– The point is this : Twenty years hence this young man, if given a chance, may be quite as good a citizen as Senator Thomas is to-day. This man is the victim of the tyranny of constituted authority which sets itself up to be the guardian of public interests and loyalty. To my mind, loyalty is a vague term, and one which has been misused to cover half the crimes in the calendar during the last five years. Honorable senators who know Senator Millen as I do are aware that he never puts the weaker side of his case before the Senate, and yet the worst offence with which he could charge this young man was that he had said that he had nothing to fight for. If honorable senators opposite will turn this man out of the Public Service because he said he had nothing to fight for, what will they do with the profiteers, who, while our men were away fighting for the country, tried to starve their children ? What will be the punishment provided for them?
SenatorBARNES. - There are no “Hear, hears “ from the other side to that.
– What is to be the punishment for the Meat Combine, who, . when we required to purchase meat to feed our soldiers, charged us here in Melbourne ls. per lb., whilst they were filling ships with meat to be sent to England at 47/8d. per lb. ? What punishment is the majority going to provide for those men ? Is any proposed ? No, there is not: Honorable senators opposite are silent, because they know that it is their desire that the small offender should be held up that they may be able to charge the Labour party with associating themselves with pro-Germans. I associate myself with justice for every man in this community. I am not hard-hearted enough to do justice to the profiteers, because the guillotine or the rope should be reserved for them, and I would let their offence pass-, only making it impossible for them to continue it. The Minister for Repatriation holds that it is a good reason for the discharge of . this young man - not a German but a Britisher - that he said that he had nothing to fight for. I can quite understand the frame of mind of a man who thinks that he has nothing to fight for.
– I cannot.
– I am aware of that. I take the case of a child of tender years coming into this country and struggling for existence, when he should be at. school, assisting his mother to earn the bread by which they live, and when hereaches an age and has sufficient intelligence to join a union, finds himself boycotted in the way in which traders of thirty years could boycott a man, and thrown from post to pillar because of theopinions he held. Then when the war comes they say to him, . “ G’o and fight for us,” though they remain to make big profits out of the war.
SenatorFoll.- That would not apply to this young man, who was only twentytwo years of age.
– Suppose this young man had been engaged in a struggle for existence his whole lifethrough; suppose his life had been such that he felt that he had nothing to thank any one for, and if we want any suggestion of that kind we have it in the utterance of Senator Millen when he said’ that he is not going to have the bread and butter of the Commonwealth.I do not know any man in the Commonwealth in Government dr in private employment who does not. earn his bread and butter before he gets it. His employers take very good care of that. This taunt of bread and butter to the man who works is in keeping with the spirit of the party opposite. Bread and butter, forsooth ! Do honorable senators opposite consider that they confer a favour in granting it, or that it is asked for as a charity ? When the Minister for Repatriation talks of this man getting the Commonwealth bread and butter, I ask honorable senators opposite whether it was unearned bread and butter ? They know that it was not. But in their arrogant tyranny the constituted Government, in the exercise of their authority, and using the little power they have for the little time they are to have it, make an example of this man. What example is to be made of the profiteers ? They will take time to consider that, because they haveto use their funds for political purposes. This man has no fund from which to assist the campaign of ‘the Liberal or National party, or whatever name the party now . propose to call themselves, and is, therefore, to ‘be held up as a shocking example. He is thrown out of the Public Service of the Commonwealth, although the worst thing reported of him is that he said he had nothing ‘to fight for. If a man were quite blind and one tried to show him something, he would not punch him in the ear because he could not see it. But if this man be mentally blind, and cannot see that he has anything to fight for, honorable senators opposite are prepared to punish him. They know me well enough to know -that I have never backed down on the -question of fighting. I believe that it is the duty of -citizens to fight when occasion demands. At the same time, I do not think it is becoming of the Government, and particularly of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, to go round looking for men with such small offences chargea’b’le against them as are charged :against this man. Honorable senators opposite say that they, have -no time for disloyalty ; but is the fact that a man says that he has nothing to fight for a ‘test of loyalty or of disloyalty?
– ‘Is it not the -greatest sin against a country to refuse to fight for it? Is it not the duty of the Government to see that they employ only those who are willing to fight ‘for the country ?
– I know that there are some people who would like to use force for everything; but I want to say that, while they governed this country, the Australian Labour party, by a voluntary effort, did more than was. done in any other British Dominion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Shannon). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– In its inconsistency, .the speech we have just listened to from Senator Gardiner is of a kind to which we are pretty well accustomed. We have heard him declaring the right of people to make’ up their minds on matters of importance’ to themselves and to the country, and to give expression to their views. Let me ask Senator Gardiner h.ow much of that spirit of tolerance was shown to some of those’ who had been associated with him -for years, when they differed from him in -opinion some time ago? Where was the honorable senator’s sense of tolerance and good-will at that time? There was not the slightest sign of it.
– To what is the honora’ble senator referring? I do not see the application of his remarks.
– Senator Gardiner has only to think of what occurred in a certain room in this ‘building a few years ago, and he will have a picture in his mind’s eye of the occasion I bring under his notice.
– “When the honorable senator and others walked out cif the party, and “scabbed “ on .our movement ?
– “ Scabbed on the movement!” There is an example of the honorable senator’s idea of tolerance ! I cast the expression back in his face as’ a downright lie!
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. Orel or ! The honora’ble senator should withdraw that remark.
– I am an older trade unionist than is Senator ‘Gardiner.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order’! The honorable senator is not in order in using the language ‘he has used.
– 1 have done more for the trade- union movement than any honorable senator opposite ever did for it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order ! The honorable senator must withdraw the remark to which I have taken exception.
– I withdraw it in consideration for your position. So far as’ “ scabbing “ on the Labour movement is concerned, I defy any honorable senator sitting on the opposite side to show as good, or a better, record in regard to the Australian Labour movement than I can show. I have never violated in the slightest degree any principle of. the Labour movement.
– ‘The honorable senator might leave those in -the movement ‘to be the judges of that.
– I give my decision in the meantime. My Labour record and political fate are . not at the mercy of -my enemies when I am challenged.
– The honorable senator gives merely his opinion.
– I am giving, also, the opinion of thousands of the people who know me best, to whom I have appealed since the occasion I referred to, and who sent me back here. Whether Senator Barnes will meet the same fate, I do not know. In the meantime I advise Senator Barnes to wait and see.
– If the honorable senator will permit me to make an explanation, I am always sorry when I speak in anger ; but if he is trying to make out that in the room to which he refers we drove himself and others out of the Labour party, that is not true.
– Senator Gardiner must know that it is perfectly true. He must know that it was the tyranny of a section of the Labour party with which he is associated that drove me and others out of the Labour movement for doing that which the Labour platform per- mitted me doing ; that is, believing in, and advocating, conscription.
– They are driving Senator Gardiner out now.
– Some honorable senators opposite have been threatened already with expulsion from the movement. To come back to the question of the young man whose discharge from the Public Service is the subject of the motion, I say that, for one, I have no enmity towards men of similar descent. The country and the Government have shown a very tolerant spirit towards such men. This young man was enjoying a Government billet, which the average citizen looks upon as the best billet that any one can get. We know how exacting the Government are in the matter of examinations in order to keep the Public Service from being overrun. We know that Government jobs are the picked jobs of the country. This young man enjoyed the advantage of holding such a position. To show the tolerance of the people amongst whom he lived, he was not asked to go and fight for tie country. If he felt his German blood too strong in him to go and fight, he had only to keep his mouth shut, and conduct himself with some sense of decency. But evidently he could not do that. He allowed his opinions to be freely expressed, with the result that he has been dismissed from the Service. How can we have any pity for men who were foolish enough to be guilty of that kind of conduct during the awful times through which we have recently passed ? This young man declared that he had nothing to fight for, and yet he comes here whining to be restored to a position which he said he considered worthless when he was in it. If he had nothing to fight for, why does he put the country to the trouble and expense of having . his rights and privileges debated here? So far as I am concerned, a much better case than that brought forward by honorable senators opposite in support of this man’s claim to be reinstated in the Public Service must be made before I shall be prepared to find fault with the action taken by the Government.
.- I am glad that I secured admissions from the Government by my motion which could not have been secured in any other way. I rather regret that Senator Millen had not a stronger case to support the action which the Government have taken. We know that it is necessary to be very careful sometimes in accepting the stories we are told, and I believed that it was quite possible that I had been to some extent misled in this case. Though this young man seemed very truthful and earnest, so far as I was able to judge, I thought it was still possible that the Government might be able to put forward a strong case, and good reasons for discharging him from the Public Service. I am now satisfied that I was absolutely justified in referring to the action of the Government in this case as vindictive. With so little reason for their action, they could have discharged this man only out of a spirit of vindictiveness. It is not contended that he expressed the views’ to which exception is taken at the street corners, or published them throughout the country. He said what is charged against him in all probability, in reply to a question put to him by Mr. Barnet, the Commissioner. He was asked why he did not enlist, and he told the Commissioner that he had nothing to fight for. Because he said this to a man who was crossexamining him, and trying to force him to enlist, he was discharged from the Service.
– No; the war was over when this inquiry was conducted.
– It may have been-, and, if it was, I do not see the need for asking this man such questions. If the war was over, it is clear that the vindictiveness of the Government was not over. If the war was all over, we might expect that in Australia the hatchet would be buried. It is ridiculous to say that this young man was swayed by the Germanblood in him, and that he sympathized with Germany as against Great Britain. We cannot believe that for a moment. The only German blood in him came from a remote grandfather, and all the rest of his people were British. I remind honorable senators that a number of people in very high positions in the British Empire are unable to show as pure British blood as this young fellow.
– The more is the pity.
– That may be a justifiable expression of opinion.
– The people to whom the honorable senator refers knew how to keep quiet.
– Certain members of the Public Service in this country were brought before the Commissioner, “Mr. Barnet, but, according to what we have heard to-day, the whole of the members of the Service might just as well have been brought before him to have their bona fides inquired into as the 768 persons who did come before him. There was no more evidence brought against these men than could be brought against any man in this Chamber, or any other man in the Public Service. This shows that there must have been a lot of old women’s stories going round to account for the inquiry.
– It was the honorable senator’s party that forced the appointment of this Commission.
– We did not force action of this kind. As Senator Gardiner has said, it has always been members of the party on this side who have fought from the ground upwards for the right of free speech in this country, and it is only when a Government like the present is in power that men are in danger of being victimized, or being otherwise very badly treated, because they give expression to their thoughts.
– It was your party who asked at the time of the second referendum why men should enlist while there were Germans in the Public Service.
– I am not responsible for what individuals of my party say. The Government have shown, under pressure, that they did maliciously and vindictively carry out their own ideas in regard to what they thought the young men of this country ought to do. When a young man was forced, under severe crossexamination, to make the statement this young man made, the Government endeavoured to deprive him of his livelihood, and said that a soldier would be glad to get his job. I do not think there is a soldier who has returned from the war who would thank the Government for obtaining employment for him under such conditions. The soldiers in this country know that all this Government desire to do is to find them the largest shovel they can, and at the same time allow the profiteer to increase the price of such tools from 3s. 6d. to 12s. each. That is what the soldier has to thank this mobfor. If there is no better justification for the dismissal of the other nine men than there was for the dismissal of Reinitz the Government are sorely pressed in finding some method of getting square with the people, who, like this young man, made a statement inadvertently, and one which he evidently did not mean. Having had an opportunity of bringing the matter before the Senate, I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
– I object to its withdrawal.
– As there has been an objection, I must put the question.
Question resolved in the negative.
Notice of motion (by Senator Need ham) withdrawn.
asked the Acting
Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Loss of Mail-bags.
askedthe Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
SenatorRUSSELL. - The answers are -
Payments to Wheat-growers.
asked the Minister incharge of the Wheat Pool, upon notice -
In connexion with a statement issued on 23rd June lastby the Federal Wheat Board that in the “D,” or 1918-19, Wheat Fool 64,796,000 bushels of wheat had been received, and that there had been paid to growers at is. 4d. per bushel the sum of £11,959,000 -
What is the difference between 69,796,000 bushels at 4s. 4d. and the sum paid?
How is this difference made up?
– Tie answers are -
The amount advanced to growers of 1918-19 Pool was.: - New South Wales, 4s.. at siding per bushel f.a.q. wheat; Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, 4s. 4d., less rail freight from siding to seaport per . bushel of f.a.q. wheat. The difference referred to is made up of the deductions for rail freight in thethree States, the dockages for inferiority of quality in all States and uncashed certificates.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria-Vice-
President of the Executive Council and Acting Minister for Defence) [4.13]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In moving the secondreading of the Bill I may point out that it resembles the Commercial ActivitiesBill recently passed by the Senate, in thatsomeof its provisions were in operation under the War (Precautions regulations during the period of thewar . Similar legislation to that now proposed has been adopted in the United Kingdom, Canada, andin America. The proposed restrictions are not so stringent as those that were in existence during the war period, but it is still deemed ‘to be essential that there should be a record and some controlexercised over aliens who come into this country. It has been reported from time to time, and it is generally understood, that there are undesirable aliens who are desirous of coming to Australia. That was our experience in war time, andthere was difficulty in locating a number of these men. The Billis based largely on the recommendations of the AliensCommittee,of which several senatorswere members. It is proposed thatevery alien who was. registered under the War Precautions regulations shall be deemed to be registered under this Bill. Under the War Precautions regulations aliens were compelled to report’ to the police authorities from time to time, but under this measure that will not be necessary, as a record iskept, and infuture they will not be required to report in that manner. When they change their address, however, they will be compelled to notify the authorities. A visitor comingto Australia, unless he intends making his home here for some time, will not be compelled to report to the authorities, but he will have to obtain a certificate to enable him to move freely from place to place. He will not be compelled to register as* an alien until he becomes a permanent resident.
– An alien passing through, the country with a passport will not. have to register. An alien, who came to Australia, and. wished to establish a home here without being- naturalized, would have to register.
– Would that apply to commercial agents ?
– Yes ; if they made their home- here, but if they were merely passing through, they would be in. possession of a. passport. An alien who makes his home in Australia will be compelled to register,, and will also be required . to notify any change of address. Generally speaking, it will, not be necessary to appoint registration officers, as the services- of the police will be utilized to a large extent.’ It i6 not the> desire of the Government to harass anybody, but merely to keep a record of aliens and their movements. An alien entering- the Commonwealth as a pas–
Benger on an overseas vessel, or as a master or member of the crew of such vessel, must register prior to landing in Australia.. Every, child of an alien resident,; unless a natural-born- British subject, must register personally, or be- registered by his or her parents, on attaining the, age of sixteen years. Clauses 7 and 8: deal’ with the manner of effecting- registration. An alien resident in the Commonwealth must complete a notice- in the prescribed form, and attend before an alien registration officer. In such cases the alien will have to give particulars regarding country of origin, date of birth, and such essentials as are generally re- quired’ in cases of this sort. An alien entering the Commonwealth as a passenger; or the- master or member of a crow of a vessel, must produce certain documents. No- alien shall be allowed to land in Australia unless he completes a notice in the prescribed form, or a certificate of registration under the War Precautions regulations j and, if he is a passenger, or a member of the crew due for discharge in Australia, his passport. If the master or any member of the crew-‘ has a certificate under the War Precautions regulations he need not fill in the prescribed notice. The master of every overseas- vessel is responsible on arrival at the first port of call in the’ Commonwealth for the production of a list showing the number and names of the crew., and their nationality, so that a correct record may be kept, as is done under our quarantine regulations. The alien registration officers are empowered to obtain the signature of any alien and his fingerprints, but this power will not be used unless there is reasonable suspicion that a man is. a criminal escaping from another country, in which case it would be desirable to have proper proof of identification.
– Would not it be better to brand him on the forehead.
– Senator Gardiner must know that there are many undesirable men who wish to come to Australia.
– Some of their relatives are in Parliament to-day, and they are good men, too.
– That is a matter which it would take a long time to discuss. If the honorable senator is referring to the early settlers in Australia, I have nothing but feelings of pride for many of them, because they came here as a protest against unjust conditions. But, certainly, Australia, does not desire that undesirable aliens or criminals from other countries shall find sanctuary here. The Bill further provides that every alien must give notice of any change of his address. This provision does not apply to aliens who travel, in the Commonwealth without acquiring a place of abode. But every such alien must carry a certificate with him. Another provision sets out that an alien must not change his name without giving notice of his intention to do so to the nearest aliens registration officer. Then again, a register of aliens must be kept at hotels. Every hotelkeeper and every Boardinghouse-keeper is required to maintain a. register of the aliens living on his premises, and he is responsible for the accuracy of that list. Then, the Bill provides for certain exemptions. For instance, it is proposed to exempt all Consuls and their staffs. It. will not be necessary for them to register as aliens, because they will be under the. control of the Government of another country. Again, persons may be exempted by the Minister, or. by the Secretary of. the Department charged with administering the provisions of the Bill. The measure is merely intended to enable us to exercise proper control over dangerous characters. There is no” reason why a man coming from America upon a business mission here, should be harassed when the object of his visit is well known.
– Will these clauses apply to Americans?
– They will apply to all aliens. The Bill further provides that all persons who employ one or more aliens must keep a register similar to that required to be kept by hotelkeepers. Every alien must produce his certificate to an alien registration officer on demand, and every person in possession of a certificate issued to a deceased alien must hand that certificate to the officer on demand. Any officer may require a person, who is believed by him to be an alien, to answer questions, and to produce documents or other evidence of his nationality. The balance of the Bill merely declares that the onus of proof shall lie. on the individual in establishing that he is not an alien for police purposes. The entire measure has been in operation in a much more drastic form during the period of the war; but, probably, a good deal of difference of opinion will arise as to precisely how far we should go in this matter. I recognise that, under the measure, there are certain risks which must be taken. But nobody will deny that men who have been driven out of other countries for criminal offences should not be able to find a secure refuge in Australia. While it’ is necessary, under the Bill, to protect the people from abuses, we ought to exclude from our shores undesirables who have been deemed unfit to remain in their own countries.
– How will the Bill affect the Australian wives of present aliens, and Australian-born children of aliens ?
– We follow the lines laid down in the Naturalization Act. In Australia we follow the British law, under which a wife takes the nationality of her husband. In the event of an Australian woman going to Germany with her husband, and returning to Australia, I take it-
– What would her status be in Australia?
– Unless she was naturalized here again, she would be considered a German. I have had applica tions from Australian women who were resident in Germany during the war, and whose husbands fought in the German Army, for permission to return to Aus- * tralia. It is only fair, if such persons are not again naturalized, that we should have a record of’ them. It is very difficult to deal with these cases without conceding the possibility of abuse,, but I believe that hitherto we have been too free in granting permission to people to enter the Commonwealth.
– Is not this Bill more drastic than is the British Bill?
– No; it seems to be an exact copy of it in principle.
– What would be the status of Australian-born children of alien parentage, living in Australia?
– They would be British under the British naturalization laws. The general principle that a man is a native of the country where he is born is still observed in British law, and in this Bill we follow British law in that regard. But, under this Bill, a child of alien parents who reaches the age of sixteen years is treated as an alien, and must register.
– Do the Government propose to create another Department to administer the Bill, or is it intended to add to the number of Commonwealth police?
– I think we shall be able to get all the work that will be imposed by the Bill performed by the State police.
– Under this measure, will a prominent member of the British Labour party be debarred from entering the Commonwealth?
– I do not think so. I admit that there may be certain abuses under it, but the electors have sufficient control over Parliament to provide the requisite ‘ safeguards. So far as I can guarantee , it, there will be no abuse of any power that is conferred by the Bill. As it is a measure which requires close consideration, I am quite prepared to consent to an adjournment of the debate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 September 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19190911_senate_7_89/>.