15 February 1929

11th Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.

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The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - I have to announce to the Senate that, accompanied by honorable senators, I this day visited Government House and presented to His Excellency the Governor-General the Address-in-Reply, to which His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply : -

Mr. President and Gentlemen:

I receive, with much pleasure, the Address which has been adopted by the Senate in reply to the Speech which I delivered on the occasion of the opening of the first session of the eleventh Parliament of the Commonwealth, and I thank you for your expression of loyalty to His Majesty the King.

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Costof Transport - Food Allowance

Senator NEEDHAM:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

  1. Is the Minister aware whether trainees or the Citizen Forces have to defray the cost of their transport from their homes by trains, trams, &c, to the respective drill halls?.
  2. In view of the fact that members of the Citizen Forces are training for the defence of Australia, will the Minister see that the cost of such transport is defrayed by the Commonwealth Government?

– Inquiries will be made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.

Senator NEEDHAM:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

What does the Government allow per day for the food of each trainee of the Citizen Forces whilst in annual camp?


– I shall have inquiries made, and furnish a reply to the honorable senator as soon as possible.

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Second Reading

SenatorMcLACHLAN (South Australia - Honorary Minister) [11.4]. - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

During last session a measure, of which this is in the main a reproduction, was introduced in the Senate, passed by it, and sent on to the other branch of the legislature, where it could not be finally dealt with before Parliament was dissolved. Honorable senators will remember that when I introduced that measure I dealt fully with the history of the law relating to workmen’s compensation. I do not propose to repeat now what I then said ; but in order that honorable senators may have before them facts that will enable them to consider this measure, I shall make a short explanation of its provisions.

Honorable senators will understand that Commonwealth employees are not entitled to participate in any rights that arc conferred by State laws; therefore it is necessary to pass Commonwealth legislation to deal with them.

The act which this measure, proposes to repeal was passed in 1912. The bill contains many important variations from the existing law, the chief of which are -

  1. Administration is to be in. the hands of a Commissioner.
  2. The act will apply to. all employees, irrespective of salary, but. excludes members of the naval, military and air forces in their official capacity.
  3. Increased compensation is tobe paid.
  4. Provision is made for the paymentof medical benefits.
  5. There are to be specified payments for certain injuries.
  6. Compensation will be paid for incapacity arising from industrial diseases.

Under the existing law, questions relating to compensation are decided by agreement, by arbitration, or by the court. In the case of death, it is the practice to refer to the court questions of dependency. This causes considerable delay and some expense. Provision has accordingly been made in the bill for the administration of the act by a commissioner, the powers and functions of whom are set out in clause 6. They provide that he shall determine all matters subject to the provisions of this measure. There is, however, the right of appeal from his decision to a county court. The present act applies to all civil employees of the Commonwealth except those who receive more than £500 per annum. In the bill that salary limit has been abolished, and thus all civil employees will be entitled to participate in its benefits. The present law also applies to naval and military forces, except when they are on active service. As the various defence regulations contain comprehensive provisions for the payment of compensation for injuries sustained by members of the forces, it is proposed that the law as amended shall not apply to the members of those forces. Provision is made for the extension of the act to employees of such of the authorities established under the Commonwealth as are prescribed by regulation. Thus it can he made applicable to such an authority as the Commonwealth Bank. Unless otherwise prescribed, the authorities that are brought within the scope of the measure will be responsible for the payment of compensation in accordance with its provisions. The present compensation to dependants who are wholly dependent, in the case of death, is a sum equal to three years’ earnings, subject to a minimum of £200 and a maximum of £500. Provision is made for a more liberal payment. The amount in future will be a sum equal to 156 times the weekly pay at the time of injury, subject to a minimum of £400 and a maximum of £700. In the case of total or partial incapacity the act at present provides for a weekly payment not exceeding 50 per cent, of the average weekly earnings, subject to the maximum of £2. The new provision is for a payment not exceeding two-thirds of the weekly pay at the time of injury, and the maximum weekly payment has been increased to £3. In addition, child endowment at the rate of 5s. a week for each child up to fourteen years of age is to be paid during total incapacity. Provision has also been made for an increased payment to employees under 21 years of age; and if their cases are reviewed after they have reached the age of 21 years they may receive up to two-thirds of their probable earnings, but such payments shall not exceed £3. Honorable senators will remember that in the measure which I introduced last year the amount was fixed at £1 10s. The present provision is a substantial extension upon not only that figure, but also the provision in the present act, which is for the payment of £1 a week. The act at present does not prescribe payments for specific injuries. The absence of this provision makes it necessary for an agreement to be arrived at in each case, or for the matter to be determined by the court. Modern compensation laws, including those of the States, contain a schedule of fixed payments for specific injuries. Accordingly a schedule in keeping with modern requirements has been included in the. bill. It provides for payments varying from £600 downwards, according to the nature of the injuries sustained. There is no existing provision for the payment of medical benefits to injured employees. The trend of modern legislation is to provide for such benefits. Therefore provision has been made for the payment of up to £100 on account of medical, surgical and hospital treatment, in addition to the compensation otherwise provided for in the bill. The liability of the Commonwealth is to be limited to £700, in addition to medical expenses, except in the case of permanent total incapacity. It is felt that this limit should not apply in the case of an employee who has received injuries which render him totally incapable of doing any further work. It is considered that the best way to assist such an employee is to give him a permanent weekly sum instead of a lump sum. Accordingly the bill provides for a weekly payment of two-thirda of his pay, subject to a maximum of £3, without any limitation as to period or total liability. “When the Workmen’s Compensation Act was passed in 1912 there was no Superannuation Act in existence. Such an act was passed in 1922, when provision was made for the payment of pensionsfrom a fund contributed to by the employees aud the Government. Any contributor to the superannuation fund is entitled to a pension if he sustains an injury that results in permanent and total disablement, and if death should result his widow receives a pension of half the amount that would have been payable to the employee. In both casesa pension is payable in respect of children under the age of fourteen years. TheCommonwealth contribution is in all cases not less than one-half, but in thecase of the majority of those whom it at present employs it exceeds one-half. In view of this fact the Government has carefully considered what additional payments should be made by way of compensation under the provisions of this measure, and its conclusions are to be found in clause 18, the effect of which, briefly, is as follows : -

Where death results: -

The widow, in addition to the pension payable under the Superannuation Act, will receive a lump sum in accordance with the provisions of the first schedule less the capitalized value of half the pension.

There is a saving clause which sets out that a minimum payment equal to half the compensation will be paid to the widow.

Where the employee leaves a widow and other dependants, such as a mother, the mother will be entitled to her full share of compensation and the widow’s share will bereduced as already indicated; subject, however, to a minimum payment equal to half that share being made.

In the ease of permanent and total incapacity : -

The weekly payment to which the employee would be entitled under the first schedule is to be reduced by an amount equal to one-half of the weekly pension payable to him under the Superannuation Act.

This latter is an important concession compared with the provisions of the hill that was dealt with by the Senate in the last Parliament. That bill provided for the deduction of the full pension. The Government has in the meantime given further consideration to the matter, with the result that it is now proposed that only one-half of the pension shall be deducted. Honorable senators will remember that when the previous hill was under their consideration in the last Parliament a discussion took place on the subject of industrial diseases for which no provision had been made. As a result of that discussion, I assured honorable senators that the matter would be investigated by the Health Department, and that, if necessary, an amendment would be made in another place. The whole matter has since been examined by the Health Department, and the hill now contains provisions for payment of compensation to employees contracting industrial diseases. These provisions are set out in clause 10 of the bill. They provide that compensation shall be payable as if the disease were a personal injury by accident. The list of diseases is contained in the second schedule to the bill. It will be seen that the assurance I gave honorable senators has been fulfilled, and that suitable provision has now been included to meet cases where employees contract industrial diseases.

Honorable senators will appreciate that this measure contains very comprehensive provision for compensation to all civil employees of the Commonwealth in respect of personal injuries by accident and industrial diseases. These provisions are in keeping with the trend of modern legislation, and are very much more liberal than those of the present act. The Government considers that the provisions should apply uniformly to all civil employees, and that the power to make provisions for compensation for injuries to civil employees under any other laws of the Commonwealth should be abolished. The bill accordingly provides that such a power shall be taken away from the jurisdiction of the Public Service Arbitrator, and that the existing awards relating to accidents shall he noneffective. The bill also makes similar provision in respect of the regulations affecting civil employees under the Defence Act 1903-1927 and Naval Defence Act 1910-1918. I have outlined the salient features of the measure, and I commend it to honorable senators as a genuine attempt to make full and adequate provision on moderate lines for compensation to employees of the Commonwealth.

Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.

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Message received from House of Representatives intimating that Mr. Malcolm Cameron, Mr. Coleman, Mr. Josiah Francis, Mr. Gregory, Mr. Jackson and Mr. McGrath had been appointed members of the Public Works Committee.

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Second Reading

Senator McLACHLAN:
South Australia · Hon. Minister · NAT

– I move -

That the billbe now read a second time.

Although the measure is of a substantive character it may appear to be merely of a machinery nature. It makes provision for the extension of the Designs Act to the Commonwealth territories, including territories governed under mandate. In order to extend the act to any territory, it will be necessary, under this bill, for the Governor-General to issue a proclamation, and thereupon the act will apply to the territory in the same way as it does to the States at the present time. The measure has been introduced with a view to obtaining uniformity. Instead of allowing the territories to pass their own ordinances and make laws with respect to designs, the hill will accomplish, at one stroke, the much desired uniformity in this matter throughout the Commonwealth and the mandated territory. The provisions are exactly similar to those made with respect to trade marks by the Trade Marks Act of 1922. The Patents Act also contains provision for the extension of the act to Papua and New

Guinea, but I do not think it is framed in quite such general terms as the present bill or the Trade Marks Act of 1922. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.

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Debate resumed from 14th February, (vide page 240), on motion by Senator Sir GEORGE Pearce -

That the paper be printed.

Senator LYNCH:
Western Australia

– This motion seeks the permission of the Senate for the printing of a paper, but it signifies a great deal more than that. It asks us to approve of the Treaty for the Renunciation of War which originated with the people of the United States of America, and’ which afterwards received the formal signatures of some o£ the world’s leading powers. This treaty is a bold step forward. We have had several attempts to bring the leading nations of the world into line, and induce them to say that war is a bad thing, because it involves the ruin of our happiness and progress, and our very lives. Although the several steps that have been taken in this direction have been more or less fruitless, the move now made by the United States of America seems to mark a distinct advance when we know that the leading nations have put their signatures to a document which renounces war. As the Leader of the Senate has said, it is merely a moral gesture on the part of those nations. There are no sanctions of a valid or tangible nature, but all that is required is that the signatories give their word of honour that war shall be no more a part of their national policy. So far, so good; but when we have decided that war shall be outlawed - to use a phrase coined by the Americans - we have not finished with the matter.

Senator Thompson:

– Was it not a French suggestion?

Senator LYNCH:

– I am grateful for the honorable senator’s correction. The idea originated with M. Briand. While we may congratulate ourselves on having done so much, the haunting fear is whether we can expect much good to flow from the action taken. We still have to recognize that there are quite a number of people who justifiably look with a very friendly eye on war as a means of accomplishing desirable ends. War has not always been used for bad purposes. It is a means by which chains have been struck from human limbs, tyrants have been chained, property restored to its rightful owner, and the moral as against the material elements in the relations of mankind made triumphant. It has been the means also of keeping the designing overlords of creation within bounds. When we consider war, per se, we are not justified in saying that it has always been used to bring ruin to. mankind. When these memories are recalled by those who still have a lingering love and respect for war, it will not be easy to convince them that the action of the Government of the United States of America, acquiesced in by other nations, will have a permanent effect. The utmost we can expect from the treaty is an awakening of the public conscience of the world to the need for doing away with war and replacing it by some more civilized and approved means for settling the disputes that occur from time to time amongst men. For my part, when I recall what has been done as the result of past wars, and when the unruly side of my character is aroused, I am sometimes inclined to applaud war and those engaged in it. However, now that we have turned our backs on practices b’ad enough in themselves but not so bad as war, and found means of thrusting them aside, we may hope that success may result from the present action.

There are those who have less worthy motives for perpetuating the sentiment that war is a useful and necessary enterprise. We have the war party that was lately to be found in Europe, and that has most persistent expression in the Chauvinism of Germany. In our own country we have had a party known as Jingoes, who think that we can never appear to the best advantage unless we are at daggers drawn with our fellow men. There are, too, the young men who, full of high spirits, go forward with a martial, step to the accompaniment of trumpets, and feel that it is good to be a soldier and that not to be a soldier is not to be a man. While the “ fizz is in the blood, these men are fond of applauding war and things that lead to it. I remind them that it only requires those forces to burn low, the “ fizz “ to leave the blood, as will inevitably be the case as they grow older, for them to denounce the very thing which, when young, they applauded. When the young men of to-day have passed through the school of experience they will admit that many of the things which they once advocated were wrong.

When we see the things that are happening to-day, it is difficult to understand why some of them have been tolerated. Listen to what age and bitter experience have had to say on war. Napoleon said, “ The sight of a battlefield after the fight is enough to inspire princes with a love of peace and a horror of war.” Wellington declared, “ Take my word for it, if you had seen but one day of war you would pray to Almighty God that you might never see such a thing again.” Doubtless these world-figures thought differently in their youth; but experience is one of the safest guides in human actions.

Then from another viewpoint, by glancing into the animal kingdom and studying our domestic animals, we find that at the very time when, in our opinion, they should be most peaceful - that is, when their stomachs are full - they are most aggressive. What prompts them to fight in such circumstances I do not know; but it would appear that at such times they enjoy nothing so much as a fight. Biologists tell us that every time we scratch our finger a conflict takes place within us; on the one hand there are forces seeking our destruction, and on the other hand there are forces seeking to preserve and defend us. Should the forces seeking to do us harm prevail, the scratch which at first seemed insignificant becomes serious ; should the hosts which seek to preserve us gain the upper hand, we recover. In the minds of large numbers of young men of all nations is the extraordinary idea that only by engaging in battle can they display themselves to the best advantage. I can only explain that phenomenon by saying that, just as in the bacteriological sphere, there are some forces which seek to destroy and others which seek to pre serve, so in the realm of mind there are some forces which seek to degrade and others which seek to uplift. Civilization is merely the antithesis of barbarism, the acquiring of more knowledge regarding the forces of nature around us and a higher conception of our duty to our fellow men. I confess, however, that when I observe in the so-called civilized world so many things that offend, doubts arise as to whether we have not yet much to learn from what we call barbarism. In the South Sea Islands a man found guilty of adultery is put to death in accordance with native rites, but judging by the records of our divorce courts, although adultery is condemned by our law, it would appear that society scarcely frowns on it. The untutored savage mother follows her child into slavery to manifest her maternal love, while that barren fig tree of polite conversation - the childless mother - refuses motherhood to show her selfish love. I could continue these comparisons between civilization and barbarism to show that in many respects the advantage lies with the latter; but we must take them as a whole if we would properly compare them. If we do that, we must inevitably come to the conclusion that the long, tedious uphill journey from the degrading habits of barbarism has been worth while. For instance, no statesman in any country in the civilized world would to-day advocate slavery as a part of the social life of the nation. Any one who did so, would be condemned and derided by all sections of the community. But it was not always so. We have only to read the Times History of the World to find that in the days of the Roman republic, not only was there found no person to denounce slavery, but that everywhere men were prepared to justify it. Slavery was a part of the social system of that day. During the two thousand years which have passed since that time, we have made some progress in that direction at least. Again, piracy and brigandage do not exist to-day, excepting, perhaps, in remote portions of China.

When we reflect on the battles that have been fought and won in the moral sphere to gain the mastery over hateful and detestable things we have reason to hope that success will attend the action so recently taken by the leading nations of the world.

I agree with other honorable senators that the proposal for the renunciation of war did not originate in the United States of America. I agree, also, that the great American nation is not the be-all and end-all of human desires, the perfect society, the Timocracy of Plato’s dream - far from it. It is true that the United States of America has had the advantage of learning from the errors of older and what many Americans describe as “ effete “ nations. We in this country put it differently; we acknowledge our indebtedness to the older nations from which we have sprung and have inherited so much that is good. We in Australia, particularly, have a rich heritage, and I, for one, freely acknowledge my indebtedness to those older countries which bequeathed so much to us. We began with a knowledge of the arts and crafts, but, better still, with an indomitable will to surmount unknown and undreamt of barriers. These were our forefathers’ legacy to us.

Many of the evils which existed in times past have been so effectively overcome as to cause us no concern, that they will recur, but war is still with us. It is strange that we have abolished slavery, piracy and brigandage, but have failed, as yet, to abolish war. It required a destructive world conflict to get the nations to consider whether war also should not be done away with. At what cost have the nations at last been brought to their senses! Man has accomplished marvellous things; he has cancelled time, annihilated space, and called to his aid the unseen forces of nature and made them dance to his bidding; there remains scarcely a mountain that he has not climbed, or ocean that he has not fathomed; the poles are no longer places of mystery; but man has not yet learned how to live at peace with his fellows. He can measure and weigh the earth; he can deal with the physical forces around him; but he has not yet learned to say to his fellow man - “ Let us live in peace for evermore.” Surely it is time that he tried to do so.

I desire to say a word regarding the steps leading to the signing of the Kellogg Pact for the renunciation of war. The great American nation to which the credit for the pact is given has need for introspection, for it is only by throwing the searchlight upon its weak points that a nation can hope to get rid of them. The United States of America entered the peace movement at the eleventh hour, when the nations of Europe were already engaged in an effort to prevent war. It is strange indeed that the very nation which gave birth to the idea of a League of Nations was the first to repudiate it. The glorious ideal of peace among men was brought into the cockpit of American politics, and there roughly handled while the European nations were left without support. For some years the United States of America held aloof from all movements towards peace, but now at the eleventh hour she is joining the other nations. Perhaps the best thing that we can do is to forget her previous unwillingness to co-operate; I mention these things merely for the good of that nation. What led up to the signing of the Kellogg Pact when nien who faced one another on the battlefield took each other by the hand? Immediately after the Great War much talk was indulged in as to what could best be done to prevent a repetition of such a cataclysm. Nothing concrete was achieved until January, 1919, when a conference, including representatives of Great Britain, France, and the United States of America, was held at Paris. The object of the convention was to secure France, which, during 100 years, had been invaded no fewer than three times, against further aggression. The nations represented at the conference became signatories to a pact, which later met with the same fate as did that evolved by the League of Nations, for America withdrew from it and left France, her former ally and faithful friend, to defend herself as best she could. So the months of uncertainty and apprehension dragged by slowly until 1922, when a conference was convened by the then British Prime Minister, Mr. Lloyd George, in an endeavour to bring the nations of Europe into line and to evolve a scheme that would counteract the menace of that spectre which continued to haunt the peace of Europe - war. America held aloof from the conference, which arrived at no satisfactory conclusion. The next effort was made in 1923, under the aegis of the League of Nations, which was then struggling to find its feet and to be recognized by the nations of the world with America still holding aloof. At that conference a treaty of mutual assistance was evolved, based upon Article XIV. of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Its defect was that it confined the effort to obtain universal peace to certain parts only of the world. A resolution was passed to the effect that no nation should make unprovoked attack upon its neighbour, and a further resolution was agreed to urging the nations of the world to disarm. The latter had little effect. When the proposals came up for discussion before the Parliaments of the different countries concerned, the Ramsay MacDonald Government, then in power in Great Britain, refused to ratify them. It demanded in their stead a universal treaty, embracing all the nations of the world - not a system of regional ones as was proposed. So the efforts of 1923 were futile, and the European nations still existed in a welter of suspicion and dread, yearning for some tangible scheme whereby war might be abolished. The year 1924 ushered in the Geneva protocol. Honorable senators discussed it in this chamber, and know its fate. It was a much more ambitious scheme than its forerunners, and sought to bring the reconstructed nations of the world into order. It was discussed by the contributory nations. Great Britain, at the suggestion of Mr. Austen Chamberlain, decided not to accept it, contending that a system which embodies a general application of the principle of arbitration was impracticable. I can appreciate the soundness of that opinion. There are certain things in life which no man would allow to be decided by arbitration. For instance, while I obeyed the laws of this country, I would allow no man to arbitrate as to whether I should live or die. A further reason for the rejection of the protocol by Great Britain was that its acceptance would have thrown upon the Empire the insupportable burden of maintaining the peace of ‘Eastern Europe. When one remembers the turbulent Balkans one realizes the impossibility of tie task.

France wanted Great Britain to accept the protocol, but one cannot but feel that it might have involved Britain in intricate and serious international complications. It was also urged that the White Australia policy, so vitally important to this country, would be endangered if the protocol were agreed to. I do not share that apprehension; I believe that its acceptance would not have endangered that part of our proclaimed national policy. So the Geneva protocol came to nothing, and the nations of Europe floundered along as well as they could, in a state of dire expectancy. Then a happy change came over the scene. For some time past Germany bad expressed the opinion that the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles were oppressive, and that she regarded the Geneva protocol as an instrument which would ensure the perpetual occupancy of the Rhine provinces by the Allies. As a result of Germany’s persistent agitation, the Dawes plan of reparations was evolved. It was merely a means to convert the reimbursement of the Allies from a monetary transaction to that of one in kind. It was accepted by Germany, but not too readily. In the interval between the outbreak of the Great War and the evolution of the Dawes plan, Germany had been undergoing a remarkable metamorphosis. For ages she had been the traditional ally of Great Britain, and during that association had behaved herself very well. But, as she became opulent, she underwent that subtle change which is so noticeable in human beings who enjoy great success in life. When a man has his pockets and stomach full he is prone to forget the time when he was an impecunious wayfarer, struggling in the world. Owing to various causes, honorable and otherwise, Germany had attained such a degree of opulence that she became unpleasantly aggressive and unscrupulous. The behaviour of men and nations, in such circumstances, is very like that of a pig or a ram or a he-goat which, when its stomach is full enjoys an excess of energy and goes out to fight its fellow pig or ram or goat or or anything else in sight. Germany began to believe that the world was an oyster and that it was her exclusive privilege to open it. But the war wrought a great change, and Germany from being triumphant and rampant, became humble and supine, and its new Chancellor said that he was quite satisfied to maintain the status quo, to let Alsace-Lorraine remain a portion of the French territory, to cede German colonies to the Allies, and to allow the existing frontiers of the other nations signing the Locarno Treaty to remain as they were. That was a remarkable change of front by the nation which has rightly been regarded as the chief aggressor, and the primal causes of the war.

I am aware that Germans, Austrians and their allies in the Great War strenuously protest that they were not the aggressors, but the bulk of public opinion is against them. Few nations, if any, in history admit their war guilt. It takes a man of great moral courage to admit his sin, and it is the same with nations. When seeking the cause of the war, one has to go back to the Treaty of London, 1831, by which the neutrality of Belgium was guaranteed by England, France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia. la the years that followed, when Germany and France were reminded of their obligation towards Belgium, Germany replied evasively and France equivocally, clearly showing the trend of German opinion. Then on the 4th August, 1914, the German Chancellor, Herr Bethmann-Hollweg, made the very significant statement to the British Ambassador, “Just for a word - ‘neutrality,’ a word which in war-time had so often been disregarded, just for a scrap of paper - Britain was going to make war.” History reveals that, from 1904 to 1909, Germany was evolving a system of strategic railways, which would serve her when the war broke out. It is interesting to read the records of those activities in the London Statist, and the published acknowledgment of the plan of attack by the German Chancellor in 1909, when peace was ostensibly but falsely preached. So Germany has had a renascence since August 1914, when she “sprung the mine.”

When, therefore, we are told that Germany did not bring about the recent war these historical records of what took place between 1904 and 1909 remind us of the other version of the story. The German Chancellor intimated that he was prepared to sign a pact guaranteeing the integrity of the signatory nations as well as their frontiers and containing provisions enabling each signatory nation, in the case of foreign aggression, to be dependent on the others. The terms of that pact were discussed in London in 1925, and, at a formal meeting held at Locarno in the same year, it was signed by the representatives of the participating nations. It was a new history begun for a stricken and despairing Europe. We had the spectacle of Germany and her former enemies coming together and signing a treaty, jointly and severally, guaranteeing each other’s integrity and freedom from aggression by any outside power. The Locarno Treaty forms the basis of the friendly understanding that at present exists between the nations. Germany subsequently became a member of the League of Nations, and Europe seemed to have turned over a new leaf.

At any rate, a new phase came over international affairs and Europe seemed to assume something of a civilized appearance. The United States of America came on the scene at this time with a proposal for the universal renunciation of war, but the Kellogg Pact, as it is generally known, under which the nations renounce their desire to resort to war, is not of the same nature as the Locarno Pact. The latter contains sanctions and guarantees, whereas the former is merely a pious declaration on the part of the signatory nations that they renounce war as a part of their national policies. The Kellogg Pact contains reservations which were inserted at the instance of Great Britain and availed of by Italy and France. These reservations were outlined by Sir Austen Chamberlain. Britain does not admit the possibility of any other country questioning its right or otherwise to defend its territory against aggression. Senator Reid, of the United States of America, speaking on the Kellogg Pact, says that because of these reservations there is no security in it. The reservations may be regarded as a British equivalent of the Monroe doctrine of the United States of America, that country which gave ita latter-day assistance to Europe and its tardy approval to the Kellogg Pact. Just as the Monroe doctrine lays it down that the United States of America will tolerate no European power stepping into the American continent, enlarging its territory on that continent or signifying its intention, to meddle in American affairs, in like manner, in the Locarno Treaty, Great Britain lays it down that there are certain ureas on the earth in which it will tolerate no interference when they may be subject to a war of aggression. In other words, as Senator Reid fears, Great Britain will defend its own territory irrespective of the terms of the Kellogg Pact, just as America proposes to do in its own sphere of authority.

Nevertheless, we welcome this pact because it forms a very distinct advance on anything that has preceded it in the direction of mustering the better qualities of the nations. It, so to speak, regiments them; it makes the great nations say, with a loud and united voice, that no civilized people should resort to war, and it solemnly binds them to a declaration that, so far as lies within their power, there will be no further war. That is, as I say, a distinct advance; but I wish to remind the people of America of some of their inconsistencies.

I have already shown that it would have been better if America, had remained at its post and taken a leading part in the past in keeping alive the ceaseless efforts of the people of Europe to find a way out of the terrible impasse in which they found themselves. But America has always held aloof, and, except for the Washington Disarmament Conference, which was merely to substitute the impact of nations on a grand and devouring scale with master engines of destruction for a longer drawn out process of torture with tools of less destructive power, has hitherto refrained from interference in European affairs. It now comes in at the eleventh hour with this treaty, but we welcome it. At the same time, it is just as well to show the weak points in its armour, although one’s remarks on this point may not be too complimentary to the American nation.

Its entry into the war has been variously described by critics as a step that, because of its delay, was not commendable. Some have said that it entered the war too late. If we take the words of two of America’s mouthpieces, the then ex-President Roosevelt and President Wilson himself, as a sufficient explanation of America’s entry into the war, we must certainly wonder why that entry was so long delayed. Roosevelt made use of the words -

The nations want lasting relief from the threat and horror of German world dominion.

I want to draw a sharp line of distinction between the two sections that comprised the German nation prior to the war. On the one hand there was the overwhelming majority of citizens who were voiceless and helpless, and whose political aspirations were choked and stifled by the rigid rule of a military autocracy; on the other hand, there was the military autocracy itself, whose leading exponents were the members of the German military staff. Just prior to America’s entry into the war President Wilson said -

We are fighting for what we believe and wish to be the rights of mankind.

If the rights of mankind were in jeopardy it is very difficult to understand why the people of the United States of America did not come into the war until the eleventh hour.

But it has to be remembered that America is not a homogeneous nation; it has not yet had sufficient time to weld together into one unified body of sentiment the various fractious elements it contains. I think there are people of 40 different nationalities in the United States of America. Until a proper dependable public sentiment had been aroused, President Wilson could not speak with authority for these various nationalities. Many of his people were fresh from the European area, with their minds full of European ideas, and, perhaps, with deep attachments to their native land. Naturally it was not to be expected that the President of a nation so rudely and rawly thrown together could speak with the determination and confidence of the mouthpiece of a European country. I do not blame him for not entering the war until he was satisfied that, instead of having one war on his hands, he might have two, which would have been the case if he had embarked on war without public opinion on his side. The most sustaining comfort the ruler of a country may have in a war of aggression is that he has public opinion behind him. I would not like to stand in the shoes of a ruler wb-‘i”1 embarked on a war with public opinion against him. In a modern democracy President Wilson would have been foolish, indeed, if he had entered into the recent conflict before he was ready.

But, before the people of America entered the war, they did very well. As a “shopkeeping” nation” they were prepared to manufacture goods and sell them to the belligerents, and they did remarkably well by so doing. I have now come to the point of showing a weakness that manifests itself in the American character as perhaps it does in the character of other peoples when equally closely analysed. The people of the United States of America are a bit too sordid; they are too fond of money; they are influenced too greatly by what they themselves describe as “dollar politics.” And when we touch upon that characteristic in a nation we uncover a fruitful source of modern wars. Wars may have been brought about in the past because countries were anxious to extend their power and influence ; but in modern times conflicts have broken out between nations, because, as Josh Billings would put it, each has been trying to take what “isn’t his’n,” to over-reach its fellows, to get the best of a deal. The predatory instinct in man, the anxiety to get that which is not his, the desire to strike a hard bargain, the feeling best expressed by the words, “Am I my brother’s keeper V or “’ The devil take the hindmost,” the practice of making Shylock deals to exact more than one’s just or moral due - all these are fruitful causes of war. And that spirit is manifested in America to-day as the figures I shall supply will prove. I have already said that, before the United States of America went into the war, it found the manufacture and sale of goods to the Allied nations a very profitable enterprise. That is clearly shown by the report of the Vice-President of the Federal Export Corporation. He said that-

Prices which dropped to a low level in 1914 began to soar in 1915, and rose to fabulous heights in 1916 and the early part of 1917.

In the latter half of 1917 and 1918 business was controlled by the Government at Washington as a war measure, and stable prices much lower than the highest levels of the previous months were put into force.

In the words of one of their public men, the Americans were getting “fabulous prices” for everything they sold to the Allies. The very debt that is now owing to the United States of America by the European nations represents the extraordinarily high and unwarranted prices brought about solely by the fact that Europe was at war. That debt is the pound of flesh America is demanding. It says that it must be repaid. The fact that the debt was incurred through the efforts of the people of Europe to live up to the ideals preached by the people of America is quite a different matter. According to Mr. Mark B, Young, writing in The Review, the amount owing to the American nation, to say nothing of the bonds of the Allies held by citizens of the United States of America, is about $9,435,225,329. Without taking into account three years’ accrued interest unpaid, this represents at present a principal debt of over £2,000,000,000. This equals the amount of Mr. J. M. Keynes’ estimate of Germany’s maximum capacity to pay. That is to say, the destroyer of the world’s peace is to pay no more than is to beexacted from the Allies by their late brother-in-arms - America. Unlike old, impoverished and congested Europe, America is a new and lavishly endowed land. And with her overflowing bounty it ill becomes her to drive a miser’s bargain with the remnants of the nations that were in the breach fighting for the “rights of mankind.”

These interesting sidelights show what is happening in America, and the great profits the people of America made out of the war, which President Wilson declared was for the purpose of making the world “ safe for democracy “ - including the American democracy.

There is a facet to the American character to which I shall refer. France, as we all know, played a very prominent part in the struggle which led to the thirteen American colonies gaining their liberty. When an embassy from those colonies visited

France, King Louis was on a tottering throne and did not know what might happen to either himself or the system for which he stood. They were received very cordially, although the King of France was placed by them in a somewhat awkward position. He did not want to fall out with the “King business” which the Emperor of Austria had said “is my business”; yet, when he was appealed to for naval and military assistance he readily responded, and it was the assistance which he rendered that enabled the thirteen American colonies to win their freedom from Great Britain. They, of- course, perpetuated his memory and other French memories in the public squares of their cities, and the friendship which developed between the two countries was that of one whose life has been saved, towards his benefactor. For years the most cordial relations existed between the United States of America and France; they were regarded as brothers in arms, and rightly so. But a time came when this benefactor of America found itself in a position similar to that from which it had rescued the thirteen colonies. In the words of Clemenceau, “there was no money in its cashbox.” It approached the United States of America just after the war for the purpose of borrowing £20,000,000. How did the United States of America treat those who had befriended them so substantially? The records show that this £20,000,000 was advertised in the New York financial newspapers, and the best offer they could make to their former faithful friend was to supply the money at an interest rate of 8 per cent., to issue a loan at par and to require the repayment of £110 for every £100 loan. Thus brotherly love and benefaction were turned into a hard commercial transaction, and the French nation was compelled to pay nearly 9 per cent, to the very nation that it had helped to bring into existence. There we have a phase of American life that needs to be laid bare. The better elements in that nation should speak out and say that these moneylenders and mercenary human vultures are not truly representative of the nation, but are only an excresence upon it. This sordid money-making development in the American character is confined to com paratively few persons, we hope. If it were typical of the whole nation, I should say “ God help that nation, “ because it could not hope to continue to levy a burdensome toll upon the rest of mankind and expect mankind to remain a patient beast of burden. During the war period it was able to charge exorbitant prices and dictate terms, because it controlled the gold reserve. I am unable to distinguish between one who holds money and dictates terms that are contrary to reason, and another who seeks territory and foists his will upon an unoffending people. The financial controller is the worse of the two, because he has the means to impose his will arbitrarily upon unoffending people without making war upon them. He is a slick customer, to whom the rest of the world must be subservient. Therefore, I hope and believe that those. who were responsible for this treatment of America’s former ally are not typical of the American nation, but are only a disreputable element in it.

I have said all that I wish to say regarding America and Germany, past and present. What is the outlook? I think that we are faced with a very bright outlook. The sunburst of hope is at last appearing on the horizon, and I believe that this troubled world of ours is in for a better time. If we have reached the stage at which the nations of the earth can come together and impose moral force to the extent of declaring that war shall be no more, a distinct and marked advance has been made, and the message of our Divine Lord, “On earth peace, goodwill toward men,” will still have some meaning for mankind. - [Extension of time granted.] - We have every reason to face the future with confidence and hope, and to believe that those individuals and nations which in the past have assumed a most arbitrary and aggressive bearing have toned their attitude down, and that the better side of human nature, the moral side, is for the first time triumphant. It is all a struggle between moral and material elements. When the material element is paramount, we have war and aggression, bloodshed and untold suffering. When the moral element is paramount - which is seldom - the reign of justice is established and the weaker elements can breathe. In the past, the moral side of our nature, in spite of age-long set-backs, has triumphed over the material side and guided our steps along the road to civilization. May we not, therefore, entertain the hope that that moral side will be further developed to the point when “War shall be no more “ and “ The war drums throb no longer “. We can at least reach that point by stages. It was by slow degrees that we reached the present stage of the reign of reason instead of force. Reason still prevails throughout the world. The moral side of our nature has been attuned to the pitch of recognizing that the weak among us have rights and that the preservation of the weak elements constitutes the main claim of civilization to exist. The strong are always in the right, because they can enforce their will. Aristotle said that it is only “ when combatants are equal that justice is established. “ We have travelled a long way since his time, and can now say that the weak elements unquestionably can have justice on their side and can be triumphantly vindicated. Using the past as our lamp of experience, may we not face the future with minds full of pleasurable anticipations and hearts full of hope ? It is the earnest hope of all citizens that that peace and concord which exist within nations may embrace the wider sphere of the relations between one nation and another. In the past such a condition has existed to only a limited extent. We want that limitation removed, so that peace and goodwill shall become universal. Holding that view, I welcome with pleasure the Kellogg Pact.

Debate (on motion by Senator Payne) adjourned.

page 318



Ninth Assembly - Report of Australian Delegation

Debate resumed from 14th February (vide page 243) on motion by Senator McLachlan -

That the paper be printed.

Senator SAMPSON:

. - I regret that I cannot congratulate the Minister who represented the Commonwealth at the Ninth Assembly of the League of Nations on the effort that he made yesterday afternoon to acquaint honorable senators with what had transpired at that gathering. His speech reminded me of the story of the minister who asked one of his parishioners what she thought of his sermon. “ In the first place, minister, “ replied the old lady, “ you read it ; in the second place you read it badly ; and in the third place, it was nae worth reading. “ When a Minister returns from an Assembly of the League of Nations, we are entitled to expect from him a far better account of its proceedings than that which was given yesterday afternoon. I am most enthusiastic in my support of the League of Nations, because I honestly believe that it is only by supporting the principle of arbitration for the settlement of international disputes that we shall make any progress. Yesterday afternoon the Minister merely read to us a bald statement, which suffered greatly by comparison with the accounts that were given by previous delegates, and particularly by one who is not now a member of the Senate. There are many points upon which we should like to have some information, and specially interesting to us are those relating to migration and disarmament. How far has the movement for disarmament progressed, and what is being done to-day in regard to it 1 It is the most vital of all the questions that come before the league. At the time of the peace conference in May, 1919, the German delegation made the following observations with respect to Part V of the Covenant: -

Germany is prepared to agree to the basic idea of the army, navy and air regulations - provided that this is a beginning of a general reduction of armaments.

To this observation the Allied Powers made the following much quoted answer : -

The Allied and Associated Powers wish to make it clear that their requirements in regard to German armaments were not made solely with the object of rendering it impossible to resume her policy of military aggression. They are also the first step towards the reduction and limitation of armaments, which they seek to bring about as one of the most fruitful preventives of war, and which it will he one of the first duties of the League of Nations to promote.

I should like to hear exactly how far we have gone on that road. The problem is an extraordinarily difficult one, and may prove the root of future trouble. Dealing with the proneness of a nation to regard as suspect the intention of another country in perfecting its arma- meats, Lord Grey of Fallodoon, in bis intensely interesting book, Twenty-five Tears, writes in Vol. 1, pages 91-92 -

The moral is obvious; it is that great armaments lead inevitably to war. If there are armaments on one side, there must be armaments on other sides. While one nation arms, other nations cannot tempt it to aggression by remaining defenceless. Armaments must have equipment; armies cannot be of use without strategic railways. Each measure taken by one nation is noted, and leads to counter-measures by others.

The increase of armaments that is intended in each nation to produce consciousness of strength, and a sense of security, does not produce those effects. On the contrary, it produces a consciousness of the strength of other nations and a sense of fear. Fear begets suspicion, and distrust, and evil imaginings of all sorts,” till each Government feels it would be criminal and a betrayal of its own country not to take every precaution, while every Government regards every precaution of every other Government as evidence of hostile intent. . . .

But although all this is true, it is not, in my opinion, the real and Anal account of the origin of the Groat War. The enormous growth of armaments in Europe, the sense of insecurity and fear caused by them - it was these that made war inevitable. This, it seems to me, is the truest reading of history, and the lesson that the present should be learning from the past, in the interests of future peace, the warning to be handed on to those who come after us.

The Allied and Associated Powers made a definite promise in 1919 that they would take up the matter of disarma ment. We must discover a solution of this most difficult and intricate problem if civilisation is to survive. We find in Europe that states bordering on Russia say that it is impossible for them to disarm, so long as the Soviet Government has an extraordinarily large army and great armaments and 20 per cent, of the income of the nations is spent in preparations for war.

A special committee was appointed by the Assembly of the League of Nations in September, 1925 - I think that the proposal emanated from the French delegation - to consider the subject of disarmament, so that this might be brought about at the earliest possible opportunity. Germany at that time was not a member of the League. The United States of America accepted an invitation to be represented on the committee, but the Soviet Government of Russia declined. Undoubtedly the ultimate goal must be disarmament on such a scale that nations will maintain only adequate forces for upholding law and order within their own boundaries. The Chinese delegate on the committee expressed the opinion that history showed no example of a totally disarmed state starting an agressive war, but his speech contained a warning for us. It was true, he said, that a Chinese Emperor over 2,000 years ago carried out total disarmament within his dominions, but unfortunately his dynasty fell, owing not to external aggression, but to internal rebellion. When we speak at large about total disarmament it should be remembered that we cannot carry on modern society in Australia, or in any other country, unless we have force behind the law.

I am sorry to see the apathetic attitude adopted by members of both branches of this legislature to the League of Nations. I urge them to join the League of Nations Union in their own towns and to work for it. It is only by instilling the main objects and spirit of the League into the minds of the rising generation that progress can be made and future wars obviated. The world is largely controlled by fanatics, dreamers and cranks, and I think that the great hope of civilization lies in the League of Nations. The idea that war can be a source of national profit has been proved to be entirely erroneous. In a war such as the last great contest, the victors have probably suffered more than the vanquished. The view is held by many that war is a school of character - that it helps to mould character - but my experience on active service from 1914 to 1919 convinced me that that also is an illusion. Another illusion is that war permanently cements national comradeship. That is not so. Nothing noble, great or precious has ever come out of war, beyond its own immediate object of preventing one nation from imposing its will on another. War is about as barren, of good results as a plague or a fire. We must continue to preach the futility of war and work in the interests of peace. I know of no better means of producing a friendly spirit among the nations than by working to that end through the League of Nations Union.

Debate (on motion by Senator FOLL adjourned.

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Second Reading

Debate resumed from 14th February (vide page 238), on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Senator FOLL:

.- - The Government is to be congratulated on having introduced this bill. The establishment of a Forestry Bureau will be in the best interests of Australia, and I therefore heartily support the second reading.

Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia

– This bill, which is similar to the Forestry Bureau Bill we discussed in this chamber in 1928, is far removed from the arena of party politics. Members of all parties recognize the necessity for the conservation of our timber resources. In the past we have neglected the great wealth of our forests; indeed, we have done more than neglect it, for we have allowed much valuable timber to be ruthlessly destroyed. We are, however, developing a forest conscience : there is a continually growing number of people in our midst who are interested in afforestation and urge that something be done to preserve our forest wealth. The establishment of a Forestry Bureau is a step in the right direction. In it we should be able to train young Australians in forestry matters, and, thus have available trained men for the forestry departments of the States. In one respect the bill before us differs from the measure we considered previously; it is proposed now to establish a trust fund for the reception and control of any funds donated to afforestation purposes. A gift of £5000 has already been received from one public-spirited citizen. I see no objection to the incorporation in this measure of a council to establish a controlling body to deal with such funds. In one direction the bill could, perhaps, be improved. It should include a provision for the establishment of an advisory or consultative board. In the Inspector-General of Forests, Dr. Lane Poole, Australia has an able man; but it would be well if arrangements were made for an exchange of views between the officers of the Bureau and of the forestry departments of the States.

Senator McLachlan:

– It is scarcely necessary to make provision in this bill for such conferences.

Senator NEEDHAM:

– It may be a matter of administration; but the desirability of holding regular conferences should not be overlooked. Able as are the men in charge of our various governmental activities, no harm could be done by their consulting with others following similar pursuits. There is nothing new in my suggestion, for we know that from time to time conferences of railways commissioners, and irrigation and agricultural experts are held, while conference between the Premiers of the several States and Ministers representing the Commonwealth Government, have become almost an institution. I do not suggest the establishment of a board of control or that additional expenditure be incurred; I merely advocate that conferences be held from time to time to discuss afforestation matters. I feel sure that the establishment of a forestry bureau will be in the best interests of Australia, and I therefore support the second reading.

Minister for Defence · Queensland · NAT

[2.24]. - I am pleased that this bill has received the approval of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) advocated the holding of conferences between the forestry officers of the Commonwealth and the States. Conferences of this nature have been held at irregular intervals in the past; the last of them took place about three years ago. Last year, a conference of Empire foresters was held at Canberra, rendering unnecessary a conference of Australian foresters. With the establishment of the Forestry Bureau, conferences will be held more regularly in the future, and it is confidently expected that great benefits will accrue from them. It is gratifying to know that this measure has such general support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.

Report adopted.

page 321


The f ollowing paper was presented : -

Federal Capital - Report of the Federal Capital Commission for the quarter ended 31st December, 1928.

page 321


Export of British Economic Mission

Vice-President of the Executive Council · Western Australia · NAT

[2.31].- I move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Senator Needham:

asked me when the Government intended to make available the report of the British Economic Mission. On inquiry, I found that the report was tabled on the 7th February last, and that the Clerk of the Papers has obtained . additional copies, which are available to honorable senators if required.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 2.32 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.