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Wednesday, 14 October 1914

Mr MATHEWS (Melbourne Ports) . - I always listen with interest to the honorable member for Bourke, as I think every honorable member in the House does, and to-day we have heard from him one of his characteristically strong utterances. I am in accord with the Government in moving this resolution, and I disagree entirely from the honorable member for Bourke. If at this stage the honorable member tries to accuse me of being remiss in my duty by voting for this motion, and throws in my teeth the accusation that we have forgotten our duty, both in the past and at the present time, I tell him that the German and French Socialists advancing on onĀ© another to-day do not stop to talk economics with the point of a bayonet against their "breadbaskets." Surely the honorable member recognises the seriousness of the present position ? He must know that if the Belgians had not taken the stand they did, the Germans would have been in Paris before the British troops had landed in France. There is no doubt about that, and we in Australia are giving our assistance towards the defence of our allies by sending to Europe our Expeditionary Forces. The sending of troops to Europe is going to cost us millions of money, but I take it that the money which it is proposed to vote to-day to the Government of Belgium will be for the benefit of the people of Belgium who are in want. We have other funds for that purpose also. The honorable member for Bourke asks, " Where is the Government of Belgium?" Well, I read that they had retired to Ostend. The honorable member tells us that it is impossible for this money to be spent amongst the miserable, starving poor in Belgium, because the Belgian Government, cannot reach them, they being to-day under the control of the German Government. That may be so, but there are still portions of Belgium where the money can be spent in alleviating the misery of those who are there. We are trying to do our share - and, to my mind, this, vote is not enough - towards relieving the distress that exists there to-day. I know very well that it is the spirit of commercialism and the greed of the great moneyed classes of the world that has brought about the war. I understand that fact fully. I know, too, that while there is want in Melbourne today, it is because of the actions of those scoundrels who are hoarding up wheat and other commodities. I have not forgotten that fact, but it has nothing to do with this vote. I will take the platform at any time to fight Conservatism in Victoria or anywhere else, but the fact that there are scoundrels who are throwing the people out of work, and are robbing them of their rights, has no bearing on a proposal that we shall do our share to show appreciation of the action of the Belgian people in trying to preserve their honour as we should wish to preserve ours. We have not forgotten our fight with those who are opposed to us politically any more than the Belgian and German Socialists have. When the war is over, they will be just as eager to fight down the present economic system as ever they were. I resent the speech of the honorabl member for Bourke, inasmuch as he charges me with remissness of duty if I vote for this motion, because he considers the money should be applied in another direction.

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