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Wednesday, 17 September 1919


Mr J, H CATTS (COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No white race has ever been able to induce a coloured race to work with it in the sympathetic cooperation and friendly development of territory.


Sir Joseph Cook - That assertion is answered by the quotation the honorable member has ju6t made as to what has been done in the Caroline Islands.


Mr J H CATTS - That was done by Japan - by a coloured race working with another coloured race.


Mr Corser - Has not the same thing been done by the British in India?


Mr J H CATTS - No. We have not had a friendly development of territory there. India is. governed by the sword'. If the lid that jambs down India to-day could be lifted, we know that she would not have a white man's government. All over the world the white man does not trust the coloured man, and the coloured man does not trust the white man.

Can honorable members point to any island in the Pacific where a white race has been able to induce the natives to work with it in friendly co-operation?


Mr Corser - What about Fiji?


Mr J H CATTS - What about the report by Messrs. Pearce and Andrews, which tells us of the slave traffic among the Indian coolies imported to Fiji - the most abominable slavery the world has ever known, so abominable that it has led the Indian Government to prohibit the importation of Hindoos into Fiji ?

While Great Britain has been a great colonizer of white races, and while Germany and Holland to a certain extent have succeeded as colonizers of white races, there is no case in history where a white race has been successful in getting the black races to whole-heartedly cooperate in the development of territory; yet Japan has given us proof that in the Marshall and Caroline Islands she is able to procure the enthusiastic co-operation of coloured races in the development of territory.

Mr. McMahonhas shown that the development during the last four years has been marvellous, and he tells that the Marshall Islanders and Caroline Islanders are meeting their Japanese governors as friends, and working with them to such an extent that in ten years' time a new Japanese Empire will be evolved there.

What are we doing ? What are our Pacific prospects ? We sent the InterState Commission to tell us what possibility there was of British developing the Pacific Islands under British administration, and I shall give one or two extracts from their report as a contrast to the Japanese development of coloured races.

In 1916 the Inter-State Commission was directed to inquire into and report on British and Australian trade in the South Pacific, and after two years' investigation a report was presented in April, 1918, which is accepted as the best authority on the possibilities of developing the Pacific Islands. The judgment of the InterState Commissioners, who are not only men of capacity, but also men with a large experience of public affairs, is as follows : -

If New Guinea is omitted from the count, there is far more land with far richer resources in Northern Queensland than in all the islands of the Pacific put together. As permanent sources of wealth, omitting wasting assets, the islands are not as promising as their luxurious growth would suggest.

Dealing with the possibilities of development, the Commission goes on to say that it is practically impossible to procure labour on the islands. The Commissioners say - . . the difficulties connected with labour are many and great, and as their solution can only be gradual, it follows that it cannot be expected that production in the islands will show very rapid development. On the contrary, until some mode of overcoming the existing and threatening shortage is found, production must stay where it is, or even recede.

Further on, dealing with the same question under the heading of " British Influence in the Pacific," they say -

Up to the present, we have to answer for a lamentable decline in the numbers of the natives in' most of the islands governed by Great Britain. The causes of that decline- the introduction of the white man's diseases, the white man's liquor, and the white man's greed --are, to a large extent, things of the past, and will not easily be repeated under the more alert and better equipped administrations of the present day. But everything points to the necessity for Great Britain making good throughout this wide sphere of her influence her moral right as a conserving influence to countries she has acquired in every instance by peaceful means.

We are thus told by. the Inter-State Commission, first, that there is not in these islands the wealth that many people think there is, and that, compared with the Northern Territory and North Queensland, they are practically poor countries, and, secondly, that there is no local supply of labour available.

Japan has a local supply of labour in the Marshal] and Caroline Islands, which she is able to get to co-operate in the development of the islands.

Australia has New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago, in which there is not enough local labour for developmental work.We saw recently that the Germans had to flog the natives of New Guinea to get them to work, and we had bo intervene and abolish this practice.

Japan, but four hundred miles away, is not only able to draw upon local labour, but is also in the position of being able to supply an unlimited quantity of coloured labour from her own country.

In our territories we cannot get enough local native labour for developmental purposes, nor can we draw upon any other source.

Where can we get the necessary labour ? Are we to draw upon coloured labour from other parts of the world ? Are we to develop a White Australia by the creation of a black man's kingdom at our northern gate? The Prime Minister has told us that there is only 80 miles between the north of Queensland and the shore of New Guinea, yet it wouldappear that the only means of developing that poor country is by getting a large supply of coloured labour.


Mr Corser - There is a fair amount of labour there at present.


Mr J H CATTS - The Inter-State Commission says that at present there is not sufficient labour to carry on work already in progress. We can do nothing with the huge territories to be developed in Northern Queensland and our Northern Territory.

The Minister for the Navy has told us that in 1912 there was a loss of £60,000 in German New Guinea. We know that we lost £30,000 in Papua last year. Losses in our existing Pacific Possessions and in the Northern Territory are an enormous deadweight on the taxpayer of Australia, and now the Bismarck Archipelago and New Guinea are to be added to it.


Mr Atkinson - Not if they are properly handled.


Mr J H CATTS - Why do we not handle Papua and the Northern Territory properly ? It is absurd for the honorable member to talk in that way. We have huge territories on the mainland, and we can do nothing with them, because they are in the tropics, and too much valuable land is available in our temperate zones. They are a huge loss to us, yet they are infinitely more wealthy than are these islands and these new German Possessions that we are told we can do such a lot with.


Mr Sampson - Why should we not do in New Guinea what the Dutch have been able to do in Java ?


Mr J H CATTS - There is not the wealth in New Guinea that there is in Java. We have been told by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that in regard to the control of these islands we are to have our own way, and that we can apply to them any law we can apply to Australia. We can do nothing of the kind. These are the Prime Minister's words: -

As a matter of actual fact, we may make over the Islands exactly the same kind of laws as a State could make before Federation in Australia, subject only to five reservations. There can be no sale of firearms to the natives; we cannot raise native armies, except for the mere defence of that Territory; we cannot sell alcohol to the natives; we cannot raise fortifications; and there cannot be any slave trade.


Mr Corser - Does not that stipulation refer to the Marshall Islands as well ?


Mr J H CATTS - The honorable member would like to make my speech. He will have his opportunity of making a speech. I prefer to make my own points in my own order. The Prime Minister omitted one very important thing, and that is contained in Article 22 of the Treaty, which is as follows : -

The mandatory will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other members of the League.

Thus we cannot do what we like with New Guinea. Equal opportunities for trade and commerce must be given to Japan 400 miles away, where it is able to set the natives to work, is able to provide an unlimited supply of its own cheap labour, and is actively establishing manufacturing industries. Thus Japan will have an open door into New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago for trade and commerce, and in these circumstances, how much trade will Australia enjoy? Arewe not now complaining that the Japanese have started a line of steamships from Rabaul through the Islands to Japan, taking from under our very nose the trade of the Possessions we are already administering?


Mr Sinclair - But we can stop that.


Mr J H CATTS - Under the Treaty we cannot stop it. Japan is to be given equal opportunity with ourselves for trade and commerce, and, so far as New Guinea is concerned, we cannot compete with the Japanese in such circumstances. Every honorable member knows that what I am saying is absolutely true.


Sir Joseph Cook - May I suggest that the honorable member should read the terms of the mandate embodied in the Treaty.


Mr J H CATTS - That is just what I have quoted. If there is another side of the question, I hope that the Minister will get some one to put it to the House.


Sir Joseph Cook - This is complete misrepresentation.


Mr J H CATTS - It is nothing of the kind. I can give final proof for what I contend.

In 1917 the Administrator, the late Sir Samuel Pethebridge, brought in an Ordinance forbidding Chinese to trade except on certain terms. The Chinese appealed to their Consul in Australia, and the Ordinance was cancelled. The 2,000 Chinese in New Guinea had to be placed on a footing of trade and commerce equality.

I am showing the House the responsibilities of this country which our two Peace delegates have concealed from us. There can be no other interpretation upon the words in Article 22 of the Peace Treaty. There they stand. Any citizen may read and understand them. To provide equal opportunitiesfor trade and commerce means that the Japanese will come intoNew Guinea and the Bismarck Islands and trade there on equal terms with ourselves. And "equal" terms means an effectual Japanese monopoly, for we cannot compete with Japan on equal terms. Where would the industries of Australia be if Japan were admitted to competition on equal terms?

We are also told that Japan may build no defences in these islands, except for local defence purposes. Who is to say what is necessary for local defence? The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) supplied the answer to-day when he said that there can be no interference in regard to what is considered necessary by each nation in looking after its necessities for local defence. It is a very elastic phrase. Who is to decide what is necessary for local defence?


Mr Riley - Japan.


Mr J H CATTS - Japan will decide what is necessary for the local defence of the Caroline and Marshall Islands. We are told by the Minister for the Navy that in these matters the League of Nations will not seek to interfere. It will advise the mandatory Powers and ask them to submit reports to it in' regard to these matters, but will not interfere with them.


Sir Joseph Cook - I call the attention of the honorable member to this paragraphin Article 22 -

There are territories, such as South-West Africa and certain of the South Pacific Islands, which, owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilization, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the mandatory, and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of the mandatory as integral portions of its territory, subject to the safeguards above mentioned, in the interests of the indigenous population.


Mr J H CATTS - I say that that paragraph is conditioned by the words I have read from the same Article. The paragraph says, "subject to the safeguards above mentioned." Those safeguards are that there shall be equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other members of the League. Let me put my quotation and that of the Minister for the Navy together as they appear, for they are both paragraphs of Article 22 -

Other peoples, especially those of Central Africa, are at such a stage that the mandatory must be responsible for the administration of the territory under conditions which will guarantee freedom of conscience and religion, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms traffic, and the liquor traffic, and the prevention of the establishment of fortifications or military and naval bases and of military training of the natives for other than police purposes and the defence of territory, and will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other members of the League.

There are territories, such as South-West Africa and certain of the South Pacific Islands, which, owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilization, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the mandatory, and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of the mandatory as integral portions of its territory, subject to the safeguards above mentioned in the interests of the indigenous population.

In every case of mandate, the mandatory shall render to the Council an annual report in reference to the territory committed to its charge.


Mr MASSY-GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - The honorable member does not understand it.


Mr J H CATTS - That is the interpretation I place upon the Treaty. Let the citizens of Australia who read these remarks judge.

I stated at the commencement of my speech that the Pacific had been turned into a boiling cauldron,, and I say now, as I said when the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) was speaking, that there is more preparation for war at the present moment in the Pacific than there was anywhere before the outbreak of war in 1914. The honorable gentleman admitted that Great Britain was transferring battleships from the North Sea to the Pacific. Why is she doing that?

Japan is building for the Pacific eight battleships of 40,000 tons each.

America has a gigantic Meet, comprising 175 ships, 104 destroyers pf 1,400 tons each, 34,000 men, and 1,800 officers at present visiting the ports on the Pacific coast. Why has America brought that huge Fleet of nearly 300 vessels into the Pacific? To fight Australia?

Japan is building eight battleships of 40,000 tons each, and is spending £35,000,000 upon fortifications in the Pacific. What for? Do we intend to attempt to violate Japanese territory? Does anybody intend to interfere with Japan ?

Part of the main British Fleet is being transferred to the Pacific.

There is to be a squadron on the China station and another in South Africa.

A new naval station is to be created in Indian waters.

There is to be a development of a Navy in New Zealand, and Lord Jellicoe, who recently visited the Pacific, insists that Australia shall spend £5,000,000 per annum in the upkeep of a Navy, or three times the amount we were spending on our Navy when, the war broke out.

We are to be asked to shoulder this burden.

Other Dominions are to be asked to undertake a proportionate responsibility.

Part of the British Fleet has been transferred to the Pacific. A huge American Fleet is visiting the Pacific ports, and Japan is building new battleships and expending money on fortifications in the Pacific. Why? What does the League of Nations intend to do? Why does not the League take steps to prevent these things? There must be some reason for all these sinister movements.

The late Admiral Mahan, of America, said that " the Pacific is the theatre of the next world's war."

The Inter-State Commission reported -

Their (the islands') importance is great, of course, as ports of pall, lying, as they do, on the trade routes between the East and Australasia,' and between Australasia and the two Americas, and these .ports may be destined to have a strategic, as well as a commercial, importance..... The strategic importance of this ocean, which was already obvious before the war, has been shown by recent war events to be even greater than was formerly supposed.

The Prime Minister, in a foreword to Brunsden Fletcher's New Pacific, in September, 1916, said -

The Pacific Ocean, sooner or later, must become the balancing centre of the world's trade and development.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, of the 27th August, Lord Jellicoe said -

We would be ill-advised if we listened to any suggestion that there is no occasion to be in a .hurry to get our defences into proper order.

Why? We were not told that we should hurry to get our. defences into proper order before the last war. Is there more urgency now than in 1914? ' Lord Jellicoe continued -

The Pacific was an ocean growing in importance every, day, and it contained great possibilities of trouble. There were elements which might give rise to future international complications.

He could not make his statement any plainer than that.

Lieutenant Clarke, M.C., is reported, in the Sydney Morning Herald, of the 19 th August, as having said -

I am not expressing my own opinion when I say that trouble on a very large scale is expected in the Far East. The occupation of the Shantung Province has become more than a Chino-Japanese question. About 200 aeroplanes are due to arrive in the Philippines shortly, and many thousands of troops are going to a station which is being prepared somewhere in the Pacific.

I think I have shown conclusively that we are in a worse position to-day than we were when the war broke out.

We have been given control over territories with which we can do nothing.

Our own representatives have agreed to territorial concessions to Japan which are a deadly menace to this country.

So much information has been denied to this Parliament that I -think that now, when we are commencing to deal with these great international problems that are fraught with immense possibilities of disaster to this country, this House ought to follow the example of the American Congress by establishing a Foreign Relations Committee, to which this matter might be referred, and which could call upon Ministers and the Government Departments to supply the information at their disposal. In that way we should be enabled to decide whether, in entering this new and uncharted sea of international complications, we are upon the right track.

It is impossible to know with the information which has been given to us by our Peace delegates whether or not we are adopting the right course. About the things which concern us most they have been silent.

In his speech, the Prime Minister said that the whole world should know - (1) How the Treaty was arrived at; (2) What it is; and (3) What it means. . Under none of these headings ha3 he given us any information. So far as his elucidation, or, rather, want of elucidation i3 concerned, we do not know how the Treaty was arrived at ; we do not know what it is ; we do not know what it means.

This House should not agree to the Shantung settlement. The Foreign Relations Committee of the- American Senate has passed the following resolution in regard to it: -

Resolved, That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the provisions of the Treaty which transfers tq japan such broad rights and powers and physical possession over the territory and people in the Shantung Peninsula of China, as being alike disregardful of the true rights and deep-seated desires of the more than 36,000,000 of Chinese inhabitants in the peninsula, unjust to the Republic of China, and threatening to the future peace of tlie world. It is the sincere hope of the United States that this manifest injustice may bc speedily reconsidered and remedied.

Senator Sherman,in speaking to the resolution, said -

The section giving Japan control of Shantung Peninsula " so taints and poisons the professed altruism with which the League of Nations was heralded as to crown it the most superlative treachery in the history of modern times."

Article 10 and the portion of the Treaty relating to Shantung are twin brothers of a common inequity. They speak the language of a joint outrage, and bear the evidence of deliberate pre-aranged conspiracy.

Those words express better than any words I could employ my view of the Shantung settlement. President Wilson, who knows that the Peace Treaty will not be accepted by Congress without qualifications, has already stated publicly that he is prepared for the conditional acceptance of the Treaty. That is to say, that he thinks the American Legislature can agree to the Covenant of the League of Nations in principle, but is entitled to make such reservations as it thinks ought to be made.


Sir Joseph Cook - He is doing the best he can with a Legislature that is opposed to him.


Mr J H CATTS - And if all the facts were disclosed they would show that this Parliament ought to make some reservations in the Treaty, 'and that the Government ought to do -the best they can in the circumstances by accepting the Treaty with, reservations that are vital to the country. .


Mr Maxwell - Such as?


Mr J H CATTS - Such as a reconsideration of the disposition of the German Possessions in the- Pacific, and a refusal to be a party to the outrage committed upon China by the Shantung settlement.

The Prime Minister put before the Peace Conference the possibility that the League would not lie ratified by Australia. This is how Mr. Hughes is reported in the press, on the 16th February, 1919 : -

The League must run the whole gamut of critics and Legislatures before it is able to speak, and may be clothed with various powers at present unthought of.

The League may not find support in Australia, which may refuse to pledge itself to fight a war at the bidding of a remote body, or to limit its armament at a distant Power's wish. -

The people may refuse to authorize an unknown international body to control their armies and navies, thereby, in effect, controlling their taxation.

There are a thousand difficulties and dangers.

The other day I asked the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) what would happen supposing America refused to ratify this violation of China, and war broke out between Japan and America?

Under this League of Nations we should be called upon to fight for Japan against our cousins in the UnitedStates of America.

This Peace Treaty ought to be received with some qualification in this respect.

There is no power on earth that would make Australia fight for Japan against America. It would be as well to face that fact to-day, before we sign the Treaty which commits us to such an impossible condition.

We have been told to-day by the Minister for the Navy that if we sign the Treaty, and refuse to fight for Japan, our commerce will be blockaded, and we shall be regarded as outcasts and pariahs, and ridiculed as a people not prepared to accept our Treaty obligations. If such is possible under the Treaty, we had better face the position now than face a worse position in years to come. This Peace Treaty ought to be qualified so far as to safeguard our American-Australian friendship, so as to show that we are not a party to the settlement of Shantung, and do not agree to bringing Japan 3,000 miles towards these shores, and thereby endangering the White Australia policy.


Sir Joseph Cook - You would go further, and be prepared to have the islands internationalized ?


Mr J H CATTS - I say that would be preferable. With great deliberation I say that Germany in the Ladrones, the Marshalls, and the Carolines would be a preferable neighbour to Japan. I would rather have a white race as a buffer between this country and the hordes of Asia than set up an aggressive coloured race in the islands - than I would open the gate to practically 400,000,000 of the Asiatic agony to come to our very gates. I move as anamendment : -

That the following words he added to the motion: - "That, owing to the limited amount of information placed before Parliament in relation to the Peace Treaty, its commitments and responsibilities, the whole matter be referred to a Committee of both Houses of the Parliament for inquiry and report."

I submit I have given information which makesout a primâ facie case for a close investigation by a non-party Committee of both Houses, which would have the opportunity to call on the Prime Minister and his Department, as well as others, to produce records of the. matters to which I have referred, in the same way as the

Foreign Relations Committee of the United States of America Senate called on President Wilson and his Departments to submit records to them.

There are two other matters to which I desire to refer before sitting down.

One has reference to the conduct of the Prime Minister at the Peace Conference. It has been said that we were represented there with great dignity and capacity, and that the prestige of Australia was increased by reason of our representation.

We were told in this country that there was a serious disagreement between the Minister for the Navy and the Prime Minister during the proceedings; and if it had relation to the matter I now refer to, the Minister for the Navy much more represented the people of Australia than did the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister conducted the campaign at the Peace Conference much as he does an election campaign in Australia. There was no limit to his Billingsgate and questionable tactics; and his conduct has been universally condemned by the daily press and magazines of Britain, Europe, and Australia.

The opinion of the Australian daily press may be instanced by extracts from leading articles in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph.

On the 8th February this year the Sydney Morning Herald contained the following : -

Mr. Hughesis quite right in protesting that the interests of Australia must not be overlooked in the midst of such stupendous issues. But the claim to have been the only sober man at the party is always liable to be misunderstood, and his countrymen would rejoice to see a contribution to the harmony of nations in the place of ineffectual attempts at disruption.

On the4 th Feburary, the Daily Telegraph said -

One of the penalties Australiahas to pay for being so far removed from the world's great centres consists in the frequent misrepresentation there of her public opinion, and now and thenin its more or less deliberate distortion for political ends..... It would be hard to conceive a more grotesque misrepresentation of the Australian attitude.

That has reference to the conduct of the Prime Minister. While matters were sub judice inthe Conference, the honorable gentleman waved aloft cables representing without justification that great meetings were being held in Australia in support of his actions, and that these meetings were spontaneous and uninvited expressions of Australian public opinion.

Statements made by the Prime Minister to journalists representing English and European newspapers were described in an authoritative pronouncement by the Peace Conference as mischievous, inaccurate, and misleading.

The Conference itself had to take the Prime Minister to task for adopting those very tactics which were so pronounced at our own two conscription campaigns, for instance. The official pronouncement of the' Peace Conference contains the statement: -

IE there is a repetition, if will be impossible to continue the Conference, and the world's peace may be jeopardized.

Commenting on the statements of the Prime Minister, the Westminster Gazette said : -

If individual delegates are allowed to do as Mr. Hughes has done, all national questions will be made battlegrounds in the newspapers whenever delegates arc dissatisfied with Conference's vote. This is an impossible state of affairs, and Conference itself will be broken up unless it maintains some discipline over its members. Nothing is more deplorable than the bad example of the Australian Prime Minister.

Yet we have been told throughout this country by a great press publicity campaign, paid for with the taxpayers' money, what a great man the Prime Minister is, and how the Conference bowed down to him, impressed with his outstanding ability and statecraft.

As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister has been condemned from one end of the world to the other, and his conduct only shows how public money can be expended in a publicity campaign, and the people absolutely misled.

Writing from Paris on the 4th February, Mr Arthur Mason, well known in this country as the special correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald in Paris, said in reference to the Prime Minister's publicity methods -

Mr. Hughes'conduct gave rise to a scene in the Conference. . . . Subsequently, a very prominent representative of Great Britain met the British journalists now in Paris, alluded to this disclosure of Conference proceedings as an appalling recklessness, and hinted at grave disaster as the probable result of any repetition of such a course. Mr. Hughes himself had revised the Daily Mail article before it appeared in print -

That is where the trouble arose. This particular paragraph appeared in an article of the Daily Mail, but, in reality, the Prime Minister told the journalists what he wished to have said, and what the journalists wrote was revised by him. To all intents and purposes it was the Prime Minister's article, but it appeared as a Daily Mail article, telling the world what a great man Mr. Hughes is!


Sir Joseph Cook - Who says that the Prime Minister practically wrote the article himself?


Mr J H CATTS - Mr. ArthurMason in the Sydney Morning Herald.


Sir Joseph Cook - He does not say that.


Mr J H CATTS - He certainly does, as quoted by me. The Minister for the Navy is very reckless in his interjections. Mr. Mason further says - followed a confusion of anger - all other journalists being angry with the scare-mongering one - and Mr. Hughes himself being angrier than any one that he was involved in a pretty considerable mess.

It ought to have been said rather that the Prime Minister was angrier than anybody, because he had been found out.

The article by Mr. Mason continues -

There was a pre-concerted arrangement by which full quotation of Mr. Hughes' remarks should be worked up into a Daily Mail article. As it is, we have the rather sorry spectacle of the Prime Minister of Australia - and, at a Peace Conference of world range and incalculable possibility - diligently engaged, in the first place, in seeking out such journalists who would' be willing to write up the grievances of Australia, with a special reference to the pugnacity of Mr. Hughes.

The article goes on to refer to Mr. Hughes' methods as " intemperate and petulant," and to say that the Prime Minister issued many proclamations in advance of himself. These are the words of Mr. Mason -

A campaign of personal publicity by grace of any journalist who could be prevailed upon to write the case for Mr. Hughes. ... . . Mr. Hughes' latest effort in publicity - a Daily

Mailsensational stunt, in any case after the event, and unavailing, and, moreover, dismissed by authoritative rebuke as inaccurate, mischievous, and misleading..... Mr. Hughes' reputation was seriously diminished as the result of the Paris publicity campaign.


Sir Joseph Cook - Mr. Mason penned a very fine appreciation of the Prime Minister the other day. Have you read it?


Mr J H CATTS - I have not, although I have carefully endeavoured to read everything that was published in reference to the matter. How could Mr. Mason say glorious things about the

Prime Minister in the face of the article I have just quoted?


Sir Joseph Cook - He did so.


Mr J H CATTS - I do not believe it.


Sir Joseph Cook - Thank you !


Mr J H CATTS - The Minister ought not to interject in this way, but read the articles for himself.


Sir Joseph Cook - There is no reason why you should lose your manners.


Mr J H CATTS - I admit I should not have given my friend so direct a denial as I did.


Sir Joseph Cook - Everybody has read Mr. Mason's article to which I refer.


Mr J H CATTS - Do you say that what I have quoted is untrue?


Sir Joseph Cook - I say you should read the article which appeared last week.


Mr J H CATTS - No article of Mr. Arthur Mason qualifies what I am charging against the Prime Minister.

A statement was made by the Prime Minister in Sydney, in discussing the Peace question, and reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 15th September, to the effect that he deliberately and emphatically said that if the Australian Army had been properly reinforced during those critical days, at least 10,000 men who died in France and Flanders would to-day be amongst us.

I do not think I have ever heard of such a scurrilous, mean, contemptible, cowardly statement.

Here is the Prime Minister, who comes back when the whole thing is over, and professes a desire to hold out the olive branch to his former friends, and yet he utters a malicious and untrue statement of that kind. It is hard to find an adjective to describe such a man.


Mr Fleming - I should like to be informed as to how you know the statement is untrue.


Mr J H CATTS - I shall give the House some facts. The great losses that took place in our Army were before the first conscription campaign, and why did they take place? Because some of our men were sent to the slaughter where they had no chance to fight.

At Fleurbaix, in July, 1916, before the first conscription campaign, 15,000 Australians were ordered up to take what was' supposed to be a second line of trenches. A division of the

British Army was ordered to march up concurrently with them to their support. The Australians went forward, and when they got into what was supposed to be the second line of trenches, they found themselves in a canal, which the Germans immediately flooded. They had not a chance to fight for themselves, and of those 15,000 men only 5,300 came back, owing to the bungling of some British General, whosent our wonderful men in to fight where they did not have a chance to fight. They were simply butchered in cold blood.


Mr Fleming - That happened through treachery. Some Germans dressed themselves up in the uniforms of British officers.


Mr J H CATTS - It was incompetence or treachery on somebody's part, but not incompetence or treachery oh the part of Australia's soldiers. What became of the British division which was to march concurrently to their support? They did not turn up. They did not start to march until twenty-four hours afterwards. Our men found themselves suddenly in water up to their waists, and sometimes up to their necks. They had to take the bayonet and hack their way back. In that one action alone we lost 10,000 men.

What happened on Gallipoli? Did our men get a fair go there? They did not. We lost half our total killed for the whole war, on Gallipoli alone. Yet the Prime Minister comes back here and talks about what the men in this country did, who, like myself, were aware of what was going on with an Asiatic Power, and were not prepared, as I was not, to send the whole of the manhood of this country to foreign battle-fields when they knew that arrangements were taking place with regard to this country which seriously prejudiced our national and internal integrity.


Mr Finlayson - And that event took place when our enlistments were going strong.


Mr J H CATTS - It took place when the enlistments in Australia were at their height.


Sir Joseph Cook - It is clear that you must never have anything to do with international affairs again.


Mr J H CATTS - It is clear that we ought to have a Prime Minister with a little of the sense of Australian sportsmanship in him, instead of coming back here and making these mean and false insinuations against those who have had a difference of opinion with him.

Wherever I had an opportunity to put the case that I have put to-night, until the Government put the gag on my lips, and to tell the people of this country what was going on in connexion with this Asiatic Power, how we were being betrayed in regard to' our vital national policy, the most conservative and conscriptionist centres in this country said that I was perfectly right, in the circumstances, to take up the attitude that I did with regard to conscription.

The Prime Minister, thinking to create a little bit more bad feeling, whilst mouthing the idea of the olive branch and friendliness towards those who previously disagreed with him, makes a statement like this that must earn for him the absolute contempt of every fair-minded man and woman in this country, conscriptionist or not.

I have here a statement by two French war correspondents - Henry Ruffin and Andre Tudesq- translated from the French and published by Nelson and Sons, of Paternoster-road, London. The publication of this matter has been prohibited in this country for the last couple of years, although it is the statement of French war correspondents. This is. what they say regarding the Australian -

His courage, which the enemy regards with peculiar distaste, has earned him heavy fighting everywhere throughout the war. Let us recall some of his chief performances.

They then refer to the great work doneby the Australians on the Suez Canal, and by the Australian horsemen, who did such splendid work in that field of operations, and lived for four months in the desert, exposed to continual attacks. They add-

Next, the Australian troops, augmented by certain units of New Zealanders, disembarked on the Gallipoli Peninsula at the left of their English comrades. Hardly were they on shore before they began a series of battles which never stopped for a week. They held, at very great cost, the bit of ground which had been taken from the Turks, and during four months two divisions of them lived, Heaven knows how, on a space of less than a third of an acre.

Then came the evacuation of Gallipoli. The Australians returned to Egypt, there to rest between December, 1915, and the 1st April, 1916, on which day they made their appearance on the Western Front.

Since that time the Australians have fought on French soil.

They have to thank their splendid reputation that they are always to be found wherever the most glory is to be won. It was they who took Pozieres during the Somme offensive, and the farm at Moquet, and measured their strength throughout those epic days against that of the Prussian Guard.


Sir Joseph Cook - Does the honorable member think it fair, having been given an extension of time, to get away from the Peace Treaty, and utter a diatribe of this kind?


Mr J H CATTS - I am dealing with ' the very question that the Prime Minister dealt with.


Sir Joseph Cook - But the Prime Minister did not deal with it here in connexion with the Peace Treaty.


Mr J H CATTS - Partly. I have the passage marked. I am not taking as much time as my honorable friends opposite took. .


Sir Joseph Cook - I suggest that the honorable member should discuss the Peace Treaty, and not start a party diatribe against the Prime Minister. I do not think that is fair.


Mr J H CATTS - The Prime Minister has. made these unprovoked attacks upon us.

The right honorable gentleman told us about the great work of the Australians on the 21st March, 1918, when the Germans made their terrific onslaught on the 5th British Army. The British, he says, were flying headlong back as fugitives in all directions from the German guns. The Australians were ordered to march up through them. They marched steadily forward through these thousands of British " Tommies," and took their stand, and stooped the onrush of the German armies.

The right honorable member himself, though not an Australian, has said that our troops were the best storm troops in the world. The Prime Minister said in the Daily Telegraph on the 16th of this month -

Marshal Foch said there . were no braver troops anywhere than the Australians; they were always shock troops, storm troops: always at the Front, and always behaving themselves like men.

Our men were always shock troops and storm troops. That is the testimony of the Prime Minister. That is why we have a larger casualty list in proportion than Great Britain has.

The casualties of Great Britain were 43 per cent., Canada 44 per cent., New Zealand 50 per cent., and Australia 60 per cent.

It is just a turn as between our men and the French armies as to which had the highest percentage of casualties.

As regards deaths, we have heard a lot about the German onslaught upon Belgium, but the figures show 14,000 deaths of Belgians and 60,000 deaths of Australians.

We have heard a great deal about the tremendous fighting of the Servians against the great Austro-Hungarian armies. Servia had 45,000 deaths, as against 60,000 of our troops.

Indeed, the number of deaths in our Army was greater than those of America.

It was not because our men were not reinforced that they had these heavy casualties. It was because they were jammed in, in preference to all others, where men were to be killed.

If the Prime Minister wants to tell this cock-and-bull story to the relatives of the men in this country to prejudice them against us as if we were their murderers, I flint? the cowardly and contemptible slander back in his teeth.


Sir Joseph Cook - On a point of order, I submit that the honorable member is nob in order in dragging in this party controversy, which has nothing to do with the signing or acceptance of the Peace Treaty. I suggest that the honorable member is guilty of a gross abuse of the good nature of the House in doing so.

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. W. Elliot

Johnson). - The Minister is entitled to his opinion of the use the honorable member has made of his extension of time, but, as was explained before this debate was entered upon, considerable latitude must be given in dealing with a question that covers so wide a range. It is not for me to decide whether the honorable member's remarks are in good taste or not. That is for the honorable member himself to decide, but, so far as I can see his remarks cannot be ruled out of order so long as they are associated with events connected with the Peace Treaty. The war and the Peace Treaty are so much interwoven subjects that it is not easy to lay down a hard and fast line of demarcation in a debate of this character. I would point out, however, that the extension of time which was granted to the honorable member has already nearly reached the limit of the original time of one hour and five minutes provided forby the standing order. I suggest, therefore, that if extensions are to be granted some time limit should be set to them. In any case, the extension should not exceed the original time allowed under the forms of the House.


Mr J H CATTS - I had almost concluded my remarks. A great deal of my time has been taken up by interruptions. As our time is limited, it was fair that I should be allowed to proceed without interruption in debating a subject of this kind. We were maintaining five divisions in the field, which meant 100,000 men. There were practically 400,000 men enlisted from this country, which was ample for the maintenance of five divisions; but the Prime Minister gave authority for the creation of a sixth division, so that if there was any lack of support it was because this Government gave authority for a larger number of divisions than the country was able to maintain.

Our soldiers at the Front, who ought to have been better judges of what was required than anybody in this country, voted against conscripting the manhood of the Commonwealth. On that point the two French war correspondents referred to wrote -

It is strange that the majority of the Australian Contingent voted against compulsory service for Australia. Why? Let no one imagine that it was because these heroes have become opponents of the war; nor is it even because they think their country has done enough. They have voted against compulsory service, first of all, for a reason of a general nature, which applies to the whole body of Australian electors, namely, because the Australians have a horror of all moral compulsion and a burning love of liberty. These soldiers have also been influenced by another objection; they fear lest to introduce a professional army into Australia may be to infect their nation with a spirit of militarism which is not all to their taste.


Sir Joseph Cook - I rise to a point of order. I appeal to you, sir, in all sincerity to say whether the discussion of a referendum on conscription has anything to do with the Peace Treaty now under consideration.







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