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Wednesday, 28 October 1914

Mr HUGHES (West Sydney) (AttorneyGeneral) . - As to the general tone of the honorable and learned member's remarks and his deprecation of the spirit of national hatred, I quite agree with him that we have no quarrel with the masses of the German nation; but we have a" quarrel, and a quarrel to the death, with that intolerable Prussian military autocracy which, by this war and by deliberate preparation during the last twenty years, has hoped to dominate the world, and trample under foot liberty and democratic government. In order to meet the machinations of this blood and iron policy, the power given in this paragraph is obviously necessary. We are face to face with the most terrible realities. It is for us a struggle of life and death. We must not forget this fact. Sentiment is idle; mere talk will not avail. This Bill is not intended to harass any law-abiding person in the Commonwealth, naturalized, un naturalized, or native born ; but, as I have said, it is a measure which the circumstances have shown to be necessary for dealing with the extraordinary conditions arising out of this war. I have at my disposal information which shows that persons regard the form of naturalization as a convenient cloak which they assume in order to operate more successfully against the Commonwealth. We have evidence of that fact. In the face of facts like this it is necessary to have powers to deal with naturalized persons in a manner befitting the circumstances. I do not attach much weight to the mere form of naturalization under present circumstances. In the organization to which I belong there are a thousand foreigners - Scandinavians, Germans, Italians, and what not - better men I never hope to meet. I never ask them whether they are naturalized or unnaturalized; I merely ask whether they are unionists. If, however, I found a naturalized German doing anything opposed to the interests of my organization, let alone my country, he would get very short shrift from me. Naturalization is nothing but a form if the substance does not accompany it - that is, if there is no change in the heart and mind. I ask the honorable and learned member for Batman how long a period of expatriation in Germany would be needed to destroy his love for Australia. If I were in Germany for 100 years, if I could live that long, I should still be British or Australian, and I would not think it wrong to do what I could for Great Britain or Australia. I put a German in Australia on exactly the same footing. His sympathy is for Germany in this struggle. Is it not a question of life and death with him and with us?

Mr Brennan - But you do not wish to penalize him?

Mr HUGHES - No. So long as he expends his patriotism in mere desire or hopes more or less blatantly expressed, I say nothing; I care not what people say, it is a mere matter of taste; let speech run free; but it is another matter when a man does something against the interests and safety of this Commonwealth. Then, whether he is naturalized or not, punishment speedy and severe ought to be meted out to him. In reply to the honorable and learned member for Batman, I desire to say further that it is the intention of the Government to apply this measure to an extent which the circumstances show to be necessary, and no further. I wish also to say to my fellow citizens of this country that, whether naturalized or not, they will receive at the hands of this Government a fair and? square deal. They have no right to expect more. As long as they give a fair and square deal to tie Commonwealth, all will be well ; but, if they do not, then under this law we shall be able to deal with them quickly and effectively. That is the position. I can assure my honorable and learned friend that the sentiments he has uttered regarding his hatred of war and his love of the spirit of brotherhood which ought to animate all, but which, too obviously, does not, are reciprocated to the full by this Government. At the same time, it has a lively apprehension of its duties and of the dangers with which it finds itself confronted to-day. This measure is designed for a special purpose, and it will be used with all discretion.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 6 to 11 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Bill read a third time.

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