Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 7 December 1911


Senator STEWART (Queensland) . - On this clause, I should like to refer to a matter which I gathered from some of the Minister's remarks had been referred to in the debate on the second reading, namely, the liability of the Defence Forces to. be called out for the purpose of quelling civil disturbances. It ought to be made clear in a Bill of this kind that, under no circumstances, except perhaps in the case of actual rebellion, on the part of a section of the community, should the Defence Forces be called out for any purpose in that connexion. We saw how the soldiers were used by the British Government during the late railway strike to defeat the railway men.


Senator St Ledger - Have not the workers in Australia a protection which British workers do not possess - Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts?


Senator STEWART - We cannot tell what circumstances may arise in Australia. We know how things stand at the present moment, but we have not the slightest idea of what will take place within ten or fifteen or twenty years. I am strongly opposed to any calling out of the military in connexion with industrial disputes, or anything of that kind. I think it is a thing which ought never to be done. Whatever disturbance of that kind may arise ought to be put down under the authority of the police. As I have said, we saw what happened in Great Britain during the recent railway strike. We know what happened in Great Britain during the recent railway strike. The Government of Great Britain were prepared to go even further than they did. They intended, if the strike continued, to call out the military, and compel them to act as railway porters, engine-drivers, guards, and in every other position connected with the railway service of the country.


Senator Pearce - They were dealing with a standing army.


Senator STEWART - Our Army is under the authority of the GovernorGeneral, which means under the Government of the day, just as the Army in Great Britain is.


Senator Pearce - The Army here is the people themselves.


Senator STEWART - That is all very fine and large. The Army here is under the control of the Government for the time being. The Governor-General, with the advice of the Government, can order our Army out at any time, to do anything.


Senator Pearce - What was done with the Territorials at Hull?


Senator STEWART - The Territorials are not in the same position as our Military Forces will be. The instinct of obedience is so strong in every soldier that all he thinks about is to obey orders.


Senator Guthrie - " Fire low and lay them out."


Senator STEWART - Yes. Our soldiers are sworn to obey orders. I do not imagine for a moment that a Labour Government would call out the military in this connexion. But suppose that, by some unfortunate turn of the political wheel, the capitalists of Australia - represented by Senators Walker, Gould, Vardon and Millen - were to get into power again, and industrial disturbances became rife, what would happen? Would they not call out the military? Would they not call out the young bloods of Australia and tell them to fire low and lay out the strikers? Of course they would.


Senator Vardon - Does the honorable senator think that they would do that?


Senator STEWART - Of course I do. They are fit for anything. There is nothing too hot or too heavy for them,. I would not trust them.


Senator Millen - I rise to a point of order. As the honorable senator says the Opposition are fit for anything, we ought to be given an opportunity to show whether we are entitled to that reputation. I ask your ruling, sir, as to whether Senator Stewart is in order in discussing an amendment of the Defence Act which is not covered by the order of leave. This is a Bill to amend sections 127, 134, 135 and 142 of the Defence Act. It is for that and no other purpose. I would suggest, without pretending to read into the mind of the Minister of Defence, that he was very careful to obtain a restricted order of leave, bearing in mind a discussion which took place in this Chamber some little time ago on a motion moved by Senator Rae, which specifically raised the point which Senator Stewart is now attempting to discuss.


Senator Rae - It was not in a Bill.


Senator Millen - I have said that it was not. I ask your ruling, sir, on two grounds; first, that the discussion raised by Senator Stewart is beyond the order of leave, and next that, having previously debated this very matter during the present session, we cannot now debate it again. The motion which Senator Rae moved was as follows : -

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the Defence Act should be so amended as to clearly set forth that the object of creating a Citizen Defence Force based upon universal compulsory military training and service is for the purpose of defending the Commonwealth against possible foreign aggression, and, therefore, under no circumstances should any person so enrolled be compelled to bear arms against any fellow Australian citizen notwithstanding anything contained in the oath of allegiance or iri any other conditions of compulsory service.

That covers the very matter that Senator Stewart is attempting to debate.


Senator Stewart - Where is that taken from?


Senator Millen - That motion was dealt with here in this session when Senator Stewart was enjoying himself on the other side of the world.


Senator Stewart - Was it carried ?


Senator Millen - For the information of the honorable senator I may say that it was defeated by nineteen votes to four. .


Senator Stewart - That is all the more reason why we should discuss it again.


Senator Millen - Yes, but the honorable senator was out of order. The points I raise are that this matter, having been previously discussed this session, cannot now be discussed again, and that the discussion is entirely outside the order of leave for the introduction of this Bill.


Senator Rae - On the point of order, I may be wrong, but I am under the impression that the rule against the discussion of the same matter twice in the same session applies only if both discussions arise in connexion with a motion, or if both arise in connexion with a Bill, but that where a motion dealing with a particular matter has been discussed, that does not prevent the same matter being dealt with later on in the same session in a Bill.


Senator Millen - If that were so, we could put a provision into this Bill contradicting the decision we have previously arrived at during this session.


Senator Rae - In my experience that was done in the State Parliament of New South Wales when Senator Millen was a member of it. With respect to the other point raised, 1 direct attention to the fact that the subject was debated by the Minister of Defence himself, and that he offered reasons against the matter being dealt with in the way suggested by Senator Stewart. Surely if it was in order for the Minister to refer to the matter, Senator Stewart may do so.


Senator Millen - It was not in order for the Minister to refer to it, but he was induced to do so by the honorable senator's disorderly remarks on the point.


Senator Rae - The matter of the attendance or non-attendance of cadets at drill was the reason for my remarks, and the whole question as to whether the system will break down or be maintained may depend very largely on the settlement of this question.


Senator Pearce - I submit for your consideration, sir, a very simple test of this matter. It is this : Could Senator Stewart on the clause before the Committee submit an amendment to give effect to the views he has expressed? It is obvious that he could not. The discussion is beyond the order of leave, and such an amendment would not be relevant to the clause, which simply deals with the title of the Bill.


Senator Gardiner - Applying the test suggested by the Minister, I submit that the arguments used by Senator Stewart must be 'in order, because he has argued that the order of leave has not been sufficiently wide to enable such an amendment to be moved.







Suggest corrections