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Thursday, 19 November 1914


Senator DE LARGIE - The instances are as plentiful as blackberries in autumn. It is only necessary to recall the " Fire-low-and-lay-them-out " phrase of a certain notorious colonel in Victoria at the time of the maritime strike, to bring to mind quite a number of instances.


Senator Bakhap - I believe what he said was "Fire low, and lay the disturbers of law and order out." '


Senator DE LARGIE - Who were they? Time and again I have seen a peaceable strike proceeding, and the disturbers of law and order were either the police or the militia brought into the district. Time and again that has happened. But who ever heard of men of that kidney proposing to set the law in motion against such disturbers of law and order"? When the maritime strike occurred I was engaged as a miner in the Mount Kembla district. There was one old Scotchman there who occupied a subordinate position as a boss, and he was asked to become. a special constable for the purpose of assisting in the maintenance of law and order. He inquired what his duties would be, and was told that he would be required to suppress any disturbance of the peace. His reply was, " Everything is going on quietly here. Nobody desires to injure another. But if you bring non-unionists here to displace men who have been peacefully engaged in the mining industry for so long,' and if they are backed up by policemen and soldiers they will be the real disturbers of the peace. Am I to hit them on the head with a bludgeon ? " That old Scotchman had a keen sense of humour. But Senator Bakhap's sense of humour is entirely absent.


Senator Bakhap - I have studied Scotch humour, and I find a conspicuous absence of it in the honorable -senator.


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not assert that my sense of humour is too keen; but. at the same time, my dull sense of humour is often stirred by the honorable senator. We have to consider what is our duty when an amending Bill of this character is before us. Since we last dealt with Defence matters it must be recollected that we havefought an election. Part of the policy of the Labour party on that occasion was an amendment of the Defence Act in the direction which is now proposed. If we did not give effect to our pledges, Senator Bakhap would be one of ti'e first to remind the electors of Tasmania of our dereliction of duty. We are taking the first opportunity that presents itself to give effect to our principles. It, may be argued that considerable difficulty will be experienced in defining "domestic violence" and "industrial dispute." As a matter of fact, very little difficulty should be encountered in defining "industrial dispute."


Senator Bakhap - Who troubles about an industrial dispute unless it is accompanied by .domestic violence ?


Senator DE LARGIE - Will the honorable senator attempt to define " domestic violence " ?


Senator Bakhap - I will. I would define it as an interference with any citizen in the exercise of his. political, civil, social, or industrial rights as protected by other legislation.


Senator DE LARGIE - Had such a definition been operative- on the occasion of the Brisbane Tramways strike, when military was called out, it would have been a very bad job for Mr. Badger, the manager of the Tramways Company. But, fortunately, the generosity of the Liberal Government allowed him to go free when he should have been punished. There is just one other fact that we ought to' recognise. We in Australia have adopted a certain compulsory system of militarism. I speak as one of the original champions of that system in this Chamber. Indeed, on two occasions before that principle was adopted by a Labour conference I moved that our party should adopt it as a plank in their platform. Compulsory training is now the law of the land, and it is the desire of every.- right-minded person that our Citizen Forces should not be used for party purposes or in connexion with the suppression of industrial disputes. The very first occasion upon which they are so used - the very first occasion on which they are brought out to shoot down, it may be, their own relatives, or persons of their own class - the death-knell of our compulsory training system will be sounded.


Senator Bakhap - What if the Permanent Forces are brought out to shoot down the disturbers of law and order?


Senator DE LARGIE - The same objection will hold good.


Senator Bakhap - Then there is to be no remedy whatever against violence?


Senator DE LARGIE - We can always depend upon the sturdy good sense of the Australian Democracy to suppress violence.


Senator Bakhap - We cannot always depend upon civilians to render assistance to the police.


Senator DE LARGIE - That is not correct. There is no country in the world, in which there is less lawlessness than incur streets, and in which the police obtain more assistance when it is required than they do in Australia. Here the: policeman occupies a very much higher position than he does in other countries, because he is not allowed to exercise autocratic powers. In bygone years there has been a great deal of misuse of the Defence Forces of Australia. Fortunately, we have had no such experience: since we federated. But we know what the Government of Queensland did onthe occasion of the Brisbane strike. We know that they requested military assistance, and that there was not the slightest justification for that request. If we do not provide in this Bill for what shall be done in times of bitter party feeling, we shall be encouraging an outrage on Australia. I have very great pleasure in supporting the amendment. As an old trade unionist who has been connected! with an industry which has had to undertake more hard fighting than has any other industry in the Commonwealth, I know the danger of which I am speaking,, and Senator Bakhap, who is also a miner, ought also to appreciate it.


Senator Bakhap - As a miner, I have always been able to assist in the settlement of industrial disputes without any violence whatever.


Senator DE LARGIE - Here is an opportunity to insure that, in times of industrial unrest, no outrage shall be committed upon Australia. We ought all to be glad of the chance which Senator Stewart has afforded us of voting upon this question.







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