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Thursday, 19 November 1914

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator must accept the denial of Senator de Largie.

Senator BAKHAP - If necessary, I will withdraw my statement, as I wish to defer to your ruling ; but I venture to say that the report of the proceedings in this Chamber this afternoon will show that, in reply to an interjection of mine, Senator de Largie said that he was averse to using the Permanent Forces to subdue domestic violence.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator is now repeating a statement which he has withdrawn. I ask him to withdraw the statement without qualification.

Senator BAKHAP - As it is proper parliamentary procedure to do so, I withdraw the statement; but I maintain that the published report of our proceedings will indicate that Senator de Largie's denial has not been well founded.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator must not continue to repeat -the statement which Senator de Largie has denied.

Senator BAKHAP - Very well; I will accept the honorable senator's denial. The Minister of Defence has told us that in our Permanent Forces of nearly 3,000 there are only about 1,500 combatants. The rest are non-combatants. If this new clause be agreed to, these 1,500 men of the Permanent Forces will be the only force available to the Commonwealth with which to carry out its constitutional obligation under section 119 of the Constitution. These 1,500 men are distributed in various parts of the Commonwealth in which there are forts. I ask, in 'the name of common sense, seeing that the Volunteer and Militia Forces will not be available if this clause be agreed to, what force will be available to the Commonwealth to carry out its obligations? Will these 1,500 permanent men be mobilized and taken from the various garrisons in which they are now -placed to one State to enable the Commonwealth Government to carry out the duties devolving upon it under the Constitution ? Common sense forbids such a supposition. Assuming full responsibility for my utterances, I say that this is a deliberate attempt to place, persons guilty of domestic violence in a major degree, provided that it arises out of an industrial dispute, in a position above the law.

Senator Stewart - That is where they ought to be.

Senator Watson - It will put the blacklegs in their proper position.

Senator BAKHAP - I have no objection to any of these interjections, since they serve merely to buttress the position I am taking up. Honorable senators supporting this proposal are willing to condone any domestic violence arising out of an industrial dispute. I say that the terms of the Constitution in this matter are general, and make no reference to an industrial dispute. Provision has been made for the establishment and utilization of Courts for the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes. If, in defiance of the establishment of such tribunals, the parties to an industrial dispute persist in indulging in domestic violence, do honorable senators, as . custodians of the interests of the people, seriously contend that all the Military and Naval Forces at the disposal of the Commonwealth should not be employed, if necessary, to subdue that violence, and bring about tranquillity in the State in which it has arisen?

Senator de Largie - We are not dealing with domestic violence, but with industrial disputes.

Senator BAKHAP - We have established certain tribunals under the Constitution to deal with disputes of a Commonwealth character. If those tribunals are flouted in connexion with a dispute extending beyond the limits of one State, and domestic violence arises as a consequence, is the National Executive to deliberately deprive itself of the assistance of those Forces with which alone it can carry out its constitutional obligations? The Commonwealth claims jurisdiction over industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of one State; and that being so, there is a clear obligation upon the Commonwealth Government to reserve to itself such force as may be necessary to subdue domestic turbulence. At the instance of Senator Stewart, the present Government of the Commonwealth is abrogating its constitutional obligations by divesting itself of the Forces necessary to carry them out.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator says that an industrial dispute is domestic violence.

Senator BAKHAP - What will the Forces be employed for, unless domestic violence follows as a consequence of the dispute?

Senator de Largie - The honorable -senator wishes to use the Military Forces to take sides in industrial disputes. Now we know where we are.

Senator BAKHAP - Do honorable senators really believe that the Executive Government of any of the States is capable of invoking the assistance of the Commonwealth to deal with . an ordinary industrial dispute that is not attended with domestic violence?

Senator Needham - What would have happened at the time of the Brisbane strike had the Commonwealth Government of the day acceded to the request of the State -Government to call out the troops ?

Senator BAKHAP - I think that the strike would have been brought to a speedy . termination, without the application of any force at all. The very manifestation of a determination on the part of the Commonwealth Government to maintain -law and order would have been quite sufficient to secure what we all profess so ardently to desire.

Senator Turley - The assistance asked for was not required. That was proved.

Senator BAKHAP - -Who proved it?

Senator Turley - It was proved by the fact that the force asked for was not used.

Senator BAKHAP - As a matter of fact, the State Government of Queensland, in that case, had to exercise the powers it possesses to secure the assistance of a force other than that of the police.

Senator Mullan - For what purpose?

Senator BAKHAP - For the purpose of maintaining law and order.

Senator Mullan - But the High Court has said that there was no dispute.

Senator BAKHAP - There was, perhaps, in a technical sense, no dispute bringing the matter within the provisions of the existing Commonwealth . arbitration law; but will Senator Mullan seriously contend that there was no domestic violence ?

Senator de Largie - There was no domestic violence; that was clearly proved.

Senator BAKHAP - The State Government of the day, which is not the present Queensland Executive, because a parliamentary dissolution has intervened since-

Senator Turley - There has been an election, but the -State Executive is practically the same as it was then.

Senator BAKHAP - A parliamentary election has intervened in Queensland since the occurrence of the dispute referred to, and the electors of Queensland at that election indorsed the action of the Executive by returning the Ministerial party to power with a substantial majority.

Senator Ready - The electors of the Commonwealth indorsed the action of the Fisher Government twice.

Senator BAKHAP - We all know that public opinion ebbs and flows^ and that very likely the Brisbane strike was completely forgotten when the Federal elections took place. As a matter of fact, honorable senators representing Queensland have supported this view because their recollections are not quite clear as to whether my utterances on the subject are correct or not.

Senator O'Keefe - The Brisbane strike would never have been forgotten if the Fisher Government had been foolish enough to send the military to deal with it.

Senator BAKHAP - Will the honorable senator . say that there will never at any time in the history of the Commonwealth be domestic violence necessitating the employment -of the Federal Forces to put it down?

Senator Needham - Let us wait until it comes.

Senator BAKHAP - I sincerely hope that no occasion will -arise necessitating the enforcement of this provision of the Constitution.; but I say that it is absolutely cowardly for -a Commonwealth Administration to aid any attempt legislatively to divest it of the Forces necessary to carry out its -constitutional -obligations. Is it proposed to establish a Federal police force, to enable the Government to carry out . these obligations ? It is questionable whether we have the power to establish such a force. Is it contemplated that the 1,500 combatant units of the Permanent Forces should be mobilized for such a purpose? That is obviously nonsensical. In all the circumstances, I think that I am quite Tight in maintaining that the Commonwealth Administration of the day is designedly accepting a proposal which will divest it of the power to carry out this constitutional obligation, if at any time it should be imposed upon it. I am sorry to say that the action of the Government in connexion with this amend: ment is indicative of the fact that our legislation, to all intents and purposes, is carried out by one Chamber, and that such Chamber is neither the Commonwealth House of Representatives nor the Senate.

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