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Thursday, 19 November 1914

Senator FERRICKS - The trouble commenced then. There was no trouble till the special constables were sworn in.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator was in Brisbane at the time; I was not; but it appeared to me that there was a good deal of trouble and strife in that city. Whether the swearing-in of special constables provoked the action of the men or not, it became absolutely necessary that some steps should be taken in order to restore peace. I have no doubt that when that step was first taken a great many men felt themselves impelled to stand up and resist force by force. At any rate it was shown that the State had in itself the power to put an end to the whole of the trouble. We are now asked to enact a provision that it shall not be in the power of the Commonwealth Government to use . the Citizen Forces for this particular purpose.

Senator Mullan - On that occasion the State of Queensland violated the Constitution by raising an armed force.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD D- Every State has the right to raise a force of special constables, and is entitled to arm them if necessary. My honorable friend, Senator Millen, reminds me that Mr. Fisher did not raise that question at all. If the Go vernment of the Commonwealth are called upon by a State to intervene, and consider that the State is unable to control the trouble within its borders, honorable senators admit at once, by this very amendment, that they have the right to send a portion of the Federal Forces in order to put an end to the trouble, and that is the Permanent Forces. Then some honorable senators say, " We saw what happened in Ireland the other day when there was a probability of a disturbance arising in Ulster. The Imperial Government permitted officers who were living in the district concerned to abstain from interfering in any way." I take it that if the Government of the Commonwealth were called upon to deal with domestic violence, and were determined to deal with it, the first men they would look to naturally would be those of our Permanent Forces. It is not likely that they would call upon the men in the Citizen Forces only to put an end to a disturbance unless, of course, they were reduced to the last extremity through being unable to achieve the purpose with the Permanent Forces. Suppose, for instance, that Mr. Fisher had been called upon to intervene in the case of the Brisbane strike, and that he considered a necessity to intervene existed. He would not have sent citizen soldiers, but permanent soldiers, there if any portion of our Defence Forces were to be employed. What does this proposal to amend the Defence Act mean ? It means that in an extreme case, when the Commonwealth Government are unable by any other means to put an end to civil strife, they should not be allowed to call upon any portion of the Citizen Forces to take part in that work. I admit that it would be most unseemly on their part to attempt to call upon a man to go to a scene of strife and attack his brother or father or other near relative. It would be a matter of discretion with the Government of the day, and if they did not exercise the discretion properly they could not expect to retain their position. If it comes to a question of which is the more valuable, a number of special constables or a number of men taken haphazard from the Defence Forces, there can be no doubt that it would be very much better, and tend to put an end to the trouble more rapidly, to employ special constables. In the case of Brisbane the special constables believed that they were giving their ser-: vices to the State, which had right and justice on its side. Necessarily you would get much better work from special constables in a case of that kind than you would get from a number of men one-half of whom might sympathize with those who were causing the disturbance. I cannot conceive that the amendment can be of any great value to the Defence Act or to the people of the country. If it is enacted I do not think it will do very much. It will only provide against cases of industrial trouble. It will not provide against anything else. Take the case of Ulster. The trouble there was not industrial. Under this amendment it would be perfectly competent for the Federal Government to send Citizen Forces to any portion of the Commonwealth to put an end, if possible, to any disturbance of such a character as that which occurred in Ulster. Honorable senators can surely conceive that there are many other circumstances in which it would be necessary to use force in order to bring about a state of quietude. Some honorable senators will say, as one did just now, that the trouble at Brisbane only commenced when armed force was introduced. I feel quite sure that no Government would ever have asked for military assistance unless they had believed, rightly or wrongly, that there was a necessity to call upon the Commonwealth Government to intervene.

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