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Thursday, 19 November 1914

Senator PEARCE - Unless we agree to that, we must say that we are already convinced that democratic government is a failure; that government of the people by the people and for the people has been found wanting; that the people cannot be trusted; that there is a danger of the people using force against themselves.

Dealing with the question in a larger aspect, Senator Pearce, on page 2154, said -

We have, in order to maintain ourselves as a nation, to uphold the laws of our nation not only against foreign aggression, but also against internal aggression. The whole duty of government is summed up in that. It is to uphold and enforce the law. The people of Australia have declared that they will have a military system for the defence of Australia us a nation, and I say that that does not merely mean that we will defend Australia from foreign aggression, but that we will defend the laws of Australia, no matter from where the attack may come, if that attack takes the form of force.

A little later on he said -

I say that our Defence Force is raised and maintained, not merely for the purpose of defending the country against foreign aggression, but also to defend the laws which have been framed, through Parliament, by the majority of the people of this country.

I assent to every word of that, and I believe that the Minister, if called upon to do so, would express similar sentiments to-day. But I foresee that a difficulty will arise in determining exactly where an industrial disturbance has ended and domestic violence has commenced. That is a difficulty which is not to be overcome by the use of the words which have been submitted for our acceptance to-day. I do not propose to challenge this amendment by vote, for the simple reason that I do not think it would be desirable in an ordinary industrial dispute to look to the military for assistance. Nor do I think it would be necessary. But. nevertheless, I am confronted with the belief that circumstances might arise when the original industrial dispute might become of quite secondary importance, when domestic violence might walk rampant through one or other of the States, and when a Government which failed to call to its aid all the Forces at its command would be recreant to its trust, and would be committing a crime against the welfare of the country. I regard the amendment as little more than so many waste words. Until it is possible to define what is an industrial dispute - a matter which, as I have indicated, has already torn both Parliament and Courts asunder - and to express the intention of this Parliament in clearer terms, I shall be compelled to regard the proposal of Senator Stewart, even if constitutional, as a mere chip in porridge.

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