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Thursday, 13 May 1915

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - In seconding the motion which has been moved by the Minister of Defence, I am glad to see that in its terms are used the words ' ' wantonly murdered on the high seas." By those words we express concurrence with the verdict that was arrived at by a British jury after a coronial inquiry into the whole circumstances. We are not exaggerating in the least when we characterize this action of Germany as wanton murder. It matters not if it was done by officers and men by command of a higher authority; those responsible for it must take the consequences of their act. As the Minister has said, action of this character is unknown in civilized warfare, which is governed by rules just as ordinary sport is governed. That this conduct is brutal, barbarous, and unwarlike must be the judgment of every unprejudiced mind. And after the war, and when the storm of partisanship which is necessarily engendered by the conflict between nations shall have subsided, even then by this action Germany will always earn for itself worldwide execration. Germany will have the discredit of being the first among the civilized nations to introduce into organized warfare methods of this infamous character. There is only one circumstance to which I wish to refer, and which I think is worthy of further thought than perhaps we are likely to give to it. Germany has been informing itself and neutral nations through its press of alleged successes, and in this way it has been heartening up its own troops and people with the nope, nay, the assurance, that the German troops everywhere are encountering successes. By this means German people and neutral nations are bidden to expect in the not very distant future the triumph of German arms in Europe. Now this is not the act of any Power that has a consciousness or belief in its ultimate triumph; rather it is the act of one in the most desperate circumstances, and so it will appeal to the. whole world. It will show to the neutral nations that Germany feels that unless it resorts to the most horrible means of warfare it has no hope of holding its own. It will also help our people to realize that Germany sees the doom that is before it. It has already bad the effect of stimulating recruiting in the Commonwealth, Great Britain, and other parts of the Empire, and if by that means it will indirectly tend to the earlier termination of this war, this awful crime, though its consequences have been frightful, will, not have been without some good effect.

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