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Thursday, 13 May 1915

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - When we heard of the gallantry of our troops in action recently we experienced feelings of pride and sorrow; pride at the heroism of our troops, and sorrow for those who had fallen, and for their relatives. We stood aghast with horror a day or two ago when we received news of the sinking, without warning of any kind, of the Lusitania by a German submarine. I agree with the sentiments expressed by the Minister of Defence and Senator Keating, and I would add that had not this Parliament adopted a motion of this description, it would have been wanting in its duty. We tender our heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved relatives, and view with horror and detestation the picture presented of helpless babies lying dead on their mothers' breasts, and that other incident related of a mother who buried her two children - sent them down to a watery grave - and whilst doing so found her last child had died in her arms. In the face of this latest horror I feel that something more drastic is required on the part of this Government and of the allied nations which are endeavouring to crush this mad dog of Europe.

Senator Senior - Something more is required of the whole world.

Senator NEEDHAM - The time has passed for treating this German enemy with a kid glove. The time has arrived when we should deal with it with the mailed fist. Though I am not one to advocate descending to the level of such brutes - it is our duty to rise high above that, and we are doing it - still, I think some steps should be taken to express our detestation in much more convincing language than by passing a motion of this kind. In my humble opinion, it is the duty of the Government to take some drastic action even if it means interning every German and Austrian resident in the Commonwealth, naturalized or unnaturalized. Then, to prevent any repetition of this crime, some of those prisoners should be placed on every ship that sails from these shores bound for foreign countries, so that in the event of any vessels being destroyed by this uncivilized method the Germans will sink some of their own countrymen as well.

Senator de Largie - They would cut the throats of every British prisoner in Germany if you did that.

Senator NEEDHAM - They appear to be doing it now, if we can believe the reports that come to hand, and I do place some credence on them. According to recent reports the Germans slaughtered a number of British prisoners quite recently, burning some of them in a stable. The world stands aghast at this awful and crowning act of infamy on the part of the German nation, but I agree with Senator Keating that, even if the consequences have been awful, some good will have been done if it leads to an earlier termination of this dreadful war.

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