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Friday, 18 June 1915

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Then we have dona better than has Canada.

Senator Guthrie - And Canada is only seven days from the front, whereas we are six weeks from it.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I am quite aware of that. I recognise that it is much easier to get men to the front from Canada than it is from Australia.

Senator Gardiner - The honorable senator has stated that Canada has despatched only 70,000 troops.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - She has already raised 115,000, and is now raising an additional 35,000. But as compared with Great Britain, what number have we placed in the field in proportion to our population? That is a question which I invite honorable senators to answer. Then I would ask " Are we doing all that we might do, if we put forth our utmost efforts? " How many men of a suitable military age are there in Australia? As a matter of fact, we have an enormous number whose services ought to be available. Our unmarried men between eighteen and thirty-five years of age total 525,000 or 526,000. Our unmarried men between thirty-five and forty-five years of age number 87,250. Consequently, we have upwards of 600,000 unmarried men between the fighting ages of eighteen, and thirty-five years. The services of these men should be available for the Empire's needs if their health is satisfactory.

Senator O'Keefe - Is the honorable senator advocating conscription?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I will talk about conscription presently if it be necessary to do so. I say that we have in our midst 600,000 unmarried men of a fighting age.

Senator Senior - But they may not be of a fighting height.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The standard height is 5 feet 3 inches, and I am of opinion that they would reach that. But, after making full allowance for those who would not do so, we still have 500,000 men to draw upon. In this connexion we must recollect that large numbers of married men are included amongst our Expeditionary Forces who have already gone to the front. Consequently, the number of unmarried men in those Forces must be very small. Senator O'Keefe has asked me if I am advocating conscription? I am not advocating conscription.

Senator O'Keefe - That is the crux of the honorable senator's argument.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - It is not. The crux of my argument is that we have never made our people realize the necessity for coming forward and freely offering their services at the present juncture. If they were impressed with the difficult position in which the Empire is placed, do honorable senators imagine that they would be holding back? We know that the essential need of Great Britain is men, more men, and still more men. I am satisfied that if our young men were conscious of the grave situation with which we are faced, a great many more would be rallying to the colours. In the earlier stages of the "war we contemplated despatching a Force of only 10,000 troops. Then the number was raised to 20,000, and gradually it has mounted to its present- dimensions. But what news was given to our people of the national emergency with which we are confronted? As a matter of fact, the country did not realize the grave necessities of the situation. It has been brought home to it only after months of fighting that the Mother Country is in a much more serious difficulty than we ever imagined. The people of England themselves were kept ignorant of the real position. The Commonwealth Government cannot be .blamed for the secrecy which has been observed. But the fact remains that all we were told of the progress of the war was of the most favorable character. We knew very little of the reverses experienced by our armies in the field. This policy of secrecy was initiated in Great Britain, and has been followed in this country to the detriment of the people, because if our young men had only realized the seriousness of the position many more would have flocked to the colours. Only the other day we were told in the newspapers that more recruits were offering their services than were required, and that consequently some volunteers were put aside.

Senator Pearce - Who said that?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I saw it stated in the newspapers on the authority of some of the commandants of the States.

Senator Pearce - If so, they made that statement without the authority of the Minister. I would like the name of the commandants who made the statement.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Let the honorable senator supply the names. Otherwise his statement will not help him.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Unfortunately, I have to address myself to a body of honorable senators who are tongue-tied.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am quite as free as is the honorable senator, anyhow.

Senator Pearce - Does not Senator Gould think that, in justice to the commandants concerned, he ought to supply me with their names?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I will see if I cannot send the Minister a copy of the newspaper containing the statement. I say that we should have done everything possible to encourage recruiting, not merely by publishing notices in the newspapers to the effect that men of certain physical proportions were required to enlist, not merely by exhibiting a few posters in the city, but by a united effort on the part of our leaders in Parliament to impress our people with the grave situation with which we are faced.

Senator Russell - Has the honorable senator addressed any recruiting meetings ?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I have not.

Senator Russell - Then the honorable senator should not criticise Ministers who have done so.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The Government ought to have been prepared to take a lead with members of tho Opposition who are free, and who are in a position to address the country on this matter.

Senator Russell - A recruiting campaign in this State has been organized by the Australian Natives Association, and Ministers have already addressed meetings.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - But Ministers should have been at the head of the movement in order to give it the stamp of Government approval. Instead of occupying the time of Parliament in dealing with matters, the consideration of which might well stand over to a more convenient season, we should have been impressing upon the people the difficult situation in which the Empire finds itself to-day. It is not pleasant to say these things, and I want honorable senators to realize that I am saying them because I believe them to be true.

Senator Senior - Does not the honorable senator recognise that the Empire needs more than men at the present juncture?

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - But it requires men, and men again. If that fact had not been brought home clearly to the people in the Old Country, Britain would never have been able to raise an Army of 3,000,000 men. I hold that we can stimulate recruiting in our midst only by a strenuous effort in the direction I have indicated. In this* connexion I wish to quote from a newspaper paragraph the opinions expressed by Colonel Cameron regarding the fighting in Gallipoli. We all know the type of man that he is. He says -

A formidable task is ahead, but it can be accomplished if sufficient troops come forward, and it is Australia's duty to see that the good work commenced by its soldiers is not finished by any other troops. It would be the greatest pity, after the sacrifice of so many valiant lives in the landing at Gaba Tepe. and the extreme heroism that characterized the whole of the operations carried out by the Australians, if by lack of men they should lose the chance of having their name inseparably connected with the conquest of the Narrows, which practically means the conquest of Turkey. The work of the Australians stands out above the doings of all others at the moment. All the kudos will be theirs if only Australia will quickly reinforce the gallant troops at Sari 8'air, and enable them to push on quickly to the Narrows. The greater the part Australia performs in the Dardanelles operations, naturally the greater the say will she have in the final settlement.

I quote that in support of my suggestion that still further efforts should be made to encourage recruiting.

Senator Blakey - What does the honorable senator suggest?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I suggest a campaign for the purpose throughout the country. I suggest that the leaders in Parliament on both sides, who have the time to do so, should give their attention to the matter.

Senator Needham - Ministers have no time to spare.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- They will have still less time if they are required to attend Parliament week after week. ' I admit that the Minister of Defence has almost a superhuman task to perform at the present time.

Senator Blakey - Is the honorable senator not aware that the Minister of Defence is to address a public meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall in the course of a few days with the object of encouraging recruiting?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- I am glad to hear that he is, and I hope that he will be entirely success" ful. The Minister yesterday pointed out what the Government have done in their efforts to make provision for the supply of munitions of war. I am sorry that in the course of his statement, he made a backhanded slap at his predecessors in office. He told us that until September last nothing was done to make provision for the supply of munitions of war or the manufacture of certain arms. It was because of that statement that I asked him later to say when war was declared, and when the present Government took office. I asked also whether a Federal election had not taken place in the meantime.

Senator Senior - The honorable senator should also state that when we sought to postpone the elections because of the war, the party to which he belonged refused to do so.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I do not wish to be drawn aside; but let me say that the Parliament had at the time been dissolved, and could not legally have been revived.

Senator O'Keefe - It could have been done in twenty-four hours.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No. The Parliament had been dissolved, and the Governor-General has no power to revive a Parliament that has been dissolved.

Senator Needham - The Imperial Parliament has the power.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The honorable senator suggests that, like a lot of children, we should have rushed to the Imperial Parliament and said, " We are in a fix, and we want you, notwithstanding your troubles, to help us out of our difficulty." An election was on the board, and, rightly or wrongly, it was pursued to the end, with the result that a change of Administration took place. On their assumption of office the present Government realized that certain steps required to be taken because of the war.

Senator Ready - The honorable senator's party refused the offer of the Labour party for a political truce.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I have said that I do not wish to discuss that matter now, but I am prepared to say that the then Government took the only action they could take under the Constitution. Honorable senators should remember that no Minister can hold office for more than three months unless he is a member of one branch of this Legislature. When the Minister of Defence complains that nothing was done by his predecessor to provide for the manufacture of armament and munitions of war, I might just as fairly object that when the honorable senator was Minister of Defence in a former Administration, he took no steps to make such provision.

Senator Needham - He did take steps, and the honorable senator and his party opposed them.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - He did not take those steps until September last, and no one opposed him.

Senator O'Keefe - Is not the honorable senator's speech a covert attack on the Minister of Defence and the Defence Department?

Senator Lt 7Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No; the purpose of my speech is to point out to honorable senators and the country the position of affairs, and to suggest that greater efforts should be put forth for the successful prosecution of the war.

Senator Blakey - And as far as possible, by foul means, to prevent the referenda proposals going through.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The honorable senator is stating what is not true.

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