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Thursday, 24 June 1915

Senator McDOUGALL (New South Wales) . - Senator Millen brought forward one matter in particular on which I want information. That is the statement of the Minister with regard to Mr. Butler, .secretary of the Factory Association at Lithgow. Some time last year I had the pleasure of attending a deputation which placed before the Assistant Minister of Defence its ideas with regard to the second shift. It contended that the second shift was practicable and desirable at that time, and I was surprised to hear that some of these men had gone back upon the statements they then made. If, however, Mr. Butler now claims that he did not say what has been attributed to him, and does not. repudiate the views he previously held, I contend that there should be a searching inquiry into the matter. On several occasions I have had to complain of answers I have received not being at all satisfactory, and it appears to me that there is an attempt somewhere to defeat the desire of honorable senators to get information on certain subjects. We know now that, at that time, there was a shortage of material that we were not aware of then, but if there is enough material there for the men to work at night, there must be material enough for them to work a second shift. A certain amount of material must be required for the men to put in four hours over their ordinary day's work. That is a fair answer to the contention with regard to the shortage of material making a second shift difficult to work, and I will leave the matter at that. Another question on which I desire an explanation affects the Crown Law Department. I refer to the manner in which the Continental Tyre Company is being treated by the representative of the Government or of the Crown Law Department. Any one who goes down. Georgestreet, Sydney, must be struck by a large black sign with big silver letters, "Continental Tyre Company, contractors to the Commonwealth Government." It is an eyesore to me, and many others, who know that the manager of this company was convicted of the offence named by Senator Millen. Its business is still being carried on, in spite of this, to the detriment of legitimate traders, who did not have the inside knowledge to enable them to lay in a stock of the articles that were likely to become necessary. I have been told that the controller has to carry on the business of the company, furnish receipts at the end of the war, and show that the business has been carried on in a proper way. That may be so; but, if it be so, the position should be the same in other parts of the Empire. I have here a cutting from a Melbourne trade journal, which lets some light in on the subject. It says -

In fact, they seem to ,show the Commonwealth points by absolutely winding up the Continental Tyre Company: In view of the indefiniteness of the Commonwealth Government policy in regard to German investments in Australia, the action of the New Zealand Government shows a refreshing contrast to the "Mary Ann Simkins" methods adopted here. A telegram from Wellington announces that the Dominion Government has appointed a trustee, whose duty it will be to wind up this German business, the Continental Tyre Company, and hold receipts until the war is over.

Senator PEARCE - Who says that?

Senator McDOUGALL - It is a statement which is contained in a cable from Wellington, New Zealand. If that can be done in New Zealand, why cannot it be done here? The statement proceeds -

In-Melbourne Mr. M. J. Campbell, a director of the Continental Tyre Company Ppty. Ltd., who is also a solicitor, has issued County Court summonses against motor firms, who, for patriotic purposes, have delayed payment for German goods. It is to be hoped the Commonwealth Government will treat all these firms with German interests in a similar manner to what the German Government treat British firms in their country.

The Government have appointed a receiver to conduct the business of this Continental Tyre Company for the ultimate benefit of enemy capital. This is a matter which was ventilated in the Age at an early stage of the war, and it was then shown that the whole of the capital invested in the business is enemy capital. The goods which are now being offered for sale by the receiver, and which are being purchased by the public, are goods which were imported in anticipation of the war. The firm could never have stocked up in the way that it did if it had not anticipated the war. Certainly they were not goods legitimately landed in anticipation of ordinary trade. I believe that this company doubled its stock of tyres and other articles connected with its business just prior to the outbreak of war. If that be so, obviously other firms which are endeavouring to carry on a legitimate business in this country are being placed at a disadvantage. When the war broke out, the company was engaged in building a factory at Marrickville, Sydney, for the manufacture of its goods. The erection of that factory is still in progress, so that somebody must be finding the requisite capital for the undertaking. Surely, if we allow it to carry on its business with the aid of a receiver, we have no right to countenance the building and equipment of a factory which is to be given over to enemy subjects and enemy capital on the termination of the war. I have made inquiries into the matter, and I have been assured that there is no remedy for the existing condition of things. I have nothing to say against the Germans who are in our midst, but, in my judgment, a German once is a German always. He would not be any good if he were not. A Britisher once is a Britisher always, and I would rather have a German who manfully stands to his guns than one who declares that he would not care if Germany were put under the water. We can trust none of these people, and especially we cannot trust those who are striving to show us what good Britishers they are. In Sydney, there are men who have made certain statements in public, and who have been the recipients of threatening letters from supposed Germans, who have assured them that they are marked men, and that they will be dealt with when the war is over. Some persons profess to regard these threats as a joke, but I do not so regard them. I do not think they are a joke any more than was the threat to sink the Lusitania. Whilst we ought to be careful to avoid wounding the feelings of Germans in our midst, we ought to take care that they are placed in such a position that they can do us no harm. Only the other day-I brought under the notice of the Minister the case of a man with twenty-nine years of service in the Army Medical Corps, and who had been deposed from his position in charge of the hospital at the German Concentration Camp ate Liverpool in. favour of a German named Meyer:.

Senator MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why/ wast the Britisher shifted?

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel, Sir- Albert,Gould - Because ha was; not in. sympathy,- with) the; Germans at, the camp..

Senator McDOUGALL - He was; removed for no. reason' whatever . The; authorrities simply say that the &e_tman is looking" after the camp better than* did his predecessor, and that since, his- appointment there have been no deaths1 there. By lids removal a slur was- placed on- the Britisher- who' had been in charge- of* the camp, and he has since been compelled towalk the streets. The Germans in the Concentration Camp treat Meyer as- a traitor, and' swear that they will have Ms life- when the war- is over: I believe- that' lie has had- to defend himself with his revolver.

Senator Pearce - Senator Gould saidjust now that the. Britisher was removed because he was not in sympathy with the. Germans at the, camp. The two statements do not harmonize.

Sena-tor McDOUGALL- This man Meyer was an officer who was going to the war-, and' who was ordered' to return even, after he had got aboard! the transport. The Germans at. the camp are not at all", in sympathy with him. He has a private, income,, and yet his predecessor was. displaced" for. him,, and has since, been obliged to walk. the. streets.. I hope that what, I. have said. An. reference to. the Continental. Tyre Company, will, be pm:ductive of some good, result,, and. that we shall be informed why. the. factory at Marrickville is- being proceeded with, thus allowing the company to compete; with Australian, enterprise; in, the manufacture of rubber goods; and also with, importers. In connexion with the: contract, mentioned by Senator. Millen. at the, Liverpool (Damp; it will be- recollected? that I asked! a question of the Minister- only) last week I visited the camp> about', a. fortnight; ago, when complaints were made> to. me; by two or three persons who, had been im the habit of vending- their goods there* with a view to making a profit of- a few shillings a week. They complained that they were not allowed1 to- enter the camp gates: A milkman, for example* had been refused admittance. "When' I' inquired into the matter- the Commandant informed' me that' a- contract had' been- let, and that, consequently, admission had' to> be denied' these' persons'. I1 do' not complain of that. But I» do- complain of- the1 contract having- been let' without it havingbeen thrown' open to corn-petition-. Iff one man was' willing to- pay £1'5"0- a month' for every thousand' men- in- the' camp for- the* privilege lie- enjoys-, it is manifest that tenders should have- been called' in- theordinary way. _?et a firm' of' contractors; lias secured- this' valuable, right without public competition! The other matter- towhich I desire, to: refer isi that of-' enlistment. I think- that' greater facilities should' be- provided for recruits, enlisting in the country districts, and that no railway, passes should be issued to- them until? they have, actually signed on; for 'service: There are hundreds of recruits who report' themselves, in the country,, who- obtain free passes- to- the capitals of the different States, and who never go near the Barracks. Some better method of enlist,ment, should be devised. Tha Government/ have- not taken- the war- as seriously as they should have done.

Senator PEARCE - That's- right. Give. out enemies^ information and provide headlines for to-morrow's- newspapers.

Senator McDOUGALL - Listen, to. that. There might be an obituary notice. We have had a few of them lately. I do not- think- that I- am> doing-' anything- that the- Minister can growl' about.

Senator PEARCE - For the honorable senator to say that the Government have not done all' that they should have done in the way of recruiting; is- nothing- to growl' about ? That, is what, our enemies are. saying.

Senator-McDOUGALL.- It is; absolutely my opinion. I wish, to give, tha Government a; word of advice. but,, according to. the Minister, I have- nc right to do so.

Senator Pearce - Nice advice?,, to- make assertions, like that; without: any proof.

Senator McDOUGALL - -I can- give lots of proof :

Senator PEARCE - Give US the- proof:

Senator McDOUGALL - I brought proof forward on one occasion, and. the Minister would not accept" it'.

Senator PEARCE - Mere assertions. Give, us- the. proof.

Senator- McDOUGALL- I heard the Minister ask- for the name of one man who was physically fit, and -who had been rejected. I can supply him with the names of plenty of men who have been so rejected.

Senator Millen - I .gave the Minister the name of a man who was rejected one day and who was afterwards accepted.

Senator McDOUGALL - 1 will .give him 'the name of one man now - Gunner McClean - who has been rejected a dozen times. -Senator Pearce. - He is still in the forts 'in Sydney.

Senator McDOUGALL - There are many men who wish to go .to the

Senator PEARCE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -bce. - I have mot lost any temper *but fl[ 'resent the making 'of wild charges 'without any proof.

Senator McDOUGALL - I have not made any wild -charges. I have -simply said 'that, in -my 'opinion, 'the 'Government have -not 'done 'as .much -as they might .have done. I think that it is a standing disgrace to them that the 'State Government of New South Wales (should fee 'advertising in .the newspapers -every morning for (competent mien to .make munitions of .war. They ought newer to 'have been given an .opportunity .to do -any .such thing. The Victorian and other State 'Governments .are also trying to do (something, which (shows .that the Commonwealth Government have not (done all that they ought to have done.

Senator Pearce - It only shows that they are desirous .of helping the Commonwealth Government: and we welcome their assistance.

Senator McDOUGALL -There .should have been no occasion for it. 'Senator Lt.-'Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The Victorian Government are making arrangements for a recruiting campaign throughout the State.

Senator McDOUGALL - Of course they are. Many projects put before the Commonwealth Government have 'been turned down. The State Government should never have been given a 'chance to do What they -'are 'doing, or 'are 'proposing to do. I am sorry. that the Minister of Defence should have become angry..

Senator Pearce - - -Seeing that the 'honorable senator >is playing (the game :of our .opponents, it as only natural that I should be angry.

Senator McDOUGALL - I am glad I 'have made the Minister angry, although I have not desired to do so. If I had, I "'have plenty of occasion 'to do so. I came over the other day with enough stuff, I 'believe, to have blown the Administration off the globe, but I kept it to myself.

Senator Pearce - -'Give it to the Argus: they will publish it.

Senator McDOUGALL - I do not do that sort of thing. I leave blacklegging to the honorable .senator. 'He will never find me doing that kind of thing. I have never blacklegged in any way in my .'life. 'The Minister appointed Selection 'Committees, which was probably a ,good thing, to -make ^recommendations for the .appointment lot 'officers.; but because the Committee in .New South Wales recommended .a man who was not suitable to those who desired to command the brigade., the man they recommended was turned down. The man was sent to them, and 'they would not recommend him. I do 'not know this man or .the members of the Committee. The .Selection Committee recommended 'an officer who, had held a 'commission in the Defence Force in New South Wales for years. 'They went so far in their protest against their .recommendation being turned down that they -resigned because a boy , twenty-one years of -age was -placed in a -position as 'an officer when he 'had 'had no experience at all. Does the Minister want proof of that ? I have the proof i here, if he wants it. .Senator Pearce. - -Let the honorable senator put in everything he has got. I am not afraid of anything. Let him put it .all in.

Senator McDOUGALL - There is proof of what I have 'said in connexion with this -matter. The Minister cannot deny it. The papers 'are in the Library Jar .any one to see. .1 say that the mem- bers of the Committee resigned, and they were told !that there was political influence in Melbourne to get this man's appointment through in .spite of the Committee. It was -got through, and he went away.

Senator Pearce - What political influence got him through in Melbourne 1

Senator McDOUGALL - I do not know.

Senator Pearce - Why does not the honorable senator say it straight out, instead of hinting at things?

Senator McDOUGALL - I did not want to approach this matter at all, because the members of the Committee resigned as a protest. They have signed their names to their protest, and I got a copy of it through the courtesy of the honorable senator. I asked him for the papers; they were tabled. They wrote the following letter: -

Victoria Barracks, Sydney, 10th December, 1014. Senator Hon. G. F. Pearce,

The Minister of State for Defence, Melbourne.


We, the members of the Committee appointed by you to recommend' appointments to Commissions, A.I. Force, from Second Military District, as per telegram W.2559 and W.5346, desire to strongly protest against the appointment of Private G. D. MacArthur as Transport Officer of 13th Infantry Battalion, in face of the fact that the Committee declined to recommend him, and, instead, had recommended Lieut. Richardson (R. of 0.); subsequently, after the latter's withdrawal (referred to later), the Committee recommended Lieut. Dunningham Retired List, but formerly of A.S.C.

The Committee on its appointment was informed by telegram W.2477 of 18/9/14 that, " in the event of sufficient number of thoroughly suitable officers not volunteering for foreign service," the Minister directed that competitive practical tests should be held amongst those volunteering who did not hold commissions, with a view to the best men being recommended for commission. That is, suitable Commissioned Officers were to be exhausted before N.C.O.'s or Privates could be considered.

When Colonel Burnage, O.C. 13th Infantry, proposed Private G. D. MacArthur for a commission as Transport Officer - he is only just twenty-one years of age - the Committee declined to then recommend him, telling Colonel Burnage that it thought that it should be possible for him to obtain a suitable Transport Officer from amongst the large number of Commissioned Officers who had volunteered.

Colonel Burnage having failed to propose any Commissioned Officer, the Committee recommended Lieut. Richardson.

Subsequently Lieut. Richardson withdrew, owing, so the Committee understands, to the attitude Colonel Burnage adopted towards him.

The Committee then recommended Lieut. Dunningham (Retired List), formerly of the A.S. Corps, who was willing to take up the appointment.

The Committee had been informed, as per telegram W.7041, that its recommendation of a Commissioned Officer had been passed over, and that, contrary to your own directions, as peT telegram W.2477, a member of the battalion, who was a very young Private at the time of the Committee's recommendation, as above, has been appointed Transport Officer of the 13th Infantry Battalion. We also call your attention to telegram W.2918, which says, " Committee will recommend all appointments to Commissions from applications received." it may be stated here that, some time ago, . Colonel Burnage stated to the Committee that, if Mr. MacArthur was not recommended for a Commission by the Committee, he intended to ask his Brigadier, Colonel Monash, to press the appointment through political channels in Melbourne. Colonel Burnage's attitude to the Committee has been hostile throughout.

It is clearly impossible for the Committee to discharge its 'functions properly if Commissioned Officers whom it recommends as suitable are passed over in favour of very young members of the unit, who do not hold Commissions, and who are, consequently, not eligible under the terms of telegram W.2477.

The Committee accordingly asks that it may be supported by the Minister in the carrying; out of the directions laid down in telegram last referred to, and that Mr. MacArthur's appointment may be cancelled, and the Committee's recommendation - Lieut. Dunningham - be confirmed.

Senator Pearce - The allegation of political influence rests on a statement which they say somebody else made.

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