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Thursday, 24 June 1915

Senator SENIOR - Was it not a proposal of your party to give a Dreadnought to England instead of establishing an Australian Fleet?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The Liberal party proposed to the people of this country that they should present a Dreadnought to England. It was a proposition of the Government of New Zealand, too, and a Dreadnought was presented to England by that Dominion.

Senator Needham - Mr. Cook wanted Parliament to be called together to present a Dreadnought.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - And, if we had done so, what difference would it have made to the Empire? We could not build a Dreadnought here. Can any one belittle what was done by New Zealand? Her gift to the Old Country is doing good work in the North Sea to-day. Although our opponents did not go so far as to propose to have a Dreadnought, of our own, or a first class or second class cruiser, they thought that we could drop the payment of the sum which would enable the British Navy to be strengthened speedily. But let that be as it may. To-day we have a Defence Act, a Naval Act, and Forces in being. But we find that our men are not sufficient in number to fully help the Empire. We need not merely the men who are prepared on the spur of the moment to offer their services. There are in the country many men equally capable who will volunteer if it is brought home to them that they should. We do not want to send away only the pick of the country - the men who are showing a spirit of patriotism - in insufficient numbers, with the probability that they may be shot down, when, by inducing a number of other men to serve alongside of them, many lives could be saved which otherwise would be lost. My honorable friends have also to look at the future of the Empire.. We want vigorous people reared in this country; but that object cannot be attained if we allow the best of our men to go away and lose their lives.

Senator Bakhap - Our present policy is one of " dribble, dribble, dribble."

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I am afraid that there is too much of that sort of thing, and that " dribble, dribble," may mean defeat in the end. If the driblets were amalgamated and sent out as a big body, we would command victory and save many lives. No man can speak too strongly on the great question before the country today. No Minister can expect to sit in his chair and administer the affairs of the Defence Department without being open to criticism, and very often criticism which he may resent. That is one of the penalties which a Minister of the Crown has to "lit ut> with. He must take his gruel, and however much he may think that men are attacking him from time to time, he must give those men credit for being actuated by the most honest and the best intentions.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - It may be thought that I have spoken warmly, but I feel warmly on this subject, and it is the duty of every man who has the right to speak on behalf of the people, or of any important section of -them, to speak his mind, in the face of an emergency like the present, clearly and distinctly and without hesitation. The Minister of Defence may consider that some of the remarks made this afternoon are not altogether justified, but it is a Minister's place to stand the fire of criticism and take it in good part, as we all have to do. Nobody is belittling his loyalty or his desire to' do the right thing, but we lament that he has not done qui to as much as we think might have been, done. Surely we are at liberty to point out the mistakes we think he has made.

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