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Thursday, 24 June 1915

Senator STORY (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Referenda Bills are intended to do what you suggest.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - They have been the cause of great contention and difference of opinion amongst the people. I am not going to allude to their merits or demerits. All these matters should be put on one side tin til peace is restored.

Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin - Why quarrel? Let the people decide.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Will not the honorable senator defend the referenda proposals before his constituents? If he does so, why should I not speak against them? Once that begins, how can we deal properly with the bigger question? If all parties will unite on this question, recognising its supreme importance, and put nil else on one side, Australia will do immensely more than she could in any other circumstances. I advocated tonight that Ministers should help in the recruiting campaign with the Opposition. How can they, with their multiplicity of work, talk on the referenda questions, and at the 'same time give the necessary care and attention to the fight for the integrity of the Empire? Ministers represent the country officially, and it is their duty to be at the head of all affairs of this character. No section of the community can do anything like the amount of service in the recruiting campaign that could be done, if Mr. Fisher and Mr. Cook, Senator Pearce and Senator Millen worked hand in glove on the one great question, allowing all other matters to remain for the time in abeyance. That is where I complain so much of the dominion exercised by an outside body. Honorable senators are hampered in their judgment under present arrangements. If we go on fighting these party questions, and the Empire is unsuccessful in its great struggle, these Bills will be mere waste paper. Like a whiff of smoke they will disappear in a breath. Therefore I can. not urge too strongly united action on the one great issue at this juncture. Many other matters touched on this afternoon I do not propose to discuss. Senator Millen has been very forceful, and Senator McDougall has placed some matters very cogently before the Chamber.

Senator Russell - What were they?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The honorable senator heard his speech. Senator McDougall and I have had no conference with regard to those matters, but when honorable senators bring subjects before the Chamber they should be given credit for believing that Ministers will inquire into them even if they have not definite proofs of their statements. Every man here hears all sorts of tales, and can safely reject half of them as not having sufficient foundation to justify their repetition in public. When honorable senators do bring matters forward here, I think they do so honestly, in the belief that if they have any foundation the Minister will know about them, and, if necessary, take action in regard to them. I believe the Minister will take certain action that we consider necessary, and, within a comparatively brief time, have certain things accomplished. Some " pushing along " is done by honorable senators, and it is often of great benefit to have a little stimulus behind one to make him put forward his best efforts. As on a race-course a horse responds towards the end of the race to the whip or spur, so we hope Ministers of the Crown may respond to the stimulus of a little criticism.

Senator Russell - But there are some crooks on the race-course that take a pull, and that is what we complain of in regard to Defence matters.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The pull is not taken on the horse that wins the race. I want the Minister to be the horse that is going to win the race, and that only requires a little stimulus to bring out his best.

Senator Russell - The Minister, instead of attending to war matters in the Department, has been defending himself here every day against attacks.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Then why not close up Parliament, and do away with the possibility of contention? Let us become a harmonious body, imbued with the one idea.

Senator Russell - Your interpretation of harmony is to carry out the policy of a rejected party.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No. My idea is to carry out the policy that the great National Parliament of Great Britain deems necessary in this emergency. I ask no member of the Labour or any other party to abandon his principles, or give up anything he believes to be in the best interests of the country ; but there is a time for everything, and this is not the time to thrust these matters before the people. This is not the time for us to be wrangling about matters of this character. My attention has been drawn to the report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 16th June of a meeting of the Sydney City Council.

Senator Grant - That is the paper. " Business as usual ! " They had seven and a half pages of advertisements the other day.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The question of the employment of foreigners was raised by a recommendation of the Finance Committee, and the following amendment was moved : -

That the Council dispense with the services of all those men engaged in the Council of German or other enemy nationality, whether they be naturalized British subjects or otherwise.

The mover is reported as follows: -

It might be said that it was well enough to leave these matters to the Federal Government; but if the Federal Government were so spineless as not to have the grit to deal with the question, he, for one, would not shirk his duty in connexion with City Council employees.

That was a pretty strong statement to make. During the debate Alderman Meagher, a prominent member of the Council, and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, said -

He did not agree with what Alderman Kelly had said as to the usefulness of the lynx-eyed officials, who, instead of patrolling about the post-office, might have discovered in the contents of some big packing-cases that wharf labourers put on to outward-bound steamers something that would have surprised them. It was the big Germans who did the most damage. Nor was it necessary to be a Sherlock Holmes to track down the chief spy in New South Wales.

When such a definite statement is made, it is as well for the military authorities to take the trouble to inquire of this gentleman what he is really hinting at.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Do you call that a definite statement?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I think it is fairly definite.

Senator Russell - Do you think the Intelligence Branch of the Defence Department is so slow that it is not already making inquiries into a matter of that kind? Do you want us to get on the housetops and proclaim what we are doing ?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - They may be inquiring into it, but I take leave to doubt it. This matter was brought under my notice by some persons in New South Wales, and I deemed it only fair that I should mention it here. If the Defence Department is making any inquiry into it - --

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Does not the honorable senator think that Mr. Meagher should make a straight-out charge?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I have quoted the statement for what it is worth, and if it is worth anything at all it is worth inquiring into. If the Government are prepared to say that, no matter what utterances may be made in public, they do not intend to worry themselves unless they are compelled to do so, we shall know precisely where we stand. But that is not my idea of what they should do in the present emergency. This gentleman -goes on to say -

Nor was it necessary to be a Sherlock Holmes to track down the chief spy in New South Wales.

If that does not mean what it says, then in the name of conscience what does it mean ? I think it is only fair that the Government should prosecute an inquiry into this matter. . Senator Russell. - Is the honorable senator prepared to affirm that no inquiry is being made?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Is the Assistant Minister prepared to affirm that an inquiry is being made? I have brought the matter forward in perfect good faith. I have dealt with the principal subjects mentioned) during this debate, and I do not propose to detain honorable senators any longer on the present occasion.

Senator GRANT(New South Wales) £8.17]. - One would imagine, from the writings of the Age and the Daily Telegraph, that the various Parliaments throughout Australia ought to devote their attention exclusively to matters arising out of the war. But what do we find ? To-day the Parliaments of Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and New South Wales .are dealing with their ordinary business.

Senator Shannon - The South Australian Parliament is not yet in session.

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