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Thursday, 15 July 1915

Senator FERRICKS - The honorable senator is in for a disappointment if he expects that.

Senator- BAKHAP.- I. have- no hesitation in. saying that I am. going to get from the benches opposite a measure of support which. I very highly respect and- value.

Senator Millen - The honorable-, senator thinks, that they will, do better than they did in connexion with the Referendum Bills.

Senator BAKHAP - I think that they will stand the assay on this question with a great deal of satisfaction to myself. I imagine that I shall find some metal in the crucible. I have had occasion to discuss this question several times previously. I have availed myself of the opportunity of ventilating my opinions upon it when Supply Bills have- been under- consideration. I have referred to- the fact, that recruiting in this,, my native State, of Victoria,, has not: been- as satisfactory as all concerned- with the- success of the Empire's cause could hope. Whilst I am an unswerving believer in, the principle of. conscription, for national" defence, and' while I believe it is vital to us in the present crisis), in?, the Empire's; fortunes, I am not ungenerous to the extent that- 1 would fail to give expression to my satisfaction in, regard to the recruiting: which, has taken place; in Victoria-, during? the- past nine, or ten days. If there, has been any slackness* any remissness,, any lukewarm^ ness in regard to supplying recruits, for our Expeditionary Forces in this State,, in a very large, measure that imputation^ has been removed by the great rush to the colours which has, occurred, in- Melbourne and in the principal towns of Victoria during the past few days. That circumstance, however, does, not deter me- from, advocating- the principle of compulsory service, and the undertaking forthwith of the preparation that, is necessary for the establishment of such service, in order that we may systematically provide reinforcements for our Forces who are now fighting, on European battlefields - reinforcements which they- must have- if the Empire's cause- is to decisively triumph in the near future. I would not like to refer in disparaging, terms to the recruiting method's which-, have been' employed- during the past few days;, but undoubtedly they are not- such as aire consonant with the Empire's- fortunes and with the systematic performance of Australia's part in the present great struggle. I. have not been alone- in my animadversions, for-, singular to say, I. have learned during the past three or four weeks that many of the arguments employed by me. in advocating the principle of compulsory service have been repeatedly used by prominent, men in- the Old Country,, and by politicians in the Australian States. To illustrate- my meaning,, let me read something which

Mr. Carmichael,a prominent politician in the Labour ranks of New South Wales, says. Under the caption, " With the back to the wall," he says most appositely -

One cannot read the cables from day to day, with news of Russian reverses, of industrial troubles in England in connexion with the supply of munitions, without feeling that the Empire is fighting with her back to the wall. Yet, while the fate of the world hangs in the balance, we are content with coaxing and cajoling and trying to persuade our men to enlist by an appeal to their emotions, which at the best are ephemeral. I cannot help but think that the somewhat spasmodic response to the appeal of the Minister of Defence savours too much of a revival meeting, where the temporary emotion frequently sways the whole congregation, while the effects are lasting with a few. We must now strike the stern note of national duty.

Senator Ferricks - Why does not Mr. Carmichael go and do a bit of striking himself ?

Senator Millen - Why does the honorable senator himself not go?

Senator Ferricks - I am not advocating that others should go, and Mr. Carmichael is.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator is not advocating that others should go?

Senator Ferricks - Not in the terms that he is.

Senator BAKHAP - Now let me quote from a prominent Imperial politician - I refer to Mr. Chiozza Money, M.P. In an article in the Fortnightly dealing with recruiting and organization for war, he says -

I And that an enormous amount of money is being spent in issuing the most extraordinary series of advertisements ever authorized by a Government. In every newspaper and on every wall there appears variegated appeals, not only to men of military age, but to the wives, mothers, sisters, employers, friends, and acquaintances of men of military age. Some of these appeals are so extravagant that a visitor from Mars might be pardoned for believing them to be the handiwork of desperate men with whom rhetoric had got the better of reason. Many of them are apparently intended to create a feeling of shame in the minds of unrecruited young men. The masterly advertisement writer even went the length of addressing " Four questions to the Women of England," the third and fourth of which read as follows : - " Do you realize that the one word ' Go ! ' from you may send another man to fight for our King and country? " " When the war is over, and your husband or son is asked, ' What did you do in the great war ? ' is lie to hang his head because you would not let him go ? "

To which was added : - " Women of England, do your duty ' Send your men to-day to join our glorious army ! God save the King ! "

This indiscriminate appeal to married women, mothers, and others to tell their husbands and men folk to go for soldiers is not a very pleasant thing to contemplate. Is & " volunteer " shamed into going by such appeals really equal to "three pressed men," and when the employer of a man-servant is moved by official advertisement to discharge a footman so that urgent need should make that footman a soldier, is the process entirely admirable?

While I have the greatest respect for the patriotism of the men who are volunteering in such considerable numbers, I nevertheless do not favour the system, because of the absolute lack of method about it. Can anybody say that any discrimination is being exercised as to how many married men are being recruited, or as to how many men whose services might be much more valuable in Australia are being retained here. As a matter of fact, all that is being asked of volunteers is whether they are physically fit. If a man can pass the medical examination, no regard is paid to anything else. Some little time ago I stated that, to my great astonishment, I had found that more than one-half of the men recruited for Lord Kitchener's new armies were married men. I regard that as a very injudicious move. - a very lamentable feature of' an otherwise admirable response to the call for men by Lord Kitchener. I spoke quite independently, because it seemed to me that there was a very great want of system and a very great wastage of the national resources involved in allowing such recruiting to take place. I have since found that Lieut. -Colonel A'court Repington, the military correspondent of the Times, stated quite recently that many blunders had been made, and that one particularly large blunder had been committed owing to the unsystematic recruiting which had been indulged in. This writer says -

We need men in the fighting line and for home defence. There is nothing to substantiate the plea for the intermixture of volunteers and conscripts, which would result in the disorganization of the Army. We are said to have enlisted more than 50 per cent, of the married men. The unlimited enlistment of married men has been a blunder, and is opposed to modern military science.

I find in military publications statements to the effect that 70 per cent, of Lord Kitchener's new army are married men.

I am very sorry indeed to learn that this is so. To my mind it more than justifies the strictures of the military correspondent of the Times, and constitutes a warning to us to adopt a system of a different character in the enlistment of men throughout the Commonwealth. I need not refer to the fact that there are in Australia practically 500,000 single men of ideal military age. Surely I need not demonstrate the uneconomical system involved in the recruiting of married men when such a large number of single men are available for service. The readiness of the young men of any country to fight and, if need be, die, for the ideals of their people, is the true test of national greatness according to one of the greatest historians of the German Empire. I refer to Mommsen. I heartily indorse every word which has been uttered in this connexion. The young men of a country can only claim to be great if they are ready to die for the interests and ideals of the people to whom they belong. We all know that the present struggle is not merely a fight between armed forces - it is also a war of resources. If a young man is slain in a battle, he has no wife or children who require to be maintained. Very properly, we have instituted a considerable pension scheme in connexion with the war, and yet we are still enlisting married men. The Minister of Defence will remember that very early in the history of the struggle I persistently asked him what percentage of married men was being enlisted. After considerable delay he furnished a return, showing that about 12J per cent, of the troops enlisted in our first Expeditionary Force were married men. Subsequently he informed me that a large number of married men had enlisted as single men.

Senator Millen - Did that 12? per cent, of married men apply only to our first Expeditionary Force?

Senator Pearce - It applied up to the date that I furnished the information.

Senator BAKHAP - It had particular reference to the first 20,000 despatched from these shores. There has been no attempt made to restrain married men from enlisting and to enlist single men in lieu of them. On a previous occasion I had something to say about the necessity which exists for economizing. When I spoke about conscription in the first instance, that is months ago, I spoke to a somewhat derisive Chamber, but now we have Mr. Asquith telling us that we must economize. We have Mr.- Fisher most properly saying that we must economize. Did not Lord Kitchener tell us at the beginning of the war that in all probability it would be a protracted struggle? Did he not emphasize that opinion the other day, and once more give it to the world ? In the face of those facts, is it not absolutely essential for us to so order our military house as to enable us to conduct with all our force this national struggle for any time, until we arrive at a position which will justify us in claiming a decisive victory on the part of the Empire to which we' belong and its Allies '( Economy should be the order of the day, and the recruiting of married men is most wasteful. I ask honorable senators if, in view of Lord Kitchener's declaration, any one of them has the hardihood to say that the struggle is likely to come to a successful conclusion, so far as we are concerned, inside one year ? I know that the VicePresident of the Executive Council said only a few minutes ago that no man could reasonably assume that the struggle was now going to be a short one, dating from the present time. I indorse what he said. It is very likely to be a long struggle, very much longer than any one anticipated at the beginning of the year. But we have Lord Kitchener's warning, and with that admonition ringing in our ears should we not make the greatest effort of which we are capable at this juncture * Australia, I maintain, has more to gain and more to lose in connexion with tho struggle than any other people on the surface of the earth. We are the only people claiming possession of one of the world's continents. It is absolutely essential for us to retain possession of the whole of the territory of the Commonwealth to enable us to carry out those ideals of government which are dear to us, irrespective of our political differences. If our Empire is forced to make a peace which can be characterized as the result of a draw, our position, precarious in the extreme, will become doubly precarious, perhaps, if we, one of the most important Dominions of. the King-Emperor inhabited by a white race, do not put forth our whole strength, our systematized efforts. Lord Kitchener, it is stated, has recruited in the Old

Country nearly 3,000,000 men. He asked a little time ago for 300,000 more; he asked again the other day for men, and yet more men. Our population is equal to a tenth of the population of the United Kingdom, and, seeing that we have, by virtue of the Home Country's protection, the unchallenged possession of one of the most important Dominions in the world, it is incumbent on us to make the greatest effort of which we are capable. We have to keep in view the prospect that we may have to put forth the whole of our "male population capable of bearing arms. I believe it is estimated that the greatest effort of which a modern nation is capable is to put 10 per cent, of its population in the .field. The greatest effort of which Australia is capable would be to put half-a-million of men in the field. I believe that we will have to face the contingency of putting at least 200,000 men in the field. If the contingency is admitted, if the possibility of the necessity of the effort is not challenged, should we not make the most complete preparation now? There are some gentlemen - some in the Labour ranks and some in the Liberal ranks - who say, " We must have registration; we must have a proper tabulation of the nation's resources. We agree with all that;. but conscription is not necessary yet." If it is admitted that there is a possibility of conscription being necessary at any time within the next few months, at any time within the next year, the proper time to conscript is now, because the men whom we must send forward within the next twelve mouths, perhaps within the next two years, ought to be in training. The Minister of Defence should know the numbers available to him, and they should be sent to the front with that steady regularity which is the greatest and best earnest of victory. I ask permission, sir, to resume my remarks on a future occasion.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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