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Wednesday, 21 July 1915

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I welcome -this Bill. It has not been introduced a moment too soon. Any one who considers the present unsatisfactory position of affairs must recognise that the war is far from being at an end, and that we may have to adopt methods other than those we have adopted up to the present time. References to the attitude of the Old Country with respect to registration, or, as some people prefer to call it, . conscription, are quite beside the question here. The people of the Old Country have their own responsibilities, as we have' ours. I hold that the step we are taking in this Bill is a perfectly logical outcome of the step we have already taken in the establishment of compulsory military training. We are very much further along the road to which this Bill points than are the people of the Old Country. I do not know that I have any right to criticise the Government of the Old Country, but I go so far as to say that their conduct of affairs connected with the war has been far from satisfactory. From the way in which things have gone I. am disposed to say that the present Imperial Government is about the last of the Governments involved in the war that we should follow.

Senator Keating - They cling to traditional practices too 'long.

Senator DE LARGIE - They are clinging to a silly superstition concerning volunteers, and what is becoming to a free nation, to an extent that is ridiculous.

Senator Barker - They have become quite Socialistic.

Senator DE LARGIE -That is only because the collectivist steps which have been taken in connexion with so many matters have been forced upon them as a result of the war. The fact that they have done certain things will not excuse us for any blunders we may make. It will not help us to take an optimistic view at the present time. -It is more fitting that we should take a pessimistic view, provided that our pessimism urges us to renewed energy and to set an example that may be useful to the people of the Old Country. The danger of the position is evident when we see a British community such as ours adopting the principle of compulsory service with the intention of putting it into practice, and not of apologizing for it, as, I am sorry to say, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has done in introducing this measure. The honorable senator's speech was not at all satisfactory to me. He struck a very despondent and 'disappointing note. Why should we be afraid of the consequences of putting the principle of compulsory military service into actual practice?

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