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Wednesday, 21 July 1915

Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) . - I do not intend to occupy the attention of the Senate for very long. I regard this measure as indicative of the fact that we are about to enter upon a systematic organization of our national resources, which, it seems to me, we shall have to undertake before we can decisively defeat those formidable Germanic people with whom we are now at mortal grips. But I venture to suggest respectfully to the Administration that a preamble of what our real intention is would perhaps remove some misapprehension among our own people, and would have a very considerable moral effect upon our foemen, who do not long remain in ignorance of the intention of the Commonwealth Legislature and people of Australia.

Senator Russell - What do you mean by our real intentions ?

Senator BAKHAP - I mean our intention to ascertain our national resources, and so to organize them that the pos sibility of victory will be beyond all shadow of doubt. There is not the slightest doubt that we shall have to organize our resources on scientific lines. If we do that our efforts will be as superior as the exertions of a well-trained fire brigade operating hydrants from which water is forced at a very great and systematized pressure, are superior to those of a few civilians armed with buckets in attempting to arrest a conflagration. I would like a preamble to be inserted in this Bill which would read something like this: "Whereas the people of the Commonwealth have inflexibly determined to assist the Forces of the Empire and its Allies to complete victory in the present war by the employment of their full forces, and they now determine to ascertain the extent of the resources of the Commonwealth, with this end in view." Our peculiar legislation and the necessities of the Commonwealth Statistician cause us to take a census from time to time. A census is necessary, in order to enable the statutory allocation to be made in accordance with the financial agreement with the different States. A census is enjoined upon us by our Constitution. But I venture to say that, in a general way, a.n ordinary census is only of academic or scientific interest. Its practical value is not considerable. But a census of the character proposed under this Bill will enable us to survey the whole field of our national resources, and to lay down some fixed inflexible policy which will go very far in .assisting the Empire at this crisis in its fortunes. Now, what is necessary to prosecute a war successfully? What are the cardinal essentials in a war such as that in which we are now engaged? It is hard to tabulate them in the order of their necessity, but it is not difficult to enumerate them. I say that the most vital things for us to ascertain are, first, the. number of units in the community who are fit for military or industrial service; second, the material resources, other than gold, of the nation; third, the income of the individuals of the community ; and last, the amount of gold in coin or in any other form, alloyed or unalloyed, save, perhaps, articles which are used in connexion with religious services.Having ascertained these four things, we can lay down such a policy as will, humanly speaking, enable an Empire with resources such as those possessed by- the British Empire to pursue inflexibly the path it has to tread to secure, not partial, but unqualified, decisive victory. The thing which I fear most in connexion with the present war is that the people may become slack; that they may be appalled by the losses sustained in its prosecution, and that they may he content with some sort of patchwork peace which will leave a fearful legacy to our descendants, between whom and the descendants of our foes this struggle will be renewed. I want to see the Empire emerge from the present conflict decisively successful, and to this end it is absolutely essential that we should do everything that is necessary to insure such a victory. It is quite true that a good deal of the information sought under this Bill may be obtained from the States. But I know that the statistics relating to crops and stock are taken in some of the States in a most perfunctory way. Seeing how essential it is for us to ascertain the national resources, it is necessary that the work should be done in such a way as to supply information which is vitally valuable to us. I should like to see one of the schedules to the Bill altered in such a way as to enable us to ascertain what amount of precious metal not in the form of coin is in the possession of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

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