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Thursday, 28 April 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) .- The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has produced a speech of mine, in which he says that I advocated peace by negotiation. I desire to say - I suppose it is about .the hardest words one could have used - that I regret that in the heat of the moment I used such an expression towards the Minister as has been referred to. I have not had an opportunity of carefully perusing the speech to which he has referred, but I believe it was made on an occasion when I said in this Senate that we were " in this fight to a finish."

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But the honorable senator was advocating peace by negotiation.

Senator GARDINER - I think it was when I was placing before the Senate the Labour party's proposals in , full, and Senator Earle will probably remember the occasion when he interjected, " If those are the proposals, there is nothing wrong with them."

Senator Earle - I cannot recall the incident, but the honorable senator may be right.

Senator GARDINER - I think I am correct, but I shall quote from a speech of mine delivered on 1st May, 1918, because, after all, it is possible to take portions from a speech which do not convey the real meaning. When the matter was under discussion, three possible conclusions were mentioned, and the one which the Labour party stood for was a complete Allied victory.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator's policy was peace by negotiation.

Senator GARDINER - The one ending that the Labour party looked for was complete victory for the Allies.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why was that not included in the party's programme?

Senator GARDINER - When I can lay my hands on our programme, I will place it before the Senate.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - At the Perth Conference peace by negotiation was advocated.

Senator GARDINER - A statement was made by a prominent official of the Labour party in which he put forward the following: -

1.   Withdrawal from invaded territory, and reparation by the invader.

2.   Self-government of all small nations.

3.   Right of people of disputed territory to vote on their own future government.

4.   International control of captured possessions pending agreement.

5.   No annexations and no indemnities.

0.   Means of reducing the number of future international disputes.

I then made the following statement: -

I wish to take a portion of that statement, which, if torn from the context and read by itself, might put the movement of which I am a member in a very false position. It is this: "The Labour party stands for the immediate cessation of fighting." I am emphatically and firmly to repudiate that. So far as the peace policy of the Labour party is concerned, Mr. Arch. Stewart has no more right to publish what is Labour's peace policy than I or any other member of the community. I say emphatically that so far as the Australian Labour party are concerned, we are in this fight to a finish. Let there be no mistake about that. I shall try to put before the Senate the peace policy of the Labour party as decided in conference in my own State. I do not want to do Mr. Stewart an injustice, but I believe his State has adopted practically the same peace proposals as the Labour party at their conference last June. The resolutions of theNew South Wales conference are somewhat lengthy, but in view of the interest in the matter at the present time, it is only fair that I should quote sufficient toput Labour's peace policy fully before the Senate.

Senator Pearce - Is that the State or Federal conference?

Senator GARDINER - The State conference. The Federal conference has not yet given us a peace or war policy.

I then went on to read the peace proposals, which were -

That as the Governments of Europe, founded on class rule, and adopting the methods of secret diplomacy, have failed utterly to preserve peace, or to bring the present war within measurable distance of a conclusion, and whereas the existing capitalistic system of production forprofit compels every nation constantly to seek new markets to exploits -

It is unnecessary for me to read them in full.

SenatorRowell. - Was that before the Perth conference?

Senator GARDINER - I believe it was.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think the honorable senator is wrong.

Senator GARDINER - Then it was immediately after the conference. I was quoting Labour's proposals, and when I had finished SenatorRowell interjected -

They are all right, but how are you going to carry them out?

Senator Earlethen interjected

If you could get Germany to adopt them it would be all right.

I made a hasty and offensive statement to Senator E. D. Millen, for which I apologize.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I accept that.

Senator GARDINER - I did so because I resented, first of all, the statement by Senator Duncan that I advocated peace by negotiation. I venture to say that when the speech which I delivered in the Senate at that particular juncture, in which I said that the Labour party was in the fight to a finish, is read it will be admitted that it does not indicate the stand of a man who was out to advocate peace by negotiation. In the quotations made by Senator E. D. Millen I discussed the question of peace by negotiation, considering how the war would end, and what would happen when it came to an end. After all, we know now that when the Armistice was signed negotiations were commenced, and they are still going on. The few words I have quoted from my speech will show that my attitude to the war was that we were in the fight to a finish.

Senator Cox - Then why did the honorable senator try to stop recruits? How were we going to fight without recruits?

Senator GARDINER - To answer that interjection I should be led into the discussion of matters about which I do not wish to talk now. I will, however, say that in the two years during which the Labour party conducted the war they sent from Australia 266,000 men, and in the two years during which the party to which Senator Cox belongs conducted the war they did not sendmore than 60,000.

Senator Payne - They never sent the men.

Senator GARDINER - No ; the men went themselves. I have used the word "sent" in the sense that we provided ships for them in which to go to the Front, in the same way as honorable senators are sending the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) across the water at the present time. Senator E. D. Millen's quotations show what my attitude was. I put as the first possibility victory for the Allies; the second possibility for the ending of the war I put as peace by negotiation, and it will be remembered that President Wil- son, in January of that year, had put his proposals fornegotiation before 'the people. I then mentioned the third possible ending of the war, and I do not think that a man was wrong when discussing the possibilitiesof the war in including, as a third possibility, a German victory. I object very strongly to being told that I was an advocate of peace by negotiation..

Senator Rowell - I do- not think the honorable senator was personally charged with: that, but the party to which he belonged.

Senator GARDINER - Senator Duncan'1 interjected about advocating peace by negotiation.

Senator Duncan - I assured the honorable senator that I did not apply my inter jection ta him.

Senator GARDINER - That is so, but Senator E. D. Millen immediately did so apply it. Then I made the offensive remark for which I have apologized. T realize that no man has a right to be offensive in this chamber or anywhere else. If he is in the wrong, possibly the easiest way out of the difficulty is to admit it. I' think at the same time that, holding, as I do, a public position as a member of the Senate, I have a right, when the attitude I took up during the whole of the war, in. spite of the risks, if there are risks in opposing popular feeling in certain quarters, is misrepresented by interjection or otherwise, to resent being placed in the position of one who desired to end the war by a peace, no matter what the consequences. Honorable senators who were here discussing military matters day after day know what my attitude was. and they know that I never once shifted from the view that everything we could do intelligently to win the war should be done, but that, failing .to win the war, I realized the possible consequences of failure quite as clearly as " did the most enthusiastic loyalists, as they term themselves. Regarding my use of an offensive expression to Senator Millen, I wish again to say that any attempt to put me in the position of advocating peace by negotiation, irrespective of the consequences, does not fairly represent my attitude during the whole of the war.

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