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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) . - -On a memorable occasion when there had come a crisis in the affairs of this country and of the Empire, I thought it my duty to take a certain course of action. The honorable senator whom I approached to second me in my humble endeavour belonged to the political party opposed to that in which I had ranged myself. I refer to Senator Lynch. The honorable senator responded in such a manner to my invitation as to confirm me in the already high opinion which I had held of him, both as an individual and a Commonwealth legislator. Therefore, when Senator Lynch deems it his duty to rise in his place in this Chamber, no matter whether well or ill advised, to express his views upon the momentous situation existing in connexion with the affairs of the United Kingdom, I would be unworthy of the name of man if I did not take the responsibility of adding a few words, at least in general, if not in particular terms, by way of supporting the honorable senator in the wise advice which he has tendered to his fellow countrymen. I am not going to tender any advice. I purpose to follow the course adopted by the Leader of the Government in this Chamber (Senator E. D. Millen). I shall confine myself to an expression of opinion. Senator Lynch feels upon this matter as only an Irishman can feel. I am not an Irishman. I am an Australian ; an Australian of mixed blood, it is true, but one who yields to no one in his hearty admiration- for, and love- of, the British Empire. But I have some racial connexion with Ireland. Indeed, I owe my existence" to the circumstance of my mother having been born in that country, and having come to Australia as an immigrant in the roaring days of the gold-fields. The Irish ques" t i on bristles with difficulties which might well cause despair to take possession of the breast of an archangel. Some of those difficulties arise from racial temperament, and some from circumstances which once were within the control of men, but have now passed out of it. It is necessary to ask the Irish race to be practical at this juncture. The situation i,s especially delicate because of a certain consideration which Senator Gardiner failed to recognise, or, at any rate, to indicate. The honorable senator spoke of Ireland as a nation. Ireland is not a nation; it is two nations. A Frenchman said the other day, as an outcome of his close investigation of the conditions existing in that country, that the Irish are a people with two souls. There is a minority of the Irish people who are not Irish in the same sense as are the inhabitants of Southern Ireland. That is to say, they are Irish, but they are also strongly Imperialistic; and that factor constitutes the major portion of the true difficulty of the whole situation. It is desirable for the Irish people to remember, at this juncture, that' the Empire is as much an Irishman's as it is an Englishman's, or a Scot's, or a Welshman's Empire. There is nothing which could prevent an Irishman from becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain. There have been great Irish pro-consuls, great Irish generals and admirals. I speak, not claiming any vicarious merit, but as the son of a woman whose brothers fought and bled for the Empire in the Crimea and in India. Are Irishmen going to be so unwise now as to throw away the heritage won for them by the valour and determination of the Irish of a generation or so ago? Surely not!1 Cannot an Irishman, in considering the welfare of his country at large, come to the same wise decisions as a Scot, for example? Much has passed between the people of different parts of Great Britain that is to be deplored; but bygones should be bygones. We must not dwell too much in the past. That is one of the most serious faults in the Celtic disposition. I can remember, as a boy, reading an advertisement which appeared in the Australasian. It was an invitation from a Scot to Australians of Scottish birth or descent to join in celebrating the battle of Bannockburn. Notwithstanding that eccentric invitation, I am sure that the great majority of the Scotsmen of Victoria were so sensible that the celebration was not held. Scots have the same things to be proud of and to deplore with respect to relationships between England and Scotland as have Irishmen, when remembering what has occurred between England and Ireland. But Scots are not living in the past.

Long ago, .they set their faces towards, and their feet upon, the highroad to London; and they forged their way to place and power, realizing that the Empire was the Empire of the Scots as well as of Englishmen and Welshmen. I occupy a place in this Chamber as one of the most cosmopolitan individuals in the Commonwealth Legislature. I am of mixed ancestry. Senator Lynch has spoken of the Asiatic peoples. I chance to be a combination of Irish and Asiatic. I have entertained Frenchmen, Koreans, Chinamen, and Japanese, and I feel justified in saying that there are very few who, more fully than myself, can understand the souls of the people of other races; there are very few so competent to appreciate the view-point and aspirations of other nations. Senator Lynch has spoken wisely and well. He has so addressed himself to the subject-matter of his motion as to have confirmed honorable senators in the high opinions which they have always held concerning his character. As I have good reason to express my own appreciation of the stand taken by my old friend - my one-time political opponent, and now my party associate - I desire to add, without attempting to criticise Senator Gardiner, that the honorable senator went too far when he charged the high-souled mover of the motion under discussion with having such an objective as a general election as the inspiring motive for the delivery of his patriotic, national, and racial utterance. I know the agony of soul - the " Garden " agony, one might say - that this IrishAustralian senator has suffered. Criticised unfairly, almost ostracised by certain unwise members of his race, having had all manner of shadowy but sinister motives imputed to him, he has racked his brains and torn his heart in the interests, not only of the Empire, but of the Old Country which he loves so well. Senator Lynch has been inspired by the loftiest motives which could animate any man, and I willingly pay this testimony to the absolute honesty of his intentions. Half an Asiatic, as I am, I can give to Irishmen an expression of opinion following upon the lines of the advice vouchsafed by the one-time Dutchman - Smuts. General Smuts is a Dutchman, and, at the same time, like myself, is a cosmopolitan. He has had advan- tages in education, which I have .never possessed, and out of his learning and profession of the law, his experience for and against the British Empire, as a Minister of an independent Republic which was once hostile to the Empire, and is now incorporated within it, he has given the Irish people an expression of opinion which has been fully supported by Senator Lynch, and which I trust will be indorsed by the Irish people themselves. If the Irish people do not accept the terms tendered to them by the British Prime Minister, they will do themselves great mischief, put themselves wrong in the eyes of mankind, and in doing grievous injury to themselves, will inflict incalculable injury on the human race.

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