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Thursday, 8 October 1914

Mr JOLLEY (Grampians) .- I move -

That the Address be agreed to by the House.

The Governor-General's Speech to honorable members to-day contained, as one living in a British community would expect, first of all, a reference to the calamitous war which is at present devastating Europe. There came one day, from what was apparently a clear sky,a tremendous bolt, which has not only plunged into deadly warfare two nations that were formerly friendly to each other, but has involved in deadly strife practically the whole continent of Europe. The unbridled arrogance and tyranny of one European monarch, anxious to try his pet army, led him, without considering the lives of his own people, or their material welfare, and without regard for the well-being of the world at large, to involve practically the whole of Europe in dreadful warfare. Our own great Empire became involved in that war, not because of any desire for material gain; not because she felt that her material interests were likely to be affected; but in response to a far stronger call. The call which Great Britain answered was the call of honour, than which none could be more potent. We feel, and I say "we" as a humble unit of the great British Empire, that Britain would not be the Britain that she has taught the whole world to believe she is if she had failed to respond to that call when she saw the neutrality of her Allies outraged, and an arrogant nation attempting to ride roughshod over the whole of Europe. Her response was immediate, and I say unhesitatingly that she has never engaged in a more just war. There have been many wars in our history - most of them glorious, most of them entered upon in a righteous cause. There may be some that might be described as " splendid mistakes ' ' ; but in respect of the present war there is no room for doubt, no room for hesitancy, and there is no reason why the whole Empire should not have responded as it has done to the call of the Mother Land. Canada has responded, not only with men, but with munitions of war and general war material. Distant South Africa, not so long ago herself involved in fierce conflict with the great British Empire, was so strongly permeated with the spirit of freedom, so imbued with a sense of the freedom she enjoys under British rule, that she was one of the first of the Dominions to throw in her lot with the Mother Country. We know of the response made by our own great Commonwealth. Honorable members need not be reminded of the facts, for they are patent to all of us. We know, too, how in unhappy Ireland, even up to the last day distracted and divided, two warring factions, apt to break into terrible strife at almost any moment, at the first hint of external aggression fell into line, and formed, instead of a menace to the Empire, one of its stoutest bulwarks. We in this Commonwealth are, fortunately, able to view with confidence the great war cloud. There are two or three considerations in connexion with the war, and not the least important is that of financial stability. We are fortunate, inasmuch as a previous Labour Government - and this is one great tribute to the Labour party - had placed us in a position with regard to our financial institutions, which enables us to well withstand the strain. The Commonwealth Bank and the Australian note-issue, reviled, and unjustly reviled, as they have been, by press, politicians and platform orators, are to-day a very present help in time of trouble. I have no hesitation in saying that without them, if the war continued much longer - and we have no reason to say that the end of it is even yet dimly visible - there would be the gravest danger of almost every proprietary financial institution in Australia closing its doors. That disaster we have now no cause to fear. Behind the Commonwealth Bank, abused, as it has been and is, and abused, as I can already foresee, it is still likely to be, we have the whole credit of Australia, and it stands to-day between the Commonwealth and financial disaster. Between Australia and material disaster there stand also our two great arms of defence - the Army and the Navy. These, too, I say without danger of contradiction, were fashioned by a Labour Administration, and it is meet and fitting that the party which fashioned those weapons by which we are enabled to avoid disaster should be the first to use them. We owe them to a Labour Government, and it is meet and fitting that a Labour Government should now be in office to administer them. His Excellency's Speech referred, necessarily briefly, to the question of Protection. If ever the question of increasing the Tariff, so as to make Protection effective, should appeal to the people of Australia, it is at the present time. Not that it is any more necessary to-day than it was before; but from the march of events in the last few months many people who before the war would not admit the necessity for the desirableness of Protection have now been converted to that plank in their platform which is so dear to the Labour party. We have seen in the past, and, in fact, we see still, our miners and other working men acting as hewers of wood and drawers of water, diving into the recesses of the earth and risking their lives, or ruining their health, to produce our raw materials. These materials are produced ; and instead of good Australian bone and muscle and brain and intelligence working them up to the finished products, they are, in many cases, carried across the seas and, to the foreigners' profit we pay doubly for them. We raise these raw materials first, and get paid for only the rough work. In almost any shop we could see until quite recently goods marked with the legend " Made in Germany;" and I shall not be satisfied until that, or any other similar legend, is replaced by " Made in Australia." I am pleased to see that the programme which has been presented by the Governor-General is one that will, in all probability, be strongly approved by the people generally. There was a class of people who, perhaps not more than eighteen months ago, regarded the Labour party as enemies and with distrust; and the greatest possible tribute to the work that has been done by that Labour part X is in the fact that now that people have had time to consider, they have, even in the rural constituencies, recognised the claim of that strong and united party to lead the destinies of this great Commonwealth in a time of trouble. It is a- magnificent tribute to the work of the past; and I am sure it will inspire the Government to proceed in the full hope chat what they may do in the future will be fully approved, allowing for the necessary difficulties that must be encountered during the next three years. The farmer was regarded as the last stronghold and citadel of so-called Liberalism in this country; but that citadel has at last been definitely taken by the siege guns of Labour. It was a habit amongst the Opposition, and other Conservatives, to deal with the farmer as the ostrich-raiser deals with his birds. If there is any ostrich -raiser on the Opposition side he will know that when it is desired to pluck the valuable feathers, it is usual to place a paper bag over the heads of the birds; and this is what the Opposition, and the press that represents them, did. They put the paper bag of misrepresentation around the head of the rural ostrich ; and, as it was thus bandaged, plucked out its tail feathers. However, that paper bag - which probably was made up of a copy of the Argus - has been pecked through by the ostrich; and now the farmer in this country has had the scales removed from his eyes, and has demonstrated the fact by giving his support to the Labour party, in view of what they have done in the past, and of what they propose to do in the future, and placed that party in its present strong position.

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