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Thursday, 2 June 1921

Mr HIGGS (Capricornia) .- I very much regret the introduction of this question into the Commonwealth Parliament by .the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), and I am surprised that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Ryan), the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), and the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Lavelle) should be found rising in their places to give the necessary support to have the question discussed.

Mr Lavelle - The honorable member for Werriwa is not in the House, but if he were here he would support the motion. It is a pity you cannot tell the truth.

Mr Mathews - I supported it, and I am not ashamed to say so.

Mr Lavelle - I would be ashamed 'of a political career similar to that of the honorable member for Capricornia.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I ask the honorable member to withdraw the offensive statement he made concerning the political career of the honorable member for Capricornia.

Mr Lavelle - I regret that the honorable member's political career should be offensive.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honorable member must withdraw unconditionally, and without comment.

Mr Lavelle - I do not know what I have to withdraw.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member made a personally offensive statement in regard to the honorable member for Capricornia. Such statements are not allowed by the rules of the House.

Mr Lavelle - If I made a statement which was offensive to the honorable member .for Capricornia I withdraw it.

Mr HIGGS - If I made a mistake in mentioning the name of the honorable member for Werriwa I apologize, but four members of the Australian Labour party rose to support the honorable member for Barrier.

Mr Brennan - If necessary, they would all have risen.

Mr HIGGS - They all would not have risen. One honorable member, when this matter was introduced by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), did not come into the chamber. He stood behind Mr. Speaker's chair. I warn the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) and the other honorable members with whom he has been associated this afternoon, that they will break up the Australian Labour party if they permit the introduction of questions such as this into the Commonwealth Parliament. I say, as an Australian native, that, in my opinion, the majority of Australians know very little about Irish affairs. We know that there has been trouble in Ireland for a very long while; but we know also that there are 670 members of the British House of Commons, and that they are nearer to Dublin than we are to Sydney. They know all about the Irish question, and I am quite satisfied that if Mr. Lloyd George and his Government were anything like as bad as has been described by the honorable member for Barrier, if they were indulging in a policy of tyranny and iniquity, they would not remain where they are for another twenty-four hours. I have cursorily read the daily accounts of what is taking place in Ireland - and only frag.mentally, because I have enough to do in the advancement of matters of Australian interest if I am to perform my duty satisfactorily to my constituents and the public generally. But I have read that the British Prime Minister described what has been occurring in Ireland as murder, and that he announced that the British Government were taking whatever steps were deemed necessary to try to put an end to the reign of murder. The proposal of the honorable member- for Barrier, and his suggestion that what is happening in Ireland is likely to disturb the amicable relations existing between the British Empire and the United States of America, is a mere subterfuge adopted in order to have the subject of Ireland debated in this Parliament.

Mr Considine - I rise to a point of order, which is, that I did not make any such statement. I quoted from the New York Nation, which published the statement.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! That is not a point of order.

Mr HIGGS - The honorable member sought to impress the view on this House, as a fact, that there is danger menacing the British Empire, that the state of Ireland would cause strained relations between the Empire and the United States of America. I emphasize that, in my view, the honorable member introduced his motion because of the opportunity it afforded to introduce the Irish question into this Parliament ; and, as an Australian native, I object to such a subjectmatter being brought forward here. Honorable members like the honorable member for Barrier - the physical force revolutionist, as he described himself in this Chamber the other day, who, in pursuit of his ideals, is prepared to abolish present conditions of law and order by force of arms if he can get enough support, who believes that Ireland should be separated, as a Republic, from England - ought to go to Ireland and stay there.

There are Australian questions of seriousness and urgency confronting Australian politicians, great social questions which should engage our attention, without having the case of Ireland thrust before us in this manner. I do not believe that the majority of the people of Australia have any sympathy with the views of those Labour representatives who have spoken to-day. It is an abuse of the toleration of the Australian Labour party that members of the party should use it for such a purpose.

I spurn the suggestion of honorable members opposite that I have no sympathy with the sane and common-sense ideals of the Australian Labour party. I might have been with them yet, but for that crowd, behind and within the Labour party, who hold opinions similar to those of the honorable member for Barrier, of that foolish secretary of the miners in Newcastle, Mr. Willis, and of other direct actionists.

Mr Lavelle - Neither Mr. Willis nor the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) belongs to the Australian Labour party.

Mr HIGGS - The honorable member for Barrier did. belong to the party ; and, in that regard, I draw the attention of the public to the fact that, although Mr. Michael Patrick Considine left the Labour party, there was not a single word of reproach expressed concerning him throughout the Labour press of Australia - the Brisbane Worker and Daily Standard, the AustralianWorker, Sydney - while the columns of those same newspapers have been filled with abuse of myself.

Mr Considine - That speaks volumes for my personal character.

Mr HIGGS - No; but, rather, the sympathy of the editors of the various Labour publications - Mr. Boote, for example, and other direct action advocates - for the politics of the honorable member for Barrier. However, I: will not go into that phase further, although I could furnish additional facts. I do not' wish to occupy much time in discussing the motion. As I have said, there are other matters of greater importance urgently awaiting the attention of the Commonwealth Parliament. It would be wrong, however, for this Parliament to permit the honorable member for Barrier and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) to make speeches such as they have, and to allow those utterances to go out from Australia without contradiction or challenge.

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