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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - One does not question the sincerity of Senator Lynch in moving this motion, but speaking with my ten years' experience in this Senate, it sends a cold chill down my spine when I begin to see the prospect of a double dissolution close at hand. Because Senator Lynch has brought forward a similar motion every time such an event has occurred-

Senator de Largie - Surely we should put a better construction on the honorable senator's intention.

Senator GARDINER - I am looking at it from a personal aspect. It is one of those moves that his party have always got Senator Lynch to take in order that he should make himself good with the electors at election time. I realize that to address oneself to a question of this kind is to take very grave risks, though I do not, of course, mean personal risks. To discuss the Irish question on a motion of this kind, and practically ask the Senate to advise the British Government, is to take a most important stand. I do not know whether it is a wise stand to take, or whether it would not be better to leave such matters - which must be settled between Ireland and the British Govern- ment - to Ireland and the British Government themselves. I realize the farreaching effects of the Irish question upon Australia and its interests. The thought that comes to my mind is - Can we in any way improve the relations between England and Ireland by a discussion here, and, further, are not the differences between England and Ireland so deep-rooted as to be altogether beyond the power of England and Ireland themselves to solve 1 Is the wrong to be continued ? Ireland is struggling to have her position made good. The right of one nation to dominate another, to my mind, does not exist, and Ireland is a nation. It matters not for how many centuries the domination of England continues, constituted as the Irish people are, they will remain a nation independent in action and independent in thought; and they will never assimilate with the English people. I listened to Senator Lynch's description of himself, and it was a description of a true Irishman - a lad, roared in Ireland and hating the Union Jack, under the tyranny which he lived then, but after years of the enjoyment of the liberties we possess here, learning, shall I say, to love the Union Jack. But we must realize that the young men in Ireland who, to-day, are giving their lives for their country - we must not shirk the issue - are now in the position of the young men of whom Senator Lynch was one when he left Ireland. The Irish as a people are struggling for freedom, nationality, and the right of independent selfgovernment. Can we make things better by any discussion here of Ireland's aspirations - of what, bred in the bone, is part and parcel of the nation ? There is nothing Irish in my constitution; the generations of my family do not run back to Ireland. I am an Australian of the second generation; but I try to look at the Irish question as the Irish people see it, and I try to understand what is behind it. The Declaration of the Independence of America, drawn up, shall I say, by the God-inspired men who were then leading that great nation, tells us -

We hold these truths to be self-evident : That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Apply the American Declaration of In: dependence to Ireland to-day, and what claim is the Irish people making that it is not the right of all free men to make?

As to the position to-day, when I saw that a truce had been agreed upon, and that the British Government had offered Ireland Dominion self; government, I do not mind saying thai my heart rejoiced. I thought that at last Ireland would be free, as we are here - that Ireland, not as a nation dominated over by England, but as a free nation, would become a branch of that aggregation of nations which make up the British Empire. If earnest thought and meditation constitute prayer, no one prayed more earnestly than I for Ireland's acceptance of the position. I believe that such acceptance by Ireland would bring about unity within the Empire; it would give us another free, independent nation within the Empire. Britain is never going to dominate Australia ; Britain will never interfere with our Government; her sane methods of conducting the affairs of the Empire will prevent that. If it does not, what will happen? As we have seen, even in our own brief history, whenever action by the British Government has threatened to interfere unduly with what Australia seriously desired, the British Government has been told to take its hands off, and they have been taken off. If the present position is not accepted by the governing classes in Ireland to-day - because the matter is now out of the hands of the British Government - no one will regret the fact more deeply and sincerely than myself. I believe that if the Irish people had our experience of the freedom we exercise, and the increased and increasing freedom we will exercise-

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - How can we get any further freedom?'

Senator GARDINER - I do not wish to answer such conundrums at this stage, but merely to express my thoughts on the present situation. I am asked how we are to get further freedom, and I could make quite a number of complaints about the freedom that has been taken from me individually on more than one occasion..

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was for the common good!

Senator GARDINER - As I happened to believe that the freedom I desired to exercise was also for the " common good," there was a conflict of opinion. As I say, I desire to look at this Irish question as Irishmen see it, and, I may say, as Englishmen and Scotchmen see it. It is only a few years since England, Ireland, and Scotland, through the British Parliament, decided on a settlement, which was regarded as satisfactory. Although that settlement was satisfactory to the huge majority of Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotchmen, a little section in the North of Ireland would not accept it. That little section imported arms, and expressed its determination to resist by force the settlement that the whole of Britain and Ireland had said was a real settlement. I am sorry to say that the minority triumphed, and that that opportunity, some seven years ago, or a little more, was allowed to pass. Now there is another opportunity for settlement, and it is my earnest hope that on this occasion the majority in Ireland will not allow it to slip. As a whole-souled Australian - although Senator Pratten has reminded me- that there is no further freedom for Australians to fight for - I can feel the fascination, of an a'bsolutely free Australia, independent altogether of anything but the will and desires of its own people. I believe that aspiration to be the motive power of Ireland, which has many good reasons- for insisting on her' independence. We all joined in giving Poland her independence, in creating an independent State 'between Germany and Austria-, and in declaring that- the war was fought foi tha rights of small nations. The war affirmed the right of self-determination, and that is what Ireland is now demanding. I' suppose that for 700 years Ireland has been engaged in this struggle, and the events of the last year have shown that the Irish people are as vigorous as ever. I hope that the wisest counsels will prevail, particularly in the Irish Parliament, as it is called to-day, and that the Irish people will see that, in entering into the British combination of nations they are not submitting to the yoke of England, but becoming an independent nation within the Empire. If that step is taken, it will receive the hearty approbation of ninety-nine out of every hundred men of Irish descent in Australia.

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