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Wednesday, 12 May 1915


Mr FISHER (Wide Bay) (Prime Minister and Treasurer) . - Another motion which, with the leave of the House, I desire to move is -

That this House expresses its sympathy with the relatives of those who, by the sinking of the Lusitania, were wantonly murdered on the high seas in the name of war.

We are at war with other nations, but as a free Parliament we have the right to express our views with regard to any departure from the rules of warfare of a character like that which resulted inthe destruction of the Lusitania. Action of that kind, and those guilty of it, merit condemnation in strong though temperate language. It is with that view that the Government, after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition in this matter, resolved to submit this motion.

Speaking for myself, I would say that if warfare is to be carried on in the way it is being conducted at present by our enemies, civilization will have to organize and establish a court which will bring to justice those responsible for this violation of the rules of civilized warfare. I see no other way to do this.

I hope that the House will carry this motion without qualification, and without hesitation, as a declaration that we strongly condemn the destruction of unarmed ships in this manner. The language is strong. "Wanton murder" is undoubtedly strong, but it is the term used by a jury of a judicial character which inquired into the deaths of some of those innocent passengers of the Lusitania whose bodies were recovered from the sea. The motion places on record the views of this House concerning that crime, and if any action is to follow, it behoves those who represent us to take such steps as may be necessary to bring to account those who have been responsible for such a crime against civilization.







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