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Thursday, 17 June 1915

Mr FENTON - They ought to be the -first invited to be represented; they are the captains of industry.

Mr SAMPSON - I will not say that there should be any distinction made. Britain has invited representatives of both the employers and the men to join in the war councils, and there is no doubt that Mr. Lloyd George, by travelling through the country and discussing the situation with the captains of industry and the mcn, -has brought together a great force which alone can give that increased output which will enable the country to put forth its best efforts. The point I wish to emphasize is that the present situation should be dealt with independent of party. If the Government introduce controversial legislation of any kind it becomes the duty of every member to deal with such proposals as he thinks fit; but in regard to the concentration of all our energies in order to insure a maximum output of equipment, munitions, and arms, there -should be no party warfare. _ This al.important question, might well be intrusted for the time being to a body that would command ti is confidence on the whole of the people. The members of the Ministerial side cannot claim to represent more than about half of the people of Australia, and how can they say that they can invite the confidence of the whole of the industrial forces of Australia in this great crisis, especially when the people do not know what position they are in ? The public is not aware of the requirements of the Government, and, although they are prepared to do whatever they can to help in this emergency, they have no knowledge of what they ought to do. The only way in which the whole of our forces can be organized is for this Parliament to take the lead by constituting a body representative of both sides of the House, which will command the confidence of the whole of the people. A start must be made in this Parliament. The forces outside are already showing the Government what they should do, but their efforts are largely paralyzed because of ignorance of what the Government require, and because they cannot get that perfect cooperation which is necessary if the best results are to be attained. The supreme hour has struck when Parliament should rise above party warfare to a sense of national duty and responsibility, and we on the Opposition side of the House invite the Government to take steps in that direction. I can quite understand the difficulties which confront the present Ministry in regard to the creation of a N ational Government. It is an admitted fact that the Prime Minister is in a more difficult position than any other Prime Minister in the Empire in regard to calling the Opposition into the councils of the Government, and asking them to share the Executive responsibilities of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister is surrounded by organizations and associations which prevent him from taking a step which a free and independent party within these walls would be able to take. Realizing that those difficulties confront the Prime Minister, one other way of uniting our forces in the manner I have indicated is open to us, and that is by the appointment, as suggested by the right honorable member for Parramatta, of a Minister of Munitions, who should be relieved from any responsibility in regard to the enrolment of troops, and who should be able to concentrate his undivided attention on the obtaining of equipment, supplies, and munitions, and the organization of all the vast forces within the Commonwealth that can contribute to that end. Personally, I should like to see a non-party war Committee appointed to help the Minister. The Minister might be Chairman of a Committee appointed from both -sides of the House, which would have power to appoint sub-Committees in the various States. This Committee would organize till the industrial and manufacturing forces of the Commonwealth, and ascertain our resources. The Minister would then be backed up by a body that would be in touch with, the manufacturing, commercial, and industrial organizations of the country, and would be in a position to secure the fullest output of supplies, munitions, and equipment. The appointment of such a Committee would secure for the Administration the confidence of the people and their co-operation.What I suggest would not beas good as a National Government, which would enable both sides to share Executive responsibility for war administration, but it would be infinitely better than the present arrangement. The business of the country is now being controlled by a Government and party representing only one half of the population, and they are continuing party warfare by introducing measures of a party character, to which, in some instances, they are giving precedence. . Further, they are not giving undivided attention to the supreme duty which the situation casts upon them, and which they cannot ignore without being recreant to their trust, and unmindful of the best interests of the nation.

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