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Friday, 2 July 1915


Sir EOBERT BEST (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) - I do indeed. I feel that with the great powers the Government have at the present moment they could more effectively discharge their duties than when they are burdened with the necessity of attendance in this House. I feel also that if they had a Committee of Public Safety, representative of both sides, they could get more help in that direction. Look at our munition movement. It is only now that we are beginning to realize the urgent necessity for such a movement. It is only now that we are endeavouring to organize the industrial resources of Australia. But what we are starting now should have been done many months ago. That effort, being in its inception, has to be developed, and it is only by effective development that we can attain our object.


Mr J H Catts - If you were to close Parliament, you could not make the suggestions which you are now making.


Sir ROBERT BEST - My honorable friend will remember that I coupled the closing of Parliament with the creation of a Committee of Public Safety.


Mr J H Catts - But we are the Committee elected by the people.


Sir ROBERT BEST - I have indicated how the most effective results can be achieved. Moreover, it is not suggested that Parliament should be closed for months and months together. All that is suggested for the present moment is the closing of Parliament for at least three or four weeks, to enable us to do more in the direction of organization, and especially in the matter of recruiting. Can my honorable friends on the other side make any reasonable objection to a course of that kind being taken? This is a means towards securing the organization which the Attorney-General told us is desirable and essential in the interests of Australia. In those circumstances, sir, we cannot but feel that we are failing in our duty; we cannot but feel that we are not doing justice to our own brave sons who are in the trenches. I consider that at this moment Australia should be sending its forces to the front in greater numbers than it is doing. But that is impossible unless we bring to bear upon the recruiting movement the united strength and power of the two Houses. Referring once more -to organization, Mr. Asquith said that what he wanted in Great Britain - and what, of course, is wanted here - is willing and organized help, and that should come from every Briton. I say, ou the other hand, that willing and ororganized help should come from every Australian. Mr. Asquith went on to say that there is not a home or a workshop throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain which is not deeply interested in the war, and which should not be making some effort towards the consummation of the organized system at which he was aiming. That is exactly the position of Australia, and I do urge on the Government to see their way to yield to the suggestions which have been made from this side. Eirst of all, I wish to develop the organization in connexion with which we had such an eloquent dissertation from the Attorney-General. What we want to do is to develop the ideas which he expressed.







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