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Thursday, 15 July 1915

Mr MANIFOLD (Corangamite) . - I quite agree that this Bill is not being dealt with on party lines, but I must draw attention to some remarks made yesterday by the honorable member for Capricornia, who wished the country to believe that his party were opposed to war on all occasions, and were not a war party, and inferred that the Opposition were a war party. The honorable member is very seldom serious, but yesterday the appearance of his face led me. to believe that at last I had caught him in a serious mood. As rumours of that kind need a little correction, let me tell the honorable member for Capricornia and every honorable member that this war was not sought by the British Empire, nor by any individual in it; it was forced on the Empire, and is a war in which every man of the Empire is bound to take his part. In Australia we are a peace-loving nation; we do not want to fight; we seek only to live in peace. I do not wish remarks such as those made by the honorable member for Capricornia to go forth to the people of Australia uncorrected. I am pleased that the Bill has, or at least has to a considerable extent, the support of both sides of the House. A few honorable members on the Government side have given it their blessing, but in a very mild way indeed. I suppose that there are certain honorable members on that side who fear what may take place in regard to the registration of the manhood of Australia. It is a splendid idea to have this registration. I do not believe that the Government intend to use it for conscription purposes; but we do not know what is going to happen during the war or at its winding up. I dread the winding up business more than . I do the war itself ; and if it should be necessary to call upon the manhood of Australia to defend the Commonwealth, this census will enable us to place our hands on every man, to know his particular ability, to know where to find him, and to know what to do with him. It is a precautionary Bill if trouble does come to Australia. If that crisis does come about, we shall all have to fight; every man will have to go, no matter what his age is, if he thinks his life is worth giving for the Empire. I approve of the portion of the Bill relating to a census of wealth. It will be a very good thing to ascertain the amount of the wealth of the Commonwealth; but it is unfair to the men who are called wealthy when honorable members like the honorable member for Eden-Monaro get up and say that, as a body, they are not doing their duty. I believe that there are many men in the Commonwealth possessed of wealth who are unable to go and defend the Empire, but are doing their duty - and perhaps people do not realize to what extent they are doing it. Nevertheless, there are many wealthy people who do not realize the position, as in the same way the manhood of Australia did not realize until about a month ago what this war meant to them. The manhood, particularly of Victoria, was holding back and saying, " It is not my turn, let some else go. Let So-and-so go as long as you do not take me." But it has now wakened up. The recruiting week in Victoria has brought into the minds of many the fact that it is their duty to go to the front and be ready. to fight. In the same way the wealthy men of Australia have not realized the position, have not realized, many of them, that the Empire is at war, and have said, " Let So-and-so give, he has more than I have. Let him give as fast as he likes." I. am not opposed to any form of taxation which may be -put on the people of Australia; but fear has been expressed by many people that this census of "the wealth of the Commonwealth means considerable taxation. This fact was brought home to me the other day, when I asked why certain individuals in the Commonwealth were not contributing according to the wealth they possessed. Even among my own class I presume we know pretty well the value of different persons' estates. These people have said to me, "Look at the taxation we have to pay now, and look at the enormous amount of taxation that will have to be paid by the people of Australia." They fear the taxation that is likely to be imposed more than they would dislike it if it were already in existence. But they do not realize that they, as members of the Empire, have a duty which they ought to be proud to perform. They ought to be proud to contribute as much as it is possible for them to give. I know of many men who have given a few hundreds who would have been but doing their duty had they given their thousands. We are collecting an enormous amount of money in Australia, but those who give, and give in large sums, are the same people every time. It is people who can least afford to give who are contributing most liberally to these funds. It is really wonderful when you go into some of these country towns where, so far as you can see, there are not many wealthy men, and when you have one of those "stir up" meetings which honorable members occasionally address, to see how the money comes into the boxes. You could go round to the. same place in a month's time and you would get just as much. You can start your Belgian fund one month, and your Bed Cross fund the next month, and it is really wonderful to see how the money rolls in.

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Those who can best afford to give contribute nothing at all sometimes.

Mr MANIFOLD - If the honorable member had been in the House he would have known that I have, been spending- the last ten minutes trying to make it perfectly clear that, in my belief, it is the people who can least afford it who are contributing most generously to these funds.

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