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Friday, 16 July 1915


Mr FINLAYSON (Brisbane) . -r-Some remarkable statements have been made during the progress of the debate, but that of the Prime Minister is the most remarkable we have yet heard. This is a war measure introduced for two reasons in particular. There are men enlisting for the front whose services could be utilized to better advantage in Australia, while there are others who are not volunteering, and who, in the general opinion, oUght to be accepting their share of the work at the front.


Sir John Forrest - How are you going to make them do that?


Mr FINLAYSON - The information is to be gathered, as stated, for the specific purpose of finding out whom we ought to call upon.


Sir John Forrest - And what then ?


Mr FINLAYSON - That is what I want to know.


Mr Joseph Cook - What does the honorable member mean by ' ' call ' ' ? That is going very near compulsion !


Mr FINLAYSON - I have said that, in my opinion, this is a Bill for conscription - that is only my own opinion.


Mr Hannan - That is not the Prime Minister's statement.


Mr FINLAYSON - Of course not; it is my statement.


Mr LAIRD SMITH (DENISON, TASMANIA) - Surely you will accept the statement of the Prime Minister ?


Mr FINLAYSON - I am absolutely sure that the Prime Minister, the AttorneyGeneral, the honorable member for Flinders, and the Leader of the Opposition are not in favour of conscription.


Mr Joseph Cook - I am not; I do not think it is necessary at present.


Mr Hughes - Then who is trying to put conscription into force ?


Mr Joseph Cook - If I thought we could not get enough men without it, I would have conscription.


Mr FINLAYSON - If this Bill is not going to help us to get men for the front, it is entirely useless. This Bill has two purposes. We are going to take two censuses, one of which is in regard to the wealth of the country. The Prime Minister stated quite clearly, what we all know and expected, that we are going to have a war tax, and that that tax is to. be based on the wealth census taken under this Bill.


Mr Fisher - Nothing of the kind; the tax will come much earlier than that.


Mr Joseph Cook - What does the Prime Minister mean ? We never can understand him.


Mr FINLAYSON - In Webster " conscription " is defined as the compulsory enrolment of men - not compulsory service, but compulsory enrolment- -lot military service. If the Bill is not for the purpose I have indicated, what is the meaning of the question in regard to military service? Why do we ask the question, if we are not passing this Bill for war purposes ? What the country knows, and; I think, understands quite distinctly, is that this Bill is intended to give us a register of men within certain ages who are capable of bearing arms, so that we may utilize them in the best possible way in the defence of the country.

Mr. Austin( Chapman. - The register will stand when the war is over, and the information will be useful for other purposes.


Mr FINLAYSON - As I have said, the information under both headings would have been valuable before the war, and should be continued after the war.


Mr Hannan - Then why object to the Bill?


Mr FINLAYSON - I am not just, now objecting to the Bill, but objecting te* the statement of the Prime Minister that the purpose of the census is not to assist in carrying on the war.


Mr Fisher - I did not say that.


Mr FINLAYSON - Those may not be the exact words, but is the Bill not, intended to assist in recruiting men for the war ?


Mr Fisher - Hear, hear!.


Mr Hughes - As the honorable member goes on he gets worse !


Mr FINLAYSON - The Prime Minister says "Yes," while the AttorneyGeneral says " No."







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