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Thursday, 30 November 1905

Senator TURLEY (Queensland) - I suppose that the first thing with which honorable senators who oppose the motion will be met will be the old cry of "disloyalty."

Senator Best - No, no.

Senator TURLEY - I have been through this kind of mill before, and I know exactly what will happen. That will be the cry raised in the press from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. Whether it is or not, I am totally opposed to both motion and amendment. I do not think it is necessary for us to take any part in the proposal to erect a monument to the late Queen,, in England, or anywhere else. Of the late Queen as a woman I have nothing whatever to say. I believe she acted honestly and straightforwardly in the performance of her work, and, according to heT lights. Beyond that it is unnecessary for me to say anything. We are asked to vote a sum of money, out of the consolidated revenue contributed by the various States, towards the erection of an Empire memorial in London, and we know perfectly well that the cry it* most of the States, and certainly from the Treasurer and people of the State I represent, is that there is not sufficient money available to do the work which it is absolutely necessary should be done 'in that State. As Senator Best has pointed out, it is some time since the late Queen died, and yet not one of the States has proposed the erection of a memorial out of public money. There has been nothing to prevent the Government of any of the States bringing forward a motion in the State Parliament that the State should contribute its share to a memorial to be erected in London, or provide for the erection of a memorial in the State, or for the payment of a contribution to a fund for the erection of a national memorial in Australia. Not one State has attempted to deal with the question. We are now asked to contribute to an Imperial memorial, and the Minister of Defence says that we shall be very unpopular with the rest of the Empire if we do not, because other parts of the Empire have thought fit to contribute money towards this object. I do not know that we shall be unpopular. Australia has, up to date, and, I believe, will continue to do so, paid 20s. in the £1 to her creditors, and so long as we are able to do that we shall not become very unpopular even in the London money market. So long as we are able to meet our liabilities, we need have no fear for Australia.

Senator Walker - There is no great virtue in merely paying what you owe.

Senator TURLEY - That is so; but it seems to me that paying what we owe will tend to make nations popular, so far, at all events, as their commercial standing is concerned. I feel satisfied that if the people of Australia were asked to say whether this money should be voted from the consolidated revenue for this purpose, a big majority of them would be found to be against it.

Senator Playford - No, no.

Senator TURLEY - I believe they would, and we have some evidence of it. It is all very well for us to say that because, collectively, we represent the people of the States, we should have the people behind us, if we agreed to vote this money. But we have the evidence referred to by Senator Best, that when enthusiasm on the subject was at its height, when the newspapers in all parts of the Commonwealth were printing columns of matter day after day pointing out the work carried ouT during the late Queen's reign, her virtues, and the work she did personally, committees were got together in the various States, and though they circularized the people from one end of the States to the other, the result was about the most miserable fiasco I ever heard of. Where the people were asked to contribute "to a memorial to be erected in their own State, no one was found to take any particular interest in it, or to put money down for the purpose.

Senator Sir William Zeal - We have one in Melbourne, one in Ballarat, and one in Bendigo.

Senator TURLEY - When were they erected ?

Senator Sir William Zeal - Since the late Queen's death.

Senator TURLEY - I can speak for Queensland, and I know that those connected with the movement to which I have referred found out very soon after it was started that it was absolutely useless for them to proceed. They then appealed to the Parliament of the State, and the Parliament refused to take any responsibility in connexion with the matter.

Senator Walker -- That is a strong argument why the Federal Parliament should do so.

Senator TURLEY - It is a strong argument why I, as a representative of a State whose Parliament refused to have anything to do with such a movement, should not be a party to voting public money for a purpose which the State Parliament would not sanction for a moment.

Senator Walker - They probably wished for a national monument, and not a State monument.

Senator TURLEY - There was no question of a national monument.

Senator Drake - This Empire proposal had not been made at the time.

Senator TURLEY - I quite admit that. But I say that money could not be raised by private subscription in Queensland for the erection of a memorial in that State, and those in charge of the movement were refused assistance by the State Government and Parliament, who might be assumed to represent the views of the people of the State, as I claim to represent them now. It does not seem to me that there is any particular reason why we should put up a memorial in Australia, or contribute to put one up in the old country. If a memorial is put up in London, I am satisfied that the great majority of the people in this country will not take any interest in it. Very few of them will ever - see it. It will simply drop out of mind; with the result that money will have been taken out of the pockets of- the people by means of taxation, and spent in a useless way, so far as our people are concerned. Now 1 come to Senator Stewart's amendment : if it were carried, the motion, as amended', would read as follows : -

That in the opinion of the Senate, the Commonwealth of Australia should join with Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, the Cape Colony, Natal, Newfoundland, and other parts of the Empire in the erection of a memorial in honour of the personal worth and beneficent reign of the late Queen Victoria ; provided such memorial be a public hospital, to be erected in an Australian' city chosen by the Commonwealth Parliament, and that the people of the Commonwealth of Australia be invited to contribute by private subscription the balance of such sum as may be necessary for the erection and endowment of such memorial hospital.

Senator Stewart - That is quite right.

Senator Keating - It would be all right if we could get the other countries mentioned to join in.

Senator TURLEY - I do not think that Senator Stewart can have any expectation that the various countries named in the motion would contribute to the erection of a hospital in Australia. In the first place, I decline to have anything to do with the motion as submitted by the Government ; and in the second place, I think. that if the motion were amended, as Senator Stewart proposes, it would simply, make the whole thing ridiculous. We do not want to appeal to Canada, Cape Colony, and Newfoundland to assist Australia in erecting a hospital as a memorial to Queen Victoria. We prize our independent spirit too much for that. if the people of Australia wished to put up such a memorial in this country, they would not appeal for assistance to any other part of the globe. I am, therefore, just as much opposed to the amendment as to the motion. I am also opposed to the idea of erecting a hospital as a memorial. There are many difficulties in the way. In the various States it is already extremely difficult to raise money by voluntary subscriptions for the support of local hospitals. And where is the memorial hospital to be erected? Are we to ask the people of Queensland to contribute to the erection of a hospital in Sydney, in Melbourne, or at Monaro? Are we to appeal to the people of Western Australia to assist in erecting a hospital in some populous centre of Australia? In Queensland the Government has had to step in, and take over practically the management and support of institutions which are considered as the basic hospitals of Brisbane, and other important places. The Government did not want to do it, but it was found to be absolutely impossible to obtain sufficient public contributions to maintain the hospitals. The people who went on hospital committees did a great amount of very hard work. They devised various schemes with the object of raising money. Yet they found it to be impossible to keep their institutions out of debt. Ultimately, the Government had to step in and provide the money. When such difficulties are experienced in maintaining hospitals in populous centres, where people have the opportunity of visiting, their sick friends, and seeing the splen did work that the institutions are doing, how much more difficult would it be to induce people in the distant parts of Australia to contribute towards the maintenance of a hospital which they might never see, and of the working of which they would know nothing. Again, the proposal is objectionable, because it would throw upon the Government the odium of selecting the site for the -memorial.

Senator Staniforth Smith - Put it up in New Guinea for the benefit of the natives.

Senator TURLEY - It would not be necessary to spend £25,000 there. It would be sufficient to build a place up a tree. I do not think that either of the proposals before the Senate is in consonance with the opinion of the majority of the people of Australia. For these reasons, whatever term may be applied to my conduct, I propose to vote against both motion and amendment.

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