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Thursday, 19 July 1906

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) .- The honorable' member has evidently misapprehended the remarks which fell from the honorable member for New England. All honorable members on this side of the House can heartily indorse the view that he 'nas just put forward. We object, however, to the attempt that is being made by some of those who utter the cry of " Australia for the Australians," to limit our choice in the selection of our militaryofficers to those of purely Australian birth. We think that if that spirit is acted1 upon, it will be detrimental to the best interests of the service of the people of the Commonwealth, and of the Empire. We should ii, dee applicants according to their merit and anility quite regardless of their place of birth.

Mr Bamford - How are we to judge unless we have an opportunity of examining the applicants?

Mr JOHNSON - Examination is one of the tests that should be applied. But some of those who utter the cry " Australia for the Australians" apparently hold that Australians alone should be permitted to become applicants for positions amongst us, and that all others, even though thev might be more capable, should be excluded from the possibility of obtaining appointments. It seems to me that some people utter the cry "Australia for the Australians " in order to thinly disguise their disloyalty to the mother country.

Mr Webster - That is unfair.

Mr JOHNSON - I do not say that that applies to the honorable member. He cannot speak for every one. I do not reflect upon any honorable member of this House, but I maintain that the cry " Australia for the Australians " has been used for the specific purpose I have indicated. Those of us who believe in lovalty to the mother country and to Australia, strong! v resent the manifestation of any such spirit as I have referred to. Loyalty to the mother country does not involve disloyalty to Australia. The lesser is included in the greater.

Mr Webster - Which is the greater?

Mr JOHNSON - Loyalty to the Empire, of which Australia is a part. We can best show our loyalty to Australia by being loyal to the Empire as a whole. Many of those who utter the cry " Australia for the Australians " should reflect that if there were anything in it thev would have no right to be here, because Australia should have been left to the aboriginals. If their fathers and mothers had not come from the motherland, they would not have had the privilege of calling themselves Australians. If it had not been for the enterprise, courage, and colonizing capabilities of those who preceded us in Australia, many of those amongst us would not have been here. I am not speaking for myself, because my parents did not come to Australia. The cry of " Australia for the Australians " is uttered by many persons who would exclude from participation in the benefits we enjoy those of our own kith and kin who live in other parts of the Empire. I have no sympathy with that kind of spirit. If we should preserve Australia for the Australians, to be logical we ought to argue that this country should never have been taken from its original inhabitants. Consequently, we should regard ourselves as intruders and interlopers. The mere accident of birth-place ought not to impel us to prevent persons coming here from the mother country to assist us in building up a great nation. Personally, I welcome, every member of our own race who will come to Australia, and help us to establish a new Britain in the southern seas. I infinitely prefer the cry of "Australia for the Empire " to that of "Australia for the Australians." It is a very much grander and nobler cry. I have no desire to dwell upon this subject, but, as the question has been raised, it is just as well that there should be np misapprehension regarding the attitude of honorable members upon this side of the House, who have adversely criticised this absurdly narrow and selfish sentiment. The doctrine of "Australia for the Australians " is essentially a dangerous one in connexion with the administration of our military and naval Forces. Upon the efficiency of those services may depend the lives and property of many thousands of our people. It is of paramount importance that we should secure the best possible men for positions of responsibility in our Defence Forces. Reference has been made by the honorable member for Wentworth to the return of Captain Creswell from England at this particular juncture. Probably the Minister representing the Minister of Defence is in a position to tell the House the reasons for that officer's sudden return. Was he recalled by the Government, or did he come back of his own volition? It seems most peculiar that, after having received and accepted an invitation to attend the British naval manoeuvres, in June last - where he might have gained knowledge of the utmost value - he should suddenly have decided to hasten back to Australia. The invitation which was extended to him should have been regarded as a very great compliment to Australia, and it seems to me that in neglecting to avail himself of it, a slight, almost amounting to an insult, was offered to the British authorities. If he returned to the Commonwealth of his own volition, I think that the House is entitled to be furnished with the reasons for his action. If, on the contrary, he was recalled at the instance of the Government, we are equally entitled to know the motive which actuated them. I am not aware of anything of an urgent character to account for his sudden return. Perhaps the Minister can offer some satisfactory explanation of this peculiar circumstance. He may also be aware that in military and naval circles there are rumours current that there were reasons for Captain Creswell's sudden return, which, so far, have been kept in the back-ground. I am in possession of some private information upon the subject - information which I am not at liberty to disclose here. I do hope that the Minister will see his way clear to give the House some explanation of this matter. Captain Creswell is an absolute stranger to me, and, consequently, I am not making these observations from motives of a personal character, but merely from a desire to gain reliable information. Another matter to which I wish to direct attention has reference to the regrading of some of the post-offices' in New South Wales. I do not know how the scheme which is being carried out affects Victoria and the other States, but I do know that in some parts of New South Wales this regrading - involving as it does the transfer of postmasters from one district to another- may seriously dis- organize the work connected', with the forthcoming elections. In some cases these postmasters are returning officers and eelctoral registrars. The trouble is that new men taking up their duties - although they may be familiar with the routine work in other districts - are unacquainted with the officers with whom they will have to deal in the conduct of the elections. I refer to such officers as poll clerks. This is a very important matter.

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