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Thursday, 2 November 1911

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - If any proof of the necessity of this debate were needed, and if any further confirmation of the strength of the position put before the Senate by Senator Rae were needed, we have it in the exaggerated arguments and statements of the Minister of Defence.He commenced by saying, in effect, " Why should we compel a person to take up arms against a foreign foe?" and he immediately pointed out that we would compel some Frenchmen to take up arms against their country should this land be invaded by France. I say that the Commonwealth has no power to do such a thing. The son of a Frenchman within our walls can claim the protection of his nation, and he need not become naturalized.

Senator Pearce - I can show where a Frenchman born in Australia has been compelled to undergo military training. That is the Crown Solicitor's opinion.

Senator GARDINER - The fact that the honorable gentleman has to quote such extreme cases shows how much at sea he isupon this matter. What is the intention of the motion? It simply says that those whom we compel to undergo military train-; ing in order that we may be prepared to repel an invasion shall not be used for the purposes of participating in a domestic brawl. Now) if the whole of the government of this Commonwealth were under the charge of the Commonwealth Parliament, and if it rested with this Parliament to say whether the troops should be sent out or not, there might be something in the contention put forward by. Senator Pearce; but he must know that if a request for military assistance to put down domestic violence were made by the Premier of any State, although that violence might' have been brought about by the action of the Government of that State, the forces of the Common wealth would have to be . used for its suppression.

Senator Pearce - Not without the consent of the Commonwealth.

Senator GARDINER - I am not going to look forward to any such impossible thing as civil war. No one would be fool enough to take up arms without secret organization. We are free from the possibility of anything of that kind, but we are not free from the possibility of a State Government trying to precipitate a riot with a view to strengthening its position. I have seen that occur at Broken Hill, and so has the Minister of Defence. I have seen the police force of New South Wales try to create a riot in the interests of the party controlling New South Wales at that time. Just imagine the contingency that might arise if the Wade Government were returned to power in New South Wales. I hope to God that will never occur. There might be a dispute at Broken Hill over 3 matter in which the miners were absolutely in the right, and that Government, exercising the tyranny which it exercised in the past, might endeavour to disperse a public meeting by means of the armed police force of the State. The people, heated and excited, and objecting to the encroachment on their liberties, might resist. At the request of the Premier of New South Wales, the Minister of Defence would have to call upon the Defence Force to suppress the disturbance. Who would be the first members of the Defence Force who would have to be called out? They would be the sons of the miners whose liberties were being ridden over roughshod.

Senator Pearce - The Minister of Defence is not compelled to do it.

Senator GARDINER - The Minister may say that he is not compelled to do it, but section 119 of the Constitution Act provides -

The Commonwealth shallprotect every State against invasion, and on the application of the Executive Government of the State against domestic violence.

If theExecutive of New South Wales made application to the Federal Government - say to the present Government - for an armed force to suppress what they considered to be domestic violence, I say that the Federal Government could not refuse, without a breach of the Constitution, to send that force to restore order and uphold the law, as the persons governing the State for the time being would probably demand that they should do it. Let us imagine a case occurring in Coolgardie or Kalgoorlie. We will say that, instead of having, as is the case at present - a Labour Government, in Western Australia, the opponents of Labour were in power, and that 'some great industrial trouble arose there. Suppose that such trouble occurred as has happened in other parts of the world, when the down-trodden toilers have revolted. I was in Great Britain when the railway strike occurred there. If there was one thing more than another that made me feel warm, it was to see the signal-boxes and the railway stations occu- pied by armed soldiery with fixed bayonets, ready - for what?

Senator Pearce - Senator Rae does not object to that?

Senator Rae - But I do object to it.

Senator GARDINER - There were soldiers well supplied with ammunition, and with fixed bayonets, ready to use them against men who were simply seeking for a little increase of wages. They were doing no more than strike for a living wage.

Senator Sayers - They were using force against their fellow men.

Senator GARDINER - I know that, whenever a strike occurs, violence is liable to creep in. But it is never until the men are driven, either by force of circumstances, or by ill-treatment, to resort to violence, that that occurs.

Senator Sayers - Or by agitators.

Senator GARDINER - The man who believes that agitators can induce thousands and thousands of men to come out shows that he does not understand what he is talking about.

Senator Sayers - I was in Trafalgarsquare, and saw what occurred.

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator knows that what I say is true. There is no objection to the Government maintaining and preserving order. The objection is that, under the pretence of training young men for one purpose, the Government could use them for quite another. The objection is that whilst the laws of this country impose upon the young men the obligation of drilling, they may at present be called out and utilized for quite another purpose than that for which they are being trained. Suppose there were trouble at Broken Hill, and the Wade Government was in power. The riots that occurred at Broken Hill during the last strike were due solely to the bad management of the police force, in my opinion. Suppose that matters had gone a little further. Suppose that similar trouble occurred tomorrow, and that an application was made to the Federal Government to call out the Defence Forces. In that event, the sons of miners on strike would be called out to fight against their own fathers. We can not escape from that position.

Senator McGregor - Within a few years the miners themselves will be members of the Citizen . Forces. Does the honorable senator think that they will shoot down themselves?

Senator GARDINER - I am not trying to exaggerate the position. I am trying to put reasonable probabilities before the Senate. The Military Forces in any one State may be called upon to put down by armed force men who are asserting the rightful claims of organized unionism, or endeavouring to obtain a better wage. It might be said that, in the course of their efforts, they had created a state of domestic violence that entitled the State Government concerned to claim assistance from the Commonwealth. But I say that it is a most unreasonable thing, a most unfair, and unjust thing, to say that our young men should be compelled to join the Military Forces and be trained to defend the country against invasion, whilst at the same time the laws of the country give power toorder them to be called out by the Commonwealth to shoot down their fathers and their brothers. The people of Australia are the most democratic people in the world, and I maintain that this law can be altered. I venture to say that the Act of Parliament which enables such a condition , of things to be brought about would never have been passed had it been realized that it contained such a provision. There are very many who would never have voted for it had they understood what it involved. As far as Senator Rae' s proposal is concerned, it simply asks the Senate to consider the undesirableness of mixing up the training of our young men to defend the country against invasion with the utilization of armed force in any other way whatever. The resolution declares that these young men ought not to be used as a police force, or in any other manner, to suppress disorder, simply because a State Premier - possibly anxious, above all things, to create disorder - may declare that he needs Commonwealth assistance.

Senator Rae - Perhaps the Commonwealth Government in power might be only too ready to back up a State Premier under such circumstances.

Senator GARDINER - The situation would be still more unfortunate if there were a Commonwealth Government in power which refused to carry out the constitutional obligation. I would rather see the Commonwealth Government carry out the terms of the Constitution, irrespective of the consequences, than see them false to the position which they occupy by declining to do the clear duty that lay before them. It is because I 'want to clear the way of difficulties such as may occur in the future that I feel so strongly on this question. There has recently been a strike at Mount Lyell. Fortunately, there has been no breach of the peace there. With the present Tasmanian Government in office, had there been a breach of the peace, what would have occurred? The men are out on strike for a good cause. If ever a strike could be justified anywhere, this strike was. Conditions of tyrrany have prevailed at Mount Lyell, perhaps, unequalled in any other country. Time after time men have been discharged, simply because they dared to act in certain capacities for their union. That sort of thing has been going on for years. Those who do not know that it has been going on have been simply sitting inside, and not making themselves acquainted with what has been occurring. The grievance that led up to the strike has been the fact that man after man, who has become a leader of his union, has had to forfeit his position as a workman there.

Senator Ready - That has been going on for years.

Senator GARDINER - I am glad that Senator Ready confirms my statement. Yet, if domestic violence occurred there, what would be the position of the most demo-: cratic Government supported by the most democratic party in the world- the Labour party?

Senator Long - Here is a living example of the sort of thingthat has occurred at MountLyell.

Senator GARDINER - Senator Longhimself has suffered from the treatment, to which I refer. What would have been the position if domestic violence had occurred at Mount Lyell ? Suppose that the Tasmanian Government declared that a state of domestic violence had occurred, and that they required the assistance of Federal troops? The most convenient Federal troops would probably have' been the compulsorily-trained troops of the State. Consequently this most democraticGovernment, and its most democratic party, would have made themselves the laughingstock of the democratic world. The Government would have to carry out the obligations of the Constitution, which it is their duty to obey. They would have had' to send troops to shoot down men who had been fighting the battles of Labour for years.

Senator Long - Does not the honorablesenator think that industrial laws, based on equity and justice, will soon make strikesimpossible?

Senator GARDINER - There is noman who looks forward more hopefully thanI do to the accomplishment of legislation ' based on equity and justice.

Senator Millen - Will the honorable senator explain how the carrying of Sena-' tor Rae's motion would relieve any FederalGovernment from its constitutional obligation ?

Senator GARDINER - The motion is not intended to relieve them of their constitutional obligations. I do not wish to relieve them. But I do say that the young men, whom the law of the Commonwealth compels to become trained troops, ought not to be called out under any circumstances to fight against their fellowAustralians, who, in many instances will be fighting their own battles. It is not a question of the Federal Government shirking responsibility. I said before, and I say again, that I would not support a Government for five minutes if I thought that it would shirk its responsibilities for one moment. If the Constitution needs to be altered, alter it. If our Defence Act is wrong, let us, in times of peace and quiet, when there is no panic ; and no violence, alter it, and bring it down to the grounds of reason and common sense. But we have a Government in office which, with its supporters, represents, I venture to say, the most democratic party that exists in any country in the world, and yet we have listened to a Minister giving utterance to the most Tory sentiments ever expressed in a democratic assembly. The Minister's speech made it appear that he put constituted authority before every other consideration.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I think the speech was a splendid one.

Senator GARDINER - Here is an otherwise fair-minded and democratic man who thinks that the Minister's speech was a splendid one. When he reads it two or three years hence he wilt, perhaps, realize that the Minister has been so much influenced by the development of his defence sympathies that he has lost some of his Labour sympathies.

Senator Pearce - Does the honorable senator say that I have lost my Labour sympathies?

Senator GARDINER - I do not say that the Minister has done so yet, but I do say that a few years hence the speech of to-night will be pointed to as one which marks the point where the Minister got on to the wrong path - where he lost the track. When we hear a representative of the greatest Democracy in the world speak as the Minister of Defence spoke to-night ; when we hear him quibbling and twisting the arguments of his supporters, I do not know to what extent I am entitled to go in my references to him.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - He smashed up the arguments of the supporters of this motion.

Senator GARDINER - He never met them in a fair, manly and straightforward spirit. He did not answer Senator Rae's arguments, and he failed to meet the point that, under the pretence of training young men for the defence of this country, they are being drilled so that they may be used for a different purpose altogether, without being told that they may be required for such purpose. The Minister of Defence, and those who support him, cannot deny for a moment that the people who are entitled to say what is domestic violence within their State, according to the reading of the Constitution, are the Executive Government of that State. There is no getting away from that position. The decision is not left to this Parliament, but to the ExecutiveGovernment of the State which claims that there is domestic violence within its territory. Take the present elections in this peace-loving Victoria. I venture to say that if the party who are hanging on to office thought that they could create a condition in which they could lead the public for the time to believe that domestic violence was occurring, they would gladly do so - just as a drowning man is supposed to grasp at a straw - in order that they might remain in power a little longer. I dare say that the crowd, who would be excited if they were being unjustly dealt with, and would not submit to their tyranny, would be the lawbreakers. Under our democratic Constitution, a Federal Government is in the unfortunate position that, if a State Government says that domestic violence is occurring within its territory, it is compelled to send a Federal force to quell the violence.

Senator Pearce - You are absolutely incorrect now.

Senator Millen - Who is to compel them ? Will a State policeman come along to compel them?

Senator GARDINER - If there is one thing more than another which will compel any man holding a responsible position to do a thing, it is the fact that his duty lies clear and plain. And if a greater compelling force than that is necessary, I hope that we shall never have a Government which requires it. Section 119 of the Constitution reads -

The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion and, on the application of the Executive Government of a State, against domestic violence.

It is here laid down that the Commonwealth Government shall not extend this protection because in their judgment there is domestic violence, but shall do so on the application of the Executive Government of a State.

Senator Clemons - Who is to decide what is. domestic violence?

Senator GARDINER - According to this section, the decision rests with the Executive Government of the State concerned.

Senator Clemons - Certainly not. The Executive Government of the State may apply to the Commonwealth Government for protection, but the latter is not bound to comply with the application.

Senator Long - The application of the Executive Government of a State is the only evidence required by the section that domestic violence is occurring in the State.

Senator GARDINER - Exactly.

Senator Rae - Of course, it makes the lawyers laugh, but the facts remain the same.

Senator GARDINER - I believe that this is the very interpretation which, under other conditions, our honorable friends opposite would put on the section. I believe that it is not capable of any other interpretation, except, of course, a strained one.

Senator Clemons - If you say that, you put the Commonwealth Military Forces practically at the caprice of a State Government. You can imagine a State Government saying, " This is domestic violence," when it may be nothing of the sort. Is the Commonwealth going to listen to that?

Senator GARDINER - I believe that the Commonwealth Forces are really the reserve forces of the States for preserving order if the States so require their services.

Senator Millen - If a couple of tipsy men made a riot in George-street, Sydney, and the State Government made an application, do you think that the Federal Government would send troops over to Sydney to quell it?

Senator Rae - It does not follow because Senator Millen quotes an absurdity that, if there was a colorable case, they might not do so.

Senator GARDINER - Let us take even- the absurd proposition of Senator Millen. If the riot assumed such a magnitude that the Government of New South Wales thought it necessary to have the assistance of the Defence Forces, I venture to say that the Commonwealth Government would not be worth their salt if they did not give an order for the Defence Forces in Sydney to be called out immediately -for that purpose. We are right up against that proposition. We have instituted a system pf compulsory training, under which we compel every youth and young man to be drilled ; and I quite agree with that policy. But, side by side with the requirement for a young man to fit himself as an efficient defender of Australia, we have no right to say to him that he shall be put, if need be, in the position of shooting down his fellow-man for fighting for something which he considers just. I remember that, when the unfortunate strike was proceeding in Eng' land a few months ago, the officer in charge of a detachment ordered a soldier to fire at a man who was climbing over a fence. The soldier refused to obey the order, was brought before a Police Court; and punished. He was asked to do an outrageous thing. He was under military law, and I suppose he should have done the thing; but he did not, and he had to pay the penalty. A distinction must be made between a man who volunteers for paid service and a man who in his full manhood accepts a duty which may put him in an unenviable position. When the for-; mer is taking the oath of allegiance he knows that, the moment he becomes a member of the Defence Forces, certain possibilities may happen. He joins the service knowing full well what his responsibilities are. But that is altogether different from the position of the compulsorily-trained men. Some of them may enter upon their training reluctantly. They may regard it even as an infringement of their liberty, as it compels them to give up their Saturday afternoons - to give up the leisure - which, perhaps* they were putting to better use. While we compel men, against their will, to undergo this drilling we go a step further, and do a grave injustice to them by saying, " Not only shall we compel you to do this, but in a case of domestic violence occurring within a State we shall compel you to be at the bidding of a State Government, which may use your services to suit its own ends." I do hope that honorable senators will try to view this matter in the light of the experiment which we are trying. Take the section of the community which I represent here - the unionists. How often have we, as unionists, found ourselves up against the injustices of State Governments ? When we had everything to recommend our claim - when it was being fought out by lawabiding citizens, as peaceably and as reasonably as could be expected, how often has the stupidity of the governing forces put many of these law-loving and law-abiding citizens in a false position? As recently as at Broken Hill, in the shearers' strike, and in, the strike of 1890-

Senator Millen - Do not leave out the Lithgow strike. .

Senator GARDINER - I was away from Australia at the time, and so am not well acquainted with that business. My honorable friend should not smile, because the

Commission which has been holding an inquiry quite justifies the strikers. I know the result of the inquiry.

Senator Walker - The inquiry was as to the quality of the steel, and not about the strike.

Senator Rae - And the quality of the employer, too.

Senator GARDINER - Take the Labour movement in New South Wales. I venture to say that the Labour party in the State Parliament of 1891 was almost the direct result - the logical sequence - of the blundering action of the Government in sending a force to Newcastle, having gatling guns, to be trained, if need be, to shoot down working men who were only asking for better wages and better living conditions. I know that that was the case, and I have no doubt that Senator Millen and Senator Walker do, too.

Senator Walker - Mr. Bruce Smith has distinctly stated that he never said that.

Senator Rae - We are not talking about what Mr. Bruce Smith said, but about what was done.

Senator GARDINER - I do not intend to make any accusation against the Honorable Bruce Smith, but to say that but for the fact that Sir Henry Parkes was Premier and Colonial Secretary during the strike of 1890 the marines would have been landed in Sydney. Sir Henry Parkes told Mr. Bruce Smith and Mr. McMillan, at a Cabinet meeting held at his bedside, that he was in charge of the police force, and that the marines should not be landed from the war-ships without his order. As regards what Mr. Bruce Smith was reported to have said at the time, I have never uttered a charge against that gentleman on a platform, and never will do so. I have only repeated what I heard directly from a principal who was engaged in the business.

Senator Lynch - Sir Henry Parkes said at the time that he was the Premier.

Senator GARDINER - Sir Henry Parkes was Premier, and was confined to his bed with a broken leg. The desire of his colleagues was to use force to put down the strike, but, with his greater foresight, he saw that the trouble would expend itself if dealt with in a statesman-like way, and so Sydney was saved from bloodshed on that occasion. Do honorable senators think that we are past all these troubles? Do they think that we are any nearer to the millennium when there will be only good government and good laws ? I recognise that we are only at the beginning of our troubles, and because we are at that point, I desire to have the law of this country altered so that whenthe people who have to struggle the hardest for the little they get are engaged in an industrial struggle, a Government which is not sympathetic shall not be able to turn the arms of their children against them in their, fight for better conditions. That is the posi-tion now. The honorable senator who is at the head of the Defence Force can make the most of his Tory attitude in placing before the Senate the absurd inferences which he drew, but which he had no right' to draw, from the remarks of Senator Rae. He tried to twist them, and put the honorable senator and his supporters in the posi-. tion of persons who are trying to carry some wild or absurd proposal. We are trying to make more acceptable to the people, who disagree with it the system of compulsory training. Smoothly as the system has been working, let there be in one part of the' Commonwealth a great strike which stirs the hearts of the workers ; let there be one section of organized labour fighting for better, conditions, and one bullet fired by compulsorilytrained soldiers, and your compulsorytraining system will crumble to pieces like dust.

Senator Rae - Hear, hear ; I hope that it \vill_ whenever that happens.

Senator GARDINER - What hope will there be for a system which is now in its infancy being nursed and brought to" maturity if honorable senators turn the sympathies of the workers against it? I venture to say that even the speech of the Minister of Defence to-night is calculated to do that: It was a speech of the kind which we would expect to hear if an honorable senator on the other side were occupying his position. It contained not one sentiment of sympathy, not even a recognition of the fact that he is prepared to use the force he levies for one purpose for another purpose.

Senator Pearce - That is not fair.

Senator GARDINER - If, in my excited state, I have overstated the case, I apologize to the Minister, because I am always sorry for doing that. I know that occasionally I overstate a case, but always without intent. I was glad to hear the honorable senator make that interjection. I arn pleased to know that there is a glimmer of the old Democracy left in him.

Senator Findley - That is a bit unfair.

Senator GARDINER - Is even that unfair?

Senator Pearce - You have heard of the Pharisee, have you not?

Senator GARDINER - I think that I am looking at two.

Senator Pearce - Read the story again. Evidently,, there is one righteous man in the Senate.

Senator GARDINER - I dare say that there are thirty-six very righteous men here - if we take them at their own estimation.

Senator Givens - That is an important qualification.

Senator Pearce - You have your doubts about the other thirty-five, I think.

Senator GARDINER - I am not even going to claim that that is an. unfair interjection.

Senator Pearce - No?

Senator GARDINER - Because the man who* could peer into my mind, and say what I believe, and what I doubt, could only be a man with great, intellect like the honorable senator. It is only a man with a great mind who can say what another man is thinking about. I have spoken strongly upon this question, because I feel strongly upon it. I have no doubt that the Minister in his exalted position feels that he has a right to say what he likes in any manner he likes, and that after he has spoken no man shall open his mouth. I can even sympathize with a Minister who takes up that attitude^ If I am making a mistake as to my estimate of the Minister, I know that he is strong enough to live the estimate I have made of him down. Anything I have said about him on this occasion has been provoked by the effect his speech had on me. I heard it with, shame and regret. I have heard speeches of a similar kind from the other side of the chamber on similar occasions, and I can assure honorable senators that I could de.tect very little difference between the. Minister's speech and. the speeches which I have heard from the other side. There was the same false sentiment running through the whole of it - the sentiment that constituted authority should take precedence over human rights. I do not agree with, that, and I will not agree, with, it even when a Minister belonging to my own party- puts it before the Senate. I think that-human rights and human justice come first.. The Minister boasted about constituted, authority, and what it. is going to do-,, and that is the whole difference between us. He twisted the meaning of the resolution. It was he who tried to put impossible positions, and to twist the statements of Senator Rae into impossible meanings-. I did not try to do so. I am trying to follow the Minister in his twistings and turnings. The question is simple and plain*. Australia, through its Parliament, has- decided to compel the youth and young men. of this country to be trained for military service, in order to repel any foreign invasion, and we simply say now that while we do compel them to be trained to resist a foreign invasion, we are not going to compel them to do anything more than that. The object of training the youth of this country is to defend Australia from invasion, and if we want to train them for any other purpose, let us say so in an open manner.. I hope the motton will be carried, and that the Senate will carry it altogether free from the misrepresentations which have been made, as to its purpose. The object of the motion is to make it clear that the youths, and young men called upon to undergo military training for the purpose of repelling any foreign invasion, shall not he used for the purpose of participating in domestic violence within the States.

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