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Thursday, 2 November 1911


Senator RAE (New South Wales) - - I regret that any heat has been imported into the consideration of this matter, but I say deliberately that Senator Pearce, whether intentionally or not, has certainly in the heat of his opposition to my proposal flagrantly misrepresented many of the arguments I used. For one thing, he said I was in favour of a paid standing army to suppress domestic violence, but that I objected to the compulsorily trained soldiers doing so. I said, and I think I said it clearly, that I was not attempting to bring about the whole millenium at once, and. that my object was merely to provide that those who are enrolled ostensibly for one purpose shall not be used for any other purpose, I pointed out, incidentally, that there were paid men in our Forces, and I said that they would still be available if required to lead any force that was. necessary to suppress domestic violence. I pointed out that in addition any of the compulsorily trained recruits who chose voluntarily to remain in the service, and to do what was asked of them, would still be at liberty to do so.. I said that if they voluntarily chose to undertake such work they would still be under the control of their officers, and of the authorities generally. I merely wished to protect those who had been avowedly trained for one purpose from being used for another purpose. I venture to say that the Minister of Defence and certain honorable senators, who may be prepared to vote at his bidding, misunderstand the effect of my motion.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I do not misunderstand it.


Senator RAE - I. am sure the honorable senator does.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I do not understand you -as a Labour man.


Senator RAE - I do not understand the honorable senator as a Labour man. Any one who says that I am in* favour of a standing army is making one misrepresentation. Any one who says that I am opposed to the compulsory training system being effective is making another misrepresentation. My words cannot fairly bear such an interpretation. I have all along believed in the possibility of this country being invaded by an outside force, and for that reason I am not only anxious, but willing that my sons shall be trained to do their part in .defending the country to which they belong, and to which they owe their existence. I go further than that. I was absolutely opposed to the provision in the Act which exempts members of Parliament from service. Whether old or young, whether twenty-one or fifty, if we are able to eat and walk about we are able to put up a fight.


Senator Walker - Would you exempt senators over seventy ?


Senator RAE - I would not care whether they were 170. I think it is a very mean thing to ask others to do what we, as members of Parliament, deliberately exempted ourselves from doing. The argument that Parliament will be necessary to manage affairs in the event of a war is answered by the fact that there would be plenty of people willing to take our places if we were shot down. In my opinion, a man who will not vote for this motion does not understand Democracy, and I believe that the Democrats of this country will not very long tolerate as its representatives those who deliberately vote against it.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - You are preaching minority rule.


Senator RAE - I do not expect the honorable senator to understand anything unless it is a matter which is in the interests of the .South Australian " cockies."


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - You are a dangerous man.


Senator RAE - I should be dangerous to the honorable senator if I were in his electorate. He certainly has not a glimmer of an idea what the motion means, or he would not make such senseless interjections. The motion is one which will ap peal to the Democracy of this country, which, like the Democracy of other countries,' is sometimes a good deal ahead of its " wishy-washy " representatives in Parliament. While I have the utmost respect for the Minister of Defence and the utmost confidence in his integrity, I believe^ as Senator Gardiner indicated, that his mixing up with the military' people has already., to some extent, impaired his outlook. The more he mixes up with them, the more weak he will get in his advocacy of those democratic principles which distinguished him as a member of the rank and file of the workers. That may be an argument as to why there should be pretty rapid changes of Ministers, if not of Ministries. The Minister spoke about the Civil War in America. It is strange that he should have reiterated arguments that I had replied to in advance. He cited the case of the American Civil War to show that, remote as any possibility may seem, it is beyond the power of man to say what may happen. That is true enough, but he went further, and said that we should be prepared to meet remote possibilities. In another place he said that anything in the nature of armed violence hi the Commonwealth was inconceivable, and then he conceived it. Let me ask. what bearing the American Civil War has on the question, of compulsory "military service? Was there compulsory military service in that country during the war, before the war, or after the war. \


Senator Pearce - There was, in the South,' during the war.


Senator RAE - The honorable senator says that there was compulsory military ser- vice in the unsuccessful portion of the country, and that tells against his argument. The United States had no com,:pulsory training of the youth of their country in times of peace in the way we are attempting it.


Senator Vardon - Perhaps there would not have been such a. bloody war if there had been.


Senator RAE - The suppression of die rebellious States, which, according to Senator Pearce, had compulsory service, was effected by voluntarily enrolled soldiers, who rallied to the defence of the Federal Union to suppress the rebellion.


Senator Millen - If the Union Government had had in existence a compulsorily enrolled force, do you say they would not have been entitled to use it to maintain the Union ?


Senator RAE - My argument is that, whether the violence were on a very big scale or a medium one.


Senator Long - Domestic, violence and open rebellion are quite different things.


Senator RAE - The term "domestic violence is very wide.


Senator Millen - In your motion, the words under any circumstances " are used.


Senator RAE - I use those words because it is impossible to define and limit circumstances. Senator Millen used the extreme illustration of a couple of drunken men rioting in a street in Sydney. Even that would be domestic violence, but I never did anticipate that any State Government in its wildest moments would ask for assistance under such conditions as those. I say that in the event of a State rebelling against the Commonwealth, without compelling the trained recruits in that State to take up arms against their fellow citizens, in all probability there would be an overwhelming rush to the assistance of the Federal Union as against the revolting Stale of recruits perfectly willing to continue their service. The Civil War in America shows that even were an exemption allowed to persons who did not wish to take up arms against their fellow citizens, there would be sufficient soldiers who would Volunteer to stamp out any rebellion. The fact that no Government with anything like a decent case would be at a loss for volunteers is a reasonable ground for requesting that no man should be compelled to take up arms in such a case if he has conscientious reasons for objecting to do so. Again, the Minister of Defence misrepresented my remarks. He said that either you must, in time of peace, constitute another force to suppress possible internal troubles, apart altogether from the force to repel invasions, or you must wait until a crisis occurs, and then hastily call for volunteers. He knows that is not the position at all . If it was desired to suppress any violence, all that would be necessary would be to get those men who were trained - and they all will be trained in a few years - to remain in the service. Those who volunteered to do so would still be at the service of the Government. What I say is that those who do not like to do so, should not be compelled to serve. When the people generally understand the object of this motion, I feel confident that what it embodies will be made the law of theland, and that in the near future.







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