Where the Jingoes Would Lead Us
Maoriland Worker, Volume 5, Issue 159, 18 February 1914, Page 5
Where the Jingoes Would Lead Us
Senator Arthur Rao (a New Zealander by birth, and ono of'the more militant Labour Party members) writ?? in Sydney "Worker":—
"Here in Australia we have the means to clip the wings of militarism if we only have tho seiise to use our industrial and political powers. The need is too urgent to admit of any tinnecessary delay. Tho recent happenings in South Africa only emphasise the well-known fact that armies are in modem times far more useful to keep the working classes in subjection, to Capitalism than for defence against outside enemies.
"Now the Australian. Defence Act compels flvery male citizen to qualify himself for the defence of his country, first as a cadet and then, as » member of the Citizen Defence Force. This compulsory system of military training and service, with its enormous cost, would never have been sanctioned fey the people of this Commonwealth except for the rery real fear that the coloured races in. the over-crowded countries of Asia were a menace- to our safety and! even to our very existence. There vefy, «nd still are, sonic who ridicule the danger as an imaginary 'one, but the vast majority of the people thought it best to take no unnecessary risks in a matter of such vita] concern. I am one, who hating militarism, yet shared that, view, and have therefore loyally supported compulsory training. "But I bold that our forces should be for defence against possible attack or invasion by a foreign foe, and for no other purpose whatever. To compel boys to/enrol as young soldiers to defend Australia, and! then to call upon them to shoot down, or intimidate by armed force their fellow countrymen engaged in industrial disputes is a wicked and scandalous breach of faith, both as regards tho citizen soldiers themselves and tho people generally who pay for their training. "Every session einco the Fisher Government took office I have endeavoured to carry a motion for the amendment of the Defenco Act to prevent this pogsible. and not improbable misuse of our citizen soldiery.
"I regret to say that I have been opposed and thwarted in. my efforts largely by Labour members, in spite of ilio Interstate Labour Conference at Hobart in 1911 endorsing the principle. Space doe 3 not admit of fully discussing the subject, but one argument requires brief consideration. Those opposed to the proposed amendment say that if no citizen, soldier could be compelled to bear arms against his fellow citizens, that would not prevent those who chose from volunteering to do so when called upon by the Government of the day, and that it is just as bad to bo shot by a volunteer as by ojiyone else. This is a short-sighted contention. In the first place, the cadet or citizen soldier,' if called upon, could decline to do such dirty work without incurring any penalty for his refusal. As the Act now stands, any member of the citizen forces so refusing could be branded as a traitor, tried by courtmartial and fined, imprisoned andi possibly even shot. "The preamble of the Defence Act should be also amended to make it clear that compulsory training is for the one and only purpose of defence against foreign aggression. ' "The demand by Digby Donham, Premier of Queensland, for Federal troops to suppress the Brisbane strike shows that we have plenty of plutocrats in Australia as bad as those of South Africa, and many of their political tools are still in power.
"It is not enough to merely put the Fisher Government back into office, much as that is to be desired. 'Put not your trust in Governments,' should' be pasted iv every democrat's hat. Let the organised workers in every State demand an amended Defence Act on civilised and enlightened principles, and insist on getting it."