OUR SYDNEY LETTER
Mr D. R. Hall, the State AttorneyGeneral, has a heading in the* morning papers pretty much to himself these times, livery day ho endeavors to put the wheat seis.ure. with which his name is identified, in a more favorable light than that in which the general public 'are disposed to view it. These utterances establish his reputation for adroitness. Whether they will get him out of the mess remains to be seer. At?: a counterpoise to the wrath of the thousands of fanners who .are thirsting for his political blood, because of the unceremonious manner in which he has treated them, he has been able ,to adduce two letters sent by farmers who approve of his action. He is elated accordingly. As a counterpoise to his exultation, however, some of the wicked bakers are giving him trouble. One man in the country is charging a full halfpenny a loaf more than the proclaimed price, and the Minister is out on the warpath after him accordingly. Matters of this kind serve to enliven the sdly They may keep tho police, moreover, from enjoying any demoralising excess of leisure. But they afford about the queerest exhibit of democratic government in tho twentieth 'century that could v.ell be imagined. THE LIBERALS DID IT. To listen to the ordinary Ministerial orator on any ordinary political topic, one would suppose that his predecessors in office were about “ the last word” in everything that a Government ought not to he. Yet ho considers his own most questionable acts to be not on.lv condoned, but jut titled. if he can only find some approach to them in the doings of the party opposite. The Caucus and the “ironclad pledge” lire considered to be vindicated because the Liberals occasionally hold meetings which are not open to the Press, and so on in other cases. Mr Halt considers he has found a precedent and a triumphant vindication for his wheat seizure in Mr Wade’s action at the time of the cord strike, when the Railway Department " commandeered ” certain trucks of cord, which tho strikers had intended to sell at an exorbitant price in order to obtain funds to prolong the “hold-up.'’ If Mr Wade had taken all the coal in the State, instead of only a few truckloads ; if, moreover, tho miners had been quietly going about their own business (as the farmers were), instead of aiming a deadly blow at the whole community, there would be some approach to a parallel between the two occurrences. There, is no such parallel. The absence of relevance, however, does not trouble a Minister in straits. But the very fact that he thinks that his action requires palliation of such a character is regarded a-s in itself a damning admission. AX IRREPARABLE LOSS.
The Emden, it appears, is responsible for more enormities than those which were at first reported of her, Mr G. C. Keade, the organiser of the Australasian. Town Planning tour, points out that on board the Clan Grant, which was sunk by the Emden in the Pacific Ocean, was a very remarkable collection of plans and exhibits which had been gathered by Professor Geddes. and styled by him the “Civic Exhibition.” Aecordiiig to Mr Kendo, the collection was of priceless value, the result of the life work of a man who had hoped to abolish tire possibility of degradation by slum environment. It is described as a priceless epic of civilisation. The Emden has paid the penalty of her misdoings. But that cannot undo the injury she has wrought. Fortunately there are other scientists and philanthropists to take up the work if the. Professor should he unable to complete it. THE CENSORSHIP. The much-criticised censorship has been •' talking hack,” It is bound, says Colonel Legge, the chief of the General Staff, to prevent information from reaching the public which might give information to me enemy which he could use to our detriment. Unless the text has actually been passed by a censor.” he points out, ■' it is a direct broach of the law if any newspaper or other publication contains the position of any portion of His Majesty's or of the allied forces, naval or military, or gives dates on which, certain combinations occurred. ... It is no excuse to say that an incident happened some time ago.” He goes on to say that
“ only lately tha censors experienced tko greatest difficulty in preventing publication of the sailings of the transports which conveyed Australian Imperial forces. Had any damage occurred to our troops, it would' have been directly due to the unpatriotic disclosures of some of the daily papers.” The Censor has plainly lost his accuracy. The troops might have suffered ‘'damage” through storms, collision, or shipwreck, which could hardly have been laid at the door of the wicked newspapers. Of course, wo all want to fail in loyally with any curtailment of our ordinary freedom that is really necessary. But the ethics of newepaperdom and those of the military arm differ so widely as to be virtually irreconcilable.. Hotspur was a great soldier, and his famous maxim was : “ Tell the truth and shame the devil.” But times change, and manners change with them. THE COCKATOO UXIQXS.
Public opinion is very outspoken respecting- the action of tho unionists employed at the Government dockyards at Cockatoo Island, in refusing duty in the Christmas holidays unless they got treble pay. 1 1 the leading- men in tho movement are wise they will very unequivocally dissociate themselves from all sympathy or complicity with so unlovely a spectacle. Tho cause of Labor largely owes the progress it has made and the political success id lias achieved to a general impression that it was *‘onfc” for the public good, and not merely for the selfisn -benefit of its members. Of late, it has been becoming more and more difficult to give credence.to_the pretension, and if the cause of unionism is to be rehabilitated in the estimation of the people, very different lines will have to bo followed. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
It is quite in keeping with the unworthy estimate which, in Australia, is put on .the value of individual freedom, that letters should be appearing in the Press virtually accusing the Divine Being of being responsible for the horrors of the war. If man is merely a puppet or automaton, then, of course, the puller of the strings is responsible for any enormities he may perpetrate. But if man is a free agent, and if it is an integral part of the Divine design that ho should bo free, then he, and no ono else, is responsible for his own doings. How, on any theory, consistent with human tree-determination, could the Germans, instigated by the militarists, be restrained from contemptuously rejecting the restraints of Christianity as obstacles to the exercise of their ‘'will to power ” —in other words, as restraints to the fulfilment of their dream of world dominion, and the supersession of Christianity by German “kulture”? These, and many other similar questions, are being very pertinently asked. To dec : de on a supremely wicked course in defiance of the injunctions of the Deity, and then to seek to make the Deity responsible for the wickedness, seems to constitute the very “ nadir ” of turpitude. THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. Mr Flowers, M.L.C., is commonly called the Minister of Health. Although ho is not entered in ‘ Hansard ’ as serving in that capacity, he has made strenuous efforts to carry the duties of the position. The welfare of the babies is an object of his special regard. Baby “ clinics,” provision for bush nursing, and a hospital for babies at Rose Bay are all laudable and praiseworthy departures, though as yet they barely touch the fringe of the work to be done. Mr Flowers the other day gave an interesting resume of the '■‘health” work which he has initiated and accomplished during his term of office. GOING TO THE FRONT.
The morning dailies are setting forth in strong language the duty of Australia to send more men to the front. It is represented with great truth and force that Britain is fighting, not only for her own national existence, but for ours also, and that only by putting an immense force in the field can she hope for a speedy victory. Many other writers and not a few sweaters are taking a similar
lino. But if tho desired result is to be fully attained the fire of patriotism will have to be fanned by men who really intend to go to the front themselves. Appeals from men who mean to stay at home and make themselves comfortable remind one too strongly of Mark Twain’s famous “patriot,” \vho was prepared to sacrifice all his wife’s able-bodied relations on the altar of his country! This is pre-eminently a case in which example is more potent than precept. No doubt the speakers and writers referred to honestly and truthfully believe that they can serve their country better where they are than by volunteering. But the, trouble is that so many others think precisely the same way. Probably Colonel Ryrie and a few other good speakers of like kidney could have done excellent service if they had been told off for a lecturing tour before actually starting for the scene of warlike operations. CHESS. Queensland chess players met those of this State in a friendly match (by telegraph) on Boxing Day. Three games, in which some of the best players on each sido were concerned, were left unfinished. But the fortune of the day as regards all the rest lay with the senior State. Spencer Crakanthorp beat Canon Rawlinson, Bradshaw beat Ludski, H. V. Crane boat Dr Culvin, and Kinman (an emergency) beat Cory On the other sido Palmer beat Jcatcr (emergency), and St. John beat Durand (emergency). D. M'Arthur .7. hj. Jacobsen, and W. Crane on our side matched respectively against Dr Paul, A. J. Ansaldo, and G. Peberdy for the northern State were unable to finish their games, and they will be adjudicated upon in duo course. Unfortunately play was delayed for a couple of hours by a telegraphic breakdown, otherwise tho unfinished games might not have been so numerous. Queensland had desired to play a larger number of men on each side than usual, but this the home team had declined, and, as a matter of fact, the latter, in spite of the largo number of players who might have been drawn from, had much difficulty at the last moment in manning their 10 boards. December 29.
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OUR SYDNEY LETTER, Evening Star, Issue 15693, 6 January 1915