WWI in the Herald: Archive
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FRIDAY 16 APRIL 1915

The speech delivered by Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister, at the opening of the Federal Parliamentary sessions was especially interesting in many points, but necessarily the financial outlook is of chief interests.

The Government has been put to a very large expenditure in connection with the war, while on the other hand, its revenues have necessarily suffered from various causes.

All Australia realises the situation, and is fully in accord with the Government so far as their military policy is concerned.

The general desire, in point of fact, quite regardless of financial considerations, is that the assistance that has been given to the Imperial Government should be greatly increased.

The Federal Government fully shares this view.

The issues which depend upon the great war now being waged in Europe are too momentous to allow of any hesitation as regards expenditure.

But there are limitations to the powers of the Government.

The first hinges upon the financial issue, and the second and more important upon the question of the capacity of Australia to equip new troops.

As regards the monetary question, that of course, could be solved in various ways. Australia is bearing a fair share of taxation at the present day, and is also giving its money freely and voluntarily through various channels to assist the sufferers through the war, and to benefit the troops in the field.

Mr. Fisher was, however, able to inform Parliament that the Imperial Government, realising the difficulty of raising large sums of money at the present day, had agreed to advance a further sum of £10,000,000, of which £6,500,000 is to go towards the war expenses, and the balance of £3,500,000 to be devoted to Federal public works.

That has wholly relieved the financial situation for the present.

The Imperial Government has acted generously in merely asking that it should be recouped the interest which it has to pay on the money borrowed, and it is not going too far to say that its readiness to assist is partly the outcome of its recognition of the good services of Australia’s navy and the readiness with which it has sent military forces to aid the Imperial cause.

Mr. Fisher, while justly giving credit to the Commonwealth Bank for its work, expressed gratitude to the great Australian banking companies for the manner in which they are assisting the work of the Government.

The Australian bank note system is now proving its value, and so long as it is kept in bounds it will be of great assistance to the Commonwealth.

The liability which Australia will incur in consequence of the war cannot at present be estimated.

It necessarily depends upon a variety of circumstances, and chiefly upon the duration of the great campaign now convulsing Europe. It may be that the present liability will be very largely exceeded.

But the people of Australia can afford to look upon this outlay with calm satisfaction. In the first place, they can regard it as the price of securing the freedom of the world for many years at least of militarism which was attempting world despotism.

And in the next, it will give place to the birth of new commercial and industrial activities in all parts of the Empire, which will include Australia in the gainers.

The other gains to Australia will be the German possessions which she has captured in the South Pacific. In this connection, it may be noted that the Imperial Government has at last made a direct reference to the question of consultation with the Dominions in regard to the terms of peace.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Lewis Harcourt, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, stated that the Government intends to consult the Dominions fully and personally when the time to discuss peace arrives.

Nothing else was expected of the Government, whose relations with the Dominions have always been of the fairest and most straightforward kind, but the announcement is satisfactory in view of its refusal to hold a preliminary conference at an early date.

The relations between the British Government and the Dominions must be exciting a fine moral effect in the world, not excluding the enemy countries, which are now slowly awakening to a sense of the inevitable and crushing defeat, with its terrible subsequent burdens, which now awaits them.

Melbourne, Thursday.

Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, announced today that the hospital offered to and accepted by the War Office, would contain 1040 beds, while 34 medical officers, 146 nurses, and 250 non-commissioned officers and men would comprise the staff. The hospital would be equipped in Australia as far as possible.

Fifty members of the Australian Imperial Force returned by the Maloja which arrived at Melbourne on Monday. They have been sent back for disciplinary offences.

(From Embarkation Rolls)

Driver Hilton Bede Allen, Newcastle, 19th Infantry Battalion

Major Donald Cameron, Davies Creek, 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment

Private William John Clinton, Cooks Hill, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Private Eric Godfrey Eckford, West Maitland, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Private Alexander Thomas Laurie, Rawdon Vale, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Private James McIlwee, West Maitland, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Private Norman Peacock, Morpeth, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

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