1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. TUDOR presented a petition from certain dressmakers carrying on business in Melbourne, praying that the McDowell garment drafting machine may be admitted free of duty.
Sir JOHN FORREST presented four petitions from certain persons in London interested in mining in Western Australia, praying that the duty on mining machinery may be reduced.
– I move -
That the petitions just presented he printed, and that copies of them bo forwarded to the Senate for its information.
– Under the standing orders a member cannot move that a petition be printed unless he intends to take action upon it.
– I do not propose to take any further action.
– In that case the right honorable gentleman cannot move for the printing of the petition.
– May I move that the petition ‘be read ?
– Not at this stage.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Postmaster-General in this House why the system has been discontinued, since the Federal Government took over the telegraph services, of allowing bushmen who are within reach of the Port Darwin line, and who telegraph for medicaladvice, to obtain medicines - for which they are prepared to pay - from the telegraph stations ? I may explain that until the beginning of last year the custom had prevailed from the opening of the Port Darwin line, and the result of its discontinuance is that if a bushman is ill, and requires urgent treatment, he cannot get medicine except by sending from 800 to 1,000 miles to the nearest chemist A wellknown Adelaide doctor writes -
I om sure the bushmen who telegraph to me alone must brine in a good revenue to the telegraph office, and if they cannot get their medicines they will soon coase to bother.
Headds that just lately he had to set a thigh at Alice Springs by telegraph, and order medicines which under the new regulations could not be obtained.
– I am inquiring into the matter, and as soon as I obtain information that is sufficiently definite I shall communicate with the honorable member.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government, in the exercise of the right to open letters conferred upon them by sections 57 and 58 of the Post and Telegraph Aot, to prevent private correspondence, of however sacred a character, reaching the persons named in their proclamations 1 I hold in my handa letter addressed to Mr. George Adams. It is marked “ Private,” and its contents are to the effect that the writer thanks Mr. Adams for a small present sent to him.
– As the right honorable member’s question comes upon rae rather suddenly, I must exercise my right to ask. for notice.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral if he is aware that New SouthWales contractors who tendered to supply the Postal department before the Tarift came into operation, and who are entitled to increase their prices by reason of the imposition of duties on the articles which they supply, are being refused the increases they ask for upon the plea that the Tariff is not yet properly in force ? I understand that the payment of large amounts of money is in suspense on this ground, although the duties are being collected by the Government, and the contractors have to pay higher prices for the articles they are required to purchase.
– As the honorable member’s question demands an inquiry, I must ask him to give notice of it.
Mr. BARTON laid upon the table
Despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies with regard to the representation of the Commonwealth at the Coronation celebrations by a body of troops.
Ordered to be printed.
Mr.WATSON. - I wish to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs if he is aware that a number of the officers in the Customs-house in Sydney have for a long time past been compelled to work continuously beyond their ordinary hours, from half-past 4 until 10 p.m. - often upon matters not connocted with their branch of the department. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that they have been refused payment for overtime 1 If so, will he consider the advisability of appointing more officers in order to relieve the pressure ?
– The instructions that I have given are that where any considerable amount of overtime has to be worked, and any officer feels it hard upon him, he is to be allowed extra leave, running up to, I think, six weeks, and that the department is to insist upon any officer who says that he feels the strain, taking his leave at once. Authority has also been given for the employment of help for a short time, so that the work may be got up to date by the end of May.
– Do the officers get tea money ?
– Yes ; but I think that it is better to give extra leave for overtime than to encourge the system of paying officers for working extra hours, and thus offer to them an inducement to do so.
– A few days ago, I brought under the notice of the Government the fact that many contractors are still unpaid, and that there has been trouble on this score with the Sydney Water and Sewerage Board. I find now that an account for printing amounting to £400, incurred in connexion with the Governor-General’s department, has been owing since last year. It is not right that these amounts should remain unpaid. I hope that the Government will take some steps to see that they are paid.
– The Government are doing so.
– I understand that hitherto it has been the custom to allow the officials in the New South Wales Post and Telegraph department to accumulate their leave of absence, so that they can take two months every second year, because their salaries are not sufficiently high to allow those in the country districts to take advantage of the usual one month’s leave each year to visit their friends in Sydney. Will the Minister take steps to see that those officials are not deprived of privileges which they have hitherto enjoyed?
– I will have greatpleasure in making inquiries on the subject.
– A few days ago, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I asked a question in regard to the allowances which in New South W ales have hitherto been paid to postmasters in the country districts for performing service for departments other than the Postal department. I understand it is intended that in the future these allowances shall be paid direct to the Postmaster-General. If that is done, it will mean a great loss of salary to many of the postmasters in the State. I should like to know exactly what has been done in the matter. Will the Prime Minister let me have the papers to-morrow, as I propose to take action to remedy this injustice ?
– The honorable member had better wait for the facts of the case, which I shall obtain as soon as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Attorney-G eneral, upon notice -
Whether, with a view to enabling all the questions under the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act or the Acts of the Parliament of the Commonwealth to be heard : and decided as they arise, and suitors, desirous of doing so, to exercise the right of appeal to the King in Council, he will, in the event of the Judiciary Bill being discharged on-ejected, introduce during, this session a short Bill investing (under section 71 of the Constitution) the Supreme Courts of the States with federal jurisdiction ?
– I sympathize with the honorable member’s motive, but I am, unfortunately, quite unable to approve of the means which he proposes of attaining the object indicated.
In Committee :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be macle for the purposes of a Bill relating to the celebration of His Majesty’s Coronation.
– Are we going into Committee of Ways and Means ?
– My right honorable friend asks whether we are going into Committee of Ways and Means, but I think, Mr. Chairman, you will consider that we have taken the regular course in resolving the House into committee and moving this resolution. After the resolution is agreed to it will be reported to the House, and we shall proceed with the business in the ordinary way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and agreed to. suspension of standing orders.
– I move-
That the standing orders be suspended so as to allow the report to be adopted and the Bill to be passed through all its stages this day.
The reason for urgency is that the despatch which I have laid on the table asks us to deal with this matter at the earliest possible moment. I have not allowed it, so far, to unduly interfere with the course of public business, but if Parliament in its wisdom thinks fit to sanction the despatch of troops to England, it will be necessary for the detachment to leave some time before the end of this month.
– What is the date of the despatch ?
– The 18th March, and it was received by me on the 19th. As I have said, I have not been able to deal with this matter before, owing to the pressure of other important matters of public business. I think, however, that honorable members will scarcely say that in the case of a measure embodying the few items which this contains - the schedule being really the Bill - and which has already been circulated, there need be any delay of the usual character so long as they have the full opportunity, which we hope they will take, of discussing the items themselves. It is simply a matter of the items and the policy of the items.
– Why should the standing orders be suspended for this purpose 1
– Because I wish to let the Senate have the Bill if possible tomorrow, in order that the matters which are included in the schedule may be put in hand at the earliest possible moment. I” think I can say, as regards the troops which it is proposed to despatch, that it will be necessary to allow a sufficient interval to elapse for them to be prepared, and that by the time that is done it will be necessary for them to start from here for the representation of the Commonwealth at the Coronation. That event takes place on the 26th June, and it is advisable that the troops should arrive in London by the 19th June. Honorable members will probably recollect that transports conveying troops do not travel at the same rate as mail steamers, and apart from that consideration, the troops must arrive in England in sufficient time to enable them to receive their horses and become accustomed to them.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I cannot too strongly deprecate this fashion of rushing through this House, contrary to the usual parliamentary forms, appropriations of public money. I make this remark absolutely without reference to the particular object of this particular motion. I am speaking of the general principles which have been embodied in our parliamentary laws for very wise reasons, and which have been so beneficial in their operation that during the long period that has elapsed since their establishment, no one has ever dreamt of altering them. The Prime Minister said that he had a despatch dated 18th March - probably received on the 19th March - from the Home Government, with reference to these troops. Surely the Cabinet could have made up their minds within a fortnight after the receipt of that despatch, whether they would send troops or not. That would have allowed ample time for the passage of the Bill, with due observance of the proper parliamentary forms. The question is : Are these parliamentary forms to exist against private members, and to exist only at the caprice of the Government, so far as Ministers are concerned? We are absolutely bound by the parliamentary rules, and no member or combination of members can break them, except under the very special motion which is provided for in, the standing orders ; but in this case the Ministry, without the slightest adequate excuse, ask us to set aside all these rules. If the Ministry think these rules are unwise they should take action to have them altered and abandon the safeguards now provided for deliberation and for intervals elapsing before appropriations of public moneys are made. There is no excuse for dealing with the parliamentary rules in this way. I do not like, especially in connexion with a subject like that dealt with in the motion, to offer political criticisms of any kind, but it is from these precedents that we shall fall into what seems to me an objectionable practice. We should either alter our laws and allow this procedure to be adopted as a matter of course, or the parliamentary laws should be observed except in cases of emergency. The Ministry have had full time to treat these laws and this House with respect - there is no pretence to the contrary - and I deprecate the idea that this sort of thing is to become a matter of form.
– I wish to enter my protest against the method adopted by the Government in dealing with this question. The standing orders are devised for the purpose of safeguarding the interests of honorable members and the public, and of preventing legislation being passed without due consideration. The course now proposed by the Government should not be adopted without the strongest reasons. The Premier received a despatch bearing upon this matter some considerable time ago, and yet it has only been laid upon the table within the last few minutes, and honorable members have not had an opportunity of considering it. I have always set my face against suspensions of the standing orders, because I recognise that therein are contained safeguards that we cannot afford to lightly set aside. Unless the Government can show very good reasons why the course they propose should be adopted, I am prepared to vote against them.
– I indorse all that the honorable member for Canobolas has said. No reason has been put forward by the Prime Minister for the suspension of the standing orders. The policy of the Government is in thorough accord with their present proposal. All their measures have been brought down at the last moment. The Judiciary Bill was introduced at the last moment, and the introduction of the Tariff was delayed as long as possible. They introduce all their measures at the last instead of at the first stage, and then throw upon the House the odium or responsibility of any delay. There is no reason why this matter should not be discussed in the ordinary way. According to the statement of the Prime Minister, the troops need not leave here until the end of the month, and unless some better reason is advanced for the suspension of the standing orders I shall vote against the proposal.
– I must also enter my protest against the suspension of the standing orders. At the outset of our career as a Federal Parliament we should avoid adopting loose practices, and endeavour to set the best of examples. In the State Parliaments the suspension of the standing orders is always looked upon as a very dangerous practice, and one which should be resorted to only in very extreme circumstances. The Government now ask us to proceed with a proposal, regarding which they have kept us practically in the dark. We have heard for the first time to-day of a despatch received on the 19th March, and the Ministry have not treated us with that respect for which we have a right to look. Under the circumstances, the Government might have decided upon their policy before this, and we should have had the despatch laid before us some time ago. Like other members who have preceded me, I intend to vote against the suspension of the standing orders.
– In my judgment the Government are greatly to be blamed for their action in connexion with this matter. There was no earthly reason why the despatch which was tabled to-day should not have been tabled weeks ago ; and when the leader of the Opposition objects to this infraction of our standing orders and parliamentary procedure he does what is perfectly right. His view of the practice which should be adopted in the future will, I hope, be indorsed by honorable members generally, even if on the present occasion we allow the standing orders to be suspended in order that the particular business which has been introduced may be transacted. We cannot too carefully safeguard our forms of procedure from sudden onslaughts by Ministers or anybody else. I trust that whilst honorable members upon this side of the Chamber will not take any special action to defeat Ministers, in the present instance, by pressing the matter to a division, it will be regarded as finally settled that they will not tolerate a repetition of the Government action, and that our indulgent consideration of the Ministerial proposal must not be interpreted as a precedent.
– I quite agree with my right honorable friend, and those who have preceded me, that it is possible to abuse this form of procedure, although the standing orders, by requiring the submission of a special motion, sufficiently safeguard the business of the House, should the House find fit occasion to intervene. So far members appear to have fixed their attention solely upon the despatch which reached us on the 19th’ of last month. But I would point out that it was.the first intimation we had of any desire on the part of the Imperial Government that some such representation as is now proposed was desired on the part of the Commonwealth.
– It was known last year.
– As far as the Government are concerned no official information had reached them, and no private information had reached me individually. Upon the receipt of that information it became necessary to institute inquiries, which have been more searching than may at first sight appear. Por example, there was the question of cost to be considered. There are various modes in which the Commonwealth could be represented, and a choice had to be made, but I do not wish to deal with that aspect at the present stage. I merely say that the receipt of the communication in question marked the beginning of a series of inquiries which have been concluded only within the last day or two. The simple reason why this proposal has not previously appeared upon the business-paper is that the Government have daily cherished the expectation that the debate upon the Tariff would be concluded, so far as the schedule was concerned, before we required to submit this Bill. It is only within the past few days that we have received an intimation - as a result of the inquiries made in regard to shipping accommodation - which has shown s the urgency of this particular measure. Until then we were under the impression that we had the whole of next week within which this Bill could be passed in ample time. We were loth to intervene during the discussion of the Tariff with a foreign proposal of this sort, except under the spur of absolute necessity. This has been forced upon us by the shipping arrangements. We were not informed of the nature of these arrangements till three days ago. When the despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies reached the Government it seemed to them proper that not only the proposal with regard to the despatch of troops, but the question of the desirability of making any other kind of demonstration which might be regarded as necessary, should be considered. We had to obtain information, which is in the possession of the Prime Minister, concerning other matters. If honorable members have regard to the necessity for making inquiries respecting the cost of the despatch of troops, to the shipping arrangements, to the urgency which exists for concluding the Tariff debate, and to the apparent prospect of disposing of that schedule before the introduction of this measure, they will easily understand why the Government have been unable to submit it earlier, and now find it of much greater urgency than any member of the Ministry had supposed.
– All the arrangements of which the AttorneyGeneral has spoken could have been effected in a quiet, peaceful, regular way if this matter had Veen put in hand earlier. The action of the Government looks like an attempt to rush their proposal through the committee. They have been in possession of the despatch, which to-day has been laid upon the table, for three weeks. They have treated it as of no consequence, and they only now wake up to find that this Bill is a matter of urgent and pressing necessity which must be put through at once. In addition to that, the despatch is only placed upon the table, mysteriously enough, upon the very day upon which they wish to rush this Bill through the House without the usual consideration being given to it. I ask the Government whether they desire honorable members to believe that the stage which they have now reached could not have been reached in a better or more orderly way if this matter had been put in hand only a week ago ? Time will be lost by attempting to force the measure through in this manner. I am glad that honorable members are waking up to the fact that we have such things as standing orders. I have repeatedly protested against the flippant use which has from time to time been made of those standing orders. In all my parliamentary experience I have never seen standing orders treated so lightly as they have been treated by this Parliament. Whatever else the first Federal Parliament may establish a record for, it has certainly established one for suspending the standing orders. All this is quite unnecessary. It is all very well for the right honorable member for Tasmania to express the hope that this suspension will not be interpreted as a precedent, but I would point out that precedents have already been made, and are being religiously followed by the Government. Having regard to the object of the Government, I do not feel justified in voting against the motion, but I am none the less bound to protest against the flippant use which is made of our standing orders which ought to be regarded in a more serious light.
– Upon several occasions I have taken objection to Ministers proceeding with the second reading of Bills before they had been circulated for some days. We are now asked to go further, and to suspend the standing orders to enable a Bill to pass through all its stages to day.
– The honorable and learned member had the schedule last night.
– But the schedule is not the Bill. I am merely objecting to the constant practice of the Government in neglecting to circulate Bills until their second reading is about to be moved. In one instance they allowed about five months to elapse between the first reading of a Bill and the date upon which copies of it were circulated amongst honorable members. It really appeared as if they were ashamed to put before the country their own legislative offspring. In asking the House to agree to this motion, not a single word has been urged in its favour. That is a bad practice. All that the Constitution requires is that a message from the Governor - General should at some stage of our proceedings be brought down. But the practice adopted by the Government - under protest upon several occasions - has been to go into committee immediately the message is received, and without a single word in favour of the resolution to adopt it and report it to the House. That is a bad practice. We have thus already affirmed the desirability of being represented at home, and yet we are now asked to consider the expediency of allowing the Prime Minister and the troops to attend the Coronation ceremonies. That is a stupid practice, and the sooner it is altered the better.
– Upon previous occasions I have raised very strong objection to the suspension of the standing orders. While in the present instance I cannot help blaming the Government for laxity in regard to the procedure which has been adopted, I must confess that I am in full sympathy with the schedule which has been presented to honorable members. Therefore, I do not like to give a vote which will have the effect of preventing its consideration this afternoon, much as I object to the. practice of suspending the standing orders. If there be no other way of overcoming the difficulty, of course I shall be obliged to support the Government.
Question put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 48
Majority …. … 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Ordered (on motion by Mr. Barton) -
That the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented and read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill which I now ask the House to pass contains very little beyond the schedule which has already been circulated amongst honorable members, and it is for the purpose of paying the expenses attendant on the celebrations of His Majesty’s Coronation. There is the usual preamble which we find in every Bill, and there is this clause -
There shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated for the purpose, the several sums of money specified in the schedule to this Act for the purpose of defraying the expenses attendant upon the celebration ot His Majesty’s Coronation.
That is the whole Bill, and I think honorable members will see that I was pretty accurate when I stated that the measure was really contained in the schedule, which is as follows : -
It was my desire at first that the AttorneyGeneral should take the conduct of this Bill, for the reason that there is in it an item referring to myself. Having regard, however, to the importance of the subject, it seemed to me, on further consideration, that whatever might be decided by the House, the head of the Government should take charge of this measure. When the item to which I have referred is reached I shall not embarrass the committee by taking part in the discussion, nor by in any way taking a course which might render honorable members, in their own judgment, less free to express themselves with all frankness. The despatch to which reference has been made is one from the Secretary of’ State for the Colonies to the Governor-General, and is contained in a cablegram dated the 1 7th< March -
The Governor-General has to submit, for theconsideration of the Right Honorable, the Prime Minister, of the Commonwealth of Australia, the subjoined copy of a telegraphic despatch, which has this day been received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated, London, 17th March, 1902:- “His Majesty’sGovernment hope to see colonies represented at Coronation, by local forces, as at Jubilee, 1897, should your Ministers concur. His Majesty’sGovernment will be prepared to receive from Commonwealth, any number not exceeding 580- of all arms, selection left to your Ministers. Quarters for officers, and quarters and free rations, for non-commissioned officers and men provided for about one month from the date of landing. Passage and all other expenses to be defrayed by Commonwealth. Horses can be provided for 300.
Honorable members will notice that thenumber must not exceed 580 of all arms, though horses can be provided on the spot for 300 of these. The despatch proceeds -
Officers must be strictly limited to one colonel,, two majors, one adjutant for entire contingent:, all other officers in ratio of three per 1 00 men.
That I take to mean a captain and twosubalterns for each 100 men.
There must be no unattached or supernumerary officers.
The Government, so far as the Commonwealth contingents are concerned, have had none of these officers.
I shall be glad to learn probable number and other details at your earliest convenience.
That imposes on us the duty of consulting the House on the steps to be taken. TheGovernment feel confident that they have the full sympathy of the House in saying that an invitation of this kind should be responded to in adequate terms. I am not going to make comparisons with the number of troops sent from other places. I retain my confidence in this House to do that which seems to be fair and necessary without making invidious comparisons with what may be done elsewhere. After the longest reign on record - one of unexampled beneficence - Her Majesty Queen Victoria passed away, leaving the crown by right of succession to the present King. The Coronation could not, of course, take placeuntil the time of mourning had expired, and for that purpose I understand that at least a year is usually allowed to pass. The Coronation is now fixed for the 26th June, lb is the opinion of Ministers that, not only with respect to the invitation I have received, but in other matters, the Commonwealth should - not in an extravagant way, nor, on the other hand, in a niggardly way, but in a way consistent with the importance of the Empire - take its place in the family of nations which go to make up the greatest empire in the world. The Government ask the House for what, in our judgment, is no more and no less than is right and proper. We do not ask the House to provide for the 580 troops mentioned in the despatch ;. that number was named as a maximum. We ask for less than half the number, but we do think, there being horses stabled in England, that the best way to typify the military position of Australia, such as it is, is to send troops of the character of those who have so signally helped in South Africa to vindicate the Empire and to uphold the honour of our country. We must all feel legitimate pride in the service rendered by our men, and there are among our own forces now, or available for selection in South Africa, a very large number of men who have assisted in that service. We propose that the men selected shall be chosen only from those who have served, or are now serving, in South Africa, and that they shall be exclusively mounted troops.
– Does the same remark apply to the officers ?
– It applies bo officers as well as to men. The Government will take all possible precautions to see that the officers as well as the men selected have served, or are serving, in South Africa, since this visit to England must be looked upon by the whole Empire as well as by Australia as something in the nature of a meet recognition of their services. We are informed by the military authorities that the expense will be about the same whether the troops are sent from South Africa to England and returned to Australia, or whether they are sent direct from Australia to England and back again. In carrying out this visit, we wish to recognise the services, not only of those who are now in South Africa, but also of those who have done their duty there and returned. Therefore, if the House approves of the sending of a body of 250 men, I hope to be able to arrange that at least 50 of them shall be chosen from amongst those who are now serving in South Africa, and that, as a large number of soldiers have returned from South Africa, their services shall also be recognised. In arriving at 250 as the number to be sent, we have behind us what is to some extent a precedent, the number of soldiers sent to represent the individual colonies at the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 having been 253.
– Of which 100 were Lancers sent by the colony of New South Wales.
– A number of the troops present on that occasion were Lancers, who had proceeded to England for training, and the cost of the visit was materially reduced by the munificence of a gentleman residing in New South Wales, Colonel Burns. As to the other expenditure provided for in the Bill, the amount set down for the illumination of the Commonwealth buildings in the State capitals has been arrived at after careful inquiry. There is no doubt that every ‘ important city in the British Empire will be illuminated upon the evening of the Coronation Day, and the amount provided for in the Bill is to meet the Commonwealth’s share of the expense.
– Is it the illumination of the Customs-houses and the Post-offices that is provided for 1
– The illumination of the Commonwealth buildings generally, which, of course, include those offices. The Victorian illuminations upon the occasion of the Commonwealth celebrations cost £14,000, ‘ bub that expenditure was spread over several -nights. No doubt some of the material used then can be used again ; but upon inquiry, the Government find that, in order that the illuminations, however modestly designed, may be effective, it will be hard to reduce the cost of them below the sum of £5,500. The illuminations will have to be carried out in the six capitals of the States, and will average a little over £900 for each city. Where the buildings are large and imposing, the cost will be more than that, so that what is done may be effective, and where the buildings are small and less imposing the cost will be less than the average ; but no injury will be done to any State because, as this expenditure will be classed with what is known under the terms of the Constitution as “ new or other expenditure,” it will be contributed by the States in proportion to their population. The total amount which we propose to spend on the occasion is £35,350, and, taking the first item on the list of expenses, the cost will amount to only l½d. per head of the population of the Commonwealth. In addition, there is the expenditure of £5,500 upon illuminations; but as an event of this character has not occurred for 64 years, the Government do not think that the citizens of the Commonwealth are being asked to pay too much for its fitting celebration. “We ask, also, for the approval of the House to an expenditure of £2,000 upon the despatch of a Commonwealth rifle team to compete at Bisley. It is thought that that is a very modest sum to expend in connexion with such an occasion, and that its expenditure will probably result in the cultivation of an honorable and healthy emulation between our riflemen and those of other parts of the Empire.
– Is the expenditure to be an annual one?
– No ; it is only for this occasion.
– How many men are to be sent?
– The number of men in the team will be eight or ten.
– And how many officers ?
– Every man who is sent must be a member of the Defence forces, and the team will be selected according to merit. It is not intended to send any officers, except some one to captain the team.
-That is not the proposal in Victoria. Here they are proposing to send nominees.
– I shall do my best to insure that the selection is made according to merit. To go a little more into detail, I find that the Military department estimated, on the assumption that 300 troops were to be sent, that the passage money to and from England, pay, clothing, accoutrements, and contingencies, would come to £30,871.
– What is put down for the passage money per head?
– For 300 men, £13,000.
I find now that passages can be obtained for officers for £75 return, and for men for £33 return. If we had followed the practice which obtained when contingents were sent home by the various colonies on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee, we might have saved the amount set down for pay, and afterwards, if it was thought fit, have allowed those who went a bonus.
On that occasion the only colony which paid its soldiers was South Australia. It seems right to us, however, that the men who are sent should be paid. If they are not paid, it will mean the almost entire exclusion of those whose means are humble, and those who have the leisure and are able to go without pay will monopolize the honour of representing the Commonwealth. Therefore, I submit that the men who go should be paid at the rates given to the contingents which have been sent to South Africa ; that is to say, 5s. a day for the privates, and so much for the officers, according to the prevailing rates. It is not desirable to practise upon the generosity of those who have leisure by sending them without pay, or to practically exclude those who have neither leisure nor money by refusing them pay.
– How long are they to be absent ?
– Something like four months. They will get away from London sooner than the political representatives of the Commonwealth, the Dominion, and New Zealand, because those representatives will have to remain for perhaps a fortnight to attend certain conferences which are to be held. It will be necessary, however, for them to start earlier than I shall have to start, because it is not my intention to proceed by way.of the Cape, and to land with our own contingent, as I hear is contemplated in another case. I understand that if the troops leave Sydney on the 19th April, Melbourne on the 25th, and Adelaide on the 30th, they should arrive in London about the 19th June - a week before the Coronation - which will give them a day or two to recover from their journey, and a sufficient interval to see to their accoutrements, and become accustomed to the horses which will be provided for them. We find that it is possible to send them by a fine steamer, of a type which has been used already for transport purposes by the Imperial Government. The passage money for 300 men would come to £13,050, the pay to £11,820, the clothing and accoutrements to £3,001, and the contingencies to £3,000, making a total of £30,871. As the Cabinet have decided, however, that 250 men will be a sufficient number to send, the actual cost will be arrived at by deducting onesixth that amount, the balance being within a few pounds of the sum which Parliament is asked to vote. I do not know that I can advantageously take up the time of the House oy saying much more. Whilst 580 men were mentioned as the maximum number in the despatch which I have read, I understand that a similar despatch sent to New Zealand named a maximum of 150, and that New Zealand is sending the maximum. I am not going to base upon that any special appeal to this House to send an unnecessary number of troops. I only mention it for the purpose of showing that the Government are acting in a spirit of moderation, because, when a neighbouring self-governing colony with one-fifth of the population of this Commonwealth sends its maximum number, it is surely moderation for the Commonwealth to offer to send less than half the maximum. I understand - and this is a consideration which I shall put earnestly to honorable members - that all the other parts of the Empire will be represented by troops on the occasion of the coronation. There will, therefore, be a representation which will be typical of the strength and cohesion of the Empire. That we should not join in such a representation would, I think, be a course deeply to be regretted, because our refusal to do so would not only concern ourselves, but would absolutely deprive the military representation at the coronation celebrations of that feature of cohesion and completeness which ought to be its essential. So that a refusal coming from this Commonwealth would to a certain extent operate to mar the success and completeness of the representation of the whole Empire.
– How many men is Canada sending 1
– I do not know’; I have heard a rumour that she is sending 500. But I would put it this way : The maximum number mentioned to New Zealand was 150, and the maximum number mentioned to us was 580. Canada has a. population of, I think, nearly 2,000,000 more than ours ; and it is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that she was given a maximum nearly half as large again as ours, and it is also reasonable to assume that what I have heard is correct, and that she will be sending 500 troops.
– She is four times nearer than we are.
– Yes, she is much nearer to Great Britain than we are. I have given a reason which, I think, should first appeal to us why, as long as we remain part of the
Empire, we should be represented in the way that is asked. I would urge ‘this further reason : that so long as the expense is not excessive - and I venture to think that the expense proposed is not excessive - it is desirable that we should be ready to undergo some expense in military representation, and for this reason : Every soldier that this Commonwealth has sent to the war in South Africa, and not only that, every soldier sent by the various States since, I think, the third and fourth contingents, has been despatched by the Imperial Government. We have not found the money, but it has been provided by the taxpayers of Great Britain. Therefore, I should be. very sorry indeed if it were open to any one to draw the inference from any refusal of ours to take part in the Coronation celebrations that when John Bull paid the piper we were ready to dance to the piping, but that when we were asked to defray a share of the expense, we flouted him and would not join him. That is not a position, I think, that we can worthily assume, nor is it one consistent either with our pride of race or with our pride in our position in these southern seas.
An Honorable Member. - The Prime Minister does not say that Australia has not sent out any troops at her own expense?
– I never said so. The first few contingents were financed by the States, but after those had been despatched, and even before the Commonwealth was formed, all the soldiers were sent at the expense of G reat Britain.
– Great Britain also sent us a contingent of Imperial soldiers at Commonwealth time.
– I am coming to that. The expense incurred by Great Britain in sending these Australian contingents to South Africa will, even so far, approach £400,000. That represents the expenditure in Australia, and I leave it to honorable members to form an estimate of what further expense will be incurred by Great Britain in connexion with these soldiers after they leave our shores. My right honorable friend, Sir Edward Braddon, just now made a very apt interjection, by reminding me of the British representative contingent which was sent here by Great Britain. When it was necessary to celebrate the inauguration of this Commonwealth, Great Britain sent, without regard to expense, a representative body of 1,000 men, comprising the best picked soldiers from the most celebrated regiments and corps in England and the Empire. She sent a contingent here representing in the most striking and picturesque form - as I say again, without regard to expense - not only the great regiments of England, Ireland, and Scotland, but also her forces in the rest of the Empire, and no one, I think, who saw them will forget the dash and the gallant bearing of those Indian soldiers who came here with their British comrades.
– Then immediately afterwards we legislated to keep them out.
– Did we legislate to keep men of that kind out of Australia? Those Indian officers were gentlemen, and all of them could pass our education test, and perhaps a few of the men could have done so, too. The officers, however, have not offered themselves for the passing of our test, and I do not think we need inquire at the present moment into the way in which we should receive them. They were sent here as a part of a corps representing the Empire, to which I have referred only with a view to show honorable members that Great Britain did not exhibit herself a niggard, but gave us of her best to grace our ceremonial at the inauguration of the federation. I do not think that the body politic which has been the last to be endowed with a Federal Constitution, and which may hope to set an example for the formation of other federations elsewhere, should earn for itself a notoriety by no means enviable by refusing a request of this kind. I ask, therefore, with great earnestness, that the proper provision may be made in this direction by the House, and that there may be no unnecessary tendency to cut down the Estimates, which have been framed upon a much lower basis than it was open to us to adopt in view of the despatch sent to us.
– How is it proposed to select the soldiers ?
– There will be a plan of selection submitted by the Officer Commanding. We propose to draw all the men from those who have served in the field, and to send those who will, as far as possible, in every way represent Australia. We shall not take them indiscriminately, or all from one State.
Mi-. Watson. - Are the infantry to be excluded ?
– We shall not exclude the infantry regiments, because all our men who have recently fought in South Africa have been mounted infantry. They are infantry mounted - that is, men who fight on foot, but proceed from place to place on horseback. ‘ If the number mentioned in the military estimate, 300, had been sent, the men would have been selected from the various States in the following proportions : - Ninety-nine from New South Wales, 85 from Victoria, 40 from Queensland, 26 from South Australia, 16 from Western Australia, and 11 from Tasmania. As the cost would have been according to population - and this draft will be on the same basis - that would have been an equitable adjustment. I have just been handed an estimate, which I had not seen before I entered the House, showing how the reduced number will be furnished. Eighty-four will come from New South Wales, 73 from Victoria, 35 from Queensland, 22 from South Australia, 17 from Western Australia, and 1 1 from Tasmania. This makes a total of 242 men, which, with the ordinary staff officers as mentioned in the despatch, will bring the total up to 250. It is proposed that the men selected shall be good horsemen, and that every unit in the forces shall be, as far as possible, represented, in order that there may be no sense of injustice felt by any of the troops left behind. The selection will be spread over the whole of the States, and as far as possible will affect every unit in the States, provided the men who can be supplied are good horsemen, and can be sent as mounted troops. The selection will be absolutely confined to those who have served in South Africa, unless we are able - as I hope we may be - to send some men who are even now serving there. I hope honorable members will not consider that I have wearied them, because I considered it was my duty to make a full statement to the House. The Bisley team will consist of eight picked shots representing the various States, and the selection will be by merit. The cost will be £2,000.
– Will that include pay ?
– It will include all the expenses that it is intended to incur. I have a further matter to mention ; it engaged our attention too late to enable us to provide for it in this Bill. Last night I received the following telegram from the Premier of New South Wales : -
Have received following cable from Agent” General - “Canada intends erecting Coronation arch costing about £0,000, consisting Canadian products ; sending Canadian architect design arch.” Will Commonwealth do anything ? Meeting Agents-General to-morrow.
Kindly say what action the Federal Government intend to take in the matter.
I do nob think that I ought bo introduce a Bill of this kind without mentioning this matter to the House. Up to the present we have not considered ourselves justified in moving to include this matter in the Bill, bub, nevertheless, ib is so related to the whole question, that the House is entitled bo be informed.
– What course does the Prime Minister suggest 1
– I suggest that it would be advisable to represent the products of Australia in a public way by the erection of &n arch ; but I think that an expenditure -of £6,000 would be excessive, and that £3,000 would probably be sufficient to enable us to make an effective representation of that kind.
– That is too much.
– I think £3,000 is about the least that could be appropriated for the erection of an effective arch. It might be advisable for us to erect such an arch, but I do not regard myself as justified in pressing too much expense on the House in view of our relations with the States. At the same time, I think we should have every one of the States with us in providing for the effective representation of the Commonwealth. I have great pleasure in moving the second reading of the Bill.
– In the consideration of this Bill, I wish to put aside the feeling of irritation which I experienced regarding the manner in which the Government have brought this matter before the House. The event to which the measure refers is one calculated to evoke the most loyal expressions of congratulation with reference to the King whose accession to the throne is about to be marked in the usual manner. The late Prince of Wales, during the long period in which he discharged a multitude of duties and obligations on behalf of the Sovereign, proved himself a worthy constitutional successor to Her late Majesty Queen
Victoria. As a representative of the embodied power of the British Empire we shall hail his coronation throughout the length and breadth of Australasia with feelings of the keenest satisfaction. That fact in itself will probably be a greater source of satisfaction to His Majesty than will any mere contribution which we may make to the pageantry of the ceremonial itself. At the same time I do not wish to oppose the Government proposition to despatch a representative body of our military forces to take part in that great event. So far as the Prime Minister himself is concerned, I think that it was his duty to take charge of this Bill, and I cannot conceive of any sense of delicacy which should prompt him to refrain from so doing. His share in the transaction is purely an official one. It comes bo him simply as one of the high obligations attached to the office which he fills, and we all regard the proposition which has been submitted as one which is made, so far as he is concerned, by virtue of the necessities of the case. Therefore, I feel no desire to carp at the amount which has been placed opposite the highly-distinguished mission which the Prime Minister will undertake on behalf of the people of Australia. So far as my experience goes, that sum is nob bo be cavilled ab upon any ground of economy. But, in the present state of the Australian finances, I cannot feel quite so sure that, even upon occasions of rejoicing, we should not begin to study economy and prudence. We have spent enormous sums of money in connexion with the inauguration of the Commonwealth, and the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales. I do not begrudge that expenditure, although I believe that upon both occasions large amounts were wasted. There, is however, a feeling growing up throughout the Commonwealth - I think in the most wise and healthy manner - that even in connexion with our pageantry and ceremonials, we shall have to study very keenly questions connected with the financial condition of the States. When the Prime Minister tells us that G reat Britain with her army of at least a quarter of a million soldiers, sent 1,000 men bo Australia to participate in the inauguration of our Commonwealth, the analogy is not a happy one. We all look back with pride and satisfaction at the magnificent feature which they made in that inauguration, but we must not lose sight othe fact that we cannot begin to emulate the magnificent expenditure of a nation of 40,000,000 of people, and possessing 200,000 or 300,000 soldiers. When the Prime Minister speaks of this expenditure, or that, as representing only so much per head of the population, we must not forget that if we pile up the farthings they will soon become a serious item in the daily life of our people. So far as the proposed military delegation is concerned, I think that we can be fitly represented by a smaller number of men. I believe that the proposal to spend £26,000 upon this particular feature of our representation is one which we, as prudent guardians of the finances of the Commonwealth, ought not to sanction. Over and over again we have heard appeals by the Treasurer to increase the taxation of the people upon articles which chiefly are consumed by the poorest and most necessitous classes of the community. We must endeavour in our expenditure to breathe the same prudent spirit as the Treasurer breathes when he calls upon us po impose taxation upon the people of the country. The time is coming, I believe, when our people must take the question of economy into serious consideration. One great duty which the Commonwealth Parliament owes to the people of Australia is to set an example of rigid economy in our administration of public affairs. If we do that in dealing with this or that servant of the Commonwealth, and if we are forced to deal rigidly with our own officers in matters of every-day service and obligation, it surely behoves us to be frugal and prudent, even at a time when we propose to pay a graceful and fitting compliment to the Sovereign of the Empire ! So far as we are concerned, I feel that a smaller number of troops will supply all the needs of the coming great occasion. The effect which will be produced by the representation of Australia in the great events of Coronation Day will not be that which is produced by mere numbers. It will not be the effect produced by 250 men as opposed to that which will be produced by 100 men. I strongly hope that the men who are now serving in South Africa will enjoy their full share of this representation. Upon every ground of justice I feel that those who have served should be fully recognised, but in equal ratio should our representation be composed of men taken from the fields of battle in South Africa. Whatever number of troops may be despatched,
I am sure that the delegation will command) an enthusiastic reception from the people of the great metropolis of the Empire.
– One hundred men. would not be seen.
– My right honorable friend, says that .100 men would not be seen. All I can say is that it might be possible tooverlook a Premier, but I do not think itwould be possible for the people of London, to overlook the smallest delegation of representatives of the Australian soldiers who have gone out to South Africa to fight thebattles of the Empire.
– It would be a contemptible representation.
– Then the right honorablegentleman takes a contemptible view of the occasion. Is not the Prime Minister thereal representative of the 4,000,000 of people of Australia? Have we not witnessed with feelings of humiliation theattempts which have been made, by statements in the public press, to add to thelist of representatives of the Australian people 1 The sooner we recognise the factthat upon occasions of this sort the PrimeMinister represents every man in the country, from the highest to the lowest, thebetter. When the Minister for Defencesays that the representation of the Australian military forces by 100 of our soldierswould be contemptible, I think he mistakesthe keen appreciation of the vast crowdswho inhabit the city of London. He andi I might be overlooked, but certainly theAustralian soldiers would not be.
– A delegation of 100- men would not be worthy of Australia.
– I do not propose to makeany lengthy address. This is more a matterfor quiet deliberation, and I do not wish even to quarrel with my right honorablefriend in the view which he takes. At thesame time I feel very strongly that even in our desire to be magnificent wemust set a rigid example of economy. I believe that the great object which, we have in view could be fully met by an expenditure of £10,000, and my duty to the Commonwealth requires me to say that where an expenditure of £10,000 will meet all the necessities “of. the case, an expenditure of £26,000 is absolutely unjustifiable.
– Like thethe leader of the Opposition, I yield to no-, man in- the Commonwealth in my feelings.. of loyalty to the Empire, and in my desire to do honour to the great occasion of the King’s Coronation, which I admit is unique in the history of the Empire. At the same time, I cannot see my way to support two of the items which are contained in the schedule under consideration, namely, the expenditure proposed to be incurred in connexion with sending a contingent to England, and in the despatch of a rifle team to Bisley. There are many ways in which we can celebrate the occasion at a very much less expense, and in a much more fitting manner. For instance, the Prime Minister made reference to the erection of an arch. Now an arch, emblematic of the industries of the Commonwealth would, in my opinion, be a very suitable way of celebrating the occasion. It would exhibit us to another part of the world in the light in which we desire to be exhibited, as a peaceful and industrial people, and not as a people who are anxious for any display of militarism. We do not pretend to be a military power. I have endeavoured as much as any person in the Commonwealth to aid the Imperial Government when we were able to be of real service to them. During. my short term of office as Premier of Victoria, I despatched no less than four contingents to South Africa without waiting to be asked for their services, and I will go as far in that direction in the future as will any man. If it became necessary - as I sincerely hope it never will - I would go to the length of spending our last shilling and of shedding our last drop of blood in the defence of the Empire. But at the same time I am not and have never been an advocate of extravagance, and I consider that the two items which I have mentioned are unnecessary to Australia’s proper representation at the Coronation. I will not object to the despatch of a small contingent if such an action is considered necessary, but certainly I shall never consent to the expenditure of £26,000 in this connexion. Concerning the proposal to despatch a rifle team to Bisley, I cannot forget that when I have sent letters to the Commonwealth Defence department, asking for assistance to enable members of rifle clubs to qualify themselves as marksmen, those appeals have been very curtly refused. How can I go to my constituents and tell them that I voted for an expenditure of money to exhibit the skill of those who were taught rifle shooting by our predecessors in the States, and refused to assist our people to qualify themselves for thefuture defence of their hearths and homes, should the emergency ever arise?.’ So far as the representation of the Commonwealth by the Prime Minister is concerned, the whole Commonwealth is unanimous, aswe shall also be unanimous in our desire tomake some suitable display here by illumination or otherwise. But I feel perfectlysure that some display in the form of an arch, indicative of the industries of the Commonwealth, would be much more in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Australia than any attempt at a militarydisplay. When it becomes necessary for usto send assistance to the Empire the unanimity of tlie Commonwealth may be relied! on. But in the matter of unnecessary expenditure we should be a little more careful than we have been hitherto. I certainly donot look with any great degree of satisfaction on what we have done in this respect in thepast. We commenced badly when we added £400 each to the remuneration of the Ministers of the Commonwealth. I think thatwe have created an unnecessary number of highly-paid officers. We have increased theprinting bill unreasonably, and also increased the cost of every department which the Commonwealth has taken over. If wego much further in the path of extravagance the people of the Commonwealth will begin to think it is possible that they have paid! too dearly for the privilege of drinking atthe spring of national life.
– The honorable membervoted for taxation which will not go intothe Treasury.
– The question of taxation is not before the House.
– I know how cheappopularity can be gained in this connexion,, but I for one have never adopted the meansof achieving that cheap popularity. Whatever expenditure we incur we must makeprovision for as honest men, and thereorewe must necessarily impose a reasonableamount of taxation in order to enable theCommonwealth to pay its way. We should indulge in no unnecessary extravagance.
– I must ask the honorable member not to trench on the question, of taxation.
– I am contendingthat the request made in the Bill is extravagant, and I have yet to learn that I ami out of order in denouncing the extravagant. methods adopted in the management of the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– But it is not in order to deal with the question of taxation.
– I quite agree with you, Mr. Speaker, but surely it is in order to deal with the raising of revenue for the expenditure we are asked to incur ? It is our duty to consider the means of the people for whom we are merely custodians and trustees, and to do what is best for their welfare and prosperity. The welfare of the people can never be secured hy displays of the kind we are asked to sanction. In such displays there is no harmony with the objects or aspirations of the people of Australia, who do not desire to be regarded as a military power. We may on occasions be called on to take the field, and I feel sure that our young men would respond cheerfully and willingly to any such call, but I sincerely hope we shall never pose before the world as a military or an aggressive nation. It is not in that direction we should endeavour to make a display, but in the direction of showing to the people of the old world in a suitable manner the feelings and aspirations of the people of this Commonwealth.
– I am not one who underrates in the slightest degree the importance of the occasion at which we are asked to assist in London. The coronation of the King of the British Empire possesses a significance nowadays entirely different from that which attached to the coronation of the monarch of England a few centuries ago. Then it was merely an act of honour, as one might say, towards the monarch, whereas now it is an event in which everyone in the Empire has a direct personal interest. The leader of the Opposition struck the keynote, so far as Australia is concerned, when he stated that the Prime Minister, in this relation, unpresented the Commonwealth of Australia. And that is the contention I rely on in opposing a number of the items in this ^schedule. At this stage in the Empire’s history it is not necessary to do anything to demonstrate the loyalty of this section of the Empire. That loyalty has been demonstrated to an extent that may be ‘out of proportion to our real potentialities, and it is recognised in every other portion of the Empire, and especially by those in the older land. But in any case, to prove our sympathy with the celebrations, we are not only in duty bound, but, I am sure, are glad to have the opportunity to give leave of absence and wish God-speed to the Prime Minister on behalf of the people of Australia in order that he may represent us. I cannot, however, see any necessity for spending the amount of money which it is proposed to expend in sending troops to England. I do not quite agree with the honorable member for Gippsland in his criticism of the financial procedure of the Commonwealth up to the present period of its existence. I shall have pleasure in debating the question when it comes in proper shape, but at present I shall merely say that I do not think there has been any extravagance so far. . I do not think the printing bill is unreasonable under all the circumstances, and I for one should resist any attempt on the part of a few journalists to obtain a monopoly of parliamentary reporting to the detriment of the people of Australia. However, that is a matter I intend to debate on a more fitting occasion.
– The printing bill is not so large as has been represented.
– I know that is so, but that is another question. The fact that we have not so far indulged in extravagance is rather an additional reason for resisting the temptation held out to us by the head of the Defence department, who has told us that in Western Australia he has spent £600,000 without consulting Parliament. No doubt anything that the right honorable gentleman did would be wise, but that kind of expenditure is not advisable under all circumstances, especially when the right honorable gentleman is at the head of a department, the leading spirits of which are only too glad to avail themselves of every opportunity for garish display. There is no body of men in Australia more likely to take advantage of expenditure than the heads of the military department, which is the department on which the people have to keep their fingers all the time in order to hold it in check. There is no department in the service so likely to indulge in expenditure out of all reason, but with the exception of, perhaps, the Minister for Defence and the honorable and gallant member for Corio, there are none of us who can pretend to criticise with exactitude the proposal before us. In this particular instance I object absolutely to the proposal to send troops to London, and I think that the absence of the troops would not be regarded in an unfair light by the people of England. The fact that Mr. Seddon has taken advantage to the full of the possibilities of the situation in sending troops home constitutes no precedent for us. Mr. Seddon seems to have gone right out of himself during the last year or so, and if he is not put under restraint he may find his tight little colony in a condition which will cause its people to lament for a considerable time the acts of his Government. There is another item in this schedule which is even less defensible than the proposal to send troops. The sending of troops might be defended, as the Prime Minister has very properly said, on the ground that the Empire was represented here at the Commonwealth celebrations, and that we ought to reciprocate. But the proposal to send a rifle team to Bisley, cannot be justified. It cannot be argued that because of this expenditure of £2,000 any one man in the team will become a better shot.
– The House has already expressed an opinion against the sending of this team.
– I hardly think we have had an opportunity of expressing an opinion as to the sending of a team, but I believe there is a concensus of opinion against the pro.posal. As pointed out by the honorable member for Gippsland, applications for the encouragement of rifle shooting have been consistently refused by the head of the department who now asks us to vote £2,000 in order to enable a number of gentlemen to take an excursion into England. There is not the least possibility of any improvement in the shooting of those who will represent the Common wealth in this team.
– And having absolutely no Imperial significance 1
– Yes ; and nothing to recommend it that may be urged in favour of sending troops to take part in the Coronation procession.
– The Prime Minister has promised it.
– Whether he has promised it or not, this House is the guardian of the public purse, and I take it that if there is a majority against the expenditure, the Government will see the advisability of allowing that majority to have its own way. I am not sure that the illumination of the Commonwealth buildings is a necessary part of the celebration. In any case, I think that the sum set down is rather a large one.
I take it that there are only three Commonwealth buildings in each city which should be illuminated - the Post-office, the Customhouse, and the barracks ; but in many cases the head-quarters of the military are too far from the centre of the city to make their illumination desirable.
– There are also the offices in which other Ministerial departments are located.
– I do not think it would matter much if they were left out of the scheme of illumination. I do nob think that we are justified in spending a large sum upon powder or gas. The various States are crying out about the condition of their finances, and some of them have suffered severely from droughts and other visitations. That being so, we are bound to exercise every economy consistent with the efficient working of the federal machine.
– Would it not be absurd if the States were to illuminate their public buildings, and the Commonwealth public buildings were left unlighted ?
– From what we hear of the financial condition of some of the States I should think that thev will not illuminate their buildings. Whatever is done should not be upon an extravagant scale. I trust that the effect of the discussion of the Government proposals will be to bring about the reduction of the expenditure by somethinglike £30,000. If the other items are reduced, I see no great objection to the erection of a Commonwealth arch in London, bub I will nob be a party to it if ib will mean expenditure in addition bo that already proposed by the Government
– I agree with the honorable member for Bland that in view of the financial, condition of the States at the present time the House should make a stand against the proposals of the Government. Remembering the pathetic appeals of the Treasurer for additional revenue amounting to £25,000, by an increase in the duties upon cotton-piece goods and other lines, and the dire results which the right honorable gentleman pictured as likely to follow, if we did not accede to his request, we may very well pause before sanctioning the expenditure now asked for. I agree with the honorable member for Gippsland, that bli is display is nob necessary to prove our loyalty to the Empire - that has already been more than amply proved. The
Prime Minister is the person to properly represent the Commonwealth. Whether the people of Great Britain realize it or not, he will more fittingly represent us than will any military display that we can make. If the people of Great Britain are not already convinced of our loyalty, the sending of 250 mounted troops to take part in a pageant will not convince them of it. With regard to the proposal for illuminating the Commonwealth buildings, it seems to me that since now, in all the States, and particularly in Victoria, the mania for retrenchment fills the columns of the press and the minds of the citizens, we should be more economical. Victoria appears to be very much in the position of a drunkard who, awakening from a heavy debauch, puts his hand into his pocket, and, finding his money unaccountably gone, determines to cut down the supplies of his wife and children, and thus begin to save up for another orgie. We have already the indications of a desire for another “go-in.” No doubt, afterwards the State will wish to put on the screw again, and ultimately I hope it will realize the ridiculousness of its position, and become absolutely sane. I do not know why we should spend money upon illuminations, and probably no one else knows. It seems to me that a number of people are afraid that unless they are continually waving flags, shouting “ God Save the King,” and setting fire to Roman candles, they will be thought disloyal to the British Empire. I am an Englishman, and the people in the part from which I come never dream of doing these things. They are supposed, by virtue of their citizenship, to be loyal, and are not required to prove their loyalty in that manner. Although some persons do not think that we should have done what we have done in South Africa, I am not one of them. Like the honorable member for Gippsland, if it were necessary, I should be prepared to go still further in assisting the Empire, either in South Africa or elsewhere. In this matter, however, I feel that our loyalty to the Empire is not concerned. As to the sending of a team of riflemen to Bisley, while I would vote for the expenditure of £10,000 in encouraging rifle shooting in this country, I do not see the use of sending eight men who can already shoot well to compete in Great Britain. If we are going to rely upon the valour and good shooting of our citizens, what we want is, not eight men who can shoot extraordinarily well, but 80,000 men who can hit what they shootat. The love for the Empire which somehonorable gentlemen profess ill accords with the fact that whenever they have anything topurchase they invariably give their ordersto Germany. One of the strangest comments upon the loyalty of this State is to be found in the news which was published in parallel columns of the Age a month ago. We then read what the Prime Minister said Australia desired to do in regard to the war in South Africa, and from the same page we learned that this State had just given an order to Germany for £16,000 worth of steel rails.
– The party to which the honorable member belongs would allow German rails to be imported here free of duty.
– My point is that, although we have sp much to say about helping our big brother, we do not bother about giving him an order for steel rails, although we know that he gets his living largely by selling them. However, these little inconsistencies help to make life worth living. The Government, whose watchword is economy, and whose desire is to do something for the States, now propose that we should fire off our . Chinese crackers, wave our little banners, and utter our war-whoops on the 26th June. I shall vote for any reduction that the leader of the Opposition thinks proper to move, because - 1 feel that the House generally is of opinion that the items in the Bill will bear cutting down, without any danger of belittling, in the slightest degree, the occasion which it is sought to celebrate, or the nation which is making the celebration.
– - It requires considerable courage for a man to stand up here now and oppose any sentimental proposal. “ Retrench, reform, re-organize, and re-adjust,” are the economic watchwords of democracy ; and I am, therefore, going to oppose every item in the Bill. We need the Prime Minister here at this table to see that the Opposition do not secure the billets. But if one attempts to put before the people views which are not in accordance with the ideas, if there sire such things, or the sentiments, if the)7 can be called sentiments, of what is known as the rightthinking portion of the community, he is branded as a traitor, and one who is nob ^worthy to live. But only the other day the great Emperor of Germany published a proclamation to his people, in which he asked them not to spend money in celebrating his birthday when there were hundreds of persons starving throughout the German Empire; and, accordingly, the money which would have been spent was put into a great fund to feed those people. Every day we see crowds of working men standing under Gordon’s monument, appealing to the Premier of Victoria for work. They come here in great deputations, to ask the Prime Minister to do something for them. But while we have not a dollar for our hungry people at home, we have £35,000 to spend in powder explosions and champagne razzle-dazzles in London. If the Commonwealth of Australia is to lose its standing or prestige unless it has 200 or 300 men to carry rifles and ride down Piccadilly, I shall be sorry for it. My fear is that the London creditors of Australia may keep the men there as a security for what we owe them. It is a fine thing for people who are borrowing money and paying enormous rates of interest upon a national debt of £200,000,000 to indulge in such extravagance. We have every newspaper crying out for economy, and we have the States denouncing this Parliament because we are taking the burdens from the backs of the people by abolishing the duties on kerosene and tea. All this shows that money is needed for the legitimate purposes of government, and cannot be spared for any idle display. The Commonwealth will be sufficiently represented by the Prime Minister and others who may go to England to be present at the Coronation. We do not want to be represented by a lot of men carrying guns on horseback. Every nation that has set up a military oligarchy has finally sunk beneath the power of the military. I am perfectly agreeable that £35,000 should be spent in providing food for the poor people of Australia. If His Majesty the King intends to feed 500,000 of the poor people of England on Coronation Day, I think it would be a good thing for us to spend £35,000 in following his example. The democratic people of the Common weallth should not be taxed in order to add to the success of ceremonies which in their very essence are opposed to the principles of democracy. The system which lends itself to these displays is founded upon caste. Aristocracy is the parent of caste, and caste is the curse of the country. In South Africa caste has been at the bottom of many of the disasters which have befallen our troops. Flannel-headed fools were placed at the head of affairs because of their caste, and the whole operations of the army were muddled. While we have hungry people and deficient sewerage arrangements in our suburban post-offices we should not spend money in the way now proposed. Why should the Commonwealth borrow £30,000 or £40,000 in order to have a grand “blowout?” We should stop all expenditure that is not in harmony with the ideas of the people or for the benefit of the people. No one respects His Majesty the King more than I do ; he is really the only democratic king in the world and I am satisfied, from that fact that he is himself providing food for a large number of poor people, that lie will be best pleased by our adopting a similar course. Probably our men when they get to London, will be like a certain regiment that went from Arizona to Washington - three-fourths of them were drunk when they got there. What did General Hutton remark the other day about the men of the last contingent that left Sydney? He said that all the sober men had gone, and the drunken men were left.
– He said nothing of the sort ; I was there and heard every word
– I c I can refer the honorable member to the Bulletin, which is the only independent paper in the Commonwealth.
– Order ; that has nothing to do with the question before us.
– I - I quite agree with Mr. Speaker. I shall oppose this vote in every possible way.
– I quite agree that the Commonwealth should be represented at the Coronation, but celebrations, such as that intended to be made in connexion with the Coronation, have been too long entirely associated with military displays. Why is it necessary at this late stage of civilization to ask for military forces only on such an occasion? We have long passed the time when it is necessary to awe the people by a military display. If we have any power in this Commonwealth it lies in our” great producing interests, and if we are to be represented at the Coronation we should be represented in a form emblematic of our greatness. I object to the sending of the Prime Minister as the political head of the Commonwealth with, practically, a military bodyguard. The money now proposed to be voted might be spent to much better advantage in sending home contingents of our pastoralists, our miners, and our agriculturalists, so that the people of Great Britain may be assisted to an understanding of the country in which we live and of the sources of our wealth and greatness. If we sent these men home they would arouse much more enthusiasm than would the most gilded contingent of soldiers. I do not wish to decry our soldiers, but to protest against the prominence which is given to the military element upon all these occasions.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).This Bill is intended to provide for defraying the expenses of the representation of the Commonwealth on the occasion of the King’s Coronation. I am glad to see that comparatively no exception has been taken ‘ to the item providing for the visit of the Prime Minister to London. I think that the Prime Minister, and through him, Australia, has been honoured by the invitation, and I am glad that no disposition has been shown to stint the provision for the visit. I would point out that the proposed visit of the Commonwealth rifle team to the Bisley meeting is not in any way connected with the Coronation celebration. The Bisley rifle meeting is held every year, and if any private individual or State wishes to send a team it can do so. Victoria once sent a rifle team to Bisley under somewhat exceptional circumstances. One year a private citizen paid the expenses of the team, and as they won a cup, the State Government felt bound to send the team again next year, to give them an opportunity of retaining it. The Bisley rifle competition has no relation whatever to the Coronation, and although only £2.000 is proposed to he spent in this connexion, I shall oppose that expenditure. Concerning the proposal to send a contingent of mounted troops to London, I hold as a matter of common sense that the Government could not do less than they propose, in the face of the invitation which has been received. In making this statement I am sure that no one will accuse me of being animated by a particularly military spirit or of pandering to the jingoism which unfortunately has been so rampant during the last few years. As the honorable member who last addressed the Housevery wisely remarked, the prestige of Australia rests upon her industrial progress, and not upon her military prowess. That, however, is not the question. The Prime Minister has been invited to London, with a distinct intimation thatthe Home authorities will be glad to see Australian troops in the procession to the number of 580. In this matter we have toregard, not our own wishes, but the wishesof _ the Imperial authorities. Seeing that Canada and New Zealand are both to berepresented by their troops at the coronation I do not think it is possible for Australia toabstain from being similarly represented. However radical we may be in our notionsthere can be no desire to avoid welcoming His Majesty’s accession to the Throne, and evidencing that Australia is, and hopes toremain, a portion of the Empire. I think I can say this more particularly, inasmuch as honorable members know the attitudewhich I have taken up in regard toother matters. I have only felt called upon to explain my action for fear of misconstruction. Although I voted with the greatest cordiality against the despatch of troops to South Africa, I shall with equal cordiality vote in favour of sending troops to His Majesty’s Coronation. Regarding the proposed expenditureof £5,500 to illuminate the Commonwealth buildings, I was at first disposed to think the amount excessive. The Government, however, have obtained an estimate of thecost, and when I reflect that the Commonwealth buildings comprise Customs-houses and Post-offices, the amount does not appear unreasonable. It is not proposed to spend a penny of Commonwealth money upon anything but Commonwealth buildings. Therefore, I shall take it for granted that the estimate which has been obtained is accurate, and that £5,500 is a reasonable sum to provide for the purpose. With the exception of the proposed grant for the Bisley rifle team, which I think ought to be provided by those interested, I shall support the items of expenditure contained in the schedule.
– A great deal has been said during this discussion, which, to mind has no reference to the real question at issue. The subject of militarism has been raised as if the troops to be sent home were bound upon some warlike enterprise, whereas the proposal is that, in a peaceable manner, they shall represent not merely the Australian forces, but that sentiment of unity which has impelled those forces to fight for the Empire. At the same time I quite agree with the honorable member for Gippsland that we ought to study economy, even in the expression of our patriotic sentiments. We know that this is not a time when Australia should indulge in extravagance. Considering that our request for the presence of Imperial troops at the inauguration of our Commonwealth was graciously acceded to, I think that we are bound to accept a similar invitation when it is extended to us.
– A hundred men constitutes a larger proportion of our army than does 1,000 men of the British army.
– I quite admit that ; but still we acknowledged the sentiment at that time, and in return we are almost bound to give vent to the same feeling on an occasion like the present. In agreeing with the honorable member for Gippsland, however, I would point out that if a squadron of 100 or 120 men were sent from here their number could easily be increased to 250, the number proposed by the Government, by Australians who are already in England. Indeed, I believe that the whole 250 could be provided there.
– I will make inquiries upon the subject.
– There are many Australian soldiers in England who have fought the battles of tlie Empire, and have been wounded whilst upon active service. Some have been sent to England, and are now convalescent. There are also a number of men - as the press telegrams have shown on a variety of occasions - who, instead of returning to Australia upon the expiration of their term of service in South Africa, have gone to London. Some of those * who have been receiving pay during the period of their sojourn in South Africa have accumulated sufficient funds to visit England.
– When I was in England, I saw the wounded sailors belonging to H.M.S. Powerful, and I do not think that the honorable member would like to send such men to a coronation ceremony.
– But there are many Australian soldiers in England who are now quite convalescent. I think that the Agents-General could easily supplement the force which is sent home from Australia by men who are suitable in every respect - men who have served upon the battlefields of South Africa, who are perfectly sound, but who, for various reasons, have visited England prior to returning to Australia. These soldiers will be perfectly willing to act as representatives of Australia upon such a great historic occasion. I merely rose to make this suggestion. At the same time I must express my opposition to the proposed grant of £2,000 in connexion with the despatch of a rifle team totake part in the Bisley competition. There is no legitimate ground for any such expenditure. It is no part of the sentiment to which we are trying to give expression, namely, the unity of the Empire. The team would simply be of a sporting character. Rifle shooting is carried out by the,mert who would comprise such a team simply as a sport, and if they wish to go to England without paying their own expenses the money should be provided by privatecitizens.
– The money has already been promised.
– I do not know whois responsible for tlie promise. If a promise has been made, we may have to deal with its author. When this matter was. before Parliament upon a former occasion, honorable members were informed that theirconsent would be asked before any definiteaction was taken.
– The only statement madeupon authority was that the Governmentwould place a sum of money for that purpose upon the Supplementary Estimates.* They have taken this opportunity of bringing the matter forward earlier.
-I understand theposition is that the Government were approached upon this matter, and that they promised to put a sum of money upon theEstimates, but did not undertake that Parliament would provide it.
– There was a promise by six of the Premiers.
– I do not see that we are called upon to assume responsibility for the promises of all the Premiers of the Australian States. If we do, we shall accept rather a large contract, because some of the promises which have been made are veryextraordinary. We are in a different position, however, if a promise has been madeby any member of the Government. I donot consider that tlie expenditure in question is necessary.
– I may be permitted to point out that if some of the speeches which have been delivered upon this question had any effect upon the House, the result would be disastrous. In this connexion I may refer for a moment or two to the utterance of the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley. He seems to forget that it is possible to make such a speech as he has made upon any subject under the sun. If the class of thought which he presumes is acceptable to a certain section of the community met with general approval, there would be an end to all progress, and to everything which is worth having in the nation. He pointed out that because there are poor, sick, and weary people in the world, we should have no ideals. He claims that there should be no national responsibility or obligations, simply because the human family is under that punishment and ban which it inherited from Eden. It will always be easy to gain cheap popularity by such references, but I do not think the honorable member speaks with a full sense of his responsibility as a member of the Federal Parliament, or does justice to himself. when he speaks of the drunken men remaining with the contingent and the sober men running away. I am sure that neither the honorable member nor any one else believes such a thing.
– I - I did not say that ; I said it was so stated in one of the newspapers.
– The honorable member knows that it is not a fact, and in quoting what he knew to be incorrect he lias not done justice to himself. The honorable member urged that not a dollar had been voted for the poor, but in the much-vaunted America of his, are there proportionate old-age pensions t
– The There are 40,000,000 dols. a year provided.
– Is anything done in this -connexion in America to be compared with -what is done here in amelioration of the trials of the poor, considering the population? Why cannot he be fair to Australia 1 It would be just as well for the honorable member to rise to a sense of his responsibility, and understand that when he speaks here he ought to speak with some vestige of truth.
– There is no question of old-age pensions before the chair.
– As to the remarks of the honorable member for Gippsland, I would say that, as a younger man, I am a little more hopeful, and previously he displayed no such pessimistic spirit as has been discovered to-night. After every federation. there is sure to be some friction. State Parliaments will be found to some extent jealous of, if not antagonistic, to the Federal Parliament. Most of us have been Members of Parliament before, and no Parliament of which I have had any experience has been so parsimonious as the Federal Parliament. The charge of extravagance is absolutely a fiction, originating in the antagonism of a considerable number of people outside Parliament, most of whom have never given a moment’s time to the service of the country, or under any circumstances sacrificed anything for the weal of the people. No doubt there is a sacrifice in connexion with Parliament, but it is not a sacrifice by the people ; it is a sacrifice by honorable members, who come from all parts of Australia, and break up their homes, in order to represent their constituents, at great loss to themselves.
– The honorable member is travelling far from the subject under discussion.
– My desire is to show that this Parliament is not extravagant. At first blush it might appear that £35,000 is a considerable amount to spend in the way proposed ; but matters of this kind generally depend on the point of view. No doubt £35,000 would make, say, thirty miles of roads in a country district, or might be sufficient to construct a first-class bridge. At any rate, the cost is a little under 2d. per head of the population. I do not underestimate the importance of even 2d. per head to the people of this country ; but the British nation has always shown that, although charged with being a nation of shopkeepers, when need arose, its national ideals were as high as those of any nation in the world. I turn from the sin and sorrow of the world, of which there is plenty, and pass to the ideal we have before us. The King of the greatest Empire the world has ever seen is to be crowned monarch, not of England, but of the whole British people. Australian federation has just been consummated, and a new nation formed. Foreign nations look on England with envy and admiration in connexion with British colonization. The greatest scheme of colonization is that of Australia, which originated 100 years ago in Crown colonies, and was consummated a year ago by federation. What the British people call the “ Golden South “ must not be represented meanly.We must not go to our first great festival as an old, shrivelled, broken-down, flat-chested woman, but as a bounding, bouncing maiden, full of hope and happiness, and certain of her destiny. To that festival Australia should go in proper wedding garments, worthy of the occasion, and worthy of the Commonwealth.
– I can scarcely hope, after the eloquent speech of the honorable member for Richmond, to add much to a subject so important. Like the honorable member, I at first thought that £40,000 was a large amount to spend in this direction. But I am bound to say that as the discussion has proceeded, and as the details of the expenditure and the whole of the circumstances have been brought before the House, it does not seem that we are asked to expend an unnecessarily large sum on what is an historic occasion in connexion with the Empire. After all, Australia is an important part of the British Empire, and £35,000 means a contribution of something like 2½d. per head of the population of the Commonwealth.
– It is exactly 2¼d. per head.
– That is no argument in favour of reckless extravagance. I do not think, however, that it has been shown that there is any such reckless extravagance in connexion with this expenditure. It is contended that a smaller contingent might very well be sent ; but that is a question on which I should prefer to be guided by those in authority. I understand that the number of troops to be sent is left within the discretion of the Government, with a view to limiting the expenditure.
– That is so.
– I see nothing whatever in the arguments which have been advanced, and particularly in the argument of the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, as to the danger of the military spirit being developed by sending this small contingent to England. I certainly have no sympathy with the undue development of the military spirit in Australia, or in any part of the Empire. We have of late seen the outcome of a military spirit which was inevitable, the British nation being at war, and the whole Empire involved in trouble. Under such circumstances, even the “Jingo” spirit which has been so much decried, must be very much in evidence, as one of the inevitable censequences of war. But I would not do anything to unduly stir up the military spirit; and the coronation is not an occasion likely to unduly develop that spirit. It is merely doing our duty as part of the Empire to make a creditable display in. London, and surely it cannot be argued that it is a waste of money to spend; £35,000 or £40,000 on such an occasion. There are times when we are bound, not to be reckless in expenditure, but, at any rate, to resist anything like a spirit of” parsimony. We must draw the line between extravagance and things unnecessary and liberal expenditure in making a creditable display when the honour of the whole Empire is at stake. An invitation has been sent to the Commonwealth to participate in the function, and the only question which we have to consider is whether the sums asked for under thevarious heads are reasonable. I do not think there’ is any possibility of thes House seriously considering the advisability of rejecting a Bill of this kind, although I can quite understand honorable members exercising their right to resist proposals for extravagant expenditure. Thes honorable member for Tasmania, Mr O’Malley, has spoken as if the proposed expenditure would be an unbearable tax. upon the poor. There is, however, reckless expenditure in every Government department in the Commonwealth and in the States which could be much more easily curtailed than this. The expenditure now proposed is necessary, to some extent, to secure the full expression of our loyalty to the Empire and of our devotion to thethrone. I agree with the remarks which have been made as to the need for the utmost carefulness in administration in both the Commonwealth and the States, and I trust that when we come to consider in detail the Commonwealth estimates of expenditure a healthy spirit of economywill be exhibited. I do not, however, thinkthat this is an occasion upon which it would be creditable or advantageous for us to show a parsimonious 3pirit. We can easily afford to spend the money asked for, in order to make a display which would be creditable to the Commonwealth. If the States had npt federated, their aggregate expenditure upon this occasion would have been much greater than is now proposed.
– And it is quite certain that the States would have been represented.
– It is certain that each of the States would have made a military display of some kind, had they received an invitation to do so, and the spirit of rivalry which exists between them would probably have driven them to extravagance in vying with each other in making an imposing spectacle. But, by having one body of men to represent the whole Commonwealth, we are able to economize, and to make a creditable display at a much smaller expense.
– I certainly think that Australia should be properly represented at the coronation celebrations. I do not agree with the honorable member for Lang, ,that because the States, if each were acting alone, would spend large sums of money in. vying with each other, the Commonwealth should spend an equally large amount.
– That is not what I said.
– One of the reasons for federation was that we should be able to curtail our expenditure upon occasions such as this, as well as in the administration of affairs of general importance. It seems to me that the Government proposals are very moderate, except that they seem to have lost sight of the fact that whatever contingent, we send - whether it consists of 1 00, 250 or 500 men - will be so small in comparison with the whole n umber of troops present, that it cannot of itself hope to make any imposing display. As, however, it will immediately follow the Canadian representation, and will be afforded considerable prestige, it will not be lost sight -of, however small. For this reason, I am inclined to agree with the. leader of the Opposition that it will be sufficient to send 100 men. By thus reducing the number of the contingent we can reduce the expenditure upon it by at least £10,000. I consider that £5,000 is a moderate sum to set apart for the illumination of the Commonwealth buildings in the various capitals, and personally, I should be in favour of the expenditure of a larger sum for that purpose. Every State will bear its share of the expenditure, and will be largely recouped by the increased railway returns, and where the tramways belong to the Government, by the increased tramway receipts, due to the flocking of immense crowds of people to the principal cities to see the display. I have, however, no sympathy with the proposal to spend £2,000 in sending a rifle team to Bisley. I think that the money could be much better used for the erection of a Commonwealth arch in London. Such an arch might be made thoroughly representative of our productions, and would do great credit to our enterprise. Honorable members will remember that at the Commonwealth celebrations the foreign residents in Melbourne and in Sydney, and particularly in Sydney, were able to excellently represent the nations to which they belonged by an expenditure much less lavish. £2,000 would be an adequate amount for the erection of a suitable arch, especially in Loudon, where the streets are so much narrower than those of our principal cities, and particularly of Adelaide and Melbourne. I consider that £1,850 is a very moderate sum for the clerical and other expenses of the Prime Minister, and I shall be prepared to vote for even a larger sum. I hope that- he will not be sent away with an amount insufficient to meet his requirements. His mission is a thoroughly representative one, and it should be carried through in such a way that the people , of Australia will be adequately and honorably represented.
– If he is to be a royal guest he will not have anything to pay while in England.
– The fact that he will be a royal guest will make his expenses all the heavier. One who participates in the hospitality of England will have to do the thing right royally, for the credit of those who have been honored by the invitation. The reductions which I have suggested would mean a saving of one-third of the total expenditure proposed by the Government, and I hope that the House will agree to them. It is not necessary on this occasion for me or any other Australian to speak of loyalty to the Empire. I have no sympathy with militarism, and I would not be in favour of sending troops to England to represent us, if it were not the custom for a State to be represented in that way. But, as that is the recognised manner of representation, I am willing that military men should be sent, and the men selected should be those who have served the Empire in South Africa.
– I intend to support the Government proposals. I feel that it is due to the great Commonwealth of Australia that upon this, the first occasion upon which the States have had an opportunity of being represented as members of a federation, we should do our part in a becoming way to exemplify the power, the might, and the unity of the Empire to which we belong. I think that the proposals of the Government are moderate and reasonable, and I find myself unable to sympathize with those who appear to consider that a fewer number than 250 men should be sent. We must remember that at this great pageant every part of the Empire will be represented, and I feel sure that the States would be disappointed if the Commonwealth contingent were so small and insignificant as to cause remark on the score of its insufficiency. My opinion is that this is an occasion upon which the people would be willing that we should; if anything, be a little extravagant. Australians appear to me unduly sensitive as to the estimation in which their country is held by other people; and I believe that if Parliament failed to enable the Government to secure our proper representation in England, it would disappoint the desires of the great majority of our people. Considering that there are six States to be represented, it would appear that 250 menare as few as we can very well send. Our people are proud of their soldiers, and they will rejoice that some of those who have borne the burden and heat of the day in South Africa are to receive this recognition of their services. I therefore trust that the Government proposals will be carried. The amount set down to cover the expenses of the Prime Minister is extremely moderate. Any one who has been to London even in a semipublic capacity must know how enormously expenses are run up, and the fact that the Prime Minister will be a Royal guest will add to, instead of reducing, his expenses.
– How ?
– The right honorable gentleman will be invited, as the representative of the Commonwealth, to all manner of public ceremoniesand functions, his appearance at which will involve him in very large expense. I need not enter into details, because it will be readily understood that, as the representative of Australia, the
Prime Minister could not act in any mean or unbecoming way. I shall be extremely surprised if the expenses of the Prime Minister are covered by the amount set down in the schedule, and I should have preferred to see it fixed at a larger figure.
– At first sight the expense which it is proposed to incur seems to be very heavy, but I’ agree with honorable members who have expressed the view that if the States had acted separately, the outlay would have been considerably greater. The occasion will be unique in the history of the Empire and in our history as a Commonwealth. In the first place, we have attracted the attention, not only of the British Empire, but of the whole world by the position we have taken up in connexion with the South African war, and the people of Great Britain and otherswho come from all parts of the world will desire to show their approval of the step we took in the defence of the Empire. Surely it is of the utmost importance that we should make a creditable exhibition, when, without doubt, our representatives will meet with a reception of which every citizen of the Commonwealth may feel proud. Moreover, the coronation will be the first occasion on which the Commonwealth has been able to arrange for its representation in London. Surely it is desirable that for that reason alone we should make a creditable appearance. If we cannot do so we had better not be represented at all. I believe that the people of the Commonwealth generally desire thatweshallmake afitting response to the invitation extended to us. Some reference has been made to the waste of money that will be involved, but although the £35,000 will be taken out of our Commonwealth exchequer, it must be remembered that we shall probably derive great benefit in a commercial sense from the interest aroused by the presence of our troops in London. Itis not, however, upon this ground that I think we should support the vote, because it is quite unimportant compared with the desire of the people that we should share in a display signifying the cohesion of the Empire. The proposal that the Commonwealth buildings in each of the State capitals shall be illuminated on the occasion of the coronation is one which I regard with the least favour. The Prime Minister has pointed out, however, that we have all the necessary material on hand, and as there will doubtless be some similar displays by the State Governments, I take no serious objection to the proposal. With regard to the sending of a Commonwealth rifle team to the Bisley meeting, I am afraid that there is rather a strong feeling in the House against the appropriation of the necessary money. I hope, however, that the item will be agreed to. I admit that it cannot be claimed that the sending of this team to England is in any way associated with the coronation celebrations, because steps were taken to form the . team long before any invitation was received by the Government. At the same time, in view of the preparations which have been made by the Rifle Associations, it would be something in the nature of a breach of faith if the money were not now voted. The team has been selected after innummerable test matches.
– The selection of the teams has been deferred pending the decision of Parliament.
– I know that already several members of the team have been arranging with their employers for the necessary leave of absence. The Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company have agreed to allow one of their employes to go away, and have arranged to pay his salary to his wife and family during the time he is absent. Looking at this matter in another aspect, I think that every encouragement should be given to the members of rifle clubs who devote a great deal of their time to making themselves effective rifle shots. The selection of a team to compete at Bisley every year would give our riflemen something to aspire to. Reference has been made to the desirability of erecting an arch emblematic of the natural resources of the Commonwealth, and I hope that something in that direction will be undertaken. At the same time, I think that if Parliament is not prepared to be represented by 250 Australian troops, it will be better for us to have no military representation at all, for in addition to the number which it is proposed to despatch from Australia, I hope that suitable men who may chance to be in London at the time, will be allowed an opportunity of joining in the procession. Undoubtedly they deserve recognition, on account of the fighting which they have done in South Africa. If the military representation of Australia was thus swollen to 500 men, the position would be improved from our point of view. Though I have been returned to Parliament charged with the duty of seeing that the Commonwealth is not committed to extravagant expenditure, I think I am faithfully interpreting the wishes of my constituents in supporting the Government upon the present occasion.
– It is not my intention to occupy the time of the House at any great length. I think it was Conan Doyle who some time ago suggested that a statue should be erected in London to Kruger, as the man who federated the British Empire. Without going into the question of the wisdom of giving effect to that suggestion, I think there can be no doubt as to the fact. Within the past three or four years the British Empire has been federated, and federated in such a way as could never have been accomplished by Act of Parliament. Australia has proved in a very conspicuous manner its loyalty to the Throne and to the Empire, an i it seems to me that this fact releases us from any trammels as we approach the consideration of the proposed expenditure. I am very sorry to say that I cannot agree with the Government. I think that in this case they propose to spend more money than is necessary under the circumstances, and those who know me will, I think, bear me out when I say that my past record is one which shows that I am not likely to be guilty of disloyalty. Regarding the amount which it is proposed to vote the Prime Minister, I have not one word to say. If that sum is needed I shall most heartily support the vote. But concerning the proposal to send a rifle team to compete at Bisley, I think we can very much better utilize the money allotted for that purpose in Australia. Regarding the illumination of the Commonwealth buildings I am not sure that the full amount specified need be spent in that particular way. I come now to the proposed expenditure of £26,000 in connexion with the visit of the troops to London. I think that amount is needlessly high. ‘ I believe that any troops sent should be paid. There should be no idea of sending unpaid men. But if Australia is represented in London by 100 or 150 men, shewill, in my judgment, be adequately represented. I was surprised to hear my right honorable friend the Minister for Defence say that the people of London would view with contempt a contingent of 100 troopers.
– - I did not say that; I said it was contemptible to suggest that Australia should be represented in that way.
– I am quite certain that the people of London and England would never view an Australian contingent, however small, with anyfeeling approaching contempt.
– I did not say that they would ; it is of no use putting into my mouth words which I did not utter.
– The reason why no feeling of the kind would be entertained is that the people of England would realize that these men represent the thousands who at the present moment are in South Africa defending the British Empire.
– I do not desire to occupy very much time in discussing this matter. One or two remarks, however, have been made with which I do not agree. The Coronation of the King will be a very great event in the history of the British Empire. Moreover, it is the first occasion upon which the States of Australia have had an opportunity of being represented as a united nation. I feel sure that the niggardly spirit displayed by some honorable members in connexion with our proposed representation at this great ceremony will not meet with the approval and support of the large body of the people. The honorable member for Kooyong talked about or representation in London as a kind of advertisement from which Australia would derive some reward in the shape of a material, advancement of her interests. I do not view the matter from any such stand-point. It is our duty, as part and parcel of the British Empire, to see that the Commonwealth is adequately represented upon the occasion of the Coronation. If we occupied the position of a handful of divided States instead of being federated, each State would be represented by its own Premier and its own contingent. But owing to federation, we now have an opportunity of being adequately represented by one contingent. As a result money is actually being saved to the people of Australia as a whole. From the opinions expressed by some honorable members this afternoon, it appears to me that they are possessed of very little national spirit. As an Australian, I am proud of ray native country, and proud of the Empire to which I belong, and I shall not be satisfied unless Australia is properly represented. I do not cavil at the amount which it is proposed to spend in this connexion, with one exception.
Indeed, as far as the Prime Minister’s expenses are concerned, I think that he has asked for a very modest sum. He will attend the Coronation ceremonies as Unrepresentative of Australia, and ought to have sufficient means at his command to enable him to property represent us. It appears to me that the patriotism and national spirit of some honorable members is to be gauged by the expenditure of a paltry £2,000 or £3,000 upon a great occasion like this. I do not agree with that spirit at all. I sincerely trust that the proposals of the Government will be carried, and then amended in committee, and that Australia will have that proper representation at the Coronation ceremonies to which she is entitled.
– It is not often that a parliamentarian will admit that a debate has influenced his opinion. In nearly all deliberative assemblies the representatives attend with their minds made up. I confess, however, that the progress of the discussion upon this question has influenced me a great deal. During the course of the debate the speeches delivered have ranged from commercialism to idealism. Some honorable members apparently wish Australia to be represented with all the splendour and gorgeousness of the “Arabian Nights,” while others seek only the Spartan simplicity of an advertisement. My first impression was that the adequate military representation of Australia could be accomplished only by sending the number of troops which the Government proposed. During the debate, however, I have considered the matter very carefully, and I can now see clearly enough that it is not numbers which are required in the pageant.
– Then Australia could be represented by one.
– Really only one representative of the civil power of Australia will be present, namely, the Prime Minister. I would further point out that the great United States of America, which has been dragged into this debate by one honorable member in a fashion that I deprecate, is to be represented by one man only. Whilst I do not wish to be hysterical over this matter, I realize that the loyalty which will be displayed at the Coronation ceremonies is loyalty to the British Empire. With the exception of the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, I have not heard any honorable member urge that we should not be represented on such a great occasion. I thoroughly agree that the military forces of the Commonwealth should be represented by a contingent. When we recollect that this contingent will march with the colonial forces of the Empire, we must agree that the fact that it comprises 250 or 100 men will not be studied. That is the opinion at which I have arrived during the course of the debate. In the first place I thought it was only right that we should be represented by the number of men suggested, but upon reflection I do not see why we should adopt the spectacular ideas of the New Zealand Premier. I was very glad to hear the Prime Minister say that he would arrive in England as the political representative of Australia, and not in the buccaneering manner of the Premier of an adjoining State.
– To whom does the honorable member refer?
– To Mr. Seddon. But the position I take up is that whether the expenditure be £35,000 or £.65,000, it should not be incurred unless it is actuallyrequired. The question of extravagance or parsimony should be judged, not by the sum, but by the necessity of the expenditure. I see no danger of a military spirit being unduly created. If the British people have a characteristic, it is that of being deliberative and phlegmatic, and not allowing themselves to be carried to extremes. 1 do not look on this celebration as a mere compliment to the King, but as another proof to the powers of the world that we can, after the time of trouble is over, provide a representation, symbolical of the solidity of the British Empire. The authorities of Great Britain do not require troops to represent that solidity ; that has been demonstrated in South Africa ; and the demonstration has not been lost on watchful foreign powers. I agree with honorable members who oppose the sending of a rifle team to Bisley, because I can see no results, ideal or otherwise, to warrant the expenditure. So far as the Prime Minister is concerned, the amount suggested for his expenses seems large, but those who support the right honorable gentleman in this matter are responsible to the Commonwealth. The citizens of Australia will not grudge any expenditure in this direction that may be necessary, and while I do not cavil at the amount, I think the citizens of the Commonwealth ought to know why a sum of £1,850 is provided for a three weeks’ residence in England.
– How does the honorable member know that the trip will be three weeks ? It may be six weeks. The Premier of New Zealand has been voted £1,500.
– I do not think we ought to be guided by New Zealand in this matter.
– But New Zealand affords an illustration.
– I am not in a position to say that £1,850 is an extravagant provision, but I know that the people generally will regard it as a large sum.
– The AttorneyGeneral went to England on £500.
– I believe the AttorneyGeneral did represent Australia at a much cheaper rate than is now proposed. I do not wish it to be understood that I am cavilling at the amount proposed ; I am only pointing out that without further explanation, the people of Australia may regard £1,850 as an extravagant provision. Ishould like some member of the Ministry to explain why that amount is required. Taking a position between gorgeous orientalism and Spartan simplicity, I shall vote for every item on the schedule with the exception of that connected with the Bisley team. I shall support a reduction of the number of 250 troops, and I hope that those sent may be those who have served with honour in South Africa, and will be thoroughly representative of Australia.
– I intend to support the second reading of the Bill, reserving to myself the right to deal as I think fit with the measure in committee. I consider that 100 or 150 troops- will be sufficiently representative, although the Minister for Defence and others think that less than 200 or 300 will cause the Commonwealth to look mean. In my opinion 100 troops in the coronation procession will be quite as effective as 1,000, and I would point out that if Australia were represented in this connexion in proportion to her population, having regard to the number of troops sent from England to the Commonwealth inauguration, we should send only. 70 or 80 men. The Prime Minister has already told us that he intends the troops to be fully representative, and that of itself is quite sufficient to cause me to give my vote to the Government to the extent I have indicated. As to the remarks which the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, attributes’ to Major - General Hutton at the despatch of the last South African contingent, I may say that I happened to be present on that occasion, and I can assure the House that no such words were used by the commanding officer, nor by anyone else. To attribute such words to Major General Hutton is neither more nor less than an unwarrantable reflection on that gentleman.
– And on the troops.
– And on the troops, too. These troops were going away, some of them, as we know, never to return, and, teetotaller as I am, I can forgive men who, under the circumstances imbibe a little too freely. I am satisfied that when the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, has heard my testimony he will withdraw his remarks. I hope the Government will not send a team to Bisley. As regards the Prime Minister, however, I hope that in committee we shall do the right thing, and see that the Commonwealth is ably and well represented.
Mr. O’MALLEY (Tasmania). - As a matter of personal explanation, I desire to say that, having heard the speech of - the honorable member for Maranoa, it is evident to me that- my statements have been misunderstood. “What I said was that there was a report to a certain effect. In order that honorable members may feel that I do not wish to wrong them, I withdraw what I have said in regard to Major-General Hutton and the Commonwealth contingents.
– It is to be regretted that the Ministry did not take an earlier opportunity to convey to the House the nature of the message which they received from the Imperial Government. Yesterday, when I read the proposals of the Government as they appeared upon the notice.paper, I was very much surprised at them, and I freely expressed my determination to, in the main, oppose them. I was not then aware, however, that an official invitation had been received from the English Government to send a military representation to take part in the Coronation procession in London. Now that I have heard the message from the Imperial Government read, I feel constrained to reconsider the position, and I shall therefore vote for a reasonable expenditure for this purpose. If. the financial condition of the
Government, justified it, I feel that nearly, every member of the House would cheer-, fully vote for an expenditure -.of £26,000 in sending home an Australian Contingent. My original objection to the proposal of the. Government was due, not to the lack of desire to see the Commonwealth fittingly represented at this great event, but to my knowledge of our financial situation. It is impossible to ignore the fact that great com-?’ plaints have recently been made, both in’ the press and by the people, in regard to the gradual and insidious growth of public’ expenditure. .1 believe that it is timethat the brake was put on. If it is, not put on, our federal institutions will . sooner or later become very unpopular with the people ; and I am more interested in maintaining the federal cause in Australia than I am in its external representation, even at such a function as the Coronation. While I am prepared to make a reasonable concession on this occasion, I warn the Government against the gradual growth of their expenditure. Never before in the history of Australia has attention been so keenly directed ‘ to the public expenditure and the need for reducing expenses. TheState Governments are everywhere being urged to economize ; bub how can we expect them to do so if we do not set them an example ? As the Commonwealth has received an invitation from the Imperial Government to take part in the Coronation proceedings, the proposed expenditure in’ connexion with the sending of a contingentis not a voluntary one, but one which is to’ some extent forced upon us by the circumstances of the situation. “We could not ignore it without appearing in the eyes of the world to have acted shabbily.
– Does the honorable and learned member consider that the Imperial Government are forcing this action upon us?
– I do not think that, they are forcing it upon us ; but, as the invitation has been given, and other Governments have arrived at a certain decision in regard to it, we cannot ignore it. It is to be regretted, however, that the Ministry did’ not take the House into their confidence earlier, so that we might have had a- longer time in which to consider the matter. I feel that I shall be justified in voting as a compromise for the despatch Qf 150 men.’ Perhaps, as the honorable member for North Sydney suggested, the contingent may be reinforced in London by arrivals from South Africa.
– It would be a shabby thing to swell our contingent by taking men out of the hospitals.
– If Lord Kitchener can be induced to send some of our men from South Africa to England, instead of sending them back here, it will strengthen the contingent by making it a larger and more imposing force, and will save expense, and I think that the Minister for Defence would do well to communicate with him on the subject. I am in harmony with those who are opposed to the spending of £2,000 in sending a rifle team to Bisley. I do not consider that the visit of a rifle team, to England is part of the coronation ceremonies, and it should not have been proposed in this Bill. If the Government wish to despatch a rifle team to Bisley, they should provide for the expense upon the military estimates. The proposal to spend money upon the illumination of the Commonwealth buildings in the various Australian capitals is, I think, a reasonable one, so long as the expenditure is > moderate, because the event is an important one, and its celebration will be an object lesson to the rising generation, and, indeed, to the people of the Empire. It has been urged as a reason why we should send 250 soldiers to London that Canada will probably send 500. But it must not be forgotten that Canada is much nearer to England than is Australia, and that while our men will be on the water for probably ten weeks, with their pay and other expenses running on all the time, the Canadians will be on the water for not more than ten or twelve days. It will not cost Canada more to send 500 men than it would cost us to send 250.
– One hundred.
– I am sure that the people of Great Britain will not expect a country so far distant as Australia to send as large a contingent as will be sent by Canada. In regard to the New Zealand contingent, it must be remembered that New Zealand is playing a lone hand, and as the Premier of that colony is always anxious to go one better, I do not think we are bound to follow his example. We must form our plans in accordance with our financial position. I hope that the time will never come when New Zealand will have cause to regret its ambitious expenditure in this and other directions. While I wish to see the Commonwealth” well represented, I > hope that its representation will be consistent with reasonable economy.
– I had hoped that the second reading of this Bill would have been taken without a prolonged discussion, which will probably be repeated in committee ; but as so many other honorable members have spoken, I feel bound to do so. I take exception to the remark of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that the invitation of the Secretary of State for the Colonies forces ‘ us to take the action that we are now taking. Nothing of the sort is the case. Our obligation to the Empire in the first place, and in the second place our obligation to ourselves, forces this action upon us. It is our’ duty as loyal subjects of the Crown, and as members of the Empire, to give all the support and countenance we can to the great ceremonial which will take place on the 26th June next. At the same time, I think there is no occasion for doing more than is appropriate, and may in reason be asked of us. The Government propose that 250 men shall be sent from Australia to take part in the Coronation procession. I ask whether there is any sort of reason why we should send so large a contingent as that, or do it at such a cost as would be involved if the men go from Australia. The Prime Minister said that the despatch of troops on this occasion would be a symbol of the cohesion of the Empire, but I contend that we have already done everything that is required of us in that direction by sending thousands of men into the field, and that we were represented very amply and very splendidly in the jubilee procession in 1897.
– The right honorable gentleman sent no troops on that occasion.
– I sent as many as I thought necessary. What capital does the Minister expect to make out of that statement? The right honorable gentleman sent only 25, and when we could not send more than that it was just as well that we did not send any. What I say is that the whole representation of the States of Australia - then the colonieswas ample for the occasion, which was one when troops were more essential to the display that was made than they will be in the present instance. Then the procession was everything ; there was np other ceremony
It was intended to display to the people of England the representatives of all the selfgoverning communities under the British Sag, and of every country and every possession of the Empire. That was the significance of the procession which was the be all and end all of the great day when the Diamond Jubilee was celebrated. At the coronation, the procession at the very best will be only a secondary consideration. The great function that is to take place in Westminster Abbey will absorb the principal interest of the people attending the celebration. I cannot see why Australia should not be adequately and effectively represented as regards her troops by the men who have seen service in South Africa. Many of them are still serving, and others are in England, and could be got together at two or three days’ notice to take their place in the procession. I am convinced that we could gather together, not from the hospitals or convalescent homes, but in England generally, a sufficient number of men who have served in South Africa to adequately represent the Commonwealth. One hundred men would be quite sufficient, bit, if necessary, 150 could be got together with the greatest possible ease, and at the least possible expense. I hope, therefore, that we shall see the vote of £26,000 cut . down to something like £11,000. The question of the illumination of public buildings is very much one of estimate. I suppose that if the State Governments illuminate their buildings, it will be the duty of the Commonwealth to do something in the same direction. Whether £5,500 will be too large or too small a sum I cannot say, but we must hold Ministers responsible and take them to task if they exceed the necessary expenditure. With reference to the rifle team which it is proposed to send to the Bisley meeting I would ask honorable members to bear with me for a few minutes whilst I describe the way in which this vote originated. Some three or four years ago, the Premiers of all the States agreed that a representative team should be sent to England under the auspices of the Australian National Rifle Association. The Minister for Defence was then one of the State Premiers, and the right honorable the Treasurer, the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the leader of the Opposision, were also among them. They were all in agreement as to the desirability of a rifle team being sent to Bisley, for the first part as a demonstration ‘ of the federal feeling of Australia, a feeling which happily or unhappily - I do not quite know which - has since been further developed by the union that has been brought about ; and in the second place to encourage and foster the use of the rifle amongst our people. It was thought that this would tend to encourage Australians in shooting, by giving them something which would stimulate them to become better defenders in time of need. Having in view the immense importance of teaching our people the use of the rifle - as to which we have had an object lesson from our enemies in South Africa - we cannot give them too much encouragement, whether by sending teams to international rifle meetings or otherwise. As to the Prime Minister’s allowance for expenses, I shall say nothing now. That is a matter of detail that may very well be left until we go into committee. On the whole question, however, I would urge that it becomes us as the people of the great Australian nation to exhibit our thorough loyalty to the Empire, our loyalty to the flag, and our recognition of the fact that we owe, an infinite debt of gratitude to the mother country, and that we ma)’ well seek opportunities to discharge that debt in every possible way - this being one of them.
– I should be very sorry to prolong this discussion, but as the largest item in the schedule is one connected with the despatch of troops, I may be expected to say a word or two. There appears to be an idea in this House that I am extravagant, and desire to spend the public money recklessly. Those who have that notion, when they know me better, will find that it is not well-founded. Moreover, if any one supposes that I desire to spend money without the authority of Parliament, he is very much mistaken.
– The right honorable gentleman told us that he once spent £600,000 in that way.
– Yes, and I would do it again, under the same conditions. I am not one of those who think that we can do without display upon great public occasions. In our private lives we find that display is necessary, and the Australian people not only have been accustomed to display, but like it. There can be no display or ceremony without the expenditure of money. We only have to look back at the celebrations in connexion with the inauguration of the Commonwealth in Sydney, or the visit of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York, to thoroughly appreciate that on occasions of great rejoicing or ceremonial it is neces-sary to spend a large amount of money in display. An idea which has found expression in this House - the’ honorable member for Gippsland has referred to it - is that the Federal Government in this matter and in a great many others has entered upon a career of extravagance. But I should like some one to tell me where the extravagance has occurred. < I am at the head of one of the largest spending departments of the Commonwealth, and I am not aware of any extravagance. I was never in any department where there is so much parsimony. I believe, greater efficiency and greater economy in administration will be attained, but we have not yet had an opportunity of entering properly upon reorganization. I very much doubt whether upon a close analysis being made of the expenditure of the Commonwealth from the date of its inauguration to the present, it would be found that as much has been spent in the Defence department as was spent by the States before federation was established. Honorable members seem to think that it is possible to take over a department, to re-organize it, to make it efficient, and to establish a system of economy before we have any legislation, and while a large portion of one’s time is spent in Parliament. How was it possible for any department to be organized and placed upon an efficient basis during the present prolonged session of Parliament, especially in the absence of legislation for the purpose? I am led to make these remarks by the observations of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who declared it was necessary to stop the gradually increasing expenditure of the Commonwealth, and who asserted that this Bill presented another instance of the extravagance of the Government. I absolutely deny that there has been any extravagance, and those who urge the contrary have not shown by figures that more has been expended upon any of the transferred departments than was spent upon them when they were under the control of the various State Governments. All that the Ministry desire is that the Commonwealth shall be adequately represented at the Coronation .ceremonies.
We hear a great deal of talk about Australia and an Australian nation. I do not. approve of the latter term. We are not a nation, but part of a great and. mighty empire, and it will be time enough . for us to call Australia a nation when she’ has taken upon herself the duties of nationhood.
– It is the expression of the leader of the right honorable gentle- man.
– When the leader of the Opposition was speaking I made an interjection which, I regret to say, has been misunderstood. I said that to send 100 men to represent the Commonwealth would be a contemptible representation. I should be sorry for any one to think that the people of England would regard any representation from Australia as contemptible. I am sure that no words of mine could bear such a construction. What I said was that the representation of the great Australian Commonwealth by only 100 men upon such an historic occasion would be a contemptible representation. I should not have used the word “ contemptible,” as it is somewhat offensive, and, therefore, I prefer to say that such a representation would be altogether inadequate. It has already been pointed out that tlie despatch ‘of’ 250 men will cost the Commonwealth ±’26,000, or 1½d. per head of the population. It seems to me that that does not constitute a very great burden upon the people.
– It represents 6d. to every family.
– The Government propose to send to represent the Commonwealth upon a great historic occasion 250 of our veterans who have fought for King and country in South Africa.- We. are all agreed that Australia should be. fully ‘ represented at the Coronation. The right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, said that we were adequately represented at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. But in his capacity as Premier of Tasmania he did not send a single soldier to those celebrations. I suppose that State was adequately represented by himself.
– The right honorable gentleman himself sent only 25 men.
– That was as many as we thought sufficient at the time, but I did not think that that representation was adequate. I should neverhave referred to this matter but that the right honorable member said that Australia was adequately represented by the military contingents on that occasion. Seeing that Western Australia despatched 25 men, whereas Tasmania sent none, I think that my reply is justified. Some one has suggested - and I admire his ingenuity - that we should arrange for a number of convalescent soldiers who are in London to represent the military forces of the Commonwealth. But I would point out that we have no evidence as to how many of these men are available. If we are to be represented at all, let us be properly represented. Let us despatch men from Australia properly clothed and equipped - men who have won their spurs in South Africa. If there are Australians who have served in South Africa in England .who are willing to join the contingent, they should be allowed to do so, but we ought not to depend solely upon them for our representation.
– Why should the display be a military one ?
-BEST. - We have been invited to be represented by military forces. Perhaps the honorable member does not want any military ettablishment aat all. Although I do not believe in spending a single penny unnecessarily, I consider that the occasion of the Coronation is not one when we should be parsimonious : on the contrary, we should take care that what we do is done well. When we remember that there has not been a coronation in England for 65 years, tthat Australia was in swaddling clothes in 1837 when the late Queen ascended the throne, that during the years which have since elapsed no hostile fleet has threatened our shores - a fact which is absolutely due to the protection afforded us by the mother country - that we have a population of 4,000,000, an annual revenue of £26,000,000, a trade representing £100,000,000 a year, and that we aspire to nationhood, we ought to take care that our representation at the Coronation is thoroughly adequate.
An Honorable Member. - I thought the right honorable gentleman claimed that we were not a nation.
– I say that we aspire to be a nation, which is quite another matter. I personally hope that the day will never come when we shall be an independent nation. I look for a larger federation than, that - the federation of the English speaking people - and if that is unattainable, my desires run in the direction, not of disintegration, but in the direction of the federation of the British Empire. Seeing that our position to-day, and our prosperity is due to the protection afforded us by the ‘ British flag, ought we - who have been elected as the representatives of the first Commonwealth Parliament - to hesitate to send troops to England at a cost of £26,000, or IJd. per head, for the purpose of doing honour to the great Empire to which we -are all proud to belong ? I think there is such a thing as meanness in matters of this sort, ‘ and meanness ought, if it does not, to engender contempt. A few years ago Australia did not occupy the place in the estimation of the world that she does at the present time, noi- was the .British Empire so consolidated. For some cause or other - perhaps chiefly through “the war in South Africa - the British Empire has been cemented to a greater degree than we could have anticipated a few years ago. Australians have won such great renown and glory on the field of battle, that in the old country the name of Australia is honoured wherever it is mentioned. The brave men we have sent to fight the battles of the Empire in South Africa have covered their country with a halo of glory. What, then, are we going to do ? We propose to send 250 of these men to represent us in the centre of the Empire upon the occasion of the King’s Coronation. That coronation does not belong to Great Britain only : it is as much our Coronation as it is that of the mother country. I ask honorable members whether the desire to economize alone actuates those who favour a reduction in the number of troops which the Government propose to send. I very much doubt it.
– What other motive does the right honorable gentleman suggest ?
– There is, I think, possibly a little of political exigency about it.
– What nonsense !
– We speak our minds, as fearlessly and as honestly as does the Minister for Defence.
– I. do not wish to attribute anything personal ; but in my opinion, which I, too, express fearlessly, this is not the occasion when ‘the representatives’ of the people should desire to make a saving of one farthing per head of our population.
– What political profit is there to be made ? There is a conundrum for the right honorable gentleman.
– Before we were federated - before we had entered into this great Commonwealth - we sent 253 troops to the Diamond Jubilee of Her late Majesty ; and I believe if we were not federated now we should send a great many more troops to His - Majesty’s Coronation than is now proposed. That may not be a good argument, but, at the same time, I contend that the representation of Australia should be thoroughly adequate.
– Formerly we sent six Premiers ; now we send only one.
– We must not forget that we have been invited to take part in this great ceremonial, and that the Imperial Government, in their hospitality, have offered to take full charge and bear the whole expense of the troops from the time they land until they leave England, and to provide all the horses required. That does not- look like parsimony on the part of the motherland, which has so many obligations, and which has to meet such immense expenditure at the present time.
– AVe will save great Britain a little expenditure on one of the items.
– GreatBritain has offered hospitality, not only to our troops, but also to the Prime Minister as the representative of the Commonwealth, and desires to do every honour to this country. I only hope that, after all our expressions of loyalty and affection, we will not let it be said, when we are asked to put our hands into our pockets and subscribe a small amount of three halfpence per head, that those expressions are on our lips but not in our hearts.
– Surely South Africa answers that. What is a procession compared with what has taken place in South Africa ?
– We must not measure loyalty by halfpennies.
– It is contemptible to drag loyalty into a question of whether we send 250 troops or 100 troops.
– The thanks of the people of Australia, whose hearts, I believe, beat truly in unison with those of the motherland, are due to the brave men who have gone forth to fight the battles of their country in South Africa, and not to this
Parliament, which has not paid anything whatever towards the campaign.
– How much has the right honorable gentleman paid ?
– It is individuals who pay.
– 1 am speaking of this Commonwealth Parliament. The Commonwealth contingents have cost Australia nothing ; in fact, Australia has been doing a great and lucrative trade with South Africa for many a long day. I fully believe the hearts of the people of Australia are in sympathy with and are loyal to the mother country ; but if we act as has been suggested by the leader of the Opposition, and send fewer men home, with the sole object of saving a few pounds, we shall undoubtedly give people an opportunity of making allegations which are altogether unjustifiable.
– What made the Government cut down the number from 580 to 250?
– We should remember that we are here as the representatives of the whole of Australia, that the good name and honour of Australia are in our keeping, and that if we have great privileges we have also great responsibilities and duties. As I said before, let us not forget that the Coronation of our King is of the same importance to us as it is to the people of the British Isles ; and that whatever we do we should do nothing which might give occasion to the enemy to blaspheme.
– It is highly essential to the dignity of Australia that the new-born Commonwealth should be fittingly represented at the Coronation ceremonies. Some objection has been offered to the military aspect of the display, but on such occasions the ceremony must be in accordance with the fitness of things. All these spectacular demonstrations must have interwoven in them the features of militarism - “ the pomp and circumstance of war” must be a dominant feature. I take it that our countrymen desire to show the wealth, greatness, and stability of the old country. We wish to show to the nations of the world the great sentiment which I hope animates us all ; that we are proud to belong to the great family of the AngloSaxon race. As to the schedule, I should like to see the first item to some extent reduced. I am an advocate of the fullest possible economy within the Commonwealth, though I do not desire that there should be any parsimonious spirit displayed on an occasion of this kind. If, however, we can fittingly reduce our expenditure it ought to be the earnest desire of this Parliament to do so. I do not entirely agree with the proposal of the leader of the Opposition that the number of troops should be reduced to 100,’ because that number would be altogether inadequate for an effective display. If it could be done without embarrassing the Ministry and without prejudicing what it is earnestly desired to accomplish on this great occasion, I should like to see the number of troops reduced by 50. That would afford a very fitting display, and at the same time effect a saving of something over £5,000. It is incumbent on us, if we possibly can, to save not only in tens of thousands, but in thousands of pounds whenever opportunity offers. The question of a rifle team for Bisley can be more fittingly considered in the committee stage, when I presume the Minister in charge of the Bill will give us the fullest possible Information. The amount set down for the expenses of the Prime Minister may be regarded as fairly reasonable. Some honorable members seem to regard the amount as somewhat extravagant, but, so far as I am enabled to judge, occasions of this kind always mean considerable expense. I am pleased, at my first entrance into this assembly of all the talents of Australia, to have an opportunity of offering a few remarks on this measure. I only hope that whatever the decision may be in regard to the number of troops, or other expenditure under the Bill, we shall be animated by a desire to do honour to the great Empire to which we belong.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).Following the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Hartnoll, I may be permitted to congratulate that gentleman on the clearness and lucidity with which he has put forward his views in his first speech to this House. I need not tell the honorable member how cordially we welcome him amongst us. If the object of the Minister for Defence was to give reasons why the Bill should be passed in the form in which it was introduced, I do not think that he has succeeded in doing what he intended to do. To drag in the question of loyalty was a very great mistake. Our loyalty has nothing to do with this matter, and is altogether beyond dispute. “We have proved it by actions which speak much louder than will the sending of 250 men to take part in the Coronation procession. “We all desire that the Commonwealth shall be fittingly represented in the Coronation ceremonies. The only question is what would be a fitting representation. The Government propose that we shall send a contingent of troops, despatch a rifle team to Bisley, illuminate our public buildings, and send the Prime Minister to England as a special representative. I am sure that the representation of the Commonwealth will be very fittingly placed in his hands. Every one will agree that his services to Australia justify the belief that he will fill the position with credit to himself and to the country. The main point of difference is as to the despatch of troops. If troops are sent, they will have nothing to do except to take part in the procession on Coronation Day; and the question we have to decide is whether it is worth while to spend £26,000 on sending 250 troops some thousands of miles in order to take part in one day’s proceedings. Of course, their presence in London will add to the display, and give eclat to the proceedings; but I do not think the expenditure involved is justifiable. The Prime Minister said that we must not flout John Bull by declining to send troops to take part in this procession. That is a stronger expression than he need have used. “We shall not flout John Bull if we decline the invitation, and it certainly cannot be considered as flouting him if we send 100 mounted men. Australia may have done only her duty to the Empire, but in the despatch of troops to South Africa she has acted in generous, fashion, and to accuse us of meanness because we do not think it worth while to spend a large sum of money on pageantry is to entirely misunderstand our position. The Prime Minister said that because England sent 1,000 men to Australia to take part in the Commonwealth inaugural proceedings, we should return the compliment ; but that does not seem to me to be a strong argument. “When the Imperial authorities sent out those troops, they did not do it with the object of getting a return of this kind, and the expense that they incurred was relatively less than the expense which we are now asked to incur.’ I shall certainly oppose the sending of a rifle team to Bisley. The rifle meeting there takes place every year, and is no part of the Coronation ceremonies. “Why then should we send representatives this year more than any other year ?
– It is part of a national movement.
– It may be part of a national movement, but it is no part of the Coronation proceedings ; and therefore, provision for the sending of a rifle team should not have been made in the Bill. I do not believe in spending money in this way, although I should like to see rifle shooting encouraged to a greater extent. With regard to the illumination of the Commonwealth buildings in the State capitals, I think that the amount proposed is adequate, and that the expenditure is justifiable.
Mi-. BROWN (Canobolas). - I think that there is ground for the objection taken early in the evening, to the expeditious way in which the Government wish to deal with this matter. We have not had sufficient time to go into all the details, but I cannot see that the communication which the Government received from the ‘home authorities in regard to the sending of troops to London is a mandatory one.
– We are not treating it as a command ; we do not expect to be commanded.
– I am glad to hear the Prime Minister make that statement. The question we have to consider is, therefore, whether it is a proper and fitting thing for the Commonwealth to incur the proposed expenditure to add to the military display in London upon, the occasion of the coronation. The Home Government have very kindly invited us to send troops, and have offered to make provision for their accommodation j but we are not compelled to accept their invitation, and there is no question of loyalty or disloyalty involved in the matter. To my mind the time has gone by when tlie expenditure of £26,000 and the sending of a couple of hundred of military men to the old country is necessary to demonstrate our loyalty to the Empire from which we sprang. While I give place to no man in my feeling of loyalty to the mother country, I wish to be loyal to the people of Australia. I ask whether it is necessary in any way to express our loyalty to the Empire by a mere show such as this. The position of affairs at the time of the Diamond Jubilee was very different from the present. On that occasion we availed ourselves of the only opportunity then presented of giving expression to our appreciation of the great services rendered to us by England’s greatest Queen. Since then we have been invited, unfortunately, to show our loyalty to the Empire by the sacrifice of our blood, and what . we have done on the battle-field speaks more strongly to the people from whom we have sprung than will the sending of a couple of hundred so-called military men to take part in the Coronation celebrations. A great deal has been made of the small expense involved, and Canada and New Zealand have been pointed to as examples for us to follow. I hold, however, that there is no analogy between our case and theirs. The Minister for Defence has told us that the cost will represent only about 1^-d. per head of the people within the Commonwealth ; but when we consider that it will be necessary, in order to provide the £35,000 required, to levy taxation of four times that amount, the burden imposed upon the taxpayers will be more serious than at first sight appears. The people of the Commonwealth will have to be taxed to the extent of £140,000 to provide for this so-called expression of our loyalty to the Empire, by the sending of 250 men to take part in a big military display in which they will be completely lost. Assuming that it is considered desirable that the Commonwealth should be represented by troops, there is no reason why the suggestion made by the honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, should not be adopted. We should then be assured that -the Commonwealth would be represented by real soldiers, who have proved their loyalty on the battle-field, instead of probably a lot of purely ornamental men. The taxation required to be levied to provide the funds necessary for the Government proposal will be equivalent to 2s. 6d. per family upon the whole population of the Commonwealth. It is true that that amount only represents what is required in order to register a dog in New South Wales, but under the Federal Government we have been registering a lot of dogs, and have been taxing the people so heavily that we should be very careful about increasing their burdens. At the outset of our federal career we should see that the Constitution is made as workable as possible, but we shall be travelling in the opposite direction if we unduly increase taxation. The proposal to send a rifle team to the Bisley meeting should not be in any way mixed up with the appropriations for the Coronation celebrations. The Commonwealth are not called upon to finance any such enterprise. Those who want to go home for a holiday should pay their own expenses. In New South Wales we have been endeavouring to encourage rifle practice amongst the people, and we have appealed in vain to the Government for assistance. We are told that the finances will not permit of any assistance being given to rifle clubs. In my electorate there are several important centres where rifle companies are ready to be formed, and they have so far failed to secure the necessary permission and assistance, because of that parsimony of which the Minister for Defence has complained. On behalf of
One of these rifle clubs, which has been in existence for two or three years, and has not yet been provided with rifles, I suggested to the Minister for Defence that some of the rifles captured in South Africa might be brought here and utilized until arms of the regulation pattern could be supplied. But the Minister apparently thinks that it would cost too much even to act upon that idea. At the same time, he is prepared for the purposes of show to spend £26,000. I wish to see the Com* monwealth properly represented at the Coronation celebrations, and I hope that the Prime Minister will proceed to Loudon for that purpose, and that a liberal allowance will be made for his expenses. I shall therefore support the second reading of the Bill, reserving to myself the right to review the items in the schedule in committee. So fatas the military representation of the Commonwealth is concerned, I do not think we could do better than despatch the Minister for Defence to London. He would make a worthy representative, and would uphold our honour and dignity, and be noticed where even a great multitude of our soldiers would be lost sight of. There is no question of loyalty, or of our being under a command from the old country to send troop3 to the celebrations involved in this matter. In view of these circumstances, I shall vote against any expenditure that would have the result of imposing unnecessary burdens upon the taxpayers.
– The burden of the song of many honorable members has been that we should be adequately represented at the great historical event that is about to take place in London, but at the same time they have cavilled at the proposals of the Government. After having nobly expressed a grand sentiment, they have immediately proceeded to whittle down the Government proposal. Every tongue has been a knife to whittle away the provisions of the Bill. If Queensland were in the same position now that she was in two years ago the Government of the State would regard the present proposal as wholly inadequate for the representation of Queensland alone. What are honorable members doing here to-night? Before the Commonwealth was established, every man looked forward, through his mental telescope, to the great future that would be before us as a Commonwealth. We expected that great results would be accomplished from the centralizing of administration in connexion with the Postal and Telegraph and Defence departments, and that generally we should enter upon a higher national life. Now, however, that we have an opportunity of paying proper respect to the Throne, and giving a token of our goodwill and attachment ‘ to the Empire, honorable members are turning the telescope the other way, and dwarfing our aspirations in regard to the Empire and Australian interests and sentiments. Let honorable members once more reverse the telescope, and look through it from the right end. Let them try to- see that the Government are proposing to do the right thing. When I consider what was done in 1897, I look upon £33,000 as an attenuated vote. In 1897 Australia was fairly well represented in London by something like 300 troops, inclusive of those from New Zealand.
– Two hundred and fiftythree altogether.
– One hundred of them were in London at the time, so that only 153 went from here direct.
– PATERSON. - The honorable member for Canobolas said that a detachment of 250 Australians would be lost in the great coronation procession ; but as one of those who was present in London during the jubilee celebrations, and who witnessed the procession, I can say that as the Australians appeared there rang out the greatest cheers - cheers upon cheers - that were heard during the whole progress of that great pageant.
That was a great spectacle, and a fitting accompaniment of the Diamond Jubilee of Her late Majesty the Queen, and we should be cowards if we did not properly interpret the great event of the Coronation of King Edward. Who, I ask, paid the expense of sending Captain Cook to Australia to appropriate it for the British people? Who gave us this great country, with all its timber and natural resources ? Was it not Great Britain ? All this magnificent continent was given to us free, gratis, and yet forsooth we are to begrudge an expenditure of £26,000 to insure the proper represents, tion of the Commonwealth upon a great historic occasion. I believe that if this Parliament declares that the Commonwealth taxpayers cannot afford to pay 2d. per head, there are men in Australia who will gladly incur the proposed expenditure, if they are only given-reasonable notice. Even if we had to borrow £35,000 at 3 per cent., what would the annual tax represent ?
– Does the honorable member suggest that this expenditure should be provided out of loan money ?
– I know that if the leader of the Opposition were Prime Minster he would ask for a much larger sum than £35,000. Even if the Commonwealth were in such financial straits that we had to borrow this money - and we ought to borrow it, if we have not got it - the annual amount payable by the taxpayer in this connexion would represent only about one thirty-second of a penny. How many members of this House have married upon borrowed money ? How many have attended birthday and wedding celebrations upon borrowed money ? I am satisfied that if we fail to offer the people of England a substantial token of our goodwill we shall be sorry for it ever afterwards, and shall diminish the importance of Australia in the eyes of the world.
– Having cast a vote in the last division as a protest against the way in which this measure has been introduced, I do not intend to offer any factious opposition to the proposals embodied in the Bill. I fully recognise that the occasion is one which demands from us some expenditure. The question at issue is what expenditure are we justified in incurring? I cannot subscribe to the doctrine that no representation of Australia is necessary in the procession which will take place in London. At the same time I am not prepared to accept the proposal of the Government as it stands. I believe that without any disadvantage to ourselves, we can reduce the expenditure which is proposed in connexion with the despatch of troops by £10,000. The streets of London are narrow, and will be crowded upon Coronation day with an excited multitude, so that as long as there is a group of Australian horsemen in the procession, it will matter little whether that group contains 100 or 500 men. Therefore I regard the proposal of the leader of the Opposition as a reasonable one, and shall accordingly support it. I am entirely opposed, however, to the expenditure of £2,000 to send a rifle team to compete at Bisley. Any person who knows anything of the conditions of modern rifle shooting must be well aware that matches as carried on by first-class shots constitute an absolute parody upon the conditions of fighting in the field. These first-class shots appear on the rifle ranges with most elaborate paraphernalia, consisting of paints, paint brushes, wind gauges, &c, and to encourage that sort of thing is to my mind absurd. If it is sought to establish shooting competitions which will enable our men to become proficient in the conditions of active warfare I shall be willing to give the Government every possible assistance. But so long as the present conditions prevail, the proposal of the Government to spend money in sending a rifle team to Bisley is unjustifiable: I would much prefer to see money expended - as has been suggested - in the erection of a Commonwealth arch in London. Such an arch can be made in many respects an advertisement for Australia, and 1 believe that if we can associate an advertisement of our resources with this demonstration of loyalty, we shall be justified in so. doing. The other items contained in the schedule seem to be fairly reasonable, and will accordingly command my vote.
– It seems to me that the proposals of the Government are upon the whole exceedingly moderate. Most of the speakers to-day seem to have lost sight of the fact that we have been invited by the home authorities to send troops to the Coronation. Early in the discussion the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne made what I venture to consider one of the best speeches of the debate. He pointed out that we had received an invitation from the Imperial authorities.
– Not to send a specified number.
– True, the number was not specified, but the home authoties expected that Australia would be well represented, because they stated that the maximum number should be 580. Now, a reduction from 580 to 250 is a considerable one, and if we act on the suggestion to still further reduce the number I am afraid that the home Government will think we have not accepted the invitation in the spirit in which it was made. Surely upon such a great historic occasion, and in view of the fact that other portions of the Empire are likely to be represented by as large a body of troops as that proposed for the Commonwealth, honorable members should readily assent to the Ministerial proposition. I do not wish to dwell upon any other item save that of the £2,000 which it is proposed to spend in sending a rifle team to Bisley. It is true that the proposal has no connexion whatever with the Coronation ceremonies. The Prime Minister has explained how the item has found its way into the schedule. It appears that a promise was made that this money should be placed upon the Estimates. The Estimates, however, have not yet been submitted, and theindividuals who wish togo to Bisley desire to know whether or not this House is prepared tovote the necessary money. Personally I am very loth to vote this sum of £2,000, which could be very much better spent in the direction forshadowed by the honorable member for Parramatta. Prizes in the shape of shields or trophies could be offered by the Commonwealth throughout Australia for shooting under conditions as nearly as possible those of actual warfare. The present Commandant of the forces, and also Lord Roberts, have pointed out that shooting at fixed targets is by no means all that is wanted, and the suggestion which I have made would prove of great advantage.
– There are movable targets at Bisley.
– A permanent trophy known as the Coronation Cup or King’s Cup might be shot for throughout generations, and such competitions would be really useful to Australia. There may be movable targets at Bisley, but at the same time the competitions there, so far as Australians are concerned, are only for one year. How far the Government are bound by any alleged promise I of course do not know.
– Have the Ministry pledged the country?
– I do not know, but it seems that people expect this money to be voted. When we get into committee I shall be prepared to vote for the Government proposals, excepting that for sending a team to Bisley. In many respects this is a very special occasion, and, speaking as one born in Australia, I feel it would be a disgrace if Australians were unworthily represented.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).This is a matter on which one cannot give a silent vote, because to do so may lead to an honorable member being misunderstood by the House a.nd the country. Personally I am opposed to military displays of any kind, but seeing that the Coronation is altogether a military display, I must give way to some extent, and endeavour to reach a compromise. No doubt we ought to do a great deal in order to demonstrate our loyalty and the integrity of the Empire, but we cannot forget that we have large obligations nearer home. It has been prophesied that this will be a very trying winter in Australia, and consequently we should not be rash in our expenditure. A fair compromise has been offered, and allegiance to the Government is the only motive which induces me to support a considerable expenditure in the direction proposed. We certainly should not like to place the Government in the invidious position of shabbily or unworthily representing the country on this occasion. We should remember that had Australia been still divided into six States, each State, one vieing with the other, would have spent a great deal more than is proposed under this Bill.
– About six times as much.
– Nevertheless there are still great obligations resting on us here in connexion with the Commonwealth. Above all, this House has to justify federation by economy, and it would be undesirable, from that point of view, to carry out the proposals of the Government as submitted. A saving of £10,000 by a reduction of the number of troops to 100 is a considerable item. I have not much objection to the proposal to illuminate the Commonwealth buildings in the State capitals, because that means the employment of a number of men now unemployed, and I sincerely hope that every possible penny will be spent in that direction. In that way we shall largely compensate for the large expenditure which is proposed. The proposal to send a team to Bisley has few friends, and we may regard that matter as decided. But honorable members who are prepared to give £26,000 in order to send a contingent to England, and yet cavil at the proposal for a Bisley team, seem to me to be “ straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.” If we make any display it should be in connexion with the industrial arts. As the honorable member. for Gippsland has well said, we are an industrial, and not a warlike, people, and we send to England in order to demonstrate the fact that we intend to help the Empire in the way of supplying foodstuff’s. There are other reasons why we in Australia should not send a large representation of our military to London. I am perfectly satisfied that when the people in England consider that these men have to travel 12,000 or 13,000 mile’s they will regard 150 men from Australia as representative as 1,000 men from Canada.
– It is as easy to send 250 men as 1 50.
– But 250 men will cost more money.
– That is the point.
– It is not as easy to send 250 men if that number costs more. The whole question is one of economy, and I am in favour of the compromise under which 150 men will be sent. I further favour the striking out of the proposal to send a team to Bisley ; but I am by no means in favour of reducing the modest sum required by the Prime Minister in order that he may worthily represent the Commonwealth.
– It may be said that the expenses are not very great on this occasion, but the difficulty is that we are not quite sure where the expenses will end. In New South Wales the Government asked for a vote of £20,000 for the Commonwealth inaugurations, and yet I understand that these expenses amounted eventually to over £100,000/
– I believe the New South Wales Government allege that they made a profit.
– All I know is that the New South Wales Government had to pay considerably over £100,000 under this head. We are asked for £5,000 for the purpose of illuminating the public offices in six capitals. I undertake to say that the illuminations on this scale would not amount to more than sticking a tallow candle on the top of the Sydney Post-office. In all the States at the present time the Governments and the press are advocating economy. The Premiers are continually making speeches, and communicating with honorable members in this Chamber, directly or indirectly, asking that expenses may be curtailed in order that additional revenue may be returned to the States. It can be seen that the finances of the various States are likely to be in a bad condition in the future, and that every penny will be required to keep them straight. In the face of all this the Federal Government ask us to pass this Bill, though we have no guarantee that the amount provided will cover the expenditure.
– The Minister for Defence has already made a promise as to sending a rifle team to Bisley.
– I have made no promise.
– I read that Colonel Oldershaw reported to a meeting on the subject of sending a team to Bisley that an assurance had been received from Sir John Forrest that the Federal Government vote would be granted.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– Did the honorable member see that in a newspaper ? How can he believe it 1
– It was particularly pointed out that the Government could not guarantee the amount until it was voted.
– That is so.
– I am quoting from a report by Colonel Oldershaw.
– I never corresponded with Colonel Oldershaw in my life.
– Then the right honorable gentleman ought to see that Colonel Oldershaw is dealt with. He says that an assurance has been received from the right honorable gentleman that the money will be granted.
– The only communication we have had has been with the Rifle Association itself, and we have clearly stated that the association must not take it for granted that the money will be available until it has been voted by this House.
– No Government can guarantee that the House will agree to expenditure.
– I know that; but Ministers often make promises for which, in their cooler moments, they are very sorry. However, I leave the Minister to fight this matter out with the parties themselves. I arn opposed to the sending of troops to London. If it is necessary to be represented, then I agree with the leader of the Opposition that it would be a good thing if the people recognised that they were adequately represented by the’ presence there of the Prime .Minister. I think, however, that we should do something to let the people of England understand the commerical value of this country. If we are going to become a nation, it will, not be by taking all occasions for displaying our military powers, but by cultivating peaceful, industrial methods, and developing our magnificent resources. We want every penny we can get for that work, and there are many other ways in which we could more profitably spend our money than in sending a body of troops to London. It would be much better to establish ten or eleven scholarships of £100 each, available for students in various parts of the Commonwealth, and call them, if you like, the “Coronation “ scholarships. That would provide a lasting memorial of the occasion, whereas the despatch of the troops will be forgotten a month after the procession has taken place. £5,000 seems to me a wholly insufficient sum for the. illumination of the Commonwealth buildings in the various State capitals, and the expenditure of such an amount will only make a farce of the whole business. ‘ I am therefore opposed to that proposal. In my opinion we could have done without this Bill altogether. The Government might very well have taken the responsibility, by Executive minute, of furnishing the Prime Minister with the money required to take him to England and bring him back again.
– That would have been an illegal appropriation.
– Yes ; but it could have been ratified afterwards by Parliament. I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I should not rise to further protract the discussion if it were not understood that a division is to be called for on the motion for the second reading. While I feel bound to vote for the Bill, I entertain strong objections to some of its provisions. I think that, as a loyal part of the Empire, we must in some way take part in the celebrations connected with the Coronation of the King, and that the proposal to send home the Prime Minister to represent the Commonwealth is one which should be indorsed by everybody. The right honorable gentleman should be supplied with sufficient funds to enable him to adequately perform his mission. But with regard to the proposal to send troops to London to take part in a pageant, I think that, considering how far we are from England, we are not justified in incurring the extravagant expenditure which it will involve. I do not know how the Treasurer can find it in his conscience to square it with utterances which he has made in regard to other matters. Such an expenditure is in no way necessary to declare the loyalty of our people to the Empire. Our loyalty has already been sufficiently demonstrated, and when occasion arises I am sure that we shall be prepared to demonstrate it again. The honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Hartnoll, has said that the pomp and circumstance of glorious war always plays a part in pageantries of the kind which we are considering ; but “ different times, different manners ;” and although some of the ancestors of His Gracious Majesty may have been called to the kingship by the simple act of their soldiers in raising them upon their shields, the time will come, if it has not come already, when we shall celebrate functions like these by the display, not of military troops, but of the arts of peace. Considering, moreover, that the people are everywhere agitating for retrenchment and the reduction of the hitherto excessive expenditure of the municipal, States, and Commonwealth Governments, we are not justified in spending money in the way proposed. The proposal for a compromise, however, by reducing the contingent from 250 to 150 or 100 men is altogether contemptible. If it is right to send any men at all, we should send enough to make a good display, but I do not think it is necessary. The proposal to spend money for illuminating the Commonwealth buildings is, I think, defensible. W e should have some form of public rejoicing on the occasion. I should also like to see erected in the streets of the great metropolis of the Empire a trophy or triumphal arch, which will be emblematic of Australia’s progress, and will display the source of our real strength. The proposal to send a rifle team to Bisley was dead at its inception. It has nothing to do with the coronation celebrations, and I do not think the House intends to give it any consideration. As I have already stated, I am not prepared to increase our military expenditure, and thus add to what I consider the great menace to Australia - want of economy in all directions, and the growing desire to set ourselves before the world as a military nation. Thank Cod, we have been able to hold our own in military matters, and when the time comes I hope we shall do so again ; but our real strength is not in our military prowess, but in our cultivation of the arts of peace.
– I cannot permit a vote to be taken without expressing my opinions with regard to this measure. I am not in accord with those ou this side of the Chamber who believe that much of the proposed expenditure is unnecessary. It cannot be contended that we are at this stage of our history called upon to show our loyalty to the Empire. That has already been shown ; in the first place, by the liberal and generous manner in which the various States sent contingents to South Africa, and, afterwards, by the action of United Australia in sending the Commonwealth contingents. What remains for us to do on the present occasion, which I should be the last to belittle, is to see that Australia is properly represented at the Coronation, to which every part of the Empire will send representatives. We shall have as our representative the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and the link of Australian military union with tlie Empire should not be missing. As India, Canada, and other parts of the Empire will be represented by troops, it would be unseemly if we were not so represented. When we consider, however,. that the sending of a small body of 250 men to England will cost £26,000, and that the financial position of some of the States is anything but satisfactory, it behoves us to study economy. We need not be parsimonious, because there can be no more parsimony in sending 125 men than in despatching 250. It is all a question of degree, and the Government might as well have brought down a proposal to send 500 or 1,000 men. If the Commonwealth had been established for some years, and the finances were in a flourishing condition, and it were not known that some of the State Treasurers find it difficult to make ends meet, it might have been desirable to spend even £100,000 in making an adequate display. We have, however, to face conditions as they are, and if we send home 125 men our troops will serve with those representing other portions of the Empire to make a sufficient display. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, but I trust that there will be no necessity to go to a division, and that we shall nob present even the appearance of want of unanimity upon a point upon which we are all agreed, namely, our desire to show the greatest possible respect for the Empire, and to do everything that is in our power bo assist ab the great function that is about to take place, consistently, however, with our duty to the various States which we represent.
– When the division was taken at an earlier stage, I voted with the majority in order that honorable members might have an opportunity of expressing their views on this Bill. I now desire bo say that I am strongly opposed to the measure from beginning to end. There can be no question of loyalty as far as Australia is concerned. On the battlefields of South Africa we have shown our desire to assist the Empire, and, before consenting to the expenditure of such a large sum of money as is now proposed, we should look very closely at home. Under all the circumstances, we can best do our duty, not only to England, but to ourselves, by keeping down our expenditure. It has been urged that because the British Government sent out 1,000 soldiers to take part in the Commonwealth celebrations, we should therefore send home a considerable body of men to represent us during the Coronation ceremonies. I would point out, however, that the Imperial contingent was sent here in recognition of what Australia had done for Great Britain, and there is no necessity for us to return the compliment thus paid to us. We have heard a great deal about the invitation sent to the Prime Minister, but we all know that these invitations really originate with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the
Bight Honorable_ Joseph Chamberlain. If, therefore, we think it is better for us to protect the taxpayers of the Common wealth, and not commit any extravagance, I am sure that the British Government will recognise that we have had an important duty to discharge nearer home which has prevented us from accepting their invitation to the fullest extent.
– It is my intention to vote for the second reading of the Bill, but I shall support the reduction of the proposed vote for sending troops to England, and oppose the vote for the Bisley rifle team and the illuminations. I think that we have’ no more right to send a rifle team to the Bisley meeting than we should have to defray the expense of sending a football or any other sporting team to the old country. If it is desired to assist our riflemen in their shooting practice we can spend £2,000 to much more advantage than in sending a team to Bisley. The honorable and learned member for Brisbane told us that if we had not the money necessary to meet the expenses involved by the Government proposal we could borrow it, but I trust the Commonwealth will not start to borrow money for such purposes as this.
– It was not suggested.
– The honorable and learned member said that if we had not the money we might borrow it. I do not think the loyalty of Australia requires to be advertised by sending a few soldiers to England. We could advertise the Commonwealth, if that is all that is desired-
– No one said that.
– Honorable members seem to think that we should gain something in that direction. We could bring our products and our resources very much more prominently under the notice of the people of Great Britain by erecting an arch in a prominent position in the city of London than by sending a number of soldiers there.
– If the honorable member allows us to go to a vote I will give him the arch, and knock out the Bisley rifle team.
– An arch could not be erected for the money that it is proposed to appropriate for the expenses of the Bisley rifle team. If we sent 250 men to England they would pass a given- spot in less than five minutes - probably in two minutes - and we are being asked to vote a large sum of money for the purpose of making a brief and ineffective display. The Commonwealth would have to pay too dearly for the satisfaction of being represented at the celebrations in the way proposed.
– I think that to suggest that we are sending our troops to England for the purpose of advertising ourselves is biking somewhat low ground. It is proposed to despatch the troops as a compliment to the great Empire of which we form a part, and in return for the magnificent compliment that the Empire paid us by sending 1,000 troops to take part in the Commonwealth celebrations. I agree with the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Cameron, in many of his arguments, but not in his conclusions. I regret that we have to incur this expenditure, but this is a case of noblesse oblige. We are not only proud of the Empire, but we desire the Empire to be proud of us ; and what would be thought of us if we were to refrain from sending forth the men who are asked for ? A great deal has been said about arches, but unfortunately the terms of the invitation bind us to a particular kind of representation. Probably not one tithe of the people of London would see an arch, but nearly everyone would see the troops. Moreover, it is not a representation of our industries, but of our own flesh and blood - of the men who fought for the Empire - which the people of England desire to see. I believe we shall find that even from a commercial point of view ifc will be profitable for us to send our troops to England. The number of men proposed to be sent away may very well be reduced from 250 to 150, and I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, with the intention of afterwards supporting this reduc-tion, and of striking out the provision for despatching a rifle team to the Bisley meeting.
– I agree with the proposal of the Government that we should be fittingly and adequately represented at the Coronation celebrations. I think also that the response to the invitation sent to us should be prompt and cordial. I do not, however, agree with the Government to the full extent of their proposals, and I shall do my best to reduce them without lessening the adequacy of our representation. I incline to the opinion already expressed that a contingent of, say, 100, if supplemented by Australians who are already in London, would be sufficient to adequately represent the Commonwealth. By adopting that course we can reduce the expenditure involved to a very considerable extent. Personally I cannot see any objection to such a proposal. Apart from that fact altogether, I think thepresent is a time above all others when we ought to insure that the Commonwealth shall be fittingly represented. It has been said that the Coronation of the King is not an every day occurrence, and as all the rest of the Empire will be represented, it would seem an ungracious and illconditioned state of things if Australia did not desire to be similarly represented.
Mr. BARTON (Hunter- Minister for External Affairs). - I do not want to make any reply to the speeches which have been delivered, because any further discussion which may be necessary can take place in committee. But I wish to indicate what to my mind seems to be the proper course for the House to pursue. Concerning the despatch of a rifle team to Bisley, I may say at once that I fully appreciate that it would be a waste of time to attempt to proceed with that vote. I shall therefore allow the item to be negatived. Regarding the proposal of the Government to send troops to the Coronation, I think that a majority of honorable members will be with me in saying that we may fairly ask for a vote of at least £16,000 in this connexion. I shall ask for that vote, and shall amend our original proposal accordingly. I shall also take into consi deration the suggestion which has been made to strengthen the contingent by available soldiers of the Commonwealth in London. I should like, however, to say in regard to that matter, that there is some danger of an invidious distinction being made, because if there are any who deserve to be rewarded for their services to the Empire, it is those who have been maimed and injured, and are therefore least fit for service. That fact raises a difficulty which I am not going to exaggerate.
– An armless sleeve in the procession would not matter.
– Certainly not, but if the honorable member had seen what I saw in London at the Horse Guards, he would better understand what I mean.
– Will the number of troops be reduced?
– The number will have to be largely reduced, and we shall have to consider what number it is possible to send within the limits of an expenditure of £1 6,000. If we can send more than 150 with that amount without depriving the men of their legitimate pay - which I will not do - I will see what can be done to increase the number. Honorable members will see that I have made a considerable concession on behalf of the Government. I therefore ask them not to reduce the amount set apart for the illumination of the Commonwealth buildings, because it is the smallest amount with which any decent show can be made.
Question put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 59
Noes … … … 6
Majority … … 53
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I desire, in conformity with what I said on the second reading, to reduce the first item by £10,000, leaving the amount for the contingent of Commonwealth mounted troops at £1 6,000.
– Before the Prime Minister submits that amendment, I desire to move -
That the words “ Contingent of Commonwealth mounted troops “ be omitted.
My object is to provide that no military contingent be sent to the Coronation. To send troops will encourage a spirit of militarism, not only here, but in the old country. At the first Jubilee of Her late Majesty, and also at the Diamond Jubilee, we sent military forces and representatives of no other class to England. Before we take such a step we should see that our present military forces are fairly paid. There is no doubt that in addition to the effort to increase the spirit of militarism ; there is, as a natural consequence, a desire to increase the spirit of Imperialism ; and I object that the only class, which goes from Australia to the Coronation should be the military. Those who were present at the Jubilee celebrations will remember that the colonial troops did not occupy a prominent, or even respectable, place in the procession.
– They did.
– From authentic newspaper reports, and from others who were present, we learn that the procession of the Australian troops was divided from the principal procession, and occupied altogether a subordinate place.
– Not at all.
– The colonial troops occupied a leading place.
– The leading place.
– Whatever position they occupied, they were not in the same part of the procession as the Queen was. It has been argued that because the
Imperial Government sent troops here at the inauguration of the Commonwealth, we should now send troops to England ; but if we sent troops from here in proportion to our population, as has been proposed by the Minister, we should send84 men, 3 2-3 of whom would come from Tasmania. I donot submit this amendment on the ground of economy only, and if it be defeated I shall vote for no compromise. If the Government believe that 250 men are necessary, they should stick to their proposal.
– I support the amendment of the honorable member for Corio, though I do not indorse or sympathize with all his reasons. In my opinion there is no necessity for this military display, and the Government proposal is much more objectionable on the smaller than on the larger scale. If we have to send troops let us do the thing well ; but as I believe there is no reason for any display of the kind, I shall vote for the amendment. In this and in other matters we are apt to be carried away by what is being done by New Zealand, but if New Zealand chooses to take what I consider to be a foolish line of action, there is no need for the’ Commonwealth to follow suit. We do not want to vie with New Zealand extravagance; and the proposed military display is not necessary to adequately express the loyalty of the people of the Commonwealth. The Government proposal involves an unwarrantable expense which we are not justified in incurring at this early stage of the history of the. Commonwealth.
– The Government have shown themselves so thoroughly impressed with the views which I and others have put forward that we ought not to haggle over the question of whether the expenditure shall be £16,000 or £13,000. I am quite prepared to accept the figure mentioned by the Prime Minister, with a view to prevent unnecessary discussion. Personally, I should have preferred a smaller number of men, but when the Government come so near to my suggestion, the least I can do is to accept their offer. I do not yield to the Ministry in the conviction that we should have a display of the kind suggested ; indeed, it is absolutely imperative. If, in the procession at the Coronation, Commonwealth troops, in the shape of a mounted detachment, took no part, there would be a significant and ugly gap in the representation of the Empire. I believe that with the smaller amount of expenditure we shall have a thoroughly adequate result, reinforced as the troops will be by a number of worthy veterans in England, who are just as much entitled to take part as are any men now in Australia. Under proper management it will be found that, with the amount we are now pretty well agreed shall be given, the representation of the Com mon wealth will come up to all the expectations of the Ministry.
– The leader of the Opposition has pretty well expressed what I wished to say. I had thought that a unit of 120 men would be ample, seeing that they could be reinforced in England to the extent of another half unit or whole unit. I do not agree with those wholook with contempt on the proposal to reinforce the Commonwealth troops in London. If we are to be represented at all, I do not think we could bie more suitably represented than by men who have fought in South Africa, and who, in consequence of their wounds have been sent convalescent to England. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that the effect of the display will not be detracted from because of an empty sleeve or two in the procession. However, as the Prime Minister has come so far to meet our views, it would be ungenerous to cavil about £2,000 or £3,000. I desire, however, to take strong exception to an expression that I was surprised to hear fall from the Minister for Defence, who is the last man in the House I should have thought would accuse members of a cowardly act.
– I never did anything of the sort.
– The Minister for Defence said that he did not believe that those who took exception to the Government proposals on the ground of economy were sincere, but expressed the opinion that they were actuated by some political motive. As I was one of the first members to take exception to the amount of this vote, I can tell the Minister for Defence that I am just as independent in expressing my views as any other honorable member of the House. I came into this House absolutely unpledged to any Government.
– The honorable member is too thin-skinned.
– When I have occasion to take exception to any act of the honorable gentleman he will find that I shall tell him so as straightly as I can find language to convey my meaning. I shall not dissemble my real intentions under any subterfuge of the kind that the honorable gentleman hinted at. I have nothing to add in regard to the Bill. I congratulate the Prime Minister on the graceful manner in which he has met the views of honorable members ; and seeing that the proposal for a Bisley team will be abandoned, I think that the other items might now be passed in a few minutes.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).When the Bill was discussed in the House it was suggested that the troops might be augmented in London, and expense thus saved. When that suggestion was made I dissented from it. If men who are in London are asked to join the procession, they should be paid, just as those who are sent from Australia will be paid. I should like to know from the Prime Minister if he proposes that they shall receive remuneration for their services.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the amendment before the chair.
– I voted for the second reading of the Bill, although I consider that, on the whole, Australia will be adequately represented in London by the presence there of the Prime Minister, and I was at first inclined to vote against the sending of troops ; not that I am afraid that these manifestations of our military power are likely to create a spirit of militarism among our population, but because I object to excessive display. In my opinion, the simpler the ceremonial the better, and I always associate splendacious ostentation with vulgarity. I understand, however, that the Secretary of State for the Colonies has requested that troops be sent, and to refuse such a request would be to administer to that gentleman something in the nature of a snub. I shall, therefore, vote for the proposal of the leader of the Opposition, although a display of official rubrics is opposed to my own tastes. There was a time when the exhibition of the trappings of office was thought necessary, and it was sought to impress the public by an appeal to tho eye rather than to the reason ; but in the beginning of the 20th century we should try rather to practise simplicity, and leave true dignity to create its own impression.
– As the House has, by a large majority, affirmed the opinion that the Prime Minister should represent the Commonwealth in London, and that a military contingent should be despatched to swell the Coronation procession, I think it is petty to quarrel about details, and, therefore, though I voted against the Bill, I shall not take any further action in regard to it, either by voting or pairing.
– The honorable member for Tasmania misconstrues the action of some of those who voted for the second reading. I did so because, if the Bill were not passed, there would be no proper authority for the vote proposed tobe granted to cover the Prime Minister’s expenses, and I consider that it is necessary that he should go to London to represent us. But I do not approve of other provisions in the Bill, and while the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition may have come to a compromise in regard to the proposed despatch of a contingent, I and a number of others are prepared, when the opportunity presents itself, to vote against that proposal in its entirety. I do not wish to again go into the reasons which actuate me, further than to say that I believe that the Commonwealth will be adequately represented by the Prime Minister, and that I do not think the military display is necessary.
– I trust that the sum proposed for the contingent will be sufficient. Although it may look a large one, we must remember that if each of the States sent its own contingent the aggregate cost would probably be far greater, and it is evident to me that if the States had not federated they would have sent their own contingents. When we wished to inaugurate the Commonwealth with the greatest amount of ceremony, the Home Government, at our invitation, sent out 1,000 men representing the various military forces of the Empire, at a cost of not less than £150,000, and at a time when they were in the middle of an expensive war. ‘ That being so, we are called upon to accept their invitation to send men to swell the Coronation procession. If it had been a foreign nation which had sent its troops to take part in our Commonwealth inaugural celebrations, not a man in the House would have refused to allow our Government to reciprocate on an occasion like this.
– Some of us would have done so.
– At any rate the majority would have agreed to the proposal. I only trust that the amount provided in the Bill will be sufficient. With regard to the sum proposed to meet the expenses of the Prime Minister, I think it is altogether too small, and that he will not be able to carry out his mission, except at some expense to himself.
– I wish to point out that as we do not aim at building up a nation of swashbucklers, and are a producing, not a military people, our part of the celebrations should be a demonstration to the people of the old world of the natural riches we possess in our mineral, agricultural, and pastoral resources. The suggestion has been made that we should construct an arch, or something of that kind in London, and I should like to see that done in substitution for the proposed military representation. I am glad that the Government have agreed to reduce the numbers of the proposed contingent, and I hope that they will now see their way, instead of sending men toAustralia, to take advantage of those who are serving in South Africa, and thus obtain a worthy representation at a minimum of cost.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).With the last speaker and the honorable member for Bland, I admit freely that it is unnecessary for us to send troops to England to demonstrate our loyalty.
– It is not necessary to send the Prime Minister there for that reason.
– That is so. Our loyalty has been demonstrated over and over again during recent years by the shedding of our blood in defence of the Empire. We have it on the authority of the Prime Minister that every other part of the Empire will be represented by military contingents, and the question for us to consider is, whether we shall respond to the invitation, or become conspicuous as the only part of the Empire unrepresented by troops at the celebrations. As to the value of our troops in the procession, I take it that the authorities at home have thoroughly considered the matter, and that they are the best judges. I cannot help feeling that this demonstration will represent a great deal for the Empire in the eyes of the world. It will show that when the stress and strain of war was greatest, we werejust as strong as ever in our expressions of loyalty to the Empire, and just as keen to show our appreciation of the Constitution under which we live.
– I do not follow the honorable member when he says that we must confine ourselves to sending our troops to England. A festivity such as that which is about to take place should be made the occasion not only of a military display, but of a demonstration by the toilers in ail the great industries that make our country great. I do not wishto be misunderstoodin this matter. I am in favour of sending a contingent to the Coronation, and I shall vote for the Government proposal, but I think that it is our duty as a peaceful community to indicate that we desire peace, and to see the representatives of industrial peace at ceremonies of this kind. We have no desire to show that we are a military people, but that we are one with the people of other parts of the Empire in our aspirations, and members of the great industrial unions would be more fit representatives of the Commonwealth than would a military force. I believe that militarism has received a severe blow. I do not wish to follow the contentious statements of the Minister for Defence beyond saying that I believe in the army, and in every man being ready to take up arms to defend his country.
– The atmosphere of this Chamber seems pregnant with the spirit of economy, and I hope, therefore, that the honorable members will economize time, and allow us to arrive at a decision without any further delay.
Question - That the words “ Contingent of Commonwealth mounted troops” proposed to be omitted stand part of the schedule - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 47
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That the figure “2,” line . 2, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “ 1 . “
This will reduce the amount of the vote for the military contingent from £26,000 to £16,000.
– I should like to know if we are to have any guarantee that the reduced vote will not be exceeded. It is all very well for the Government to say that they will endeavour to economize, but I think we are entitled to some guarantee.
– The honorable member must know that Governments are not expected to giveguarantees in cases of this kind. They are invested with certain authority to spend money, and if they exceed their authority, they are likely to suffer
– Although the Prime Minister has just enunciated what is a sound constitutional principle, I am perfectly sure, in view of the feeling which has been expressed by the committee, that he will make it a matter of concern to carry out the manifest desire of honorable members.
Mr.Barton. - I shall endeavour, in all cases, not to exceed the amount, but I will not give a guarantee.
– I merely desire to point out that honorable members voteda short time ago under the impression that 150 troops would be sent to the Coronation ceremony. I hope, therefore, that the manifest wish of the House, though not expressed, will be given effect to.
Amendment agreed to.
– I wish to impress upon the Government the unfairness of restricting the representation of Australia to troops from the mounted regiments.
– As long as they can ride they will be taken from all branches of the military forces.
Mr.WATSON. - I am quite satisfied with that assurance.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I should like some furtherinformation regarding the amount which it is proposed to expend in illuminating the Commonwealth buildings. I agree that if there are to be illuminations the Commonwealth buildings must not be singular by the absence of display. At the same time, a sum of £5,500 for illuminating twelve or fifteen buildings seems an excessive one.
– There are nineteen or twenty buildings in the six States.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I should like to know whether the Government have yet been assured that the various State Governments intend to illuminate their public offices? I have not seen anything definite upon the subject, and I understand that at least some of the States do not intend to incur any such expenditure.
– Our action will force their hands.
– I do not desire to force their hands. I think that we ought not to incur such expenditure. There is no justification for it, even from the Government stand-point, unless they are absolutely sure that the various State Governments have decided to illuminate the State public buildings. I hope that the item will be eliminated.
– We must give the people some pleasure.
– I do not suppose that the people will be supplied with illuminations such as they had on the occasion of the inauguration of the Commonwealth or during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. Consequently, they will not flock to the city to enjoy the spectacle as they did then. I should like an indication of the position which has been taken up by the various State Governments.
– I do not think that Queensland intends to illuminate, and I am not at all sure that South’ Australia does. Western Australia, however, does intend to illuminate. I am short of replies to my inquiries in other directions, but I think this discussion might be curtailed by the statement that the amount set down in the schedule was arrived at after inquiry from the various departments, and has been brought down to the lowest possible estimate. It involves no suburban illuminations ; it comprises illuminations in six States. I ask the honorable member for Bland not to move for a reduction, but to leave the matter in my hands upon my undertaking to consult the Governments of the States further than has hitherto been possible. Where I can save money upon this item I shall do so, because I do not incline to spend too much upon matters of this sort. The illuminations not only tend very largely to interest the public, but they are expected upon very great occasions. Where celebrations of this kind take place, and are attended by illuminations, there is always a large passenger traffic created by rail and tram, which in the present instance will probably repay to the States the whole of the cost. It would be a humiliating thing if the State Governments illuminated their public buildings, whilst the Common wealth buildings were left in the dark. I will leave instructions that these illuminations are to be carried out as cheaply as possible. If I can save money on it I will do so ; and on that undertaking, and also on the undertaking to consult the States as to what we shall do between us, I think the committee might allow the item to pass.
– I wish to simplify matters by moving an amendment.
I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister say that only in the capitals are the illuminations to take place. Every citizen of the Commonwealth has to contribute his share, and it. is not fair that the city people only shall be able to enjoy the illuminations. The country people certainly ought to get their share. The money should be distributed, so as to illuminate every public building in the Commonwealth - every post-office, every telegraph-office, and every Customs-house.
– Will the honorable member move to increase the amount of the vote to £50,000?
– No, but I would undertake to distribute the money as fairly as possible. Why should not the pioneers of the back-blocks have a share of the expenditure? For these reasons, I move -
That the words “in the State capitals” be omitted.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I support the item as it stands. It is due to us to make some recognition of this important event, and one of the best means of doing so is by illuminations. That will give the greatest amount of enjoyment to the greatest number of people. The honorable member for Wide Bay deprecates the expenditure of the money in illuminating the capital cities. I quite agree with him that if it were possible to expend the money throughout the Commonwealth . in illuminating the post-offices and other public buildings it would be a splendid thing to do, but even then there would be people living in the far-away localities who would not see the illuminations. To make them thorough it would be necessary to illuminate every gum tree in every province ! It is a per1 fectly fair thing to illuminate only the places where the greatest number of people can enjoy the sight. I do not think that the Government are putting down too much money for this purpose, and I rather agree with the Prime Minister that it will be found somewhat difficult to do the work for the amount provided-
– I honestly believe that this item is the most moderate one in the schedule, and I am satisfied that it will give a great amount of enjoyment to thousands of people. The honorable member for Wide Bay takes the view that every
Custom-house and post-office in the Commonwealth should have spent upon it a share of the money voted for illumination. His principle seems to be “ every Custom-house officer his own lighthouse ! “ Upon the same principle we may regret that the Coronation itself takes place only at AVestminster. Some one might suggest that His Majesty should be crowned at every port of England, and that the ceremony should take place throughout AVales, Scotland, and Ireland, being afterwards extended to Australia and other parts of the Empire. At the time of the Jubilee the illuminations were enjoyed by tens of thousands of people. They were not only much appreciated, but made a deep impression on the minds of the children who witnessed them. I suggest that we might save some amount of money by adjourning now, and the electricity used in illuminating this House which would be saved might be devoted to further illuminating the capital cities at the Coronation.
Mr. HENRYWILLIS (Robertson).I take the opportunity of saying that I thoroughly agree with the Prime Minister that money spent in these illuminations is not wasted. Large business firms in the principal cities already have appliances for illuminating their warehouses and shops. In all probability there will be general illuminations, and the people of the Commonwealth will expect the Government to illuminate its buildings. In all probability the States will follow suit. It must be remembered that a large amount of the money thus expended will be recouped by the extra amount of travelling done - at all events in those States where the trams are owned by the Government.
– I move-
That the words “ A Commonwealth rifle team to compete at Bisley, £2,000,” be omitted.
I submit this amendment, not with pleasure, but with regret. It would, however, be trifling with the committee to raise a long debate when it is quite clear that the item must necessarily be defeated.
– I have to lodgean indignant protestagainst thisitem being jettisoned in theway proposed. Unfortunately at the present moment there is here only the Minister for Trade and
Customs of the six Premiers who agreed six years ago to a similar proposal. The leader of the Opposition was also a consenting party to the fulfilment of an agreement with the National Rifle Association which led to the present position. I shall not fight a hopeless battle, but protest against this item being thrown over by the Prime Minister while his colleague, who is distinctly responsible for the vote, is not here to defend it.
– My colleague heard me say I should submit this amendment, and the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, knows that the original proposal could not be carried.
Amendment agreed to.
– Now that we have reached the last item of the schedule, I ma)’ as well give a few facts for the information of the House. It appears from the despatches which have been received - and there is nothing else contained in the despatches about which inquiry need be made - that the representatives of Canada, Australia, and the other self-governing colonies are expected to arrive in England about a week before the Coronation. The festivities are arranged to last for a week after the Coronation, and it is further expected that there will be a stay of another two weeks in London, having regard to the number of important subjects to be dealt with in conference. Since the despatches arrived, other subjects have been suggested by the Premier of Canada and the Premier of New Zealand, and 1 also am offering suggestions of subjects for discussion. That does not mean that I can bind Parliament to any important stop of policy, because, so far as responsibility is concerned, no conclusions can be arrived at without being subject to the approval of Parliament before they acquire validity. I rather imagine it would be difficult to include all these subjects in the conference in London within the time mentioned, but as Iam thinking of returning by way of Canada, it might be possible to remain there a few days longer, with a view to consulting, if necessary, with the Premier of the Dominion, and possibly the Premier of New Zealand. I mention these facts in order to show how the time may be occupied, and in order that it may not be said that any information has been withheld.
Schedule agreed to.
Title. - A Bill for an Act to grant and applyout of the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of £35,350 for the purpose of defraying expenses attendant upon the celebration of His Majesty’s Coronation.
Amendment (by Mr. Barton) agreed to-
That the figures “ 35 “ be omitted, with a viewto insert in lieu thereof the figures “23.”
Bill reported with amendments and an amended title ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It was mentioned by the Attorney-General that the House might be asked to sit on Mondays. I find, however, that it will be necessary to hold a Cabinet meeting on Monday next in connexion with certain matters in the Treasurer’s department, and therefore the House will not be asked to sit on that day.
Mr.CONROY (Werriwa). - I have previously mentioned a difficulty which exists in regard to suing the Commonwealth. It is proposed to sue the Postmaster-General’s department, and I understand that no objection will be taken. I asked in this particular case that leave be granted to an individual to proceed in the Supreme Court, and I hope the Prime Minister will agree to that. I am forwarding a letter to the PostmasterGeneral so that we may get an answer.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa asked me a question as to suing the Commonwealth, and I have to say that there is a doubt as to whether the Commonwealth can be sued under existing legislation. One of the reasons why the AttorneyGeneral is so very anxious that the Judiciary Bill and the High Court Procedure Bill should be gone on with, is in order that the Commonwealth may not be supposed to be placing any obstacles in the way of those who are seeking the establishment of any right or supposed right. I shall make the matter the subject of a conversation with my honorable and learned colleague.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11 HI p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 April 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020410_reps_1_9/>.