1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know, from the Minister for Home Affaire, if his attention has been drawn to a paragraph appearing in this morning’s newspapers, in which it is stated that a Parliamentary trip round the continent is projected. I do not desireto be connected with extravagance of that description, and I, therefore, wish to know is any such trip contemplated ? If so, are the expenses to be paid for out of the public moneys? If any such trip is contemplated, will the Government give the fullest information, andallow this House to discuss the matter before anything is done ?
– I have not read the paragraph referred to, but I am not going to be governed by the two Melbourne newspapers. Those who conduct them assume a dictatorial attitude in regard to the affairs of all the States. There is in my mind the intention, though I have not yet discussed the matter with my colleagues, to give an opportunity to members to visit the other States. I did not suggest the trip ; the idea of going round the continent was suggested to me, though the newspapers, in order to give me a pin-prick, have thought fit to say it is my idea. If the proposal suggested is the best and the cheapest that can be adopted, I do not see why we should not carry it out.
– Will similar trips be taken by future Parliaments ?
– I can answer only for the present Parliament. I stated yesterday, when the matter was referred to, that I had received a telegram from the Premier of Western Australia expressing a desire that members should visit Perth as well as other places. Such a trip will enable honorable members to become better acquainted with the country in regard to which they have to legislate, and if there are many new members in any succeeding Parliament, it would be as well for them to take one. The press seem to me to be making the most extravagant statements in regard to this matter.
– Is it true, as reported in this morning’s newspapers, that the only position that could be offered to Colonel Stuart, of South Australia, was one carrying a salary of £300 per annum?
– I thought that the salary attached to the position was £350. I understand that Colonel Stuart preferred to take a retiring allowance in order that he might live upon some property which he has in South Australia.
– Did Colonel Stuart ask to be retired, or was he toldthat if he did not accept the position offered to him he would have to retire ?
– The information given to me is that he asked to be retired. I have received a letter containing full information on the subject, but, as I did not know that the question was to be asked, have not brought it with me.
– I have been informed that the fact is to the contrary.
– I believe that the honorable member is misinformed. It is not desirable that tittle tattle about matters of this kind should be brought before the House. I was prepared, on the recommendation of the General Officer Commanding, to give Colonel Stuart a position if he would take it, but I have been informed that Colonel Stuart asked to be retired, because he did not wish to leave South Australia, where he is interested in certain property.
– Is not the real explanation to bo found in the fact that the position offered to Colonel Stuart was one which he could not accept ?
– I do not think so, unless he could not accept it because he wished to remain in South Australia.
– He had no special wish to leave South Australia.
– In that case, I have been misinformed. I shall, however, be able to get full particulars from the General Officer Commanding almost immediately.
– The letter which the Minister showed to me stated that it woe Colonel Stuart’s wish to resign.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I regret that I am at present unable to give the information asked for. On the 1st August we wrote to the Government of South Australia, and to the Governments of the other States, asking them to give us certain information with regard to their past financial years, so that we might be able ‘to build up a comparison extending over two or three years. All the other Governments have given us certain information, but the Government of South Australia, although reminded and asked upon a second occasion, has hitherto not even acknowledged our letter. The reason for the apparent increased cost in the Postmaster-General’s department is the ordinary increase of work. The cost of administering the Customs department has been reduced, and theincrease in the Defence department, which is due to certain additional appointments, will be explained by the Acting Minister for Defence later on. It must not be forgotten, however, that we are charging against revenue this year, for new works and buildings, £20,000 which formerly would have been charged to loan account. That accounts for a large part of the apparent increase. The question of arrears has also to be taken into consideration. Certain statements have been made by the Treasurer of South Australia in regard to expenditure, and my accountant endeavoured to check themyesterday, but was unable to do so. I have therefore given him instructions to apply to the Government of South Australia with a view to ascertaining on what basis their figures have been arrived at, so that we may try to reconcile ours with theirs. I am certain that there has been no unreasonable increase in the Commonwealth expenditure for which South Australia is liable. As soon as I get further information I will furnish it to the House.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government are prepared to discuss with the Premiers of the different States of the Commonwealth the advisableness of the Commonwealth Government undertaking the conversion of State loans which shortly fall due, with a view of obtaining more favorable terms for their renewal.
– The Government are willing to discuss with the Premiers of the States the advisableness of undertaking the conversion of State loans to obtain more favorable terms for their renewal. It will need discussion. There are several important questions to be dealt with. Determination must be arrived at as to what consideration is to be accorded the Commonwealth for accepting the responsibility, the conditions as to future borrowing, and .the method of giving effect to the proposals. The Prime Minister is obtaining information on the latter subject from some of the leading financiers in London.
– In asking the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will, during the recess, consider and formulate a scheme for taking over a proportion of the public debts of the States under section .105 of the Constitution, by a gradual process of substituting federal security and federal stock for State security and State debentures, as existing State loans fall due, making the interest on renewed loans a charge on Customs and Excise revenue of the States responsible for the original loans, and whether he will endeavour to mature and bring such scheme into operation in time to float a loan to substitute federal stock for Victorian debentures amounting to £5,457,000, which fall due on 1st January, 1004.
I should like him to inform the House how much could be taken over upon the per capita, basis. I have been told that if federal stock could be substituted for Victorian debentures in time to convert the next Victorian loan it would mean a saving of nearly £500,000 to the State.
– I am not in a position to give the information asked for. Personally, I have always been strongly in favour of the Commonwealth taking over the whole of the States’ debts and controlling their future borrowing. The Prime Minister at my request is making inquiries in London as to the feasibility of converting the loans of the various States, and I hope that if a conference takes place with the Premiers of the States some satisfactory arrangement will be come to by which this can be done, if possible, in time to convert the next Victorian loan, in which case a large saving, though not so large as the honorable and learned member has been informed, will be made.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
As the weighers in the Customs department of Victoria - unlike officers doing similar work in the other States - have not been provided with an increment upon the Estimates, when is it intended they shall benefit by section 19 of theVictorian Public Service Act, viz., by having their salaries brought up to £156 a year ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Nothing to which these officers are believed to be entitled has been denied them, but the effect of section 19 is in course of judical ascertainment. So soon as this is settled the matter will be further considered.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made in the matter.
asked the Acting Minister of Defence, upon, notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the Acting Prime Minister,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
Service Act authorizes the transfer from the general to the clerical division of officers of the Victorian State service who have qualified in that behalf. The section is, however, silent on the matter of salary, and the Crown law authorities are being consulted on the point.
asked the Acting Prime Minister,upon notice -
Whether he will inform the House as to the operation of the Immigration Restriction Act in each State for the period from the commencement of the Act to the 31st August last, with respect to-
– The numbers of persons who have passed the prescribed test are in New South Wales, 15 ; Victoria, 2; Queensland, 2 ; South Australia, 9 ; and Western Australia, 7 ; making a total of 35, of whom 9 were Europeans to whom the test was wrongly applied. The Act is in Operation at every port of the Commonwealth, but some of the officials in remote places have taken a little time tograsp the duties devolving upon them. I have one interesting report from which it appears that the officer, in his kindly consideration for an immigrant who could not pass the test first applied, sought for an interpreter and varied the original sentence. As the immigrant could not pass the second test the assistance of one of his countrymen was invoked, and finally he was enabled to pass. Happily this was a case in which the test need not have been applied. In another case, a European insisted upon having the test applied before be would come into the Commonwealth. The officer pointed out that the immigrant was apparantly financially sound and a person of European race, and that, therefore, it was not necessary to apply the test, but the immigrant insisted upon having the test applied and passed triumphantly. In reply to question No. 2, I may state that 126 persons were refused admission to New South Wales, 16 to Victoria, 115 to Queensland, 35 to South Australia, 37 to Western Australia, and 1 to Tasmania, making a total of 330 of whom 47 were Europeans. Thirty of these were Italians who were subsequently admitted. They were detained in the first instance owing to the suspicion that they were contract labourer’s. The other 17 Europeans were denied admission, either because they appeared likely to becomea burden upon the public, or were, upon special grounds, regarded as undesirable immigrants. The number of immigrants rejected affords no indication of the number who were prevented from coming here, because immediately after the passing of the Act all ship-owners engaged in trading to the East refused to accept passengers unless they were furnished with documentary proof that on their arrival in the Commonwealth they would be permitted to land. This involved a preliminary application for permits by Asiatics who desired to come to the Commonwealth. In a few eases permits were granted,but scores have been refused, and hundreds of intending passengers have been informed by the ship-owners that, from their knowledge of the law, it would be useless for them to attempt to secure admission to the Commonwealth. With regard to the third question, the exemptions granted were not issued under section 3 of the Act, but were made at the discretion of the Administration at the time the Act was brought into operation. They were extended to persons who had purchased tickets, or were actually on their way to Australia before they could be made acquainted with thepassing of the Act; 58 persons were so admitted into Victoria. The reason why they were admitted into that State and not to others was because no local Immigration Restriction Act was in force. If Victoria had possessed the same legislation as other States for their exclusion they would probably not have been admitted. The effect of the Act is partly, and only partly indicated by the figures, but these are sufficient to show that during the nine months for which the Act has been operating, in spite of the novelty of its provisions, it has been effective in excluding many hundreds of undesirable immigrants.
Ordered (on motion by Mr. Sydney Smith for Sir Edwardbraddon) -
That a Return be laid upon the Table of the House showing in detail for all Tasmanian post and telegraph offices the establishment which existed immediately prior to the date upon which these offices were transferred and that which now exists, with rates of pay then and now existing.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1st October, vide page 16343) :
Division 164 (Expenditure in Western Australia)- £261,607.
– I desire to add a few remarks to those I made last night in connexion with the administration of . this Department in Western Australia. I mentioned that a large amount of dissatisfaction existed throughout the public service of Western Australia, and that this was largely due to the conviction that the remuneration given to public officers was not in keeping with that paid in other States. I would be the last to refer to this question if I were not satisfied that the claim of the public officers in Western Australia was very well founded. In the first place the cost of living is undoubtedly higher there than in most of the other States. Apart from this the salaries paid do not compare favorably with those drawn by officers in other States, who, so far as I can understand, perform precisely similar work. I desire to mention two typical cases. In the Records and Correspondence branch of the Postal department of Western Australia, the remuneration for ordinary clerks - exclusive of the highly-paid officials - averages £170 per annum, whereas in the same branch of the Victorian service - in which the remuneration is by no means lordly - the average salary paid to clerks is £233 per annum. Then, again, in the Money Order, Parcels Post, and Stamps branch the average pay of the Victorian clerks is £212 per annum as compared with £170 in Western Australia. I am willing to admit that in the case ofthe higher officials in a large State like Victoria it is reasonable to look for larger salaries than would be paid in Western Australia, but when we are dealing with the ordinary routine work of the department, it must be admitted that the conditions are similar, and I fail to see, therefore, why the large discrepancies to which I have referred should exist. I hope that this and other anomalies, to which I have referred, will receive the consideration of the Minister, and also of the Public Service Commissioner and Inspector at an early date. I can assure the Minister that the grievances complained of are real, and that they have a very serious effect upon the general efficiency of the department. I claim, also, that a fair amount of patience has been exercised by the public and by the postal officials in Western Australia, and that, therefore, it is about time that some steps were taken to justify the hope that the establishment of federation would result in an improvement in the service.
– I wish to say a few words in support of the remarks of the honorable member for Perth. As I know there is a general desire to bring our work to a close, I shall not go into particulars, but merely tell honorable members that if I were to ventilate the public grievances in connexion with this department in Western Australia, I should occupy considerable time. I understand that an Inspector has been appointed for the public service of Western Australia, and that it will be his duty to inquire into the work of this and other departments. I should like special attention to be paid by him to the matter referred to last evening by the honorable member for Perth. There is a general feeling in Western Australia that the older settlements receive more generous treatment than the newer and more progressive com munities upon the gold-fields, where the remuneration paid to postal officials, and the general accommodation provided for the public are totally inadequate. I trust that the investigation referred to will be proceeded with at once, and that no unnecessary delay will occur before a final decision is arrived at.
– At the outset, I should like to know why the House met at 10.30 o’clock this morning. When I left the Chamber last evening, it was generally understood the hour of meeting would be eleven o’clock. Owing to the sudden alteration of the meeting hour I might have lost an opportunity of referring to postal administration in Western Australia. Honorable members should be made acquainted with any change in the intentions of the Government, because neither of the Melbourne daily newspapers now takes much notice of our proceedings, and the Votes and Proceedings are of no use, because they reach us too late. The latter publication would be more useful if it gave notice to honorable members of the hour fixed for the meeting of the House.
– The honorable member gets his business paper early in the morning.
– Not always.
– I receive mine at my office at nine o’clock in the morning.
– I had no notice of the intention to sit half-an-hour earlier than was previously arranged, and I was much surprised to find that these Estimates might have been passed before I had an opportunity of addressing myself to them. I do not wish to unduly delay the committee. Having, some time ago, made my protest against the continuance of the faulty system in existence in the Post and Telegraph department in W estern Australia, I only wish to state now that little or no substantial improvement has been made. I hope that the Public Service Commissioner will so reform the department as to obviate any complaints in the future. There are also one or two matters connected with the living allowances which are paid to officers upon the gold-fields and in the tropics, to which I should like to direct attention. These men, stationed as they are in outlying districts, and living under the hardest possible conditions, ought, I think, to receive a little more monetary consideration than they do. The Government have often been told of the severe conditions of life in these localities, and they experience the greatest difficulty in inducing officers to go there. When once an unfortunate man is sent out to any of these remote stations he appears to be left there for the rest of his natural life. It is possible that the action of the Government may be defended in refusing to transfer officers from the city and the comfortable coastal stations to the interior, and in declining to sanction the. removal of officers from Western Australia to the eastern States. At the same time, I should like to hear what are the reasons for the adoption of that policy.. It is a great hardship to compel men to remain in these remote districts year after year, with no possibility of a respite. Seeing that the Government cannot conveniently effect transfers, I think they should make official positions in the outlying portions of the interior more attractive to the service by offering, as a tropical and gold-fields allowance, a considerable amount in addition to the salary paid. I have in my hand a letter from an officer who is located on the confines of civilization in Western Australia. It was written at Cossack by an ex-lineman, who complains of the inadequate nature of the allowance given to the line repairers in that country. These men, in the performance of their arduous duties, frequently have to risk their lives by swimming rivers, in addition to which they are exposed to all kinds of weather, and have to submit to numberless hardships. Yet I am informed by the writer of this communication that the allowance which is supposed to be given to them for native assistants - a sum of £30 a year- is paid to the postmaster of the place to which they are attached, and that the linemen do not receive it. A lineman has to find food for the nigger who usually accompanies him, and for this service he apparently receives nothing.
– Is not the aboriginal employé paid by the postmaster ?
– Apparently not. Perhaps I had better read what my informant says -
I have known linemen to be out on the line for weeks at a time, especially in the north-west, in the summer season, when the heat is quite unbearable. Also, I have seen the same linemen swimming rivers after a willy willy when no one else would do it. I think that these men are entitled to their leave without paying for it. Also, I should like to point out another very unfair thing, concerning what is called the lineman’s native assistant. The West Australian department allows £30 a year for linemen’s native assistants,but instead of the linemen getting this money it is paid to the postmaster of the place to which the lineman is attached.
– That is very serious if the facts are as stated.
– Other officersstationed in the remote portions of the interior, and especially on the gold-fields, are entitled to more consideration than is extended to them. There is no denying the fact that in some of these places an allowance of £30 a year is quite insufficient. Not merely are the necessaries of life much dearer, but the absence of water is a serious drawback to these officers. The cost of hauling and conserving it is a very heavy item indeed. Yesterday I referred to the ruling of the Attorney-General under which leave of absence after six years’ continuous service is now being refused to officers of the Commonwealth. I cannot argue the question from a legal stand-point ; but it seems to me that no Parliament would deliberately pass an Act entitling all its servants at the end of six years to obtain leave of absence simultaneously. Of course, if such leave were granted the service would be completely disorganized, and I cannot think that that was the intention of the State Parliament in enacting that law. This point the Attorney-General has not met satisfactorily ; in fact, he ignored it. Another matter to which I desire to call attention is the protracted delay which occurs in obtaining decisions from the PostmasterGeneral upon matters relating to Western Australia. The practice appears to be to forward to that State by post all papers relating to any question in dispute, and to” await the pleasure of the Deputy Postmaster -General at Perth to deal with them. When he has leisurely done this the papers are returned by post. It seems to me that the Government ought to make more use of the telegraph service in this connexion.
– They use it to an enormous extent.
– Certainly they have not used it in some cases in which I have interested myself, because I usually have to wait from five to six weeks to obtain a decision. Before concluding I should like to say a word or two upon the proposal to reduce the status of many “ official “ postoftices to that of “ non-official” post-offices. It seems to me that the Government are pursuing rather a niggardly course in reference to the “ non-official” postmasters. Last evening I cited a case in which a man was handling nearly 20,000 letters a year upon the gold-fields, for. which service he receives only £12 annually. That, I think, is pushing economy to the extreme. A service of that kind should be adequately rewarded. At the same time, I commend the Government for abolishing a number of “ official “ post-offices, and substituting in lieu thereof “ non - official “ offices. Last night I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Canobolas reading resolutions from the residents of a small town, protesting against the action contemplated, evidently oblivious of the fact that this is not a State Parliament, but a Parliament which has to deal with national issues. I think that the Government should abolish a number of the small “ official “ offices in the coastal districts of Western Australia, and offer a larger salary to the storekeepers who could be appointed as “ nonofficial “ postmasters. The system is working satisfactorily in Victoria, and should be extended. It is evident that if a salary of £120 a year is paid to an officer conducting a post - office which yields only an annual revenue of £81, there must be a very large loss in the aggregate. This means that ultimately the mail services which are now enjoyed in the remoter portions of WesternAustralia, New South Wales, and Queensland will be considerably curtailed. I cannot understand how the honorable member for Canobolas can defend a small town which desires to preserve the dignity of an official post-office. Is not the fact that its residents secure a regular delivery of their mails the main consideration ? What difference does it make to them whether the man who hands them their letters when they call at the post-office is designated an “official” postmaster or “ nonofficial “ postmaster? I think that the honorable member in urging the request which he did was doing considerable damage to the cause of the people resident in the remoter portions of Australia. I trust that the Government will intimate to the Public Service Commissioner that the living allowance upon the gold-fields should be considerably increased, and that in future we shall be able to obtain decisions upon matters in dispute in Western Australia much more rapidly.
– It must be extremely gratifying to honorable members to know that ere long the public service of the Commonwealth will be placed upon a proper basis. The Inspectors appointed under the Public Service Act are now about to visit the various States with a view to reclassifying the entire service. Indeed, in some of the States they have already commenced their labours. Next week, I understand, an Inspector will visit Western Australia. I feel sure that when he discovers that some of the clerical employés there are being- underpaid he will recommend a very different state of affairs from that which now obtains. Honorable members should recollect that post-office officials have responsibilities which attach to no other’ officials in the Commonwealth service. Even the responsibility of the ordinary letter-carrier is great, because upon him the community has to depend for the safe delivery of most valuable communications. It is, therefore, necessary that we should obtain good officials, and pay them well .for the services rendered, instead of stinting them where they are deserving. In these Estimates I notice one instance in which a clerk in the store branch of the Postal department is in receipt of only £65 a year. To pay such a salary in connexion with a position to which a fair measure of responsibility is attached is an absurdity. That is one of the anomalies in the various departments which will have to be carefully investigated by the Commissioner. I repeat that responsibilities of postal officials are great, and if we are to trust a young man under 21 years of age with the handling of important matters such as pass through the post-office, we may fairly look out for delinquencies. In Western Australia there have been delinquencies to a very large extent, in consequence of underpaying the responsible officials. I think that the Government have been rather parsimonious in the matter of the private letter-bags, which are sent out to the interior. A few days ago I received a letter to the effect that in one case not a penny has been paid to the woman who has been employed for a considerable time in distributing private letter-bags. Under the State regulation the receivers of private letter-bags were not asked to make any payment to the department. But under the federal regulations a charge of £2 is made for this service in all the States. I would ask the honorable gentleman, who is representing the Post-office, to look into this matter, which I have already brought under the attention of the PostmasterGeneral. If a fee of £2 is to be charged, a corresponding allowance might be made to the woman who distributes the letterbags. I think that it is a rather parsimonious policy not to give some little remuneration, so as to allow people in outlying districts to receive their letters in due course.
– The representatives of Western Australia have always been united in their objections to very, many of the items on the Estimates, ‘ and on many occasions have freely called the attention of the House to what they considered incongruous elements in the department. I hope that as months pass by the department will be able to overcome such incongruities, to bring into line the various offices throughout the States, and also the various officers as to their pay. Some of the objections which have been raised with respect to the allowance to officers on the gold-fields and in outlying districts are now being investigated. The Public Service Commissioner is applying himself especially to that point, and we may hope, therefore, that long before another set of Estimates is produced that difficulty will have been overcome, and that whatever complaints may, in fairness, arise now, they will not arise again. As regards the complaint that an insuffiicient amount for remuneration to officers has been placed on the Estimates, I. would call attention to the fact that a sum of over £5,000 is provided on the Estimates for increased remuneration to the officers in Western Australia. They will also .largely share in the distribution of the £70,000 odd among the officers who, having been four years in the service, will be entitled, on attaining the age of 21 years and passing certain examinations, to receive a salary of £ 1 1 0 per annum. As regards the sum of £5,000, which is provided in the Estimates, I would remind the representatives of Western Australia that it represents so far as the Commonwealth is concerned a proportionate increase of £100,000 a year in the general Estimates. The department and the Treasurer, under whose careful supervision these Estimates have been prepared, consider that they have provided for as liberal a service as the revenue will permit ; but, at the same time, regard has been had to that practical economy for which my colleague is so noted. No item on the Estimates has escaped his attention. Every item has been reviewed by him with a desire to do that which is just to all. Last evening the honorable member for Perth called our attention to the fact that a doctor, desirous of having his house connected with the wire outside for telephonic purposes, was unable to secure the connexion which he desired for a considerable time ; but that soon afterwards, upon further representations being made, the department managed to find some old wire and make the connexion.
– Dead wire and old material !
– I should rather be disposed to say that it was some evidence of the skill of the department. It seems strange to say so, but here was an emergency which the department met, although there were in hand no funds with which to make that connexion, the loan money having been exhausted.
– Is the connecting of a man’s house with the telephone-office an emergency ?
– Yes, if there be no money. Supposing, for instance, that all the vote had been spent, which was the case at the time ; then the officer did show a desire to do his best in the circumstances. He showed a resource for which he ought to be commended rather than condemned. Condemn the Parliament as much as you please for not having provided more money : but do not condemnthe department where it really shows in an emergency of that kind a good deal of ability.
– That policy would ruin any private firm in six months.
– I am quite sure that all the representations which are made from Western Australia and elsewhere are duly considered in the department, and that replies are accelerated as much as practicable, and I express the hope, which I believe will be realized, that long before another set of Estimates is produced very much more satisfaction will exist in the minds of honorable members by reason of the efforts which will be made by the Public Service Commissioner to bring all officers into line so far as salaries and emoluments are concerned.
– Under the present regulations bullion cannot be sent by parcel post. On several occasions I have asked the Ministerwho represents the Postmaster-General whether in the case of a place like Renmark, where there are no banks, provision could not be made for allowing coin to be sent if the parcel were registered. I understand that there would be no inconvenience to the department, and, of course, there would be no responsibility. Perhaps the honorable gentleman might say, after consideration, what he thinks could be done.
– Obviously, the regulations of, I think, all Postal departments throughout the world are adverse to passing coin or bullion through the Post-office in order to relieve officers as far as possible from the temptation to pilfer. Still we know that there is the registration branch; and the special circumstance to which the honorable and learned member has called attention - that a place like Renmark has no banking facilities - is now before me. I have written to the department a memorandum conveying the information which he has given, and I shall communicate with him later on whatever decision may be arrived at.
Vote agreed to.
Division 165 (Expenditure in Tasmania) -£104,623.
– - I shall satisfy myself by moving to strike £50 off the salary of the Deputy Postmaster-General.
– No increase is given to him. He got £500 last year, and he is getting that amount thisyear.
– I t I think it is too much.
– He has had that salary for years.
– It It shows what terrible management there has been in Tasmania.
– It is not like a new appointment or an increase of salary. It will be very unfair to strike anything off the salary of a man who has been in the position for a number of years.
– Doe Does the Treasurer think it is unfair ?
– I think it is, unless it is done in every State.
– H - Here is an absolute cold-blooded tyrant.
– A very capable officer.
– I - I am very sore over the way in which Mr. Abbott was treated on the West Coast of Tasmania. No hearing could be given, and if it had not been for the Postmaster-General sending over a special man to the West Coast, Mr. Abbott would have been branded as a thief. There is too much of an oligarchy in Hobart, and the time has come to break it down. If the Treasurerthinks that the Deputy Postmaster-General is not too highly paid for the services he renders, I shall let him go.
Vote agreed to. arrears.
– The Audit Act compels us to close down sharp on the 30th June. Last year we had unpaid accounts to the amount of £300,000. This year we have unpaid accounts to the amount of £83,000. Next year, I hope, by urging the departments to order their supplies in May, instead of waiting until June, to get the arrears down to a mere bagatelle, and then, probably, we shall be able to do away with the arrears vote, and incorporate the items in the Estimates for the current year. The amounts which I now ask the committee to vote are required to enable us to pay accounts - I believe that nearly all of them were voted in the Supply Bills - for goods which were ordered in May and June, the accounts for which were not received until July. I am anxious to get them passed at once, because I wish the printer to get on with the printing of the Appropriation Bill as far as possible. If the discussion on the Estimates of the Defence department were commenced first, it would occupy a considerable time, and I think that these arrears might be passed in globo.
Proposed votes agreed to as follow : - Department of External Affairs, £1,750; Attorney-General’s Department, £104 ; Department of Home Affairs, £1,7,410 ; Department of the Treasury, £3,773 ; Department of Trade and Customs, £3,852 ; Department of Defence, £19,258 ; PostmasterGeneral’s Department, £37,056.
Department of Defence
Division 38 (Chief Administration) - £4,926
– It would be well for my honorable colleague, the Acting
Minister for Defence, to make a general statement as to the retrenchment in this department before honorable members criticise the Estimates. Otherwise the committee will be dealing with various items without knowing the reason why they appear as they stand. In addition to that, items in these Estimates have been transferred from one part to another to such an extent that I have found some difficulty in following them, although I put notes on the page with a view of showing where the items have come from and where they are gone to. It will be better for the Minister to make a general statement with regard to the whole matter.
– Before the Acting Minister for Defence makes his statement, I wish to suggest to the Treasurer that it will assist honorable members greatly if next year - and I think we may fairly anticipate that the right honorable gentleman will deliver next year’s Budget speech - he will have a third column in the Estimates showing the Estimate for the previous year as well as the actual expenditure. I do not know whether the exigencies of printing will allow of that being done. As it is we have to sit with last year’s Estimates as well as this year’s in front of us, in order to know where a difference arises.
– I thought honorble members would prefer to compare what we propose to spend with what we spent in the previous year.
– I quite agree with that ; but is there any reason why we should not have a third column showing the previous year’s Estimates as well as the previous year’s expenditure?
– I think I can get over the difficulty that has hitherto existed with regard to printing. Looking over the Estimates again, I find that we have columns for “ transferred “ and “other” expenditure, but we have nothing in the “other” column. Next year, if honorable members desire it, I think I shall be able to utilize that “ other “ column in order to show the last year’s estimate as well as the actual expenditure. The usual practice is to compare Estimate with Esti mate, but if I had done that this year the comparison would have shown a very large saving, and honorable members might have been misled. Therefore I showed the actual expenditure in the previous year, which seemed to me to be a fair comparison. If, however, honorable members think that the third column would be of use - and there appears to be no difficulty about it as far as the printing is concerned - I see a means of complying with their wish by leaving out the “other “ column, and using the space to indicate the previous year’s Estimates. I will take care that that is done next year.
– In making a short statement in reference tothe military expenditure, I do not wish to overweight it, or to make my speech too lengthy. At the present stage there is no necessity to do that. But it is just as well that I should make this statement as to what has been done in regard to the military retrenchment, and the reasons for it. When the Estimates were submitted last year by the Minister for Defence, Sir John Forrest, it will be within the knowledge of honorable members that exception was taken to the amount that was asked for. I heard it stated in one or two places the other night that the £1 reduction that was carried as an indication that a reduction of £131,000 should be made upon the Estimates, meant a reduction of £131,000 on the actual expenditure.
– That statement has been withdrawn.
– I know that one or two honorable members admitted that they were under a misapprehension. I have here Sir John Forrest’s statement, as reported in Hansard.
-We have all seen it ; the Minister’s statement is perfectly correct. There is now no dispute about it.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- What he promised to do was to make a reduction of £131,000 on the Estimates as they appeared last year. I wish also to say that before Sir John Forrest left for England, and when he asked me to takeover the administration of his department during his absence, he left a memorandum, which fully bears out the statement in Hansard. He suggested in that memorandum that the naval Estimates should be reduced by £33,000, and that the military Estimates should be reduced by the amount of the balance of the £131,000. I mention that because I have heard it alleged, and have seen the statement in the press - I think the leader of the Opposition has called particular attention to it - that something like 33 per cent. had been taken off the naval Estimates, whilst only about 4 or 5 per cent. was taken off the military Estimates.
-I have mentioned those figures, not on the basis, of the Estimates, but on the basis of the actual expenditure last year.
– That is so; and that is why I refer to the matter now. I. have not reduced the naval Estimates by £33,000, but I think the amount is about £25,000 or £26,000.
– £22,000, I think.
– No, more than that - between £25,000 and £26,000. I just mention this in passing; I shall deal with it more lengthily later on, after I have dealt with the general principles ofthe reductions which have been made in the Estimates. I presume that the committee having taken such a determined stand last year - not even agreeing to be bound by the promise of the Minister for Defence at the time when he said that he would reduce the Estimates by £131,000, but having taken a vote on the item as an indication of their opinion - they knew exactly what they required to be done. It was stated vigorously at the time that the vote taken was an instruction to the Government as to the reductions to be made. Taking that to be what the committee meant, I felt that my duty was to reduce the Defence Estimates by that amount. But, as honorable members know, I have gone beyond the £131,000 directed by the committee, and have reduced the Estimates by £175,000.
– Not in addition to the £131,000?
– Oh, no ; I do not wish that to be understood.
– The Minister means that he has reduced the Estimates by an additional £44,000.
– Yes ; there is a total reduction on the Estimates of last year to the extent of £175,000.
– That means on the Estimates as distinct from the actual expenditure ?
– Yes. Honorable members willdome the creditof believing that it was not a pleasurable thing for me to have to discharge a number of officers from the defence force. But there was a duty to perform, and I tried to do that duty in the manner that would be the least harsh to those engaged in the military service. This is not a matter which I took up in any personal way. I have stated that the total amount of the reductions made was about £175,000, instead,of £131,000. I thought that in making those reductions I was meeting the committee to a fuller extent than they directed when they passed the vote reducing the item by £1. Now, sir, if rumour is correct there is to be an attack and a storm, because I did not reduce the Estimates by £50,000 or £60,000 more.
– Not because the Minister did not reduce, but because we think there should be a further reduction.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- That is to say the committee did not know its own mind last time?
– The Minister for Defence said that the reduction would be more than £131,000 if possible.
– I have reduced by more than £131,000, though I cannot say whether the efficiency of the service now is as great as it was. I have gone further than the committee desired. Either the committee did or did not know its mind upon that occasion.
– It is rather a singular admission to make - that the Minister does not know whether efficiency has been maintained.
– I say that because I do not pretend to be a military man, and to understand the intricacies of military organization and equipment. Before I go further, I should like to say that I think many harsh things have been said of the General Officer Commanding, in reference to retrenchment - statements that are not warranted.
– Hear, hear.
– I think that the G eneral Officer, although very energetic-
– More power to him ; we do not want a sluggard.
– We do not, indeed. I greatly admire him for his activity and strength, but he has never - although, perhaps, he was going a little too fast with his schemes on one occasion - come to loggerheads in any way with the Minister, and has recognised the civil authority to the fullest extent. Therefore, any statement made that the General Officer Commanding is going to run, or has been running, the Military department against the civil authorities, is absolutely untrue. He has not done anything of the kind.
– Hear, hear; he has too much sense.
– If there had been that danger, I am sure that honorable members will give the Government credit - and give me credit also - for having sufficient strength of mind, and of character, not to mind what the General Officer Commanding did, or wished to do, if we did not think it right. If I desired in the interests of the public to prevent anything being done, I should not hesitate to exercise my authority in regard to the Military department in any way. I wish it to be clearly understood that I have no complaint whatever to make against the General Officer Commanding for the energy he has shown in the discharge of his duties. The only thing that I think any one can take exception to, as far as he is concerned - and I am not sure that exception can be taken even to that - is that he wants to do in one year what perhaps it will take two or three years more to do. He desires to re-organize the defence forces of the Commonwealth and place them upon an even footing within a very short space of time. Probably he isright ; but I think that, as a matter of policy, it may be necessary to extend this work of re-arrangement over a slightly longer period. I would impress upon honorable members the fact that the task is not an easy one. . It is no mere child’s play. It is almost impossible to assimilate the various military systems of each of the States without causing some friction, and a great deal of trouble.
– There is no common Act, and that makes the work very difficult.
– Yes. Even if we had a common Act in force it would be no easy task to discharge officers, to reduce the pay in some States, and to increase it in others. I have found that it is a most difficult work. The greatest difficulties have been experienced in dealing with the forces in South Australia.
– In regard to the buglers ?
– The honorable member knows that the statement that 721 buglers were to be appointed for South Australia was due to a mere slip on the part of the printer in arranging the type. The South Australian military system has, no doubt, been carried on at a very much lower expenditure than that of the other States, and the standard there is also said to be lower.
– That is not so.
– I do not. desire to say a word against the efficiency of the troops in South Australia, because I am not in a position to judge whether their grade is high or low. I know, however, that the men have been paid at a very much lower rate than those of the other States. My grave trouble has been this - I believe in paying a fair and reasonable sum to a man, whether he be employed as -a soldier or in any other capacity. I found, however, that the rate of pay in South Australia was, in one or two cases, very much lower than that prevailing in any of the other States, and I felt that I should not be justified in bringing down the rates in the other States to the same level. In one or two cases, I have slightly reduced the rates of pay in Victoria and in New South Wales, but still they are not so low as in South Australia. In view of the opposition shown by representatives of that State to the imposition of any additional charge in connexion with the forces there I have not felt disposed to raise the rates prevailing there to the level of those in the other States. I desire to put this matter plainly before the .committee as evidence of one of the difficulties with which I have had to deal. I have also experienced great difficulty in endeavouring, without doing injury to any one, to establish uniform rates of pay, apart from those in South Australia, to which I shall refer presently. I intend to quote a return showing the rates of pay and the work which has been done in this direction. It has been asserted that the retrenchment claimed to have been carried out in the defence forces is a bogus retrenchment; - that no retrenchment has really taken place. The actual expenditure which took place last- year has . been compared with the annual expenditure of some years before as well as with that for which we provide on these Estimates. The actual expenditure in New South Wales last year was £209,278, or about £5,000 in excess of the estimate for this year, while the estimated expenditure for New South Wales last year was about £252,000. Reference has been made to this matter in the Melbourne press, and a statement has been published that while I can retrench in , Victoria, I cannot do so in New South Wales. I have ascertained the reason why a comparison of the Estimates appears to suggest that, as compared with Victoria, no real retrenchment has been carried out in the Department in New South Wales. I find that New South Wales despatched more than 6,000 troops to South Africa, and that of that number a very large proportion was drawn from the local military forces. During the time that the men were away they were paid by the Imperial Government, and consequently no provision had to be made for them b)* the authorities in New South Wales. In that way the expenditure was considerably reduced. Had they’ not gone to South Africa we should have had to pay something like £15,000 or £20,000 more than was expended in this direction in New South Wales last year. It will, therefore, be seen that the retrenchment carried out in connexion with the permanent forces in New South Wales has really been more severe than in any of the other States. It is incorrect to say that retrenchment has taken place in Victoria, but not in New South Wales. .So far as the officers in the New South Wales forces are concerned, the retrenchment has been very severe. Another statement which has been made is that I have not reduced the higher grades, and it has been asked why, in these circumstances, I should have reduced the lower grades. I have here a return showing the number of officers who have been retired, and the salaries which they received. It is altogether too lengthy to read, but I shall extract from it a few figures, which will convey to the committee some idea of the way in which the retrenchment scheme has operated.
– Does the Minister refer to a list of officers who have been retired?
– The return gives a list of officers who have retired or been retrenched - who have loft the service in various ways. There was one at £920 a year, one at £673 a year, one at £687 a 3’ear, and one at £535 per annum.
– Has the Minister found billets in other departments for most of these men 1
– No. Appointments have been found for some of them, but not for many. The list of officers retired from the New South Wales forces also includes the names of two officers who were i each receiving £507 per annum ; one who received £350 per annum, one at £400 per annum, one at £366 per annum, one at £385 per annum, one at £294 per annum, one at £312 per annum, one at £300 per annum, one at £230 per annum, and others who received lower salaries. So far as I can judge about 30 or 40 have been dealt with in this way. In Victoria, the only highly-paid officer who has been retired, is one who was receiving £587 per annum. Nine others whose salaries ranged from £128 to £192 per annum have also been dealt with in this way. In South Australia one receiving £500 per annum, one receiving £195 per annum, and one receiving £175 per annum have been retrenched. . In Western Australia one receiving £470 per annum, andin Tasmania three receiving £147, £121, and £162 per annum respectively have been retrenched. One or two highly-paid officers in Queensland have also been retrenched. It is not necessary for me to go through the whole list. I shall submit this return to honorable members, so that they may be in a position to compare the statement that there has been no serious retrenchment with the actual facts. In carryingout this scheme of retrenchment, we had to deal, perhaps, rather harshly with a number of men who had been employed for a long time in the service. Having regard to that fact, I have induced ray colleagues to allow a sum to be placed on the Estimates which will enable us to give these men a retiring allowance, computed at the rate of one month’s pay for each year of service. It was proposed that this allowance should apply only to officers, but I thought it was only fair that any provision of the kind should apply not only to officers but to men in the ranks. The sum which honorable members will find on the Estimates includes a proportion of pay for men as well as officers.
– It will not apply to militia officers ?
– No. As the honorable member is aware, the pay of the militia is very small. The militia consists for the most part of men who are employed in other avocations, and it would be impossible to apply this scheme of retiring allowances to them. It applies to officers and men who have been retired from the service, and I think it ought to commend itself to honorable members if only for the reason that we have stepped out of the old groove in proposing to give something to the men in the lower ranks as well as to the highly-paid officers. Before a vote is taken it should be definitely laid down that in making this proposal for a retiring allowance to the men who have been retrenched, we do not intend that it shall apply in the future. That should be clearly understood. It is not to be assumed that because we propose now to grant these retiring gratuities or pensions we contemplate the continuance of the system. But the present circumstances are exceptional. With the establishment of the Commonwealth we have commenced the reorganization of the whole of the military forces of Australia. We are endeavouring now to bring the forces of the whole of the States into line as far as possible, and I hope that we shall be able to complete the work later on. In carrying out these changes many hardships have necessarily been inflicted. Under the systems which existed in some of the States many anticipated that they would receive a retiring allowance. For example, when certain officers were retired on a previous occasion from the New South Wales forces they received gratuities under the State regulations. In some of the States, however - I think in Victoria and South Australia - no pensions or gratuities were paid prior to federation. It must be clearly understood that it is not intended to bring into vogue a system of pensions or retiring allowances to which the people so strongly object. But, in the exceptional circumstances of the present time, when vigorous retrenchment - to which I do not object - is required, I think it would be unfair simply to turn adrift, without any retiring gratuity, a number of men who understood that they would be likely to remain in the positions which they occupied for a considerable time to come. I do not believe that the people desire anything of the sort to be done. Although some think that the salaries paid to these men in the military forces are loo high, they are never able to save a copper. I never knew a military man who was able to save a penny. I do not think this proposal is extravagant. Honorable members may consider that a great military sentiment has taken hold of the people during the last few years, and that by its present action this Parliament is upholding militarism. I would point out, however, that there are only some 1,500 men in the permanent forces of Australia.
– A - And how many officers ?
– I think there are 102.
– Nearly fifteen for every 100 men. They cost something like £265,000 per annum.
– Somewhere about that amount. I have here a comparison between our forces and those of Canada.
– How many efficient men could be put into the field in Australia if required ?
– Properly armed.
– I know how many arms we have for distribution, and I think we should have no difficulty in obtaining a man to cany every rifle that we have. We have altogether about 90,000 serviceable rifles - Martini-Henry rifles,303 rifles, and the magazine rifles.
– Surely the Minister does not call the Martini-Henry rifle an effective weapon ?
– No, I do not; but I say it is a very effective weapon. If the honorable and learned member has read the very interesting report of an interview with LordRoberts, which was reprinted in the Herald recently, hewill have noted that Lord Roberts says that the MartiniHenry rifle is more effective at close quarters than any other rifle.
– Bunkum !
– Lord Roberts must certainly know something about it.
– He does, but he does not say that.
– He says that men should particularly be taught to shoot accurately at distances of from 200 to 300 yards. He says that those are the distances at which it is specially necessary that men should be able to shoot accurately, and that it is not so necessary that they should be accurate at long distances. However, I do not wish to be drawn into a discussion of that matter. While going through the Estimates, I shall give honorable members particulars as to the number of each class of weapon which we have in Australia.
– Has the honorable gentleman prepared a statement showing how the reduction of £175,000 is made up?
– I have all the particulars as to that ; but I do not desire to wade through a lot of intricate figures under various headings now, and have to go over them again whenwe are dealing with the votes in detail.
– Could not the honorable gentleman give us the idea upon which he is working, the basis of the system he proposes?
– I shall give the honorable member some information in that connexion presently. In Canada, I believe, there is a force of1,200 or 1,300 permanent men, but the cost of that force is very much lower than the cost of our permanent men. On the other hand, in Canada the men are paid 2s. per day, and I do not think the permanent men in Australia would be perfectly satisfied with the payment of 2s. per day.
– What do we pay ours?
– About 5s.
– No, half-a-crown.
– It is more than half-a-crown. It comes to between 4s. and 5s. per day.
– That is the total cost of each soldier.
– I referred to Canada only to show that we are not going to the extreme of extravagance in defence matters, as is generally stated. When I commenced to effect this retrenchment, I took the cost of the year before the South African campaign as the basis upon which to work. In that year the total cost of our military system throughout the States was £597,000. It jumped up during the campaign, because certain alterations were made in the various States, and I remind honorable members that if any blame is due for increased expenditure on the defence force, it is not to be attached to the Commonwealth, because the jump-up took place in the different States before the Defence department was transferred to the control of the Federal Government. I think the desire of the House, and I believe the desire of the people of the country, was that the expenditure upon the military forces should be brought down, at any rate, to the point at which it was before it was inflated by the military sentiment and patriotic feeling engendered by war in South Africa. As to the system whichhas been adopted, I am informed that there is to be a vigorous attack upon the headquarters staff, but honorable members know that it is absolutely necessary that there shall be a head-quarters staff.
– Surely there is no need to pay £30,000 for it each year ?
– I do not think the cost is as much as the honorable and learned member says. But we shall deal with that matter when we come to consider the Estimates in detail, and I shall then be prepared to give reasons for the appointments to the head-quarters staff. I desire honorable members to understand that these appointments have been made provisionally. I did not rush into appointing the headquarters staff as it is now composed permanently, but something had to be done. We could not stand still, and I provided provisionally for the appointment of eleven officers, and of three others, whom the General Officer Commanding said he would require for three months. They have been temporarily appointed, as the General believes that he can get rid of them during the year.
– There are also fifteen military clerks.
– I point out to the honorable and learned member that the State of Victoria had the same number of clerks for the State head-quarters staff as that particular branch has now. They have to deal with the forces of one State, and I think they have seven or eight clerks, whilst the head-quarters,stafF. which has to deal with the six States, has fifteen clerks.
– The honorable gentleman is imposing one upon another.
– No. It is a very fashionable thing to attack the military, and in view of the extreme economy proposed to be practised in some of the States at the present time, it is, of course, still more fashionable to do so. In saying that I do not wish it to be understood that I personally favour a feeling of militarism at all. The head-quarters staff is laid down, and the duties allotted, insuring supervision, economy, and responsibility to the General Officer Commanding, who receives his instructions from the Minister. He does not do anything against the wish of the Minister, if the Minister knows it before it is done. In reply to the query of the honorable member for South Sydney, I am in a position to give the committee the following particulars of the re-organization which has been carried out : -
The administrative systems of all six States have had to be reconstructed and made similar in character and responsibility. The following departmental systems are reconstructed and carried out so as to make Ministerial supervision and responsibility paramount throughout the Commonwealth : - Engineers department - relative position and responsibilities of the Military Department and the department for Home Affairs depend for the execution of works, supervision of all military lands, buildings, forts, &o. Amalgamation of existing Engineer companies with corps of Australian Engineers.
I referred to that matter when the Estimates were dealt with yesterday. Instead of having military staffs, as has been the practice in some of the States, to deal with works, these works will now be dealt with under the department for Home Affairs. With the exception of the preparation of the plans for military defence works, the work will in future be carried out by the staff employed in connexion with ordinary works, and without the additional expense previously incurred in some of the States.
Reconstruction of the existing State services into an Australian Army Medi cai Corps, enabling necessary supervision, control, and economy to be exercised under the Minister through the General Officer Commanding.
It has been said, and said with pride, that one of our Army Medical Corps, sent from New South Wales under Colonel Williams, proved a lesson and an example even to the British Medical Corps in South Africa. Colonel Williams, who has been placed in charge of the Army Medical Corps of the Commonwealth, will, I have no doubt, give a good account of himself, and will keep the corps np to the standard his corps attained in New South W7ales, and exhibited in South Africa -
The existing State arrangements for the custody and maintenance of warlike stores, ammunition, and artillery, made similar by the construction of a properly organized Ordnance department, thus insuring the proper maintenance and economical administration of the Stores department.
Then with respect to artillery -
The whole of the permanent artillery units of each of the States have been organized into one regiment under the existing Defence Acts of the States, and, in accordance with the Constitution of the Commonwealth. Very considerable saving in expenditure, and great increase of supervision and additional efficiency insured.
Then in reference to the instructional staff the General Officer Commanding says -
An instructional staff has been reorganized and redistributed for the effective training, instruction, and supervision of the whole of the existing partially paid and volunteer services and rifle clubs.
As to pay, he says -
One general system of consolidated pay has been adopted for all officers and men of the permanently employed military forces of the Commonwealth. The administration, organization, and reconstruction above enumerated have gone far to lay a Commonwealth system of defence and to bring the previously existing and differently constituted State systems on one uniform basis, thus insuring Ministerial direction, efficiency, and economy.
I have made these quotations to show what has really been the basis upon which the Estimates have been framed. But whilst doing that, I might inform the committee that it has been found quite impossible to perfect any system combining the several systems previously existing in the States, until we have a Commonwealth Defence Act. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne referred to the matter just now, and it is absolutely impossible to do much more than patch-work until we have a Commonwealth Defence Act passed. Knowing the difficulties with which we have to contend at the present time, honorable members should be reasonably lenient with the General Officer Commanding, and the other officers who have to carry out the organization.
– What are the difficulties with which they have to contend ?
– I should like the honorable member to take my position for about a week, and he would know what they are.
– The honorable gentleman might mention some of them:
– I may remind the honorable member that there were different systems existing in each State, and that each of those different systems has had to be partially knocked down.
– Do not the State staffs administer the changes in the States ?
– The State Officer Commanding is responsible for the State administration through the General Officer Commanding, but the State officers have not the responsibility which they previously had as officers commanding under the State Ministries.
– Let us do away with them if we do not want them.
– I do not think we could do that. We must deal with the matter reasonably. After all, when we come to consider the whole question of the maintenance of the defence force, it must be admitted that it is in the nature of an insurance for the benefit of the people of Australia.
– We can pay coo high a premium for insurance.
– I think the premium paid is not so very high. Honorable members can depend upon it that no matter what system is adopted, there must be a nucleus of permanent men. I hope there will be a larger fringe of volunteers, militia, and partially paid men, and that in times of necessity we shall be in a position to call to the aid of the Commonwealth the yeoman strength of the community in repelling an enemy. I feel that in Australia we must be, to some extent, prepared at all times. If we allow everything to drift, we shall be quite unprepared when the occasion to defend ourselves arises. A minute upon the defence of Australia, by General Hutton, was laid upon the table some time ago. I was asked the question a short time ago whether or not the Government had agreed to allow the forces to be founded on the basis of the recommendations in the minute to which reference has been made. The particular point on which the information was desired was whether or not there would be power for any authority, without the consent of the Minister for Defence or the Parliament of the Commonwealth, to remove any of our men to any other part of the globe for the purpose of fighting, if occasion arose. I wrote a minute, which was quoted the other day, and in which I said the Government could not for one moment think of allowing even the semblance of any such authority to be imported into the military system of Australia. Various statements have been made to the effect that the Ministry have done what they should not do ; but I hope honorable members will see that the Minister for Defence, supported by his colleagues, has had a grip of the question all the time, and has not allowed anything to be done of a serious character which would be against the wishes of the people of Australia. I was asked just now as to the relative strength of the forces on a peace footing and a war footing. On a peace footing the strength is about 15,000, and on a war footing 43,000 or 44,000.
– Is not the peace footing 29,000?
– The peace footing of the field force is 14,000, and the war footing 28,000. I understand that this war footing is in addition to the 14,000 garrisontroops.
– That is right.
– And that makes the strength about 40,000 men. We have had to deal with the naval forces as well as with the military forces, and it has been suggested that the Federal Government should start by building lip a navy.
– Has any thought been given to what would be the cost of one battleship or first-class cruiser.
– I have never made a statement which could be construed as showing that I am against the establishment of a navy when the proper time comes. Such an accusation has, however, been made against me ; but if honorable members will refer to a paper submitted to me by our Admiral, it will be found that to organize even a moderate navy would cost £-400,000 or £500,000 a year.
– -For maintenance 1
– For maintenance and interest alone.
– The Minister is not now dealing with the question of an increased naval subsidy 1
– No ; that is not provided for in the present Estimates, and honorable members will hear of the matter before any action is taken. I wish, however, to refer to the question of the navy, because there has been made upon me an attack of a most unjustifiable character. As a rule, I allow such attacks to pass without notice, but it is not fair to reiterate that my desire is to do away with the naval forces, and rely on the land forces for the defence of Australia. I look on the present naval force of Australia, taking it altogether, as a toy force. Objection has been made to “a reduction of the cost of these forces in New South Wales by £5,000. The amount previously spent in that State, was about £10,000, which was, however, devoted to what are, practically, two land forces - the volunteer naval artillery and the naval brigade. Indeed, I do not know whether for the purposes of drill, the members of these forces were ever on the water. There is certaily no provision for a ship, and I am as strongly as anyone can be in favour of having properly drilled naval men, who can be called upon when required. It is ridiculous to have socalled naval volunteer artillery and naval brigades which are practically land forces. There was a duplication of officers in each pf these branches of the service, though they were under the one command of Captain Hixson. I did what I have always tried to do, namely, amalgamate these two branches under one set of officers. Some of the naval volunteer artillerymen and of the brigade had to retire, and officers and a certain proportion of men, who, I suppose, were considered the best qualified, were taken into the naval brigade, and thus it was possible to economize to the extent of £5,000. In Victoria a certain number ‘of men and one or two naval officers have been retrenched. I have been blamed for retrenching Commander Richardson, but all I can say is that that action was taken on the recommendation of his chief, Commander Tickell. I felt it my duty to ask Commander Tickell to indicate an officer who might be retired, and Commander Richardson was mentioned. I know nothing of the qualifications of the men, and, therefore, I took the advice of Commander Tickell. I believe that Commander Richardson is a very able man, and I have reason to know that he will be retained in the public service in another capacity. He has not been altogether removed from the defence forces, but simply utilized to fill an office, the salary of which has already been passed by this House, and to which, under other circumstances, a States officer or some one from the outside would have had to be appointed. It will be seen, therefore,. that Commander Richardson’s transference entails no increase of expenditure.
– What position does Commander Richardson now occupy ?
– He is second in the electoral office.
– And, Commander Richardson’s education extended over many years, and cost thousands of pounds !
– I have kept Commander Richardson in the locality, so that he may be used for defence purposes if he is required.
– There is no doubt that he will be required.
– I have no doubt that some of these days, when some arrangement is made with the Imperial Government, Commandant Richardson’s services will again be utilized for the purposes of defence. In South Australia it has not been possible to effect any retrenchment, owing to the fact that the expenditure in that State is less than elsewhere ; and a similar statement may be made in regard to Tasmania. In the naval service in Victoria retrenchment has been effected to the extent of £8,000 or £9,000, which, with the retrenchments made in Queensland on the recommendation of Captain Cresswell, show a total of £25,000 or £26,000. The object of the action which has been taken is soon stated- It will be a good thing if an arrangement can be made with the Imperial Government by which we may obtain the use of two or three training ships in Australian waters ; but, failing that, the Federal Government should, in my opinion, hire or rent proper training ships, or utilize, as far as possible, some of the ships we have now. We have one vessel in South Australia. and two in Queensland, which, to a certain extent, would do for drill purposes. These vessels would not, however, afford that provision for drill which can be obtained on a modern ship supplied by the Imperial Government. Pending further action in this direction no step has been taken, but when the matter is again brought up, after the return of the Prime Minister, I venture to think arrangements will be made which will do away with the necessity for the present of commencing to build up a navy at a cost of £500,000 each for second-class ships, and £800,000, or £900,000 for battle ships of the first line. What would become of the decision of the House not to borrow money if we’ had to incur expenditure for vessels of that kind, which might, before they were likely to be required, become obsolete except for the purposes of instruction 1
– Or for parliamentary trips.
– I do not want to be drawn from my present subject by any reference to parliamentary trips.
– The Minister must promise a trip or he will not get the Estimates through.
– I think the Estimates will ultimately be passed, though, of course, there may be some alterations and reductions. I am not qualified to say how these alterations may be made in detail ; but, in the main, I venture to think the Estimates will receive approval. My only desire is to give a general outline of what has been done up to the present, with the idea that it will be more convenient, as each item comes on for consideration, to give the details. I have the full details as to every alteration that has been made.
– Honorable members are entirely in the dark as to the figures which make up the reduction of £175,000, which I regard as the keynote of the whole discussion. The statement that £175,000 has been taken off last year’s Estimates has been made with such emphasis that we are all curious to know how it has been done. It is all a matter of figures, but I only ask for lump sums, and not details.
– About £62,000 has been knocked off the expenditure.
– But clearly the total of £175,000 has been reduced from the printed Estimates of last year, and the main reductions must be shown in figures somewhere.
– If the right honorable member desires I can give the committee the figures which I intended to give later when we were dealing with details. The total Defence estimate for 1901-2 was £937,212, less £106,000 for the Auxiliary Squadron, leaving £181,212. For 1902-3 the total estimate was £762,01 4, less £106,000 for the naval squadron, leaving £656,014. The latter net estimate deducted from the net estimate of 1901-2 shows a saving of £175,198. The first item of saving is £1,754 under the head of “ Central administration, Ministerial.” This reduction is due to the fact that the expense which was incurred in connexion with the Naval and Military Committee last year will not recur this year.
– We do not require the small details.
– It will’ not take many minutes to give the whole of the figures. The reductions made in the Naval Estimates are as follow : - New South Wales, £4,452 ; Victoria, £7,959 ; Queensland, £10,673; South Australia, £3,062. These figures total £26,346, and it will be remembered that I said I thought the reductions would amount to about £26,000. The saving has been effected in New South Wales by reducing the basis of payment -to able seamen of the naval brigade from £10 to £8 10s., and that of lieutenants from £61 to £30.
– That is the militia?
– It is the naval 1 brigade.
– But the brigade is composed of partially-paid men.
– By disbanding the Ambulance Corps a reduction of three officers and 32 petty officers and men has been made, and by disbanding the Volunteer Naval Artillery, transferring some of the men to the Naval Brigade, a total reduction of 13 officers and 168 petty officers and men has been effected in the combined establishments of the Naval Brigade and Naval Artillery. By disbanding the permanent torpedo corps, and discharging the permanent instructor of the Naval Volunteer Artillery, there has been a saving of the cost of six permanent employes. Before this last saving was effected I got the Admiral to appoint a board to investigate and report upon the’ state of the torpedo boats and torpedo establishments and stores in New South Wales and Victoria. I laid the report of the board upon the table of the House a short time ago. It shows that the torpedo boats are obsolete and, excepting their machinery, practically rotten, and that the stores were obsolete and useless, and would have to be sold. I was recommended to appoint the officer in charge of the torpedo corps in New South Wales to the command of the Naval Brigade, at a salary of £400 a year ; but I refused to do so, and what work has to be done will now be efficiently performed by an officer who is receiving £60 or £70 a year. With regard to the reductions which have been made in the expenditure upon the Victorian Naval Force, the pay for able seamen of the Naval Brigade has been reduced from £9 10s. to £8 10s. a month, the rate which has been adopted in New South Wales, where formerly the pay was about £10. I was asked to make a still further reduction of £2, but I declined to do so. It was impossible to mike the pay uniform throughout the States by levelling up to the New South Wales standard, because it would have imposed upon some of the States an expenditure which I do not think they are prepared to bear. Officers pay has also been reduced, and lieutenants are now receiving from £30 to £40. The establishment provided for the permanent force has been reduced by four officers and 39 petty officers and men. Only two officers were discharged - Commander Richardson and Engineer Forsythe - there being two vacancies, an engineer’s and a gunner’s position. In Queensland . the permanent staff has been reduced by two officers - Captain Drake and the position of a warrant officer which was vacant - and by five petty officers and men. The establishment of the Naval Brigade has been reduced from 729 to 538, a reduction of twelve officers and 179 men. There was a very large number of officers and men in the Queensland naval brigade, which is to be accounted for by the length of the Queensland coast line, and the number of places at which naval corps were established. In South Australia only one permanent officer has been dispensed with, and as he had other employment under the Government, he was receiving a merely nominal salary. A saving has been effected in regard to the supply of ammunition, but the South Australian naval force was so small that it did not admit of reduction in personnel. Coming now to the Military Estimates, a total reduction of £147, 27S has- been made. That reduction is accounted for chiefly by the decreases shown in the following table : -
In regard to the saving in connexion with the supply of new rifles, I desire to explain that the War-office authorities were communicated with on the subject, and their advice was that”, as experiments are now being made to ascertain the best rifle obtainable, we should not place a large order for new rifles until the question had been settled. We thought it wise to accept that advice, because we do not wish to purchase rifles which in a very short period would become obsolete or partially obsolete. There are already in the Commonwealth 23,160 Martini-Henry rifles, 34,122 MartiniEnfields, and 22,030 magazine rifles. The Martini-Henry rifles are certainly good enough for practice, and would be of service in war time, though not as good as the other rifles; but we have nearly 57,000 Martini-Enfields and magazine rifles in addition. In regard to the saving in ammunition, I would point out that we have now in stock sufficient for this year, and a full reserve for peace establishment, and about 1,500,000 rounds in addition. If we wanted more, the ammunition company here could, no doubt, manufacture it; but, under the circumstances, I do not think it wise to purchase further supplies at present. The Treasurer reminds me that the headquarters staff has been formed of officers taken from the States, and that a reduction in the States staffs has been made almost proportionate to the number of those transfers. Therefore, the cost of the head-Quarters staff is not, strictly speaking, new expenditure.
In reference to the total reduction in the personnel of the military establishment, I may mention that the number of permanent officers provided for this year is less by fifteen than in 1901-2. Twelve other officers for whom provision has been made in one particular branch have not yet been appointed, and in regard to six officers who have been recommended, I have given instructions that they are not to be appointed. Therefore, in all, 33 officers have been dispensed with. Forty-eight permanent instructors and 177 permanent noncommissioned officers and men have also been dismissed. The militia forces have been reduced by 47 partially-paid officers and 831 non-commissioned officers and men. The volunteer forces in Queensland have been reduced by 219 non-commissioned officers and men. The principal reductions in the military Estimates for New South Wales are as follows : -
In the estimated expenditure for Victoria there is a decrease of £32,259. The principal alterations in the votes can be seen from the following statement : -
-That reduction is nearly all represented by the item “ small arms ammunition.”
– Yes; but I have been accused of pouncing down upon the Victorian defence force and. making large reductions. The reductions for Queensland in the old Estimates; amounting to £47,520, are chiefly accounted for as follows : -
They had an enormous number of instructors in Queensland.
– Some of whom were transferred to South Australia.
– Yes; but we have discharged 48 instructors altogether. In South Australia there is no decrease in the estimated expenditure over that of last year. The Estimates for 1901-2 were £38,686, and those for the current year, £38,961, or an increase of £275. Whilst there has been a saving of nearly £4,000 on general contingencies, including stores, &c., there is anincreased estimated expenditure on what may be called the permanent force and staff of nearly £4,000. The salary of the Commandant is increased, and additional instructors are provided for. In Western Australia there is a decrease of only £3,166 on the estimated expenditure, viz., from £27,959 to £24,793. This is chiefly in contingencies. In Tasmania there is a decrease of only £500. The cost of the head-quarters and instructional staffs is increased, but there is a decrease under general contingencies and camps of exercise. If honorable members desire any further information I shall be glad to afford it, but I think that I have dealt generally with the whole of the matters referred to by the leader of the Opposition.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I know that there is a general desire on the part of the committee that this matter should be speedily determined, and therefore I shall curtail my remarks as much as possible. There are, however, a few observations which I should like to make, and which I trust will assist honorable members to arrive at a right conclusion regarding the policy which the Commonwealth ought to adopt in the matter of military and naval defence. At the outset I wish to remind the committee that the Convention estimate of the defence vote for Australia was £750,000 a year. Personally I do not think that that is an excessive amount to devote to the purpose, provided that it is distributed in a proper manner, and used in a way that is calculated to produce the best possible results. This year’s Estimates total £762,000, which is practically the equivalent of the Convention estimate of 1897. Having regard to the increased military expenditure which took place throughout the various States immediately before the accomplishment of federation, I think that we have done all that can reasonably be asked of us in the interests of economy.
– That is, if we have a satisfactory system.
– Precisely. The estimates for naval defence this year represent a little more than £150,000, whilst£600,000 is provided for military purposes. Of the £150,000 set down for naval defence, £100,000 represents the annual subsidy which we pay to the Imperial Government in connexion with the maintenance of the auxiliary squadron in Australian waters, and £50,000 covers local expenditure. To my mind that £150,000 could be expended to much better advantage than it is at present. The £100,000 which we pay to the Imperial Government in connexion with the auxiliary squadron is a mere flea-bite in comparison with England’s total naval expenditure. It is of no material assistance to the mother country, and the experience of the South African war in connexion with land fighting conclusively demonstrates that the Empire derives infinitely more value from contributions in fighting men than from contributions in money. Personally I should be very glad to see our arrangements with the Imperial Government so altered that, instead of continuing our contribution to the navy in its present form, we might pay it by affording a training on Imperial ships to Australian seamen. In that way I think we should be able to establish a reserve of many thousands of trained seamen who would be available for service under the Home Government in times of stress and trouble. The great difficulty with which the Imperial authorities have to contend, in regard to the navy, is that of securing a sufficient number of men to provide for national emergencies.
– We must have the ships in which to train them.
– Yes ; but they need not necessarily be our own ships. My idea is that these men should be trained upon Imperial ships, and that we should pay their wages and expenses. If we annually disbursed £100,000 in that way we could train, in round numbers, 1,000 men each year upon Imperial vessels, whilst £50,000 could be devoted to the training of a naval force operating upon shore in a similar manner to that followed in the case of the naval brigade. At the end of five years we should thus have a skilled reserve of practically 5,000 seamen, with another 5,000 in course of training in connexion with our naval brigades. It seems to me that a contribution of that sort would be of great service to the Empire. I do not suggest that these men should be enlisted for compulsory service beyond Australian shores except during the twelve months in which they are being trained on board the Imperial ships, because I am satisfied that the experience of the South African war has demonstrated that there is not the slightestnecessity to compel a field force to serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. Plenty of volunteers are available if we choose to ask for them, and that remark is equally applicable to our naval forces. That is all I have to say in regard to naval defence, except that I do not in the slightest degree believe in the theory of laying the foundations of an Australian navy at the present time. I do not know what the Australian taxpayer would say if we proposed to build a single line-of-battle-ship either out of revenue or out of loan moneys.
– We want no line-of battleships.
– I quite recognise that, and I could understand the feelings of the taxpayer if it were seriously proposed that we should build even one or two first class cruisers. I do not know that a couple of cruisers would be of very great service in defending the extensive coastline of Australia. I have no desire to see this Commonwealthget into the position occupied by some of the South American republics whose entire navy consists of a couple of ships which are rapidly becoming obsolete. Unless we are prepared to spend millions of pounds sterling in establishing a navy, we should not secure an efficient one. In my judgment, our naval interests are bound up with those of the Empire, and the adoption of any scheme by which we could supply a fair number of men who are willing to volunteer for the Imperial navy in time of war, andwho are trained to render efficient service, would be of far more advantage, alike to us and the Empire, than would the continuance of the existing arrangements. Coming to the scheme which Major-General Hutton submitted in his minute of April of the present year, about which we have heard so much, I would point out that he does not tie himself down to that scheme in connexion with the organization of the land forces of Australia. . His words, which are to be found upon page 3 of the report, are very clear. He says -
For the defence of Australian interests, wherever they may be threatened, it will be obvious that the first essential is the sea supre- macy, which is guaranteed by theRoyal navy, and that the second is the possession of a field force capable of undertaking military operations in whatever part of the world it may be desired by Australia to employthem. The field force above indicated could, if necessity arose, be made available for this purpose.
What I wish to draw attention to is that the organization of bur field forces as proposed by the Commandant does not in the slightest degree depend upon our adoption of his policy. Personally, I am opposed to it. I think that the men who serve outside Australia should be volunteers enlisted for a specific purpose whenever the occasion for their services arises. I repeat that an amplenumber of volunteers will be available in any such contingency. But Major-General Hutton’s scheme is quite independent of that question of policy. The field forces, if organized upon the lines suggested by him, would be just as efficient for defensive operations as they would be under his “defensive-offensive” scheme.
– Need the scheme be as elaborate as that suggested?
– Yes. In some respects I differ from the Commandant’s proposals, though I agree with others. Subject to the qualifications which I intend to submit, I think that the force would be just as elaborate as that which he proposes. In the first place, we must remember, as he himself points out, that Australia is not likely to be invaded in force until the Imperial navy has been practically driven off Pacific waters. But any force which was landed in Australia by a hostile power would be met at the moment of landing only by a comparatively small portion of the military forces of the Commonwealth. For example, until the transcontinental railway has been constructed, the Western Australian forces are practically all that could be opposed to a raiding party in that State in time to drive it back. Even in the case of Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide - close as they are to each other - such an invading force, by making feints, and thus concealing its real object, could do considerable damage long before adequate troops could be mobilised at any particular point to repel it. It is therefore requisite -for us to have our garrison and field forces much larger in proportion to our population than would be necessary if the area of the Commonwealth were more restricted, and our coast line less extended.
– Perth and Fremantle are absolutely defenceless.
– They are completely isolated. Of course, if Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide were only 100 miles from each other, instead of 600 miles, we could do with a much smaller force than we must maintain under existing conditions. In his scheme, Major-General Hutton proposes that, for the defence of Australia in time of peace, we should have a garrison force pf 15,000 men, and a field force of 14,000, which number should be capable of being doubled in time of war - the peace strength being 14,000 and the war strength 28,000. The essential part of the scheme of the General Officer Commanding, as I understand it, is contained in the statement that if we wish to bring these forces up to war strength rapidly, and at the same time have them efficient the moment they are brought up to war strength, we must have an excess of leaders on the peace establishment. By the word “ leaders,” I mean commissioned and non-commissioned officers alike, because, once we get in contact with the enemy, the non-commissioned officer has to do more than the commissioned officers - certainly no less. And the essential in leading troops to success is that their leaders shall be properly trained ; that is to say, that they shall have had a sufficiency of instruction in the right kind of work to enable them to handle their men properly in face of the enemy, and to lead them to success without undue loss. The average officer, non-commissioned or commissioned, is not a heaven-born leader of men. -He has to be trained just the same as any one else has to be. If in peace time we have an excess of leaders, and a sufficiency of rank and file to stiffen the force, as sent to the field in time of war, so that the whole of the rank and file should not be untrained men - I am leaving rifle shooting alone for the present - then we shall have the best available force. The scheme of the General Officer Commanding provides, as I understand it, for farmore commissioned and non-commisioned officers in proportion to men than we should at any time have in active service in the field. Because, given that a man can shoot fairly well, he can be trained to work fairly in the ranks in three weeks, if there are others who will give him help and guidance, and keep him right. But commissioned and non-commissioned officers cannot be trained in that time. If our peace establishment is to be one-half of our war establishment, and if we are to have an effective field force, suitable for the defence of Australia, the halving should be in the rank and file, and there only. If, for example, a company of infantry is to be 120 of whom a dozen are to be leaders, then the peace strength should be a dozen leaders and 54 rank and file. So that, when we increase the number of the rank and file, we have all. the leaders ready for leading them, and the more we have to increase the rank and file in time of war as compared’ with its strength in time of peace, the more necessary it is that the leaders should be properly trained. Although, therefore, it sounds at first sight incorrect to say that we should have an excess of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, on consideration I think it will appear to the committee that it -is a proper and wise scheme to adopt, and that is the scheme which the General Officer Commanding purposes. The next point is, where are we going to recruit the men from in order to bring up the corps to war strength ? It is proposed, as I understand the scheme, to recruit them from the rifle clubs, and that is not only a proper cause, but it is practically the only cause for their existence, so far as having regard to the exigencies of Australian defence.
The scheme of Major-General Hutton is no secret, for it was discussed at a meeting of captains of rifle clubs in Melbourne some time ago. He proposes to have members of clubs, who will get a certain quantity of free ammunition and a certain quantity of cheap ammunition. He then proposes to have efficient members, that is, men who can go through a certain course of rifle shooting, and attain a certain degree of proficiency, whereupon they would receive a larger allowance of ammunition than they did when they were merely members. In the third place he says that in order to at once fill a regiment to war strength, in case of war coming, he would give further allowances of free and cheap ammunition to those who have qualified as reservists. He says that in order to qualify as a reservist a man is to go through a course of drill which, as I understand it, is to be equivalent to one day’s drill in the year, and on that point I differ from him. According to his scheme, these reservists are to do a certain amount of drill and to be provided with uniforms. There is a feeling - I dp not think it is altogether justifiable - that the rifle clubs are to be turned into citizen soldiers. I do not think that the scheme will do that ; but, at the same time, I do not think that the provision of uniforms for rifle club men is essential to any scheme of Australian defence. The essential principle of a rifle club system, regarded as a reserve to fill up to the war strength our corps of citizen soldiers, is that the men shall be trained in shooting. They can be trained in all the rest very quickly. We can easily provide a tunic and a soft felt hat with a band, to give the men the distinction of being in uniform when they have to go into the field. But the essential is that they should be trained in the one thing in which men cannot be trained in the field quickly. A man can be trained quickly in everything but rifle shooting. Instead’ of providing the men with uniforms, if the money is available we should give them a little more ammunition. Instead of asking them to qualify as reservists by doing about a day’s drill in the year - the qualifying as reservists will give them about 200 rounds more of free ammunition: and I do not think that a day’s drill in the year is worth that reward - if we take the men who qualify as marksmen and first-class shots, and give them an extra allowance of 16 It! free ammunition for the following year as a reward for their skill in shooting, then we shall afford a direct incentive to men to improve in their shooting. Of course it is necessary that to be a reservist a man must be reasonably fit physically for joining the rank and file of the citizen army, and being able to take the field. If a man is the best shot in the world, and cannot march in an infantry regiment, he is of no use for a field force. If a man is the best shot in the world, and cannot ride a horse, he is of no use in a light horse regiment in a field force. Therefore it seems to me that physical qualification is absolutely necessary. Taking as a basis the membership of the Victorian rifle clubs at 20,000, including all kinds, and assuming that we have 50,000 rifle club men in Australia, I have calculated that the marksmen and firstclass shots who would be physically qualified would just about provide - perhaps a little over - the 14,000 men whom the General Officer Commanding needs to fill up his corps to war strength from the rifle clubs used as a reserve. Consequently, it seems to me that, with the exception of an alteration in the qualification of the reservists, a scheme to provide, in the first place, a peace establishment of some 14,000 men of a field force, with its full equipment of leaders, and a reserve from the rifle clubs of men trained in shooting, will furnish a force of about 28,000 men, which General Hutton suggests as the field force for Australia. It seems to me, therefore, that in principle this scheme is sound, and that it is a proper one to adopt. Of course, if Parliament thought that the proposed vote should be reduced, the scheme could still be carried out by reducing the numbers. But I repeat that we must have an excess of leaders, commissioned and non-commissioned officers, in time of peace, so that they may not have to be trained in time of war. If they have to be trained in time of war, it will be done at the expense, not of money, but of lives of men they are leading, and that is the most expensive kind of training I can conceive of. Therefore, when we find a company of infantry as is proposed in the scheme, with a peace strength of 60 altogether, and with seven leaders and four sub-leaders in the shape of corporals,it may be said that that is one leader to every six men, and of course it is an excessive proportion ; but when it is remembered that in time of war we are going to double the rank and file and have one leader to every twelve men, we have not in the least degree too many, because those who engage in peace manoeuvres, as I have done from time to time, know that in the present methods of attack and defence it continually happens - it may be -said that it is almost the invariable rule - that a man who controls a dozen men in the firing line is controlling as many as he can possibly manage directly. Therefore, the proportions for war strength are perfectly correct, but in order to have them correct, they must be twice what they ought to be in peace time. Of course, if we had money so that we could keep the rank and file as well as the leaders up to war strength, it would be all the better ; but, in default of being able to do that, the* best system is to keep the leaders up to war strength, and to have reserves of trained rifle shots who can be quickly converted into trained soldiers.
– - That applies to the infantry soldiers, but what about the scientific branch?
– The great bulk of the forces are infantry and light horse. I did not wish to labour the matter by referring specially to the scientific branch. Of course it is perfectly obvious that the ordinary man cannot be converted into a skilled submarine engineer straight away. I thought it was taken for granted that I was not referring to anything of that kind. I am referring to the field force of the Commonwealth, the great bulk of which will consist of men using the rifle. The others absorb comparatively a small proportion of the expenditure, and I did not desire to detain the committee by referring to them at great length.
– Would we not form a more effective reserve by passing men through the ranks ?
– If it could be done, yes. In Victoria it- was tried for years, but once men left the corps and went into the reserve, they were never seen again. They gave up their rifle shooting, a thing which they should not do, and disappeared. At one time we had a reserve of 2,000 men. Foi example, in the corps with which I am connected we had a reserve of several hundred, and they were supposed to turn up, I think, for nine drills during the year, in order to keep themselves in touch with the training and organization. I do not think that out of that number we saw three men again. We saw three or four at the Easter encampments; and that shows that if these men leave the ranks and still take an interest in military matters, they will join a rifle club and endeavour to keep up their shooting. The corps will be all the better if they come back to it again in time of war, for their having had the training previously. But you cannot rely upon such a reserve as an effective reserve. An effective reserve consists of men who, after their period of military training, keep in touch with rifle shooting. You must first of all train men to use the rifle, and then they must keep up their shooting, because a man can easily lose his form even in rifle shooting. In the second place, if you are to create your reserve out of men who have gone through the ranks, you will have to increase the vote, because you will have to pay them during the time they are in the ranks, and make them an allowance while they are in the reserve, to keep them effective for service. The system referred to is effective, provided the men keep up their rifle shooting, but I would sooner have a marksman who had never been in the ranks than a third-class rifle shot who had been in the ranks. Under this scheme, every man will be a trained soldier in shooting. Every rifle shot who comes into the ranks as an untrained soldier will have a trained soldier on each side of him to keep him up to the mark - to “ stiffen” him, so to speak, and keep him on the right lines. If he sees a man on the right of him, and another man on the left of him, doing the right thing, he will do the same very quickly, and his rifle shooting will come into full and effective play when the corps gets into touch with the enemy. Certainly, this is a sound scheme, and one which - apart from the amount to be spent and the numbers to be raised - should be accepted by this committee as being essentially a proper one for the defence of Australia. I have very briefly pointed out why I think this scheme is right in principle ; but I now desire to draw attention to the Estimates themselves, and to see how far they carry out, or show any sign of carrying out, the intention. I understand clearly, as the Minister has pointed out, that at present we have practically nc> re-organization, as the present Estimates are based upon last year s Estimates, the scheme of re-organization of the General Officer Commanding having not yet come into operation. Notwithstanding that, there are some features of the Estimates which are not, to my mind, altogether satisfactory, and I shall be glad if the Minister will give me his close attention for a minute or two in this con,nexion. In order that the tables which I have prepared may be comprehensible to those honorable members who are to follow me, I should like to draw their attention to a sample page of the Estimates. I will take pages 55 and 56, where is given -am analysis of the expenditure in the State ‘Of New South “Wales. There is a similar analysis of the expenditure in each of the States. It appears from those pages that the total expenditure on permanent troops for the year 1902-3 is £110,496. Of this sum there is a considerable portion not properly chargeable to the permanent forces, although it appears here as chargeable to them. If honorable members will take the third line, under the head of “Permanent troops,” they will see the entry “Ordnance department, £28,997.” If honorable members refer to page 60, they will see that out of that sum of £28,997, the sum of £21,334 is for munitions of war. I do not think it is fair to charge the’ permanent forces, as permanent forces, with the whole of the expenditure on munitions of war, especially when a great deal of it is to be used for the citizen forces. Therefore, in order that I may not be unfair, in .the contrast which I propose to make between the permanent and citizen forces, I have charged the citizen forces with the whole of the expenditure on. ordnance in every State, and have not debited the permanent forces with a proportion of the ordnance stores, though they themselves will use them- - because, whether we have a permanent force, or substitute for them a partially paid or volunteer force, they will be using the whole or the greater portion of these ordnance stores. Therefore, I have deducted the ordnance stores from the permanent forces, and charged them only with the balance. I also draw attention to the next- line on page 55. The line is - “ Instructional staff for militia, partially paid and volunteer forces, £18,069.” These men are permanently employed in connexion with the training of our citizen forces. In the comparisons I have made for each State, I have debited the permanent forces with the whole of that amount ; but, in the totals I have made out comparing the Estimates for this year and last, as regards the permanent forces, I have made an allowance for the fact that there is a considerable sum which last year was charged to the citizen forces, and which this year is being charged to the permanent forces. I may also say that I have made out these figures to the nearest thousand, so as to avoid complicating the matter with details of hundreds, tens, and units. After making the allowances for ordnance stores, I find that on last year’s Estimates, the permanent forces of New South Wales showed an expenditure of £94,000. This year the estimate is £89,000 - a decrease of £5,000 ; whereas, for the citizen forces, last year’s estimate was £158,000, as compared with this year’s estimate of £114,000, or a decrease of £44,000. I ask honorable members to recollect that I am not allowing for the transfer from the citizen forces to the permanent forces of two-thirds of the £18,000 on account of the instructional staff, the remaining one-third having formerly been charged to the citizen forces. In Victoria the estimate for the permanent forces is£57,000 last year; this YearS:63.00( - an increase of £6,000 - again subject to deduction for transfer of the instructional staff! For the citizen forces last year’s estimate was £165,000, and this rear’s estimate is £126,000, a decrease of £39,000. Contrast that with the increase of £6,000 for the permanent forces. For Queensland last year and this year the estimates for the permanent forces are respectively £36,000 and £27,000- that is a decrease of £9,000 ; whilst for the citizen forces the figures are for the two years £99,000 and £60,000- a decrease of £39,000. In the case of South Australia there is an increase for the permanent forces from £6,000 to £10,000, whilst for the citizen forces there is a decrease from £32,000 to £28,000. In other words, the reason that the South Australian Defence estimates have not decreased is that as much as has been taken from the citizen forces has been added to the permanent forces. For Western Australia the estimate is £5,000 for each year for the permanent forces, and for the citizen forces the figures are respectively £23,000 and £19,000, a decrease of £4,000. For Tasmania there is an increase for the permanent forces from £6,000 to £7,000, and a decrease for the citizen forces from £13,000 to £12,000, the total being the same, because, as in the case of South Australia, the amount saved on the citizen forces has gone to increase the cost of the permanent forces. In other words, the saving on account of the citizen forces is about balanced by the increased expenditure on the permanent forces.
– I would remind the honorable and learned member that the decrease in the case of the citizen forces of Queensland was occasioned at the instance of the Premier of that State.
– I know that.
– What did the honorable and learned member say was the position in Western Australia?
– There is a net decrease of £3,000 ;. practically there is no increase in the permanently employed. In 1901-2 for Western Australia, there is an increase of £660 in the permanent forces, and a decrease of £3,826 in the citizen forces. What I want to get at is the trend of the whole reductions, first from the estimates of last year, and, secondly, from the estimates of the present year. The essential matter is how the £175,000 is made up.
– How is the numerical strength affected ?
– I have not made out comparative tables in regard to the numerical strength, but I have a table for the permanently employed, and shall deal with it directly. The total shown in regard to the permanent forces on the estimates as compared with last year, without making any allowance for the instructional staff, is an increase of £4,000, while the total of the citizen forces has decreased by £130,000, or a net decrease of £126,000. I may here remark that it is exceedingly difficult to trace the transfers of the instructional Staff from their charge last year against the citizen forces to their charge this year really against the permanent forces, but I think I have got pretty near to the truth. If honorable members look, for example, at page 60, they will find that in New South Wales, under the heading of “ Instructional staff,” there were last year fourteen officers and 108 warrant and non-commissioned officers, and this year there was a total of 81, at an estimated expenditure of £18,069. I have been through last year’s estimates, and can only trace, as charged against the citizen forces last year, about £12,000 out of that £18,069. I do not say that more has not been charged, but I say that I have been unable to trace more than £12,000 out of the total sum for New South Wales. In the case of Victoria, if honorable members look at page 89, under the heading of “ Instructional staff,” they will see that the amount is £10,162. I can find very nearly £10,000 last year debited to the instructional staff in Victoria, but I can only find about £2,000 for the instructional staff, which last year was charged to partly-paid or volunteer forces. So that there is about £2,000 out of that £10,000 which is expenditure transferred from citizen to permanent forces.
– The honorable and learned member may have missed some details in his calculations.
– Of course, I may have done so. In the case of Queensland, we last year charged the permanent staff with practically the whole of the expenditure for the instructional staff. If honorable members look at page 104, they will see that the cost of the instructional staff for that State this year is put down at £7,905, and the head-quarters staff at £2,759. Last year the cost of the permanent staff was £11,294, which, after making allowances for deductions for ordnance material, is practically the same as that provided on the Estimates for this year. There is practically no increase in the permanent charges in Queensland, owing to transfers to the instructional staff under the heading of permanent forces, and practically none in South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. But altogether I estimate that about £18,000 is being charged this year to instructional staff, under the head of permanent forces, which last year was charged to various citizen forces. Consequently, to make the totals right, I should say that the estimates for the permanent forces have been decreased by about £15,000 - that is, the difference between the increase I have mentioned and the decrease owing to the transfer of instructional staff - while the estimates for the citizen forces have been decreased by £112,000.
– Does the honorable and learned member make a decrease in both?
– Yes. If we allow the whole of the instructional staff as having been charged last year to the citizen forces, and as being charged this year to the permanent forces, that makes a decrease of £27,000 in the permanent forces estimates, and a decrease of a little over £100,000 in the estimates for the citizen forces.
– At the wrong end.
– I think it is. I consider that fact shows that up to the present the tendency is not in the direction of obtaining the most of what we desire for our money. In order to emphasize that point, I shall give the totals of the current year’s charges against the permanent forces. I didnot realize, until I added up the figures, that the head-quarters and instructional staff cost so much. Practically the “ instructional staff” is merely another name for portion of the head-quarters staff. If the head-quarters staff is not an instructional staff it should be. Do honorable members know that, quite apart from the permanent artillery and permanent engineers, the officers and warrant officers on our head-quarters staff alone cost us £100,000 out of the £590,000 which is devoted to our military forces ?
– That includes the States staffs.
– Yes. On the head-quarters and instructional staff there are 55 officers and 241 warrant and non-commissioned officers. A return was recently laid upon the table of the House showing that 43 officers were employed on the various staffs. That may be the total employed, but there are 55 accounted for on the Estimates.
– The Minister mentioned that there were twelve offices which he had refused to fill up.
– Yes. I am not referring to what may be done after we have considered the Estimates, but to what is shown in these Estimates, so that they may be altered, if it be considered that they should be altered, in a right direction. The headquarters staff costs £15,225, accordingto the Estimates for this year. The other permanent forces chargeable against the Commonwealth - the Thursday Island and King George’s Sound permanent artillery - cost £12,210, so that what I may describe as the Australian charge is £27,435. The headquarters staff in New South Wales - and I use that term for head-quarters andinstructional staff - costs £22,209: In addition to that sum, the salaries and contingencies in the pay branch, which are increasing in nearly every State, more clerks being employed in the pay offices than there used to be-
– Not in Victoria. The numbers have been largely reduced in this State.
– For ordnance - and in ordnance I am not including ordnance stores, but ordnance salaries and general - the cost in New South Wales is £10,243, making a total for that State, apart from the cost of the New South Wales permanent fighting forces, of £32,452. There is also a sum of £56,710 for their fighting troops, making a total of £89,162 for the permanently employed people in New South Wales.
– Can the honorable and learned member give the numbers in conjunction with the expenditure?
– I have found very great difficulty in getting out some of these numbers ; but I have the details.
– It would be an interesting comparison.
– I think I can give it. Taking the head-quarters staff first of all, I am unable to say how many were employed last year, but this year there are eleven officers and fifteen clerks, representing a cost of £15,225. IntheThursdayIslandandKing George’s Sound forces, inclusive of headquarters staff, there were 126 persons employed, last year.This year there are 142 employed, at a cost of £27,435. In New South Wales last year there were 760 employed. This year there are 664 employed, at a cost of £89,162. In Victoria the sum of £13,780 is provided for the staff, and £8,305 for pay branch, &c., making a total of £22,085, while for the permanent artillery, and so forth, provision is made for £40,829, making a total of £62,914. This year there are 479 persons employed, as compared with 406 last year. In Queensland there has been a decrease in numbers from 269 to 198, but there is a total charge of £26,740, made up of £10,664 for staff, £3,201 for pay branch, &c., and £12,875 for the Permanent Artillery and similar corps. In South Australia the number employed has been increased from 53 to 68. I am afraid the ten drill instructors appear on the scene once more. These men are employed at a cost of £4,139 for staff, £2,046 in respect of pay branch, and £4,211 for other permanent forces, making a total of £10,396. In Western Australia there has been an increase in the number employed from 10 to 24. The cost totals £5,366, of which all but £30 is chargeable to head-quarters.
In Tasmania there has been an increase in numbers from 42 to 52 at a total charge of £6,933, £4,855 being chargeable to staff, pay, and ordnance, and £2,078 to other items, making a total of £75,158 for the Commonwealth head-quarters and instructional staff, £24,845 for pay and ordnance, and £128,943 for other permanent forces. In other words, our permanent forces are costing us, in round numbers, £230,000, out of a total expenditure of £590,000.
– A large number of the permanent forces are engaged in drilling the militia.
– Of course. A sum of £75,158, or one- third of the £230,000, is expended in connexion with the instructional staff, but it does not follow that because the head-quarters and the instructional staff are so used, their cost is not too much, or that it is chargeable properly solely against the citizen forces, because the headquarters staff also drill the permanent forces of the State. It seems to me that £230,000 out of £590,000 is too much to pay in respect of the pay allowances and maintenance of 1,627 men. That is the total number of men employed permanently in the Commonwealth forces.
– No ; all the positions are not filled.
– I am speaking solely of what the estimates show. I am trying to discuss what they set forth. We did not know until to-day what the Minister proposed to do in the way of improving upon or altering these estimates. The estimates before us are, I suppose, those which he obtained from the department and settled, but from later information which he has obtained he proposes to alter them still further.
– I have a later statement.
– The fact that all the offices are not being filled up makes the position worse.
– The fact that all these offices are not being filled up shows that the estimates are going in the very direction of which I am complaining. The Minister realizes that fact, but no harm will be done if it is still further impressed upon him. So far as the 55 officers on the various headquarters and instructional staff are concerned, their salaries average £508 a year.
– Does that include the salary of the General Officer Commanding ?
– Yes. We ought to deduct £50 from that sum in order to obtain the average, exclusive of the salary of the General Officer Commanding. That is to say, the average is about £450. I do not desire to quote any figures with a bias in them. I wish to put the figures as fairly as I possibly can. I think the Treasurer will recollect that before lunch he pointed out to me a matter for which I at once proceeded to make allowance, because I thought it only fair to do so.
– Hear, hear. I thought the honorable and learned member was going on wrong lines.
– The cost of our permanent soldiers, excluding the officers, may be interesting. I have taken as a sample the Thursday Island and King George’s Sound Artillery, and the New South Wales Permanent Artillery. The Thursday Island and King George’s Sound Artillery, excluding all officers, costs £95 per man ; while the cost of the New South Wales Permanent Artillery is £90 per man. The men do not receive the whole of that sum in wages, nor does the amount named allow anything for the ammunition which they use. But including every person permanently employed in the Commonwealth forces - General Officer Commanding and all - the estimates provide for an expenditure of £228,946, an average of £144 5s. per head. It is obvious that we should make the cost as low as we can, consistent with efficiency, because £144 5s. would train and provide with ammunition far more than one citizen soldier.
– Does the honorable and learned member think there are too many permanently paid officers ?
– I do.
– I desire simply to obtain an expert opinion.
– I think that 55 officers and 241 warrant and non-commissioned officers, making a total of 296 for the instructional staff, is too much. I do not say that they have not enough work to do now, because I know that they have. A great many of these men are my own personal friends, and, consequently, I would not make this statement merely for the sake of attacking them.
– The honorable and learned member does nob refer to the drill instructors in South Australia ?
– They are included in these totals. If they have to do the work which the drill instructors in Victoria have to perform they will have plenty to do.
– And they are not too well paid.
– That is so. The reason why so many officers and non-commissioned officers are required, and yet kept hard at work, is that an immense amount of unnecessary work is performed. I do not want to detain the committee by describing all this work, but if I were to tell honorable members of the unnecessary clerical work which has to be performed in connexion with our forces they would be astonished. Half the returns which have to be sent in to head-quarters by citizen forces may be read by some one, but they are certainly never heard, of again.
– Does the honorable and learned member include the civil as well as the military officers in the total of 296 which he gives as the number on the instructional staff?
– I do not include central administration, but military clerks employed at the head-quarters of the various States.
– Should we reduce the number right away, or do so gradually ?
-I think it is right for me to point out as much as I can at this stage. I do not desire to speak again on these estimates. In regard to the unnecessary work which has to be performed, I point out that the Commanding Officer of a corps sends in a return of proposed parades and many other returns. Excepting, perhaps, in one or two instances, they are never again heard of. But at one end some one has to sit down and write these returns, and at the other end someone has to sitdown and read them. Then there must be supplied returns of parades which have taken place, giving the number and names of those present, and no more is ever heard of them. There is never a reprimand in connexion with them.
– Are not these returns required for the purpose of calculating the pay of men ?
– They are not. I am quite sure that the pay cannot be checked in that way, because there would not be time to do it. I have known all the pay-sheets to be passed in half-a-day, and it would take that time merely to check the arithmetic.
– Unless these returns are made, how are the authorities to know that anything is ever being done?
– By going to see.
– They may make their visits at a time when there is no battalion parade.
– The honorable member must know from his own experience that it is easy to learn the days upon which the parades are held. If we take, for instance, the instructional staff, and an officer of the staff is sent to some particular corps for two months, will he not know when the parades are held ? That is the way in which an instructional officer should be appointed to a corps. There is no use in having a general officer attending twice a year to inspect the corps. In the old days, we knew when the visit would be made, and for weeks before the inspection we were practising the pretty little movements which we knew we should have to go through on inspection day. I must do this justice to the present Administration, and admit that there is now no use in practising these things beforehand, especially so far as. General Hutton is concerned, because that officer does not ask for a pretty spectacle of ceremonial drill. I must admit that the new drill book is a very great advance upon the old practice in the matter of practical work. The pretty drill work, which used to take up a great deal of time, and was of no earthly use, has been practically abolished. Of course, we must have men in a reasonably straight line, and they must dress by one flank or other if they are to have any dress at all.
– Will the honorable and learned member detail the procedure in case of a complaint of breach of discipline ?
– If I were to detail the procedure of a court of inquiry, or a court martial, I should be here for the rest of the afternoon.
– The point is that work is manufactured.
– My point is that if these returns, of which I have spoken, had not all to be made, we should be able to reduce the number of men employed, and permit those who are employed to devote a great deal more of their time to instructional work. I do not wish now to go into details, but I say that, in my opinion, the instructional staff is larger than it ought to be. I should like honorable members to realize what we could do with savings effected in connexion with the permanent forces. For example, if we could save £30,000 of the expenditure from permanent forces, that would keep 21,000 riflemen going on the Victorian scale of expenditure ; and on General Hutton’s scale, it would keep 2.1,000 going, which is one-half more than he requires for his reserves to fill up all our field forces to their fighting strength. It would keep going twelve battalions of volunteer infantry, and five battalions of militia infantry, or more than the militia infantry proposed for the State of New South Wales or the State of Victoria. We have had some reference made to the appointment of a new director-general of artillery. The salary of £750 a year proposed for such an office would keep a company of volunteers of war strength or a company of militia on a peace footing all the year round, including allowances, because the expenditure, according to the Estimates upon a militia man in New South Wales, including his ammunition, or a considerable proportion of it, is £12 5s., and upon a volunteer £5. The amount in Victoria for a militia man is £13 12s., and for a volunteer £3 12s. The lower figure for volunteers in the case of Victoria is accounted for by the fact that one particular regiment of Victorian volunteer infantry has been treated less generously than any other regiment in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Melbourne knows what regiment that is.
– It has been cut out altogether.
– The men of that regiment do not even get a capitation allowance. It is perfectly true that when the regiment was formed they agreed to do without it. I do not know whether their promise is to be held binding upon them till the day of judgment, but it will be very hard upon them if it is. The Treasurer asked me to make a comparison between last year’s expenditure and this year’s Estimate, and I find that there is a decrease of nearly £4,000 as between last year’s expenditure and this year’s Estimates, after allowing for the instructional staff, on the permanent force, and on the citizen forces there is a decrease of £18,000.
– The honorable and learned member’s figures assume that the amount provided for will be expended, but the Minister has said that there are some vacancies.
– Quite so, but the Minister is keeping more vacancies in the citizen forces than in the permanent force.
– Not a larger proportion.
– I know that the proportion amounts to 20 and 30 per cent. in the case of some of the forces. That is a very considerable proportion, and that is where I venture to think the trouble is. There is only one other matter I desire to speak of before I submit some figures in round numbers, and that is the matter of uniforms. The Minister recently, in answer to a question, said that it was intended to keep distinctive uniforms for the various corps, and I can assure the honorable gentleman that in that respect he is making a very grave mistake.
– Even if they cost the same money ?
– I do not mean that there should be no difference between the uniforms of various corps in facings or other small matters. I take the Melbourne corps as an illustration. We have gunners, infantry, and the Melbourne cavalry corps. I forget what the uniform of the latter corps is for the moment, but I believe it is very pretty. I would point out that the men who desire to join the citizen forces of the Commonwealth are merely human beings like other people, and other things being equal they will very likely consider which corps has the more taking uniform.
– They will like to be “gilded roosters?”
– I do not at all agree with that kind of remark as applied to men who, for a very small remuneration, are preparing themselves to be able to meet a contingency on behalf of their fellow citizens. I say that the men engaged in this work are doing good work for the Commonwealth, and such terms should not be applied to men who are prepared to spend money that their training may be secured. But if we do not have practically the same uniform for the whole of the forces of the Commonwealth, we shall be continuing the distinction which at present exists between the various forces. I say that what we want is a businesslike uniform, and I go further, and when it is said that kharki presents a dull and drab-like appearance amidst the glitter of a ball-room, I assure the Minister that the bulk of the Australian forces, volunteer and permanent alike, do not see the inside of a ball-room very often during the course of a year. There is a proportion of the commissioned officers in Victoria and New South Wales, and I suppose the other States as well, who are strongly attached to the beautiful gilt lace and all the rest of it, and there is no doubt that some of the uniforms are very nice.
– That is not what I was asking for.
– I tell my officers that they ought not to buy these uniforms which they may not require to use once in a year. In some corps officers who do not do so have to suffer in consequence, some are required to do so, and they spend very often large sums of money upon uniform.
An Honorable Member. - Who expects them to do it 1
– Their commanding officers in some cases, and their fellow officers in other cases. Now that we are practically doing away with swords, which cost a certain amount of money, a man can get his working kit for £20, and have a change of clothes. A well-fitting kharki uniform will make a man look just as smart as is necessary. A man requires to have two uniforms - a best for swell occasions, reviews, and that kind of thing, and a second best as a working uniform. The uniform should be of such a character that when the best is not good enough for best it should be suitable for the second-best uniform, and become the man’s working uniform. I strongly urge upon the Minister to agree with what I understand is the recommendation of the General Officer Commanding, that there shall be one uniform - a work-day uniform - so far as colour and so on are concerned.
– That will not prevent some mess officers ordering a number of different styles of uniform.
– Ifr will, if these are not authorized by the dress regulations. I do not know whether the honorable member has ever had the curiosity to read the dress regulations of the Victorian forces. They comprise a larger book than the whole of the regulations and standing orders relating to the maintenance of the forces. Elaborate regulations are framed to show where this bit of gilt lace is to be and where that gilt button is to be on a uniform, and these regulations are still in force. I am supported in my view of this matter by a majority of the commissioned officers, as well as the men of other ranks throughout the forces with whom I am acquainted. Men who have these expensive uniforms are agreed that it is not desirable to have them, and that it is a discouragement to men joining a corps to know that they will have to spend £100, as they would have to do in the field artillery, in providing themselves with a complete kit. There is a feeling that men may be looked down upon if this expensive uniform is not adopted, and that deters men from joining the force.
– My experience has been that there is a very strong opposition to the honorable and learned member’s views in all the forces, at any rate in New South Wales.
– There is a percentage of persons who object to what I have suggested, and the honorable gentleman hears from them, while the people who do not object keep quiet, because they do not desire to get into hot water. My views upon the matter have been known for years, because long before I entered this or any other Parliament I declaimed against the gold lace part of the business, and I have latterly been greatly surprised at the unexpected quarters in which I have found approval of my expressed views. If we are to have a work-a-day, practical force, our business is to rid it of frills and frippery of all kinds, in order that it may have the respect of the whole of the people of Australia. This matter of uniforms is important, inasmuch as to many of those who laugh at our citizen forces, and are dissatisfied with the military expenditure, it forms a peg on which to hang their diatribes. I have already said that I think the Federal Convention estimate of £750,000 is a reasonable expenditure on the forces of Australia.
– I do not think that that included the auxiliary squadron.
– My estimate does, include the Australian squadron, and in the present circumstances of Australia I do not ask for more. But the money spent on the auxiliary squadron could be very much better used in creating a reserve of men able and willing to serve in the Imperial Navy, than in contributing an insignificent sum to the Imperial exchequer. I feel very strongly that the Imperial authorities, as well as the people of Australia, would, be much better satisfied if the money were spent in the direction I have indicated. I dare say there are those who think that in certain cases my figures are impossible, but that is not my opinion. “ For military expenditure I estimate £600,000, leaving £150,000 for the navy, the latter sum including the £106,000 for the auxiliary squadron. As to the military expenditure, I allow £14-0,000 for contingencies, and this will pretty nearly, if not quite, cover the purchase of ammunition and expenditure of that kind. Then I estimate £60,000 for the head-quarters and instructional staff, and £100,000 for the permanent artillery. That shows a reduction altogether of £60,000 on the Estimates, but probably a reduction of only £40,000 on what, according to the Minister, will ultimately be expended.
– How is that reduction brought about 1
– To answer the question I should have to go into detail, and I shall only say that the expenditure can be reduced by one-third without interfering with efficiency.
– Does the honorable andlearned member mean a reduction of expenditure or a reduction of numbers by onethird ?
– A reduction of expenditure, which, of course, would mean some reduction of numbers.
– Would the reduction of numbers not make the corps too small, unless some are wiped out altogether ?
– I do not wish to complicate the issue by any scheme of my own. I content myself with saying that it seems to me the tendency of the expenditure, as shown on the Estimates, is to starve the citizen force rather than the permanent force. That on the whole is, I think, an error, which may interfere with the public goodwill in regard to the defence expenditure. If we had the money to spend on both branches, it would, of course, be better ; but, apart from that consideration, it is an error to reduce the citizen force too materially as compared with the permanent force. I express my regret for having detained the committee at such length, but I hope that the facts and figures I have mentioned may be of some assistance in the consideration of the Estimates.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).It must be admitted that we have just listened to a very valuable speech. I have not the advantage of the honorable and gallant member for Corinella in owing two allegiances, one to Mars and one to Minerva, and I approach the matter with the greatest diffidence, though I suppose it is the duty of honorable members to endeavour to inform themselves as much as possible on the different questions which arise. There ‘is no doubt that the department at the present time is in a state of transition - that it is to a large extent in a state of confusion ; but I do not think that, for this any official can’ be blamed. It is absolutely impossible to bring about a uniform system under six different Acts of different natures, and we must not be too impatient. So far as I can see, every effort is being made to. make use of such powers as Parliament has given in order to create an effective defence force. Not only is there no common Act, but the States Ministers of Defence have furnished no common principle . for the guidance of officials. It is very unfortunate at this crisis that the office of Minister for Defence should be practically in commission. First of all, we have the Minister for Defence, who is at present in foreign parts, and announcing, so far as I can understand from reading between the lines, that he is prepared to lead a ‘force of Australian soldiers for the purpose of attacking the people of Kamschatka. Then we have the Minister now at the table, who certainly attends very carefully in the House to the affairs of the department, but who has his mind distracted by the claims of different proposed sites for the- federal capital. I cannot conceive how the honorable gentleman can do justice to the big affairs of the Defence department, and, at the same time, do justice to the question of the capital sites. The honorable gentleman will admit, however, that there is no department that requires so much watching on the part of the House as does the department of Defence - that there is no department which tends’ so much to extra gavance and useless expenditure. If a civilian, like myself, ventures to ask whether certain expenditure is necessary, he is told that he has never been drilled or has not served in the forces, and is, therefore, in a state of ignorance on the subject. Such a member is told that he must leave his whole judgment in the hands of those who have been drilled and have served, but who, at the same time, are interested. It is not in a spirit of mean cavilling that the committee is going to deal with the Defence department ; but if there is one thing that the people are determined on it is that there shall not be more spent than is required for the defence of Australia. I use the words “defence of Australia “ advisedly. I have read with great pleasure the excellent report made by the General Officer Commanding in April last ; but I find that, with a true military disregard of law, that gentleman suggests two schemes of military organization, one of which is absolutely beyond our powers as a Federal Government. That point ought to have been brought under the notice of the General Officer Commanding as soon as the report was promulgated. The report practically says there is no danger of the invasion of Australia in force for the purpose of occupation, and that there is even less danger now than before, having regard to recent experiences in South Africa. But the report goes on to point out that there is some danger of a raid for the purpose of extracting an indemnity from Melbourne or Sydney or some of the other important sea-port cities, or that there is a danger of an attempt on the part of some foreign Power to get a coaling station here or to attack King George’s Sound or Thursday Island. I understand the report to suggest that special arrangements ought to be made for the defence of the two places I have mentioned, and also such cities as Sydney and Melbourne. It is very true that history shows that sometimes the best defence is vigorous offence, and the report recommends that arrangements should be made for the defence of Australian interests everywhere. I am glad to understand that the Government have within the last two or three weeks distinctly disavowed this last recommendation. We do the best service to the Empire by developing this continent, and’ defending it, if there be need, from the attacks or raids of outsiders. We have neither the men nor the resources, nor, I may say, the credit, which would allow us to spend large sums of money for the purposes of exterior warfare. We read in the report - “ For the defence of Australian interests whereever they may be threatened,” it will be obvious that the first essential is the sea supremacy which is guaranteed by the Royal Navy, and that the second is the possession of a field force capable of undertaking military operations in whatever part of the world it may be desired by Australia to employ them.
– Might not the defence of Australia require us to fight in any part of the world ? Was not Great Britain defended on the plains of Belgium ?
– That is very true. No one will deny that often the best defence is attack ; but the question is, what is our duty under the Constitution, which, I take it, we are all determined to obey? Our powers are limited by section 119 and section 51, sub-section (6). Section 119 provides -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion, and on the application of the Executive Government of a State, against domestic violence.
– That is, of course, as to the States.
– The Commonwealth is made up of States ; but, so far, it is perfectly clear that this section speaks only of the invasion of a ‘State. Section 51, subsection (6), provides that the Parliament shall have power to make laws for the “peace, order, and good government “ of the Commonwealth with respect to -
The naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States, and the control of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth.
Those two sections admit only of the interpretation that we have power to organize military and naval forces for our own defence against invasion.
– The words used in the Constitution do not amount to a geographical expression. The defence of Australia may require offensive operations beyond our borders.
– We have no power under the Constitution to carry on offensive warfare.
– When war is declared our military operations must be offensive as well as defensive’.
– I am sure that the leaderof the Opposition will, as a lawyer, when he studies the matter, come to the conclusion that a host of others have come to - that we have no power to organize military or naval forces for warlike operations in other parts of the world.
– Does the honorable and learned member say that the despatch of troops to South Africa by the Commonwealth was unconstitutional ?
– Those troops were volunteers, and there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent any Australian native or resident from voluntarily serving outside Australia. I have no objection to that, but it is the utmost limit to which I think it safe to go. We do not wish for more complications than can be avoided.
– Suppose, for example, that the Empire were involved in a war with Prance, and that a number of French troops were landed at New Caledonia, would the Commonwealth be unable to send forces there to destroy those troops ?
– I do not think that the Commonwealth would have power to do so. There are those who consider the sections which I have read a flaw in the Constitution ; but I and others have come to the conclusion that the Commonwealth has no power to organize troops for compulsory service outside the boundaries of Australia.
– Would the honorable and learned member confine the operations of an Australian navy to our territorial waters?
– The difficulty might be got over by the volunteering of our naval forces to serve abroad ; but a Mutiny Act, for instance, providing for the punishment of men who refused to do so would be inoperative. I am strongly of opinion that even now, having regard to the report presented in April last, our military system is far too heavy and elaborate. The view taken in European countries in late years is that the training of soldiers is largely a matter of school education, to which skill in the use of the rifle must be superadded. In Germanyand France the term of service has been reduced from three to two years, and is now being further reduced to one year, because it is found that where men have, by a good course of gymnastics and other training, been furnished with a strong physique, and made capable of bearing fatigue, they can be turned into soldiers within a few weeks. If it were possible, it would be a good thing to establish a connexion between the Defence department and the Education departments of the States, so that every lad might receive a proper physical education, and be trained in the use of the rifle as well as in the knowledge of the alphabet. In the English army there has been too great an effort at smartness for the sake of being smart. No other army is so smart or so well dressed, or, as “Mr. Dooley” says, creases its pants better. But that is not what we want. We want a body of men trained for the grim purpose of defending our shores from invasion. After the experience derived from the Boer war, civilians like myself cannot be condemned for thinking that the present system of drilling is too elaborate, and that more time than it is worth is spent upon it. The best soldiers are those who can handle their rifles, and know how to use their heads. Reference has been mode to Canada, but the position of that country is very different from that of Australia. Canada has a huge frontier to guard against possible invasion from the United States, but we are fortunate in being surrounded entirely by water. In regard to the naval proposals of the Government. I speak “ with bated breath and whispering humbleness.” I think that, while we cannot comply to the fullest extent with the recommendations of Captain Cresswell, we might develop our defences in the direction he indicates. We spend at the present time £125,000 a year on naval defence, and his idea is in substance that we should increase the expenditure to £200,000 a year, letting the money go towards the purchase ofa battleship, to be replaced as time goes on by others, until we have the nucleus of a fleet.
– Ourvessels would be getting obsolete faster than we could buy new ones.
– There lies the advantage of the scheme. If we bought a new vessel every three or five years it would take the place of any that had become obsolete. I think that honorable members are justified in finding fault with the expenditure upon the head-quarters staff as too large. Including contingencies it amounts to nearly £30,000, of which £15,225 goes to keep up the central staff, £4,140 to the New South Wales staff, £3,618 to the Victorian staff, £2,759 to the Queensland staff, £1,545 to the South Australian staff, £1,340 to the Tasmanian staff, and £.1,340 to the Western Australian staff. There is also to be added to those amounts £864 for the furnishing of offices in the Victorian barracks, Melbourne. The Government have reduced the actual expenditure this year by only £62,000.
SirWilliam Lyne. - Last year a number of men who would otherwise have had to be paid by the Commonwealth were absent in South Africa, and were being paid by the Imperial Government.
– Of the £62,000 actually saved, £47,000 is being saved in Queensland. I understand that the Queensland retrenchment was made in compliance with a request by the Government of that State.
– It was made with the concurrence of the Queensland Government, but the number of men employed in Queensland was much larger in proportion to population than that employed in the other States.
– Is it true that an actual saving of £47,000 has been effected?
– The actual saving upon the expenditure in Queensland last year will be £17,000, but the difference between the Estimates for last year and those for the current year is £47,000.
– What is the actual saving for the whole of Australia?
– Between £62,000 and £63,000. The Queensland Estimates last year provided for an expenditure of £131,000, but the actual outlay was only £101,000. We made a saving of £30,000 last year, and we expect to make a further saving of £17,000 this year, or a total reduction upon last year’s Estimates of £47,000.
– The Estimates are very difficult to understand. I find that the expenditure upon theVictorian defences for the year immediately prior to federation was £201,611, whereas the present Estimates provide for £233,909, or an increase upon 1899-1900 of £32,000.
– Of course a number of our men were away in South Africa during 1899-1900.
– The Estimates for the current year are made up as follow-: - Naval, £19,707 ; military, £189,253 defence works, £7,400; compensation, £6,523; share of central administration, £30,470 ; audit, £1,455 ; and supervision of works, £1,813.
– The items, compensation, audit, and share of central administration were not charged in previous years.
– The head-quarters staff is likely to prove very burdensome.
– The actual expenditure upon the defence forces of Victoria in 1899-1900 was £217,000. Last year it amounted to £233,000, and this year the Estimates provide for £189,253, for the military forces, plus £19,707 for the naval forces.
– Of course, I have to take the figures as they appear in the Estimates.
– A good deal of money that would have been spent by Victoria in 1 899-1900 was paid by the Imperial Government to the men who went away to South Africa.
– I understand that some of the items to which the Treasurer has referred would be largely responsible for the increase.
– The honorable and learned member must also remember that recruiting was stopped for a considerable time, and that that helped very much to reduce the expenditure last year.
– Yes ; but recruiting was not stopped in 1899-1900.
– But the honorable and learned member forgets the rifle clubs. We get the blame for increases of expenditure for which we are in no way responsible. The cost of ammunition for rifle clubs was increased last year to the extent of over £30,000.
– It is very curious, and I say it in no niggling spirit, that whenever the number or pay of the men has been decreased, there has been a corresponding increase in the pay of the officers.
– The apparent increases in salaries are due to the abolition of all allowances, and the additions of the amounts they represented to the salaries.
– I notice that in New South Wales the sappers have been reduced in numbers from 26 to 14, and the amount provided for them has been decreased from £1,639 to £1,036. The officer commanding last year received £340, whereas this year he is to be paid £562.
– That is due to the fact that all allowances have been stopped, and that the officers now receive nothing but their salaries.
– I find that the principal medical officer of the Australian Medical Corps of New South Wales received £550 last year. No provision is now made for him in that capacity, but a new staff officer has been appointed at a salary of £350. On page 51 of the Estimates the officer who was formerly receiving £550 is provided for in connexion with the head-quarters staff at a salary of £950.
– The officer who now receives £950 is Colonel Williams, who was formerly in New South Wales, but is now attached to the head-quarters staff. His former pay, with allowances, amounted to over £950. Now he receives salary only. He was away in South Africa for a part of last year, and did not draw his salary for the full term.
-I am glad to near that explanation. In connexion with the Vic- torian Engineer Corps provision was made last year for a captain at £360 and a lieutenant at £316. This year it is proposed to pay a major at £535 and a captain at £375, so that there is an increase in these two salaries of £246. The number of sappers have been reduced from 21 to 16, and their pay has been cut down from 6s. to 4s. 3d. per day. Then, again, the Minister has stated that although the Victorian sappers have been reduced from 6s. to 4s. 3d. per day, the difference is made up by lodging allowance, fuel, and rations. But if honorable members look at the figures contained on page 93, it will be seen that in rations, fuel, and allowances the men in question receive only between 4d. and 5d. per day.
– But the£ 360 which was paid to the captain last year did not include allowances, whereas his salary of 535 this year does.
– I have heard that charity covers a multitude of sins, but certainly allowances must cover a multitude of items.
SirWilliam Lyne. - The honorable and learned member is scarcely just. He stated that the engineers had been reduced from 6s. to 4s. 3d. per day, whereas none of the present men have been reduced. The new regulation will apply only to those who subsequently enter the service.
– I understand that all the sappers are skilled mechanics, and I think, therefore, that they ought to be well paid. I would further direct the attention of honorable members to page 106. There it will be seen that in Queensland the sappers have been reduced from eight to five, whereas the salary of an officer who, as lieutenant, was receiving £255 ayear has been increased to £325.
– If the honorable member will look at the marginal note, he will see that there again the difference is entirely due to allowances.
– As lieutenant, did he receive the same salary, exclusive of allowances, that he now receives as captain ?
– I think that he gets exactly the same amount.
– I admit that these estimates need to be examined very closely, otherwise honorable members may be induced to draw wrong conclusions from them. Whilst listening this afternoon to the valuable suggestions which were made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, I could not refrain from asking whether it would not be wise for us to adopt some scheme similar to that which is in operation in America, and under which a limited number of representatives in Congress are appointed a committee to deal with particular departments of State. In England a very similar body is appointed to investigate matters connected with the Treasury. It is known as the Audit Committee, and consists of expert business men and financiers. Its special function is to assist the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is very grateful for the advice and assistance which it renders. It might be well worth considering whether those honorable members who have a special knowledge of defence matters and of finance should not be appointed committees to report to the House upon any improvements which might be effected in the departments mentioned. I admit that the American committees have not given complete satisfaction, but that is mainly because no debate is allowed in Congress upon their reports. Here their recommendations would be open to discussion.
– Would not that practice interfere with Ministerial responsibility ?
– I do not think that it would. At any rate, the matter is well worthy of consideration.
– In his opening remarks thismorning the Acting Minister for Defence stated that he had fulfilled the desire of the committee by reducing the Defence estimates for this year to £762,000, seeing that honorable members had expressed themselves by vote in favour of a reduction of only £131,000.As a matter of fact, the amendment submitted by the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, was to reduce the vote by £1 as indicative of a desire that there should be a total reduction of £200,000. That proposal was carried despite the promise of the Minister to effect a saving of £131,000. I was willing in the meantime to accept the smaller reduction, though I was under the impression that it was to be a reduction upon the actual expenditure of that year, and not upon the Estimates which were then before us. But, as I remarked a few nights ago in connexion with the Budget debate, I admit that I misunderstood the statement of the Minister as reported in Hansard, and therefore I have no wish to hold the Government responsible for a reduction of more than £131,000 upon the previous Estimates. At the same time, the Minister cannot truthfully declare that the House decided anything more than that there should be a reduction of £200,000, which was the question involved in the amendment to which I have already referred. The very instructive speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella seemed to me to bear out the contention which I urged a few nights ago, that the retrenchment which the Minister has effected in this department proceeds upon no proper or well-defined plan, but gives every evidence of being a haphazard system of arriving at somereduction upon the amount previously expended. The honorable and learned member for Corinella pointed out the vast amount which is still proposed to be spent upon the various military staffs. While I cannot go the length that he does, by declaring that all instructors should be regarded as belonging to the various staffs, I do think that the cost of maintaining the head-quarters staff, including the various States staffs, is extraordinarily high in comparison with the amount of work which has to be performed. The total amount spent in the various States upon purely administrative officers, excluding those in the ‘District Pay department, the Ordnance department, warrant officers and instructors of that class, totals nearly £42,000. These staffs involve the employment of a large number of highly-paid officers, in addition to a great many clerks. I am informed by a number of those in my own State who are able to judge, that one result of the methods adopted by the General Officer Commanding is to increase the amount of work to be performed to a degree previously unheard of, and that, owing to the multitude of officials who have been appointed, papers relating to the most trivial matters have to pass through a dozen or twenty hands before a decision can be obtained. One officer detailed to me, in a most humorous manner, the peregrinations of a certain paper relative to a complaint concerning one of his own regiment. First ii was taken to the district office in New SouthWales ; from there it passed to the head-quarters staff of that State ; thence it was forwarded to Melbourne, after which it was returned through the head-quarters staff in New South Wales to the district office. In each of these departmental branches it passed through the hands of a number of officers, who initialed it from one to the other. It seems to me that one of two things ought to be done in regard to the administration of military affairs. Either we should have a strong central staff, and practically no State staffs, or - what seems to me to be preferable - the Officer Commanding should be able to advise upon all matters of policy, and as to the general methods to be adopted to secure efficiency, whilst the States commandants, with their staffs, should be given the power to deal with the matters which come before them, thus obviating the necessity for maintaining a large number of clerks and subordinate officers. The present system is unsatisfactory in the highest degree. According to the statements of a number of soldiers who have returned from the war, the reputation which the General Officer Commanding bore in South Africa, was that of always having in the field a staff larger than that of the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Roberts. That I am assured is an absolute fact.
– He makes them work.
– He may make them work, but his methods are alleged to create a large amount of unnecessary work connected with the filing and recording of papers, and the passing of them on from one officer to another. To the lay mind it must be apparent that there is no justification whatever for the maintenance of such an enormous number of staff officers in the central office, and of a similar number throughout the various States. The officers are duplicated in a variety of ways, and in my opinion altogether too much clerical assistance is given to the different staffs.
– Does the honorable member say that the cost of the headquarters staff is £42,000?
– The cost of the various staffs, including Head-quarters and State staffs, but excluding instructors, is £41,895.
– The honorable member will find that he has made a mistake, for it is £29,967.
– Not at all. I took the figures from the Estimates a few moments ago. The central administrative staff cost £4,920 ; the Head-quarters staff, £15,225 ; Queensland naval staff, £3,820-
– No ; £3,820 according to these Estimates.
– I have the figures here, but it is of no use to go into these details.
– I am satisfied that according to these Estimates, the total cost of the staffs, central and States, is nearly £42,000. As illustrating the amount of red-tape involved in the carrying out of work in the department, an honorable member has just handed to me a copy of the revised regulations, in which it is directed that -
When a communication has any reference to previous correspondence from head-quarters, the registered number, date, and purport of the former papers are to be quoted.
All replies, remarks, or queries arising out of an original letter or memorandum are to be made in the form of a minute The first minute is to follow on the page where the original letter or memorandum ends, and each succeeding minute is to immediately follow that which by date precedes it. Each minute is to he numbered (in red ink when possible). A fresh half-sheet is to be added, when required for the commencement or continuation of a minute, and on no account is such commencement or continuation to be made on vacant spaces under previous minutes or in the margin. The practice of turning up corners of letters to make remarks, replies, or queries, is strictly forbidden.
There is a list given of some 45 returns which are required to be furnished by different officers throughout the service. That only goes to bear out my statement that a great part of the work upon which a number of the officers of the central staff, and some of the other officers, are engaged is work which in any ordinary business concern would be held to be unnecessary, and the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who has had personal experience, go to maintain that contention. In view of the expressions of opinion of honorable members in April last, I had hoped that the Minister would have made greater reductions in the staffs than he has done, and that, instead of finding the permanent officers kept at the salaries which they previously had, we should have found some degree of reduction in salaries which for the most part are much higher than there is any justification for giving. The Minister has taken credit for having wiped out the allowances; but in each case, so far as I have been able to ascertain, he has simply added the allowance to the salary.
– I never took any credit for that. I took credit for not permitting allowances to be shown on other parts of the Estimates.
– The saving is nil, because in each case the allowance has been added to the salary.
– Not in all cases.
– In Queensland, in regard to the naval force, the allowances have been added to the salaries. In New South Wales, in regard to the State staff, the allowances have been added to the salaries. In every case, so far as I have been able to ascertain, the amount previously granted as an allowance has been added to the salary. No consistent system has been pursued as between the military branch and the civil branch of the public service. For instance, in the military branch a young fellow coming fresh from the University passes an examination, and is made a second lieutenant, and immediately given a comparatively high salary; as much as £300 a year is given to a second lieutenant. That is not a proper thing to do. In the civil branch we ask a young fellow of the same age to work perhaps for years before he receives a salary of £150 per annum. That difference of treatment is not justifiable, to my mind. And in regard to officers above that grade, I hold that the salaries are altogether too high, considering the degree of intelligence and the amount of responsibility which are involved in the appointments. I was hoping that some reduction would have been made in those salaries. The Minister gave the details of savings which have been effected in order to bring the expenditure down to £762,000. He more than justified the statement that these savings have been to a large extent accomplished in a haphazard manner, because, while the other afternoon I was able to point out that a great proportion of the money saved was accounted for by the wiping out of contingencies, involving no reorganization at all, we now find that in addition to the £65,000 which was saved by striking out the contingencies, this year £54,000 has been saved by non-purchase of ammunition and £15,000 by non-purchase of rifles. I had hoped that by this time we should have had from the Minister some communication with regard to reserve supplies of ammunition for war purposes. It is all very well to say that a year’s reserve is kept in hand.
– I do not know whether the honorable member was listening to what I was saying ; but I gave all information in reference to that matter.
– I heard what the honorable gentleman said, but I thought he would have indicated what steps the Government intend to take to secure the local manufacture of this ammunition, so as to put it beyond doubt that if any trouble did occur, we should not be left with only a year’s practice reserve in hand, which would be fired away, perhaps, in a couple of days in war time, and with no chance, practically speaking, of our supplementing it under a very considerable time, if we were able to do so at all. That is one of the features of defence which I think should be taken in hand at the earliest possible moment. Unless we are able to supply not only rifles but ammunition to our soldiers, we might as well have them absolutely untrained - a mere mob - because they would be of no great value when the crucial test came. I am sorry that the Minister has not seen fit to give us some information in regard to the intentions of the Government on that head. I think that the ammunition should be made here, and in Government factories too, so that we could be absolutely sure of the quality of the article, and be able to keep a reserve in hand.
– The factory here can turn out half - a - million rounds a month.
– As nearly every article the factory uses has to be imported, it is not a very great tiling to make any noise about. I think that the Government ought to take up the matter. When the first statement on the subject was made by the Government, I understood that they were going to do so. Apart from any question of fiscalism involved, it is a matter of insurance, and keeping our army in a state of preparedness. It is a most cruel thing to encourage men in the idea that we can protect the country against invasion, when we are doing nothing, comparatively speaking, towards keeping them supplied with ammunition.
– Do I understand the honorable member to say that the Government gave a promise to start a State factory ?
– I do not say that they said that in so many words, but what I understood was that they were considering the question of ammunition supply, involved in which was the proposal to start a State factory, and that they would be prepared within a short while from that time to give the House and the country some information as to what their decision was. We have had no word since then as to the action which they propose to take. I must express a little dissent from the opinion put forward by the honorable and learned member for Corinella in respect to uniforms. In most places, I believe, it costs £2 10s. or £3 a year to supply uniform and equipment ; but assuming that the cost of a khaki uniform is £2 10s. per year per head, if a uniform of different colour can be got at the same price, I do not see any objection to the distinction being continued. Take, for instance, the uniform of the Australian Horse in New SouthWales.
– That is the very uniform I was going to refer to.
Mr.WATSON. - There is not a cheaper or more unpretentious uniform - and I believe it is serviceable too - than the myrtlegreen uniform of the Australian Horse.
– Does the honorable member know that some of the men were nearly poisoned by the dye ?
– No ; but I do not know that that is inseparable from the uniform. We ought to be able to get a fast dye of that colour without much trouble. The uniform is made of plain serge, one with black facings, and, therefore, it is not expensive. I do not see any objection to allowing a uniform which gives a distinctive feature to a corps, and helps to keep the men together. It produces a certain amount of esprit de corps. When Iwas a volunteer we always liked to see our arm of the service do a little better in the competitions than any other. We should not make an onslaught upon uniforms which are inexpensive, and object to them because they are distinct from the general run. There are many uniforms which are too expensive compared with the amount of good obtained from their use. In New South Wales, for instance, the lancers have what seems to be an expensive uniform. There should be no extra expenditure by the Commonwealth to continue the supply of uniforms of that character. As regards the point of objection on the part of officers which the honorable and learned member for Corinella took - and I think it was a very proper one - the difficulty would not be got over by an insistence on khaki, because there would still be a possibility of some messes insisting upon a variety of dresses, even although they were all of khaki, for different purposes.
– It would depend entirely upon whether or not they were authorized by the dress regulations.
– Quite so. All I argue is that there is no necessary connexion between a reform in that way and the question of a similar uniform throughout the Commonwealth. I quite sympathize with the desire that the dress regulations should be so framed as to prevent men being forced against their will into an expenditure that is unnecessary. The Minister should see, as he has power to do, that such a regulation is passed in the shortest possible time. AVith regard to the Estimates, I, for one, should like to see a considerable reduction made. I believe that we are not getting the best return for the amount of money that is spent on the military and naval forces. I admit that there is some excuse for the lack of a proper system of re-organization, in the fact that the Defence Bill has not been passed, but I would draw attention to the fact that the Treasurer said in his Budget statement in October last year that the amount of money expended on the military forces throughout the various States had during the two previous years increased by £371,000. The Minister has reduced that £371,000 by the sum of £175,000. The total military and naval expenditure, some two and a half -years ago, was only £566,000, though whether that included the cost of the squadron I do not know.
– My recollection is that those figures did not include the auxiliary squadron. They were not absolutely reliable. It was impossible to get reliable figures, I am sorry to say.
– Adding the cost of the auxiliary squadron, £672,000 would be the total of the expenditure of Australia in naval and military defence some three years ago. Now it seems to me that we ought to expect, and the people of Australia have a right to expect, that the efficient defence of this country under federation should be carried out at no greater cost than was found necessary in the various States before federation. If the staffs are reduced and the services placed on a re-organized footing, it ought to be possible to carry put the defence of Australia, generally speaking, for £700,000 a year. I am quite prepared to admit, that in regard to equipment and new armaments- - -whether in the nature of small arms or large guns - we should be prepared, when the Government satisfied us that thev were necessary, to make further grants for their purchase. I do not say that we should be tied down to any specific sum in that regard ; because I think it would be better for us to spend £100,000 on buying new rifles than to spend £50.000 on training the men to use them. The first consideration is to have the rifles to shoot with, and, therefore, I am” quite prepared to go beyond the sum I have mentioned in respect to the purchase of armaments, when it is shown to be necessary.
– But the Government have kept the promise which they made last year.
– The honorable and learned member must see that the committee is not bound to be content with the promise then made by the Minister for Defence that he would save £130,000 on the y ear’s Estimates. A large number of honorable members were in favour of reducing the Estimates last year by £200,000. Does the honorable and learned member for Corninella mean to say that those honorable members who were in favour of a greater reduction are not to advocate a reduction this year 1
– The honorable member places the Minister in an unfair position if he moves to reduce the vote further after the promise which has been carried out.
-So far the Acting Minister for Defence is concerned, I admit that hs has carried out the promise of the Government. But I, for one, am not going to relax my efforts to cut down this military expenditure on each and every occasion until it is reduced to a reasonable degree. For £700,000 I estimate we ought to be able to have a reasonabledefenceforcesofaras concerns assurance against possible trouble.
– After what was done last year, would it not be fairer to say to the Government - “ Reduce as much as you possibly can,” and then leave the GoGovernment to cut down the Estimates as much as possible next year ? That would be a fair way of accomplishing what the honorable member desires.
– One trouble I have is that Ministers always seem quite willing to cut down contingencies and items of that sort, but not so anxious to reduce the numbers or salaries of those who belong to the highly-paid staffs.
– I think I have done fairly well in reducing the Estimates this year.
– What has the honorable gentleman done ? He has retired a great many militia officers. I admit that in some cases it was a proper thing to retire them. A number of them ought to have been retired long ago. So far as New South Wales is concerned, some of them had long ago passed the age when they could be relied upon as efficient. But, on the whole, I do not think that there has been a great amount done in the way of retrenchment - certainly not sufficient to satisfy me.
– It would not satisfy the honorable member if we wiped out the whole lot.
– I suppose that one has a right to move for the reduction of a vote when he is not satisfied.
– I think the committee might do a reasonable thing, and adhere to what was decided last year.
– I do not think that what the Minister says was the decision of the committee. The committee desired a far greater reduction than has been made. It was in favour of reducing the Defence estimates by £200,000.
– I can only say that a distinct statement made in writing by Sir John Forrest to myself was that the Estimates should be reduced by £131,000.
Mr.WATSON. - That is correct; that was the Minister’s promise.
– The Minister made the promise, and the committee insisted on carrying a resolution upon the Estimates in accordance with that promise.
Mr.WATSON. - That is so.
– The proposal to reduce the Estimates by £200,000 was, I think, defeated.
Mr.WATSON.- My recollection is that. I and a number of others accepted the promise as satisfactory for the time being. But because it was satisfactory, so far as concerns last year, it is not to be supposed that we are to do nothing with regard to this year’s Estimates. Because we agreed to a promised reduction last year, that is no reason why we should not discuss this year’s Estimates, or decrease them, or agree to an increase on them at a later date if the circumstances justified an increase. Personally, I have an idea that £700,000 should be looked upon as the extreme expenditure on defence for some years to come, but still I would not bind myself absolutely not to go beyond or below that amount, if occasion arose. I do not wish to move for the reduction of the Estimates by a lump sum, without having first taken the sense of the committee as to a reduction upon the staffs, because I am of opinion that there should be a reduction in the various staffs. I should perfer that either Ior some one else should move for a reduction in the amount set aside for the staffs, and subsequently we could have a debate on other portions of the Estimates.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong in regard to the sum of £42,000. I have had that point tested. There is no head-quarters staff attached to the naval forces.
Mr.WATSON. - Provision is certainly not made for one for the New SouthWales naval forces. The Minister has taken the very proper course of placing the naval forces of that State upon the simplest possible basis, while we have no fleet to man. But perhaps the honorable gentleman will turn to the Queensland Estimates. If he does he will see that provision is made therefor £3,820 for “permanent staff.” If it is not for a permanent staff, why does it appear in that way upon the Estimates?
SirWilliam Lyne. - The item refers to a permanent staff, but not to a headquarters staff. The officers are distributed all over Queensland.
– They are all in Brisbane.
SirW illiam Lyne. - That is not so.
– There are only about three who are not in Brisbane.
– The honorable member will increase the number presently. The item refers to a permanent staff, but not to a head-quarters staff in the sense in which the honorable member has referred to other staffs.
– I referred to the item as relating to a portion of the forces altogether distinct from the instructors - as relating to an administrative staff in common with those in other States with regard to military matters. However, I do not wish to take up further time. I believe that the committee should make some re- duction, and I trust that, while making due allowance for the absence of a Defence Act, and the impossibility of complete reorganization until such a measure shall have been passed, we shall see that we go one step further in the direction of getting back to the position which prevailed a little while ago, before this undue inflation of military affairs occurred. In all the States advantage was taken of the existence of the war in South Africa to swell the number and add to the importance of the military forces. That spirit was sedulously fostered by the officers, who wished to add to their dignity and to the importance of the positions they occupied. It is due to the people generally, that having cooled down and regained our senses in some degree, we should endeavour to return to something approaching the expenditure which we thought was sufficient in the various States a little while ago. We have the increased efficiency which all military authorities tell us comes or should come from a central authority and administration, and that ought to be equivalent to the expenditure of a fair amount of money. But even if the reduction I have suggested be carried, we shall still be spending a sum largely in excess of the amount which was thought to be suffi- cient some two or three years ago. I desire bo move an amendment to reduce the estimate by £62,000.
– The honorable member should direct it to a particular section. If he makes it apply generally, he will find that the men will suffer.
– I think we should first have some indication from the committee with regard to the staffs.
– Why not allow the general discussion to go on before moving any amendment?
– I think that would be the better plan to adopt.
– While I do not profess to possess any special knowledge upon this question, I agree with the honorable member for Bland that the expenses incurred in connexion with the Defence department are too high. I have a very distinct recollection of speeches made by the Prime Minister and the Acting Prime Minister on the occasion of a visit which they paid to Brisbane tosupport the movement for the federation of the States. One of the arguments used by both of them was that the transfer of certain departments would lessen the cost of government. I think I could almost quote the very words which the Acting Prime Minister used when referring to this subject at a public meeting held in the Exhibition-building. He said that instead of having six little tinpot armies controlled by six Commandants, we should have one Australian army, controlled by one Commandant, and that the saving which would be effected in the administrationof this department would go very far towards covering the other expenses in connexion with federation. It appears to me that instead of doing away with the various staffs in the several States, we have kept them on, and created a new one. I am quite willing to admit that in the transition stages a good deal of work is necessary before the whole of the departments can be brought into line, and that doubtless, as time goes on, it will be unnecessary to spend as much upon the headquarters branch as we do at present. At the same time, it has been stated to me, on what I believe to be excellent authority, that a good deal of unnecessary work is undertaken by the head-quarters branch ; that work which should be done in the offices of the different regiments, while not left altogether undone there, is multiplied at the head-quarters branches of the various States. The idea which prevails throughout the Commonwealth, and was particularly evidenced in the debate when the Defence Bill was before the House, is that the Australian army should consist of a citizen soldiery. Of course, no one will deny that a certain proportion of the forces must be composed of permanent men. We must have expert military men - skilled men, such as submarine miners, engineers, and drill instructors - as well as competent and expert officers. But the feeling which is generally expressed is that the defences of Australia should he undertaken by our own people. In following the debate - and I have watched it very closely - it has appeared to me that we have overlooked one fact. It is proposed in the scheme formulated by the Commandant that a certain nursery for the Defence forces should be formed by the rifle clubs - that we should have a kind of reserve force composed of members of rifle clubs. I consider that quite as good a nursery as that is to be found in the shape of cadet corps, which we seem to be neglecting. ‘ In my opinion, the training of our citizen soldiery should begin in the schools. In most States there are cadet forces, but after the boys leave school they leave us and we leave them. There seems to be a missing link - an intermediate stage - for which no provision has been made. We should take up the cadets when they leave school, and form a kind of senior cadet corps. In that way we should keep them in touch with our defences, train them in the use of the rifle, and then, when they had arrived at the age of, say eighteen years, they would be fit for drafting into the regular militia, or permanent forces, if it were desired to increase them. In the meantime, at all events, we should be training them to become expert shots. I know of instances in Queensland in which school cadets have distinguished themselves at rifle association meetings in various places, and held their own with some of the adult shots of the State. That the Minister has loyally done his best to bring down the expenses of this department, I think few of us will attempt to deny. But he has had a colossal task. I have said, in connexion with the discussion upon other items in the Estimates, that some of the States which are whining now about the cost of this and other transferred departments helped, immediately before the departments were transferred, to make the Minister’s work very much more difficult than it would otherwise have -been. The honorable member for Bland has compared the cost of the Defence department now with what it was prior to its transfer to the Commonwealth. I desire to quote from the Queensland Hansard, vol. 85, a speech made by the late Sir J. R. Dickson, when the Estimates were being discussed in the Legislative Assembly on 26th October, 1900. The deceased gentleman was then Chief Secretary and Premier, and in moving that - £126,873 be granted to defray the expenses of the Land Defence Force, he is reported to have spoken as follows : -
The item represented an increase upon the Estimates of last year of no less a sum than £49,450. At first-sight that would appear to be - and it was - a very considerable increase upon the previous appropriation for this purpose ; but he presumed honorable members would recognise the very greatly altered circumstances under which this enlarged appropriation was asked for. Instead of the defence force being a sort of local police, they had now assumed, in conjunction with similar forces all over Australia, large dimensions, being in fact recognised as awing’ of the great British army.
Later on, in reply to the leader of the Opposition, he said -
He regretted to hear the leader of the Opposition say that this vote was too large. For the very reasons which he had adduced, he (the Chief Secretary) thought it should be maintained, if not enlarged. He thought it would be unfortunate if they allowed the defence force to be taken over in such a condition that it would not show to the other colonies what our reasonable requirements of an efficient service were.
The leader of the Opposition interjected -
Can you improve it much inside of nine weeks ?
This was only nine weeks prior to the time it was thought the department would be transferred. Sir J. R. Dickson replied -
He would like to see it surrendered under the Commonwealth Statute in such a condition as would be creditable to the Commonwealth.
I wish honorable members to pay particular attention ‘to the following passage : -
If they reduced this vote to £80,000, at which it formerly stood, very likely the majority of the Federal Parliament and the Federal Executive would consider that that allocation for the defence service of Queensland was sufficient for the future, whereas, if they showed the Federal Parliament and the Federal Executive what their requirements were, he was sure that the status of our defence force would be maintained, and very pssibly enlarged. If they reduced the estimate in the manner indicated, it would lead the Federal Government to consider that, as the defences of Queensland had been gauged by the Parliament of Queensland, there was no necessity for any larger defence to be provided. The Federal Government was not going to overturn in one session the conditions under which the several States entered the alliance. He held the present estimate was rather too limited for their defence requirements, and when the Federal Parliament was established, there would be an even larger allocation for the defence of that great colony with its rapidly increasing population.
It is a somewhat long quotation, but I think it is necessary that this statement should be placed on record, inasmuch as the Premier of Queensland has charged the Administration of the Commonwealth with having increased the cost of the transferred departments as compared with the expenditure which they involved when administered by the States. A little further on, in the debate to which I have already referred, Mr. Reid interjected -
Have not the taxpayers in all the colonies got to pay the same in proportion ?
Sir J. R. Dickson replied
That was a different matter. They would, no doubt, have to contribute to the general defence of the Commonwealth, but when the force was taken over that vote would not have to be borne locally, and the amount which appeared there would cease to be charged directly to Queensland.
That is where a mistake was made. The fact was overlooked, that whatever the transferred departments cost over and above what they returned to the Commonwealth would have to be borne by the States during the bookkeeping period. Mr. Givens interjected -
Will we not pay it just the same ?
Sir J. R. Dickson replied
It would not fall so heavily upon Queensland.
Then Mr. Kidston interjected -
I see you are working the same dodge with this as with the Post-office - trying to get the better of the Federal Government.
When the Postmaster-General’s Estimates were before us, I pointed out that the expenditure on that department had been increased in a like manner. When State Ministers in Queensland criticise federal expenditure, they should bear in mind that they themselves piled up expenditure in the transferred departments of the State immediately before they were taken over by the Commonwealth. I have a few words of criticism to offer upon the way in which the retrenchment in this department has been carried out in Queensland. I have been in communication with the Minister and his department upon the disbandment of certain Queensland companies. Some of the most effective companies in that State have been altogether disbanded. They recognised, as we did, that there was need for a considerable reduction in the expenditure, and in the number of men enrolled. But to wipe out four companies in one regiment, and to wipe out a complete regiment, seems to me to have been a mistake. It is, perhaps, presumptuous for a layman to speak of any act of administration by those who ought to know, as a mistake, but two of the companies which have been disbanded were complimented, I believe, by the General Officer Commanding himself, at the last encampment held in Queensland, as the best companies on the ground in drill and manoeuvring. I have here a letter from the department received only the other day, in which it is stated thatthe 4th Darling Downs Regiment, of which I am now speaking, was disbanded ten years ago. Let me say that that regiment was called into existence only about three years ago, and there never was a 4th Darling Downs Regiment before that time. It is true that companies have existed in Ipswich for a very long time. One company which was formed as far back as 40 years ago, has been in existence there almost continuously, though under different names. Those men had the military and patriotic spirit, and they even maintained a battery of artillery there. If a similar course were adopted now we should not only have volunteer infantry and militia, but we should have volunteer artillery brigades, and by providing them with field guns for practice, as was done in the olden times, I believe we should be adding to the efficiency of our forces. I do not state that as my own opinion, but as an opinion communicated to me by one who professes to understand the subject.
– The honorable member will understand that I had to accept the recommendation of the General Officer Commanding.
– I am aware of the difficulties under which the honorable gentleman has had to act. Perhaps none of us can fully realize them, but we can realize them to a degree.
– Is the honorable member in favour of a reduction of the vote?
– Yes. I believe that far too much is being spent upon the administrative branch of the Defence Force. Some of the money so expended could be better spent in providing for a certain amount of drill, and in providing ammunition, which would enable our citizen soldiers, and those who are willing to become citizen soldiers, to secure that practice with the rifle which we have heard so much extolled by the leading soldiers of Great Britain today. Our own experience from the work of the men whom we sent to South Africa is that it requires but a very short period to lick men into shape and lit them to take the- field. Numbers of the men whom we sent to South Africa knew no drill, and could neither ride nor shoot when they enlisted. If our citizens learn d,ill as school cadets they will never forget it. They can be kept in touch with the .Defence Force after they leave school by being drafted into rifle clubs, infantry, and mounted infantry corps, and we shall then have men .with a knowledge of the rifle, who, in two or three weeks, or a couple of months at the outside, could learn sufficient of manoeuvring in the field to make them an efficient force. I was speaking1 of the 4th Darling Downs Regiment, and I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to a matter on which the men who were members of that regiment feel very sore. Immediately after they had been complimented on their conduct at the encampment, they were marched into Brisbane, where their arms were taken from them, and they were marched back to their head-quarters at Ipswich without either arms or accoutrements. To a layman there might not appear to be very much in that, but the men felt it as sorely as the disbandment of the regiment, because they said it was like marching them home in disgrace.
– Why was that done ?
– It was done under the excuse that it would save expense in returning the arms from Ipswich to Brisbane.
– Who paid the compliment ? Was it the General ?
– It was done under orders from the head-quarters staff. I think that Major-General Hutton is too much of a soldier to have given any such instructions.
– Was not the compliment conditioned by circumstances?
– The men were instructed to leave their rifles and accoutrements in Brisbane in order to save the expense of having them returned from Ipswich to Brisbane, a distance of 24 miles. The public did not know this, and seeing them march back without their arms and accoutrements, they might reasonably have assumed that they were being marched back practically under arrest. I have a word or two more to say on the question of rifle clubs and uniforms. I am of the opinion, which appears to be general, that rifle clubs form one of the most useful branches of the Defence Force, and one which should be encouraged in every possible way. Looking at the lump vote for the Commonwealth, the amount set down for rifle clubsappears to be very large. But if the numbers belonging to clubs in the various States are compared, it will be seen that Victoria has enrolled more members of rifle clubs than all the rest of the States of the Commonwealth put together. There seems to have been some special fever engendered in the minds of Victorian citizens.
– No ; it was due to encouragement by the Government.
– I am very glad to hear it. If we had a proportionate number of expert riflemen in New South Wales and in the other States, we should have an effective force which would be able to give a good account of itself should a foe threaten these shores. There have been regulations in the various States compelling members of rifle clubs to provide uniforms. I understand that it is proposed, under the new scheme, to provide members of rifle clubs with uniforms, but to cut down the supply of ammunition. I think that will be a decided mistake. It will be time enough for the members of rifle clubs to put on uniforms when they are required to take the field, and if the Commonwealth can afford to spend this £8,000 or £10,000, it would be better to do so in providing the rifle clubs with cheap ammunition, as we have done in the past, not on the limited scale now proposed, but on the not too liberalscale of the past.
– Honorable members propose to cut the Estimates down, and yet if the rifle clubs were to be maintained on the same basis as previously it would involve an expenditure of £100,000 for ammunition.
– I do not think that we are going to have rifle clubs on the same basis as previously. I believe, with the honorable member for Bland, that a saying in the expenditure can be best effected by the reduction of the salaries of the men at the top, who are at present receiving what, in my opinion, is inordinate remuneration for the work they have to do. It seems as if something must be paid tothese men because they are soldiers, and the amount of their remuneration is not arranged in accordance with the value of the work they do. The amount on the Estimates appears to me to be more than Australia can afford at the present time, and I believe we can get for less money a more effective force than is here proposed. It is all very well to have men taught to perform the pretty drill manoeuvres which have been referred to by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but it is far more to our interest to have men who can use the rifle well, even though they may not be able to keep step in the line of march as accurately as those who have spent most of their time in the practice of drill instead of in the practice of rifle shooting.
– I feel that the debate has now taken a turn which renders it necessary for me to curtail remarks which might otherwise have been of a somewhat lengthy character. The question of defence is to me a most important one, and I regard the action of the Government as not being exactly what it should have been, and as being largely responsible for what I consider to be the unsatisfactory condition of affairs to-day. In my opinion, the Government should have laid down a policy at the commencement, and should have notified that policy to the gentleman who assumed the very responsible position, not of an ordinary General Officer Commanding, but of a re-organizer of the whole of the Commonwealth forces. They should have made him fully acquainted with their wishes if. not with the wishes of Parliament.
– How could they have done that when Parliament is now doing what is opposed to what Parliament did last year ?
– A responsible Government should have notified the General Officer Commanding of their opinion, and if they have no opinion of their own they should be prepared to accept that of Parliament. I assume that eventually they will haveto accept the views of Parliament. I I am not prepared to .blame the General Officer Commanding for a good deal of what has occurred, because I believe that the fault lies with the Government. A definite policy should have been laid down by the Government. It would then have been the duty of Parliament to see that a certain sum was provided to carry out the policy approved, and the duty of the General Officer Commanding to apply the sum provided in the direction intimated to him by the Government.
– Surely that was the duty of Parliament ‘in dealing with the Defence Bill.
– Surely Parliament is not to blame because the Defence Bill is not now the Defence Act. I am expressing only my own opinion in the matter. A broad principle as to what kind of force we should have, and what is necessary in order to adequately defend our country should have been formulated. The work would then have been comparatively easy. Instead of that course being adopted, we have had a sort of happy-go-lucky policy, and the consequence is that we find ourselves landed in an expenditure which no one can justify. VerY briefly, indeed, I desire, as an outsider who does not pretend to expert knowledge, to indicate the -course which I think should be adopted in order to assure the adequate defence of our country. I regretted to find that the result of the vote taken on the last occasion was to limit the retrenchments to the first line of defence - that, instead of the expressed desire of the majority of the “honorable members who dealt with the question being followed, the Naval Estimates have suffered heavy reductions. If honorable members, in the light of the present Estimates, were to read the speeches delivered by members on both sides of the House on the last occasion, they would be astonished to see how, running through the speeches of the great majority, there was a desire that our first line of defence should be made as complete as possible, the criticism in the direction of cutting down expenses being limited almost entirely to the military forces. I do not agree with those who imagine that the presence of the squadron in’ the Sydney harbor would be a sufficient defence for Australia in the event of international complications. That squadron may be called away at any time to a place where its assistance is more urgently needed than on the shores of Australia. Inevitably we must rely on the mother country, not only for the protection of our shores, but, for what is even more important under present conditions - the protection of our commerce, which to a very large extent represents the wealth of this country. The time has passed for a descent on one of our capital cities by the battle ships of a foreign power at war with Great Britain. These matters have been dealt with by experts, and it is mainly from consulting them that I have obtained my information regarding these possibilities. The distance of Australia from large coaling stations, and from probable bases of operations, is so great that, it would be almost impossible for vessels of sufficient strength to carry out successfully such a system of attack. With regard to the navy I have only one thing to say. I should like to see one ship of the squadron placed at the disposal of the Commonwealth, and, though not necessarily officered by Australians, manned by Australians. The men could serve their time and pass into the reserve, whence they could be called at any time their services were required. That, of course, is not an original idea, and it has more than once been brought prominently under the notice, not only of the Australian Governments, but of the Home Government. We in Australia have shown that we are capable of taking our place side by side with the best soldiers that can be produced in the empire, and we only need the opportunity to prove, that we can also produce sailors quite up to the standard of those of the mother country. If the men were not required at sea their services would not be lost. The “handy man” is as valuable on shore as he is on board ship ; and in South Africa we have seen the splendid work done by men of the naval service when out of what might be considered their ordinary element. I think the Minister feels that it is hardly fair for honorable members to attack the Estimates in the direction of making reductions at such a time as this.
– I did not say so.
– I only express the opinion that the Minister may not think such attacks fair.
– What I said was that, seeing the Government had gone beyond the reduction which was promised last year, it was unfair, to attack them.
– I would point out that in the absence of a fixed policy this is the only method - though it is a rough and unwieldy one - which honorable members can follow with any chance of making the desire of Parliament felt by those in authority.
– On the last occasion a proposal to reduce the Estimates by £200,000 was rejected, but a reduction by £131,000 was carried, and that became the direction of the committee.
– My recollection of what took place is perfectly clear. I voted for the reduction of £200,000, but I voted against the’ proposed reduction of £131,000 because I thought it unfair, seeing that a promise had been given by the Government, to push the matter to a division. I was, however, in favour of the larger reduction, which I hope we shall have an opportunity of getting to-day. The great objection to cutting down Estimates by a lump sum is that we are not sure where the necessary reductions will be made. I regret very much that we are not in a position to attack a policy, and are compelled to follow a procedure which may have the very opposite effect to that desired. As to the military forces we have, in my opinion, started by employing an officer of too high a rank. I recognise the magnificent work which has been done by the gentleman who occupies that position, and I desire to treat this matter in quite an impersonal fashion. What is required in Australia is a man who has proved himself a good organizer, but who still has his reputation to make. The work of organizing the forces of the Commonwealth is of sufficient magnitude to warrant the assumption that a very large number of capable young officers would regard it as a great privilege to come out from home and link their names with its successful accomplishment. The successful organization of the forces of the Commonwealth would, I believe, redound as much to the credit of an officer as the winning of- a great battle, and I feel quite sure that a number of military men would look on the matter in that light. Under these circumstances, I feel that it would have been better to have obtained the services of a British colonel who had risen from the ranks.
– Out here a- man who has risen from the ranks is regarded as of no good.
– But he is the sort of man I should like to see in Australia.
– Hear, hear.
– And I believe that such a man would be approved by a majority of the people.
– Is it true that a man who has risen from the ranks would be considerably handicapped here, and have no opportunity of securing promotion 1
– Every obstacle is put in the way of such a man.
– I have heard something to that effect, and there may be a subsequent opportunity of discussing the subject.
I should have liked the organizer of the Commonwealth forces to be a nian who had passed through every grade of the service, as such a nian would necessarily have a more intimate knowledge of the inner workings than one who had simply gained his position by examination.
– In the British service there are only about half-a-dozen officers who have risen from the ranks.
– Quite so ; but the Victorian Mounted Rifles, who have done remarkably good work, and of whom we are very proud, were organized by an Imperial officer of great experience, who laid it down as an unalterable rule that every man who obtained a commission should have passed through the ranks. At the present time every officer in the Mounted Rifles has been in the ranks at one time or another.
– We will try to get a provision to that effect put into the Defence Bill.
– If the services of such a gentleman were at the disposal of the Commonwealth, I believe we should not find it necessary to provide such a large staff for the purpose of upholding his dignity. I recognise that an officer who has been to South Africa in command of a division, and has been invested with authority far transcending any which he can exercise in Australia, may find it necessary, in order to adequately uphold his position, to surround himself with a greater staff than would be required by an officer .of lesser rank. We ought not to derogate from the dignity of any office in the service of the Commonwealth, but we should endeavour to see that the chief positions are held by men whose ideas of dignity are consonant, not only with the wishes of the people, but also with their ability to meet demands which, from time to time, are made on the public purse. As to the staff, I should like to see the positions, which are the blue ribands of the service, made interchangeable. The gentleman who occupies the position next to that of the General Officer Commanding was formerly simply an adjutant in the Victorian Mounted Rifles. He had earned his position by years of energy and industry, and bypassing with great distinction the military examinations in the old country. At that time it was the custom of the Victorian Government to import from the old country four or five officers to manage the Defence Forces of that State. It was felt that an opportunity should be given to one. of our men, and an arrangement was made that the officer I have mentioned should for five years occupy the position of deputy assistant adjutantgeneral. The idea was that at the end of that period another officer in the service should have a similar opportunity, the first occupant being transferred to another branch ; but, once having got the position, the latter remained, and now ranks next to the General Officer Commanding. What I should like to see would he, as I say, these offices made interchangeable. Under such a system we should, I believe, get greater efficiency, because more ample opportunities would be presented to officers who filled these high and responsible positions. Their education would not be all in one groove, and by reason of the changes they would probably find the work for which they were best fitted. I have to repeat what I said on a previous occasion, namely, that the civil administra. tion of the departm’ent is the great safer guard for the Commonwealth as a whole. I am not in favour of an absolutely military control of the Defence Forces. Indeed I would rather see the Swiss system of a controlling civil council, although I do not intend to suggest . that we should proceed in that direction at present. I wish to assure honorable members, from my own personal experience, that we have a very great safeguard in the efficient civil administration. There are many other matters to which I should have liked to refer had time permitted, and there is one point to which e must address myself briefly. Honorable members must recollect that when the last Estimates were discussed, I told them what had been done in Victoria in regard to the establishment of an ammunition and small arms factory. A very great deal had been done, and the> information and experience gained could be availed of by the Minister for Defence with great benefit to the Commonwealth. The supply of ammunition is one of the most pressing questions which can arise in connexion with this extensive and important department. Australia should be self-contained in this respect, and it would not cost a large sum of money, with the appliances we have at our disposal, to thoroughly equip an ammunition factory, which would be adequate for all our needs, and which could find a market for its surplus stock in India under .uran cement with the Home Government. In the report of the Colonial Defence Committee, presented to the Housein September, 1901, there is the following paragraph : -
The Government of India, in spite of extraordinary demands on their resources, due to plague and famine are now spending considerable sums on Factories for producing munitions of war, and consider this expenditure justified by its effects in increasing the military independence of the country, and substitutingexpenditurein India for expenditure abroad.
That, I should say, is a very good protectionist argument. I feel that we should do well to lay to heart the lesson which is now being learned in India. We ought to provide Australia with, at the very least, an ammunition factory which will place us beyond the danger of being cut off from supplies in time of war - the time when we shall want ammunition most, and when it will be most difficult to get it. About two years ago an application was made to the Home Government by one of the Australian States for rifles and ammunition, and the reply received was that, under no consideration, could any supplies of the kind be sent out. They were all required elsewhere. We may find ourselves in the same position again if ever an international war arises.
– We should have a factory of our own.
– Undoubtedly. I trust that the honorable member for Bland will so frame his amendment that the wish of the committee will not be frustrated. I feel, especially after the able speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who, I suppose, knows more about this matter than the rest of us put together, that the vote of last year has not achieved the end which the committee had in view. I trust, therefore, that the amendment which is to be moved will insure reductions being made in the direction which the committee desires, and will not leave the matter to the sweet will of the Minister, or of the officers under him.
– The Acting Minister for Defence appears to have given the subject of retrenchment his most serious attention, but a more hopeless muddle I never saw in my life. When the leader of the Opposition asked him how he had saved the £175,000, he gave us a garbled account of details which honorable members could not follow. If the Minister is honest and straightforward, why did he not circulate the information amongst honorable members a week ago, instead of keeping it as a trump card up his sleeve ? Why did he not take honorable members into his confidence, and let us know exactly how many officers and men were being retrenched, instead of keeping the information from us until the very last moment, and then giving it to the committee in such a way that honorable members could not follow his statement? The Estimates provide for the division of £12,225 amongst 26 persons in connexion with the Headquarters Staff. Fifteen clerks divide£3,145 amongst them, and one of them draws as much as £325. Provision is made here for clerks, sub-clerks, and assistant clerks, both in the Head-quarters Staff of the Commonwealth and in the Head-quarters Staffs of the States, but an Imperial establishment would have the work done much more cheaply. When the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General were in Queensland they referred particularly to the saving in Defence expenditure which would be brought about by the adoption of federation. Australia’s noblest son was particularly strong upon that point. He told the people of Queensland that federation would bring about uniformity of administration and give a better, cheaper, and more contented service than then existed. But that has not been our experience. The Defence expenditure has been increasing by leaps and bounds from the moment that the forces were transferred to the Commonwealth. The representatives of South Australia have been twitted with having complained so strongly about the drill instructors who were sent to that State. But those drill instructors have been foisted upon the people of South Australia. They are officers who have been retrenched from the service of New South Wales and Victoria, and the Acting Minister for Defence knows it, notwithstanding all his quibbling. During the Commonwealth inaugural celebrations in Sydney in January, 1901, I heard it asked of the South Australian troops - “ What troops are they?” The men sent to Sydney on that occasion from South Australia compared more than favorably with the men sent from Victoria, notwithstanding the alleged want of drill instructors in South Australia. I find that each of the staff officers is being allowed £50 for horse-feed, but that no such allowance is being given to other officers. Are we to suppose that the horses belonging to the Head-quarters Staff require more food than the horses of other officers? If I were Minister for Defence, I would save the country £350,000 in twelve months. Instead of the present Head-quarters Staff, I would have only the Major-General Commanding at £2,500. I am sorry that the officer in charge of our forces is not an artilleryman or an engineer. Some one said the other day that there are no officers like infantry officers, but the two best men in the British Army to-day are Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, and one is an artillery officer and the other an engineer. I would also have a chief of staff at £550, a deputy adjutant-general, an artilleryman, a deputy assistant adjutant-general, an engineer, at £550 each, a principal medical officer at £900, and five or six clerks at £120. I want to know what is the good of having Head-quarters Staffs in the various States if there is to be a special Head-quarters Staff following the General, with his cock plumes and spurs, from State to State. There is no saving of expense there. If the Defence authorities had their way the Commonwealth would soon become insolvent, because they would incur the most riotous expenditure. If we voted £1,000,000 for defence purposes this year, the Minister next year would ask us for more. My experience in politics is that the more you vote for defence the more is wanted. I feel every word that I am uttering this afternoon, and the Minister knows it. Whenever I have spoken to him privately, and whenever I have addressed honorable members in this Chamber, I have spoken in the same strain.
– The honorable member told me that I had done well to reduce the Estimates by the amount which I have saved.
– I thought that the honorable gentleman was an exemplary Minister, but when he told me that he had saved £175,000, he did not tell me that £103,000 had to be deducted from that.
– The £103,000 was not calculated. The honorable member ought not to make a statement which is hot in accordance with facts.
– The Minister is the first man who has told me that I am untruthful. I believe every word I have uttered to be true. We do not want a staff of curled darlings to perform society functions, but men who will act as practical instructors to the military forces. I do not care how much we pay so long as we obtain proper services ; but our Head-quarters Staff might be reduced to the extent I have indicated without impairing its efficiency one whit.
– Does the honorable member’s proposal refer to the chief staff or to one of the States staffs ?
– To the Head-quarters Staff. I am sure that if I were appointed Minister for Defence I should be able to work the department with a staff such as I have indicated.
– What about the staffs for the States?
– I should cut them down by a corresponding degree. I do not see why we should have a large number of officers in each State. From my experience in Brisbane the officers are not in their offices, and cannot be found half the time. The Minister told us that the members of the staff were distributed all over the State, but beyond one officer at Townsville and another at Rockhampton, I have never seen any of of the Head-quarters Staff outside of Brisbane.
– I spoke of the naval staff.
– That is worse still, because I am sure that no honorable member from Queensland can say that he ever saw a naval staff officer outside of Brisbane. Of course, there are naval cadet officers at some places, but the members of the permanent staff are quartered in Brisbane, and I have never seen them out of that capital. I share the opinion of the honorable member for Bland, that it would be better to spend £100,000 in purchasing rifles of the most approved pattern for arming our forces than £20,000 in the way proposed. The Minister said that the Martini-Henry rifles were as good at short ranges as were the magazine rifles.
– I did notsay anything of the kind. I said that at 300 yards the Martini-Henry rifle was an effective weapon. I did not refer to the magazine rifle.
– Does the Minister suppose that men who are armed with magazine rifles would allow an opposing force with MartiniHenri rifles to get within 300 yards of them. I should like to see the Defence Estimates cut down to the extent of £200,000. We could do this with advantage, and place that sum at the disposal of the Treasurer with a view to its expenditure upon reproductive works. If we can spare money to spend upon playing at soldiers, we can better afford to devote it to the construction of reproductive works. There are plenty of places in my electorate which need telephone and telegraphic facilities, and the same might be said of many other districts. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Laanecoorie, that we should not cut down the vote by a certain amount, and leave it to the Minister to retrench in detail, but that we should indicate clearly the way in which the reductions should be made. We do not wish to get rid of the rank and file, but- to reduce the salaries of those officers who are receiving £450 and upwards per annum. I do not say that we should dispense with them altogether, but that we should make them share in the retrenchment.
– We should dismiss some of them.
– It would not be possible to reduce the Estimates by £200,000 without diminishing the numbers of the rank and file.
– Yes, it would. It is proposed to spend about £10,000 in excess of last year upon the Head-quarters Staff alone, and if we save ten times that amount, as we could very easily, we should reduce the expenditure by £100,000 straight away. Last year the Minister for Defence told us that the instructors for rifle clubs had to ride on horseback from one place to another to carry out their duties, As the meeting places of the rifle clubs are situated, in some cases, hundreds of miles apart, I do not know how this would be practicable. A few days ago the Acting Minister for Defence told us that the Government were not in accord with Major-General Hutton’s scheme of defence. To-day he said, however, that whatever might be done with the Estimates, the money had been spent.
– I did not say anything of the kind. I told the honorable member privately that a certain amount of the money had been spent.
– I am surprised that the Minister should deny his statement to me.
– Order ! The honorable member must accept the denial of the Acting Minister for Defence.
– I know that the Minister told me what I have just stated, and yet I have to accept his denial.
– The honorable member must comply with the standing orders.
– The standing orders cannot make me a liar. The Minister, if he is a man, will admit that he said what I have stated.
– He says he stated that a portion of the money had been spent.
– I admit that the Minister said that a portion of the money had already been spent, but that is only a quibble. The Government must have . indorsed MajorGenera] Hutton’s scheme or they would not have allowed him the money necessary to partly carry it out. However, I shall leave the matter, and allow honorable members to draw their own conclusions. The Minister is the last man I should have expected to state that I was saying what was untrue.
– I am sure that the Minister made no such statement. Had he done so, I should have called him to order at once.
– I cannot refrain from making these statements, which I know to be true, and if I offend the Minister I cannot help it. The honorable member for Moreton directed attention to the circumstances connected with the disbandment of the Ipswich volunteers. That was one of the most disgraceful proceedings I ever heard of. The members of the corps were at drill, and were marched into the barracks without any previous notice in order that their rifles might be taken from them. They were then marched away without their rifles, as if they had committed a crime. If that had happened in the old country it would have caused a revolution, and if it is not calculated to bring about that result here, it will at least cause intense dissatisfaction, and render it difficult to induce men to give up their time for defence purposes. The Ipswich corps were treated as if they were rebels, and the whole proceeding was scandalous. The honorable member for Laanecoorie said that he would like to see officers who have risen from the ranks appointed to leading positions in the Defence forces of the Commonwealth, and I should be as glad as any one if such a condition of affairs could be brought about. What, however, do we find ? An officer who was for some time acting as Commandant of the South Australian forces, and who had risen from the position of a working man, has been asked to retire or to accept the position of a lieutenant on the staff. This is all owing to the fact that he is not one of the blue-blooded darlings who occupy most of the high positions in the department. If an officer were capable of acting as Commandant, he should surely be worthy of a higher position than that of a lieutenant. The leader of the Opposition has directed attention to the case of a young Victorian who desired an appointment in the Commonwealth forces. If that young man takes my advice he will not come near the Commonwealth after the treatment which has been meted out to other officers. Colonel Stuart, the South. Australian officer to whom I have referred, went home to England and passed through the musketry school at Hythe with the greatest credit. He came back to South Australia, where he gave the greatest satisfaction as Acting Commandant, but simply because he is an Australian, and of lowly birth, he has been deposed from his proper rank. The honorable member for East Sydney informs me that it is all moonshine to talk about the young officer, in whose case he had interested himself, having aspired to the position of Director of Artillery. The officer wished to enter the service as a junior and work his way up, and that puts an entirely different complexion upon the matter.
– He is not an artilleryman, but a submarine engineer.
– That is the sort of man we want. I hope the Estimates will be reduced, and that retrenchment will take place among the officers. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bland should be framed in such a way as to make the wishes of the committee clear. Now that the heat of the debate is over, I humbly apologize if I have said anything that I should not have uttered, or if I have hurt the feelings of the Minister.
– The very able speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella renders it unnecessary for me to detain the committee at any length, but I think that there are two or three principles which we should lay down at the outset. In the first place, we desire that it should be distinctly understood that the civil powers must be supreme in the administration of Defence matters, except in time of war. There is a tendency on the part of military authorities to play a dominant part in the control. We should also make it perfectly clear that we intend to go in for the establishment of a citizen soldiery, and not for a standing army. That should be recognised, and recognised emphatically.
– No proposition has been made to the contrary.
– But there is a tendency to increase the permanent forces as against the militia or volunteer forces, and to effect the whole of the reductions from the latter branch of the service. Even if no POlicy has been enunciated in favour of the creation of a standing army, it is apparent that the ideas of those in authority run in that particular direction.
– Not necessarily.
– I fear that they do. I do not wish for one moment to sit in judgment upon those in authority ; but it must be recognised that the very environment of gentlemen who have been trained in military circles in the old country, where they have been taught to regard a standing army as an absolute necessity, is calculated to lead their thoughts in the. direction I have indicated. The admirable points which were brought out this afternoon in the speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella clearly showed that that is so. It is notorious that the reductions which have been made in the Defence department chiefly relate to the volunteer arm of the service, whereas the central staff and permanent officers have been left untouched. Moreover, an undue reduction appears to have been made in the naval forces of the Commonwealth as compared with the military. Upon the total vote of £670,000 for military purposes there has been a reduction of £22,000, or only 4 per cent., whereas the decrease effected in the naval forces of £20,886 is equivalent to 30 per cent.
– But it is impossible for the honorable member to make a calculation which is based upon the actual expenditure.
– I am dealing with what has been done since instructions were issued in respect of the reductions, and I am satisfied that my figures are correct.
– The honorable member is basing his calculation upon the actual expenditure for last year, which was an exceptional year.
– I admit that I am dealing with an exceptional year. At the same time, I am strongly of opinion that we must develop the naval arm of our defences. The committee have a right to make a reduction in the Defence Estimates. Surely that can be done without in any way impugning the administration of the department by the Minister. I would further point out that whilst the salaries of nearly all the military officers show an increase owing to the stoppage of allowances, the same condition of affairs does not obtain in respect to the naval officers.
– The other day I refused to give a naval officer an increase of salary, and I think it was highly improper of him to ask for it.
– It is remarkable that in the military arm of the service the salaries of officers have been increased, whilst in the naval forces they have suffered a reduction. I am sure that we shall be doing the proper thing if we indicate to the military authorities that the central staff must be reduced both in numbers and emoluments ; that the number of men in the permanently paid forces in New South Wales must be decreased, and that any addition which takes place should be in connexion with our citizen soldiery. I do not indulge in this criticism from any carping spirit, because I recognise that we can get no thoroughly satisfactory arrangement until we have a properly defined policy set out in a Defence Act. But surely the Minister will recognise that this committee would be neglecting its duty if it did not indicate the lines upon which it thinks that the immediate expenditure should proceed. I shall vote for a decrease in these Estimates, because I realize the great importance of this matter to the Commonwealth generally, and to the Defence department in particular.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I intend to make only a very few remarks upon this subject. I cordially agree with the principle which has been laid down, that we should encourage our citizen soldiery more than any permanent army. At the same time we cannot have a safe system of citizen soldiery which is not woven around the nucleus of a permanent organization. The only question to be considered is to what extent we can safely reduce that nucleus without impairing the efficiency of the whole system. That, of course, is a matter for consideration. Remarks have been made in regard to the position of our Defence Forces under the Constitution; but it seems to me that under the section quoted by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne there is absolutely no restraint upon the use of the military and naval forces of the Commonwealth, so long as they are employed for the defence of Australia. We do not need to be military students to know that once war has been declared against Great Britain, our best form of defence would be to act on the offensive as much as possible, and to carry the fight on as far away from our own hearths and homes as we could. To encourage the enemy to fight at our own front door instead of somewhere which would be more convenient to us is a very singular idea. From the whole history of naval and military operations we have learned one lesson, namely, that no human genius can foresee the precise spot at which the fate of a nation in battle will be decided. The fate of the British Empire may be decided at any one spot in the civilized globe. Any idea of forming a military force for the defence of the country, and at the same time of tieing it up so that it shall fight upon certain geographical lines seems to me to be one of the most clumsy and ignorant forms of the Monroe Doctrine. It might be that in a state of war it would pay us infinitely better to concentrate every ounce of our strength at a spot considerably beyond the territorial waters of the Commonwealth. I am speaking from the Australian stand-point entirely and not from the Imperial. Whilst I should be very slow to move our forces away from our own country, and should regard it as a matter of very grave responsibility, I should never dream of tieing the hands of the Executive to such an extent that, if it were desirable in a supreme emergency that our troops should fight in defence of the Commonwealth outside of our own limits it would be impossible for them to do so. This afternoon a remark was made in all good faith by the honorable member for Bland, with reference to the General Officer Commanding and his staff in South Africa, which was very unjust to that officer. It was stated that the General’s staff in South Africa was alleged to be larger than that of Lord Roberts’. It was so for a very good reason which Australians will fully appreciate. It will be remembered that Major-General Hutton wasformerlycommandantof the New South Wales forces, and consequently he has always taken a warm interest in Australian military matters. As a result, when he was given the command of a brigade in South Africa it was almost exclusively composed of Canadian and Australian volunteers. It numbered about 10,000. At that time there were many Australians in South Africa who had no chance whatever of getting to the front. Accordingly the Genera], from a motive which we all appreciate, gave them a chance of doing so and of seeing some fighting, by putting them upon his staff.
– There were plenty of men other than Australians upon his staff.
– Quite so. I should hope that a good disposition of that sort would not be limited to Australia. I make this statement in justice to the General, because I know that the honorable member for Bland would be the very last man who would wilfully do any person an injustice. I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that the civilian authority must always be preserved. But that sound rule would always be governed in the case of a wise and prudent Minister by another consideration. It seems to me that, in connexion with our military system, the first desideratum is to secure the services of an absolutely competent commanding officer. When once we have obtained such a man, we do not want a civilian to be interfering more than is necessary in the working out of this most intricate and complex machinery. I happened to be head of the New South Wales Government when Major-General Hutton was Commandant of that State, and I had the good sense not to attempt to mix myself up with the administration of the Military department. My experience of such attempts is, that as a rule, they are made for the benefit of some favoured individual. The more independent the General Officer Commanding is of civil interference with his department, the better, always provided that he is a good man, and in that respect I think we have been exceedingly fortunate. At this stage I cannot avoid referring to a matter which was broached yesterday, and which did a very serious injustice to a certain officer. There is a young Victorian who was invited and encouraged by the military authorities of this State to pursue a professional career. Accordingly he visited the mother country to qualify himself to join the Victorian forces. He did so, and passed a very stiff series of examinations in a branch of defensive operations which is very rarely studied - that of submarine mining, which in modern warfare has become a very important branch - and he was encouraged to hope that after he did this he would be admitted to the Victorian forces. As between a man who gets a commission without going through a thorough course of training in a military school, and a man who takes, at his own expense, such a training, there ought to be every preference given to the latter who has spent hundreds of pounds to qualify himself. The injustice which was done to that gentleman yesterday was very gross. He was put before the House as a gentleman who was trying to become Director of Artillery to the Commonwealth. His name was associated with the most invidious position of being an English officer wishing to get a high command over the heads of a number of officers, his seniors. That of course would be a most improper thing, and I would not wish my name to be associated with such an effort. The unfairness is that he is not an artillery officer ; that he was not recommended for the artillery, and that he was only recommended for a position at the bottom of the ladder. It is most improper to make use of a man’s name in the way in which it was done yesterday ? The result was that the honorable member for Maranoa asked an assurance from the Acting Minister that the gentleman would not be appointed, and properly so, if those were the. facts, and the Acting Minister, on the faith of what he ought to have known were not the facts-
– I did not know all the details.
– I admit that it is impossible for a Minister with a large number of affairs to consider, to remember every little detail in his department; hut if my honorable friend had remembered the facts, of course he would have put the matter right at once. I was left for the time under the imputation of having tried to put this gentleman at the head of the artillery, because my honorable friend tried to keep my name out of it, with a good-natured intention which had the opposite effect. The fact was that I never dreamed of making any such recommendation, and the application of this young gentleman was a fair and proper one, and did not bear this invidious mark. Of course, by this time no one quite believes anything that appears in the newspaper in which this matter was referred to : but still, when it is brought into the House and made the subject of a series of interrogations, and an assurance is given that the gentleman will not be employed-
– No. I said that he would not be appointed to the position of Director of Artillery.
– I am very glad to hear that, because it would be a very unfortunate thing if, because a newspaper wishes to have a shot at me,somebody else should be debarred from a legitimate opening in the public service.
– H - How did this secret communication get to the newspaper?
– I have heard of influences against this particular application, to which we pay little attention ; but the fact that this extraordinary misstatement was made in the newspaper seems to show thatthere is in the department some person who is twisting matters to the detriment of the gentleman referred to. I do not, however, wish to suggest an ything of the sort without some proof. Coming to the main question of whether we should reduce these Estimates, there is, I think, one thing which the military authorities have a right to ask, and that is . the amount upon which this service is to be conducted.
– I wasunder the belief that that was done last time.
– My honorable friend was, but I admit that he was without any proper ground for pressing that on the committee.
– No. There was a vote taken on a proposition to reduce by £200,000, and it was defeated.
– I know that. We were told at that time that the whole matter was in chaos, and the committee, acting in the dark, did its best to make a reduction. There was a reduction of £131,000 ordered, and a reduction of £175,000 has been made. My view is that we ought by some method today to let the Government know-how much we are going to vote every year for the Defence department, so that the element of certainty and permanency will be introduced. Because the position of Ministers in having to perpetually recast the Estimates of the most difficult department in the Commonwealth is an intolerable one. I quite agree that in fixing an amount we should not take such an absurd course as to include in that amount anything connected with maintaining the efficiency of our warlike stores. The amounts required in different years for that purpose vary so much that we cannot with any sense endeavour to lay down a rule for the guidance of the Executive as to the vote which they are to submit to the House for rifles or ammunition. These are matters about which we must be liberal.As we spend at least £750,000 on the Defence department, the greatest folly in the world will be not to make it an efficient department so far as the implements of war - ammunition, rifles, and so on - are concerned. The worst economy is to ask our men to fight, and yet not give them weapons to enable them to render a good account of themselves when they have to fight. If the force is to be something more than a sham, we must be prepared to act fairly by the Government when they ask, say, for warlike stores. Now that we have one command our forces should be conducted on a more economical basis than when there were six commands, and inasmuch as the annual expenditure of two or three years ago in all the States was only £500,000 or £600,000, I am prepared to support any amendment which will fix the annual vote for the department at £700,000, exclusive of stores.
-The Estimates provide for only £656,000, without the naval subsidy of £106,000.
– I included that in the £700,000 I am prepared to vote.
– That means a reduction of only £20,000.
– It is a reduction of £60,000.
– I admit that it requires a genius to follow the Military Estimates.I have had years of experience of Military Estimates, and I still feel clumsy over them.
– The right honorable and learned member would not mean that amount to include works which vary so much ?
– Those are the subject of a separate item.
– Works, warlike stores, and equipment, I look upon as separate items.
– If the right honorable and learned member does that he will give the Minister £900,000 a year.
– Do not misunderstand me. When I say equipment, I do not mean uniforms and all that kind of thing. I do not use the term in the military sense. I wish to make a distinction between warlike stores, under which head I suppose guns would come, and uniforms.
– They are included in this amount of £700,000.
– Putting those itemsaside, I am prepared to knock £60,000 off the Estimates for the military establishment.
– Does the right honorable and learned member include ammunition in the sum of £700,000?
– I find that it is absurd to use any figures in connexion with this department ; I shall not attempt it. I am prepared to vote for £60,000 less than the amount in these Estimates, on the understanding that we shall keep the department down to that reduction, being willing at the same time to consider applications for warlike stores on their merits. We wish to make a fixed amount of reduction on the annual management of the military, but with reference to the stores, we are prepared to receive any propositions from the Government and deal with them on their merits.
– The honorable member for Maranoa, in his very forcible speech, was, I think, very unfair to those in authority in connexion with the military forces. I do not believe for one moment that there is any feeling that a man should not receive promotion if he is fit to fill a position to which the next step in promotion would entitle him. I do not believe that the fact of a man having risen from the ranks would in any way affect his promotion.
– I can assure the honorable member that such a feeling does exist.
-I do not believe that there is any reason for it. I do not know the particular instance to which the honorable member refers, but I am certain that there must be some circumstances to account for any man who can attain to the position of olonel not receiving any further step in promotion, apart from any question as to his having risen from the ranks. If that feeling existed at all, it would exist against allowing a man to rise from the ranks to the position of colonel. The position is altogether absurd.
– There is a feeling that artisans in Australia have no chance whatever. I hope there is no ground for it, but it exists.
– I do not believe there is any ground for it. At any rate, I have seen no evidence of it during the small experience I have had. I was not here when the last Estimates were dealt with. I was in Japan.
– Does the honorable member mind mentioning the name of the colonel who has risen from the ranks?
– I cannot mention any one’s name. I consider it a mistake in parliamentary debate to mention any names whatever. I know nothing of the circumstances referred to, and should have said nothing about it but for the interjection. As I was not present when the last Estimates were discussed, I know nothing personally regarding the arrangement made for a reduction. But I must say that I am in some little difficulty, because I believe there should be a further reduction, whilst at the same time I cannot help feeling that it would be somewhat unfair to the Minister who has had control of this department if he were to receive instructions from the committee to reduce the amount for the Defence Force when he has already reduced the Estimates further that the House demanded. It would be unfair after three or four months have gone by to call upon him to make a further reduction. On that ground, therefore, I shall not be disposed to go so far as to vote for the reduction proposed by the honorable member for Bland; but I shall vote for some reductions, and my reasons I shall state. I will deal with the figures, not upon the basis of the Estimates, but upon the basis of the reduction upon last year’s expenditure. The reduction shown is £62,743. Now, part of that reduction is made up of £9,739 for the Royal reception; £15,000 for new rifles, and £20,886 for the naval forces. That is a total of £45,625 out of the £62,743. I find that £4,019 is accounted for by the disbandonment of the volunteer naval artillery of New South Wales, the ambulance corps, and the torpedo defences. I must say that, so far as concerns the reduction of the Victorian naval artillery, it is, to some extent, compensated for by the fact that a number of those who belong to the disbanded forces have been included in the naval brigade. But there has been a further reduction in the naval brigade in ‘ Victoria, which has been brought down from 729 to 538. The total number of men in the naval forces in 1901-2 was 1,933, and that number is now reduced to 1,463 - a reduction of 470, or 25 per cent. I quite agree with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that that is a very large reduction compared with the total reduction of the naval forces. But when we come to look into the figures of the naval forces of all the States we find another matter that I think requires to be examined carefully. The total naval estimate for 1902-3 for New South Wales is £5,835, and the permanent staff, consisting of three officers only, receive of that amount £1,659.
– I quote the figures of the Estimates, page 41.
– There are no highlypaid officers.
– It appears that three officers receive £1,659.
– Of the naval brigade ?
– The figures may be wrong, but Iquote them from page 41 of the Estimates.
– For 1902-3?
– Yes, They are transferred officers it is true.
– Of that amount £1,180 is for contingencies.
– If that is the case, these matters are not clear. The figures on page 41 are grossly misleading if what I have stated is not correct.
– I know of my own personal knowledge that that statement is not right.
– The three officers only receive in pay£479, and the rest of the money is for contingencies, as shown on page 43 of the Estimates, Division 41.
-I grant that that appears to be so, and in that case, the statement on page 41 is not correct, because it shows that three of the permanent staff receive 27½ per cent. of the total pay. Evidently that statement is hot accurate, because I see that, according to page 43, only £479 is paid to the three officers - the officer instructor, the clerk, and the coxswain in charge of boats.
– The facts would appear to be as stated by the honorable member, according to page 41, but the matter is explained on page 43.
– A further reduction that has been made is in the naval brigade in Queensland, which has been brought down from 729 men to 538 - a reduction of 191. I must look to see whether there is any error so far as that statement is concerned, because this appears to be a worse example than that which I quoted from New South Wales. The figures show apparently that nineteen of the permanent staff receive £3,820 out of a total of £15,084.
– That matter is detailed in the same way on page 47. There are nineteen officers, clerks, drill instructors, and others getting that total payment.
– It is true that the particulars are detailed as the Minister states, but, at any rate, the Estimates are very misleading. I certainly think that before these Estimates go forth to the public, they should be corrected, because it looks as if three members of the permanent staff in New South Wales were receiving 27½ per cent. of the whole expenditure on the naval forces of that State. I will leave the point so far as concerns the navy, and turn to the question of the instructional staff, details of which are furnished on page 55. Here again I should not be in the slightest degree surprised if the figures turned out to be misleading, but I take them as they are. I find that the total number of the military forces of New South Wales is 10,666. Of that number 751 are members of rifle clubs, whom we will leave out. So that ostensibly there are 10,000 men in the military forces of that State. I desire to compare New South Wales with Victoria. I see nothing in the New South Wales Estimates as to cadets, so that in excess of the numbers set down there may be a number of cadets.
– There are very few cadets in New South Wales, and they are dealt with by the department of Public Instruction.
– If that be the case there may be some explanation in connexion with the figures upon which I am now going to comment. While the number of troops in New South Wales is, roughly, 10,000, the number in Victoria as here stated is 12,048. That number, I grant, includes the cadets. Now the number of instructors in New South Wales is81, and their cost is £18,049. That is shown on page 55. In Victoria, however, there are 49 instructors at a cost of £10,162. Even assuming that the extra number of cadets in Victoria is included, it seems strange that the instructors for New South Walesshould cost so much more than instructors for other parts of the military service. I wish to ask the Minister how it is that there are81 on the instructional staff for 10,000 troops in New South Wales at a cost of £18,000, and only 49 in Victoria for 12,000 troops at a cost of £10,000?
– Do the cadets in Victoria include the schoolboys oronly the senior cadets?
– Five hundred are senior cadets, and the rest are boys.
– There may be some explanation, but I deal with the figures as I find them. There is something in these figures which requires explanation, and that shows the difficulty one has in arriving at any correct conclusions upon the Estimates put before us. I grant that it is not easy to avoid difficulty. I grant also that the task of bringing together all the forces of six States was an extremely difficult one, and honorable members cannot expect to have everything put before them as clearly as should be the case in future years. There were anomalies in the various States that have to be overcome, and they cannot be overcome in the first year or two. Now I should like to call attention to the position of the mounted rifles of New South Wales. The details are on pages 70 and 71. I find there that the mounted rifles include 29.2 troopers and privates. In order to control those 292 men we find that there are one officer commanding, one major, eight captains, eight first lieutenants, eight second lieutenants, and one quartermaster. Taking the regiment as it was before the Estimates of this year, we find that the following officers have been transferred as members of the permanent staff - one adjutant and paymaster, one regimental sergeant-major, one quartermaster-sergeant, one orderly room clerk, and four sergeantinstructors. That makes a total of 35 so far. Then we have four squadron sergeants- major, four squadron quartermastersergeants, sixteen sergeants, and 32 corporals. Thus, last year there were 91 officers to deal with 292 men, or, in other words, one officer for every three men. It may be necessary to have these officers. I know nothing of the mounted rifles, but it appears to me that, considering the way in which the Scottish
Regiment is treated, it is ridiculous that so many should be employed. These are transferred items : Adjutant £319 per annum, regimental sergeant-major £109 per annum, quartermaster-sergeant £152 per annum, orderly-room clerk £125 per annum, and four sergeant instructors £548. Here we have transferred payments amounting to £1,253 per annum. According to the Estimates, it would appear that a reduction of £543 per annum has been effected ; but, as a matter of fact, although there is that reduction the expenditure of £1,253 per annum has actually been transferred to another department. I cannot help thinking that that does not look well for New South Wales. I think it will be found that the same thing exists right through, so far as the New South Wales Estimates are concerned. I believe that New South Wales is responsible for a great deal of the extra expenditure which has taken place. I know I am correct in making the statement that certain volunteer regiments were made partially-paid regiments within twelve months of federation. I do not say that was done with a view of throwing all the cost upon the Federal Government, but it is impossible ‘ to deny that that has been the effect of the change. I refer particularly to the Australian Horse. I believe that the amount which that regiment receives beyond its capitation grant is £7 8s. per annum per man.
– It was £9 10s., but it has been reduced to £7 8s.
– The members of the militia or partially-paid regiments in Victoria receive £7 10s. per annum ; in Queensland they receive £6 10s. per annum ; and in South Australia £5 per annum. The militia in Western Australia and Tasmania are not even upon such good terms as those ruling in South Australia. I find that the volunteers of New South Wales receive a capitation and effective grant of £3 per head, while the partially-paid forces receive £2 per head over and above the sum of £7 8s., to which I have already referred. They receive £2 per head for uniform as well as £78s. per annum per effective man.
– Each man receives that.
– Yes, and theregiment gets £2 per head for uniform. In Victoria the Artillery receive 30s. per head, and £1 for efficiency ; and the Militia Infantry and Volunteers 25s. per head, and £1 for efficiency. The Rangers receive £1 per head, and £1 for efficiency, and the Senior Cadets £1 per head. In Western Australia they receive £2 per head, and in Tasmania 30s. per head, and outfit.
– T - That is something like what should be given.
– I believe that every one would be perfectly satisfied with such an allowance. What ever is done by the committee in regard to the Estimates, the Minister should be asked to put the whole of these forces upon a uniform basis. I do not say that the higher-paid forces should be reduced to the lowest rate at present ruling, but the funds would be ample if the capitation grant of £3 perhead were reduced to £2 5s. per head. All these troops would then be brought into line. The amount granted to the forces in Western Australian would be raised from £2 to £2 5s., and those in Tasmania from 30s., and outfit to the same rate.
– The State would have to pay for it.
– I care not who would have to pay for it ; I want only equity. I presume that the various States will be debited with their proportions.
– Each State is debited with the actual expenditure, and the honorable member wishes to increase these grants in the State which can least afford it.
– Queensland is the State which could least afford to bear any additional expense, but the adoption of my suggestion would lead to a reduction in the amount granted to the forces there.
– South Australia is the State which objects most strongly to an increase in the pay of the men if it has to pay for it.
– Who said so?
– I have been informed that that is so. I raised the amount in the first instance in order to make the grant even, but altered it again before the Estimates were submitted.
– I have never heard of any objection.
– I do not think South Australia would object to its troops being placed upon a fair basis as compared with those of the other States. In my opinion, the South Australian Government would be far more likely to object to the volunteers in Queensland and Victoria receiving £3 and £2 5s. per head for the maintenance of their regiments, while the South Australian volunteers were on a lower scale. I am sure that even if they had to pay for the increase themselves, they would think it right that the change I have suggested should be made. But even assuming that the Minister considers that it would not be right to make an increase in any instance, surely he can have no objection to a reduction ?
– I am not going to bring down the grant to the regiments in New South Wales to the level of that of South Australia.
– do not want the Minister to do so, but I contend that as the whole of the forces of Australia have been taken over by the Commonwealth, and are supposed to be placed upon an equal footing, it would be far more equitable to place them on an equal basis than to allow the existing arrangements to continue. I wish it to be clearly understood that I am in no way casting any blame upon the Minister, but I would point out that where it has been a question of levelling up for the New South Wales troops, he has not been too careful in his consideration of what would be the cost to that State.
– In what instance ?
– I find that the gunners of the New South Wales Royal Artillery formerly received 2s. 3d. per day, but that the Minister has increased the rate to 2s. 6d. in order to place them upon an equal footing with the Victorian gunners.
– The gunners in the whole of the States have been treated in the same way.
– Still they haveall been brought up to the Victorian level. I cite this only as an instance.
– This is the first year in which the gunners of Victoria have received 2s. 6d. per day.
– That does not alter my argument.
– The honorable member does not think that the rate of pay of only the Victorian gunners should have been raised?
– No. The rate has not been increased in Victoria since federation. Last year’s Estimates provided for payment at the rate of 2s. 6d. per day.
– The rate of pay was 2s. 3d. per day under the last Estimates.
– Then the Minister was wrong in raising the rate in Victoria and failing to do the same in all the other States. With all due deference to the honorable and learned member for Corio, I have such confidence in the Minister that I do not think he would be one to increase the rate in one State without increasing it in all the others.
– The only instance in which I have not brought the rates in all the States up to the same level is in relation to the annual pay. The honorable member referred to the fact that the grant to the militia forces in South Australia was only £5 per man. Speaking from memory, I believe it would have taken £6,000 per annum to pay the men in South Australia the same rate as the forces in other States receive. I was anxious to make an increase, but found that it was impossible to do so at this juncture.
– Then why not bring down the rate of pay in the other States to the same level ?
-Iam not going to bring down the pay in New South Wales and Victoria to the South Australian level.
– I believe there is no man in the service who would not be willing to accept a grant of £5 per annum in addition to the £2 per annum allowed for uniform to the partially paid forces.
– Does the honorable member recollect what happened in Victoria when I brought down the rate? There was trouble over it.
– I think the right honorable gentleman adopted the proper course. In Victoria the men are receiving £7 10s. per annum ; in New South Wales they receive £7 8s. per annum ; in Queensland they are paid £6 10s. per annum, and in South Australia they receive £5 per annum. Why not strike the happy mean by fixing the rate at £6 10s. per annum ?
– We have to deal with individual States.
– In a matter of this kind we cannot consider too closely the position of the individual States. We have to consider what is the best thing to do in the interests of all. I hope that any amendment which may be tabled for a reduction of these Estimates will not be a mere instruction that they shall be reduced by a given sum. There should be some indication given to the Minister of the way in which he is to effect the reduction which the committee directs shall be made. Unless this is done we may have a repetition of what happened in connexion with the reduction of last year’s Estimates - reductions to the extent of only some £5,000 being made in New South Wales, while in Victorih reductions were made to the extent of £18,000. For these reasons, I shall endeavour to urge the committee, in making any reductions, to indicate the form in which those reductions should be made.
– I find that the honorable member is mistaken in saying that the rate of pay to the gunners in Victoria was 2s. 6d. per day at the inception of federation. It was 2s. 3d. per day.
– According to the Minister’s own Estimates the rate of pay last year was 2s. 6d. per day.
– It was 2s. 3d., but has been increased to 2s. 6d. per day.
– I should like at the outset to refer to a matter to which a great deal of attention has been devoted by the honorable member for Maranoa, who gave the committee a sketch of what he thoughtwasnecessary forastaff. I think that the great fault in relation to all the States military forces in years past has been the absence of a staff and the want of comprehension, on the part of the ordinary lay mind, of the necessity to have in times of peace those men who are absolutely essential in times of war. For example, we do not hear much in times of peace of the Commissariat department or of the QuartermasterGeneral’s department ; but unless they were thoroughly organized in times of peace by the Head-quarters Staff, it would be found in time of war that the forces were surrounded by difficulties of such a nature that the people who are dependent upon the Commonwealth for an efficient defence system would cry out loudly against our neglect. I can realize the difficulty which the Minister experiences, with an excess of officers around him, in endeavouring too suddenly to make reductions. In order to find an outlet for the surplus officers he has to use the local staffs, and to create really unnecessary headquarters staffs. The point which I request the committee to consider in dealing with these, as with the postal matters, is that, having created a Commonwealth department, we should judge it from a federal stand- point. “With a Commonwealth Defence department we should not have all these separate staffs. The artillery might be managed from Melbourne. I should not be sorry if te mounted rifles were controlled from Sydney, while the infantry might be managed from Brisbane. The officers placed in charge should have local command and precedence while given control of one special arm of the service. In that way we should have a staff in being ready to be concentrated in time of war, and, at the same time, we should not have the superfluity of head-quarters staffs in each State. I think the Minister has made a mistake in failing to provide for a uniform rate of pay. The Treasurer, by way of interjection, stated that the Government had to consider the financial requirements of the different States. The Minister could not raise the pay of the militia in Tasmania to the rate paid to the militia of New South “W ales, or make equal capitation grants to the forces in the different States, because the Government had to consider the finances of the different States that would have to bear the burden. That is where I think the mistake has been’ made. We should not regard the States in a matter of Commonwealth management. * The Minister has tackled the job set him in a wonderful manner, and I think he is blamed where he is not responsible. According to the Treasurer, the honorable gentleman has had to regard State finances, and it has, therefore, been impossible for him to bring about the uniformity which, I believe, he as well as the committee desires. That is the reason why we see so many anomalies which, under the circumstances, it is unfortunate that the Minister should have to defend. The Minister has shown that he has a wonderful grip df military matters generally, and while we may criticise his action, we can compliment him on the way in which he has gone to the bottom of the department, and has done his best to carry out the alteration of last year’s estimate, desired by honorable members. I should like to ask the honorable gentleman why some permanent gunners are to be paid 3s. 6d. per day in “Victoria, whilst in other places they are to be paid only 2s. 6d. 1 If honorable members will look at page 90 of the Estimates, they will find, in connexion with the Booyal Australian Artillery, “Victoria, and the Field Artillery Brigade, a vote set down for 203 gunners, at 3s. 6d. per day. I do not object to that, because I think that every man should be paid 5s. per day. Rut if they will turn to page 91 they will see a reference to other Royal Australian Artillery Gunners - “ 168 at 2s. 6d. per day.” I was right in stating to the honorable member for Melbourne that last year the whole of the gunners were paid 2s. 3d. per day-, but while I should agree to the rate being raised to 3s. 6d., I do not see why one. lot of men, who are field artillery gunners, should get 3s. 6d. per day, if men who are doing more technical work as garrison gunners are only to get 2s. 6d. per day.
– I shall give the honorable and learned member some information on the point presently.
– I find that in Queensland gunners are paid 3s. a day, and- in Western Australia and New South Wales gunners of the Royal Australian Artillery get only 2s. 6d. per day. One would think that, in the permanent forces at least, there would be uniformity in the rates of pay throughout theStates, and it is, therefore, surprising to notice these anomalies. I can suptport the statement of the honorable member for Northen Melbourne that the pay which sappers in the Engineers are getting is 4s. 3d. per day. The Minister corrected the honorable member by stating that that rate of 4s. 3d. had not yet come into force, and that they were at present receiving 6s. per day. I have in my hand a district order issued on 8th July, 1902 - “Defence reorganization, amalgamation of the Engineer units and Ordnance department.” I find, from this order, that the rates of pay are stated as follow : -
Company Sergeant-Major, 7s. 6d. ; Sergeants 7s. 6d. ; Corporal, 6s. ; Sapper, 4s. 3d. per day.
Tt is therefore clear that the honorable member was perfectly correct in the statement he made. I hope that the honorable member for Bland, when he moves his amendment, will direct it at special parts of the Estimates. Unless the honorable member, by his amendment, proposes that there shall be a reduction of the vote in connexion with special divisions, we shall find that what occurred last year will occur again this year, and the reduction will be in the number and pay of the men, whilst there will be an increase in the pay of the officers. If honorable members will look at page 106 of the Estimates, they will find that the pay of an officer of the Engineers in Queensland has been increased by £70. The Minister intimated that that was met by contingencies, and by previous allowances, but that is just the cause of objection to the reduction which has been made in connexion with last year’s Estimates. The attack in connexion with the vote last year was entirely upon the allowance system. When the Minister for Defence, Sir John Forrest, made his promise to the Committee of Supply that, in addition to the £1 by which the vote was reduced in committee, he would undertake to further reduce it by £130,000 in this year’s Estimates, it was understood that the reduction made would be largely in connexion with the allowances which a number of officers in New South Wales and other States were then receiving in addition to their ordinary salaries. Those who remember last year’s debate, or who will take the trouble to lookup the Hansard report will know that some sensational statements were made in regard to officers who were receiving sometimes more than half as much in allowances as in salary. Those were the statements which influenced the committee in pressing for the reduction of £131,000. In spite of that we find that the reductions have been almost entirely effected by cutting down the number and pay of the men. This form’ of reduction has also been applied in the case of the militia. It will be seen that the amount paid to the New South Wales militia has been reduced from £9 10s. to £7 8s. a year. Why they should have been brought down to 2a. less than is paid to the militia in’ Victoria I do not know. The reduction when made should have been to the maximum rate existing in the other States. But there is a further anomaly, because while we find that the pay of the men has been reduced to 2s. a year below the pay given to militiamen in Victoria, a colonel of militia in New South Wales is still to receive£43 3s. 4d., which is £3 3s. 4d. more than is paid to a colonel of militia in Victoria, and officers of all ranks in Victoria are paid at a lower rate than officers of corresponding rank in the militia in New South Wales. I desire now to direct the attention of the committee to the position of the rifle clubs. If honorable members will look at page 99, they will understand the retrenchment policy of the Minister in connexion with rifle clubs. The secretary to the rifle clubs in Victoria has apparently had his salary increased from £203 to £300. The increase is, however, only apparent, because the gentleman who was receiving £203 under last year’s Estimates has been transferred to another department at his old salary, whilst his position is filled at £300 by an officer who was over age in New South Wales, but for whom a billet was wanted. That is how economy is effected in the Defence department, and in the cost of the New South Wales forces particularly. Under last year’s Estimates the secretary, paid at the salary of £203, was apparently able to do without any clerical assistance, but the new officer, who is getting £300 a year, being over the age and too old for military affairs in New South Wales, requires to have temporary clerical assistance, which totals £450. So that the department, which under an active secretary cost £435 according to last year’s Estimates, under the oldage pensions system displayed in the Estimates cost £1,002, or an increase of nearly £600.
– The total- cost of rifle club administration was over £1,900. It is now £900.
– I desire now to refer to a statement made by the honorable member for Melbourne as to the power of any member of the force to rise from the ranks. The honorable member gave as an instance some colonel whom he knew to have risen from the ranks.
– I said it was stated so. I do not know him personally.
– The colonels of all the militia battalions in Victoria have risen from the ranks, and I know that a colonel who was recently transferred from Victoria to New South Wales, in the permanent force of New South Wales, has risen from the ranks.
– That proves my argument that there is no objection at head-quarters to men who do rise from the ranks.
– There is one officer in the Head-quarters Staff who, to my knowledge, has risen from the ranks. “ But this really throws into relief the present and the old system. Under the old system, before the militiaforces came into existence in 1883, men rose in a natural course to any position to which their ability entitled them ; but I venture to say that, except in some very exceptional instance, the honorablemember cannot point to any case for some years past in which, in connexion with the forces in Victoria, a man has risen from the ranks. One man by sheer force of ability and character has lately been able to raise himself from the ranks. He was really the guiding hand of the whole regiment, but it was only after repeated recommendations from his commanding officer, and when his lack of promotion had become a positive scandal, that he was given the rank of subaltern, the lowest in the officers’ class or caste. That is the one man who during the last five years has risen from the ranks in Victoria. There are men in the Permanent Artillery, who, for their splendid work in the field in South Africa, were given Imperial commissions, but who on returning to Victoria were disrated, although, at the same time, the Minister forDefence was inviting applications, through the Government Gazette, for men willing to present themselves for examination for commissions. These returned soldiers who had been made subalterns and captains in South Africa had on their return to take the rank of sergeant or sergeant-major, and instruct officers who came into the corps for the first time. I am glad to say, however, that the Minister for Defence, and also the Minister who is temporarily at the head of that department, have promised to do their best to bring about a change in this respect.
– None of these returned soldiers were amongst the applicants for commissions.
Mr.CROUCH.- That interjection enables me to explain that these men did not apply, simply because none over 23 years of age are eligible.
– The age is 25 in the case of men who have seen service in South Africa.
– That is so ; but it will be seen that in the ordinary case of a man who enters the force at eighteen years of age, and in four or five years makes himself a non-commissioned officer, there is nottime for the necessary special studies, which, according to the regulations, include Greek and Latin.
– There is no provision for Greek and Latin.
– The regulations provide that although these subjects are not compulsory, they are regarded as additional qualifications, and earn marks, as do also German, French, and Algebra.
– The honorable and learned member is not correct.
– The honorable member said that I was not correct in another matter, but I contend that . I know a thousand times more than he does about the conditions of the service. The regulations are set out in the Commonwealth Gazette of May last.
– The studies which have been mentioned are optional.
– The Minister confirms me by stating that the classics are optional, but they are regarded as additional qualifications.
– Previously these subjects were not optional, and now they are.
– If the honorable and learned member for Corio will read the, Government Gazette he will see that I was lately on an examination board ; and, therefore, I must know something of the conditions.
– It shows how members of the board carry out their duties when they actually do not know the qualification necessary in the candidates they are to examine. If the honorable member looks at the Gazette he will find what his duties were. In this House there should be a spirit sufficiently ‘ democratic to insure protection for the rights of men who, whatever their age, want to raise themselves in the profession they have adopted. These men have been carrying on a struggle single-handed for years past, and some assistance should be given to them in their effort to force the department, which has been worked on caste lines, to afford opportunities for promotion by means of reasonable examinations. Men should not be expected to be proficient in dead or foreign languages, but ought to possess technical qualifications such as proficiency in artillery and infantry drill. As to the navy, I do not see much good in having the defences distributed as they are at present. We have the Protector at Adelaide, the Cerberus at
Melbourne, and a boat in Queensland ; but I fail to see the use of such an arrangement. If the Minister announces that the present distribution is being maintained only until the boats can be either gradually dispensed with, or concentrated in one port, so that in the meantime men need not be dismissed, the arrangement can be understood. But to continue three fleets of one ship each is a system which ought not to be encouraged. I am not particularly anxious that the fleet of the future should be at Melbourne, but the nucleus of the Australian Navy ought to be kept together at one or other of our ports, and not distributed under no command. Manoeuvres must present great difficulty, seeing that one ship cannot very well manoeuvre by itself. In the matter of dress, I hope that khaki will be adopted right throughout the forces. In this connexion one point has not as yet been touched upon, namely, that if the artillery, say, have an attractive uniform, while the infantry are clad in khaki, there difficulty may be found in recruiting for the latter. In my opinion, every corps should be treated exactly alike in this respect, and khaki adopted throughout.
– I suppose there is not a department which invites criticism more than does the Defence department. And, further, there is no department which holds out more inducements to members to apply the pruning knife and ask for substantial reductions in the Estimates. What the committee have to consider is the position of the taxpayer, who requires efficiency without extravagance. The people are prepared to pay for a properly equipped and effective Defence department, but they do not wish to have it organized on a basis that is too lavish. Unlike several honorable members, I propose to shorten my remarks simply because we are anxious to bring the session to a close. I shall be brief, but only because I know that other opportunities will be presented for discussing a defence policy for Australia. In my opinion, the Defence Bill was one of the important measures which ought to have been dealt with this session, but as that legislation has not been proceeded with, I do not intend to waste time by now discussing matters of policy. The Estimates, as they now stand, show that the Minister for Defence requires, in round figures, £762,000. One of the inducements which led the people of Australia to adopt federation was the hope that the cost of defence would be materially curtailed. It was thought that economies which were impossible in six distinct States would be easy of realization under union. I believe that that can be done, and that it is the duty of this Parliament to see that it is done. In the year before federation the cost of Australasian defence, under State control, was less than £600,000, but to-day, when we have all the boasted advantages of federal control, the bill is £762,000. The people will want to know what is the reason for that groat increase. The Acting Minister for Defence took credit for certain decreases in expenditure which he detailed to the committee, and which I should like to analyze. Last year the total expenditure upon the naval forces of the Commonwealth was about £67,000, but it is proposed to effect a saving of £20,000 upon that amount during the current year. Last year’s expenditure upon the military forces of the Commonwealth, on the other hand, was £611,000, and upon that amount it is proposed to save this year only £22,000.
– The honorable member is showing the difference between the actual expenditure last year and the Estimates for this year. What he should do is to compare the Estimates for the two years.
– I think that the” comparison which I have made is a fair one. It shows that while a very large saving has been made in connexion with our naval defences, which, in my opinion, are of first importance, the saving upon the military expenditure will be very little. The speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella this afternoon is unparalleled in this debate for the industry and attention to detail of which it was an indication. The honorable and learned member must have devoted hours to the study of the Estimates, and his technical knowledge of the subject enabled him to give the committee most useful information. ‘ He showed that the Head-quarters Staff, the instructional staff, , the States staffs, and the Permanent Artillery absorb about £230,000 of the £76d,000 which is to be spent upon the Military departments generally. In my opinion, the honorable and learned member has placed his finger upon the spot where we can effect a saving. We can, - without sacrificing efficiency, justly direct the Minister to reduce that expenditure. There have been decreases in the expenditure upon the rank and file in both the naval and military branches of the service, but the expenditure upon the Head-quarters Staff has increased from £5,500 last year to £15,300 this year.
– On the last Estimates provision was made for only a few months of the year.
– Then I shall say no more uponthat matter. I find, however, that notwithstanding the existence of the large Head-quarters Staff the State staffs are as expensive as ever.
– No; they have been reduced.
– The members of the Head-quarters Staff were taken from the State staffs.
– We have been asked by the leader of the labour party to reduce these Estimates by £62,000, his idea being that the defence of the Commonwealth should be conducted for about £700,000. The Acting Minister for Defence, however, tells us that the Estimates show a saving of £62,000 upon the expenditure of last year.
– They show a saving of £175,000 on the estimated expenditure of last year.
– I think that I am right in comparing the actual expenditure last year - the amount which the taxpayers were out of pocket - with the proposed expenditure for this year. I am afraid that if the Minister is asked to reduce these Estimates by a lump sum, branches of the service which should not be reduced will be made to suffer, while the Head-quarters Staff, the instructional staff, and the State staffs will not be touched. The public are prepared to pay a fair amount for the maintenance of our forces, and the committee desire to make our defences effective, but honorable members do not wish to have a Head -quarters Staff out of all proportion to the body of men which it has to control. Therefore, I think, the Minister should receive a specific instruction in regard to this matter. The Treasurer told us last year that the Estimates were not based upon the re-organization scheme of the Major-General, but that this year’s Estimates would be. I ask the Acting Minister for Defence if the Estimates now before the committee are based upon the reorganization scheme of the General Officer Commanding?
– I believe that they are not.
– The leader of the Opposition told us that a good many of the matters with which we have been forced to concern ourselves could be safely left to a competent Commandant, and that he believes that we have a competent Commandant ; but the Acting Minister for Defence tells us that the Military Estimates are not based upon that gentleman’s re-organization scheme.
SirWilliam Lyne. - It was not possible to do it this year. The Estimates have been framed in accordance with the wishes of the Commandant, though they have been varied somewhat.
– In other departments the Public Service Commissioner occupies the position which the Commandant occupies in regard to the Defence Forces. The Commissioner recommends reductions, retrenchment, and economies of one kind and another,and Ministers accept them ; but we find that the recommendations of the Commandant are set aside altogether. This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. The Minister was quite right in telling the committee that the Naval Brigade and Volunteer Naval Artillery of. New South Wales have been amalgamated, and, reduced in numbers and in pay, now form a corps termed the Naval Brigade. I agree with the Minister that the naval forces of New South Wales, and more particularly the Naval Volunteer Artillery, were navalonlyinname. They were a fine body of men, but they were simply landsmen dressed as sailors, and unversed in seamanship and navigation. The Minister’s remarks in regard to the condition of the New South Wales torpedo defences were also absolutely true. The torpedo boats were nothing better than old iron, because they were quite out of date ; and all the appliances of the corps were antiquated, so that it was wise to disband it. There are, however, certain causes of dissatisfaction in regard to the present management of naval matters in New South Wales. The reconstructed Naval Brigade has been recruited chiefly from the old Naval Volunteer Artillery. The members of the old Naval Brigade had to be men who had, some time or other, been connected with the mercantile marine ; but many of them would not join the amalgamated corps because of the reduction of the capitation allowance: The same thing happened in regard to officers. In the old Naval Brigade the officers were required to have some knowledge of seamanship, and held foreigngoing or coastal navigation certificates, but most of the officers of the newlyconstructed brigade came from the Naval Volunteer Artillery, and, while I do not wish to reflect on their capacity, I feel compelled to inform the Minister that they have not had training in seamanship.
– The honorable member has been misled.
– There is a saving this year in the naval expenditure of New South Wales of £4,000, but I hope that similar retrenchment will not be attempted next year. In my opinion, the Commonwealth expenditure upon defence should be directed chiefly to the building up of an efficient naval brigade, and to the establishment of a naval reserve. It is the boundenduty of the Minister for Defence to strengthen our naval forces in every way. In New South Wales the guns in use are of an obsolete pattern, the brigade has no vessel for training its member’s, and the only training the men receive is that of a land force. In the seaport towns of Australia, however, young men are more inclined to join a naval volunteer force than a volunteer infantry or cavalry corps. Hundreds of young men who would be of great use in time of emergency for the defence of Australia and of the Empire could be got to join volunteer naval forces if sufficient inducement were offered to them. I do not intend to set forth at any length my views on naval matters, or upon defence generally, but I should like the Minister to give consideration to what I have said. There is another matter which I should like to bring before him. Middle Harbor has always been a favorite recreation ground with the people of Sydney. Thousands of persons -picnic on its shores every year. There is a military reserve which extends round Obelisk Bay and some of the other bays, and in the past the authorities have not prevented civilians from landing and picnicking on its foreshores. The landing of picnicking parties at Obelisk Bay does not interfere with the operations of the Defence Forces in that locality. It is asserted that an order has- gone forth, prohibiting private citizens from landing on the beach, because a bush fire occurred there last- year. During last summer bush fires occurred in a great number of places on the shores of the harbor, and it is ridiculous to assume that they were all caused by picnic parties. This matter is regarded as of sufficient importance to occupy a considerable space in the daily newspapers of Sydney, and I ‘think it is deserving of the Minister’s closest attention.
– I shall inquire into it, and if matters are as the honorable member has represented, they will be dealt with to-morrow.
– I am glad to hear it. I believe the Minister will find that what I have stated is correct.
– I have taken steps to open one of the reserves at Bradley’s Head, which has never before been available for use by the public.
– The Minister deserve* every credit for having done so, and it is well that the public should be made aware of his action. I think he is also to be commended for the provision made for the payment of compensation to certain officers and men who have been retired from the Defence Forces. These men. have given many years of satisfactory service,, and have been dispensed with, owing to no fault of their own. The officers who are over the age limit will find, it very difficult to obtain other employment, and I think it only right that the people of Australia should make some recognition of their good services. I shall vote for the reduction of the Estimates by £60,000, and I trust that the Minister will recognise that the large sum now devoted to the maintenance of the administrative staff can be very considerably reduced. The people of Australia do not desire to see the efficiency of our Defence Forces interfered with. They require efficiency, but they are strongly averse to extravagance. I think £700,000 is a fair sum to spend upon defences, and as it has been the custom of the military authorities to load their Estimates, the suggested reduction could probably be made without much difficulty. The Minister may urge that as two orthree months of the current financial year have already passed, he may be unable to reduce the Estimates to the full extent desired ; and in view of this I shall be satisfied if he will undertake to make an immediate reduction to the extent of £40,000 and do his best to further diminish the expenditure by another £20,000 before the end of the year. We are only asking for economy such as the people of Australia expect to be exercised in our great spending department. I hope the Minister will not encourage any retrenchment of the naval forces, but that he will direct his attention to curtailing the excessive cost of maintaining the land forces of Australia.
– Under the influence of the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I was inclined to deal rather broadly with this subject ; but as the debate has since been directed to the matter more immediately before us, I shall content myself with saying a very few words. I hope that the honorable and learned member’s reading of the Constitution is not legally tenable. I think it would be a great misfortune if it were so, because I entirely approve of that portion of the Commandant’s report in which he recommends that, if necessary, troops should be available for despatch to places outside the Commonwealth in connexion with our defence operations. The Commandant has pointed out the number of occasions on which it has been necessary for England, in selfprotection, to send troops abroad, and we know now that if the Boers had prosecuted the war with greater vigour at the outset we should probably have had to begin at the sea and drive them back into their own country. I think, further, that as a Commonwealth we should look at this matter from a broad point of view, because we shall be called upon to deal with the islands of the Pacific. I believe that e eventually we shall extend our control across the Pacific until we are able to clasp hands with our great AngloSaxon kinsmen in the United States. If we do not realize our proper destiny in this regard, the enterprising colony, of New Zealand will cut the ground from under our feet, and a great rival Commonwealth will be formed in these southern seas. We know from what has recently happened that New Zealand is regarded in the old country as almost equal to the Commonwealth, and if we do not assume a proper position in the Pacific we may be supplanted by that colony. Our present position carries my mind back to what I read in Froude’s work, Oceana, regarding the suggestion made to the Protector Cromwell by Sir James Harrington, that England would become the great Commonwealth of Oceana; that she would be a Commonwealth for the purpose of expansion. That was a prophetic utterance, and I believe that our Commonwealth will eventually include New Zealand and all the islands of the Pacific. The Minister referred to the retirement of Commander Richardson from the Victorian naval forces. It is unfortunate that good men should have to be retired, and it is a special misfortune for a sailor to find himself cut adrift from the occupation which he has followed for the best part of his life. The seafaring man does not readily take to fresh occupations.
– Another position has been found for him.
– I am glad to hear it. I should like to know what will be the effect of the proposed new arrangement with the Admiralty. It occurs to me that perhaps it may be necessary to dispense with all the members of the local permanent naval forces.
– The new arrangement cannot be entered into until Parliament has dealt with it.
– That may be ; but still I think it is desirable to consider beforehand the position occupied by the officers and men connected with the local naval forces, who have given up positions in the mercantile marine or Royal Navy in order to carry on their present work. They have also ‘had a certain amount of training at the expense of the State, and they should not be turned adrift if it can be avoided. I therefore suggest that, if necessary, the Government should induce the Admiralty to take over our present forces, so that the men may not find themselves absolutely stranded. I do not pretend to have any technical knowledge of military matters, and I recognise that if the Government bring down Estimates which are not altotogether too extravagant, it is desirable that we should leave the technical details to trained experts. We have searched the Empire for a Commandant, and we have secured the services of an officer who has had extended experience, not only in the Imperial service, but also as the Commandant of the Defence Forces in New South Wales and in Canada. We should therefore be, to a great extent, guided by his opinion. Having listened carefully to the speeches which have been delivered, I have come to the conclusion that no one really knows how a saving either of 40,000 or £60,00 upon these Estimates could be effected. The honorable ‘member for Maranoa spoke of reducing them by £200,000, but the salaries of the men whom he suggested should be retrenched would not represent anything like that sum. I am disposed to vote for the amount for which the Minister has asked, believing that ho and the Commandant will recognise that we are passing through a very critical time, when it behoves us to economise as much as possible. I am content therefore to leave it to them to make whatever savings they can. At the same time, I desire to point out that it is undesirable that economies should be effected at the sacrifice of efficiency. Some reference has been made to expensive uniforms. I have had some little experience in this connexion, because my boys were cadets and have also occupied higher positions in the service, and I know that the cost of supplying uniforms is rather heavy. Looking through the naval list yesterday, I was surprised to find that the officers in that arm of the service have ten complete uniforms which they may be ordered to wear. I am aware that khaki is not expensive, but still even uniforms made of that material Gan run into a considerable sum. I could mention two or three young men serving in the mounted rifles as corporals, privates, &c, who are eminently qualified to accept appointments as officers, but who have been prevented from so doing, simply because they cannot afford to purchase the necessary uniforms. It is a pity that eligible well-educated young men should be thus precluded from rising from the ranks. On that ground alone, I think, it behoves us to see that military uniforms are made as cheap as possible. 1 do not feel capable of criticising this vote in a practical manner, and I have heard no argument advanced which would warrant me in voting for its reduction.
– In the course of his remarks this evening, the honorable member for Dalley recommended the Government to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland. I trust that they will do nothing of the kind. If they do adopt that course it will certainly be to the discouragement of those who support them. My chief object in rising was to refer briefly to the very interesting and able speech delivered this afternoon by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. He made some very strong points which were not entirely favorable to the Government, but, if I interpret his remarks correctly, after voicing his views upon how military affairs should be managed, he distinctly stated that he could not see how any reduction in the Estimates should be effected. I have further to thank him for explaining to my entire satisfaction the reason why there appears to be a number of superfluous officers - commissioned and noncommissioned - in the service. He stated that although those officers may not be required at the present time, in the event of the forces being required to take the field, their services would be necessary, as they would be required to act as a “ stiffening “ body to the volunteers. That appeared to me to be a very satisfactory explanation.
– The honorable member apparently did not understand his remarks.
– But what gave me even more satisfaction was his statement that the defence of this country should mainly depend upon her citizen soldiers. Of course, I wish it to be clearly understood that I am opposed to any undue development of militarism. This Parliament should make it perfectly plain to the military authorities that any expansion of our forces should be in the direction of encouraging our citizen soldiers. We should keep down the purely military element to the number that is absolutely essential. I am glad to have an opportunity of saying a few words upon this all-important question prior to the prorogation of this Parliament, because, during my election addresses, I made a strong point of the fact - and I think the experience of the South African war has conclusively demonstrated it - that almost untrained men are well able to defend their own country so long as they are expert rifle shots. During this discussion we have heard something in reference to naval matters. The General Officer Commanding our foi-ces has declared that the necessity may arise’ for sending our soldiers beyond the confines of Australia, and from his remarks this afternoon, I judge that the leader of the Opposition indorses that opinion. It appears to me, however, that the best defence which the Commonwealth can have is a naval defence, and as it is manifestly impossible, from financial reasons, for Australia to form a navy for many years to come, surely our best protection is that which is afforded by the Imperial Navy. To me it has always appeared that if we gave an adequate contribution to the Home Government for the defence of our shores, there might be very little need for us to expend £750,000 annually for military purposes within our own borders. From his speech the other evening, although the leader of the Opposition carefully guarded against expressing any extreme opinion, I was very sorry to note that he is opposed to the arrangement for increasing our subsidy to the Imperial Navy, which apparently was agreed to at the imperial Conference in London.
Mr.Reid. - I did not express any opinion upon that subject. I simply asked for information.
– Although the right honorable member very carefully abstained from a direct expression of opinion, I gathered from his remarks that he believed that this Parliament and the people of Australia were opposed to doubling our contribution towards the maintenance of the Auxiliary Squadron.
– I never expressed an opinion upon that matter.
– Does the leader of the Opposition tell me that I misunderstood his meaning ?
– I did not express an opinion of any kind, and I am sure that the honorable member has no desire to misrepresent me.
– I should be very sorry indeed to misrepresent the right honorable member.
– I want information before expressing an opinion upon that matter.
– My opinion is that our contribution to the Imperial Navy is a most unworthy one. It is well known that under normal conditions the British taxpayers contribute something like 25s. or 30s. per head for defence purposes. Of course, during the progress of the recent war, the Naval and Military Estimates of the old country were extremely heavy.
– What has that to do with us?
– I am simply making a comparison. We are asked by the Government to contribute something like 4s. 3d. per head for the defence of Australia, inclusive of our contribution to the Imperial Navy, but, as a matter of fact, our subsidy for the maintenance of the Auxiliary Squadron does not exceed 8d. or 9d. per head of our population.
– Would the honorable member favour the imposition of a land tax to enable us to make a much larger contribution?
– I should be very willing to reduce the Military Estimates to £500,000, and to hand over the saving thus effected to the Imperial Navy, because I consider that it constitutes the best possible defence we can have. I hope that the leader of the Opposition will accept my assurance that I did not desire to misrepresent him in any way whatever. Both the Commandant and the right honorable member have referred to the possibility of circumstances arising when it would be advisable for us to send our troops abroad. I can well understand such conditions arising in Canada, but I cannot picture them occurring in Australia. The Commonwealth is surrounded by the open sea, and there are no foreign settlements adjacent to our territory, except the Dutch and German possessions in New Guinea. I have not the slightest objection to our military forces being liable to serve outside the Commonwealth, provided that before one man moves from these shores the sanction of the representatives of the people is given.
– The people and the men who go.
– I have no objection to men going, and I do not doubt they would volunteer to serve. No Government would ever engage in an adventure of that kind unless they knew that they had the approval and enthusiasm of the people behind them.
– They could not go unless they wereenlisted for the purpose.
– They could volunteer ; but I object even to men who have vol unteered being sent beyond these shores without the sanction of Parliament. However, that may be debated on a Defence Bill, which 1 hope we shall deal with next session. Meanwhile, I think that no justification has been shown for a reduction of these Estimates. The total cost of the defences of Australia, naval and military, amounts to a little over 4s. per head of the population, and we should not pause for a moment in voting this sum when a responsible Government are advised by their military expert that it should be done. The annual carping at the Defence Estimates, which, I suppose, has been the case in the State Parliaments and will be the case here, is quite absurd. What is the use of our having a military expert of high standing to manage our affairs if we are to be continually nagging at him about the details? I shall support the
Government, and I hope that their policy and that of their military adviser will be to encourage our citizen soldiers, and to keep the purely military force down as much as possible.
– If I had any lingering doubt as to what attitude I should take up, it was removed by the honorable member for New England when he said that he was not prepared to reduce these Estimates, although he was prepared to reduce the amount to £500,000 if the difference were given as a subsidy to the Imperial Navy. That is a most extraordinary attitude for the honorable member to take up. He is sitting in judgment upon those who are proposing to reduce the Estimates, although he thinks that £500,000 would be a sufficient grant for the purpose.
– If we support the navy adequately.
– The navy is not in the issue at the present time. I intend to support the reduction of the Estimates to about £700,000. Last year I voted in that direction, but succeeded in having the Estimates reduced by only £131,000. So far as I can judge the situation, these Estimates embody simply the recommendations of the Commandant. We know that while the committee is prepared to vote money the officers of the department will always find ways and means of spending it. This committee is the proper tribunal to say what amount should be spent on themilitary establishment. To my mind there is no justification under existing circumstances for spending a shilling beyond what the States spent in pre-federal days. It will be ample time to increase that expenditure when we have a Defence Act defining the defence policy of the Commonwealth. Until we have that final determination we can only by resolution of the House indicate the policy we desire to have followed in connexion with our military and naval establishments. We should not exceed to any material extent the amount which the various States expended on their establishments in prefederal days. In this case we have another confirmation of the extraordinary rapidity with which we are running to extravagance in every federal department. We fondly believed that there would be some curtailment of expenditure under federal control, that there would be some diminution in the cost of the different State departments.
But what do we find? Simply because six defence departments have been placed under federal control, we have now practically seven head-quarters staffs. It is the same all through the federal departments, and it is time that the House considered most seriously where this sort ofextravagance will lead the Commonwealth to. We all know that from one condition and another, chiefly climatic at the present time, the citizens of the Commonwealth, generally speaking, are not in a very favorable position to meet increased burdens. We know the feeling of the community generally, and the attitude which has been taken up recently with regard to State expenditure. Surely that should afford some guide to this Parliament as to the attitude it should take up with regard to the expenditure which it is incurring on behalf of the citizens. It is useless for us to run away with the idea that, simply because we represent the people in their capacity as citizens of the Commonwealth, we can indulge in extravagant expenditure on the ground that we have not been spending much money as a federation. That is altogether a mistaken idea, and I am inclined to the opinion that the time is not far distant when we shall get a very rude awakening indeed. To my mind, the committee is indebted to the honorable and learned member for Corinella for his exposition of the situation. Possessing some knowledge of the general position, and speaking from information obtained behind the scenes so to speak, what did he demonstrate ? That the curtailment of expenditure has up to the present time been effected at the expense of the citizen soldiery ; that there has been practically little or no curtailment of expenditure on the permanent force ; that there has been no curtailment of expenditure on the Head-quarters Staff; and that there has been a considerable amount of unnecessary expenditure on clerical work. Healso pointed out to theMinister theadvantages which might accrue if more of the time of the Head-quarters or Permanent Staff were devoted to the instruction of the citizen soldiery, a branch of the service which it is highly desirable to cultivate. We do not want this militarism as it is known in European countries ; but we do want, if it can be obtained without any great expense to the community generally, our citizens trained to become defenders of their country when it is necessary. I freely admit that I have not made an attempt to master the details of these Estimates, but in connexion with the last Estimates I took considerable trouble to look into the situation, and I was then convinced, from past experience of the State departments, that until such time as we had a defence policy clearly laid down in an Act of Parliament, the expenditure on our military establishment should not exceed £700,000. On that ground I voted to reduce the Estimates to that amount, and I am prepared to do so on the present occasion.
– It was exclusive of the naval subsidy then.
– Practically, it is exclusive now.
– It is to be inclusive.
– Including the naval subsidy, the total amount is £820,000, and I understand that £762,000 is required for the military establishment.
– £762,000, exclusive of the compensation.
– £656,000 is asked for the military and naval forces, exclusive of the subsidy for the squadron.
– Bring the amount down to what I have stated.
– But the honorable member is really proposing to cut the amount down by £100,000 more than he did last year.
– I am not proposing to do anything of the sort. Last year it was proposed to reduce the amount by £200,000. I voted for the proposal, which was not carried, and thereupon the Government agreed to reduce the expenditure by £131,000.
– No ; to reduce the Estimates of last year by £131,000.
– The Government succeeded in doing a little more than that. I now wish them to go a little further, and to do what we demanded by the vote which we gave last year.
– Wehave had some very able addresses, in which various matters of importance have been placed before the committee. That very largely relieves me of the necessity of making any detailed references, but I wish to indicate as briefly as I can my position. I can quite see as the result of past experience that it behoves us to keep a very close eye upon this expenditure which gives no immediate return. This department incurs heavy expenditure very quickly, and if a very tight hand is not kept on the purse strings, its demands will very speedily mount up to a very large sum, and, as a result, the taxpayers will be very severely burdened. One of the things I wish to guard the Commonwealth against is being led to the same extent as are older communities by the spirit of militarism. For that reason I am rather inclined to look closely into this expenditure, and to regard, with a good deal of suspicion, any proposed increase of it. I wish to be satisfied that it is an expenditure which can be thoroughly justified, and from which the community is getting a fair return in the way of preparedness against hostile attack. Unfortunately, the Federal Parliament was saddled unduly with very heavy obligations imposed by the States prior to handing over the Defence department to the Commonwealth. Just when the Constitution Bill had been accepted, and the date was fixed for establishing the Federal Parliament in authority, the States Parliaments inflated the Defence expenditure very largely. They considered that they would no longer be required to face the taxpayers in order to provide ways and means, but that that obligation would be imposed on the Federal Government. That seems to be the ground on which this very large expenditure was incurred. I do not believe that provision can be made for the proper defence of Australia on what are considered to be sound defence principles in the old world. First of all, I do not wish to see established here anything in the nature of a standing army, or to withdraw from the various productive occupations which our community pursue, a considerable body of men devoting themselves entirely to military pursuits, and being a heavy charge upon the taxpayers.
– That is not proposed.
– But that has been the tendency of the Defence department in the past, and as far as I can see continues to be its policy. It is true that the numbers have been reduced, but that is because Parliament insisted upon a reduction. I am of opinion that they can be further reduced with advantage to the Commonwealth and to the proper defence of Australia on the lines on which we ought to work. What we require is a small nucleus that will be able to direct and control the citizen soldiery to which we have to look for our defence.
We should do all we can to encourage the establishment of such a citizen soldiery. Our schools should be utilized as a means of affording a knowledge of drill and so forth. We should establish rifle clubs in the country districts and should have corps of light horse, the members of which are not permanently drawn from the different avenues of productions. They should be trained in the use of weapons of war and in acquiring that necessary knowledge of drill that helps to make the perfect citizen soldier. But instead of that being the policy of the Defence department in the past the tendency has been to discourage it - at all events in the State of New South Wales. I know- that movements in the direction of establishing troops of light horse and citizen soldiery have met with scant encouragement there from those in charge of our military operations, who have been desirous of establishing a military force upon old-world lines composed of soldiers in all the paraphernalia of ornamental dress, who look upon manual toil and the other employments of the common citizen as something which- they ought not to be called upon to perform. These people seem to believe that they ought to be paid handsomely by the State for playing at soldiers - because it amounts to nothing else. That is the policy I want to discourage, and it is because I thoroughly believe that the Defence department has gone a certain length in that direction, and has not been brought to see what is the ideal of the people in regard to the defence of Australia, that I intend to vote for a reduction of the expenditure. I recognise that it is impossible for the members of this committee to do more than indicate to those placed over our Defence department the line of policy that we believe should be pursued. Wre must leave a considerable amount of the detailed work to the officers. But it is only fair to them, and to the electors whom we represent* that we should tell them what is the policy we desire to follow out. We should tell them in no uncertain language that we do not consider old world military methods to be appropriate for the defence of this community. I am strongly disposed to support the further reduction suggested by the honorable member for Bland. But if I do support him in any effort in that direction, it will not be for the purpose of withdrawing any facilities in the direction of establishing a Defence Force upon the lines of encouraging a citizen soldiery, but for the purpose of entering my protest against the old world idea of militarism in Australia. If the proposed reduction is agreed to, I should like it to be taken to indicate that the permanent staff should be reduced, both as regards numbers and salaries, but that nothing should be done in the direction of crippling or curtailing the light horse, the rifle clubs, the cadets, and other voluntary defence movements. I think that a special sum should be set apart for the purpose of encouraging our citizens in that direction. Within recent years, since special attention has been given to the matter on account of the war in South Africa, applications have been made from many centres by men desirous of being enrolled in rifle clubs and volunteer corps like the Australian Light Horse. In some centres the people have taken the matter into their own hands, and have formed their own rifle clubs, incurring all the expenditure connected therewith. They should be encouraged in that direction by special grants of money, and by a certain amount of supervision and instruction being given by those forming the permanent defence nucleus of the Commonwealth. I quite agree with those honorable members who have urged that it has been a pennywise and pound-foolish policy in the past to expend money in establishing a body of military officers highly trained and qualified, whilst doing very little to equip them properly, and support them by a strong and well-trained body of citizen soldiery. The consequence is that if war broke out, and we were compelled to defend our country we should have the’ human material that could no doubt render a good account of itself here as it has done on the battlefields of South Africa, but neither the armament nor the ammunition to equip them properly. The human material would be useless in any emergency in consequence of that lack. The very first principle of sound defence is to lay in a sufficient stock of arms and ammunition ; and I am thoroughly in sympathy with the view of the honorable member for Bland that we should not be dependent on the old country in this respect. We ought not to be dependent on any power outside our own borders. We should take means to establish within Australia factories for the manufacture of small arms and ammunition, and should be able to supply ourselves. If that were clone, we should have in our midst all the means of defending ourselves in an emergency. Recent events have proved that we have in Australia material which can readily adapt itself to the methods and requirements of modern warfare. I would strongly impress upon the Government the special necessity of obtaining a sufficient stock of the materials which are absolutely indispensable for the purposes of defence, and thus placing ourselves in an independent position in this respect, so far as the outside world is concerned. In that way we should best consider the true interests of the Commonwealth, and follow the lines of true national defence. One very strong reason why, quite apart from its costliness, I am opposed to the establishment of anything like a large standing army is that, I believe, with the honorable member for New England, that Australia’s true defence is not to be secured in that way, but by being prepared to fight an enemy on the sea. Our true defence is to be gained by making certain provisions for the equipment, and so forth, of our naval forces. We have not reached the stage at which we can bear anything like the expenditure which would be necessary to enable us to complete our naval defences ; but that is no reason why we should not make a beginning. If we do, while we work in harmony with the Navy of the mother country, we should be masters of our own naval system. We should have the full management of any expenditure we incur in that direction, and the avenues of employment opened up in that way should be open to our own people. We should train our own people to assist in the naval defence of the Commonwealth, as well as to act upon the land. That being briefly the position which I take up, I intend to emphasize my hostility to the tendency to establish a standing army upon old-world lines by recording my vote in favour of a reduction of this expenditure. If the £60,000 proposed to be struck off these Estimates were intended for the encouragement of the citizen line of defence which I have indicated, I should be prepared to vote it most willingly ; but I am going to record my vote against its use in the direction of creating highly - salaried officers, and paying for gold lace, and things of that kind, which are seemingly inseparable from the system. I trust that in the coming year the Minister will see that the wishes of the Parliament, as expressed last year, and voiced by us, if not expressed, this year by both Houses, are carried out by the department under his control, for they are undoubtedly in consonance with the wishes of the great majority of the electors.
– In view of the general discussion which has taken place upon this very complex question, I do not wish to take up the time of the committee by speaking at any great length. I do not think there is any question which has caused so much trouble to the Commonwealth Parliament as well as to the States Legislatures as that of defence. The opinions of experts - military men - are in conflict as to the lines of defence which should be followed and the money which should be expended. One can therefore easily understand the difficulties experienced by those who do not pretend to be military men in arriving at a fair understanding of what is essential. In view of the great difference of opinion which prevails, and the importance of the question at issue, and having regard to the large expenditure involved, I think it would be advisable for the Government to appoint a commission to call expert evidence bearing upon the various phases of this question. If that were done, we should be able to consider the question in the light of the practical opinions of experts. I at once admit that it is very- difficult to form an opinion as to what should be done in regard to our defences. We have had to-night the opinion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who is an officer of some years’ standing. He gave us a very interesting speech, the preparation of which, I am sure, entailed upon him a great deal of work. Much useful information was supplied by him ; but another honorable member, who, perhaps, has had the same experience, has given us quite a different opinion as to the amount of money which should be expended in connexion with our defences. Some say that the expenditure should not exceed £500,000 ; others assert that the Ministerial proposal is a very moderate one. In England a Royal Commission was appointed not long ago to consider certain lines of defence, and much information was obtained that must have been of great benefit to those who have the responsibility of dealing with these matters. I can fully realize the difficulties which the Minister experiences. - I realize that this matter has been discussed at considerable length, and that it is useless to prolong the debate, because I believe honorable members have made up their minds to make a substantial reduction in the Estimates. The proposal to make a reduction of something like £50,000 or £60,000 is very fair and reasonable, and one which I hope the Government will accept. If they express their willingness to make this reduction, I am sure that the committee will accept it, and if, after further consideration, they can eventually see their way clear to make a still greater reduction without impairing the efficiency of the service, I am sure the Parliament will be well satisfied. I do not believe in expending large sums of money in this direction. We should have an effective service, but before expending large sums of money in building up a huge department we should be satisfied that there is a necessity for it. I regret that the Government did not see fit to proceed with the Defence Bill, so that the question of our defences might have been placed upon something like a satisfactory footing.
– There should be a definite policy.
– Yes ; we have no definite policy. Why did not the Government proceed with the Defence Bill? Many days were wasted in preparing the Bill ; but after it had been brought before the House and discussed at some” length, it was dropped altogether. We have appointed a gentleman from the old country to organize the forces, but we have laid down no policy.
– Letus go on and put the Bill through.
– I. should not be inclined to pass the Bill as introduced b)’ the Government ; it will require many amendments before we can accept it. Before calling upon us to vote large sums for our Defence Forces, the Government should have come down to the House with a definite proposal, and given honorable members an opportunity to sketch out a policy for the Commonwealth. We cannot place our defences upon a satisfactory footing until we have some legislation dealing with them. The leader of the Opposition said it was a question whether the forces were on a proper footing at all, in view of the way in which they had been taken over from the States. There can be no doubt about that. It is to be regretted that the Government did not come down with a measure which would have enabled them to deal with the matter in something like a business-like way. If they had done so, we should have been more satisfied in voting money, as we should have been doing so in accordance with a policy laid down by the House. At the present time we are asked to vote large sums in a way that is not satisfactory ; but I realize that at this stage it would be impossible to pass a Defence Bill, and that we shall have to agree to some portion of these Estimates. I hope that during the recess the Government will take every opportunity to have a searching inquiry made into the condition of our defences, and that when we re-assemble they will be in a position to give the House more information than we at present possess. I trust they will come down with a definite policy, and place upon the statute-book legislation which will put this matter upon a business-like footing.
– It should be the first measure of the next session.
– It should be one of the first. The honorable member for Dalley has had a large experience in military matters. He knows that in times gone by officers were appointed who had no practical experience. It is cruel that such officers should be appointed to lead the forces. Some years ago many men received commissions, but when they were called upon to pass examinations they were unable to do so. The honorable member for Dalley knows that is so. I am glad that such a thing does not occur nowadays, but, in order to prevent the possibility of its recurrence, we should have a Defence Bill brought down as early as possible. We do not desire to see officers who have had no practical experience appointed to command men, because they can lead them only to their death. We must have proper discipline.
– Does the honorable member think it necessary that a man should have a knowledge of languages in order to qualify for a commission ?
– I think it would be absurd to appoint even my honorable friend to take charge of a force if he had had no experience. The honorable member may have a good knowledge of languages, but not enough experience as a soldier.
– I served eleven years as a private ; but I do not consider that I am qualified.
– The fact that the honorable member has served for so many years in the ranks should be some evidence of his fitness for a commission. I presume that he was called upon to pass an examination before he received his commission. I shall vote for a substantial reduction, amounting to £50,000 or £60,000, in these Estimates. I hope that the Government, before they bring these Estimates down again, will give them careful consideration. I hope also that next session they will introduce a Bill dealing with defence, so that we may have an. opportunity of making suggestions and amendments which will place the whole business in a more satisfactory position than it is in at the present time.
– I I think that the Minister stated to-day that we had 1,500 officers and men, and that 102 of these were officers. It would appear that our force is something like Artemus Ward’s regiment, in which all were officers. I should like to ask the honorable gentleman whether he has a nurse for each of them, and, if not, whether he will secure a nurse for each of them ? Several of the American republics had, when I lived in them, a soldier with a bit of red dungaree upon him and some kind of wooden gun, and that was all, except at a time of a revolution. The Minister told us to-day that it was very popular to jump on the military man, but that is a mistake. I think it is very unpopular. It requires great courage in these days for a man to stand up and oppose military extravagance. It is most popular now even to be associated with one of the Generals. That can be seen if honorable members take up the Argus or the Age every morning, and read through the names of the guests at receptions. I say it requires pluck, and a man is ostracised in business and everything else if he opposes military - extravagance. The aristocracy of the various clubs and associations, and bullaroo rushes, will not do business with him, and they will not sit in the same pew with him in church. I am a martyr because I oppose these things. I can do no business in Melbourne. I am only paid £400 a year, and I am starving here. I say that this ought to be the standard salary for a General. They ought all be brought down to £400 a year. There are 3,400 miles of Canadian frontier to be defended against 80,000,000’ of people to the south, 15,000,000 of Mexicans, and hostile Indians in the north, and they spend only £360,000 a year on the military in Canada. Surely if they can defend Canada with an expenditure of £360,000, it ought not to cost much to defend this country, which the Almighty has defended by the position in which He has placed it, by the fact that He has surrounded it by the eternal ocean, and made the dome of heaven above it. We require no military men here at all. I would abolish the army for 40 years to come,, and put the money proposed to be expended upon it into water conservation, into building up the country, and opening up avenues for our young men. It is all very fine for men to come here and talk so much about defending the country. Who are they going to defend the country against? Japan, England’s ally, is our particular friend now. The United States is virtually England’s friend now. She has entered into commercial relations with the people of England, and I tell honorable members that when business men are doing business, and one is making a profit out of the other, he does not want to kill him. There would never be any difficulty between nations if they would reason. I would rather sit down and reason with a man for 40 years as to how we should settle a question than fight him for one hour.
– How did they settle the slave question in the United States?
– T - The slave question arose from the fact that a military oligarchy was established in the Southern States for the purpose “of overawing America. The slave question was the direct result of a military oligarchy. I am glad my honorable friend has referred to the matter. The Southern people were known as the aristocracy of America, and they had their military caste there. Only military men from the Southern States were allowed to go to West Point, because if Northern, boys went there they were insulted and were not looked upon as any- body. There were a few Northern men like 1 Grant,’ Phil. Sheridan, and Sherman, who went to West Point, and then retired from the army and went into civil life. Those men’ were called from civil life to settle the slave question. Then there was John Logan, one of the best Generals America produced. He was an ordinary working man, and became a Major - General. John Pat. Claybourne fought Peach Orchard, and America never had better Generals than she had in that war, though many of them never saw a gun in their lives until they went into the war.
– What is all this about ?
-It is is about the fad of keeping the country filled with military men. I should like to pension them all off and give them a good time for 40 years, when we should have some new inventions. I should take all the old guns, ammunition, vans, and everything else and put them into the melting pot or sell them for old iron, and when we stood upon our commercial life we should have prosperity here. It is a mortal sin, and I do not know how any man can justify himself before his God for agreeing to an expenditure of £700,000 for an army in this country where we have nothing to fight but rabbits, bandicoots, and billy-goats. Who are we to fight here 1 Are we going to fight the people of New Guinea? We are all talking of war here, and I suppose it will come at last. When people are always praying for something to come it does come after a while ; but supposing the country was at war with Beluchistan, Afghanistan, San Salvador, Ecuador, or Patagonia, would the Minister give his consent to the General sending an army off to have a go at the fellows there, and, in the meantime, let them slip in here ? Supposing they divided up, which party would he attack? Supposing six or seven parties were going to fight this country, which would he have a go at first ?
– We must not disclose our strategy.
– The Minister would have a go at the American visitor.
– T - The American is here to stay, and no honorable member can put him out. Honorable members can take it from me that he is here by the sovereign authority of the democrats of Tasmania, second on the poll. We find to-day that the people are absolutely in a panic. What are they frightened of ? They are frightened of their own shadows. They are frightened of war. For 30 years in the United States we heard nothing but war, war, war. “ If England comes over with a fleet ; if Germany or France conies over”-
– Did they talk like that in America ?
– The They used to talk like that, but the American people stopped the whole tommy-rot, and the result has been that for 30 years the money that has been wasted in Europe on this military business has enabled America to develop her marvellous resources to such an extent that to-day she fairly sways the whole world which is at her feet. We have this great southern continent placed here for us that we may develop and nurture a great and powerful people for the southern hemisphere, and we are wasting our lives in dancing to the tune of military glory. I do not wish to stay talking for weeks about a thing like this, but so long as I am in this House I shall oppose military expenditure and extravagance. Here we are for seventeen months for a miserable, paltry £400 a year, and I am walking through the side streets and the lanes because I am ashamed to be seen coming here at the price. There is not a word about giving us a rise, but any money proposed for the military is all right. I am prepared to take the contract now for the defence of Australia and to guarantee to defend it. The question arises whether there is to be no end to this military business. Shall we have to come back next year and battle over it again ?
– This is only the beginning.
– One One of the most amazing beasts which has been brought to light by geological investigation is the sabre-toothed tiger, which the more it grew the more it developed its teeth. Instead of economy having been effected by means of a centralized military power, there has been absolutely more extravagance. I misrepresented the case to the people when I told them that under federation thousands of pounds would be saved in the management of the military forces by having one centralized Head-quarters Staff. I hold that federation in this respect was obtained under false pretences, and, though I shall not become a secessionist like Mr. Philp, I shall endeavour to put an end to the present state of affairs in the Defence department. It is true that we have one centralized Headquarters Staff, but, at the same time, not one general who was commandant in any one of the States has gone. As a matter of fact, the Defence department has extended beyond what it was prior to federation. The cry then was that there should be one general, one army, and one people ; but we have many generals under one general, and many departments, at a cost of £762,000. Nothing appears in the newspapers about what has been done by the Democrats in this House to avoid military despotism. It is the duty of the Parliament to protect the people of this great Commonwealth from any such danger.I warn the Minister that he had better take the advice of honorable members. The Government must not next session tell us that gentlemen have been appointed and that faith must be kept with them. If that be done, faith will be broken with me, and the Government will find things topsy-turvy.
– I am sorry that I feel it incumbent on me to say a few words in reply to statements which have been made to-night. I do not complain of the discussion, except for one reason. I was not present last year when the Defence Estimates were discussed, but, so far as I can gather, the understanding was clear as to what was expected from the Minister for Defence and the Government in the way of reduction. In order to be quite sure I have looked up Hansard, and I find that on the 1st May last, the honorable member for Bland said -
I wish to test the feeling of the committee in favour of a reduction of the Estimates by £200,000, and, therefore, I move “That the vote ‘Chief administration, £6,500 ‘ be reduced by the sum of £2.”
The amendment was defeated by five votes, so that the committee clearly decided against a reduction by £200,000. Immediately afterwards, so far as I can gather from Hansard, the honorable member for Bland moved that the vote be reduced by £1, in order to test the question of whether there should be a reduction of the total estimate by £130,000. The Minister for Defence agreed to see that a reduction to that amount was made, and asked that no vote should be taken ; but the committee desired to have a division, and the amendment was carried. It will, therefore, be seen that there was not merely an understanding, but a definite amendment carried, showing what reductions were required to be made in the Estimates. Some honorable members have said that the reduction then decided on had to be. effected on the actual expenditure; but, while that may have been the impression in some minds, it could not be the fact, because until lately it has not been possible to ascertain the actual expenditure. I may point out that the actual expenditure was reduced by two processes. In the first place, a number of the men were in South Africa, and, of course, were paid by the Imperial authorities ; and, in the second place, recruiting was stopped. Since then recruiting has not been recommenced, and these two circumstances have caused the actual expenditure to be much below the Estimates of last year. We have, therefore, to consider the Estimates of last year as compared with the Estimates of this year, and, as I stated earlier in the day, there is this yearshown a reduction of £175,000. The instruction last year was to reduce the Estimates by £131,000, and I think I have used the pruning knife very diligently, though it is not pleasant work. I am quite sure it is not work that any member of the committee would be very anxious to undertake ; but, in face of the desire expressed last year, I made the reduction. WhatI complain of is that the committee, having arrived at a certain decision last year, should now re-open the question. What might reasonably have been done, if there were a desire to again discuss the matter, would have been to propose that any reduction suggested should take effect next year. Amongst other statements made to-night was one by the honorable member for Bland, to the effect that these Estimates have been prepared in a haphazard fashion.
– That would appear so.
– I admit that the arrangement of the figures and headings might have been better, and that ifI had not known the details - or, as some one has said, if I had not been “behind the scenes - I could not have followed the comparison between this year and last.
– Then how can honorable members be expected to understand it?
– As I say, I admit that the arrangement of the figures might have been more clear. For instance, the honorable and learned member for Corio referred to the question of the payment of the Permanent Artillery of Victoria, and I believe Queensland was also referred to in this connexion. It was pointed out that the payment appears as 3s. 6d. in one case and 2s. 6d. in another. But the payment of 3s. 6d., as shown on page 90, was the standard of last year, and it should have been made clear that that payment had nothing to do with the present Estimates.
– Was the payment 3s. 6d. last year ?
– Yes. But I now wish to show that there is nothing haphazard in the preparation of the Estimates. I have in my hand a document which shows the rates of payment in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland before the revised scale was adopted. In New South Wales, the payments for the first five years ranged from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 6d. ; in Victoria, from 2s. 3d. to 3s. 3d. ; in Queensland, from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 8d. Then, from the sixth to the tenth year, the payment in New South Wales was from 2s. 9d. to 3s. ; in Victoria it was 3s. 6d. all the time ; and in Queensland it ranged from 2s.8d. to 3s. The sum of 3s. 6d. which appears was the maximum pay for these men in Victoria before the new arrangement. It does not follow that all the men got the full payment, as the range was from the minimum to the maximum, the latter appearing in the Estimates. In the case where 2s. 6d. appears, that was the charge at a particular period. The rates which I have just mentioned have been revised, and a general rule made for the three States. The payments now are - 2s. 6d. for the first and second years ; 2s. 8d. for the third and fourth years ; and 2s.10d. for the fifth year ; or an average of 2s. 73/5d. Then the pay for the sixth year is 3s.1d., and 3s. 3d. for each succeeding year to the tenth. I mention these figures to show that there has been nothing haphazard in connexion with the Estimates. I should like to refer once more to the non-commissioned officers, in order to show that the rate of pay adopted in the various States is 3s. 6d. for the first year, 4s. 2d. for the second year, 5s. for the fourth and fifth years, and from 5s, 6d. to 6s. 3d. for the sixth year, according to rank. That is a higher rate of pay than prevails in Canada, and, under these circumstances, we cannot expect our military forces to cost as little as do the forces of the Dominion. I wish to impress on the committee the fact that the reductions in the Estimates have been brought about without dismissing any great number of men. I have had applications from all directions to allow recruiting to be recommenced; but I have refused, pending a decision by this House. I desire to give honorable members the details as to the dismissals, seeing that statements have been made to the effect that no reductions have been made in certain directions.
– The honorable member should lay the papers upon the table.
– I intend to do so, but they are very voluminous, and it will take a considerable sum to print them. The reductions at the present time amount to ten officers and 47 petty officers and men in the permanent naval force, and 28 officers and 379 petty officers and men in the volunteer naval brigade; in the permanent military forces, 15 officers, 48 warrant and non-commissioned officers, and 177 men ; in the militia, 47 officers, 831 noncommissioned officers and men ; and in the volunteers, 219 non-commissioned officers and men. Althogether there has been a reduction of 25 permanent officers and’ 75 militia officers, naval and military ; 48 permanent warrant officer instructors in the militia, 224 permanent petty non-commissioned officers and men, naval and military; 1,210 petty officers, non-commissioned officers, and men in the militia, and 219 military volunteers, making a total reduction of 1801. The reductions which have been effected have been carried out in the most systematic fashion, and relatively as many officers as men have been retired. If I had time, I should like to give further details, to show honorable members exactly what has been done. The honorable member for Bland spoke of the deplorable plight in which the country would be if international complications arose, and the Commonwealth had not more ammunition than it has now. I should like to point out to the honorable member that ammunition does not improve with keeping. I think he will remember the strenuous efforts I made, when Premier of New South Wales, to start an ammunition factory there. I wanted Messrs. Nobel and Co. to undertake the working of the factory, because specially trained and experienced men are required for making ammunition, but I offered to take it over for the State.
– How long ago was that?
– Nearly three years ago.
– Then it would have been taken over by the Commonwealth rather than by the State.
– I tried to enter into the arrangement on behalf of the State, though, no doubt, the factory if established would have been taken over by the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable gentleman make similar strenuous efforts on behalf of the Commonwealth ?
– I shall be very glad todo so, but there is now in Victoria a private company which is supported to some extent by the Commonwealth, and the difficulties of starting a Government factory would be greater now than they were at the time I refer to.
– There is room for more than one ammunition factory in Australia.
– Yes. I think that it is essential that we should be able to supply ourselves with ammunition, either by private enterprise or under State control, so that we may not be defenceless if cut off from other parts of the world.
– How could ammunition be conveyed from the eastern States to Western Australia in war time ?
– In time there will be railway communication between every large city in Australia, and, no doubt, the railway to Western Australia will come by-and-by. I had an inquiry made recently as to how much ammunition could be turned out by the Victorian factory in a year, and was informed that under existing circumstances they could manufacture about 6,000,000 rounds per year. Quite half of the total quantity of ammunition used in the Commonwealth is consumed in Victoria.
– For the rifle clubs?
– Yes. About 5,000,000 rounds are used annually in Victoria, of which about 4,000,000 rounds are consumed by the rifle clubs, the balance being consumed by the military. The other States use a little less than 5,000,000 rounds a year, the total consumption of the Commonwealth being about 10,000,000 rounds a year. We have now in stock a sufficient quantity of ammunition for this year, and for next year - our reserve supply - and 1,500,000 rounds in addition. Under these circumstances it is not necessary to purchase more ammunition this year, but next year we shall have to spend money in that direction to keep up our reserve stock.
– I did not advocate the keeping of a big stock of ammunition.
What I said was that we should provide means for making our own ammunition.
– We want a large stock of rifles.
– We have about 74,000 rifles, a great many of which are magazine rifles and Lee-Enfields, without the magazines, and 17,000 or 18,000 are MartiniHenrys. As I explained this morning, we are awaiting a decision of the War-office as to the best rifle obtainable before purchasing new stock.
– Why is it that members of country rifle clubs have great difficulty in procuring rifles?
– There are a great number of persons in the rifle clubs of the Commonwealth - 20,000 in Victoria alone. For ordinary practice the MartiniHenry rifles might very well be used, but the men all want magazine rifles. The MartiniHenry costs about £5 each, and the magazine rifles about £7 each. An expense for which no provision has been made on these Estimates, but which may be considerable next year, is the cost of conveying members of the defence forces by rail. Hitherto in many of the States the military have been conveyed free on the railways, but in Queensland they are about to put an end to that arrangement, and some of the other States will do likewise. At the present time, there is only about £4,000 or £5,000 on the Estimates for travelling expenses, but next year a much larger amount will be required. In reference to what has been said on the subject of uniforms, I wish to inform honorable members that, while I do not approve of gaudy and expensive uniforms, I think that the men themselves like to have distinct and nicelooking clothing. The uniform of the AustralianHorse, to which, Ithink,thehonorable member for Bland referred, is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest and most inexpensive that I have seen, and is thought very highly of by those who wear it. To compel all in the service to wear the same uniform, and to make that uniform extremely plain, except in war time, would, I think, militate to some extent against the successof thevolunteermovement. The honorable member for Dalley complained that the Sydney public have of late been denied access to a military reserve in Middle Harbor. I intend to make inquiry into the matter to-morrow, and if the honorable member has been correctly informed, I shall probably issue instructions that the public are not to be prevented from landing and picnicking along the shore. My feeling in matters of this kind is shown by the action I have taken in regard to a military reserve between Bradley’s Head and George’s Head, which I have given the Mosman Council permission to beautify, so that it may be used by the public under certain conditions. It has been said that Colonel Stuart, of South Australia, has not received fair consideration, because he rose from the ranks, but that statement is not in accord with facts. Personally, I should be inclined to think better of a man who raised himself from the ranks through his energy and intelligence than of one who had jumped into’ his position. I see clearly that the majority of honorable members wish to reduce these Estimates. I believe that the intention of the honorable member for Bland is to move a reduction of £62,000, to take effect upon certain branches. I thought that I had already done good work in reducing the expenditure of the department. I have done more than was actually asked for, and have firmly insisted upon economy in military matters. It is, however, possible to reduce still further, and I hope that a reduction can be made without impairing the efficiency of our forces.
– Is the honorable gentleman going to accept the suggested amendment ?
– If I do not accept it, it will be carried in spite of me.
– That is the way to be defeated.
– I have a compromise to suggest which I think the committee may accept. I have no personal feeling in the matter, beyond wishing to do what is right, and to get the committee to do the same. It will be quite impossible to make the reduction apply from the beginning of the present financial year. Over three months have already passed, and fully another month or two must elapse before the necessary adjustments can be made. I am prepared, however, to effect a reduction on a basis of £62,000 per annum from December to the end of the financial year.
– Why does not the Minister say straight out that he will reduce the expenditure by only about £30,000 ?
– It is not possible for me to effect the reductions in a day, or even in a month.
– The Minister could begin to-morrow if he chose.
– I hope honorable members will be reasonable. I am endeavouring to meet them in a fair spirit and in accordance with the tone of the debate. I undertake to reduce the expenditure for the present year as stated, and to reduce the Estimates for next year by £62,000. I hope there will be no misunderstanding, and that the suggestion I have made will be accepted. I give my word, which I hope the committee will accept - and I do not think I have ever been accused of not standing to my word in a case of this kind - that the. reductions will be made, not in the direction that some honorable members seem to fear, but mainly in the expenses of the administrative staff. I cannot give particulars now, but I shall take care that the spirit of the debate to-night is reflected in the reductions, and that honorable members shall not be in any way hoodwinked or misled.
– Will the Ministry try to equalize the capitation grants 1
– I am glad the honorable member has reminded me of that. I made a promise that I would place one regiment in which he is interested in f he same position as other corps of a similar character in other States. I believe that when the Scottish Regiment was formed in Melbourne, it was understood that they would pay their own expenses.
– That is so.
– However, since that time the conditions have undergone a material change. We have corresponding regiments in other States which receive a small rate of payment, and I am prepared to place the Melbourne Scottish Regiment upon the same footing. I do not think it would be fair to do otherwise. It was intended, in the first instance, not to continue the annual grants to the various rifle clubs, but I have exercised my ‘civil powers - although some honorable members seem to regard me as being subject to the domination of the military authorities - and I have made such provision in the Estimates that no reductions will be made in this direction. I wish the rifle clubs to understand that as an old club member who has used the rifle for a great many years, and who feels a great interest in rifle shooting, I do not wish to see them placed in an unfair position or prevented from fulfilling their . proper destiny. I believe that they will be of the greatest advantage to us in time of trouble, and I hope that they will not be brought too closely under the control of the military. At the same time there must be some regulation and control, and I trust that I shall be able to so arrange matters as not to offend the sensibilities of the members of rifle clubs in Victoria or elsewhere.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I think that those honorable members who are in favour of a reduction of the Estimates may very well accept the suggestion of the Minister, because on reflection one can see that it is only proper to give him and his staff some little time to arrange the method of the reductions. I do not wish to place the Minister or the members of his staff in a false position, and, for my part, I am quite prepared to agree to his suggestion.
– Will the Minister promise that the retrenchment shall be fairly distributed over all the States ?
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).Will the retrenchment, so far as South Australia is concerned, take the same form as it did last year, namely, a considerable increase?
– Some little time ago, Colonel Templeton, who was the organizer of the Victorian Rifle Clubs, was retired. It is now rumoured that another officer has been placed in the position vacated by him, and that whereas Colonel Templeton performed the work gratuitously, and very well, his successor is in receipt of a high salary.
– Colonel Templeton retired under the provisions relating to the age limit, and Major Boam has been appointed, not to the same position, but as Secretary for Rifle Clubs at £300 per annum. Major Boam is a very good officer indeed. At present the expenditure in the RifleClubs Office is less by £1,000 per annum than it was before, because some of the clerks have been transferred to the Treasury, and their salaries have thus been saved to the Defence department. I do not desire to press heavily upon Colonel Templeton or any one else, but I have not dared to interfere in cases where officers have been retired under the age limit, because if I once did so I should be overwhelmed by the efforts made to secure reinstatements.
– Was not Major Boam over the age limit ?
– Yes, as a military officer, but he now holds a civil appointment. Colonel Templeton desires to be made Comptroller-General of the Rifle Clubs of Australia. I fully explained the position regarding that officer on a former occasion. In reply to the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, I may say that the retrenchment will, as far as possible, be carried out proportionately in all the States. I do not quite know what we are to do in regard to the additional drill instructors sent to South Australia ; but if they are not required they will not be kept there. The honorable member has persistently badgered me regarding these drill instructors, but I cannot make any promise at this stage, because it will take some time to obtain the information necessary to enable me to arrive at a decision. If I am satisfied that the drill instructors are not required, they will be removed.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- I am glad that the Minister is now using the language of determination with regard to something. Might I ask when the process of reducing the Defence Estimates is to stop? Are we to go on cutting them down by £100,000 or so every year? I am not given to extravagance, as I have shown, but I should like to know when we are to reach finality in these reductions. Wo shall never bring our Defence Forces into a condition of efficiency, so long as those who have to control them and are responsible for their proper organization, are placed in such a position that they cannot know from month to month what sum will be available to enable them to carry on their departments.
– I hope that the military and naval officers will learn that they will have to administer the Defence department as this House requires, and not as they desire. The Estimates will bear a further reduction of £200,000, because £500,000 should be quite sufficient to provide us with a sufficient system of defence. The defence expenditure during the war fever was increased by 50 or 100 per cent. in some cases, and it is well that there are a few honorable members who desire to see the Estimates reduced to a reasonable amount. I understand that the compromise proposed by the Minister, which the committee seem disposed to accept, is that the expenditure for the current financial year shall be reduced by about £35,000, or about £5,000 per month for the last seven months of the year. Do I understand that it is the intention of the Government to reduce the Estimates for next year by £62,000 as compared with the total now presented.
Vote agreed to.
Divisions 39 to 99 (Australasian If aval Forces, £106,000; New Rifles, £10,000; Maxim Guns, £4,822 ; Naval, £46,524 ; Military : Head-quarters Staff, £15,225 ; Thursday Island, £11,054; King George’s Sound, £4,191 ; New South Wales, £203,340; Victoria: Permanent, £38,168 ; Volunteers, £4,577) agreed to.
Division 100 (Cadet Corps) - £1,383, agreed to.
Division 101 (Rifle Clubs and Associations) £29,962.
– I would point out that last year the sum of £20,000 was expended in providing rifle clubs throughout the Commonwealth with free ammunition. At the beginning of that year some trouble was experienced in obtaining a sufficient supply of cartridges for the ‘303 Martini-Enfield rifle. This year the vote for the purchase of ammunition has been considerably reduced, and I desire to know whether an adequate quantity of ‘303 cartridges is available 1
– We have plenty of ammunition of all kinds in stock.
– In reply to the honorable member, I would point out that we have in stock 12,210,700 rounds of 303 ammunition, in addition to which 6,583,000 rounds have been ordered. The quantity required for the year is about 10,000,000 rounds. We have 10,000,000 rounds in reserve for next year, and a surplus beyond that reserve of l,412s510 rounds.
– Is that manufactured here ?
– Most of it is locally manufactured.
– Last year a sufficient quantity could not be obtained here, and some difficulty was experienced in importing it from England.
– I do not think that any difficulty exists in obtaining a supply locally.
– Some time ago I directed the attention of the Minister to the exorbitant price which rifle clubs in
Western Australia were being charged for ammunition. The Minister admitted at the time that the charge was three times that made in Victoria.
– Because the clubs are not under similar regulations.
– Exactly. I wrote to the Minister inquiring what the rifle clubs in Western Australia required to do in order that they might come under similar regulations to those which govern rifle clubs in Victoria, and received the luminous answer that “ the matter is under consideration.” I waited some three months and then wrote again making a similar inquiry. Once more I obtained the very comprehensive reply that “ the matter is under the consideration of the General Officer Commanding.” No further communication upon the matter has reached me, and still I receive complaints from Western Australia that this exorbitant charge continues to be made. Apparently, the department will not assist the rifle clubs there to come into line with those in the other States, so that they may be enabled to purchase ammunition as cheaply as possible. This is certainly very harsh treatment, because the riflemen in Western Australia have not merely purchased their own rifles but have erected their own targets and prepared their own ranges. No assistance has been rendered them either by the State Government or by the Commonwealth authorities, except that the former has granted them a piece of ground for a rifle range. Seeing that these clubs have so far helped themselves, and,, unlike others, kept their hands, out of the public pocket, surely the least the department could do would be to assist them to obtain ammunition at the minimum cost.
– I think that there is a great deal of force in what the honorable member for Coolgardie has said. In dealing with that matter, I hope the Minister will not confine his attention merely to ammunition. In my own electorate a rifle club has prepared its own range, and incurred the entire expense connected with the undertaking up to date: In the meantime, the volunteer, regiments are using the range for the purpose of rifle practice. Only the other day this club applied to the Minister for a grant of £20 to enable it to erect a rude sort of shelter. The Minister’s reply was that the request could not be acceded to, because the club was established under old regulations, and had undertaken to bear all the expenses.
– I told the honorable member last night what I intended to do.
– If the Minister will assure me that he intends to make satisfactory arrangements I have nothing more to say.
– The matter referred to by the honorable member for Parramatta has been several times brought under my notice. The objection to making the grant sought was that the club on its formation undertook not to make any claims on the Government and to bear all expenses. I understand, however, that some new feature has now crept into the undertaking, and that the range is being used for rifle practice by the volunteers. . It seems reasonable, therefore, to consider the application which has been made. I should have granted the request immediately, but I have to be very cautious not to establish a precedent which may lead to a large expenditure. As, however, I understand that all danger of that has now disappeared, I intend to deal with the matter at an early date. In reply to the honorable member for Coolgardie, I wish to say that I have carefully gone into the matter to which he has referred. The rifle clubs in Western Australia seem to occupy a most anomalous position. As a matter of fact they have never been properly formed under the regulations, but I am now endeavouring to place them upon a footing which will enable them to secure ammunition as cheaply as it can be purchased by clubs elsewhere. If I can possibly bring about that result I shall be only too happy to do so. Whilst it is true that the clubs have been established in an irregular way, the fact remains that they have been formed. There is also evidence of the earnestness of the men.. No doubt when a Defence Act is passed they will come under the same system as all the other rifle clubs throughout Australia. In the meantime, however, I do not think it fair that they should be called upon to pay a higher charge for their ammunition, and, if possible, I intend to remedy that evil.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that some time ago a rifle club was established in Parkes. Before any representations by that club were made to me, certain correspondence had passed between its secretary and the military authorities. The first intimation which I had upon this matter was in the nature of a communication from the secretary of the club in December last, from which I gathered that he had applied to the military authorities for a supply of rifles, and had been informed that there were none in stock. Application was then made for a supply of captured Mauser rifles from South Africa. I understand that some of these weapons have been supplied to corps in South Australia, and it was thought that they might be procured for service pending a supply of the standard rifle which it was proposed to distribute amongst the various clubs throughout the Commonwealth. The reply of the military authorities was that it was inadvisable to introduce a rifle of that description. Accompanying the application of the club for rifles was a request that an area of land should be set apart for the purpose of a rifle range. So far, however, nothing has been done, and recently I was informed that the matter was still under the consideration of the commandant. I should like to know from the Minister whether it is intended to supply this club with the necessary rifles and ground?
– The case to which the honorable member for Canobolas has referred is not an isolated one. There are hundreds of clubs similarly circumstanced throughout the Commonwealth, and to supply the requirements of all would involve a very large expenditure. Until I have some idea of the cost that would be involved in acceding to these applications it would be dangerous to establish a precedent by making a grant in any single case. Honorable members should recollect that each rifle club established costs the Government about 20s. or 30s. per head of its members annually. Until we can come to some definite arrangement, the applications are so large that it is quite impossible for me to give a definite reply at the present time ; but the honorable member may rest assured that I shall try at the earliest possible date to meet the requirements of Parkes, and also other places which may wish to come in.
Vote agreed to.
Division 102 (General Contingencies) - £11,695, and Division 103 (General Services) - £161, agreed to.
Division 104 to 122 (Queensland, Military Forces) - £101,364, agreed to.
Division 123 (South Australian Military Forces, Head-quarters Staff) - £1,545.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I did not take part in the general debate on the Military Estimates.
– I wish to tell the honorable member, if he willallowmeto interpose for a second, that the question of the drill instructors in South Australia is not settled. I do not know how this amount came to be in the Estimates. I intend to withdraw it until it is finally decided what shall be done. Probably there will be some reduction in the number of instructors and, therefore, I hope that the honorable member will not move in the matter.
– I did not propose to say one word about the drill instructors, and I was very glad to hear the statement which has just been made. In his speech, the Minister referred to the fact that South Australia had run its military service very economically, and that he was not quite
Sure as to its efficiency. We run most of our departments most economically, and certainly in no case has it been said that economy has been secured at the expense of efficiency. I assure the Minister that the Defence department in South Australia will be found to have been just as efficiently managed as any other. He has stated that one of the great troubles he had was that the scale of pay in that State was lower than in any other.
– In one particular branch where the £5 comes in.
– The difficulty in regard to the lower pay of the men cannot be got over any more easily by giving increases to the officers.
– I do not think that an increase has been given.
– To start with, the Commandant got £500, but now he is to get £650. The salary of one office is increased by £150, but the pay of the men cannot be increased. The chief staff officer received under the old scale £400, but now under a new title he is to receive £475.
– But it is not the same man. There is no increase of pay:
– The Minister twitted South Australia with the fact that the pay for her men is somewhat lower than is that of other States, and, therefore, that he had very great difficulty in dealing with the cases, but at the same time he has appointed a new officer at a larger salary than his predecessor received.
– Because that is what he was getting before.
– The previous Commandant got £500 ; but the officer who was sent down to take his place was getting £650 in Queensland.
– Therefore, he was moved to South Australia, with the same salary as he had previously.
-Would it be unfair to contrast that case with the treatment of Colonel Stuart, who was offered a position now filled by a lieutenant at £300 a year, a much lower salary than he is now receiving? Here is a man who, starting as a private, passed through the ranks and obtained the position of ActingCommandant in South Australia, and Commandantf or ayear or two while Colonel Gordon was in England. He put in his time at Aldershot for a year or two at his own expense. He came back to the State, and he was so well qualified that he got the position of Acting Commandant, and later that of Commandant. Out of the senior military positions in the Commonwealth, he alone was retired before he had reached the age limit, and he was offered a most inferior position, formerly held by a lieutenant. It happens that he is not in any sense a society man. I have stated the plain facts, and I now leave the matter in the hands of the Minister, expecting complete justice to be done. I ask for nothing more than complete justice.
– I shall certainly look into the matter. I have heard a great deal more about it to-night than I ever knew before.
– I wish the Minister when he is looking into the retrenchment business in South Australia to notice the expense of the permanent force compared with that of the other branches of the service. A sum of £14,546 is devoted to the permanent force consisting of 68 men, while £11,000 is spent on the active and reserve force, comprising 2,941 men. The Minister will see the disproportion.
– The honorable member for South Australia has brought up a matter which, I think, deserves the personal attention of the Minister. When I spoke earlier in the sitting, I expressed my opinion that the officers who held the highest positions in the Commonwealth service should have passed through the ranks. We have had brought under our notice a case where it appears - I do not say that it is actually the case - that the fact of an officer having risen from the ranks has prevented him from getting a position corresponding to that which he occupied in his State. It seems that he is the only officer in the Commonwealth service who has been asked to accept a lower position, and a lower rate of pay, than he previously had. I feel that a grave error will lie committed if this matter is not probed to the bottom. I trust that the Minister will bend his great energy to the case, and assure us to-morrow, as he can do- .
– I cannot by that time.
– I am positive that a question to the Commandant will elicit all about this business at once. I trust that before the House goes into recess the fullest information will bc available, and the w.hole matter settled to the satisfaction of honorable members.
– The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, has made out a very strong case in regard to Colonel Stuart. The manner in which it was put to the Minister is sufficient to warrant an investigation. We have been told that South Australia is noted for its economy in the military service.. Unquestionably that is so. To such a fine point of economy do they run military matters that a sum of £1 is required for the hire of a horse and transport of the army of South Australia. 1 do not call that reckless expenditure. It is not stated what sort of a horse it is, but I think it is what is called the thoroughbred reform horse that Victoria is in search of. I trust that the Commandant will cite that item as an example to the rest of the Commonwealth.
– I hope that the Minister will take notice of what has been said in connexion with Colonel Stuart. I feel very strongly on this question, -as I know the disadvantages under which a man labours in the Imperial service who has risen from the ranks: In my own corps one man hod to refuse a commission because the officers declined to sit at table with him. I heard the Minister say this afternoon that the man he believes in is the man who can rise from the ranks to the highest position in the service. I wish to see him give effect to that idea, and to let the House know before it goes into recess that he has meted out justice to this officer. 46 o
The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, made a very pertinent remark when he was speaking of the colonel who was appointed to the position of Commandant in South Australia. The Minister said that £650 was the amount of this officer’s salary when he was in Queensland, and he could not be given less than that. How does it come about that Colonel Stuart has been offered a salary of £300 when his remuneration as Commandant of South Australia was £500 ? If the same argument applies, and he cannot be mode Commandant of that State, let him be given a position equal to that which has been taken from him. If it is a crime for a man to rise from the ranks and work his way up until he is Commandant of a State, the sooner it is made known to the House the better. ‘In season and out of season, I have urged that, before becoming an officer, every man should put in twelve months in the ranks. If the Minister will only exercise a little of his assertiveness on the present occasion, I shall feel very much obliged to him.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).There is another phase of the cose under discussion which is very unsatisfactory to me, and which also must be unsatisfactory to other honorable members. Only about three days ago I was speaking to the Minister in regard to this particular case, when he showed me a letter and a report which he had received, in which it was distinctly stated that the officer referred to hod asked tobe retired. But the facts of the case which have been elicited since then are quite different. As a matter of fact, the officer did not wish to retire, but a position was offered to him which, as compared with the position he hod held, was regarded as inferior, and the acceptance of which would be considered undignified on the part of the officer accepting it There was no alternative than to refuse or tacitly agree to the conditions offered. In regard to the drill instructors, I notice that MajorGeneral Hutton said in Adelaide that the former Commandant of South Australia had represented that there was a need for further drill instructors, and had pointed out the inefficiencies of that State. I referred the honorable gentleman to a question asked by the Attorney-General of South Australia, and the answer given by him in the South Australian Parliament on the 9th September last. The answer read as follows : -
The Attorney-General told Mr. . Lucas that Brigadier-General Gordon, late Commandant, had not at any time during the past two years complained to the South Australian Minister for Defence of the inefficiency of the forces under his command. In December, 1900, he recommended that Sergeant Taverner should be appointed as an instructor of infantry.
I refer to this matter in order to show that what has been said since does not warrant the inference that it was necessary to appoint additional drill instructors for South Australia, and I trust that the Minister will not keep the men there if ho comes to the conclusion that they are unnecessary.
– As the name of Colonel Stuart has been mentioned, I should like to say a word. Prom a rumour which has reached my ears, I have reason to believe that that gentleman has been prejudiced to some extent in certain quarters by my action in this House. It has been stated that Colonel Stuart furnished me with information which I have used here with references to the drill instructors sent to South Australia. I should like to take this opportunity of saying that there is not one word of truth in that statement. I had no communication of any kind with Colonel Stuart, and therefore he is in no way responsible for what I have done. I should like to add that the record of Colonel Stuart in South Australia has been a most exemplary one, and, in my opinion, for him to be offered a position at £300 per annum is a very poor reward for zealous and able public service.
– As to the drill instructors, it has been explained to me that to withdraw the amount from the Estimates now would cause a great deal of trouble. Therefore I wish to say that I hall deal with the matter inanother way, which I think will be satisfactory to all parties. The amount will be continued upon the Estimates, but it will not be used unless it is absolutely wanted, and I venture to think that the whole of it will not be wanted. I should also like to say that I have here evidence that previous Commandants in South Australia have desired the appointment of an increased number of drill instructors. I will first quote an extract from the report of the Acting
Military Commandant of South Australia for the year 1899-1900. He says -
In concluding this report I have made a recommendation as to the increase of the staff, which I consider necessary to carry out the supervision and instruction of the forces.
Then there is a report, dated 11th October, 1900, from Colonel Stuart. He says -
In order to allow of proper supervision and instruction of the forces it is absolutely necessary that the staff should be increased. I would therefore recommend that the following be appointed : - A staff adjutant for each branch of the service ; one additional N.C.O. as instructor mounted branches ; one additional N.C.O. for artillery, to also act as sergeant-major Permanent Artillery ; two additional N.C.O.’s for infantry branch ; two clerks. - (Signed) J. Stuart, Colonel, Acting Commandant.
The third extract is from the report of the Military Commandant of South Australia, for the year ending 30th June, 1901. He says -
It will become absolutely necessary to increase the number of duly qualified instructors, and I have made the necessary representations to the right honorable the Minister for Defence, in view of obtaining his approval to the appointment of such instructors. (Signed), Joseph N. Gordon,
Commandant South Australian Military forces. 15th August, 1901.
– Then this reply of the Attorney-General of South Australia is incorrect.
Vote agreed to.
Divisions 124 to 133 (South Australian Military Forces) - £37,416, agreed to.
Divisions 134 to 157 (Western Australian Military Forces) - £24,793, and (Tasmanian Military Forces) - £18,513, agreed to.
Division 158 (Compensation)-£25,137, agreed to.
House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19021002_reps_1_12/>.