1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m and read prayers.
– I desire to direct’ your attention, Mr. Speaker, to. what I conceive to be a distinct invasion of our privileges, or, at any rate, a very serious departure from parliamentary procedure. On Saturday last, I found in the columns of the Melbourne Age what purports to be the text of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which the Minister for Trade and Customs, who has charge of it, has not yet ad vanced to the second-reading stage, so that honorable members have not yet had an opportunity to become acquainted, officially or otherwise, with its provisions. They are; however, set forth in in extenso in the Age, and occupy nearly two columns. Some comments, generally of a favorable character, are also added. The Argus of the same date made no reference to the Bill, but upon Monday a precis of the measure, - - or of what purports to be the measure - appeared, accompanied by criticisms from Mr. Derham, the ex-president of the Employers’ Federation, and Mr. Hannah, the president of the Trades Hall Council. Today there appears in the Argus a further criticism of the Bill by the Premier of Victoria. These criticisms are of a sufficiently important character to warrant our attention, and their publication appears to me to be a direct violation of that principle of parliamentary practice and government under which we are supposed to approach every subject submitted for our consideration in an impartial and independent spirit, uninfluenced by anything save our electoral pledges, and our views of what is necessary for the general welfare of the, community. Because it is very obvious that if a Minister who has charge of a measure is to be permitted to give a copy of it to the press for publication, and so invite public criticism upon it before the members of either Chamber have seen it, Parliament can be no longer a deliberative assembly, and must become, merely a recording body. The result must be to destroy responsible government, and the character of our representative institutions, since it would be impossible for us to properly conduct our deliberations upon a Bill if, before we saw it, the public had expressed their opinions in regard to it in the columns of the press. Nor can I conceive a more ready way by which a Minister might obtain credit for the introduction of a democratic or other measure which he wished secretly to destroy than the adoption of such a course. He might publish a draft Bill containing provisions which he wished a certain section of the House to believe him to be ardently in favour of, and hand it to the press, knowing well that criticism would be showered on it in all directions, and if that criticism became of such a character and of such a volume as to make it unsafe for him to persist, he could bring in a modified Bill, and members would never know whether it was that which he originally intended to present for consideration. It would be impossible for us to satisfactorily conduct parliamentary business on. such a system. Mr. Derham entered into a long discussion with the reporter of the Argus, and expressed the opinion that the Federal Government were guilty of a most serious breach of their pledges in introducing the Bill.. He said -
We have a right to expect that those intentions
That is, the intentions expressed in the Convention by the Attorney-General and the Minister for Trade and Customs- will be respected. Mr. Deakin said at the Convention that this power- was not likely to be exercised by the Federal Parliament for many years to come, and that meantime Parliament would be impressed by the experiments of the States in that respect.
Criticism of the principle of a measure, would, I think, be in order at any time, but he indulged in not merely a general criticism of that kind, but dealt with the details of the measure in a manner likely to have a distinct effect upon the deliberations of this chamber, because he went on to. say -
Regarding the constitution of the court, my opinion is that it involves questions of far more importance than the question of expenditure,, which was raised with regard to the establishment of a High Court. It is something more important than the spending of £30,000 per annum. The whole question involves a revolution in the industrial conditions of Australia. . . . The proposal that members of the court should hold office for seven years, and only be removed on the. ground of proved incapacity, is wrong in principle. *
Then Mr. Hannah, who is president of theTrades Hall Council, and representsquite another section of the community, spoke of it, after criticising the measure in detail, as “ just the very thing.”’ It may be the very thing in Mr. Hannah’s opinion, but of what use is Parliament if we are to have our .measurescriticised in this way by the representatives., of various sections of the community beforethey are laid before us ? How oan we givethem a calm and impartial consideration if” they are to be pre-judged by the public V What has been done is something verydifferent from allowing the people theearliest opportunity of knowing after thesecond reading what the provisions of a measure are, because they are then accompanied by the explanation of the Ministerin charge of it, and, very often, by an expression of the opinions of other members. In this case a volume of opinion for and against a measure which Parliament has not seen, and of which it knows nothing, hasalready appeared in the columns of the press. Mr. Hannah does not believe in some of its provisions, while Mr. Derham. does not believe in others. It would be an easy matter to take the suggestions put forward by these gentlemen and embody them in amendments. But such a practice would be a negation of parliamentary responsibility, and incompatible with that orderly, independent, and impartial consideration which a deliberative assembly should give to these matters. I do not know how the Minister will account for what has happened. I do not believe that he has given the Bill to the press ; but, if he has, he is deserving of the severest censure. If some subordinate in his office gave it to the reporters, that subordinate should be severely dealt with. It is very difficult to see how such an important document could be left exposed to the careful looker-about for news without any one being to blame, because documents of this kind should be kept very carefully locked up from public view. This is not the first time that what I complain of has occurred. The Naturalization Bill now under discussion in the Senate was, I believe, published by the newspapers before it was submitted to that Chamber. I do not contend that the people should not have the earliest opportunity of investigating the provisions of all public measures,” and of criticising them to the full ; but that they (should first be submitted to Parliament is undeniable. The Premier of Victoria has made a statement in regard to the measure which practically amounts to - I will not say a threat - but a sort of ultimatum. He says -
No exception appears to be made in the case of State employes or of employes of the Railway Commissioners. I can hardly believe that that is the intention of the Federal Government. I can scarcely believe that the Federal Government would propose to bring State employes under the operation of the Bill, as to do so would be to strike a blow at the root of State government altogether.
What is that but a criticism of the details of the measure? Naturally honorable members who represent Victorian constituencies are peculiarly sensitive to the public opinion of Victoria - and public opinion here appears to be very largely manufactured by the morning Melbourne journals. What is this but an attempt to manufacture public opinion prior to Parliament having an opportunity to express its views in regard to a measure to which the representatives, not only of Victoria, but of all the States, were committed at the last election 1. It is only with regard to the details of the measure that, honorable members can differ. The Ministry stand committed to a measure of this kind. They have announced a certain policy. But. is that policy to be modified by the expression of public opinion in Victoria ? lt mustbe remembered that it is impossible for thenewspaper proprietors of the other Statesto publish the provisions of measures which are to be submitted to us, to gather expressions of opinion in regard to them, and totransmit copies to Melbourne, before thepublication of the public opinion of Victoria in the Melbourne newspapers has had its effect upon Parliament. The practice to which I am objecting must be a pernicious one under any circumstances, but it is most pernicious when it causes a Parliament which represents a population so widely scattered as that of Australia to he influenced by the publication of the opinions of the people of one part of Australia. We are entitled to ask the Government for some explanation of this extraordinary breach of parliamentary procedure. I consider it to be a breach of the privileges of the House. I do not know if the statements in the Age and the Argus convey a faithful account of the provisions of the Bill, because I have not seen the Bill itself; but if a measure of this kind is to be subjected to public criticism before Parliament is allowed to see it, I shall decline to haveanything to do with it. When the people determine to have a direct, instead of a representative, form of government, I shall be content to abide by their decision ; but while we have representative government, I shall decline to be merely an automaton for the recording of public opinion as manufactured by the presT. I do not wish to detain the House any further. I feel that most honorable members are of opinion that the practice to which I have referred is most dangerous. I believe that it’ is novel, and that it should not be any further followed. Under no circumstances should the press have an opportunity of publishing the contents of a Bill for the purpose of manufacturing opposition to it. It is true that in this par»ticular case, the newspaper - the Age - was in favour of the measure, but it is easy to conceive of a set of circumstances under which a Bill, opposed perhaps by only a small but determined minority in the first instance, might be utterly defeated b)’ being placed in the hands of a hostile newspaper two or three days before it was submitted to honorable members. It might be impossible for such a measure to make headway against public opinion representing a majority, not in the Commonwealth, but in a particular State. Therefore, I propose to move -
That in the opinion of this House it is highly undesirable that copies of Bills and other Parliamentary documents should be given to the press for publication before the same have been laid before honorable members, or before a discussion upon the matters to which they relate has ‘been initiated in the Parliament.
– I point out to the honorable member that such a motion could not be moved at this stage. When an honorable member raises a question of privilege relating to publications in newspapers, Standing Order 285 sets out the course to be followed. It provides that -
Any member complaining to the House of a statement in a newspaper iis a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher, and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
The honorable member would be quite in order in proceeding upon these lines, but a motion such as he has read could only be properly moved by giving notice and dealing with it in the usual way.
– May I ask whether I should be in order in requesting the Prime Minister or the Minister for Trade and Customs to afford honorable members some information as to how this breach of parliamentary procedure has taken place?
– I shall first inquire whether honorable members have any petitions to present, and as soon as I ask if there are any questions to ask or notices of motion, the honorable member may put any question he desires.
– May I be permitted to ask, Mr. Speaker, whether, in view of this being a question affecting the conduct of business in the House, it cannot be dealt with at once as one of privilege. I understand that a number of honorable members wish to speak.
– I may point out that of course there are questions of privilege which do not affect the publication of information in any newspaper whatever, and such questions can be brought up without notice, and be discussed without delay. The matter introduced by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, however, relates apparently to a newspaper publication which can be dealt with only under Standing Order No. 2S5.
– Would it be in order for honorable members to discuss the question as one of privilege affecting the business of the House, and the publication of certain documents before they have been laid before honorable members 1
– If the Bill to which the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has referred had been laid upon the table of the House, and had therefore been in its possession, or if any other paper in the possession of the House had been made public in any way, its publication could properly be brought before the House as a matter of privilege. But the Bill in question has never been in the custody of the House. It was a paper belonging to Ministers, and not to the House. I do not think there is any question of privilege involved in its publication, although I think that a very wide departure from parliamentary practice is involved.
– Referring to standing order No. 285, may I ask whether you, Mr. Speaker, consider that it really refers to this ‘ case t So far as I can see, it relates to occasions upon which newspapers are accused of making charges against honorable members. The standing order reads - “Any member complaining to the House of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege.” That was clearly intended to refer to cases in which newspapers have made statements, reflecting either upon the House or upon honorable members, which call for attention. In such really serious matters it is quite right that there should be some formality surrounding the proceedings. The fact that a Bill had found its way into a newspaper could not, I think, be contemplated by this standing order.
– I have already ruled in accordance with the view expressed by the honorable and learned member for East Sydney. I do not think the question is one which is intended to come wholly within this standing order. The only information I have has been gleaned from the remarks of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. I presumed that that honorable and learned member was proceeding under Standing Order No. 285, because he produced a certain newspaper, and referred to the publication in it of the text of a Bill, and the comments of the newspaper upon it. Of course, if the honorable member wishes to proceed under another standing order he is entitled to do* so ; but I have already pointed out that, as the Bill in question was in the custody of Ministers and not of the House, the proper course is not to submit this question as a matter of privilege, but to debate it in such a way as to determine the practice of the House. As before stated, the practice is that such documents shall not find their way into the press until they have been laid before Parliament.
At a later stage -
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it was with his authority that the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill was handed to a certain newspaper ? If the Minister did not give authority, can he inform us how the Bill reached one of the newspapers, and will he say whether, in the event of its having been communicated in a surreptitious way, he is prepared to punish the officer who allowed the newspaper to obtain possession of the Bill ?
– I am glad to have the opportunity of referring to the matter. I should like to say, that as regards the possibility of the publication, I am entirely responsible for it. As regards the authority, none was ever given or thought of, and no one was more surprised and disgusted than I was when I saw the publication.
– - Then how can the Minister take the responsibility of the publication ?
– I am responsible in that the draft of the Bill was handed by me to a representative of the press, subject to a certain understanding which has been deliberately broken.
– That has happened more than once.
– Honorable members know of the interest which I have taken in this measure, and I have consulted several of them in regard to it.
M!r. Reid. - Did the Minister hand a copy of the Bill under a similar obligation of confidence to a member of the Argus staff?
– No, I did not.
– I do not think that any distinction should be made between one newspaper and another.
– I naturally prefer to consult those who sympathize with the movement rather than those who do not.
– The Minister now sees what he has got by trusting that particular newspaper.
– I desire to ask the Minister- for Trade and Customs whether any copy of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was also confidentially submitted to a representative of the South Australian Advertise^1 ? ‘
– Not so far as I am aware.
– It was published in that newspaper on Saturday.
– It would, I presume, he obtained from the same source. .
Mr. GLYNN presented a petition, signed by 836 persons, including members of corporations, members of the House of Assembly, and representative firms, and others, iri South Australia, praying that the High Court may be constituted of the Chief Justices of three of the States, and that the House will amend the Bill accordingly.
Mr. POYNTON presented a similar petition, signed by fourteen members of the Legislative Council of South Australia.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid on the table
Report and map from the Commissioner appointed to divide the State of South Australia under the provisions of the Electoral Act.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a telegram, published in the Argus of Friday last, in reference to the increased subsidy and the extension of the contract for the Vancouver mail service. The telegram is as follows : -
Brisbane, Thursday. - The Premier, in reference to the statement by Sir Philip Fysh that Fiji, Queensland, and New South Wales had expressed a desire that the Vancouver mail contract should be extended for two years, said to-night that the Queensland Government had not been communicated with on the subject, and had nob expressed any such desire. He added that the contract should not have been concluded at a higher price without consulting the Queensland Government, and this was one of the amounts which would be disputed, as the Queensland Government regarded it as new expenditure, and not transferred expenditure.
I gathered from the speech delivered by Sir Philip Fysh that the Queensland Government had agreed to an extension of the contract, and to an increase of the subsidy.
– The Minister stated that the Queensland Government had asked for an extension of the contract some time ago.
– On the faith of that statement several honorable members abstained from speaking, and I should like the Prime Minister to explain the inconsistency between the speech made by Sir Philip Fysh and the statement now published.
– I have heard of the telegram referred to by the honorable member but, unfortunately, I have not been able to refer to the Argus. The representations contained in that telegram could not have caused the Government to adopt a different course of action from that which they had adopted. The Ministry are responsible to this House, and to the people who elect it, for any steps which they may take in regard to matters of public business. In this Chamber each State is represented, and we are bound to assume that it is properly and fully represented. That being so, we are responsible to this House for all our actions. Whilst, therefore, it might be wise in some instances to consult the States Governments in reference to impending determinations by this Government, it must always be for us to decide to what extent we shall consult them, because we must ever remember that - subject to our responsisibility to this House and the people - this Department and every other transferred Department has been placed under Federal, and not under State, control.
– That is no answer at all.
– If any further answer is necessary, I would direct attention to the remarks made by my honorable colleague, Sir Philip Fysh, the other evening. He has already pointed out to me that those remarks do not warrant the construction which has been placed upon them. Further, if honorable members listened - as I have no doubt they did - to the statement which I made the other night, they will agree that I did not assert that the Governments of the States had been consulted. But I did point out that for months the pendency of these negotiations was public property, and that not a word of protest was received from the States concerned.
– Sir Philip Fysh stated that some little time ago the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland asked that the contract should be extended, but made no mention of any specific subsidy.
– That was a statement as to events which happened some time ago - I will assume, under some authority from the Postal Department. I did not understand my honorable colleague, Sir Philip Fysh, to go so far as to assert that the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland were consulted, and I am quite sure that whilst the negotiations were pending, I did not consult them, because I consider that the responsibility of the Government in matters of this kind is to the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. I can give no answer to the question other than that, because it appears to me that, upon the view which the Government take of their responsibility, there is no other answer to be made.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will follow the usual practice of the House of Commons, by submitting the final form of the contract to the House and obtaining its decision thereon?
– This House, as well as another place, has already approved of the terms of the agreement, but the whole of its provisions will again come under review when the item is submitted upon the Estimates. It will then be quite competent for the House to deal with that item as it pleases. .
– That is not the practice of the House of Commons.
– I do not think it is the practice of the House of Commons to submit every postal contract for the approval of Parliament.
– It is.
– It is not, because a great many of the contracts which are entered into by the Department do not involve any such reference. But a contract of this class would be submitted to the House of Commons, because it is an oversea contract which deals with the external trade of the United Kingdom, and the external trade of Australia. Therefore, I felt myself bound to submit its terms for the approval of Parliament. That, however, does not compel the House to deal with the Estimates in any way other than it chooses, should any subsequent knowledge or change of circumstances induce honorable members to adopt a view different from that which they now entertain.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a statement in to-day’s Age, having reference to a suggested partition of the New Hebrides between France and the Commonwealth, and whether he has a knowledge of any official proposal to that effect ?
– So far as I am able to charge my memory, I am not acquainted with any official proposal to that effect. Further, it is a proposal which would meet with resistance at the hands of this Government.
– Last week the Minister for Home Affairs stated that he was not aware that the New South Wales police were engaged in the task of collecting a new State electoral roll. I desire to ask whether he has since discovered that the policeareso engaged, and whether he has been able to arrange with the State Government for simultaneously collecting the information which he requires in connexion with the approaching Federal elections ? I think that the honorable gentleman might well consider whether the adoption of such a course would not assist in removing many doubts and anxieties which have arisen concerning the disappearance from the rolls of the names of a number of electors.
– When the question relating to this matter was put to me last week, I was not aware that July was the month during which the New South Wales law required the collection of the State roll.
– Everybody else was aware of it.
– Everybody else is wise, and I am not. The next morning, however, I ascertained that the police were about to commence the collection of a new State roll, and I at once communicated, privately first, and subsequently through the Prime Minister, with the New South Wales Premier upon the matter. As a result, the police are now collecting a roll upon the basis of the Federal franchise simultaneously with a roll upon the basis of the State franchise.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Home Affairs what is the’ present position in regard to the boundaries of the new Federal electorates in South Australia? I put this question because, at a meeting which was recently held, it was suggested that the boundary between Torrens and Barker should be altered.
– In reply to the honorable member, I would point out that to-day I laid the report and the final map from the South Australian Commissioner upon the table of the House. That map shows the boundaries of the new electorates as the Commissioner has defined them. Further action by that officer can only be taken in the event of this House deciding that the new districts are not satisfactory, and referring the question back to him for reconsideration.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government have come to any decision in regard to the policy which they intend to pursue in reference to the new Federal electorates as a whole. Is it intended to place the boundaries of all the electorates before the House as soon as they have been completed by the Commissioners ?
– That matter, to ‘a certain extent, is dealt with in the Electoral Act, which prescribes that when the divisions have been ‘completed, after certain preliminaries have been settled, the House, if it does not choose to adopt the new electorates, may refer them back to the Commissioners for reconsideration. Whether that means that this Chamber can take any course, other than one of the two I have mentioned, namely, that of sending them back to the Commissioners, or of adopting them, I am net prepared at this moment to say, because the question is a rather difficult one to decide. I am aware, however, that there are those who think that the boundaries of the present Federal electorates should not be altered. My opinion is, that if we wish the elections to be conducted without a redivision, it will be necessary to pass legislation for that purpose, and,- up to the present, the Government has not made up its mind to introduce any such legislation.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether he has received the report of the Capital Sites Commission, and, if so, when he will lay it upon the table of the House 1
– In reply to the honorable member, I may mention that I had a conference for a few minutes with the members of the Commission in Sydney yesterday, when they promised that I should be placed in possession of their report upon Monday next.
– I wish to make a personal explanation and correction. Upon the 23rd June, during the discussion upon the clauses in the Judiciary Bill which fix .the salaries of the Justices of the High Court, whilst the honorable and learned member for Werriwa was speaking of the ability of tine Chief Justice of Queensland, Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, and of the salary which he enjoys, I interjected that he had voted the money for himself. I have since learned that though Sir Samuel Walker Griffith was Premier of Queensland at the time the Bill providing for the appointment of a Chief Justice was under consideration in Parliament, that gentleman took, no part either directly or indirectly in its passage through the House. Therefore I wish to correct any false impression which my words may have left upon the minds of those who heard them.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answersto the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
– I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to Conciliation and Arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes.
I hope to place this measure before honorable members at a verv early date.
– I desire to know whether the Bill which is the subject of this motion is the measure which was published in the Age of . Saturday? When the honorable member for Kalgoorlie asked a question just now, I understood the Minister for Trade and Customs to answer in quite a cavalier way that it was merely a coincidence that the
Age secured a, copy whilst the Argus did not. We might grant the Minister leave to bring in this or any other Bill, but he might, with that courteous attention which has always been extended in the State Parliament of New South Wales, and, so far as I know, in every other Parliament, have presented it to us first. The right honorable gentleman is now asking leave to introduce a Bill which has already been introduced by means of the Age and the Argus, and through these newspapers, by every newspaper of Australia to every citizen in the Commonwealth. Under the circumstances, it appears to me that no leave is required, because all that the Minister has to do is to circulate the newspapers of the day. Before formal leave is granted for the introduction of this Bill, the Minister ought to at least explain by what means the measure got into the hands of the press ; and unless such an explanation is forthcoming I shall feel inclined to vote against the motion. The right honorable gentleman seems to regard this as a very small incident, but it is an important and serious matter. Indeed, the Minister appears to look upon it as a huge joke, though I do not regard it as such.
– Nor I either.
– I should be very much mistaken in the Minister if he really re’garded this unfortunate occurrence as a joke. It is due to the House that, on a motion of this kind, he should explain how the Bill got into the hands of a representative, of the press, and thus invited criticism which may - though I do not say it will - have a very prejudicial influence on the passage of the measure through Parliament. It’ is clear that it is only with the utmost good fortune that this or any other measure which the Government proposes can be passed through Parliament and become law in the very brief period at our disposal this session, and any occurrence, such as that to which I am now calling attention, has a tendency to delay legislation. Apparently, the Minister has taken no active steps towards any investigation as to why this Bill appeared in the newspapers. I thought that the right honorable gentleman would have been the very first this afternoon to. explain the extraordinary occurrence ; and I hope we shall have an explanation before we pass the motion, though, in this case, formal leave is really a farce, the Bill having been very effectually introduced, not here, but everywhere else throughout Australia. Seeing that the Minister’ has felt the pulse of public opinion, and knowing, as he does, that he has, at any rate, one newspaper on his side, it does not require very much backbone to now come here and ask for leave to introduce the Bill. On the whole, I do not know that it would be worth while to vote against the motion; but some explanation of this extraordinary occurrence is certainly due. It does not, I suppose, matter what we do now - here is the measure, and we might as well have the Age circulated amongst us. I do not blame the enterprising pressman, but I do blame the ‘right honorable gentleman or others who are particularly responsible. The Minister takes the responsibility, though he says, in effect, that he is not responsible; and I do not suppose any one would accuse him in the matter. But somebody has to bear the blame, and there is nobody here but the Minister, who will have to “ toe the scratch “ and explain how such a thing happened.
– The matter brought forward by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney is one which cannot be passed over in a jocular spirit. I am quite prepared for a new departure - I am quite prepared for members of the Government to hand documents to the Melbourne Age before those documents make their appearance in this House. I am quite prepared for the Cabinet to enlarge their number, and take a member of that newspaper staff into their counsels ; but let that newspaper representative become a duly accredited member of the Cabinet before matters of national importance are bandied- about in this way. The history of this Bill Ls rather singular. I find that a similar Bill was read a first time about two years ago, before it was in existence - a method which I understand is allowed by our standing orders. In some Parliaments of Australia, Ministers have to produce a Bill before it can be read a first time ; but in this Parliament, Ministers, at the opening of last session about two years ago, were able to introduce a Bill which had not reached the stage of printer’s type, and have it read a first time. Two years later we are again calmly asked to do what was done two years ago. If the Minister passes Bills round he ought to deal impartially with the press as a public institution. The fact that one newspaper, as it has a perfect right to do, attacks the Government, and that another newspaper, which, perhaps, stands alone in Australia, is the persistent backer of the Government, should never lead the Minister into such an error of judgment as to trust the members of one newspaper staff, and to ignore the staff of another newspaper. The Minister for Trade and Customs is too experienced a politician not to know that, if he hands a Bill of great public interest and importance to a pressman, it is ten to one that it will find its way into the newspapers. It will be understood that there was more or less a latent, if not an official, object in handing this document to the pressman ; but it is a great error of judgment on a Minister’s part to hand a State document of this character to a member of the press under any circumstances whatever. It might reasonably be expected that publication would occur through carelessness, or some other conduct short of a dishonorable act, on the part of any pressman to whom such a document was intrusted. We know what newspaper offices are, and that a document left lying about might easily be picked up by some other member of the staff, and thus find its way into print. I was quite prepared to be assured by the Minister that the two or three columns which appeared in the Age, and which purported to be a draft of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, was an entire fabrication on the part of the newspaper, because I believe that this newspaper has powers of imagination quite equal to a performance of the sort. I thought the columns presented a sort of fancy sketch of the- Bill which the newspaper thought it probable the Minister would introduce ; but we have since heard the statement of the right honorable gentleman. I think that, at any rate, this occurrence will enlighten the Minister, and teach him a lesson which he ought to have learned long ago, namely, that unless it is the intention that the press may make use of a Bill or other public document, it is much better to relieve its representatives from the responsibility of even its custody, seeing that there is always a danger of the document getting into the wrong hands. I have, of course, no possible objection to the introduction of the Bill, which we shall consider by-and-by with all the serious attention which it deserves. In the meantime, I suggest that if members of the Ministry continue to confide in members of newspaper staffs, that confidence should be extended on a national and not a party basis.
– It would be advisable, I think, for the Minister for Trade and Customs to give the full history of the circumstances under which this document reached the press. The facts might possibly afford, a warning to other Ministers to be more careful in dealing with the Melbourne newspapers. Though there may not be much necessity for Ministers to be circumspect in dealing with pressmen in other States, it is my experience, and I believe it to be the experience of nearly every member of the House, that care has to be shown in dealing with the representatives of the press in the State in- which we now are. There is one objection which I have .always held, and which at various times has been mentioned in the House ; I object to documents being published in the newspapers before they are made accessible to members of Parliament. The practice has been for the newspapers to be supplied beforehand, mainly, I suppose, because in Victoria under the State Parliament it is the custom for papers from the Government Printing-office to be supplied to the newspapers in the evening, and, at the same time, posted to Members of Parliament. Under these circumstances, honorable members do not receive their papers until the following morning, by which time the newspapers, owing to the practice of supplying them on the previous evening, are able to publish all the details. It is only fair to honorable members that this information should be supplied tothem a little in advance of the time at which it is supplied to the press. The first intimation which members receive of any Bill ordocument of importance should be from the House itself, and not from the newspapers of’ this State. I hope the incident under discussion will induce the Ministry to resolve, that no more public documents shall reach the newspapers until Parliament has had an opportunity of inspecting them.
– I wish tosay only two or three words about this matter. The Minister for Trade and Customs, who has submitted this motion, will speak in reply ; and as, therefore, I cannot speak after the right honorable- gentleman, I must speak before him, although that is perhaps not the order in which my remarks should come. The object of my rising is to assure the House at once that my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, has not been in any sense guilty of any act which may be imputed to him as involving any breach of confidence or disloyalty.
– Then some other person has been guilty.
– The Minister has correctly said that he was surprised and disgusted at the appearance of a copy of the draft Bill in one of the newspapers. And that appearance is a performance which was imitated by a second newspaper yesterday. It is, of course, a matter of very great interest, and much contention on the part of newspapers one with another, to obtain advance information on public matters, and Ministers have constantly to be on their guard in this respect. That is an experience which, I have no doubt, my friend, the leader of the Opposition, has gone through very much to his dissatisfaction.
– And the Minister for Trade and Customs, too, I am sure.
– All of us have gone through that experience. This eagerness for news on the part of the press is most natural. Newspapers are business concerns, though we are sometimes apt to forget that the whole of these transactions are of a purely business nature, and that what is done by their representatives is done for the improvement of the property of the owners. That being so, we can all see that sometimes things, which we would not think right on the part of the press if it were regulated only by the higher ethics, are done as a matter of daily business: and we must expect them to do these things if we let them. I hope there is nothing ill - natured in that statement. It does happen that my right honorable friend and colleague did hand to a certain pressman a draft - and an early draft - of this Bill before it had been much considered by him with his colleagues. It is in the experience of every honorable member of the House, unless my honorable friend opposite, who laughs, has been exceptional, and as he has been a colleague of the leader of the. Opposition, I should be surprised
– I should be surprised to find that I had given such a document to a pressman.
– I was not speaking of the honorable member for Macquarie. The experience of every honorable member who has been a Minister is that Bills are invariably submitted to the Cabinet, and that matters of policy involved in a Bill are precisely the same as those matters of policy which are outside Bills, but which have also tobe considered in Cabinet. That is to say, all such Bills and matters involve the policy of the Government ; and before the process I have indicated was completed, or more than well begun, the Minister for Trade and Customs, in consequence of an undertaking which has since been broken, allowed a copy of the draft Bill to travel into hands into which he has since regretted it did travel.
– Has the Prime Minister ever in his official life handed to the press a Bill in embryo?
– I have escaped. But, on the other hand, I can quite conceive my doing so under assurances of confidence, which I afterwards found I had better not have relied on ; because in other respects - and not where pressmen have been concerned - I have often had similar assurances, and have found them betrayed. But it does happen that an assurance given to my right honorable friend has been broken. He has gone into all the circumstances with me, and I can only say that I am satisfied that he received an assurance, and that it was broken. 1 repeat that I back him up in every respect in his statement that he did receive an assurance, and that that assurance was broken - whether from a misunderstanding or not I do not know. Matters of this kind are always said to be done in consequence of a misunderstanding. Whether the well-worn defence is to be given this time or not, I cannot say. But I do say this-
– Why did the Minister give the draft to the Age, and not to any other newspaper?
– Because he was not bound to give it to every newspaper. If my honorable friend will look down the list of his acquaintances, and answer for himself, I should like him to tell me to how many of his political opponents, in hisown career, has he made statements in confidence, and to how many of his political friends has he refused to do so ?
– On Cabinet questions ?
– I do not know the honorable and learned member’s political history. But I do say in reference to this matter, that when an assurance is given - an assurance that a man can trust - whether the person who is trusted is friendly or not is not the question. The question is whether he is honest ornot ; and that is the only question. I wish only to add that if my right honorable friend, whose action has been attacked in this particular, had done what had been alleged, he would have done a thing which could not be tolerated in any Cabinet. If he had, without due safeguards, communicated the contents of a measure which had not received the complete consideration of the Cabinet, so i as to leave himself open to having that measure published in the public press to the detriment of that confidence which should exist between the members of a Cabinet, I suppose that the first person who would have attacked him in that particular would have been myself. But I am able to assure the House that there is no suggestion of any such thing ; because I am absolutely confident of the straight dealing and rectitude of my right honorable colleague ; andI am equally convinced that nothing that has occurred in this case which would justify the attack which has been made upon him or would justify me in thinking that he had departed from that loyalty of which I have had so many evidences.
– Iam afraid that the right honorable gentleman’s explanation has not made the matter very much better for his colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs. We are getting out information in reference to this matter in little trickles. The last one is to the effect that the measure which was submitted to the reporter of the Age was not a complete measure at all, and that the Bill to be placed before this House may be entirely different.
– Thanks to the reporter !
– Probably. This explanation makes the action of the Minister for Trade and Customs, in handing over the measure to the reporter, the more extraordinary; and we can only assume that it was handed to him for the purpose of revision and suggestion. Hence it comes to this - that this great Federal Government, which was to inaugurate an era of high responsible government, has arrived at the point of submitting its measures, before they reach a complete form, for the revision and suggestion of newspaper reporters. That is the explanation, Mr. Speaker ; there is no other, it seems to me. But I point out this peculiarity - that only newspapers which support the Government are enabled to undertake this task of revision and review. Strangely enough, no newspaper which happens to criticise the Government freely is able to undertake these processes for them. Why was this distinction made ? In New South Wales it has been persistently stated that differences of treatment are meted out to the various newspapers of the Commonwealth, and. in view of instances like this, it would be very hard to prevent the people of New South Wales, and particularly the newspaper proprietors, from holding the opinion that there is, after all, something in the allegations they make.
– Did not the Sydney newspapers publish the draft of the Bill ?
– Not on Saturday.
– As soon as they could.
– They had to be content with the crumbs which fell from the reportorial table of this more favoured newspaper. That is the position of the Sydney press, and it is a position which entitles them to make known the manner in which they are being treated by this Federal Government.
– The representatives of the Sydney press see rae in common with the representatives of the Melbourne press every day.
– And the right honorable gentleman has told us to-day by inference his method of treating them. He asks my honorable friend the member for Macquarie how often he has divulged confidences to his friends, and refused to do so to his enemies. Here is an evidence of the right honorable gentleman’s treatment of these newspaper representatives when they come to him.
– My treatment of them is better.
– Presumably he sends the representatives of the newspapers who happen to be opposed to the Government away with a flea in their ear, to put it vulgarly, while he receives with every courtesy and consideration, and with confidential treatment, the representatives of the newspapers which are more favorable to the reign of this Government. May I suggest something further? I am inclined to think that this lapse on the part of the Minister for Trade and Customs is due to the lax methods which are being adopted generally by the Government. As an instance of their want of a sense of what is due to Parliament, take what took place the other night. On that occasion they asked us to vote away £6,500 of fresh money without giving us a line of information of any kind - -
– The honorable member is departing from the question.
– It is only an incidental reference to show the lax methods which the Government employ. It is only another instance of their lapses from constitutional government, and it has led to this trouble and complaint. I say that the Government the other night told us distinctly that they had nothing to show to the House-
– That matter has nothing whatever to do with the question before the. Chair.
– Except that it bears incidentally on the methods of Ministers and the methods of the Government which are just now under review.
– The question before the Chair is -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to Conciliation and Arbitration for the Prevention and Settlement of Industrial Disputes.
I see nothing whatever in that motion with reference to the “ lax methods of the Government,” and nothing whatever in reference to the matters alluded to by the honorable member. I hope that the honorable member will confine himself to the question before the Chair.
– May I suggest that the remarks of the honorable member come within the motion in this way-
– Does the right honorable gentleman raise a question of order ?
– Yes. This Bill is with reference to industrial disputes, and the honorable member’s remarks might perhaps be held to be in order on the ground that an industrial dispute has arisen between the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Age.
– I am sure that the right honorable member is not serious in raising that point.
– I am not.
– Do you rule, Mr. Speaker, that I cannot refer to the lax methods of the Government in discussing this measure? The whole gravamen of the charge against them is that the House has not been treated in the way it should have been treated in the bringing forward of this Bill.
– The honorable member can discuss that as long as he thinks fit.
– That is all I was doing, I respectfully submit. I was only alluding to the other question as an indication of the laxity of the Government, of which we have a further illustration in the matter now under discussion. However, I contentmyself with protesting as to the way in which the newspapers are being treated, and the way in which some of them are being favoured by the Government. If we are to have Government by newspapers in Australia - and it seems tobe coming to that - let us have some sort of regulation which will bind Ministers to consult all the newspapers alike in reference to Bills before submitting them to this House ! The right honorable gentleman who preceded me suggested that some of us on this side had done the same in our Ministerial careers. I speak for myself only when I. say that, in my experience, I have never known of such a thing to be attempted. I never knew a Cabinet which would tolerate any Minister handing a measure to the press, under any circumstances whatever, before its final form had been determined by the Government as a whole - particularly a measure of the farreaching character and importance of this one. I have never, in my experience, known anything like this to occur ; and I submit that it ought not to occur again.
– I regard with some satisfaction the fact that this question has been raised, because it has enabled the Minister to clear his own officers of any connexion with what has occurred. In that respect the explanation which we have received is certainly satisfactory. It is also satisfactory to know that we are to get the Bill in question some days after it has been delivered to the public in another way. I, for one, shall not be able to vote against the introduction of the Bill, because of something else which has happened. But it is just as well that it should be stated here that some persons calling themselves honorable have done a dishonorable act ; and that, worst of all, it has been done for the sake of gaining an advantage over a rival. Can we call that honour ! Can we regard that as the standard which should be maintained by the leading organs of public opinion, to which the people of this State have to look for their information ! I call it by a very different name. I do not believe that the action in question was done by a reporter ; but the person guilty of it should never again be allowed to enjoy the confidence of the Government or of any member of the Government. It is just as well that the people of Australia should know who are the persons to be trusted in matters of this kind. I sympathize with the Ministerfor Trade and Customs, and so I feel sure does every other honorable member. But I venture to say that it is a mistake to give to any particular newspaper any measure or document unless it is at the same time given to every other newspaper, so that all may be on the same footing.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).There is no necessity for any party capital to be made out of this matter. It is entirely regrettable, and I am quite sure that every honorable member knows that the Minister for Trade and Customs regrets it quite as much as we do. I was astonished when in Adelaide, on Saturday afternoon, I found that the evening newspaper, the Express, published a synopsis of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which I knew the Government had not yet obtained leave to introduce to the House. I regarded the publication as distinctly a breach of the courtesy which should be paid to the members of this House. The synopsis had been telegraphed over from Melbourne, and that fact of course exornerates the Adelaide newspaper entirely.
– The Sydney Daily Telegraph published it on the same day as’ did the Age.
– Through their agent in Melbourne.
– It is by no means an unknown thing for Bills to be handed to persons who are very much interested in them before they are submitted to Parliament. No one can object to that practice.
I saw a copy of the Bill myself last Monday. I did not receive it from the Minister.
– A copy of this Bill ?
– Yes. It was a confidential copy, and was marked right across the face “ Confidential.”
– Why did not we all receive copies marked “confidential?”
– I did not receive a copy, and I did not think that the Minister was doing anything discourteous to this House in sending a copy to the person in whose possession I found it. He was very much interested in the question, and probably was given a copy of the measure, in order that he might make suggestions.
– That makes the matter very much worse.
– It does not make it very much worse, but very much better. The circulation of copies of a measure to persons specially interested in the matter dealt with, in order that Ministers may have the benefit of suggestions from those persons, is a practice which, in my opinion, Ministers may fairly adopt in dealing with important legislation.
– A scratch Cabinet.
– Does that apply only to one side?
– Certainly not. If I recollect rightly, the Minister for Trade and Customs stated in reference to another Bill that he had received great assistance in its preparation from Chambers of Commerce and of Manufactures, and various other bodies specially interested in the matter with which it dealt. The only way in which he could have secured suggestions from those bodies was by submitting to them a private draft of the proposed measure. In that case the right honorable gentleman was doing what I think he had a perfect right to do. I think also that it was in the interests of Parliament thathe should have done that before introducing the measure here. I find no fault whatever with the Minister in that respect. But this case shows how very necessary it is that the practice should be confined strictly to those who will honorably abide by the conditions upon which they obtain the right of perusal of these measures.
Mr.Fuller. - How did the honorable member come to see a confidential copy of the Bill?
– It was in the possession of a gentleman to whom it had been given. I may tell the honorable member that there was no breach of confidence in thatcase, because that copy of the Bill was not shown to me until yesterday morning, after it had been published all over Australia in the newspapers.
– Was it in the possession of a member of this House?
– No; it was in the possession of a member of one of the State Legislatures. I submit that the circulation of measures amongst a few very highly interested persons is a very different thing from their publication in the press. I feel as strongly as any member of the House on the subject of the public criticism of a measure before it has been circulated amongst honorable members.
– Who are more interested than the public?
– The matter has been very well put by the honorable member for West Sydney. The public have a right to information of this character, with the explanation of the Minister, and probably at the same time with the advantage of comments by honorable members generally. But if a measure is to be prejudged before there is any explanation of it given, and if we are to have public criticism upon it before it is submitted to the House, it will tend very much to accentuate what is a very growing danger, and that is, the Government of the country by the press rather than by the representatives of the people in Parliament.
– - I do not see anything so terrible about this matter. For honorable members to say that we must give a thing to our enemies as quickly as to our friends is absolutely ridiculous. We must love our friends, and do justice to our enemies without any admixture of revenge, but it is not necessary that we should go out of our way to give them anything that will help our enemies on. I accept the position as it has been stated by the Minister for Trade and Customs. The right honorable gentleman said he accepted the responsibility, but I can also see that this matter may have got into the newspaper without the reporter who received it from the Minister being responsible for its publication. Any one who has had newspaper experience will know that the reporter might very easily have dropped the draft of the measure into a pigeonhole, intending to come back later and put it aside. In his absence some one may have got it and slipped it into the newspaper. I wish to be absolutely fair, and I do not believe that either the Minister, or the gentleman who received the measure from him, are responsible for its publication, which may be due merely to an accident. As to the question raised of breach of confidence, every lawsuit that honorable and learned members have to battle in a court is the result of a breach of confidence or a breach of promise. The whole thing is ridiculous, and I shall vote for the motion.
– I sympathise with the Minister for Trade and Customs, but I do not approve of his action in giving an advance copy of this measure to the press. As the honorable member for Wide Bay has put it, its publication was an act of treachery on the part of those who received it. The position which the Minister should take up should be that any representative of that newspaper going near his office in future should be shown the door. It appears to me that the newspaper which first published the draft of the measure was prepared to wreck a Government - because it might have been a measure of such vital importance that its publication would have had that result - and put the whole country to enormous expenditure upon an election in order that the proprietor might make a few extra shillings in the sale of the newspaper. The thing is so contemptible that I can hardly imagine a newspaper holding the position which the journal in question is supposed to hold, adopting such a course. I deprecate the statements made by way of complaint that the information was given to the Age and not to the Argus. The Argus is just as vile as the other newspaper in the matter - the only difference in this case being that one got the chance to pubblish the information before the other.
– That shows responsibility by the Minister.
– I quite agree that the Minister took action in a weak moment, and was very unwise in giving a draft of the measure to the press. But, after it had been given in confidence, it was an act of treachery on the part of those who received it to subsequently publish the information. Every honorable member will admit that the publication of the draft measure was an act of treachery on the part of the newspaper.
– It was given to the Sydney Daily Telegraph also?
– I understand that the Age newspaper, which received the information, though a protectionist organ, is the correspondent of the principal free-trade newspapers of New South Wales and Queensland - the Daily Telegraph, of Sydney, and the Brisbane Courier.
– Those other newspapers probably had no knowledge of the circumstances in which the information had been obtained. They might fairly think that it had been communicated in the ordinary way by the Government.
– I quite understand that the other newspapers should think that the information had not been given in confidence, but merely handed to the press in the ordinary way for publication. I agree that that is the position they would probably take up, and they would naturally feel aggrieved at the complaint on the subject. It is not a good thing to have public documents, and especially Bills, given to the press before members of this House have an opportunity of seeing them. I must say I know of cases in which this practice has been followed. Speaking of the practice adopted in Queensland, I know that, for instance, local government measures and Bills dealing with harbor trusts have been circulated to various chambers of commerce, harbor trusts, municipal councils, and divisional boards, that they might offer suggestions. But in those cases it is not a final draft of the Bill that is circulated, and it is only after the suggestions are handed in that the Government decides on the measure to be presented to Parliament. The leader of the Opposition has referred to a practice adopted in the early days of the Federal Parliament in the introduction of Bills which were never even in type. They were supposed to be read a first time when even a manuscript copy of them had not been handed to the Clerk. After we were supposed to have read a Bill a first time, we might, under that practice have had to consider a totally different measure on the second reading. That was a very bad practice, and one which I think will not be followed again in this Chamber. I regret very much that a draft of this Bill was given to the press, but I must certainly express my appreciation of the manly way in which the Minister for Trade and Customs has come forward and accepted responsibility for the whole matter. I regret that the confidence which the right honorable gentleman placed in some person who probably came bothering him for information should have been so abused by the press of Victoria.
– It is a well recognised principle that information of this character should reach the public and the press through the forms of Parliament. On this occasion that practice has been departed from, and the Minister responsible informs us that this has arisen from a breach of trust on the part of some member of the staff of the Age, whom he allowed to see the draft copy of his Bill, and who subsequently made use of it. If that were all, I should be disposed to let the subject drop, but I think the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, has submitted another phase of the matter. According to. his statement, this Bill has been privately circulated to others than those connected with the Age newspaper. It is possible that some pf those other persons who have had the privilege of seeing an advance copy of the measure have been guilty of the breach of trust which has resulted in its publication.
– No, the Minister says that he gave the copy to the reporter himself.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs takes the responsibility of the publication in that way. I am very pleased ac the manner in which the right honorable gentleman accepted the responsibility, because he has by so doing cleared the officers of his Department, to whom blame might otherwise be attached. I give the right honorable gentleman every credit and honour for the manly way in which he has accepted responsibility. But we cannot view this as being merely a case in which a Bill has been handed for perusal to a newspape.r reporter or proprietor, because we have learnt that an advance copy of the measure was placed in the hands of at least one other person in another State. I think that this shows on the part of the Minister for Trade and Customs a lack of ‘due appreciation of the position. These documents should not be circulated either privately or confidentially, but should be first placed upon the table of the House, and then honorable members, pressmen, and the public generally would be placed on an equal footing, in getting information of their contents. The honorable member for Parramatta has suggested that the idea of the Minister for Trade and Customs in this case was to secure some assistance from a leading journal in Melbourne in the way of repairing the Bill. I know of nothing of this kind being done in New South Wales ; but I know that Ministers have secured assistance in the preparation of certain legislation, by convening conferences of those qualified to deal with the special questions involved, and allowing them to formulate suggestions, and Ministers have subsequently founded legislation upon those suggestions. If the Minister for Trade and Customs had desired assistance in the preparation of this measure he could have secured it in this way. I think it is certainly a departure from ordinary parliamentary practice to prepare a Bill for being laid upon the table of the House, and then ‘ before submittingittoParliamenttoprivately circulate it amongst members of the community, and place it at the disposal of the newspapers. If the incident fails to show that the Minister sought assistance in that direction, it discloses, at all events, the reason why one. particular newspaper in Victoria often succeeds in getting ahead of its competitors in these matters. I do not propose to judge the Bill by what has happened in regard to it. I hope that we shall have no more of this method of doing business, and that we shall return to the practice of using this House as the medium for conveying information relating to political questions to the public generally as well as to honorable members.
– We should take upon ourselves a gigantic task if we were to attempt to discuss the morality of newspapers in relation’ to the publication of news. We know that not long ago a very celebrated correspondent of the London Times filched a copy of the Berlin Treaty, and published it in that journal, with the result that he gained great honour thereby. AVe had better refrain from discussing the morality of newspapers, but I consider that we ought to know the motive that induced the Minister for Trade and Customs to secretly give a draft of this Bill to a representative of a particular journal. What was his object? Was it, as the honorable member for Parramatta has said, that he desired to obtain the’ assistance of that journal - to call another member into the Cabinet, and so to strike one more blow at responsible government ? We have had many blows aimed at responsible government by the present Ministry, who, with what seems to me very little self-respect, have already allowed themselves to be dictated to considerably. Do the Government desire now to be dictated to by one newspaper in Australia, or was the action in question taken by the Minister in all innocence and in forgetfulness of the experience which he must have gained during his long political career in South Australia? He states that he gave a draft of this Bill to a representative of the press upon the understanding that the newspaper would remain silent in regard to it. It is almost incredible that a Minister possessing the large experience of the Minister for Trade and Customs should have thought for one moment that the Bill would not get into the hands of the printer of the newspaper in question. I hope that we shall have now a clear confession as to what was the motive of the right honorable gentleman. He has certainly done well in coming forward and acknowledging that he is solely responsible for what has occurred, but his action somewhat reminds me of a line from Tennyson -
His honour rooted in dishonour stood.
His action in accepting the sole responsibility is certainly honorable to his colleagues and to members of the civil service, on whom suspicion might have rested ; but it seems to me that he acted dishonorably in handing the Bill over to any section of the press. I hope that we shall now have a confession from the Minister, and a promise not to repeat the offence.
Mr. KINGSTON (South AustraliaMinister for. Trade and Customs). - I am sorry that the honorable member who has just resumed his seat should be a slave to a quotation, because I do not think that in serious prose he would attempt to use the word “ dishonour “ in relation to a question of this kind. I am satisfied that no honorable member would be induced to think that the word has any application to the conduct of any honorable member of this House in this connexion. I do not feel called upon to say very much save to acknowledge the kindly remarks of my right honorable leader. As to the person whom I hold responsible in this matter, I must say that as soon as I saw the matter in the press I employed my pen for the purpose of communicating my sentiments to him. I think I did so thoroughly. I do not propose to introduce a question of that kind on the floor of the House ; it will be sufficient to say that there was no room for any misunderstanding.
– Did the honorable gentleman write in English ?
– I so wrote that “he who read might run,” to repeat a joke made some time ago by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. With regard to the general question, I think it an advantage to exchange views with various honorable members, and with other persons who are able to bring special knowledge to bear in relation to any proposed legislation, and I shall not hesitate at any time to give effect to that view. I make bold to say that if I had thought that an honorable member of the Opposition desired confidentially to offer valuable suggestions in connexion with a measure of this kind, I should not have hesitated to avail myself of his kind assistance.
– I will come to the Cabinet meeting next week.
– The right honorable member will not attend a Cabinet meeting just yet. I should fear the Greeks when bearing gifts. Honorable members know that from time to time it has been a source of complaint that Ministers generally have not sufficiently taken the public into their confidence. Again and again I have been recommended to confer upon members of the public, able to bring special knowledge to bear on the subject, an opportunity to confidentially make suggestions in relation to various measures before they are introduced.
– Before it is too late.
– Yes ;I have carried out that suggestion time and again. We take the full responsibility, and I contend that it would be a mistake for Ministers, whoever they might be, to refuse valuable information because they had not got it immediately in their possession, when they knew that it could be obtained. Honorable members know perfectly well that in regard to the Customs Bill - we could not do so in reference to the Tariff - the Exeise Bill, the Beer Excise Bill, and the Patents Bill, we submitted the matters dealt with to those specially qualified to criticise, in order to obtain the benefit of their suggestions. We have received their suggestions, and have been glad to utilize them. Therefore, in regard to the great question of conciliation and arbitration, which I think honorable members will credit me with a desire to further, it would be strange, indeed, if I were to refuse to avail myself of facilities for improving this measure similar to those which I had employed in relation to other matters somewhat less dear to me. What has been the understanding in regard to the employment of these facilities ? That confidence would be observed. There has not been a Bill issued which has not borne upon its face the word “Confidential.” That confidence has been respected in every case by members of the organizations to which I have referred, and by every one else whom I have consulted. I repeat that the copy of the Bill which was handed to the press representative in question was also marked “confidential,” and that there was no room left for doubt in regard to that matter.
– Was it submitted to the newspaper for suggestions?
– It was submitted to them because they desired to look at it. If a suggestion had been offered we should have been glad to obtain it, no matter what the source. The Bill was submitted to the press in circumstances in which it was dishonorable to publish it, and I complain - and complain rightly - that it has been published in breach of confidence, and in circumstances which I infinitely regret. I do not think it is necessary to further trouble honorable members. There are some remarks which were made for the most part in a jocular way by certain honorable members in Opposition as to which I should like to say a good deal ; but this Bill relates to conciliation, and in order to afford an example of the application of that principle I propose to say no more.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– It becomes my duty to move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill for the purpose of ratifying, and providing funds in support of, the naval agreement which, subject to the approval of this Parliament, I entered into during a visit to England in connexion with the Coronation, which, of course, was with the approval of this House. The agreement, much as it has been canvassed, represents the subject of very much serious and careful discussion in London - a discussion in relation to which I must acknowledge at the outset the valuable assistance rendered to me by the Minister for Defence. Despite the fact that, during part of the negotiations, he was seriously ill, my light honorable colleague was able to give me much good counsel and assistance. I must acknowledge, also, at this stage, the fact that those with whom we were conducting negotiations - that is to say, the First Lord, and the other authorities, of the Admiralty - received us with the utmost courtesy. They were willing at all times to assist us with any information at their disposal, and it must certainly betaken that thisagreement does not represent any undue pressure whatever placed upon the representatives of the Ministry and this Parliament. We found in existence an agreement entered into in 1SS7, but npt carried into practical effect until 1889, and I shall, in the course of my remarks, give an outline of the ships and the armaments which furnish the squadron supplied under that agreement. I shall next give an outline of the proposed agreement, and enter into a comparison of its main features with those of the existing one. I shall then discuss the principles upon which the new agreement is based, and deal with the .clause which permits ships to be removed, and which makes the East Indies and China stations as well as the Australasian station the sphere of operations. After that, I hope to say something about the alternatives to the scheme, which are, the abandonment of naval defence altogether ; secondly, the obtaining of some other and better agreement ; and, thirdly, the constitution of an Australian navy. I shall also give some attention to -the difficulties in the way of the last-named proposal. Then I hope to discuss the objections to the scheme which, to condense them, are that there will be nothing to show for the expenditure ; that the scheme does not .satisfy local aspirations ; that it does not sufficiently represent the desirability of training Australian seamen ; and that it is too imperialistic. That task will take some time, and I shall have to crave the indulgence of the House if I make a speech which is longer than usual, because the ground to be traversed is large, the objections that have been raised are many, and the considerations in favour of the agreement are also many. I trust to have that consideration and indulgence which the House always gives to those who have large matters in hand. Dealing with the existing agreement, which was entered into in 1887, honorable members who have looked at the ratifying Acts passed by the several Parliaments which, in their skeleton frame, are very much like the two or three clauses that lead up to the schedule in this Bill, will see that it was for a period of ten years, terminable on two years’ notice. The ten years, I may mention, expired in 1899 ; but the two years’ notice, it was deemed advisable before Federation and it has been thought advisable since, not to give until fresh arrangements could be made: and the new agreement contains a provision which supersedes the old agreement, under which the naval defence of Australia was to consist of five fast cruisers of the third class, and two torpedo gun-boats, of which three cruisers and one gun-boat were to be kept in commission. And here, I would ask honorable members to make a line of demarcation in their minds. The old agreement was confined to the five third-class cruisers and the two torpedo gun-boats, being seven in number, while the new agreement deals with eleven ships, although it may not be quite consistent to say that we are getting eleven ships where we had only seven, because there has been, notwithstanding the old agreement, a furnishing of other vessels, such as the Royal Arthur and some other cruisers, and sloops. On the other hand, we have no reason to suppose that the Admiralty will confine the ships on the station to those specified in the new agreement any more than they did before. There is, in fact, a clause which indicates that the ships mentioned therein are not to be taken to be the only force to be kept on the station by the United Kingdom - and to that I shall make reference as I go on. These ships were, as I have said, constituted a special Australian Auxiliary Squadron of five third-class cruisers and two torpedo gun-boats. The normal strength of the squadron on the naval station was not to be reduced, though the terms of the agreement, of course, applied only to the Australian Auxiliary Squadron. The ships were not to be removed from the limits of the Australian station without the consent of the colonial governments concerned, which were the six governments in Australia and one government in New Zealand. In other respects, they were under the sole control and orders of the naval Commander in Chief. The local naval defence forces were not affected by the agreement ; nor is there in the new agreement anything referring to them. In return for this service, Australia and New Zealand, between them, were to contribute a total sum not exceeding £126,000, made up of 5 per cent, on the prime cost of the vessels, which was to be from £850,000 to £900,000, the amount not to exceed £35,000, and a sum for maintenance amounting to about £91,000. Let me guard myself against the supposition that this represented the whole of the cost - sinking fund, interest, and maintenance - of this squadron. That was not so, because the Imperial Government entered into obligations considerably larger than those which were represented by the contributions from Australia and New Zealand. The sum of £126,000 was divided between Australia and New Zealand, on a population basis, and the population of Australia was assumed to be five times that of New Zealand. In 1SS9, the population of the six States, which now constitute the Commonwealth, was 3,1S3,237. The share of Australia amounted to £106,000, and ‘the total cost may be mentioned at 8d. per head. The auxiliary squadron included the Katoomba, Mildura, Ringarooma, Wallaroo, and Tauranga, third-class cruisers, costing between £120,000 and £140,000, with a speed of 19 knots, a complement of 200 to 300 men, a tonnage of about 2.600, and with an armament of eight 4-7 guns, eight 3-pounders, and four machine guns. There were also the Karrakatta and the Boomerang, torpedo gunboats, which cost about £52,000 each, with a slightly higher speed than the third-class cruisers, a complement of 91 men, a tonnage of 735 tons, and an armament, besides torpedoes, of two 4-7 guns, and four 3- pounders. I mention these facts because I ‘ shall have to give some description of the vessels of the proposed squadron by way of comparison. Besides the ships of the Auxiliary Squadron, the Admiralty have kept on the Australian station certain other ships - among them the Royal Arthur, which was deemed a first-class cruiser, although the fashion of to-day, founded on experience, is to build first-class cruisers of larger dimensions and larger armaments. When the Royal Arthur was built, at a cost of £427,000, she was considered a firstclass cruiser. Her tonnage is 7,700 tons, her speed is 19-7 knots, and she has for armament one9-2-in. gun, twelve 6-in. guns, twelve 6-pounders, five 3-pounders, and seven machine guns. The Phoebe and Archer, third-class cruisers, which have also been kept here by the Imperial Government, outside the agreement, were generally similar to cruisers of the Mildura and Katoomba class, and there are four sloops and gunboats, of small dimensions, whose main duties are, as honorable members know, the patrolling of the Pacific. Now, to summarize the features of the existing agreement, it means that five third-class cruisers, and two torpedo gunboats, built at an aggregate cost of about £850,000, with an average speed of nineteen knots, and for the cruisers an aver- age tonnage of 2,600 tons, represented a payment by Australia alone of £106,000, Or 8d. per head, the cruisers not to be removed without the. consent of the colonial Governments. The vessels have to some extent become obsolete, being fourteen years old. That of course would have happended had they been our property instead of that of the Imperial Government. The type of thirdclasscruiser now being built is faster, longer, and of much greater horse-power than those to which I have referred. Moreover, a cruiser of the Mildura type, as has been pointed out by experts, is not suited for the heavy weather met with off the Australian coast. It has been found too short for the long seas which prevail in our waters. Honorable members, who are curious will find in last year’s Naval Annual, at page 439, some expert remarks, on thesubject. Hence, again, the necessity for new arrangements. Since 1887, the population of Australia has increased by some 700,000 souls, and, as I shall show presently, the external trade of Australia with the United Kingdom, with other parts of the Empire, and with foreign countries, has increased to a - very large extent. Sothat the trade to be protected has largely increased, the population has increased,, and the .naval development of the powers of the world has also largely increased as tonumber and armament, and the strength, and the fighting power of their ships. Now foran outline of the new agreement which will be found in the schedule to the Bill. It is for a period of ten years, terminable on two years’ notice from the end of the eighth year. f < Mr. Higgins. - If there is no notice given then 1
– If there is no notice given then it will expire at the end of two years’ notice whenever given.
– It will expire at the end of ten years.
– Like the old agreement it will continue in the absence of notice ; but it can be made to expire at the end of ten years by giving notice at the end of the eighth year. Two years’ notice has to be given in any case. The two features in this agreement are first, the sea-going fleet, and next the provision for the local training of Australian seamen ; first on a ship in active commission, and also on drillships as a branch of the Royal Naval Reserve. The second of these features does not appear in the old agreement, and, so far as agreements of this kind are concerned, it is a new feature. The sea-going fleet is to consist of such ships as I am about to describe. First, there will be one first-class armoured cruiser. The type of ship that will probably be sent out- and I think I am within the mark in making this statement - will be of about 12,000 tons, as against 7,700 tons on the part of the Royal Arthur. Costing from £750,000 to £800,000, she will have a length of 440 feet, a horse power of 21,000, an armament of two 9-2-in. guns, twelve 6-in. quick-firers, and seventeen small quick-firers, a speed of 21 knots, and a complement of about 755 men. I do not bind myself wholly down to that, for this reason - that if one consults Brassey’s Naval Annual, which is pointed out as the guide in these matters, it is easy to conceive of our being favoured with the services of a cruiser larger and more powerful than that which I have described. I arn referring now to cruisers of the Cressy class. I need hardly say that such a ship will be an efficient fighting machine. Next there will be two second-class cruisers of the type of the modern second-class cruisers, as represented by a ship of, say, 5,S80 tons as against 2,600 tons on the part of the largest ship in the present Auxiliary Squadron, to be built at a cost of about £400,000, with a length of about 355 feet, a horsepower of about 12;500, a speed of about 21 knots, an armament of eleven 6-inch guns and fifteen small quick-firers, and a complement of from 470 to 500 men.
– Of what type are they ?
– I think they will be of the Challenger class. There will also be four third-class cruisers. Of these, three are already in service here, and are to be used as drill-ships. The fourth, which will be a new ship, will possibly be of the Amethyst class, measuring 3,000 tons, and 360 feet long. Her engines will be of 9,800 horse power, and she will be capable of steaming at a speed of 21 knots. She will cost £220,000, and her armament will be twelve 4-in. guns, and eight quick-firing three pounders. Her complement will correspond, but I have not the exact figures’ as to it.
– Three of these obsolete ships are to be retained as drill-ships ?
– They are not obsolete as drill-ships, although they are becoming obsolete as fighting machines. They are not, however, obsolete in the sense that they cannot be used as fighting ships, because I have been assured by the ViceAdmiral that, if there were trouble on this coast, he would have no hesitation in taking them out to meet the ‘ enemy. The word “ obsolete “ has become in the British Navy, I will not say a slang expression, but a term which is entirely a relative one. A vessel may not be obsolete as regards vessels of the same class in other navies, but she may be obsolete according to the new standard which the British naval authorities have set up for themselves. It is in that sense that the word is used in connexion with the three third-class cruisers to which the honorable member refers.
– Is it proposed to re-arm them ?
– If necessary.
– They are fourteen years old.
– Yes, but I do not think that it will be necessary to rearm them’, because they now have a modern armament, and, as their primary purpose is to serve as training ships, they will be used ordinarily for that purpose. There will also be four sloops, probably of the Espiegle class, of 1,070 tons, capable of steaming about 13^ knots an hour, costing about £80,000, and armed with six 4-inch quickfiring guns. Those are the details of the naval squadron which is to be sent here in substitution of the present auxiliary squadron of five third-class cruisers and two torpedo gunboats. Thus, we shall have eleven vessels in place of seven which are much smaller and much less efficient for fighting purposes, and article 1 of the proposed agreement provides that all of them -
Shall be from time to time, throughout the terms of this agreement, of modern type, except those used as drill-ships.
In that respect the agreement differs greatly from that under which the auxiliary squadron was commissioned. If it is complained that the vessels now on .the station are obsolete, it must be remembered that they are here . under an agreement which contains no stipulation that they shall be kept up-to-date and of modern type, and, in the absence of such a stipulation, there has been no endeavour on the part of Australia to obtain, and no offer on the part of the Admiralty to furnish, more modern vessels.
– Who is to determine that the vessels are of modern type 1
– I suppose the Admiralty. AVe have no better authority, and unless we assume that they will play us false, we cannot rely upon a better opinion. I do not suppose that there is any expert here who would pretend to offer an opinion of equal value to that of the Admiralty experts. We might possibly find some equal authority in the world, but it would have to be the expert opinion of a foreign. power.
– Have .we not depended upon the Admiralty for the last fifteen years, and now have obsolete vessels ?
– Yes ; but I should be sorry to ask for support to the agreement upon the statement that, although the present vessels have been steadily growing older and less efficient, they would do us no service to-day. Making allowance for the expense of maintaining vessels of modern type, the total cost of the new squadron, exclusive of the three drill-ships, will be over £2,000,000, as against £S50,000 at the most for the old squadron. As, however, vessels always cost a little more than the estimate, because of the expense of testing them by means of trial trips and in other ways, the total cost will be something like £2,500,000, or almost three times that of the vessels of the old squadron.
– Will the new squadron be three times as efficient as the old ?
– Presumably it will be much more efficient. The opinion of the First Lord of the Admiralty, derived from his experts, was, to put it in very few words, that the new squadron would be able to blow the existing squadron out of the water. To ascertain the total cost of the whole squadron, something must be added to the figures I have given for the value of the three old ships which are to be retained as drill ships. So much for its character and strength. As to the disposition of the ships, their base is to be the ports of Australia and New Zealand, and their sphere of operations the waters of the Australian, China, and East Indian stations, as defined in the schedule to the agreement.
– Then they can be sent to the Persian Gulf or to Japan ?
– j shall state the views of Admiralty experts upon the question, utilizing, without breach of confidence, information which I gained in England.
– Are they not very much divided t
– The opinions of the Admiralty are not divided upon the subject, although there are gentlemen who pose as authorities, and may, perhaps, be rightly so regarded, whose opinions differ from those expressed by the Admiralty. The opinion of the Admiralty, however, as to what should be the policy of the British Navy as a whole, is an undivided opinion. It may be wrong, but I think honorable members will agree that we know of no better authority, and can have no better guide in this matter. There is certainly no officer or layman in Australia who would be a better guide. I do not say that the Admiralty is infallible, because ! have never attributed that virtue to any human authority ; but we know of no other authority in which to repose confidence, and to which to turn for advice in naval matters, than that which exists for the determination of all such questions within the Empire.
– But is the Admiralty consistent t
– I do not say that it has always been consistent : but if honorable members will not come to an agreement until they can obtain the advice of an authority which is always consistent, and always right, and is in all things like ourselves, I may as well throw the Bill into the waste-paper basket. It was pointed out by those with whom we discussed the matter that the President of the French Republic has lately issued a decree largely strengthening the naval forces of France in the Far Eastern seas, and placing its two squadrons under the command of one admiral, the design being obviously to make it possible to concentrate as much strength as they can afford to utilize for the infliction of the utmost possible damage upon the commerce of the Empire should a naval war arise. The Empire has a powerful squadron in the China seas, another on the Cape station, another on the East Indian station, and another on the Australian station, the first-named being the most powerful. It is the waters of the China, the East Indian, and the Australian stations that are to be the sphere of operations of the respective squadrons of those stations ; but if the squadrons could not combine, and were reserved for separate local service, a powerful squadron such as the French Republic is now forming in these seas might deal with them singly and independently, and perhaps, with good fortune, destroy them, thus inflicting immense damage upon the Empire as a whole, and especially upon this portion of it. In using that illustration, it was the intention of those who discussed the matter with us to show that the support of these squadrons should be mutual. The cost of maintaining the China and East Indian squadrons amounts to nearly 85 per cent, of a given amount, of which the cost of maintaining the existing Australian squadron would be something like 15 per cent. 1 mention that to show ‘how valuable is this provision for a larger sphere of operations, in that it secures for us the support of other squadrons belonging to the Empire. If, in time of trouble, the ships under the existing agreement - I have no comparisons with regard to the new agreement - were ordered away to the China or the East India Station, the obligation would be mutual. If we contributed our 15 per cent, of power to their assistance, we should, when our turn came, be entitled to the support of their 85 per cent, of offensive and defensive power.
– The fact of Australia having a squadron to defend itself would not affect the fleets in those waters. 5 t
– It would influence them to this extent : That it is the policy of the British Navy to concentrate its forces at the point at which the trouble occurs, wherever that may be, and to come down upon and destroy the enemy. That is also the policy of other nations in a game at which two can play. Those whose fleets have been met and demolished in times gone by owing to their being kept apart are not likely to forget the lessons of the past j and if the)’ combine, and we do not, our danger will be the more imminent, and our chances of success correspondingly reduced.
– Suppose the enemy were to disperse 1
– That would be to suppose that our enemies are fools. In the discussion which took place at the Conference, it was pointed out that if our squadrons did not mutually support each other, a combined squadron of another power, or powers, could deal with them separately and independently, and thus inflict enormous damage on our forces in detail. Then, when our men-of-war had been dispersed, and not till then, would the ships of the enemy disperse and attack our floating trade. The enemy would. not disperse whilst their lives were in danger. They would concentrate their forces to meet eventualities, in the same way that it is the traditional British policy te concentrate in order to force the hands of an enemy. The enemy knows that we will not scatter, because the time when a naval power is effective to destroy the floating trade of an enemy is when it can do so with impunity, and when it has not a superior force to deal with. In other words, it is the policy first to look out for and kill the sheep dogs, and afterwards to prey upon the flock. That is a homely illustration, in -which our men-of-war represent the sheepdogs and our trading vessels the flocks. It must be seen by those who have considered the matter that if our own fleet, or say the French fleet, were liable to be taken in detail, and overcome by the superior concentrated force of another power, those who were responsible for running such a’ danger would be affected by a species of midsummer madness. If the enemy is able to come down upon us and destroy our fleet in detail, whether it be in the chops of the Channel or in the Mediterranean, or in the Southern Seas, because we have failed to pursue the policy which lias been so successfully followed by our navy in the past, except on certain rare occasions, we shall deserve our fate. It does not matter whether we speak of our vessels as coast-defence or harbor-defence ships or not. I shall come presently to the question of harbor defence, and shall endeavour to show that there need be no apprehension as to the policy of the Government on that score. I ask the attention of honorable members to this fact : that if three ships are better than one - to use the most homely illustration - it is far better, if you have three ships, to oppose them to three of the enemy than to allow the enemy’s three ships to come down upon the first, second, and third of our vessels singly. In the latter event your ships are certain to go under, whereas if you oppose your three ships to the three vessels of the enemy, you at least have an equal chance of success.
– That is indisputable, but the Admiralty seems inclined to ignore the necessity for coastal defence.
– I do not think they do, but they put their trust first in a concentrated navy.
– The North German and the Channel fleets are maintained as purely local squadrons.
– That may be so, but, if I may be allowed to say so, that is not a very far-sighted observation. It is perfectly true that where the carcass is there will the eagles be gathered together. It is perfectly true, therefore, that where the British trade is greatest, the probability of concentrated attack upon it, and the necessity for the concentration of the British naval forces is the greatest, also. That, however, is a vindication of the principle I am supporting, and not an inroad upon it. As I said before, it is only when the menofwar have been dispersed that an effective attack upon the floating trade of an enemy can be commenced. It is only when the power of the enemy’s squadrons has been destroyed in detail that you can come back upon him and say - “I have destroyed your ships, and now 1 have your floating trade at my mercy.!’ Nothing could suit us better as an Empire than that the French should from the beginning ignore our ships of war and turn their attention to our trade, for that would mean the scattering of their forces and of their power, and we should be able to attack them in detail. They would, however, do no such thing, because they could not achieve their object. Their first effort would be to destroy the sheep dogs and then to prey upon the flock. I can find no better or apter illustration than this, which was used with great force by a Minister of the Crown at the Colonial Conference.
– Does the Prime Minister forget that the French President is now in London?
– I do not forget it, but I am mentioning France purely for the purpose of illustrating what might follow in certain events. We have known the best consequences to flow from the visits of the representatives of foreign nations to Great Britain, but, on the other hand, they have not always been the best. We all hope that the rapprochement between the French and British nations may be followed by the most triumphant cordiality, because without disparagement to any other . nation - and valuing very much, as I do, the friendly connexions which at present exist between the British Empire and other countries - I still think that our nearest neighbour across the Channel is one with whom we should be always friendly. It is not necessary to say more than that. As may be easily understood, in considering a question of this sort, all the possibilities have to be weighed, and it implies no hostility to any nation to name it as a possible enemy. Whatever local distribution of forces may be advisable or feasible in time of peace - such a distribution, for example, as that provided for under this agreement - will, in time of war, have to undergo considerable modifications. There must be only one authority, with full power and full responsibility to the Empire as a whole. Here I do not speak of the detail of political responsibility, but of that responsibility which the wielder of great powerin timesof grave extremity al ways feels in the performance of duty. There must be one authority, with full responsibility to the Empire, to move the ships and concentrate them wherever they can deal the most effective blow at the enemy. Any separation of responsibility, any diminution of the power of that single authority, any risk of hesitation or delay in making a conjunction, of the squadrons at the point at which they can act most effectively, might have the most disastrous consequences. I may be told that this is also indisputable.
It does seem quite clear to the lay mind that, as the separation of responsibility and power has been found so bad in the past, it is not likely to prove good in the future. It must be plain to all of us that the action of one of our squadrons in opposing a superior force here, and of another in opposing a superior force elsewhere, is not likely to meet with success but if the two fleets by combination become a superior force and attack the vessels of the enemy before they can effect a junction, the chance of victory will lie with us, and not with the enemy. This does seem all plain sailing, and yet I do not see how an agreement of this kind can be defeated, unless such principles are ignored. To use a simple illustration, you could not put out a great fire in a warehouse by throwing on it even many buckets of water ; but if you concentrated your water power through one great hose, and attacked the heart of the fire, you would have the best chance of success. If you found your efforts unavailing at that point, and you had to attack the edges of the fire after it had become hopeless to save the structure, you could still conduct your work most effectively by concentrating the water power. The same principle applies to naval operations. The squadrons are first concentrated as a seagoing force, and attend to coastal defence afterwards. So much do I agree with the principle laid down in this agreement, that I consider its chief feature, and most valuable feature, is the provision that the sphere of operations of the Australian squadron shall be the waters of the China, East Indian, and Australian stations, instead of making the sphere of operations of each squadron merely the waters contiguous to their respective stations. That is the principle to which I with all my heart adhere, and to which I ask honorable members to subscribe.
– Was the station previously called the Australian station?
– I think it was called the Australasian station, but its limits are not much altered, there being merely an extension eastwards so as to include the Caroline Islands. Honorable members will find the limits of the sphere of operations laid down in lines and parallels in the agreement, but I can give a rough indication of the limits to which they will extend.
– It is a pity that a map was not issued with the report. st 2
– Yes ; perhaps it would have been “better, but I think I can make the position clear. If honorable members look at the Navy League Map of the Empire, now beside me, they will see the delimitations of the boundaries of the naval stations indicated by flags. The limits of the sphere of operations are roughly as follows : - On the west of Australia the Indian Ocean as bounded by the east coast of Africa and the south coast of Asia ; on the north the seas around the East Indies, and also the Pacific Ocean bordering on the coast of China and Siberia ; on the east the Pacific Ocean, arOund the Pacific Islands, as far out as the Caroline Islands–
– The Caroline Islands are situated to the north of Australia.
– It is a question of longitude. On the south of Australia, the sphere of the squadron’s operations is the Southern Ocean. Of course, we do not anticipate that anything is likely to happen which will necessitate the vessels being used south of Tasmania. The proposal is that instead of these ships being confined - as they were under the old agreement except with the consent of the States Governments - to Australasian waters, their sphere of operations in time of war, and that of the vessels of the other two squadrons, shall cover the whole of these seas in order that they may effectively carry out the principle of concentrating power wherever the enemy is to be found, which is admittedly the principle that should govern the operations of the navy as a whole.
– Could not that principle be extended so that the vessels might be taken into the North Atlantic ?
– To say that if the ocean were twice its size, it would be difficult to apply the principle, is no doubt a very good argument to use. That argument, however, does not make the principle which I have laid down an undesirable one to apply as far as modern contrivances will permit of that being done. One might verv easily say that he would give a range of 10 or 12 miles to a modern gun, and it might be pointed out that it would be much better if the weapon could be given a range of 15 miles. He would naturally wish to give the gun as long a range as possible, and it would be nothing against the principle involved to show that the weapon would not operate at 20 miles. If I may roughly point out the limits of the East Indies station it embraces the south coast of Madagascar, then extends up the Mozambique Channel, with a turn eastward to the Somaliland coast, through the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal until the limits of the China station are touched.
– Under the old agreement, the Australian station did not include the China and the East Indies stations.-
– No. The main object is to work the three existing stations as one, in order that each squadron may be able to render help to the other two in time of trouble. . Looking at the strength of the squadrons which are maintained elsewhere in relation to our own, it will be seen that under such an arrangement we shall have a great deal the best of the deal, because the extent of the help which we can render them is much less than that which they can render us. It must be clearly understood that » the extension of the sphere of operations of the Australian squadron does not for one moment imply that it will have to patrol the whole of this large area. It simply means that it may operate over that area if it is deemed desirable to do so. Let us look at the strength of the fleets which are employed on the East Indies and China stations. On the former there are one second-class cruiser, three third-class cruisers, two sloops, and two torpedo gun-boats, whilst on the China station there are four battle-ships, three first-class cruisers, three second-class cruisers, two third-class cruisers, and eleven sloops and gun-boats. Honorable members will therefore see that the combination of these two squadrons would afford us an infinitely greater degree of strength than we should be able to impart to them. I sometimes wonder why it is assumed that this principle is not reciprocal and mutual. We have never doubted that the Imperial Navy would, to the utmost of its power, come to our assistance if we were attacked. As honorable members are aware, an argument has been founded upon that fact, which, with all my respect for my neighbour, I cannot characterize as a generous one. It is that, as the English Navy will come to our assistance at any time, there is no need for us to participate in the obligations or burdens of the Empire, because we can enjoy the benefit of its protection for nothing. But, in addressing this House, I take it that I am addressing a body that will not be led away by any contention of that sort. Whatever other arguments may be urged in opposition to this Bill, I trust that we shall not be degraded by the argument that we need not discharge our duty because weshall deriveexactly the same benefit if we ignore it. It may be that, in times of stress in the past, the power of the Empire has had to be concentrated in this position or in that, to the loss of one out of many pests. But it does not follow - if that has taken place - that it was not the best policy to adopt. It is only an argument that the Empire had not equipped herself with sufficient power. Notwithstanding occasional losses, notwithstanding the presence of the difficulties which sometimes beset a general in the course of a military action, - difficulties which perhaps compel him to allow a portion of his forces to be cut off in order that he may succeed with the remainder - let honorable members ask themselves this question - “ What has been the result ? “ Despite occasional lapses, despite the knowledge that England has lost a colony on this occasion or upon that, and notwithstanding the memorable fact that she once left her fleet unmanned and unrigged in the Medway, so that the Dutch vessels sailed up and destroyed it, have we not the general result that, of all the empires of the world, the British has been the growing Empire, the civilizing Empire, that its reverses have been the most temporary, and its successes and extensions of power the most rapid and complete? I repeat that the extension of its sphere of operations ‘does not mean that the Australian squadron will have to patrol the whole of this area. The China and East Indies squadrons will patrol their own areas. All that is meant is that when it is deemed expedient, the squadrons shall combine. It is better to do that than to tie our squadron down to one narrow range of sea, because, in such circumstances, we could not complain if the other squadrons were similarly tied down. If that were done when we were in difficulties - as we are not the strongest squadron - we should be deprived of the greatest amount of support, and should deserve to sacrifice whatever we might lose. I point out now that there is no provision in the agreement similar to that which appears in the agreement of 1887 - that the ships shall not be removable from Austraiian waters without the consent of the Governments concerned. Instead of that provision, the second article provides -
The base of this force shall be the ports of Australia and New Zealand, and their sphere of operations shall be the waters of the Australia, China and East Indies stations, us defined in the attached schedules, where the Admiralty believe they can most effectively act against hostile vessels which threaten the trade or interests of Australia or New Zealand.
The object of their employment ‘ outside Australasian seas is thus laid down to be - what ? The most effective protection of the trade and interests of Australia and New Zealand. If, concurrently, the trade arid interests of the Empire are protected, are we so craven that we should be niggard of that support ? If our own interests were being sacrificed instead of protected and strengthened by the proposed arrangement, I could understand some of the objections which have been put forward by its opponents ; but if the opposite is the case, if our own interests are conserved, what is to hinder us from declaring, in an agreement which gives us the protection conferred by the combined power of two other naval squadrons, that we are prepared to be called upon in our turn to assist them in the protection of the interests of other portions of the Empire? I can imagine no more humiliating refusal than a refusal of that kind. It may be said that we should insert in the Bill a provision limiting the sphere of operations of the squadron to Australian waters. But I would point out that we cannot put such a limitation into the agreement, although we can amend the Bill which covers it. But even if it could be done, what would be the value of the limitation ? Those who urge the adoption of that course have almost unanimously agreed that if such a limitation were embodied in the agreement, no trouble would ever be experienced, because the consent asked for would always be forthcoming. If so, what is the value of such a limitation ?
– Who suggested that the limitation should be abolished?
– That suggestion was put forward by the Admiralty ; but prior to my visit to England, or having speech with the Admiralty authorities, I had arrived at the conclusion that that was the only policy worthy of the Empire. It cannot be said that any pressure was put upon me to agree to that conclusion, inasmuch as it was my own conviction before I went there. I repeat that there is no provision in the agreement, similar to the provision in the agreement of 1SS7, for tying the fleet down to Australian waters, excepting with the consent of the Australian and New Zealand Governments, and the article which I have read from the agreement shows that the converse is intended. The limitation existing in the old agreement is held, and rightly held, to be a limitation not for our advantage ; and if it is not for our advantage, we cannot complain of its removal. , The course I have indicated is now thought to be better for the mutual advantage of all parties to the agreement. The reasons for this I shall indicate later, in dealing further with the principles on which the agreement is based ; so far I have said sufficient for the purpose immediately in hand. In Article 2 there is this provision -
No change in this arrangement shall be made without the consent of the Governments of the Commonwealth and New Zealand ; and nothing in this agreement shall be taken to mean that the naval force herein named shall be the only force used in Australasian waters should the necessity arise for a larger force.
No doubt that is not a direct promise, but it would be very difficult to resist the implication which flows from the words, namely, .that if necessity arises for a larger force, the Empire will take good care we have the force to protect us. I, personally, have no doubt on that score.
– That is a larger force than the three squadrons ?
– A larger force than we shall have in Australian waters. The implication is unrestricted, and if vessels could be obtained to cover the long distances from points outside the sphere of action, and arrive in time to protect us in an emergency - and we may be sure a hostile fleet will always, as far as possible, be dogged by British vessels - then I take it that not even the restrictions in the agreement - not even the confinement of the sphere of operations to the Australian, China, and the East Indies stations - would deter the Empire, when it became necessary, from coming to our assistance.
– Would it not have been as well to have a positive statement to that effect ?
– It might have been as well to have a positive statement; but I think honorable members will be with me in not reading this agreement according to very narrow rules1 of construction. None of the parties who entered into the agreement, or assisted in its draftsmanship, took the view that it would be ever construed in a court of law. None of those who were concerned in the process of deliberation which led up to the agreement thought for a moment that the word of either party, once given, was likely to be broken by the one, or belittled by the other. And so, where we find matters in the agreement which give rise to any implication in favour of this or the other party, it is fair to take them as in tended- and I admit this as against me as well as for me - to bring about the best results which each can give to the other, rather than to regard them in a niggard or restricted sense in the application of the agreement. It is an agreement intended to be construed liberally, and so far as we are concerned I am sure it will be so construed. It would be as well to summarize the provisions referring to the sea-going squadron before I come to the question of the employment of Australians. The sea-going squadron will consist of a fleet of thoroughly modern ships, the base of which will be the ports of Australia and New Zealand, but which may, like the other two squadrons concerned, operate over the whole of the Indian and Southern Oceans, and over a large part of the Pacific Ocean. The primary duty of the squadron is, of course, the naval defence of Australia and New Zealand, and in this work it will be assisted, if necessary, by other ships of the British Navy. Now I turn to the local training of seamen, and this is, of course, a totally new feature. While there may be some difference in the provisions of the agreement as to the- power and armament of the vessels to be employed, still these provisions are the same in their nature as those of the former agreement ; but the provisions to which I am now about to refer are wholly different from any that have been made in any agreement between the Imperial Government and Australia in the past. I speak then of a special feature of the agreement - the local element in the scheme. Under Article 1, as honorable members have seen, there is to be formed in Australia a branch of the Royal Naval Reserve of 25 officers and 700 seamen and stokers.
Under Article 4, with which I now desire to deal, three of the vessels referred to in Article 1, which are to be onlypartly manned with permanent crews, will be used as drill ships for training also the Royal Naval Reserve. That is to say, apart from the secondclass cruiser, which will have an active crew of Australians and New Zealanders, there will be three drill ships, which must have a minimum permanent crew of from 120 to 130 men each. In addition, these ships will, amongst them, carry the members of the Royal Naval Reserve, numbering 25 officers and 700 men, of whom I have spoken. The advantages of these vessels, I ask honorable members to understand, are to be shared with New Zealand, and one of the drill ships will be stationed in New Zealand waters. The other two will remain in Australian waters.
– Arc these vessels to be manned by Australian seamen ?
– By Australian and New Zealand seamen, so far as it is possible to obtain them.
– What will be the position of the men at present employed in the Australian fleet 1
– I have a note of that point and will deal with it later. Under Article 5, the three drill ships and one other vessel - probably one of the second-class cruisers - are to be manned by Australians and New Zealanders. These men, according to Article 5 will be paid at special rates ; that is to say, they are not to be confined to the pay ordinarily given by the Admiralty to British sailors, but will be employed at a special rate, which will bring up their pay to a figure that can be reasonably accepted according to our notions of remuneration for services in Australia.
– Will those special rates be paid by the Imperial authorities t
– By the Im.perial authorities ; but, of course, we pay our subsidy of £200,000 per annum. The Australian element in the scheme, therefore, will be made up as follows: - The branch of the Royal Naval Reserve consisting of 25 officers and 700 men ; the permanent crews of the three drill-ships, consisting probably of from 360 to 390 men, exclusive of the reserves trained on board ; and the permanent crews of the second-class cruiser, consisting of from 470 to 500 men, most likely, I am informed, the latter. The total number of reservists and members of the permanent crews will be about 1,600 men. Thus the agreement offers permanent employment to close upon 900 men in the Royal Navy as engagement men, while there will be facilities also for the training of 25 officers and 700 seamen .and stokers as reservists in the drill-ships. As to the special rates of pay, I may say that after consultation with the Admiral, I have no apprehension but that when the scheme is finally approved of by the Admiralty - and the Admiral is now submitting a scheme to the home authorities - the rates will be found to be such as will satisfy the aspirations of those who wish to join the service. And as I shall show presently, those who join will also have an opportunity of equipping themselves for service in an Australian Navy if such a navy should afterwards be constituted.
– Under these terms we shall have all the British sailors wanting to become Australian sailors. Of course, there is no objection to that.
– I do not think that will be the result ; but if so, it will be very much into the hands of those who wish to establish an Australian Navy.
– Can the right honorable gentleman explain whether the Australian sailors will become permanent men in connexion with the British Navy, or whether they will be discharged at the end of the term of years ?
– The 470 to 500 men employed in the second-class cruiser will take service as active sailors in the British Navy under agreement for from three to five years, at the expiration of which they may have their discharge.
– When they may become members of the reserve.
– As the Minister for Defence reminds me, those men at the expiration of the term will be enabled to join the reserve, and will afterwards be able to take active service in the Imperial Navy in case of a demand arising for their service. That, again, is a matter of pure free-will ; it merely depends on whether there is a stipulation to that effect in the agreement which they sign. It might as well be made quite clear at once that there is nothing of the press-gang about the agreement.
– As reservists men are liable to be called, on at any time.
– They will be offered engagements, for instance, as opportunity arises, or vacancies occur, if they sign an agreement to that effect.
– But if war breaks out reservists are liable to be called on at any time.
– Yes ; if these men sign an agreement binding them to serve they will be bound to serve.
– But the obligation I have’ mentioned is part of their agreement.
– At the end of their term the men may join the reserves.
– I understand that the honorable member for Bland is asking what becomes of the men who join as reservists.
– There is no doubt that men who join the naval reserve render themselves liable to be called on for active service.
– Yes; if they sign on for the naval reserve they will have to go into active service if called on. If the men do not like to make such an agreement they will not join the naval reserve.
– Their joining the reserve is a voluntary act 1
– Are these reserve men to be used solely in connexion with the ships on the Australian station ?
– The ships will be for the purpose of training reserves, the members of which, however, will not be kept solely on the drill ships in time of war, but must be prepared to ship on board any vessel of the squadron. The three drill ships will be of the Mildura class, and they originally cost about £130,000 each. The scheme will provide for the rates of pay and conditions of entrance, &c, for the crews of the drill-ships and the cruiser, and also conditions of entry, terms of training, rates of pay, ttc, for the Royal Naval Reserve. As I have said, the Admiral is preparing a scheme which will be submitted for the sanction of the Admiralty.
– Will the right honorable gentleman kindly explain Article 9.
– I do not know whether the explanation of that article conies in at this portion of my remarks.
– Why was the article inserted t
– The article was inserted by the Imperial Government as an assurance - and I give it no more value than it is worth - that they recognise the advantages to them of dealing with Australasia for coal and supplies for the fleet in Eastern waters. It .means that if the Imperial authorities can reasonably deal with Australia and New Zealand - which form Australasia in the terms of the agreement - they will do so ; as a matter of fact they now largely deal with us for supplies. No promise is made to deal exclusively with Australasia ; but it seems to me that if Australasian coal is found to be suitable for Admiralty steaming purposes, it will receive preference. That, as I have said, is not a promise ; but I do not disbelieve the statement as it appears in the agreement.
– I believe the right honorable gentleman had something to do with the drawing up of the agreement.
– As a matter of fact I had a good deal to do with consultations on man)’ provisions of the agreement; but, if the honorable member needs such an assurance, I can tell him that I had no finger in the drafting of this article. Honorable members will forgive me if the details of this matter are somewhat dry, because they are of the highest interest to us as affecting our future. I have now dealt with the two main features of the agreement under the heads of the sea-going squadron and facilities for local training. Now, what do we pay ? The annual payment by the Commonwealth is to be £200,000, which is reckoned on the basis of five-twelfths of the total annual cost of maintenance. It is estimated that, allowing 5 per cent, for sinking fund and interest, and allowing for the ordinary cost of maintenance, equipment, and so on, the annual cost will be something like from £480,000 to £500,000 a year- possibly over £500,000. Included in that, as I have said - honorable members will note that I emphasize this point - is an allowance of 5 per cent, for sinking fund and interest on cost of construction ; which is generally assessed at the rate of 3 per cent, for interest, and 2 per cent, for sinking fund.
The balance is for the annual maintenance of the vessels, and the whole is estimated to amount to from £480,000 to a little over £500,000 a year. Though it has been reckoned at the minimum amount, thelarger total is expected to be reached. But however that may be, one-half of £480,000 is the sum which will have to be found by Australia and New Zealand - in the proportions of fivetwelfths by the one, and one-twelfth by the other. Thus the sums to be paid will be £200,000 in the case of Australia, and £40,000 in the case of New Zealand, and the balance, even if the amount is more than the sum I have named, the Admiralty engages to be answerable for. So that I think there is no want of liberality on their part in that respect. Taking the population of Australia on the figures given by the census of 1901, this payment amounts, 1 think almost to a nicety, to ls. 0£d. per head. The existing agreement, on the basis of our present, population, amounts to about 6d. per head. But as we are now making a new agreement, we should, at the inception of it, compare the cost per head with the cost pf the old agreement at the time of its inception, taking the then existing population into consideration. When the population of Australia stood at 3,180,000 in 18S9, the agreement entered into with the Admiralty amounted to 8d. per head for the whole of Australia. The new agreement will therefore cost us 4id. per head more than the old one at the time it was entered into, and we are bound to have regard to the population at the time of the inception of the agreement iu order tomake a fair comparison. It is quite true that the C03t of the old agreement, under which the ships have been wearing out, whilst the population has been increasing, amounts to a little more than 6d. per head, whilst the new agreement amounts to nearly double - that is ls. 0-J-d. per head. But if we compare the two agreements at the time of entering into them, the difference beween them in respect of cost per head is as the difference between Sd. per head in the past and ls. 01,d. in the future.
– The same will take place in the future - in regard to increase of population.
– Yes ; the same will continue in the future - that is to say, the burden per head will be less as our population increases.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House why Canada is refusing to contribute anything towards naval defence ?
– Canada is a country in which free speech prevails, and, therefore, when I was in the Dominion, it was possible for me to express my disappointment that Canada was not participating in the burdens of the Empire, inasmuch as her propinquity to England made her sure of the naval protection of Great Britain. But I arn not responsible for the abstinence of Canada. If there are those who say that because Canada stands off so should we, then theconverse a argumentprevails ; because every other self-governing part of the Empire is contributing, and the case against Canada is, therefore, as four to one.
– The difference in population is as four to one.
– But when we reflect that the little colony of Natal contributes a proportion - reckoned on her white population, who pay most of the taxes - of several times as much per head as we are asked to pay, and a proportion over the Canadian contribution reckoned by infinity, I think I may say that there is a case of a selfgoverning country which recognises its obligations. But it is not only Natal that recognises them. There i3 also the Cape of Good Hope ; there is Newfoundland in a smaller degree - but we are aware that the circumstances of Newfoundland are very different indeed from ours - and there is New Zealand, which we know to be with ourselves in this matter. As I have been asked a question about Canada, I may say that although I was only there three weeks, I had some opportunity of gauging public feeling upon this point. If I spoke about Imperial questions in Canada, I said no more there - notwithstanding anything that has been- stated to the contrary - than I said in England, and no less. I spoke what I believed to be true, and I said what was in me to say. Certainly if it is possible during a brief visit to form any judgment upon the attitude of a people whom one has seen, to whom one has spoken, and who have heard one speak, I have come to the conclusion that there is a very strong feeling in Canada in favour of making a contribution to the naval defence not merely of Canada, but of the United Kingdom and of the Empire.
– Judging by Ministerial expressions of feeling in. Canada, the right honorable gentleman has not converted them.
– We have not converted the Canadian Ministry at all. But the honorable member has had plenty of occasions during his political life for finding out - even in the case of Ministries as strong as this one - that their decisions have sometimes been reversed by the people, even though they may have been as strong as this one.
– Which one?
– This one.
– I have never known one so weak.
– I k I know one much weaker that has pursued the same policy as we are pursuing. Natal has indorsed the action of her Premier, although his Government only holds a majority of one in the lower House of that colony.
– I am not objecting ; this is not a party matter.
– Now, what do we get for this payment which we are asked to make? We get the services, not of a fleet which has been described as obsolescent, but the services of an efficient and modern fleet for the protection of our coasts and trade, and the promise, if necessary, of the assistance of two other powerful squadrons, which would be of the utmost sei- vice to us in time of need. In England, the cost of the navy is 15s. per head. In fact, it is now more like 17s. per head. As we have seen, we shall get the protection that we have arranged for at a cost of ls. 0 1/2d. per head. Let us make a comparison. Our external trade is rapidly growing, and must be protected. The best figures I can obtain show that our external trade in 1901 amounted to £109,602,103. That is the total in all directions. That £109,000,000 of trade is made up in this way - with the United Kingdom, £66,613,161 ; with other British possessions, £15,387,679 ; and with foreign countries, £27,601,263. So that we come to this singular fact which honorable members will notice - that of this total, the trade which other British possessions and foreign countries carried on with us amounted to £42,988,94:2. That is to say, in 40 per cent, of that total trade Great Britain has no direct interest, because it is no part of her trade with us. Yet she bears that large share of from 1 5s. and more per head for naval defence, against ls. 0-d. per head which we humbly propose to raise by our contribution.
– She has in any case to protect all but about 27 per cent, of the total trade ;. for that is all British trade.
– But 40 per cent, of the total is trade that is of no direct interest to Great Britain, while she bears almost the whole burden of protecting it. I am not one of those who are going to advance the silly argument that Australia should pay in proportion to her population, or in proportion to her trade. I was one of the first in the conference that was held in London to point out that that could not .be done. This passage occurs in my own speech, and I can, therefore, quote it without any breach of confidence. I said -
I have been pleased to hear from Mr. Seddon and Sir Wilfrid Laurier the references which they have made to the self-governing colonies in respect of works of internal development, and the varied subjects of government which are undertaken in those colonies beyond those which fall, as a rule, upon the taxpayer of Great Britain. It is just as well to clear the ground upon matters of this kind by a frank statement, in order that whatever we may be asked to do it may very soon be seen what only we are able to do. Now, Australia stands in precisely the same position that Canada and New Zealand do. The mere maintenance of life, liberty, and the security of property are not the only subjects of government. The Government undertakes, and with the. support, of course, of Parliament, a vast number of matters which ave elsewhere confined to the action of private enterprise. It undertakes in these respects the work of the community. Chief among these are railway extensions, but there are many other subjects of public development by which we endeavour to increase the capabilities of the countries in which we live, and these are capabilities any increase in which, no doubt, is open to the participation of the rest of the Empire. Now, these are works which must at once, and at the outset, be admitted to seriously limit our capabilities in the direction of a direct contribution. The taxpayer who is relieved of, or who has never been subject to, the burden which falls on the taxpayers in our struggling communities, can more easily, perhaps, afford a large contribution to naval and military defence than can the one I have first mentioned, who is undertaking the pioneer work of 3’ounger communities, and I think this is a consideration upon which we cannot dwell too strongly in order to make it clear to those who are carrying on government at the seat of Empire, what these limitations are, because then it becomes a question not of what we would like to do, but of what we can d o.
I followed that up by using these words - they may have no very close relation to what I was saying, but I desire before I put the book down to read this further quotation -
Before I sit down I should like to say that public men fully realize in Australia that an attempt at the close localization of local forces is not to the general interest. I know there are many among us who would ‘fight very hard to have any auxiliary squadron, as it has been called in the post, tied to Australian waters, but I think that as thought goes on in this matter it will be realized that the most effective blows struck in defence may be struck at a distance, and while they appear to be aggressive may be, in reality, the best means of successful defence. One need not hesitate in an expression of that opinion, when it is the opinion of all the. experts of all nations, I think, and is moreover, un opinion verified amply in British history. I am not prepared to go in a 113’ great detail into the general question at this moment ; but I have1 thought it advisable that, before we attempt to come to any set resolutions, we should all of us rather follow the example of others in impressing upon you what are our difficulties, and so enablethe Conference perhaps to arrive more easily at. an understanding in this matter. That will, no doubt, as far as we are concerned, be marked by an attempt to assist, to the extent of our possibilities, the Imperial defence ; but I have been obliged to make it quite clear how limited these possibilities are at the present stage, although they may be in a few years more ample.
Coupled with that, I took care in the discharge of my duty to explain to the Conference that, under the operation of the financial clauses of the Constitution, the attempt topromise any very large naval contribution was an attempt we could not make, and that, because of the vast number of concerns, that both the States and the Commonwealth had had to undertake in this continent, weshould very soon come to the end of our tether if we recognised anything like a proportionate liability such as has sometimes been argued for. » I desire to make itabsolutely clear to the House that I havenot argued either in England or here at any time in favour of our spending money in naval or other defence in the proportion in which it is spent by the taxpayers of the-. United Kingdom. I have argued all the time that the subjects undertaken by Government in these outlying parts of the Empire must necessarily be much more numerous than those- undertaken!. in the older and more settled communities, and that what private enterprise can do in other places it has been necessary for Government to undertake in Australia and other countries distant from the seat of Empire. Holding that opinion, I could not be of the opinion at the same time that we who, while doing all these things, are absolutely throwing open the results of our efforts to the rest of the people of the Empire, at any rate the white people of the Empire, should be called upon to contribute at the same rate per head as the taxpayers of the United Kingdom.
– To what extent are we required to protect our own trade?
– There is a, limit beyond which we cannot go. We cannot stretch that argument to the extent of saying - “ We are relieved of the necessity of defending for ourselves, and for our fellow-countrymen of the Empire, not only the things which we possess here, but with them all those which are possessed by the rest of the Empire.” That is the question before us. It is not a question of comparing 15s. to ls. per head. It is a question of this kind - Are we going to hold this Empire together? You can «ay - “We do not desire to do so.” In saying so you may be to my way of thinking unreasonable, but I must respect your opinion. But if, on the other hand, there is a majority who think that we should do everything, so far as in us lies, to take our part in holding the Empire together, we cannot then bring forward the argument that because we are engaged in the work of development we should take no share in the work of holding that which we are developing, and in helping the people of the rest of the Empire to hold what they have obtained. We must not sink to that level. I have no wish to put this matter upon any high-falutin or jingo grounds. I do not ask for equal contributions per head, but I do say it is one thing to recognise how difficult it is for struggling communities to contribute as much as more settled populations possessing greater accumulated wealth can contribute, and it is quite another thing to say that, because we are helping to develop a part of the Empire, we shall not bear a hand in maintaining even that which we are developing, or in giving the Empire reciprocal help. If we know that the Empire is going to help us in our time of need, I will not be one to sit down and say - “Nevertheless I will’ not help you. You will help me I know. You will spend, to use an old phrase, ‘The last man and the last shilling ‘ to help me ; but I shall do nothing of the kind. I will keep my man and pocket my shilling.” That is not a worthy argument. Strong as is the argument that the contribution should not be proportionate, it does not extend to that length, and it is impossible to escape our obligation - in no loose way and in no extravagant way, but within our means, with a full recognition that it is not one part of the Empire, but the whole of the Empire we are aiding to defend - to contribute according to the means placed in our hands. I was about to say, with reference’ to the question of expenditure, that, looking at it in another way, the value of the’ squadron we have had for an annual contribution of £106,000 might be compared with the value of the squadron it is proposed we shall get for an annual contribution of £200,000. It has been pointed out that the value of the squadron supplied under the existing agreement is, at the outside, £850,000. Under the new agreement we are to have a squadron of modern ships, the cost of which is roughly from £2,000,000 to £2,500,000, according as we include, or do not include three drill ships, which must have cost over £400,000. The prime cost of the ships to be obtained, under the new agreement, may be set down at £2,500,000, and that is what we are to get for a payment of £200,000 a year, as against a payment of £106,000 a year for ships whose prime cost was about £850,000. There, again, comes in the comparison between the payment of ls., 0 1/2d., and the payment of 8d. Coming again to this question of the comparison of trade, I mentioned that our trade with other British possessions and foreign countries came to £43,000,000 a year, or 40 per cent, of the whole. Our external trade of £109,000,000 has increased to that amount in 1901, from £84,650,000 in 1891. Those are the nearest figures I could get for ten years. What does that mean ? It means that our whole external trade was in 1891 £22 per head, and in 1901 it had increased to £23 18s. per head, or an increase of £1 18s. per head. While the trade, therefore, has increased to the extent of 3Ss. per head, the cost of protecting it will only, under the new agreement, be increased to the extent of 4d. per head. I venture to put that forward as an argument to show that this is a reasonable and fair agreement. If the agreement entered into in 1S89 was a fair one - and honorable members will see how very small was the protection afforded us under .that agreement as compared with the protection proposed under this - and if under the former agreement the cost per head was 8d., is it unreasonable to contend that we should now bear a cost of ls. 0£d. per head ? I venture to say it is not. As I say, we are to have- the services of this efficient fleet - a small navy - and taking all the circumstances into consideration, I think we may say that we are being reasonably dealt with, and that there is no attempt to overreach us.
– What, about the Imperial squadron? Will that be continued ?
– The Imperial squadron, the Royal, Arthur, and the other ships of that squadron were always kept on the station, independently of the Auxiliary Squadron furnished under the naval agreement. That was an entirely voluntary contribution, and it is a matter upon which I cannot give definite information. I can only say that the squadron we shall be getting now will be one of eleven ships, and that the Auxiliary Squadron under the existing agreement, together with the other strength of the navy in these seas, consisted of fourteen ships.
– Eighteen, I think.
– Only fourteen ; there can be no doubt about that. The fact can be officially verified. At times there may have been eighteen, reckoning little boats that are not worth counting. The strength of the squadron kept here in addition to the Auxiliary Squadron was seven ships - the Royal Arthur, the two other ships I mentioned - the Phoebe and another - being third-class cruisers, and four gun-boats and patrol-ships. I may mention that there has been also a hydrographic survey - ship employed in these waters. It may be assumed, as there is no provision made in the agreement for a surveyship, that there is no likelihood of that vessel being taken away, and the position in this respect will probably remain as it is. I desire to call attention to the fact that, although the new squadron proposed will consist of three ships less than the strength of the old Auxiliary Squadron, together with the Royal Arthur and the other ships kept here, if honorable members will consult the Naval Annual they will find, from the description and types of the ships and their armaments, that the squadron now proposed will be more powerful than the other two squadrons combined.
– - We shall not have a battle-ship in the proposed squadron.
– There will not be a battle-ship in the proposed squadron, but the distinction between the first-class armoured cruiser and a battle-ship is rapidly disappearing, except that the cruiser is generally the faster ship.
– Mahan does not say so.
– I do not know that, but I do, know that it is the opinion of many English experts that today a first-class cruiser - like the Drake or the Cressy, to come down to details - is practically a battle-ship in all but the name, and travels a little faster. .
– Mahan says that they are second-class vessels.
-Then we must leave the opinion of our own experts to stand against his. I do know this also, that although the Royal Arthur is sf-ill ranked as a first-class cruiser, she is a very much smaller ship than the first-class cruiser we shall have under this agreement. Putting aside other means of comparison between them, the number of men required to work the Royal Arthur is somewhere about 567, as against 775 required to man the first-class cruiser, according to modern notions, which we are to have. I mention this to show that what was called a firstclass cruiser in the days when the Royal Arthur was a new ship more nearly approximated to what is now called a second-class cruiser, which requires a crew approximating to 500 men.
– How often have these men to be replaced ?
– The honorable member, no doubt, refers to the Australian-trained men 1
– T - The men to whom the right honorable gentleman refers.
– They are to be subjected to an agreement of from three to five years.
– The old agreement was three years.
– They will be under an agreement of from three to five years, after which they may, if they wish, pass into the reserve. They are’ not encouraged to re-engage for active service, because - as I understand - the intention is that they should be encouraged to pass into the reserve. I now come to to the consideration of the principles upon which this agreement is based. We have to remember that the naval defence of the Empire, if it is to be effective, must be unified. It must be subject to a single control, organized from a single centre. Those who have watched in anything - in battle or play - the relative effects of absolute combination and training, as compared with that which happens when people are brought together as mere separate units, will be able to pronounce upon the value of combined training. That which is true with regard to battle or play, according to history and to our own experience, is equally true with regard to the navy of the Empire. In regard to this point, I desire to mention a few considerations -
The importance which attaches to the command of the sea -
I am reading from a paper which has been published - lies in the control which it gives over seacommunications. The weaker sea power is absolutely unable to carry to success any large military expedition over sea.
It cannot, with any hope of success, expect to land troops at long distances as against the Power which is strong from the naval stand-point. The truth of this is shown by a reference to the history of the past. We may go back, for example, to the time when the Greek victory of Salamis threatened the Persian lines of communication. There were 1,000,000 men in the Persian army for the invasion of Greece ; but that 1,000,000 could not stay when communication with their base was threatened by the victory of the Greeks at Salamis ; the influence of sea power was such that they had to go back to Persia with huge losses. The paper to which I have referred points out that -
The failure of the famous Syracusan expedition was due to the defeat of the Athenian fleet, and had its modern counterpart in the failure of Admiral Graves, off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, in 1781.
That was one of the most vital failures in history, because -
The surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown W:LS the prelude to the independence of the United States.
That very surrender arose from the failure of the British fleet to keep up communications with the land forces, which were acting in defence of British interests in America. I am not saying whether we ought to be glad or sorry at the result of that contest so far as the interests of humanity and freedom are concerned ; but it is a lesson that shows that the command of the sea means, in most cases, command of the land in any naval or military expedition which has to be fought at a distance. These are illustrations of that fact which cannot be gainsaid. Let us turn to later times - to the expedition of Napoleon to Egypt. Napoleon landed an enormous army in Egypt, but Nelson came up with the French fleet and defeated it in the battle of the Nile. That was a totally unexpected blow, arising out of the fact that Nelson, with wonderful prescience, had collected from every quarter all the forces he could obtain, and that, when he was least expected, he bore down upon his adversary and destroyed his ships. And he destroyed them, owing to his superior mobility and activity, mostly at their moorings. What happened then? Napoleon’s communications with France were cut, and the consequence was the surrender of the entire French army. That was brought about not by any land battle, but simply by Britain’s command of the sea - that command without which, maintained in all its supremacy, the idea of holding this Empire together becomes nothing but a dream.
– Does the right honorable and learned gentleman say that the surrender of the French army was the result of the battle of the Nile?
– Napoleon marched his men up to Acre, and did not surrender.
– He surrendered subsequently. Does the honorable and learned member think that he would have surrendered if Nelson had not come down and destroyed France’s naval power ? I repeat that that surrender would not have happened but for the victory of the Nile, and that assertion cannot be denied. My honorable and learned friend seems to think that one thing is not the consequence of another because it does not happen within a day or two after the first event. Napoleon had no hope of restoring his communications with France after the battle of the Nile, and that was the reason of his entire failure, and the subsequent surrender of his army.
– That is right.
Sir EDMUND BARTON.^ These instances show the advantages of gaining seapower. Let us look at a few of the advantages of maintaining it. We can quote historical example for that. The conquest of French-Canada was due to the fall of Quebec. How was that fall brought about 1 How was it possible for Wolfe to defeat Montcalm, as he did; to make that splendid attack, and to close the same day a victor and a martyr, or, at any rate, a hero 1 It was mainly due to the fact that the superior sea-power of the British closed the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the French and opened it to us. The French were cut off from their communications, while the British communications remained intact. The British were thus able to attack the French successfully, and from that successful attack came the downfall of French Canada. If there is a similar struggle, in the future, that route .of the Gulf of St. Lawrence will be as vital as in the past. The onus will be cast upon the British power of maintaining that route, of maintaining its own communications, and of breaking all others, whether it be to assist Canada or not. But when it is assisting Canada, and breaking some other power, it is assisting us. It is impossible to reckon these things by square inches. The triumphs of the Empire, even if they are a thousand miles away from what you call your base, are as profitable in their results, and as fruitful in their ultimate success, as if they were fought and won within a mile of your own doors. I need not multiply instances, although they might be multiplied by dozens. But, to any naval power, the destruction of the enemy’s fleet must always be the great object. It is pointed out in this paper that -
It is immaterial where the great battle is fought ; but, wherever it may take place, the result will be felt throughout the world, because the victor will afterwards be in a position to spread his force with a view to capturing or destroying any detached forces of the enemy, and generally to gather the fruits of victory - in the shape of many things which we can easily imagine if we put the two converse positions, of England, in the event of a great war, maintaining and extending command of the seas or losing it. There have been great developments in the navies of France, Germany, the United States, and Russia. God forbid that we should ever be at war with any of these Powers ; but if we have to be at war with them, it will be the unready who lose, and the ready who win. These improvements, these extra armaments, indicate the possibility that a battle of the kind I have described may have to be fought in the future. We cannot put that possibility aside. We cannot, like the ostrich, which when pursued thrusts its head into the sand and deludes itself into the belief that it has no enemy, shut our eyes to that contingency. We must look to the future as if these things were possible. We must recollect that even if these struggles take place in the English Channel, they are not local struggles. Wherever the struggle takes place it must be felt all over the world. It will matter little to us whether the great battle of the future be fought within 5 miles of Port Phillip or Port Jackson, in the chops of the Channel, or in the middle of the Mediterranean. It is to the result of such a battle, rather than to the place at which it occurs, that we shall have to look for our subsequentsecurity ordanger, because although it may be at a distance, annihilation will not be distant afterwards, if we fail. The successes of those who are able to destroy our command of the seas may be postponed a few days until they reach us, but our downfall will be none the less certain. It is true, as is pointed out, in the paper which I have named–
– What is the paper to which the right honorable gentleman is referring t
– I am reading from a paper by Lord Selborne, which reached me as a confidential document, but which I find has since been presented to both Houses of Parliament in England. It is pointed out in this paper that -
The geographical conditions and the varied interests o£ the maritime powers prevent such complete concentration in modern times as was practicable in the past. Thus Russia divides her battleships -
Where 1 Between the Baltic and Pacific. You cannot concentrate competely. That I admit. The point is to concentrate to the full extent that you can, and to have regard to the locality in which danger is threatened. The paper points out that the battleships of the United States are divided between the Atlantic and Pacific, and that both Germany and France have concentrated in European waters, notwithstanding their interests in other parts of the globe. It is true also that the greater part of the British battleships are also massed in those waters. But even our possible enemies, the paper points out - are fully aware of the necessity of concentrating on the decisive points. They will endeavour to prevent this by threatening our, detached squadrons and trade in different quarters, and thus obliging us to make further detachments from the main fleets.
It is contended that -
We should have sufficient power available to carry on a vigorous offensive against the hostile outlying squadrons, without unduly weakening the force concentrated for the decisive battle, whether in Europe or elsewhere.
To what does all this point 1
The immense importance of the principle of concentration ; and the facility with which ships and squadrons can be moved from one part of the world to another - it is more easy to move a fleet from Spithead to the Cape or Halifax, than it is to move a large army, with its equipment, from Capetown to Pretoria - points to the necessity of a single navy under one control by which alone concerted action between the several parts can be assured.
I said that the policy was a traditional one. I find that word used in this paper. It points out that -
The traditional role of the British Navy is not to act on the defensive, but to prepare to attack the force which threatens - in other words, to assume the offensive. On one occasion England departed from her traditional policy, and acting on the defensive, kept her ships in harbor, unrigged and unmanned -
Those are the words which remained in my memory, “ unrigged and unmanned “ - with the result that the Dutch fleet sailed up the Medway, and burnt the ships of war at their moorings.
Of course it cannot be left out of consideration that the strength and composition, not only of the British Navy, but of any British squadron, depend upon die strength and position of the hostile forces which they have to meet. I have explained that the French have collected a strong squadron in the Eastern seas. Unfortunately I have not at hand information which I had at my disposal a few days ago, in regard to the details of that squadron. Russia has massed not merely a strong squadron, but a mighty fleet in the Eastern seas, and on the China station to-day she has, all told, a fleet of some 69 vessels. With a success gained by concentration in those waters, our fear begins. We are not subject to any ordinary attack here. I think we may put that idea aside. Our danger, is to be feared from a raid by hostile cruisers, which, after some success, even a temporary one, in the dominion of the seas, may be set free to descend upon our commerce and ourselves. With a fleet like that in China waters, the possibility becomes at any rate a developing and a menacing possibility. Patriotism, perhaps, may forbid us to call it more, but it is one which under combination can be developed to a large extent. Why then should we lend ourselves to a policy under which, if fleets act logically on the same system as Britain has adopted in the past, we should be left with one squadron to fight a combination of that kind, instead of being able, by reciprocity, to call to our assistance those who could best assist us.
– Under the new arrangement, I suppose our fleet will be off to China?
– I do not think that my honorable friend believes that that is at all likely.
– I think it is very probable.
– That is what the right honorable and learned gentleman is arguing.
– I have-not imagined that the Australian squadron would be off to China unless that were the necessary scene of operations. I must blame myself for my very humble powers of speech in having led the honorable member to that conclusion.
– The right honorable gentleman made it very clear.
– I have made the opposite very clear indeed, I think, but of course the honorable member is entitled to his own opinion. If he does not accept the arguments which I have humbly ventured to put forward I am not going to attempt, at the cost of the time of the House, to repeat them to him. I did not mention at the time the actual strength of the squadrons in eastern seas under the British flag, but I find that the cost of maintenance - which bears a well defined ratio to the power and armament and number of the crew of a vessel - of the China squadron, exclusive of any allowance on the first cost of building, is £1,430,000 a year, and of the East Indian squadron £303,000 a year, while the entire cost of the maintenance of not only the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, but also the added vessels of the British navy in Australian waters is put down at £3i 2,000 a year, of which £1 26,000 has been paid by Australia and New Zealand. Any one who will take these figures into consideration will see that we only add a squadron of which the up-keep is £312,000 to assist squadrons, of which the combined up-keep is £1,733,000 ; but in case of our need the new squadron can be assisted by the other two squadrons. That is enough to show us by figures - as good for the purpose as details of armament and speed and crew - that in our time . of trouble the assistance we can bring, as we stand now, to others within the large area of the. three stations, is as nothing to the assistance bey can bring to us if we were attacked. If I were speaking from a merely sordid point of view, I could by that argument alone make out much of my case. In connexion with the argument that we are not dependent solely on the Australian squadron for our local defence, the set-off to the fact that the squadron may be removed is found in the fact that the other squadrons will be brought here if necessary. So that the principle of unity of control operates both ways ; but more in our favour than against us, according to the figures I have been putting ; the support that we should get from other squadrons being much greater than any we #ould give with our squadron. We may pass on now to see what are the alternatives to such a scheme as this. We may take one of three courses. We may abandon naval sea-going defence, or we may try for a better agreement, or we may endeavour to form an Australian navy. I do not think that rauch need be said about the first alternative. Our floating trade is very large, and it is increasing, as I have pointed out, very rapidly. It has increased £25,000,000 during the last ten years; it has risen from £22 to £23 1 8s. per head, simply because Australia has in the meantime developed a purchasing power which has even outrun the rate by which her population has increased. Th« position of Australia, it will be admitted, is extremely isolated, and it is not much in danger of any other invasion than a raid by armed and fast cruisers. But we must have ships to meet such an attack, just as the other parts of. the Empire must have ships to meet it. And the way to succeed in meeting it by a moderate squadron is to take such steps as will enable us to add strength to the entire navy, so that the danger to any other power may be greater, and its possibilities of wresting naval control from the Empire may be fewer. It is just as the, possibility of wresting naval control increases that the danger of a raid increases. An enemy must break the sea power of the English Empire before it can come down on Australia. It . ma,y do that if the policy of concentration is not observed. But it is for us to lend our aid to the policy of concentration, because it is that which strikes the decisive blow, and renders the enemy unable to disperse afterwards for raiding our commerce, and for the plain reason that his dispersal then is to save his life. I shall leave that part of the question. I cannot understand its being soberly reasoned that we should abandon the making of any agreement at all. “ Can we get a better agreement V is the next phase of the subject. I think it will be very difficult to do this. The figures I have quoted show that the agreement will be exceedingly advantageous to us, that is, so far as the sea-going squadron is concerned, and to that we have to add the facilities offered for training Australians locally - 890 men for the permanent crew of the cruiser and drill-ships, and 725 men, including officers, for the Royal Naval Reserve. If it is true that we get all that for what .amounts on our population to less than 13d. per head, then the only question is this - Is it an adequate protection so far as sea-going power is concerned 1 It will be admitted that the local training is undoubtedly a benefit to our own people, and that it is worth paying something for, but the main question crops up again, is it an adequate protection 1 While we were in England we had proposals from the Admiralty as to a larger naval armament in these waters, and one of them would have amounted .to a payment of, I think, £+67,000 a year to be divided between Australia and New Zealand. We frankly pointed out that the man)’ duties of government which communities at this distance have to undertake - the pioneer work which remains to be done close to our doors, and the fact of certain limitations, whether they are wholesome or not, imposed upon us by the financial sections of the Constitution - militated against a large payment such as was then suggested, and we had to ask the Admiralty to draw up proposals for theminimum adequate protection of this station : and those words, I hope, fairly and clearly express the idea of this House, which is prepared, I think, to vote the minimum adequate protection, but is not prepared to vote money for what is more than adequate protection. That is the line which I took, and in which my colleague joined me ; and these proposals - there may be a modification in this detail or in that- are the answers of the Admiralty to our request to state the minimum adequate protection for us and our commerce in these seas, always subject to the observance of those principles, without which, in their judgment, it is impossible for the British fleet to maintain its supremacy.
– In the event of this fleet being withdrawn to the China seas, would it still be adequate protection 1
– It would be more than adequate if it were fighting there when there was nothing here to fight ; but it would be less than adequate if it stopped here when there was nothing to fight, and left the fighting at a distance to others who were not strong enough to beat the enemy. Now, as to the question of an Australian Navy, I wish at the outset to say that I do not decry, but on the other hand fully appreciate, the spirit of local patriotism which animates those who hold that our sea-going defence should be provided for wholly by means of an Australian Navy. There are two reasons in the main why the Government cannot adopt that pro,posal for the purposes for which this agreement has been entered into. The first of these is the principle of unity of control in naval defence, and the second the cost of any minimum adequate defence provided for in that way. As to the principle of unity of control, I have endeavoured to show that the object of the Navy of the Empire is to keep command of the sea, for the purpose, first, of protecting trade routes, and secondly, of preventing the transport of military forces by an enemy, in the event of attack being made on outlying portions of the Empire. The only way in which command of the sea can be maintained, as I hope I have already been able to show, is by being able to concentrate the whole strength of the Navy, or if not the whole strength, then so much as is available, at any given point when necessity requires. By creating a local squadron and placing it under local control, we should render the carrying out of the first object impossible. The strength of the fleet must be available for concentration under one united command, under one directing mind, and in pursuance of the plan formed for the defence of the Empire, which allocates to each part that proportion of strength necessary to permit of the application of the maximum of power at any point of attack. If the command of the sea were once lost, small local squadrons would afford no defence against the united fleet of an enemy. If the fleets of the Empiredid not suffice to maintain our supremacy on the sea, and our naval power were once broken, even temporarily, the sea would be at the command of the enemy, who could attack any small local squadrons in detail, and easily overcome them. If I have not already made this clear by what I have urged before, I despair of being able to convince honorable members. But, speaking humbly for myself, it is as clear as any proposition’ sustainable by argument can be. If the British fleet - -Mid I mean the fleet under one direction for the benefit of the Empire as a whole - were once broken or dispersed, or such main portion of it as could be brought into conflict were broken and dispersed, the enemy would hold the possessions of the Empire at their mercy and attack them in detail, and an Australian squadron, as large as that now proposed, would be ineffective for the very defensive purposes for which it is suggested that it should be maintained. If that were not so, the cost alone would be prohibitive to us. I do not forget the fact that we have not nearly reached, and are not likely for a long time to reach, the expenditure of one-fourth of the net Customs and Excise revenue we are at present gathering. I do not, however, think that it follows that we should not, for the sake of the States, continue as far as possible to maintain our determination to avoid reaching it. The added expenditure under this agreement will be £94,000 per year, and the whole outlay of the Commonwealth will be £200,000. I shall be able to show that an Australian Navy of equal power could not be maintained by us for less than £500,000 a year. If I establish that proposition I think I shall have made it clear that, any attempt at this stage of our existence to maintain an Australian Navy, even if, owing to its independent action, it were not subject to the dangers I have pointed out, would be made impossible to us by the cost. What we must be prepared to meet is a raid by fast and powerful armoured cruisers. We cannot, therefore, have a fleet of less strength than the one to be obtained under the new agreement. This is estimated to be of the minimum adequate strength for our protection, even with the reciprocal assistance which it will give and receive from the other squadrons stationed in adjoining seas. If the Australian fleet were acting by itself the necessity for that strength at least would become even more apparent. We could not count upon the unified direction and control upon which we could rely under the agreement, and to the extent to which it would be removed, we should be palpably weakened. I assume that the prime cost of the Australian squadron would be about £2,500,000, and I propose to adopt the Admiralty figures with respect to the interest and sinking fund which will have to be provided for. At the same time, I cannot help thinking that the Admiralty estimate is a very low one for vessels which for fighting purposes do not remain up-to-date for a very long term of years, and which, though they may be efficient up to a certain point, may be outstripped in armament and handiness of manipulation by the vessels of other powers, owing to the advances made in naval science. Assuming, however, that the basis adopted for the purposes of this agreement is applicable to the case of an Australian Navy, we should have to provide 3 per cent, for interest on the capital outlay, and 2 per cent, for a sinking fund.
– What provision does the right honorable gentleman propose to make for depreciation 1
– I am estimating 3 per cent, for interest and 2 per cent, for sinking fund, and I consider those figures very moderate.
– They are altogether too low ; the cost, allowing for depreciation, will be nearer 15 per cent.
– Assuming that our credit was at a very high point, and that we had to procure and maintain the vessels necessary to form an Australian Navy, we should need to provide 5 per cent, for interest and sinking fund. I adopt that very low estimate in order that my figures may be beyond question.
– The right honorable gentleman should remember that a sinking fund must cover depreciation.
– Yes, I know that, and whilst I am adopting the Admiralty figures, I recognise that they would be ridiculously low as applied to a Navy of our own. The provision to be made for interest and sinking fund at the rate I have mentioned would represent an annual charge of £125,000. As the honorable member for Melbourne has indicated, it would be more reasonable to provide for at least double that amount. The maintenance at Imperial rates of pay of a first-class cruiser in commission, such as that which would be the flagship of the Australian Squadron under the new agreement, would amount, at the lowest estimate, to £80,000. The maintenance of two secondclass cruisers, such as are provided for under the new agreement, would figure out as follows : - One second-class cruiser in commission would cost £64,000 per annum, and one in reserve would involve an annual outlay of £25,000. Upon one third-class cruiser in commission we should have tospend yearly £29,500, and upon three otherships of the same class used as drill-ships our outlay annually would be £43,500. Four sloops in commission would involve us. in an annual expenditure of £62,000. Thetotal of the figures I have mentioned is. £304,000, to which we have to add £125,000 for interest and sinking fund,, and upon this ridiculously low calculation the total would reach £429,000. That, however, is not all, because reserves, would have to be established for the whole of the fleet. Without any other source of supply than our own people, the reserves would have to be made commensurate with the fleet itself. Under the agreement the reserves can be drawn not only from our own population, but from that of England ; but when we presuppose an .Australian Navy, we also presuppose that we shall have to look to our own population for our reserves. These reserves, therefore, would have to be much larger than the 725 men and officers provided for under the new agreement. Then we should have to provide for the payment of the men required to man the whole fleet at local rates. We should have to pay at local rates, not merely the crew of one second-class cruiser in commission, and the small permanent crews on three drill-ships, but Australian or New Zealand crews at local rates would have to be placed on all the vessels of the fleet, and the expenses of maintenance would thus be increased to a huge extent. Therefore, it is fair to say that if, with the crews paid at Admiralty rates, the total cost would be £429,000, u> maintain the squadron with local crews at local rates would not cost less than £500,000 a year. This estimate, of course, makes no allowance for what must necessarily accompany the creation of an Australian Navy, namely, the establishment of naval works, dockyards, hospitals, and arsenals. That it is not an excessive estimate is proved by the experience of the Argentine Republic, which possesses a fleet of its own. The population of that republic is, I understand, about 1,000,000 in excess of the population of the Commonwealth. In 1902 its Navy consisted of one third-class battle-ship, four coast defence ships, eight cruisers, twenty-seven torpedo vessels and destroyers, and eight special service ships. In 1901-2 the annual estimate for the maintenance of this modest fleet amounted to £921,000. That sum does not include interest, nor does it represent any provision for new construction - in other words, for depreciation - because it is out of. the allowance for depreciation that possibly funds may be set aside for new construction. Our external trade is quite twice as large as that of the Argentine Republic. Yet the naval expenditure of the latter, instead of being - as is proposed under this agreement - ls. 0£d. per head of its population, represents 3s. 9d. per head, despite the fact that its sea-board is very much less than is that of Australia. That comparison affords a very strong argument in favour of the adoption of the proposed agreement - an argument which becomes ten times stronger if we consider what would be the cost of the maintenance of a similar squadron at local rates. I submit that, by these figures and comparisons, I have established the fact that the cost of creating an Australian Navy would be such as we have no right to incur unless we are absolutely obliged to do so, in view of our moral obligations to the States of the Federation. If defence could not be purchased at a lower price, it might be that we should have to pay it; but adequate defence can be purchased for - at the utmost - two-fifths of the cost that would be involved in the establishment of an Australian Navy. .
– That is the minimum estimate for providing an adequate defence; the maximum was i’467,000.
– The cost of carrying out the first proposal would have been about £467,000, but the minimum estimate in the judgment of the Admiralty authorities is that set out in the agreement under consideration. In their opinion it would be unsafe to go below that minimum.
– I think that the £467,000 included the defence of New Zealand.
– Just as the £240,000 does. New Zealand might have agreed to pay one-fifth of the amount involved in the maintenance of such a squadron, but we should still have had £374,000 to make up. The experience of the Argentine Republic conclusively proves that, if we created an Australian Navy upon reasonably modest and economic lines, we should have to incur an annual outlay for maintenance alone of nearly £1,000,000.
– An independent nation necessarily requires a bigger force than a part of an empire.
– That again is on the supposition that every part of the Empire obtains the assistance of the rest of the Empire. The best way in which that assistance can be rendered is by permitting the whole of the naval operations to be dominated by one controlling power - by providing a well-equipped sea-going Navy fit to seek out an enemy and destroy it. It might be that we should not have to go as far as. the Argentine Republic, unless we were an independent power; but I would point out that by establishing an Australian Navy we should be going far towards obtaining the results which follow the creation of an independent power. The adoption of such a policy might land us in an expenditure equal to that paid for the maintenance of the Argentine Navy, and would certainly involve us in the payment of two and a half times as much as we shall contribute under this agreement as an integral part of the Empire.
– The Prime Minister’s estimate is based upon a “peace” footing.
– I am satisfied to put it upon lines analogous to those on which our own proposal is based. I admire the spirit of patriotism which suggests the establishment of an Australian Navy, but would point out that it does not accord with that principle of unity of control which we think is essential in naval matters, and that its cost would be prohibitive. I come now to the main objections to the agreement. The first is that under it we shall have nothing to show for the expenditure incur.red. We are told that if we build or buy our own ships, at the termination of the period mentioned in the agreement we shall have the vessels to show for the expenditure. It is widely contended by the opponents of the agreement that at the end of fourteen years ships are obsolete for fighting purposes. With the advance of science it may be that they will be so completely distanced from the point of view of efficiency by other vessels constructed, as to become obsolete even in a shorter period.
– Then why propose to set apart only 2 per cent, for a sinking fund ?
– I have said half-a-dozen times already that that is too low a calculation. The fact that a larger amount should be appropriated for the purposes of a sinking fund militates even more strongly against the proposal to establish an Australian Navy. The first objection urged against the scheme, I repeat, is that we shall have nothing to show for the expenditure incurred. But that argument is discounted at once by the provision that “ from time to time “ throughout the terms of the agreement, all the ships shall be of modern type, except those used as drill-ships.
– They will not become obsolete many times in eight years.
– If a ship does become obsolete owing to the progress of invention and the development of science, the agreement provides for its renewal, either in the sense that improvements must be effecte’d upon it, or it must be replaced by another ship. It militates much against the argument that by adopting this agreement we shall have nothing to show for the expenditure, when it is pointed out that if we established an Australian Navy, and the ships lost their value as ‘ fighting machines, unless we made huge provision for depreciation and construction - which would make the estimate of its cost enormously larger - we should have nothing to show for the outlay but old iron, which, after all, cannot be regarded as a palladium of strength in a naval engagement. Under the new agreement the ships are to be kept up-to-date “from time to time.” It is not proposed to keep the drill -ships up to date as fighting machines, because they are to be used for another purpose. It is all very well to talk about £500,000 covering the annual cost of the maintenance of an Australian Navy, but when we consider the fact that our ships as they became obsolete, would be thrown on our hands, and that we should have to provide fresh ones, whereas under the new agreement, everything requisite to keep them up-to-date will be done for us at the expense of the Imperial Government, we shall see how strongly the argument tells against the adoption of such a policy. Therefore the fact that we shall Have nothing to show for the expenditure in the event of the ships becoming obsolete, does not count for very much. Moreover it is not a reasonable objection, unless it is true to say that any payment by way of insurance has nothing to show for it at the end of the period of insurance. But it is even less true of this agreement than it was of the last. The agreement provides facilities for the training of 1,600 Australians and New Zealanders for the work of naval defence, counting those on board the second-class cruisers, the drill-ships, and those in the reserves.
– Are the drill-ships to be used for that purpose ?
– Yes, in time of peace. If it becomes necessary for our protection, I suppose they will be used in time of war.
– How are the 1,600- men accounted for?
– The complement of the second-class cruiser will be from i70 to 500 men. They will be men on active service on a commissioned ship. On the three drill ships there will be the permanent nucleus crews necessary to keep the vessels in order - from 120 to 130 on each ship - who will be Australians and New Zealanders, and will be paid as men on active service. In addition to them, there will be the officers and men of the reserves. Altogether there will be 725 officers and men in the reserves, and about S90 in active service. Beside the adequate protection which we shall receive during the period of the agreement, we shall, under this article, be training our own men in naval matters, and upon its expiration we shall have a large body of well-trained Australians and New Zealanders, who will be ready, if need be, to play their part in our naval defence. It is true that some of them may be under engagement to serve in the British Navy, but they will undertake to serve only upon the seas which are within the sphere of operations ; and if, believing that we can do better for our protection with an Australian Navy, we dispense with the assistance of the Imperial Navy, their experience and training will be useful to us. Even if we admit, for the sake of argument, that there will be nothing material to show for our expenditure, it must he allowed that we shall have the consciousness of doing something towards bearing a fairer share of the responsibilities of the Empire. I do not ask the House, nor do I dream of its being asked, to provide proportionately with the inhabitants of the United Kingdom for the maintenance of that Navy which is for the protection of us all. But, if we increase our contribution from 6d. or Sd. per head, whichever honorable members like to put it at, to something like ls. per head, we shall not be doing anything extravagant, though we shall be doing something more in recognition of the obligation which will attach to us so long as we remain a portion of the Empire. If an Englishman in England pays from 15s. to 17s. towards the maintenance of the Navy, why should an Englishman in Australia object to pay ls. ?
– Or a Scotchman.
– By Englishman, I mean English, Scotch, and Irish.
– W - What about Wales 1
– I include the Welsh, too. Let us call ourselves Britons. In- using the term Britons in Australia, I- wish it to be as clear as possible that, in my belief, we have not forfeited, by our emigration, or by that of our fathers, any of the rights of Britishers athome, or any of our share in either the glory or the material prosperity of the Empire. We are Britons of the Empire. We did not sever ourselves from the rest of the Empire when we came here, neither did the fathers of those of us, who like myself are natives of the soil, do so. We retain our heritage, and with it our responsibilities. We cannot have the one, and say “ no “ to the other, because the thing is impossible, and because we should.be poor Britons if we did. Surely, the consciousness that we are at least making a small attempt towards the equalization of these burdens is “ sometiling to show “ for our expenditure. With regard to tho next objection, that the agreement does not satisfy our local aspirations, or give proper scope to our patriotism, I recognise to the full the importance of this contention, and have always endeavoured to so mould the Constitution and the legislation of the Commonwealth as to give fuller scope for the national aspirations of Australians. But this is a case where our patriotic feelings towards the Empire of which Australia forms a part must express themselves, because we regard the Empire as one for purposes of naval defence. If we do not take that view, we must accept the alternative, that the Empire must operate by scattered units, and lose the power of concentration, and its Navy be by so much the more open to defeat and capture in detail. We must look at the great question of naval defence from the point of view of citizens of the Empire. Heaven forbid- that I should ask any one to relinquish his feeling of local patriotism, or to do anything which would be unjust to his fellow citizens in Australia. But we can be just to Australia and still meet our obligations to the Empire so long as we recognise them. On the day when we cease to recognise them, we should be honest, and say to the mother country, “ We want to go.” Just as we look at Federal questions as Australians rather than as citizens of the States, so we must look at questions of Empire as citizens of the Empire rather than as citizens of Australia. I do not wish to use the word Imperial,” because in some men’s ears it carries the far-off sound of absolute despotism and domination, but we may speak of the Empire because we have no other name to give it. It is an aggregation of free men in free lands, and while we belong to it we must look at questions of Empire as citizens of the Empire, just as we look at Australian questions as citizens of Australia. If we wished to cut the painter - and no one is proposing to do so - we could rid ourselves of these obligations. But at what price? We should be independent, but we should be much more exposed to the insults and intrusions of foreign Powers than we are now, when there is a shield of protection thrown over us which has taken the Empire ages to make, and such as we could not make apart. We cannot make this aegis for ourselves, and we cannot put on ready made the garb of Empire, because we do not want the “ slop clothes” of Empire. We are, I take it, content with our position as a free selfgoverning portion of the Empire. We are content to maintain it at a reasonable expenditure - at an expenditure much less than we .should have to make if we shared in the defence of any other Empire ; and for a purpose which means this : Take one portion, away from the Empire and you may as well take another. Be a party to its disintegration, even by abstention from what is right, and you make that disintegration easier. The principle surely should be this : Touch one of us and you touch us all. What was our answer when South Africa was attacked ? Were we wrong in making that answer? To my dying day I shall not believe so. What was at stake ? Not only perhaps the most .important of the trade routes of the Empire, which provided the material solace to our action. We decided to act when it was too early to think of that, but we believed that success against England meant the disintegration of the Empire at one point, which we thought almost as much against our interests as if some other portion of the Empire, or we ourselves, were cut off from it. What, then, is the right principle to adopt in regard to the defence of the Empire ? The principle that by common action we must keep every portion’ of it intact. By going on our own initiative in various directions, we leave every portion of it open to attack. I do not think that there is anything in our local aspirations which entitles us to give the lie to that principle. Our “ patriotic “ feelings, if I may use a word which is sometimes derided, must find expression in our acts. We may maintain the name of our attachment to the Empire, and do nothing ; but that seems to be a fair way of getting ourselves branded, not only as mean men, but as hypocrites.
– We are ready to face that sort of thing.
– We may have to face it, but, for God’s sake, do not let us deserve it.
– Is that not a reflection upon Canada ?
– It is not a reflection upon Canada, though I am, of course, bound to acknowledge’ the right of Canadians to freely express their opinion, just as. I claim the right to freely express my own opinion. No one can assume to be other than weak and feeble in the utterance of his views, and uncertain of being right. We can only act up to the light which is given to us. But how can what I have said be regarded as unfair towards Canada? If I believe a principle to be right, and Canada has abnegated it, am I bound to say that Canada is right ? What sort of conclusions should we arrive at if we handled argument in that way? Canada has not yet come to a decision upon this question.
– Are the Canadians less patriotic because they have not done so ?
– I have notsaid so, and not a syllable I have uttered leads to that conclusion.
– That is the inference to be drawn from the right honorable gentleman’s statement.
– My statements do not justify any such inference. I allow to others the right of free expression of opinion which 1 claim for myself, and surely I should be a strange person if it could truly be imputed to me that I had stated that any opinion contrary to mine was for that reason wicked or unjust. I cannot suppose that because a man does not agree with me his opinion is not as likely to be right as is my own. But we are here to give our reasons for our opinions, and I am putting before the House my reasons for the course which the Government propose. If I am not allowed to do that, I must hold my tongue, but I am not bound, because Canada has not done a certain thing, to abstain from saying that it is right for us to do it. Out of the six self-governing portions of the Empire, Ave - including ourselves - are taking the view which I wish to press upon the House, and are already contributors to the maintenance of the Imperial Navy. The fact that the sixth is not, is so much the worse for it.
– Can Canada is the intelligent country.
– Canada is no more intelligent than is Australia. The Canadians are men of great pluck and enterprise, and have a magnificent country, which, perhaps, because of its magnificent water resources, is destined to make more rapid progress for a time than we are. Nobody will . doubt the honesty and enterprise of that country, but is it not too much to tell me that because Canada, out of all the self-governing dominions, is the only one which does not acknowledge this obligation, I am unfair to Canada when I say that this is an obligation which we ought to assume ?
– Does it not include French Canada?
– Yes ; but I shall not enter into those racial questions or the bitter controversies which flow from them ; it is not necessary to my purpose to do anything of the sort. I am trying to point out that this proposal does not involve any want of loyalty to Australia. Under this agreement we shall give Australia better protection than we could if we adopted the alternative of an Australian Navy, unless we went to a cost which, in our’ present stage, is prohibitive. There can be no want of loyalty in giving Australia adequate defence at a much lower rate than it would otherwise cost. While we remain part of the Empire, there will arise questions of Imperial rather than of local importance, and they will arise even if we turn away and shut our eyes. But it is our duty to have regard to these questions so long as we remain in the Empire, and to recognise what our position requires of us, not to the extent of slavish adherence to everything done by others, but to the extent of realizing that with participation in the advantages of the Empire comes reciprocal obligation. Holding the views we do as to the sound principle of naval defence, we are unable to subscribe to the theory that our loyalty to Australia calls upon us to set up a separate Navy. The third objection to the scheme is that we wish to train our own sailors. I admitthat that is our wish ; and I hold that theagreement affords full scope for its accomplishment. As part of the great British Navy, our men, as things are now, will get better training than they could hope to get in a local squadron manned entirely by our own men. The leading, guidance, and experience we can obtain for their training under such an agreement would, on the sudden creation of .a purely Australian Navy, not be obtainable, unless we bought that guidance and experience by paying salaries to British officers. Naval defence is now a matter for experts. Every man, I suppose, will soon, to some extent, have to have some expert knowledge. I do not profess to have any.
– The right honorable gentleman has given us some to-night at any rate.
– I profess to follow the opinions of those who know more about the subject than either the honorable member for Parramatta or myself. I propose to follow those who give what, in my poor judgment, are sound reasons for their opinions, and who have converted those opinions into a policy which follows traditional lines, and is as effective and hopeful to-day as it was in the day of its birth. I must refer, at this point, to the proposals for dealing with the local naval forces. It is hoped that the bulk of the local forces may be absorbed by the new arrangement. It is clear that opportunity will exist for this absorption, because I have absolute confidence that the rates of pay offered will be sufficient to warrant our own people, even those who have had their training with us, in joining under the new arrangement either as active seamen or as reservists.
– Does that apply to men of all ranks ?
– It applies as far as possible. I am not quite sure - and I say this frankly - to what extent the arrangement will apply to the higher grades of officers. If it does not apply to them we must endeavour, to the best of our ability, to see that they do not suffer. But, to allow full opportunity for carrying on some local naval defence, the whole of the existing naval forces will be provided for in the Estimates for the year 1903-4. Honorable members are aware that there has been considerable reduction in the cost of the local naval defences, not for the purposes of this agreement, but as part of a general scheme of retrenchment. For the forces as they stand after this scheme of retrenchment has been carried out, provision will be made in the Estimates for 1903-4, the amount being, if I mistake not, something like £43,000. As honorable members will see, the new arrangement does not include harbor defences. In future, as opportunity arises and as funds allow - because we do not wish to rush into inordinate expenditure - it may be advisable to have torpedo boats or torpedo destroyers at each of the principal ports, as a means of special harbor defence. That will not be done immediately, but, as I say, as opportunity and funds permit. Now, I must refer to the local naval defence force, as it exists at present. In Australia, besides two torpedo boats at Melbourne-
– There are at Melbourne four torpedo boats, two of which are good.
– Two of the torpedo boats at Melbourne, as my right honorable friend says, are good, while the other two are obsolete, like those which were sold at Sydney the other day. Besides the Cerberus, and the four torpedo boats at Melbourne, there are the Protector at Adelaide, and the Palumah and the Gayunda at Brisbane. After full consideration, and after taking such expert opinion as is available, the Minister for Defence has come to the conclusion that if it were proposed now to buy the Cerberus we should never enter into the expenditure. As an alternative, which may prevent further expenditure for some years to come on fixed defences for Hobson’s Bay, Port Melbourne, and Williamstown, it is proposed to re-arm the Cerberus with four 7.5 quick-firing guns at a cost of about £20,000. The maintenance of the vessel, which has been heretofore more expensive, will probably cost £10,000 a year ; at any rate, I think, not more. The expenditure will meet the cost of employing a crew partly permanent, and, I understand, partly made up of naval militia.
– The Cerberus will be a floating fort.
– That is how we regard her - as a floating fort. The speed of the Cerberus is slow, and she could, of course, no more overtake a modern cruiser than Tommy Atkins on foot could overtake a mounted Boer. But she has a remarkably sound hull, which will standa lot of battering, and it is estimated that even with her low speed, confined as she would be to Hobson’s Bay - which, though expansive, is small in comparison to the open sea - she could very well meet requirements for someyears to come. Under the circumstances, it is regarded as a fair and economical proposal, as these matters go, to re-arm this vessel with modern guns, in which case, notwithstanding her slow speed, she would be able to, at any rate, keep within range of opposing vessels as they approached and as they passed on, should they want to get away from her, and thus, for a considerable time during transit, have opportunity enough of inflicting damage on an enemy. As I have said, her hull is so strong that she can stand a good deal of knocking about, and, with modern armament, she could give as much as she received while an opposing vessel was within range, or she could come up with vessels which had succeeded in getting up the Bay, and inflict damage on them, while they were attempting bombardment. This re-armament of the Cerberus will serve instead of building forts at Port Melbourne orWilliamstown. We are advised that if the Cerberus be re-armed as proposed, she will make - as the honorable member for Richmond said - an excellent floating fort for harbor defence, and the proposals I have mentioned will stave off for some years increased expenditure on fortifications at the Heads. Melbourne is an exceptional port. The proposals may be said to be necessary by reason of the peculiar geographical f eatu res of Port Phillip. The broad expanse of the Bay in front of the city justifies action of the kind, while it could not be so well or advantageously taken elsewhere. The Protector at Adelaide will also be provided for in the Estimates for 1903-4. After the new arrangement comes into force, and when as much as possible of the old establishment of men has been absorbed, then it will not be of advantage any longer to retain the Protector. That vessel will therefore be sold, and in her place, as means allow, special harbor defence will be provided. The Palumah and the Gayunda are two small gun-boats which were acquired by the Queensland Government some years ago, and which do not appear now to be efficient as fighting vessels ; and both of these will be treated in the same way as the Protector. The last objection I have to answer is that this scheme is the outcome of “swollen
Imperialism “ ; and I think I have seen that phrase in print. Those who take that view, if I may be pardoned for saying so, would do well to reconsider their conception and meaning of the Empire. The British Empire is not like Empires of old, which were constituted for the purpose of enabling some central authority to dominate and enslave the rest. As the component parts- of the British Empire have acquired self government, in that very degree have they themselves become stronger, and, contrary to the principle acted on of old, so much stronger has the old country herself become. It is true that the accretions of strength and population, and the accumulation of wealth in the self -.governing countries, must mean more trade, and, to that extent, must enrich the Empire. It is true that the Empire has a direct interest in every part of the Empire in the protection of trade, and we ourselves have a direct interest in it; but there is much of the trade in which the United Kingdom, as a part of the Empire, has no direct interest. We are constituted as no Empire in the world has ever been constituted. This is the first time in history that an Empire has, in equal pace with its acquisitions, bestowed the blessings of free institutions on all its nascent communities as soon as they have been able to walk under the burden of responsible government. That has been our unfailing experience, and it is an experience which has been so fruitful that it will not die. AVe may expect, therefore, that what the Empire has been in its growth so it will be in its consolidation, and, if necessary, in its extension. For my part, I am fain to hope that the “ weary Titan “ we have heard of, who is supposed to “ stagger under the too vast orb of his fate,” may see some limit hereafter to theprocessof acquisition of new territory. But it is impossible to expect that, or, at any rate, to expect it soon. Theneedsof theEmpire are constantly progressing, and as the various parts of it become populated by our race, it may be necessary, little by little, and later on, perhaps, to a larger degree, to seek fresh fields. That will mean further expansion, whether it be intended for mere expansion, or is the necessary operation of the self-interest of those who go out to seek fresh fields. But the process, however much it may be interrupted - however much it may be checked here and there - is not yet coining to an end. There may be some amongst us who think that the responsibilities which Empire carries in its train will make it undesirable that an end of the process should come. But as the Empire advances it must be mightier ; and we, who are a part, will share in that added might. It is not for us, therefore, to prematurely think of taking any other course than that which makes for the consolidation of the Empire ; and in so making for consolidation we make for our own protection. Almost to conclude a speech that I am afraid has been too long, perhaps I ma)’ be allowed to read some words from an author who has so expressed himself that it is vain for any mortal to expect to clothe his ideas in fitter form.
– I - Is that Longfellow 1
– No ; but I have something to quote from Longfellow, too. There is a passage in Buskin’s Lectures on Art, which is full of truth as well as of beauty. Written for young Englishmen, it applies, with very little alteration, to Australians, and, indeed, to all, whatever their age may be, who, like ourselves, are Englishmen, or Britons, of the Empire. This is what Ruskin says in speaking, not of the navy, but of the mission and of the sense of Empire : -
There is a destiny now possible to us - tho highest ever set before a nation - to be accepted or refused. We are still undegenerate in race ; a race mingled of the best Northern blood. We are not yet dissolute in temper, but still have the firmness to govern and the grace to obey. We have been taught a religion of pure mercy, which we must either now finally betray or learn to defend by fulfilling. And we are rich in an inheritance of honour, bequeathed to us through a thousand years of noble history, which it should be our daily thirst to increase with splendid avarice, so that Englishmen, “ if it be a sin to covet honour,” should be “the most offending souls alive.” Within the last few years we have had the laws of natural science opened to us with a rapidity which has been blinding by its brightness ; and means of transit and communication given to us, which have made but one kingdom of the habitable globe. One kingdom : - but who is to be its king ? Is there to be no king in it, think you, and every man to do that which is right in his own eyes ; or only kings of terror, and the obscene empires of Mammon and Belial ? Will you youths of England make -your country again a loyal throne of kings ; a sceptred isle for all the world ; a source of light ; a centre of peace ; mistress of learning and of the arts ; faithful guardian of great memories, in’ the midst of irreverent and ephemeral visions ; faithful servant of time-tried principles, under temptation from fond experiments and licentious desires ; and, amidst the cruel and clamorous jealousies of the nations, worshipped in her strange valour, of good-will towards men.
May not that be the future of Australia, and with it the future of the Empire ? Of the old land herself what does Ruskin say-
And this is what she must do, or perish : she must found colonies, as fast and as far as she is able-
This was written in 1887 - formed of her most energetic and worthiest men ; seizing every piece of fruitful waste ground she can set her foot on, and there teaching these her colonists that their chief virtue is to he fidelity to their country, and that their first aim is to be to advance the power of England by land and sea ; and that, though they live on a distant plot of ground, they are no more to consider themselves disfranchised from their nativeland than the sailors of her fleet do, because they float on distant waves. So that literally these colonies must be fastened fleets, and every man of them must be under authority of captains and officers, whose better command is to be over fields and streets, instead of ships of the line ; and England in these her motionless navies (or, in the true and mightiest sense, motionless churches ruled by pilots on the Galilean lake of all the world) is to “ expect every man to do his duty”; recognising that duty is indeed no less possible in peace than war ; and that if we can get men for little pay to cast themselves against cannon mouths for love of England, we may find men also who will plough and sow for her, who will behave kindly and righteously for her, who will bring up their children to love her, and who will gladden themselves in the brightness of her glory more than in all the light of tropic skies.
Sir, I have endeavoured to deal with this subject according to my capacity, with an honest desire to put the case fairly and truthfully before the House; an earnest effort to say frankly as I can the very things which I mean, and believe. I have endeavoured to do that by reason ; I hope not by any other art. There is a poet who has said -
And whatis Reason ? Beshe thus defined,
Reason is upright stature in the Soul.
I hope that we shall help in this alliance of mother and daughter the security and the mutual and reciprocal good of this Empire. Be assured that, by so much as we do so, we shall gain; with a sense of honour and with no reproach of desertion. In all that may happen in the future, it is my strong desire that this Australia of ours may be faithful to the Empire - faithful in good and in ill report. I have tried to show you, sir, that this agreement carries benefits with it, which in even their grosser and material aspects far outweigh the sum to be paid for them ; though that were not the case - though there were a margin the other way, I, for one, should not be loath to support it. But I do so now with the clear consciousness of the gains it holds out to Australia in a protection of kinship, and a partnership of pride, gains in themselves worth more by worlds than ever we shall be asked to pay. And I seek them for the union to which we belong - this Commonwealth, using the words the greatest poet of America sang of the Commonwealth to which he belonged - words in which I speak my aspiration for my country’s destiny -
Sail on,O ship of State !
Sail on,O Union, strong and great !
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I had expected that the leader of the Opposition would follow on after the splendid speech which has just been made by the right honorable the Prime Minister. But it appears that he does not desire to speak to-night, as it is his intention to support this Bill. As I am strongly opposed to the measure, and to the principle of making the agreement with the Imperial Government which is proposed, it devolves upon me now to give my reasons for so doing. In the first place, I should like touse some of the concluding words of the Prime Minister, in which he said - “ In all our future actions it is my strongest desire that Australia shall be faithful to the Empire.” I indorse those words. I do not think there is anybody upon this side of the House, or in any part of it, who does not, in this matter, want to do what he believes to be absolutely the best thing for Australia and the best thing for the Empire. I take it that it is altogether a gratuitous assumption on the part of the Prime Minister to suppose that any person here who does not agree with the proposed naval subsidy is, in any sense, desirous of “cutting the painter.”
– I said over and over again that I did not believe it.
– But although the Prime Minister did not use the words, throughout his speech there was the insinuation that those who were not with him in regard to this matter were against the Empire.
– Not at all.
– The reference to “ cutting the painter,” and the expression of the right honorablegentleman’s strongexpression of support to the Empire, showed that he entertained the feeling that any party in this House who were against the proposal of the Government were not supporters of the Empire. For my own part, I do not believe that those who are against the naval subsidy are actuated by any such motives. Certainly, I am not in the slightest degree in favour of breaking the English connexion. I love England ; I love the English people ; and I am exceedingly sorry that sometimes there should be a manifestation of antagonism to the British Empire. So far as England and Australia are concerned, I say - “May their connexion very long continue.” I am all the more pleased to have an opportunity of saying this, because the Minister for Defence, in his speech upon the Address in Reply, raised the question of the naval subsidy, and when I said I was in favour of voting no subsidy at all, the right honorable gentleman waved his big hand towards me and said that he and I were as far asunder as the poles, and that he would rather be a dog and bay the moon than such a Briton.” Then, unfortunately, the right honorable gentleman had his speech privately reprinted from Hansard and distributed all over the States. He also stated that he would remind . me of what Sir Walter Scott said -
Breathes there a man- and then he said that he would not quote the wordsabout an honorable member. I do not know whether the Minister for Defence forgot the context, but I should like to remind him of the lines that follow. I could not quote a better passage if I wished to select some lines in support of the principle which I am advocating. They are these -
Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said - “ This is my own, my native land.”
I hold that sentiment, because I believe in Australia, and because I feel that I am doing my duty to Australia at the present time in refusing to vote for this Naval Subsidy Bill. I hold that my duty to Australia keeps me from supporting the Bill. My responsibility under the Constitution under which we have only the limited degree of freedom which England gives us, compels me to take up this attitude. The Prime Minister said an “ Englishman in Australia has equal power with an Englishman in England.” Unfortunately he has not. The Australian is limited to local selfgovernment ; the Englishman controls the whole Empire; his voice and his hand are felt to the ends of the earth. I am not an elector of the British Empire ; I have nothing to say in its control, and shall have nothing to say in the control of the naval subsidy if this Parliament votes it. It is because of those considerations that I am against this proposal, although I can agree with a good deal of what the PrimeMinister has said with regard to the concentration of ships and the necessity of attacking an enemy in detail. But the Prime Minister has not in the slightest degree answered the arguments of those who are opposed to this Bill. I do not think that the Minister for Defence has treated me fairly, nor do I think that the Prime Minister has treated this House fairly in making it appear that those who look to the interests of the Empire must support the Bill. Because it is only Australia that we have to legislate for. It is not the Empire. We have to do our duty to Australia. There is an old proverb which says - “ The eyes of the fool are to the ends of the earth.” Perhaps the Minister for Defence will remember that. I may also remind him thatAEsop has a proverb of a man who used to look only at the stars, and so fell into the pit. There are two lines of Tennyson which admirably represent the point of view which I take -
That man’s the true Cosmopolite
Who loves his native country best.
And it is because that is the attitude which I take up, and because my responsibility lies entirely to Australia in this matter, that I have assumed this position in opposing the naval subsidy. There is one other thing which I object to in the position of the Prime Minister, and it is that the right honorable gentleman has not assumed a very statesman-like attitude with regard to the question. That I know is a very serious statement to make, coming from a junior member of this House, as applied to the Prime Minister of the Common wealth, and I am aware that I ought to be called upon to justify it. But I ask those who question my view, and who have heard the right honorable gentleman’s speech this afternoon, to notice what he said in reply to some queries which were put to him. He gave us only the present, and never once considered the future. He was asked whether he could tell us what was to become of the navy at the end of the ten years. He did not know. He was asked as to what .was to become of the Australians who were trained on board the training-ships when the agreement came to -an end.
– I cannot say ; I shall not be here.
– I do not know that, when we hear so much from the right honorable gentleman about a permanent Ministry. I think that the Prime Minister should have submitted some concrete statesmanlike plan. It is not the duty of a Prime Minister to look only to the next eight or ten years. That is adopting a haphazard “ hand-to-mouth “ policy. If the right honorable gentleman proposes to start building an Australian Navy, we should know that now, and the House should know that we are to have an Australian Navy at the end of ten years. If the Prime Minister can give me that promise, I can quite imagine that, owing to the difficulties created in Australia by the “Braddon blot” in the Constitution, it might even be desirable to accept this agreement in the meantime. However, there is nothing of the kind placed before us, and we are told - “Here is an agreement that will give us peace in our time. Heaven help us at the end of the next eight years.” At the end of that time no one knows what may happen. By the destruction of the ‘ Protector and the Queensland gun-boats, and by the cutting down of the crew of the Cerberus, we may be left absolutely in the lap of the Colonial-office, with no power to do anything but to call upon the Imperial authorities again. We shall have 1,600 men at the end of that time coming out of their service, and immediately the argument will be used that in order to keep those men in their positions we- must continue to support this Imperial Navy until the end of time. That is not a position in which the Prime Minister should place us. I first of all object to this Bill because those who have read it through speak of it as a contract to which the Imperial Government and the New Zealand Government .are definitely bound, but to which the Commonwealth is not bound until the Federal Parliament has spoken. That is the statement we had in the Maitland Town Hall, in the Sydney Town Hall, and in the Melbourne Town Hall, from the Prime Minister, and it is the statement we have heard here to-night. I must accept the statement of our own Prime Minister as correct, but I find in the London Times -of the 6th March, 1903, these replies to questions upon Australian matters given by Mr. Austen Chamberlain, who was at the time acting for his father as Secretary of State for the Colonies in the English House of Commons. I find from the report of the Times that -
Mr. E. Robertson drew attention to the proceedings of the Colonial Conference held in the summer. After commenting on the fact that, while the statements made by the British Ministers at the Conference had been published, the replies of the Colonial Premiers had not been disclosed, he asked for the views of the Government upon the chief questions dealt with by theConference, namely, the naval and military defence of the Empire, and the commercial relations between the mother country and the selfgoverning colonies. With regard to the latter subject he said that the net result of the Conference was a recommendation that the self-governing colonies and the- mother country should give one another preferential treatment in trade.
In reply, Mr. Austen Chamberlain stated that -
The Government would have been glad to publish in extenso what had taken place at the Conference, but that this could not be done, as some of the Colonial representatives desired that their speeches should be treated as confidential. It was the view of the Government that these Conferences were useful as they supplied opportunities for the interchange o£ views between the colonies and the mother country, and fostered the growth of a better understanding between all parts of His Majesty’s dominions. This was true in spite of the fact that the resolutions of the Conference wore binding upon no one. They were valuable as containing what the Premiers thought could be submitted to their respective Parliaments with some expectation of approval. Communications had been passing with some of the Colonial Governments upon the subject of their contributions to the Navy.
– They put the amount down on the Estimates for the Navy.
– In reply to that interjection, I might say that that is so ; but they said that they did not desire to be so uncomplimentary to the colonies as to suggest that they were not going to pay the subsidy. That is a statement which will be found in the last weekly issue of the Times. Mr. Austen Chamberlain went on to say -
He had no reason to suppose at present that additional contributions towards the naval and military expenditure were likely to be offered ; but, of course, the Government would welcome further help if it were offered spontaneously by the Governments concerned. Our colonies, he reminded the Committee, were sister nations, practically independent, but bound to us by the ties of sentiment and affection. They had quite recently given us great assistance,and this was, therefore, certainly not a moment when we should minimize the sacrifices they had made for us, or speak in a grudging spirit of the aid which they rendered us.
He further said -
As to the resolutions with regard to the trade relations within the Empire, it should be remembered that they were only recommendations submitted for consideration. They were not binding on His Majesty’s Government, but they were being considered carefully as resolutions brought forward with the approval of the Premiers of our colonies deserved to be.
That shows that the statement in the opening part of the Bill is, in the first place, incorrect. The Prime Minister has in no way defined what our position is to be in the future, and I therefore desire, if possible, to lead the debate intothis channel to discover what is to happen to Australia at the end of eight or ten years. Looking at Australian affairs in the past, I think we made a very great mistake in the naval and military policy we adopted. We appear to have forgotten completely that Australia is an island, and that sea defence must be our principal defence. If honorable members look to other nations they will find that Germany, France, and Italy have land frontiers as well as sea frontiers ; consequently they have had to provide both armies and navies. England, on the other hand, has been able to dispense with a large Army, and has built up a very strong Navy to defend herself.
– England has dispensed with an Army ?
– Almost entirely. In comparison with other nations where they have armies numbering millions, England has only thousands.
– She spends as much money on her Army as do the others.
– I am not speaking of what she spends, but about the numerical strength of her Army. When the Minister for Defence last year brought in the Defence Bill,he told the House that he was going upon the system of Switzerland rather than that of any other country, as modified by the teaching of the Transvaal war. I ask honorable members to consider the position in which that leaves us. Australia is completely different in its commercial and political relations from Switzerland and the Transvaal. Switzerland is absolutely a land-locked country, whilst Australia is a sea-girt country. Switzerland has not a port, and the Transvaal never saw a ship, and yet they are looked to as models, in order to get a policy for an island continent. To bring vividly before honorable members the difference between the two countries should be stated - and I am choosing Switzerland because the Minister for Defence chose Switzerland as the example for his Defence Bill.
– No ; I only said what was being done there.
– Switzerland was the only country the right honorable gentleman mentioned. I contrast the two countries to show what little reason there can possibly be for taking Switzerland as a model for Australia. Switzerland is a small and densely-populated country, whilst Australia is immense in area and very sparsely populated. Switzerland is surrounded by high mountain ranges; Australia is surrounded by the sea. On the borders of Switzerland, a merely imaginary line, there are great Powers possessing armies numbering millions, whilst Australia is thousands of miles from any army. Switzerland is situated in the heart of Europe, where every square mile is a source of envy and trouble, whilst Australia is at the Antipodes. The population of Switzerland is comprised of three races connected with the peoples of adjoining countries; Australia has one distinct people. Switzerland has no floating trade, whilst Australia depends for its very existence upon sea-borne commerce. Yet Switzerland is the country which is chosen for our model.
– Who said so ?
– The Minister for Defence said so.
– The honorable and learned member should not quote me at random.
– Interesting as they are, I do not keep in my pocket all the right honorable gentleman’s speeches that have been recorded in Hansard. I may be able later on to convince the Minister for Defence that I am quoting what he said. The first and last tiling for Australians and an Australian Minister for Defence to consider is that Australia is an island requiring a naval defence. Naval responsibility should in our case be fixed as the first consideration. The question that immediately arises in one’s mind is why this has not been done in the past, and why Australian energies have largely been directed into military defence only. The reasons are four : - First, that these States have looked to the protection of the British Navy, consequent upon an understanding in 1870 with the Imperial Government through Lord Granville, when Imperial troops were withdrawn from Australia, that we would look after the land defence if the United Kingdom provided sufficient sea defence. Secondly, the Australian States were- divided and separate, and unless their naval defence was to be purely harbor defence, none of them could buy or man the ships necessary for the defence of thu whole island, part of which, till 1890, remained under Imperial control. The third reason is found in the strong discouragement of the Imperial authorities of any local naval effort. This has been England’s traditional policy, not only to friendly allies, but to her own colonies. Her attitude towards the American Colonial Navy was ever that of suspicion and animosity, whilst a prominent Australian naval writer says -
It would seem to be due to antipodean topsyturvydom that’ Australia, an island 13,000 miles from the war base of the Empire, should have received no encouragement to train her sons for service afloat, and yet, on the other hand, has received, and continues to receive, ever)’ form of persuasion to raise an army. The island motherland, separated by a narrow stretch of channel from Continental foes, has based her defence on her sea power. Australia, separated by many thousand miles from a possible enemy’s base, hits been steadily enjoined to adopt a policy of defence the reverse of that so steadily pursued by the motherland, and so well suited to our geographical conditions, and the qualities of the race. Discouragement and aloofness have been the constant attitude of the Imperial authorities towards naval development in every Australian colony. This is well known to every officer who has had any association with Australian naval matters. It would be easy to give dozens of instances, but it will be quite sufficient to recall the reply of the Admiralty to the very modest request from New Zealand for a training-ship to be stationed at Auckland. The Admiralty declined, because it would be difficult, if not impossible, at the antipodes to give ships’ boys of fourteen and fifteen the scientific training necessary to the navy. The Times of that date waxed merry over the ponderous absurdity of the reasons given for refusal.
The fourth reason is found in the subsidy already paid by the Australian States when separated, and the local Navy provided since 1.889 by the Imperial authorities. This has, in the opinion of many, made it quite unnecessary for Australians to defend themselves. They are willing, as were many of the nations of Europe about three centuries ago, and as was the Roman Empire in the days of its decline and weakness, to pay other men to do this work. They would subsidize Imperial sailors to defend Australian coasts. They would pay in cash what they are unready or unwilling to give in men or in service. Now that Australia is federated, and the English Government has put such strong pressure upon the Commonwealth Ministry for an increased subsidy, and particularly as the term for which the yearly subsidy of £106,000 arranged in 1887 has expired, these conditions no longer obtain, and federated Australia should look at the position in the light of existing circumstances, and the new conditions obtaining. And it must be remembered that it was never intended by Admiral Tryon, when he in 1886 negotiated with the Australian States ;the Imperial subsidy, that the management and control of the Australian Navy should last longer than the consummation of- the Federal union. This can be seen from the biography of Admiral Tryon by Rear-Admiral Penrose-Fitzgerald. He says that Admiral Tryon was above all things practical, and knew perfectly well that in the then state of Australian colonial development it would not be possible to have a thoroughly efficient sea-going squadron manned otherwise than by Imperial officers and men. He, however, had no doubt of the desirability of Australians furnishing the personnel of their own defence force when practicable, and when Federation came. I have in my possession a copy of a letter which Admiral Tryon - who negotiated with the Ministers of the several States, as well as with the Premier of New Zealand, the naval subsidy of 18’87 - addressed in 1886 to Sir Samuel Griffith, who was then Premier of Queensland. In this letter he pointed out that -
It is not a mere subsidized force that will do what is wanted. It is not only money that is required to produce effective forces, but it is the personal service of our countrymen all over the world. It is blood rather than gold that is the basis of every true force ; and to awaken the true spirit the Government of each colony, the people of each colony, should manage, as far as possible, their local forces during the time of peace. Unless they do so, the burden of cost will be irksome, and the interests of the people in their maintenance - which is a first factor for success - will not be evoked.
– That is rather ancient history.
Mv. CROUCH. - It shows that history repeats itself. The promises that were held out in 1S86 are the delusions that we are supposed to accept in 1903. In 1913 it will again be asserted that the time is not yet ripe for the creation of an Australian Navy. The subsidy has jumped from £106,000 per annum, as agreed to in 1887, to £200,000 per annum, which is now asked for ; and in 1913 we shall probably be asked for a subsidy of £300,000 or £400,000 per annum. We shall then be in the position that we now occupy, and strong arguments will be put forward in favour of binding us to the Imperial contract, with no control whatever over our Australian possessions. I wish to make a further quotation from Admiral Tryon, because he has made history in relation to this matter, and his words are not so ancient that we should refuse to accept them as conveying some lesson to us. Admiral Fitzgerald further quotes Sir George Tryon as saying -
The system of local corps tends to identify the population with the defence. It is less likely to languish. It gives experience to many in the supply and in the use of warlike stores. It does il/06 continuously separate the men from their wives unci families. It habituates the people to feel that some day they may be required to make personal sacrifices. It gives a sense of security, lt tends to allay panic. It accustoms the Governments of the country to study the questions involved, and the responsibility which belongs to it on this subject is kept perpetually before it. The essential to do justice to local corps is a nucleus of trained men and experts.
After that excellent pronouncement on the part of the Imperial Admiral who first arranged the naval subsidy agreement I think it is well to inquire - What are the requirements of an Australian Navy ? Can Australians do the work and man the ships 1 And can the Commonwealth without unnecessary expenditure raise the Navy and man it 1 The Prime Minister has put other points before us, but those are the questions which I propose to answer. The first consideration - What is required for the thorough defence of Australian coasts 1 - is one for an expert, and fortunately it has been carefully considered by a prominent Australian writer on the Marine Defences of our Coasts. He writes -
True defence favours the use of that which is near rather than that which has to be brought from a great distance. It is preferable to have our means of defence at hand. To-day we are dependent for our ships, men, and guns, on the mother country, 13,000 miles away. That is a glaring weakness. Men, at least, we can, and should provide. The nearer we can become selfsupporting the better. Even as a mere question of economy, the transport of crews to and from England is an item that it would be desirable to eliminate.
– Who made that statement 1
– I am quoting from an article which appeared in the Brisbane Courier. It was published anonymously, but - 1 am satisfied that the writer knew what he was talking about, and that if I were in a position to give his name to the honorable member he would thoroughly appreciate his fitness to express an opinion upon this subject. The second question to which I have referred is, “ Can Australia do the work and man the ships 1” On this point, I have a statement by Admiral Beaumont, who naturally takes the Imperial view. In a report to the Governor-. General, which was presented to both Houses of this Parliament on the 10th July, 1901, he wrote -
It will be seen from the size and number of the ships required, from the necessity which will undoubtedly arise of replacing them from time to time by more modern ships, from the fact that they must be continuously manned b3’ trained officers and men, and that the ships must not only be maintained in commission, but must be gradually provided with new bases, that it is beyond the power of the Commonwealth at the outset to create such a force. It follows, therefore, that such a force can only be acquired and maintained by arrangement with the Imperial Government, and. I believe that if this course was adopted it would also follow that the greatest amount of good would be .maintained at the smallest possible cost. In view of the Federal Government providing for, the immediate future an adequate and up-to-date sea-going fleet for the defence of Australian floating commerce and the protection of Australian territory, I consider that it should take no part in the creation or maintenance of naval reserves or State naval forces, which experience has shown cannot be utilized in a manner at all commensurate with their cost, or assist, except within too narrow limits; in the defence of the Commonwealth.
This is an adverse criticism of the local naval men which we know to be- undeserved. On the other hand, Lord Brassey, late Governor of “Victoria, who for years has interested himself in this question, states that Australian seamen could sufficiently man the ships. That view is supported by the resolutions passed by a conference of naval officers which met at Melbourne on 5th August, 18S9, at the instance of the States Governments, to discuss the question of naval defence for Australia. They said that some such scheme might be adopted. The conference comprised the naval commandants of Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria, as well as the Victorian Secretary for Defence - four officers of the Royal Navy, who agreed unanimously to three resolutions. The first of their resolutions was -
That whilst a Royal Navy Reserve cannot, in our opinion, be raised in Australia on conditions required by the Admiralty, yet we consider that a naval force that would be efficient and available for service in vessels of war, can be raised on rates of pay and conditions of service suitable to the colonies.
The second resolution - and they supported all of these resolutions with facts which formed part of their report - was -
That such force should be formed by the amalgamation of the existing naval permanent establishments, who would be the instructional staff and required nucleus for maintenance of the vessels in reserve ; the complement of the vessels being made up by the officers and men not permanently employed, but maintained in efficiency by courses of annual training. This force would be maintained and controlled by the Federal Government, and would be governed by a Federal Discipline Act and Regulations which would provide for their employment in general naval service.
The third resolution was -
The Admiralty to provide ships of a type effective for service in time of war, which, in peace time, would be stationed at the principal ports for the drilling and training of the local naval force. These ships to be maintained by the Federal Government, and to be subject to periodical inspection by the Naval CommanderinChief.
It is significant to note that the report was signed and adopted by every member of the Conference. It is also worthy of notice that the present Minister for Trade and Customs objected, in 1S97, to the continuance of the Imperial subsidy, preferring that we should train our own men in an Australian Navy. I find also that prior to the Federal elections the Attorney-General, as well as the honorable member for Gippsland, and, I think, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, were members of a league known as theNational Liberal Organization, which had, as one of the planks of its platform, a proposal for the creation of an Australian Navy. That plank was adopted by many honorable members of this House when they went to the country.
– I do not think I was a member of that league.
– I think the honorable member was, but I will not argue the point with him. I am surprised to learn that the leader of the Opposition intends to support the Government in regard to’ this Bill, for I find that when it was reported in January last that the Prime Minister proposed to agree to a naval subsidy of £200,000 per annum he said that-
– He explained that he would take time to consider the proposal.
– In an interview which was published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on 13th January, 1903, he said that -
There was an attempt made when I was in England in 1897, not an official attempt, but a. tentative proposal, aiming at a removal of that feature of the agreement, so as to enable the Imperial Government to take the ships away at any time ; in fact, that they should be subject as. much to the direct and unrestricted control of the Admiralty as are the ships of the Imperial Navy. I would not listen to it, and the proposal was dropped. I do not think that the other Premiers would listen to it. At any rate, I know that I would not.
We now find that the policy of the Admiralty really all through has been this, that the firstagreement waa a round-about way of getting an Australian contribution to the Imperial Navy, without any Australian stipulation as to the locality of the vessels.
I don’t want prematurely to criticise the Government for what it has done. I will give the matter every consideration, but my present impression is that the change is a bad one.
In view of that declaration, I was surprised to hear the statement made by the leader of the Opposition in the course of his speech on the address in reply that he was in favour of the increased subsidy. I should like to say further that in the course of the interview to which I have already referred, he stated that -
It would be very much better to have a straight out contribution to the Imperial navy at once, and to stipulate that the Imperial Government should maintain a certain strength on the, Australian station. It seems to me altogether at variance with the principle which prompted the first arrangement that there should be no sort of stipulation as to the control of the Federal Executive over the despatch of the ships beyond Australian waters.
The final question which I propose to consider is whether the Commonwealth can, without unnecessary expenditure, raise a navy and man it. This s a phase of the question to which the Prime Minister has given so much attention that he has sunk almost every other consideration. I am astonished to hear that to-night he hardly referred to the “ Braddon blot,” for I find that in speeches which he made at the Melbourne Town Hall on the 28th November, 1902, and again at the Maitland Town Hall on the 24th November, 1902, he took up the position that he would have been very glad to establish an Australian Navy at the present time but for the “ Braddon blot “ in the Constitution. Speaking at a dinner given by the Mayor of Melbourne on the 10th November, 1902, he said that -
When we got enough loan money to construct those ships we would not, if we pursued the selfish policy referred to, have enough money to keep them in order, to renew their weapons as occasion required, and to renew their hulls when they became obsolete.
Speaking at the Maitland Town Hall on the 24th November, 1902, he said that -
They did not want the pride and vanity of having a navy of their own if it was to be at the expense of having a navy of old iron on their hands.
He then went on to refer to the “Braddon blot.” The Prime Minister has a proposal by which the crews of two ships working side by side are to have different rates of pay. I venture to say that the experiment would create such difficulties that after it had been worked for about twelve months there would be an outcry against it, and either the Australian naval rates of pay would have to be reduced to the Imperial level, or the Imperial rates would have to be raised to those paid to members of the Australian naval forces.
– Be sure that they thought thatover before they consented to it.
– I have another quotation, in which the right honorable and learned gentleman said -
Itwas no affair of Australia if Great Britain placed cheap men on her ships.
I think it will be an affair of Australia if she has to pay for the men. There was another remark, which he should not have made, in one of his speeches, because it seems to me a reproach on the bravery of Australians. It is one of the very things which used to be said before the South African war came off. Every one used to say that the Australian soldier would make for a tree when he was sent out to fight.
-Does my honorable and learned friend think I could say anything of that sort?
– The honorable and learned gentleman said something very similar when he said that Australian ships during a war would stay in port with their crews shivering.
– I never said a syllable that was like that.
– I took the quotation from the report of a speech which the right honorable and learned gentleman made in the Melbourne Town Hall, and which appeared in the Melbourne papers.
– I never spoke about the Australian shivering, unless it was with cold. He shivers in London.
– I am very glad indeed to have given the right honorable and learned gentleman an opportunity of making that explanation. I know a number of men who are on board ships, and I take it that no Australian would shiver in time of war. He would be just as ready to do his duty in the Navy as were the Australian soldiers who went to South Africa.
– I am quite sure my honorable and learned friend will do me the credit of believing that the Australian would make it hot for anybody.
– That is right. The Prime Minister also said that Great Britain was prepared to pay half the cost of the Navy, but he altogether failed to point out in any speech relating to this agreement that Australia has to pay part of the capital cost of the ships ; that England gets the money at 23/4 per cent., but is charging Australia 5 per cent. on the half she has to pay. She is to get 23/4 per cent. for interest, and 2¼ per cent. for a sinking fund.
– The payment for sinking fund and interest would only come to half the cost of the ships in ten years. It would only come to 50 per cent.
– I quite appreciate that. I think that the payment of 2¼ per cent. to a sinking fund is a small one to make, but I do not want the right honorable and learned gentleman to go all over Australia and speak about the magnificent gift of the mother country to Australia - to say that she gives the ships free and pays half the cost of the maintenance. That was stated by him time after time, but he altogether forgot to add that Australia pays a part of the sinking fund. Of course, the question arises, if Australia and Great Britain are each to pay half the cost of construction and half the cost of maintenance, why is it that the Imperial Government is to keep sole control ? I think that the sole power of appointing petty officers and seamen should not have been given to the Imperial Government only, and that Australia should have authority to exercise some control Over the distribution of the money which she has to pay. I am not only not in favour of paying a subsidy of £200,000 a year, but I do not agree to the continuance of the present subsidy of £106,000. Of course, it comes to the question - Are we to continue to pay an Imperial subsidy at all 1 The Prime Minister says “yes,” and gives his reasons - reasons provided to the Coronation Conference by Mr. Chamberlain. Shortly put, he points out that Australia pays 3s. 5d. a head for land defence, as against ‘£-1 9s. 3d. paid by every taxpayer in the United Kingdom, and he asks -
Can they do less than add ls. a head to that for the Imperial subsidy, making it 4s: 3d. a head for total defence, unless they said it was time to leave the Empire ?
The phrase “To Leave the Empire” is brought in again. Every one who does not agree with the naval subsidy has to leave the Empire at once. The Prime Minister continued -
If so, sa)’ it at once. He wished to pay a little off. Was he right or wrong ?
I think 3s. 5d. a head is not a fair amount for defence, but we find that the Prime Minister is going to increase the amount to 4s. 5d. a head. Is the difference between 3s. 5d. and £1 9s. 3d. very much less than the difference between 4s. 5d. and £1 9s. 3d ? I think it would be far better, and far more honest, if we are going to pay at all, that we should pay proportionately ; we should then know where we are. Evidently, that is exactly what the Secretary of State for the Colonies is aiming at. He expressed himself very clearly on the point when he said, at the opening of the recent conference, that, the United Kingdom had a right tq look to the colonies for material aid. His words were -
We have borne the burden for many years. A¥e think it is time that our children should assist us to support it….. I want you to consider for a moment what is the present position of the smaller nations with whom in population you may more closely compare yourselves. What is the position of such nations in Europe as Greece, the Balkan States, or Holland, or the South American republics ? Why, gentlemen, they are absolutely independent nations, accordingly, they have to bear burdens for their military or naval defences, or for both, as the case may be, to which yours bears no proportion whatever. I point out to you, therefore, that in the clash of nations you have hitherto derived great advantage, even from a purely material stand- point, from being a part of a great Empire. But the privileges which we enjoy involve corresponding obligations. The responsibilities must be reciprocal, and must be shared in common, and I do not think that any empire may be said to be on a sure foundation which is not based upon recognised community of sacrifices.
Again, his speech in South Africa is reported in the Times of the 13 th February, 1903, in these terms -
Though hinting at the possibility of a financial contribution towards the war from the Cape, the Colonial Secretary did not go further than point to the present prosperity of the colony, the Cape being in fact the only self-governing colony which, as a colony, has profited by the war. Individuals might have suffered, but the Budget of the colony could show an enormous surplus. He did not forget the Cape’s contribution to the navy, but reminded the colony that its .-£00,000 was not sufficient to keep a cruiser in commission for six months, and that the annual cost of the South African squadron was £400,000.
That is a pretty good indication of his intention in regard to a country where he is master at the present time, and in the Transvaal, where he rules by a Legislative Council. He says - “ You are paying only £50,000 now, and you have to remember that the cost of the South African squadron is £400,000.” We can easily see what he is aiming at. He intends the South African people to pay the full cost of the South African squadron. The Times report of his speech concludes as follows : -
With these words Mr. Chamberlain left the matter, to recur to the subject, one may suppose, at a later opportunity. We know what is the Colonial Secretary’s cherished ambition. Whether he will realize it before he leaves the Cape remains to be seen, but this much is certain. When Imperial federation is an accomplished fact, and regular contributions to the-up-keep of the Empire are made by the various colonies, the credit of the idea will rest with. Mr. Chamberlain, and his visit to South Africa will have materially hastened its consummation.
We are not told that this payment of 3s. od. or 4s. 5d. per head is to be our final contribution. ‘ The only point which we can see clearly is that the contribution will grow. We know that it is £200,000 this year - =£94,000 more than it was thirteen years ago - and I suppose that at the end of ten years it will come to something far more in accordance with what Mr. Chamberlain thinks to be right— probably half-a-million. He has not explained himself clearly, nor has the Prime Minister told us exactly what he will want us to do in ten years’ time. But there is no diffidence about the Imperial Federation Defence League of’ London. It has no such modesty as they have exhibited. It is the energetic engineer of this movement, and with the Navy League, of which we have a delegate in Sydney, has done its best to get’ the cost - or a large proportion of it - of the Imperial Navy paid by the colonies. It issues a number of pamphlets, most of which I have here. On the cover of every one of its publications appear the following figures and statements : -
The revenue of the colonies is nearly half that of the United Kingdom (43,000,000 to 91,000,000), but they only contribute one-ninetieth part of the cost of the naval defence of the Empire.
This is set down at the date of these figures at £20,200,000.
Apparently the colonies, to satisfy the Imperial Federation Defence Committee, of 30 Charlesstreet, Berkley Square, London, would have to contribute a little over £9,000,000.
A writer in the Fortnightly Review assumed that eventually Australia would contribute £3,000,000. The Prime Minister, I think, has put it pretty clearly to us to-night that it is a case of pay or clear out. I wish to point out the attitude which Canada has taken up. The Dominion has an intensely loyal Prime Minister, who thinks it is not necessary to give this subsidy. Although it has not yet provided for its own local defence, and gets the assistance of Imperial soldiers in its midst, it refuses to pay any proportion of the expenses of the Imperial Navy, because it has no voice in its control. In addition the defence of the naval bases of Halifax and Esquimalt in Canada, including armaments, military works, and garrisons, provided by the Imperial Government. When our Prime Minister was speaking at Victoria, in Vancouver Island, last September, he made a strong appeal to Canada to disregard the patriotic position taken up by its Prime Minister, and endeavoured to partially place the responsibility of the probable defeat of his subsidy scheme in the Australian Parliament upon those Canadian statesmen, who think it wiser to develop Canadian resources than contribute to London Admiralty funds. His reported words were -
The protection of the Empire is an Imperial affair. It belongs to all of us. As we of another colony are helping to strengthen the naval defences of the Empire, we are helping you. Should you not then turn around and help us ? I think yon will. And I have confidence in your 5 u 2 statesmen coming to the conclusion that it will be a wise thing to do. Recollect, if 3’ou think we are right in what we propose to do, you make it harder for us if you stand off. You make it harder for us to give that help which ought to be given. And if we should fail in our efforts to obtain parliamentary sanction for such help being given, your failure to do your part would make you partially responsible for it. These are plain words. But you are Britons, and you like to be talked to by Britons. So I leave that matter of the naval defence with the fullest confidence in the result, with the fullest confidence that when the Australian, or the New Zealander, or the British ‘ South African gives his consent to doing- this, the Canadian will,- in generous rivalry, say - “Well, I do’nt mean to be behind that.”
The reply of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his Ministers to the proposal that Canada should join in this subsidy is a straight-out vindication of their loyalty, not only to the Empire, but to Canada. Their memorandum prepared for the 1902 Conference, at which the Prime Minister of Australia took up so different an attitude, reads as follow : -
The Canadian Ministers regret that they have been unable to assent to the suggestions made by Lord Selborne respecting the navy, and by Mr. Brodrick respecting the army. The Ministers desire to point out that their objections arise not so much from the expense involved as from the belief that the acceptance of the proposals would entail an important departure from the principle of colonial self-government. Canada values highly the measure of’ local independence which has been granted from time to time by,the Imperial authorities, and which has been so productive of ‘beneficial results, both as respects the material progress of the country and the strengthening of the ties that bind it to the motherland.
I find that even so late as last month the fo owing telegram from Ottawa appeared in the London Standard : -
At the formation of a branch of the Navy League here to-day, the Minister of Militia said that Canada was prepared to do its duty for the defence of the Empire, although dissenting from the proposition of Great Britain that it should contribute in cash towards that which would be absolutely under the control of the Admiralty.
It is also wise to consider that while Canada, with a population of 5,312,000, spends £433,735 oh its naval and military defence, Australia, with a population of only 4,564,000, spends £1,093,000. But Canadians are not alone in opposition to the subsidy. Earl Grey, in his volumes on the colonial policy of the administration of Lord John Russell, uses these weighty words -
The naval expenditure, which is frequently charged against the colonies, cannot, in my opinion, be so with any justice, since, if we had no colonies, I believe the demands upon our naval force would be rather increased than diminished, from the necessity of protecting our commerce.
Lord Napier of Magdala, a military man with a great record, writing to the London Times, of the 25th July last, under the heading “The Colonies and Imperial Defence,” said -
With reference to the irritating, almost insulting, suggestions that the colonies should give direct financial contribution towards the Imperial Navy and Amw, may I ask for space to point out that, if indirectly, yet in fact, the colonies already contribute at least their fair share ?
The figures would with difficulty bo arrived at, but it is certain that a very considerable portion of the Imperial revenue is drawn from colonial capital, sunk from time to time in this country, and from colonists who have returned to the old home.
For many years past these islands have been fertilized by the influx of colonial gold. Surely a contribution, spontaneous - drawn only by love - comes in the best form, and is probably in amount all that could be expected.
Lord Brassey wrote to the Times on the same question on the 29th of last September, when he said -
Turning to the navy, if the Conference has not done much to help us, we ma)’ in fairness keep in view that the naval expenditure specially incurred for the protection of the colonies is trifling in amount. When Navy Estimates are in preparation we do not look to the colonies. We consider the expenditureof other Powers, which wemustbe prepared to meet. Our programme of ship-building is based on comparisons. The strength of our personnel follows automatically on the shipbuilding. We must be able to man all effective ships.
We were told to-night by the Prime Minister that Admiralty expert opinion is completely with him in this matter.
– I do not think he said expert opinion. He said “ the Admiralty,” which is a different thing.
– It is all the same for my purpose. Even if the Admiralty is with him, the Admirals are not.
– Some of them are.
– Others are not. Admiral Sir J. O. Hopkins, writing to the Spectator, states that -
It is undignified and unwise for the motherland to reiterate demands for a valueless sum in hard cash from the self-governing colonies towards the navy, and that it would be better to let the colonies contribute in their own way in the form of reserves, which would be of the greatest use in war time.
Admiral Sir - N. Bowden-Smith, who, I believe, has served on the Australian station, suggests in the same journal that -
A practical way to start a local navy would be to officer and man one Australian cruiser with
Australians, the vessel taking regular duty under the Admiral of the station. The Commonwealth ….. ought to bear the complete cost of the maintenance of the vessel, the Admiralty supplying stores and ammunition at cost price.
He also agrees with the opinion previously expressed by Admiral Tryon. In this matter, the two leading London weeklies have expressed similar opinions. The Speaker, in September, 1895, writes -
We desire to see local supplementary navies owned by the colonies, and manned and officered by the colonials. Such a squadron would be a help in war time, and in peace would train the colonists in the duties of self-defence - duties which no body of Englishmen would depute. We do not care to see colonists, as it were, hiring British ships at so rauch per ton per annum, to guard their shores.
The Spectator; of 5th July, 1902, says : -
Before we leave Captain Mahan’s interesting paper, we must sa)’ a word as to advice which he incidentally gives the Australian colonies in the matter of Imperial naval defence. In effect, he bids them remember that they will not obtain the best security by coast-defence ships and localized squadrons, but only by a mobile force. We entirely agree. This is just the advice we ventured to give the Australians when we suggested that they might very likely find it necessary to defend Australia in the Mediterranean. But though we are quite as firm as the firmest naval strategist on this point, we cannot agree that it necessitates the colonies hiring their defence from us by a mere money contribution. On the contrary, we hold that the best way of getting the colonies to realize the true nature of sea-power is for them to build and man sea-going navies of their own.
Captain Mahan, we are glad to see, does not, apparently, regard this notion as forbidden. He leaves the question entirely open. For ourselves, we hold that, in the long run, naval power rests on the naval spirit existing in the Empire that seeks naval power. But Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will never attain to that naval spirit which is the life-breath of maritime Empire, if the)’ hire their naval protection in Britain, or merely pay in money. They will only foster the naval spirit by having sea-going ships of their own, for whose up-keep and equipment their own statesmen and their own people have the fullest responsibility. When Australians man and officer ships paid for by Australian money, we shall see dockyards and naval reserves and naval bases of real value spring up in Australia. Mere money subsidies to the Home Admiralty will never create the spirit on which naval power rests. It is because we are so intensely convinced of the importance of sea-power to the Empire, and of the sea-spirit, that we want to see Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and South African squadrons, for which the four free nations of the Empire are responsible, even though they place them in far-distant waters to learn their business, and to take their share of creating- and maintaining the command of the sea for the British Empire.
I regret that I have to trouble the House with so many extracts, but this is a matter for experts, and I wish to show that the weight of official opinion and expert advice is against the Ministry’s Bill. There is a body in England called the Colonial Defence Committee. It is appointed by the War-office, and consists of Imperial officers who sit in London. It issued a memorandum upon the defence of Australia which was presented to the Imperial Parliament on the 19th September, 1901, and contained this statement -
Whether (as was suggested by the Secretary to the Admiralty, in the House of Commons on the 22nd inst.) the co-operation of the selfgoverning colonies should take the form of an increased share of the burden of naval expenditure (£30,875,500 for 1901-2), or whether they should only contribute trained forces to the service of the Empire in time of war, is a question which, in the opinion of the committee, presses for solution in the early future.
Even this Imperial body is against the Prime Minister as to cash assistance. I want honorable members to see that there is another side to the question of the abandonment of Australian control of its own defences, which the Prime Minister has forgotten to point out, but which the Imperial Federation Defence Committee of London reiterate with brutal frankness. In their pamphlet No. 2, after setting forth the duty of the colonies to contribute towards Imperial naval expenditure, though stating that they do not propose that we shall be taxed by the United Kingdom for that purpose, they publish alarmist statements in large type. This is the committee which has just sent out to Australia a delegate to lecture us on our responsibleness to the Empire. They say -
Under the present plan the colonies rely on being defended by the navy of the United Kingdom, while they go free of all charge in the matter. Under the plan proposed they would pay their share of its cost.
The Prime Minister told us that he does not know a case in which England deserted one of her colonies, or left it unprotected in time of war. I should like honorable members to recollect that, a little more than a hundred years ago, England withdrew the whole of her naval forces from the West Indies, and allowed the Americans and the French to seize those possessions. We have this example afforded us by history, and, further, we have the warning printed in very big - even alarmist - type, from which I have been reading. It proceeds as follows : -
They maybe leftin the Lurch.
Are they not wise to avoid this ?
Undoubtedly, if they can count with certainty on being defended when the trouble comes.
But this is just what they cannot do.
Those who pay thepiper must call the Tune.
It is evident that in stress of war the first call on the navy must be to defend the United Kingdom, the people of which pay for and control it. It is inevitable that they should think of themselves first. History shows that in the war of 1 779-1 782, the West Indian Islands - then the most valuable of the British colonies - were virtually abandoned till the Channel was made safe.
Country first, Food Supplies next : Colonies-?
After the safety of the United Kingdom, the services of the navy would next be imperatively required by those who have paid for it, for the protection of the ocean routes by which their daily food reaches them; and in time of war these routes would not necessarily lead to the colonies.
Whopaid for this Navy?
No other considerations are likely to prevail with people in such a position, who can say - “ We alone provided this navy through all these years of peace; now that the war has come we mean to use it.”
Yet, with this example before him, although knowing of the complete desertion of what, at the time, were the most important colonies of the Empire, the Prime Minister has abrogated the security afforded by the agreement of 1889, which prohibited the Australian squadron, paid for with Australian money, from leaving our shores in time of stress. Under that arrangement the operations of the Australian squadron were limited to Australian waters, and, although the subsidy is now to be increased, even that precaution has been withdrawn. I would ask honorable members to devote their attention to an inquiry into the reasons why this limitation has been withdrawn. It has been argued in times past that the naval defence of Melbourne begins at Malta, and that the safety of Australia requires that the naval authorities should have power to follow an enemy wherever he is to be found. “ The enemy must be followed and fought wherever he can be met.” “ The Empire cannot be shut up in watertight compartments.” It will come as a surprise to those who argue in this way to find that article 2 of the new agreement restricts the operations of the fleet to a definite area, which is set out in the schedules, as the limits of the
China, East Indian, .and Australian stations. I want honorable members to recognise clearly the intention of the Government, and of the Imperial Government in particular, in leading us into this agreement for the payment of an increased subsidy, and I direct particular attention to an extract from the report of a speech made by Mr. Brodrick, the Secretary of State for War, at the Colonial Conference, at which the Prime Minister agreed to the payment of an increased subsidy. It is clear from this statement that England cannot find sufficient ships to perform her obligations to Japan, and that it is now proposed that the Australian squadron should be called upon to do duty for the Imperial Government in fulfilling the terms of the Japanese treaty. The position is stated with such brutal frankness that it is worth reading in full. Mr. Brodrick said -
Of course, I realize in regard to all these questions that we should not ask for - that we should go too far if we asked for any general promise of support in an emergency which has not arisen ; but what l do trust very strongly is this - that in case of an energency, and in case of different colonies being willing to come to the support of the mother country in such emergency, they should be in a position to do so with a body of troops, however moderate in number, which could be put in line with our own regular troops against a European Power. I am not, of course, speaking of action on the continent of Europe, but it will not be necessary for any of us to go far to conceive cases in which in support of our colonies it might be necessary to send a large British force, and in some cases in quarrels in which Great Britain’s interest would- be considerably less than that of the colony affected. Therefore I arn not asking that this should be regarded simply as a donative on’ the part of the colonies out of loyalty. I ask it rather on the ground of reciprocity, and I ask it also because, if you take some parts of the world in which our interests might be threatened, it must be perfectly obvious that it would not be in the power of the mother country to perform her part of the business effectively without some support. Take, for instance, the case of China. We have recently come to an agreement with Japan - an agreement which, you will recollect, is not one for offensive action, since it only comes into force in the case of aggressive action by other Powers. Obviously, in any plan of campaign which might be found necessary to protect our trade with Chiinaagainstencrachmentand against aggression, we should be bound, and we should wish, to give Japan, our ally, every support in our power. It is equally obvious that our interests would be strongly threatened in other parts of the globe ut the same time. A campaign between two great Powers is nob fought out solely on the spot at which the quarrel has arisen. In the case of any trouble which threatened our Indian Empire, we are bound to send large reinforcements from here. In the case of war which involved European Powers our striking effect would necessarily be exercised on some of their dependencies,. That is what Great Britain ought to be prepared to do ; but by propinquity, and also from other causes, nothing could assist us more, supposing that quarrel, forced upon us by others, also obtained for us the support of the different Colonial Governments, than that we should be able to count on being able to support our ally in China with a small body, but, at the same time, a well-organized body, of colonial force from those colonies which, are nearest and which are most conveniently situated for supporting us in China.
That shows clearly why the limitation previously imposed as to the operations of the Australian squadron is now swept away, and why the Australian fleet is to be sent to any part of China or Indian seas in which its services may be required. Because the Australian squadron may be readily called upon for service in the East, it is to assist in doing the work of England in China as an ally of Japan. If in spite of this placard, which shows honorable members what is intended, they still pass the naval subsidy- without limitations as to the area of service of the Australian squadron, or even if they pass it at all, they will be neglecting their duty to the people of the Commonwealth. One of the principal papers presented to the Coronation Conference was by the Assistant QuartermasterGeneral of the English Head-Quarters Staff,, where he came to the conclusion, after a. very long report, that the organization of the colonial troops for general Imperial service in war should be 9,000 from Australia, 4,500 from New Zealand, and others from the various colonies. Does not this show where the proposed £200,000 subsidy is intended to lead us 1 Those who oppose the subsidy are not necessarily averse to the Imperial connexion, but I warn the Prime Minister that the Government, and those who are supporting him, are doing their best to destroy the feeling of attachment which now exists between ourselves and the motherland. I desire to read two or three extracts from Hume and Smollett’s History qf England in order to show what happened just prior to the American War of Independence, and to demonstrate that the tone adopted by England towards America was very similar to that which is now being used towards Australia.
– The honorable and learned member is charging those who support the measure with doing that which he is repudiating.
– No Iam not. I am only proposing to quote a precedent which, I hope, honorable members will accept as an historical parallel to our own. case. In the work to which I have referred the writer says -
It was at this troubled period that George Grenville brought forward a motion for extracting a direct revenue from the colonies, influenced by the general complaint heard amongst the people of England, of the burden of taxation which they were called upon to bear. George III. proposed such a step as a just, as well as an advantageous measure, for relieving the country from the financial difficulties occasioned by a war undertaken for the protection and security of the colonies themselves.
That is just the argument of the Imperial Federation Defence League, of the Prime Minister, and of Mr. Chamberlain. Here is another extract -
The agents of America urged that in the course of the last memorable contest her patriotism had been so conspicuous that large sums had been repeatedly voted as an indemnification to the colonists for exertions allowed to be far beyond their means and resources ; and that the proper compensation to Britain for the expense of rearing and protecting her colonies was the monopoly of their trade. . . . Pitt then addressed the House, and said that the profits to Great Britain from the trade of the colonies were £2,000,000 a year, and that this was the sum which carried England triumphantly through the last war, and the price America paid us for protection.
That is just the argument of Lord Napier, Lord Brassey, and. Earl Grey. If honorable members will substitute Australia for America in these passages, will remember the great sacrifices recently made in South Africa by the Commonwealth for the Empire, will consider the interest, enormous freight charges, and trade profits which are annually drawn by England from these States, it will be seen how parallel are the two cases. It is to be hoped that the advocates of an Imperial subsidy will not, like their forerunners, in the timeof George III., try to drive the colonies to a similarly unfortunate sequel. Of course, it may be said that it was then attempted to tax the American colonies without their own consent. But the difference between the proposals of 1760 and those of 1902 is not very great. Taxation without representation is no greater sign of decadence or of the enslavement of a people than is defence without service, paid protection without personal danger. The nation which gives its national security into the hands of another has ceased to live. The only right of people to separate existence and self-government is the power and ability of self-defence in danger. The man who gives up his sword in a fight, for another to defend him, does not deserve to bear a sword. The spirit of self-reliance is the first essential of national life, as of national defence. That being so, it is well to note that the want of Australian control of the Australian Navy is proposed by hardly any others than Mr. Chamberlain and the Australian Prime Minister. Almost every other publicist proposes to give to the colonies some control in the moneys they vote. The Honorable T. A. Brassey, addressing the Federal Union Committee on the 24th July, 1902, said-
As to Imperial Federation, he thought most of them would agree that the burden of defending this Empire was becoming too heavy for the taxpayers of these islands alone, and that the colonies as they increased in wealth and importance should take upon their shoulders some share of the burden. If they did so, it was obvious that we must give them a voice in Imperial policy and Imperial expenditure.
One of the planks in the platform of the Imperial Federation Defence Committee reads -
That if the self-governing colonies take their share in the cost of such a system of defence, they must have a proportionate share in its administration and control.
When the honorable member for Melbourne Ports asked, by way of interjection, a minute ago, if I thought it wise to place this view before the House, I did not reply to him, because I have in my possession a clipping from the Broad Arrow, a Service newspaper, which contains a sufficient answer to his question. It reads as follows : -
Because the taxation cart was put before the representation horse, the American colonies seceded from Great Britain, and because the naval contribution cart is put before the representation horse, the Dominion and Australia are regarded by the mother country very much as she regarded the plantations up to the imposition of the stamp duty. Before the schism with America, the ground had been prepared by Englishmen, who charged the colonists with meanness, shabbiness, and lack of. loyalty, and these Englishmen did not allpass away with George III. Such an attitude should be guarded against if we are not to repeat the blunder of the eighteenth century in the twentieth. The colonies rest their arguments on the fundamental principles of the British Constitution, and their own Imperial growth. On what principles does the demand fur naval contributions without representation rest ? On none, except those whose faultiness is marked in history by the secession of the American colonies.
That extract is from the Broad Arrow, a military newspaper, which is usually teeming with jingoism, but which is wise enough to point out to observant minds the possible consequences of those who persist in endeavouring to shackle the colonies in their attempts to establish a navy of their own.
– Lecky, on the other hand, declares that the American colonies would neither pay for their own defence, nor pay England for defending them.
– The Prime Minister has charged those who do not agree with him with meanness and hypocrisy. I need scarcely point out that if there is one body in Victoria which is intensely loyal to England, and whose only reason for its existence is a desire to bring about a closer connexion with the motherland, it is the Imperial Federation League ofVictoria. Yet, at its last meeting, which was held in the Melbourne Town Hall, that body declared that it disapproved of this naval subsidy, upon the ground that it brought about a system of taxation without representation, and that some form of representation in the Imperial Parliament should precede the payment of this subsidy. Mr. J ustice Holroyd has favoured me with the following extract from his address before that body at its annual meeting on the 29th March, 1900-
The South African war has elicited the opinion pretty freely expressed both here and in Canada that the colonies which have assisted the mother country in the prosecution of the war should be consulted on the settlement of the terms of peace. The two things, contribution and representation, common defence and shares in control, are the essentials of Imperial unity. This is one of the fundamental principles of the constitution of our league, that “permanent federation can be secured and maintained only by a system of common defence, devised, and eventually controlled, by representatives from all parts of the Empire.” But we have yet a higher aim before us. What we want is not only a share for the colonies in the control of military operations for defence purposes, but also in the policy which dictates war or peace with foreign Powers. It is as yet only dimly perceived that this right of intervention in the foreign affairs of the Empire must result in the not very distant future, from the increase of the colonies in population and power. Conferences are useful, but only temporary expedients.
That is a straight-out and valuableutterance. In conclusion, I have shown that all Australian expert naval opinion is opposed to an Imperial subsidy, and in favour of the creation of an Australian Navy. I believe that in the interests of the connexion with the motherland, the fuller play there is given to complete Australian self-control in every direction, the better chance there is of that union being made permanent. I cannot accept the Imperial subsidy as consistent with national self-respect. To pay national moneys for others to do the nation’s work and duty is the part of helots and serfs only. In the words of the Prime Minister of Canada -
The acceptance of the Imperial proposals would entail an important departure from the principle of colonial self-government.
And I appeal to all Australians to refuse to sanction them.
Debate (on motion by Sir John Quick) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This isaveryshortmeasure, in regard towhich I do not intend todetain the House very long. Honorable members will see that it isfor the purpose of regulating the method of electing senators in case of periodical vacancies. The intention is to permit both elections to take place at the same time. The elected candidates who receive the greatest number of votes will under the Bill be elected to fill the periodical vacancies, and in the event of an equality of votes between two or more candidates, not all of whom can be elected to fill the periodical vacancies, the returning officer will have a casting vote for the purpose of deciding who shall fill the periodical vacancies. The elected candidates who are not elected to fill the periodical vacancies, are to be held to be elected to fill the casual vacancies. If honorable members desire any further information I shall be glad to afford it in Committee.
– I suppose the Government have considered the question of the constitutionality of the proposal in the Bill. I am not referring to the question raised in another place, as to which elected senators shall be entitled to hold office for the longer term. But, as I understand it, the Bill provides that when there is a casual vacancy, the elections for that vacancy and for the regular vacancies shall be held at one and the same time, so that instead of voting for three senators the electorsmay vote for four, the fourth on the poll being deemed the senator to occupy office for the shorter time. Section 15 of the Constitution reads -
At the next general election of members of the House of Representatives, or at the next election of senators for the Semite, whichever happens first, « successor shall, if the term has not then expired, be chosen to hold the place from the date of his election until the expiration of the term.
Looking at these words without reference to other sections of the Constitution, it appears to me that what is contemplated is a separate election to fill any extraordinary vacancy, and that all that is provided is that the election shall be held on the same day as the senatorial election or the election for the House of Representatives. Section 9 of the Constitution reads -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws prescribing the method of choosing senators, but so that the method shall be uniform for all the States.
Personally, I do not feel at all clear that the word “method” covers the case, seeing that the Bill not only alters the method of choosingthe particular senator, but also alters the conditions under which he is chosen. The Bill practically says that instead of having a triennial election for three senators, there may be, under certain circumstances, an election for four senators. At first sight it seems to me that the proposal of the Bill contravenes both sections of the Constitution, which declare that three senators shall be chosen at the periodical election, and that any casual vacancy shall be filled at the next election of senators or the next election for the House of Representatives. The Act does not provide that casual vacancies shall be filled b)’ combining the two elections. This is apart from the question that has been raised, as I understand, in some of the States as to whether we have any right to regulate senatorial elections. I do not desire to go into that question, but I ask if it is quite clear that the Bill is constitutional. If the measure should afterwards turn out to be unconstitutional, it might give rise to great difficulties. I do not intend, however, to raise the question which, I understand, was raised in another place, whether all sitting senators shall in some mysterious way be elected for six years although there are four candidates at the poll. I am not .able to follow the argument by which that conclusion was arrived at, however comforting the conclusion may be to a sitting senator who presents himself for re-election. The other point, however, which I raise is worth the further consideration of the Government. It does not strike me as being at all clear that this Bill is within the spirit as well as the letter of the Constitution. I certainly do not think it is within the spirit of the Constitution ; and when we consider the elaborate machinery for filling casual vacancies, so that there may be an election without causing extra expense, I venture to doubt whether it is within the letter.
– I may say that this matter has received the attention of the Government ; and, as a question of constitutional law, has had the special consideration of the Attorney-General. Apart from discussions with Ministers as a whole, I have had more than one conversation with the Attorney-General on the subject. We have looked into the matter to the best of our ability, and we have come to the conclusion that there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent the adoption of the method proposed in the Bill. I think it will be admitted that it is a most convenient method, and if it is within the powers conferred by the Constitution, and does not do a.ny injustice to the electors, it would be advisable to adopt it. It is true that section 15 of the Constitution provides -
At the next general election of the House of Representatives, or at the next election of senators for the State, whichever first happens, a successor shall, if the term has not then expired, be chosen to hold the place from the date of his election until the expiration of the term.
That refers to casual vacancies. It is quite clear there may be an election for casual vacancies, and also an election for periodical vacancies, and the only question is whether holding both at the same time would lead to any consequences not contemplated by the Constitution. If it be conceded that in the absence of any consequences not contemplated by the Constitution, there is no objection to the election being held at the same ‘time, and as one election, then I take it that the case for the Bill is established. I have not heard any suggestion which would tend to show that such consequences would result. It may be argued that the word “ method “ in section 9 does not cover the case, but unless the word can be shown to be used in a restricted sense, the general application must prevail. If we take the Constitution as using ordinary English terms, which are to be construed according to their natural meaning, I think the word “ method “ necessarily includes a process of the kind proposed. It may not be necessary even to argue so far as that. But as there is a provision for an election of senators for periodical vacancies, and a provision for an election for casual vacancies, and they are both to be held by a process of ballot, I think it would have to be shown in the affirmative that it was outside the Constitution before it could be said that this plan was not within the scope of the powers given to us. I, myself, think that as a matter of law - for whatever my opinion may be worth - the word “ method “ does really include such a process as taking the two elections on the same- day and at the same time. So that, on the whole, I think that the matter may fairly be said to be within our powers.
– In my opinion the time and place for an election of ‘ senators . ought to be prescribed by the State laws. “We have made a provision in our general electoral law for the Commonwealth to provide the time and place for any election of senators. When that provision was put in the Electoral Bill I urged that it was possibly outside our powers.
– That is not the point now raised.
– It is one of the points.
– We have a strong opinion on the one side, and the AttorneyGeneral of South Australia has an opinion on the other.
– I am not talking of the opinion of the Attorney-General of South Australia, because I rather think that he took his view from what was said in this House. We provided for the time and place of any election of senators, and so far as that provision is made I think that it is ultra vires of our powers. But, of course, we had better pass it in this Bill because we have made a similar provision in the Electoral Act ; and it would be ridiculous if we were to correct an error in a smaller Bill, whilst leaving uncorrected the error in the principal Act which this measure affects. As regards the provision for holding an election to fill casual vacancies at the same time and place as a regular senatorial election, I do not think that there is any obligation upon the Commonwealth Ministry to provide for a separate election for a casual vacancy. In municipal matters, for instance,, there is a provision somewhat analogous to this ; and I know that if a casual vacancy occurs when a general election is approaching, there is no obligation to hold a separate election for the casual vacancy. It would be contrary to common senseto do so. There is no harm done in holding the two elections together. As there is no provision to the contrary in our Constitution, we should act upon commonsense lines, and hold the two elections at the same time. It cannot do an)7 harm to the elector to do so, and it does not in ‘ the slightest degree confuse the elector’s choice.
Question resolved in the affirmative
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
Nominations may be made in the form in> Schedule B to this Act.
– Perhaps the Minister for Home Affairs canexplain what really has been done as regards elections for the Senate. This Bill affects the general Electoral Act. I understand that in some of the States it is proposed to introduce Bills to validate what we have done. Is that a general arrangement throughout the States ?
– I do not think there is any general arrangement.
– It has been suggested in the press that the Governments of the States, in order to prevent any question arising of the constitutionality of our having made provision for the time and place of senatorial elections, should introduce Bills to make valid the time and place prescribed by the Executive of the Commonwealth under the Commonwealth Act. Perhaps the Minister will say whether that is so or not ; because the question has been asked of me, time after time, whether the States are going to legislate in the matter, and whether the Electoral Act of the Commonwealth is to be the one under which the senatorial elections are to take place.
– I have seen the statements alluded to by the honorable and learned member for South Australia (Mr. Glynn), but no information on the point has officially come before the Prime Minister, so far as I am aware; and certainly none has come before me.
– What sort of arrangement is referred to ?
– To validate any time and place for election that we may fix.
– I do not think we have proposed that.
– We have not proposed it, and it has not been submitted to us officially.
– I have no objection to its being done for what it is worth.
– It seems to me to be rather peculiar that a candidate for one vacancy in the Senate may under this Bill be elected to sit for another vacancy. Is that contemplated or not? Under this Bill wo give power to the electoral officer to act as a Court of Disputed Returns. It might be that perhaps three casual vacancies have to be filled. It might be that the whole of the seats in the Senate for a State were vacated from some cause or other. What would be the result under this Bill ? It seems to me that provision is made under which a candidate for a casual vacancy might be returned to fill a periodical vacancy. Surely that is not contemplated. For this Bill to declare which candidate shall be elected for the casual vacancy, and which for the periodical vacancy, seems to me to be taking power out of the hands of the electors. That should not be done. I should like to know the views of the Minister.
Mr.REID (East Sydney). - I am sorry I had not the advantage of hearing the Minister for Home Affairs in moving the second reading of the Bill, or the statement just made by the Prime Minister. I must say, however, that it seems to me that the second paragraph of section 15 of the Constitution may, by-and-by, if the Bill we are now considering is made part of the Commonwealth Electoral Act of 1902, lead to a state of things which would be very undesirable. Let us suppose that owing, say, to some great public crisis, there were a dissolution of the House of Representatives in the month of October, a casual vacancy in the Senate having occurred early in a given year. The time for a senatorial election would not be until December, and the terms of the Constitution making it imperative that a casual vacancy shall be filled at the election for the House of Representatives in that case, we shall be putting on the statutebook, as a part of our electoral law, a provision of general application which may turn out to be ultra vires. . If this were a mere emergency Bill to apply, say, to this year, we know that such a thing would not happen. There will be no election for the House of Representatives before the senatorial election this year, and there is no possibility, therefore, of a conflict with the Constitution.
– If the right honorable gentleman will look at clause 4 he will find it is limited to a particular case arising.
– I intended to call attention to that. I forgot that clause when speaking on the second reading. It meets the case where, when there is an election of the Senate to fill periodical vacancies, there are still one or more senators to be elected to fill casual vacancies.
– I had not seen that clause. I think that it will possibly overcome the difficulty.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (The Scrutiny).
– Clause 9 provides in sub-clause (3) -
The elected candidates who are not elected to fill the periodical vacancies shall be elected to fill the casual vacancies.
But there may be casual vacancies terminating at different periods, and so far as I can see there is no provision made in the Bill to say which of the senators elected to fill casual vacancies shall be elected for the respective terms.
– It refers only to casual vacancies then existing. There may be casual vacancies occurring afterwards, but it does not apply to them, but only to casual vacancies existing at the time of the Senate election.
– The original holders of the positions in respect to which casual vacancies may arise may have been elected to hold office as senators terminating at different periods. The term of one may end five years ahead, and of another three years ahead.
– The Bill would not apply unless it were possible to have the two elections for periodical and casual vacancies taken together.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 and Schedules agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
House adjourned at 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 July 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030707_reps_1_14/>.