1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if his attention has been called to a letter appearing in to-day’s Age in reference to a matter whichI had the honour to bring before the House on Tuesday afternoon) If so, I should like to know if it is true that an advance and not a draft copy of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was handed to an Age reporter without any intimation that the measure had still to go before the Cabinet, and without any restriction as to publication. Furthermore, is it a fact that the reporter said to him - “I suppose the measure will not be circulated until Tuesday or Wednesday ?” and he replied - “ Oh, no ; you will be well ahead.”
– I have read the letter referred to, and it in no way induces me to qualify the statement I have already made. I was asked to supply a copy of the Bill, and I said that I could not do it, because, I added, the details were not yet settled, and it was to be considered by the Cabinet next day. The conversation alluded to took place on Thursday afternoon, about six o’clock. I told the gentleman who spoke to me that if he saw me on Saturday I would see what I could do for him, and I asked him who intended to write about the measure. He informed me that he did, and I then said - “ Do you take an interest in this subject?” He said that he did, and under those circumstances I commenced to discuss the measure with him. I told him that I should be obliged if he could make any confidential suggestions to me on the subject, and as he promised to do so, I handed him the Bill. I discussed the whole matter with him in the same manner as I would discuss it with any honorable member with whom I believed myself to be in confidential communication, because this is a matter in regard to which I have not hesitated to avail myself of all the suggestions which I could collect. As to talking of getting in front of the other newspapers, there was nothing of the sort said. Some doubt was expressed as to when he could see me and when I could see him, and I pointed out that the Bill would not in the natural order of things be circulated untill the following Tuesday or Wednesday. I expected to see him on the following Saturday, or to receive from him any suggestions that he had tomake. Instead of that, I knew no more of the matter until I saw what appeared in Saturday’s Age, and, to show my appreciation of the position, I will read to honorable members the letter which I then wrote to him as soon as I could after reading the Age report: -
Dear Mr. Biggs,
Re Conciliation Bill. The references to this measure which appear in this morning’s Age are nothing more nor less than a gross breach of the understanding pursuant to which I let you have an incomplete draft of the Bill. It is simply sickening that my confidence should be thus abused. Mr.Robinson, I am happy to be able to say, has always been able to respect it, but once bitten twice shy, and you will have no opportunity of repeating this trick.
– Has the right honorable gentleman received any reply to that letter?
– I have.
– Will he let the House hear it?
– The letter which I have just read crossed the following letter from Mr. Biggs : -
Dear Mr. Kingston,
Will you be so good, if you have your copy of your 1894Review ofReviews article, to send it to meat the Age office. In my humble judgment your Bill is magnificent.
That statement was made, I take it, in compliance with my wish that he should send me any suggestions he had to make.
The only thing wanting is a clause making it clear that the employes in certain State workshops, like the railways, are under the Bill. They are by implication, but not specifically. I cabled 100 words about the Bill to the Daily Chronicle. Whenever you want to send anything to the London papers, please tell me, the Daily Chronicle will see to it. Thanking you very much for your kind help.
– Did the Minister receive another letter?
– I also received this letter -
I had your letter this morning, and can only express extreme surprise and regret that there should have been any misunderstanding. You will remember, when I saw you on Thursday, that you asked me who was going to write about the Bill, and I told you I was. You then said - “When is the article to appear?” I answered - “On Saturday.” Moreover, in my original letter I made it quite clear, I fancy, that we wanted the advance copy for use. So certain am I of these facts that I would be very glad if you would let me see you, so that the position may be made clear. It is the first time I have been accused of being guilty of a trick, so should be obliged ifyou will see your way to grant the interview. Had there been the faintest doubt in my mind that the Bill was given me for anything but use, not a line would have appeared. I am placing the matter before my principals.
I refused the interview because I felt that I had been very badly treated, and my surprise and annoyance were very great.. I never dreamt of authorizing the anticipation of the ordinary means of communicating the contents of the Bill to Parliament. I have had much experience with the press during my political life, but I have never done anything like that, and never will. I say again that no authority was given by me for what happened. I should be worse than a fool to do such a thing. My desire, above all things, is to preserve the very best relations with the members of the Legislature to which I have the honour to belong. It is not the right way to court their confidence to reveal, by other than the ordinary constitutional channels, the detailed contents of a Bill of this description, and I authorized no such disclosure.
– Was there a clear understanding that the provisions of the Bill should not be published ?
– All I can say is this : I handed over the Bill for confidential suggestion; and, as regards the other matter I have spoken of, I simply refused to do what was asked, with the intimation that I would see on Saturday what I could do. The Bill was handed over to the gentleman in question in the course of a frank and free discussion of its provisions, which
I entered upon in order to fortify myself by the assistance which I ventured to think, from what he said to me, he would be able to afford. I regret the incident very much. I have always believed the gentleman with whom I conversed to be a man of the highest honour, and I am content to accept the assurance that the whole thing was a misunderstanding. I do not care to press any point home. I did nothing, however, which would justify a misunderstanding. All I said was what was right, proper, and fair under the circumstances. What 1 did was what is not infrequently done by politicians similarly situated in communication with the press and with the public upon a measure with which they are intimately concerned.
– Has the Minister for Defence read the following paragraphs in this morning’s newspaper : -
Speaking at the opening of the town-hall at North Fremantle to-day, His Excellency the Governor (Sir Frederick Bedford) said that as an old sailor he felt justified in expressing the opinion that there was a great necessity for Fremantle being defended as soon as possible against foreign war vessels. It was a matter in which they should keep the Federal Government up to the mark. He was aware that the fortification of Fremantle had been mentioned by the Federal authorities, but people should keep pegging awayat them, so that the work would be carried out without delay. At the present time all nations appeared to be embracing each other, and there seemed to be no indication of war, but they knew from history that nations might embrace each other to-day and be flying at each other’s throats to-morrow.
The Premier (Mr. James) said that he thought the Governor was a brave man to speak us he had done in face of the recent attitude of the Federal Parliament in connexion with Sir George Sydenham Clarke’s speech on naval defence. Personally, he was glad the Governor had the courage to give expression to his opinion regarding the defence of Fremantle, and he hoped that the time would never come that he or any other State Governor would be prevented from voicing his views on such matters. Those at the head of the Federal Government at the present time had not shown such abounding statesmanship that they should be free from criticism.
If the right honorable gentleman has read these paragraphs, will he tell the House what is likely to be done, and whether there will be as little delay as possible in carrying out the works ?
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of the question, though I do not think I can tell him what is proposed to be done until the Estimates have been settled. The important town which he represents is now undefended, and I am sure that the Government, and every member of the House, will be glad if that state of things can be altered.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the recent outbreak of small-pox in Tasmania, it is the intention of the Government to introduce, during this session, the necessary machinery Bill to enable the Commonwealth to administer quarantine laws, as provided for in sub-section (9) of section 51 of the Constitution.
SirEDMUNDB ARTON.- No machinery measure is necessary to enable the Commonwealth Government to administer the quarantine laws of the various States, inasmuch as provision is made in the Constitution for the transferof the States Departments to the Commonwealth on a proclamation being issued by the Governor-General in Council. I take it that the honorable member desires to know whether it is the intention of the Government to at once issue the necessary proclamation for the transfer of these Departments. I do not see anything in the present state of affairs which shows that the taking over of the Quarantine Department is, any more than before the outbreak of small-pox at Launceston, a question of urgency, and I think the matter demands a little more consideration before anything is done.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the admittedly unsatisfactory state of the Weights and Measures Acts of the various States, he will take the steps necessary to introduce this session legislation dealing with a uniform system?
– It will be within the recollection of honorable members that not long ago a series of resolutions was passed, at the instance of the honorable member for South Sydney, embracing proposals relating to the metric system of weights and measures which I had been about to submit. I do not think that, under the terms of the resolutions passed, any legislation would be practicable or desirable during this session, because the House has affirmed that the matter should be initiated by an Imperial Act applying to such selfgoverning colonies as would adopt it.
– Am I to understand that until the Imperial Act, of which the Prime Minister speaks, is passed, absolutely nothing will be done to place upon a uniform and satisfactory footing the diverse and very unsatisfactory Acts at present in vogue in the various States?
– I will not say that; but I understood the honorable member’s question to apply to the metric system of weights and measures. In the meantime, it may be desirable to introduce a Bill to establish a uniform practice in regard to weights and measures within the Commonwealth ; but I do not think that the time at our disposal will permit of it being done this session.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Home Affairs if he is aware that in November last a certain sum of money was set apart for carrying out repairs at the Post-office at Milton, in New South Wales. Notwithstanding repeated applications, nothing has yet been done, and the Federal representative for the district in which the Post-office is situated has been unable to ascertain who is responsible for the delay, or who is in charge of the work?
– There is evidently going to be an election this year!
– The honorable member was’ good enough to acquaint me of his intention to ask this question, and I have, as far as possible, obtained the information he desires. The work was approved by me on 5th November, 1902, and instructions to carry out the work were sent to the State WorksDepartment on 13th November. The papers were sent to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for transmission to Sydney on 14th November, and were returned to the Department for Home Affairs for approval of the renting of temporary premises on 19th December. The Works Department was asked to expedite action on the 31st December. The papers were returned to the Postmaster-General’s Department on the 1 2th January, 1 903. The Works Department replied on the 2nd January - “ The matter will be put in hand as soon as papers are received.” The PostmasterGeneral’s Department was asked to expedite action on the 14th of January, and on 4th of February was again reminded, as the works could not proceed without the papers. The papers were returned to the Home Affairs Department at its request, in connexion with representations made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, on 1 2th of February, and were returned to the Postmaster-General’s Department on 19th February.
– Where are they now?
– Order. I must ask honorable members on both sides of the House to refrain from interjections. It seems to me that they are especially irregular when questions are being asked, presumably for the purpose of eliciting information from Ministers. The least that honorable members can do is to allow Ministers, of whom questions are asked an absolutely free opportunity of replying. I am particularly anxious to suppress interjections at question time.
– The Superintendent of Works, Sydney, who was asked to ascertain the present position of the matter reports as follows : -
I have the honour to report that the plans of Milton are prepared, hut the specification is awaiting particulars of repairs and painting necessary. I understand that the officer in charge of this workhas been so busy that he has not been able to leave Sydney to visit Milton for this purpose. He proposes, however, to do this next Monday, and the tenders are promised to be called before the end of this month. As regards the delay, although the instructions were given by you to the Under-Secretary on the 13th November, . 1 902, yet the Works did not receive the papers until the 7th March, 1903, owing to their being used by the Department of the PostmasterGeneral here with reference to the necessity for obtaining temporary premises while the work should be in progress. From the 7th March, however, the Works Department give no explanation of delay except that the officers have been very busy on other matters.
I may add that I received a telegram from the Superintendent of Works, Sydney, yesterday or to-day, stating that tenders for the work will be received on the 27th instant. I have applied several times to the Post and Telegraph Department to allow the Department of Home Affairs to send these matters direct to the Works Department in New South Wales, but the Postal authorities object,and wish all such matters to filter through their Department. That is where the delay arises.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether he regards that system of circumlocution as satisfactory, and whether the Government will take some steps to put an end to it as promptly as possible ?
– I have just stated that I have applied to the Post and Telegraph Department on several occasions to consent to such an alteration of the present system as would enable instructions to go direst from the Department of Home Affairs to the Public Works Department in the various States, but that the Post and Telegraph Department object. I did not wish to do anything contrary to their wishes, but the fact that instructions filter through this channel causes undue and unnecessary delay.
– What I wish to know is, who is the officer responsible for the delay, and whether the work is likely to be carried out 1 If seven months must elapse after the money has been set apart for a particular work, before a beginning can be made to carry it out-
– Order ! The honorable member must not debate the question.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether it takes seven months, after the money is set apart for a work, before that work can be commenced? I should like to know, also, ‘to whom I am to apply for information as to whether the work is to be carried out or not ?
– I think I must take it upon myself to answer the honorable member. The question as to who among the Government officers is responsible for the delay is one that cannot be settled in this manner, but it will have to be left to the Cabinet to determine whether the Postal Department is justified in requiring that all these matters should pass through its hands. I shall have that matter considered in Cabinet, and afterwards we shall know where the responsibility lies. In the meantime, I do not think it would be just to mention any officer in the Department as responsible for the delay.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, when the matter just mentioned is being dealt with- in Cabinet, the Government will also consider the advisability of evolving some system of reducing the time taken up in the various States Works Departments in carrying out the instructions of the Federal authorities? I may explain that on one occasion the Federal officer in Sydney authorized certain works to be carried out, and it took twelve days before the instructions reached the Government Architect, the red-tape system having monopolized the whole of the intervening time.
– I am quite sure that the Minister for Home Affairs will be at one with me when I say that if there have been delays of this kind - and as to the extent to which they have proceeded, I shall inquire - it will be our duty to consider the whole question with a view to expediting the carrying out of the works in future.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, ’ UPon notice -
– The following answer has been furnished by the Public Service Commissioner : - 1 and 2. In Queensland the allowance was continued up to the end of June, on account of the different conditions under which the men work there. Those in Sydney do not appear to be entitled to the allowance, because they did not work during a, meal hour, and had not completed 88 hours’ work for the fortnight to entitle them to be paid overtime. The different practices which obtained in the various States in regard to the payment of overtime allowances make the introduction of a uniform system most difficult of accomplishment, but efforts are being made to bring about uniformity in this respect wherever possible.
asked the Mini’ster for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions -
Bill returned from Senate with amend ments.
– I think that my position requires me to point out to the House that this message covers an amendment made by the Senate in the Bill, which amendment is of such a nature that.it would, if passed, “increase” a “proposed charge or burden on the people,” and that it is in direct contravention of sub-section (3) of section 53 of the Constitution that such an amendment should be made by the Senate. The alteration if sought, should have been by request and not by amendment.
– I move -
That the consideration of the message in Committee of the whole House be madean order of the day for Tuesday next.
You, Mr. Speaker, have made a most important announcement, and I believe I shall have honorable members on all sides with me in saying that having regard, first to the importance of the question, and next to the manner in which the relations between the two Houses should be conducted, we should take the whole matter into consideration on Tuesday next.
– I should like the Prime Minister to state definitely whether the Government intend to raise only the question of the constitutional right of the Senate to amend this Bill.
– I was doubtful as to whether it was intended to consider, in addition to the question which the Prime Minister has indicated, the question of policy.
– I would point out to the honorable member that the question before the Chair is the date when this message shall be taken into consideration. On that day, whatever it may be, the whole matter can be discussed ; but the question now before the Chair is as to the day upon which the message shall be taken into consideration.
– The statement of the Prime Minister, as I understood it, was that a question of policy as well as of constitutional power was involved.
– I did not say anything about policy. By way of personal explanation, I may be permitted to add that if the honorable member so understood me, he did not hear me aright. Not only would it not be right, but it would not be constitutional to mix up any question of policy with that of the constitutional rights of the two Houses.
– As far as my experience goes, the usual practice has been when an intimation is made from the Chair such as that which you, sir, have made, with reference to this measure, the head of the Government and the leader of the
House is in a position to act at once in regard to the matter which has arisen. However, I am very sensible of the great importance of dealing with this question in the most friendly and respectful way towards the other Chamber, and, under the circumstances, I think that the course which the Prime Minister is now taking is, perhaps, the better one. Whilst we may be very anxious to maintain what is the constitutional position of this Chamber, I think that we shall all be prepared on this occasion to look into the matter very carefully before arriving at any opinion upon it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 8th July (vide page 1915), on motion by Sir Edmund Barton -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Before I pursue my remarks in the order indicated by me last night, I crave the permission of the House to refer to a statement which I made, the accuracy of which was challenged by the Minister for Defence. I declared that complaints had been made that the Admiralty authorities in Australia have not encouraged the development of the maritime spirit as they might have done by allowing the naval brigades of the various States to obtain drill and practice on board some of the subsidized ships of the navy. Thereupon the Minister for Defence asked my authority for the statement. I replied that I made it on the dictum of certain naval authorities of Australia, as’ well as on other public statements. His retort was that those statements must be accepted cum grano salis.. In view of these facts, I think that I ought to sustain the position which I then assumed, ;aud I will do so in the first place by quoting an extract from a paper read before the Queensland United Service Institute on 4th June, 1902, by Surgeon Walter Fisher, of the Queensland Defence Force, which reads as follows : -
It is true that we have a so-called Australian squadron, but it is almost next to useless, stationed in Sydney Harbor. It has been of no service to the respective naval brigades of the various States ; they have not practised any manoeuvres in any of the bays or ports of the Australian continent, nor has the squadron acted in conjunction with the land forces, nor taken the naval brigades out a single day for target practice. The services of a first-class gun -boat was asked for by the Commandant of the Queensland Naval Brigade, so as to take the whole of the corps out for training, but his request was inexplicably refused. Is this action likely to encourage and stimulate our Naval Brigade ? The only chance our men have of becoming accustomed to their duties and testing their capabilities of standing sea-sickness, is blocked when the use of a suitable vessel is withheld.
So much for the refusal to allow our naval brigades the use of the ships in the Queensland ports. I stated last evening that a similar request had been refused in Sydney. My authority for that declaration is a statement by the Attorney-General of New South Wales, Mr. B. R. Wise, which I hold in writing, and which I can show the Minister for Defence if he desires to see it.
– It is quite true.
– The accuracy of my statement was sneered at.
– The point I raised was whether the Government had formally replied to the request.
– That point is disposed of by the authority which I have quoted in the case of Queensland. But I have testimony here from the Admiral himself, if the Minister desires further evidence. On page 329 of the Journal of the Royal Colonial Institute, dealing with the debate which took place upon Senator Matheson’s paper, appears the report of a statement made by Admiral Bowden Smith, in which he refers to the brigades of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Adelaide. He goes on to say -
Very good men- men dressed as blue-jackets and who drilled very well with rifles and with field-guns. It was not their fault they did not go to sea. I would have -liked very much to have taken some of them for an occasional cruise, but I dared not do so, because the difference in the wages made it absolutely impossible. It would have demoralized our men entirely.
That statement clearly shows that a request had been made to the Admiral, and that he had refused to grant the use of the vessels for the training of the naval brigades, on the ground that he could not allow the locallypaid men of . Sydney to mix with the lower-paid men of the fleet. I think, therefore, there is cause for complaint that the Admiralty has not used the squadron for which we have paid £106,000 a year in assisting the training of our naval brigades and preparing them for active service. When the debate’ was adjourned last evening, I was referring to the evidence of three British Admirals, who sustained the view that in certain conditions the colonies would be justified in establishing local navies for special local service. I mentioned Admiral Hopkins and Admiral Bowden - Smith. Another British Admiral who may be quoted in support of that view is Admiral Fremantle, a distinguished naval officer of England, who, in an article published in the United Service Magazine a few months ago upon this question, uses the following sentences : -
Local navies may be of value in attacking isolated cruisers which have broken through and are making raids into our over-sea territories.
These three British admirals may be cited in support of the principle contended for by various public writers and members of this Parliament.
– Who says that they are wrong 1
– I understood the Prime Minister to disagree with their statement, and certainly the Minister for Defence most strongly and determinedly declares that they are wrong.
– I have said nothing, yet.
– The Minister, by his interjections, has shown >a most adverse attitude to the view that we should in any way encourage the formation of an Australian navy.
– Because we are. not yet prepared to pay for it.
– I may also mention that one of the most bitter assailants of the Australian system of defence was Lieut. Hordern, of the British navy, and yet he has admitted in an article published in the United Service Magazine that, under certain circumstances, the local naval forces might be utilized for the purpose of dealing with emergencies which would inevitably arise during the course of a naval war. He says -
The interests of the colonies, therefore, demand that whatever naval forces they have, should be available for use either in the front line or as commercial defence cruisers, perhaps at considerable distances away from their own Coasts. If they will not assist in the maintenance of the first line of defence, they should at least free our hands to concentrate as many ships there as possible.
That is the view which those who favour the formation of an Australian navy desire to present. It is contended that, although it may not be considered conducive to the development of our naval forces to absolutely merge them in the Imperial fleet, and thus destroy their individuality, Australia should take an active and prominent part in the naval defence of the Empire. It is believed that she could do so in a more effective manner than by granting mere money subsidies to the Admiralty - that she could render services of the most vital importance during the course of naval warfare by a localized system of defence around the Australian continent, which would undoubtedly tend to relieve the pressure on the Imperial fleet, and, in the words of Lieut. Hordern himself, “ free the Imperial authorities to concentrate as many ships as possible “ on the main scene of operations. There is nothing, therefore, in this contention which is inconsistent with, or antagonistic to, the most approved principles of naval strategy. There can be no doubt as to the importance and absolute soundness of the view that concentration of the naval forces in naval warfare is of supreme importance. That has been admitted as the primary maxim of warfare from the time of Blake and Nelson to’ our own, and it is absolutely incontestable. The First Lord of the Admiralty propounded the same doctrine, when he said -
The sea is all one, and therefore the British fleet should be all one. and that its solitary duty should be to seek out. an enemy, and, having found him, to destroy him. But, although the sea is all one, there are many divisions of it. There are many peculiarly situated stretches which require special watching. In the same way, although the British fleet may be all one, there are divisions of the fleet, the various divisions being assigned to different quarters of the globe. Although . it may be a principle of naval strategy that the fleet must be regarded as one, and that concentration must be considered of supreme importance, we must not ignore the fact that, in the course of naval warfare, certain positions may be rendered peculiarly exposed to attack, and must not, therefore, be left unguarded. _ May I remind honorable members of the fact that the British Isles have always had a special force assigned for their protection and defence. What would the people of England think of any person who suggested that, for purposes of concentration of naval force in any part of the world, the shores of Great Britain should be left unguarded for a single moment 1
– They would put him in a lunatic asylum.
– I am quoting the most elementary literature on the subject when I refer to Brassey’s Naval Annual for 1902, from which Senator Matheson makes an extract -
Where we talk of our five or .six cruisers for local trade protection, you have your Channel fleet, .your, home fleet, your cruisers, “ to work within a 60-mile radius from the Lizard and the Smalls, keeping the water within the circumference of the circle free of the enemy and safe for the lines of ocean traffic that there eonverge towards the English, Bristol, and Irish Channels.”
I would also quote from the handbook of the Navy League, dated 2nd December, 1902, in which Mr. Herbert W. Wilson draws attention to the following extract from the report of the Committee on Naval Manoeuvres : -
There should always be an effective reserve squadron, absolutely confined to home waters, sufficient to hold the Channel and protect the coasts and commerce of the United Kingdom, in addition to the coast-defence ships which would be required for active local defence.
Mr. Wilson says further
The experience of the Spanish-American war has shown that public opinion will al ways clamour for a home squadron. We had a squadron in the Channel all through the Trafalgar campaign.
Later on, he urges the provision of a North Sea fleet always cruising in British waters. Recently the three historical stations in which the home fleet has hitherto been concentrated was increased by the addition of a new base at the Firth of Forth. That additional station will be a further source of defence for the British Isles, and its ‘ establishment shows that the Admiralty recognise that there are certain positions which require to be permanently watched, and which should not be interfered with by any demand for concentration of fleets in any other part of the globe. The French, too, have recognised the same principle in connexion with their newly organized arrangements for the defence of their possessions in Cochin China. The late Minister of Marine, M. Lanessan, has organized two highly powerful squadrons for the defence of French possessions in eastern seas, and has made provision for their concentration and operation in time of war. But whilst providing for these enormous squadrons he has also taken the precaution to arrange for a special local defence, a number of powerfully-armed ships of war, as well as submarine and torpedo boats, having been set aside for thedefence of the coast of Cochin China. Thisindicates that the French also recognise thatthere are special positions -demanding special local defence.
– Are all these ships under the control of the admiral on the Cochin China station ?
– Absolutely. I am merely showing, however, that theprinciple of local defence in certain circumstances is fully recognised. Captain Mahan, one of the greatest authorities on the development of naval power, points outthat there are special points, such as San Francisco Harbor and Puget Sound, which can be properly defended only by telling off certain naval forces to permanently watch over them and to guard against sudden attacks or raids. Therefore, the contention that there should be a naval force specially designed to defend Australia is not inconsistent with the views of the foremost naval authorities of the time. Those of us whocontend that Australia should not be left unguarded, and that its defence should not be allowed to remain in any haphazard state, are fully justified by strong naval authority in advancing that’ view. . I should like again to remind honorable members that the naval subsidy agreement of 18S7 was drawn up on the lines that the Auxiliary Squadron provided under it should be specially assigned the duty of protecting Australia in time of war, and should not be removed from Australasian waters except by the consent of the local authorities. Every argument that has been put forward in support of the proposal for an Australian naval force has been met with the hackneyed expression - “ Oh ! the expense would render it impossible.” That reply is thrown in our teeth at every stage, of the discussion. I think, however, that it is often made without a proper consideration of what are the proposals in the direction of the creation of a properly organized Australian force. It is said that such a force would cost upwards of one million sterling. That is a statement which is freely made, and I think it was repeated last night by the Prime Minister. I believe that he said that the provision of a force that would be likely to be of any service would involve an annual expenditure of upwards of ?1,000,000.
– I said that a naval force equal to the squadron to be provided under this agreement would probably cost us more than £500,000 a year.
– That is not so large.
– It is nothing when one thinks of Kyabram.
– Other people say that the cost would be at least £1,000,000 per annum. I would point out that even the estimate of £500,000 per annum is based upon the assumption that we should have to provide a squadron of the extent referred to in the proposed agreement. The squadron that would be provided under that agreement would consist of firstclass, second-class, and third-class cruisers of a most expensive type, which would be capable of sailing probably to any part of the world. But vessels of the type which are suggested as being applicable to the special defence of Australia would not be so expensive. There can be no doubt about the strength of the vessels proposed to be provided under the new agreement; but it is believed by competent naval authorities that vessels involving only half the expense would serve our purpose. It would not be necessary to provide them with the same world-wide steaming capacity, and what could be saved by the curtailment of the steam power necessary for long voyages might be utilized for the increase of gun power. It is a well-known fact that the closer vessels are to a base, the more provision can be made for the increase of their gun power and effectiveness in actual warfare. The farther afield they have to go, thegreater is the sailing capacity with which they have to be provided, and the greater is the loss in gun power. Although the naval agreement of which we are now asked to approve would involve, I believe, an annual expenditure of some £480,000, that expenditure is much in advance of the estimated cost of the reasonably equipped squadron which was first submitted by the Admiralty to the Conference of Colonial Premiers in London. I find it stated in the Spectator that the first scheme which was submitted by the Admiralty to the Premiers’ Conference involved a total charge of only £367,000 per annum. In a letter signed by Senator Matheson, and published in the Spectator, the following passage occurs : -
The confidential report of the Premiers’ Conference, 1902, proves that this is not the case -
This is to say, that the expense would not amount to £1,000,000 per annum - and Mr. Arnold -Forster’s Department presumably supplied the figures. The Admiralty suggested to the Conference a fleet of three secondclass cruisers (5,600 tons) in commission, and two second-class cruisers (5,600 tons) in reserve ; they estimated the interest on construction and armament at £125,000, and maintenance at £242,000, - a total annual charge of £367,000.
Thus the scheme first submitted by the Admiralty was not so ambitious or so extensive as the one ultimately adopted, and according to the view then taken by the Admiralty, an adequate fleet could have been provided for an expenditure of £367,000 per annum. How then is £500,000 per annum to be absorbed as suggested by the Prime Minister? What becomes of the suggestion that an Australian naval force would cost £1,000,000 per annum? When honorable members are disposed to be influenced by the suggestions as to the expense that an Australian naval force would involve, they should carefully consider these figures. It was originally suggested that the cost of providing an adequate Australian naval force would be £1,000,000 per annum. Then the estimate rose to £2,000,000, and it has gone on swelling until it has assumed appalling proportions. It is no wonder that even Kyabram is alarmed at the expense which it is suggested will be involved in the defence of Australia. Those figures, however, are really worthless - they are wild calculations - when compared with the Admiralty estimate included in the confidential report, and, no doubt, to be found in the White Book, that an adequate force could be provided at an annual cost of £367,000.
– Does that estimate include interest?
– The White Book shows that that estimate includes £1 25,000 for interest on construction and armament, and £242,000 for maintenance, making a total of £367,000.
– That does not provide for colonial ships and colonial rates of pay.
– That might account for the difference.
– There is no allowance for depreciation.
– I presume that the interest is calculated on the same basis as that provided in this Bill, namely 5 per cent., and that it covers interest on sinking fund. The Minister has the first estimate in his possession, and will be able to enlighten us on the point.
– We may depend upon it that the Admiralty would not go below the mark.
– Quite so.
– How many boats were to be provided under the first estimate ‘(
– Three second-class cruisers of 5,600 tons each in commission, and two second-class cruisers of 5,600 tons each in reserve. That is to say, five vessels were to be provided at a total cost of £367,000.
– That is not provided for under this scheme.
– No ; but there are features connected with this scheme which have added to the expense. I am dealing only with the possible expenditure on an Australian naval force, and I am endeavouring to refute the contention that such a force would involve us in an outlay of £1,000,000 per annum, or even £500,000.
– Has the honorable and learned member any figures showing what would be the initial cost of those vessels ?
– No ; I have only the figures which appear in the Admiralty report. It is not proposed by the advocates of an Australian naval force that even such an expense as £367,000 per annum should be incurred at the outset. To give a rough idea of what is in the minds of those who contend for this view, I should like to refer to the scheme put forward by Captain Creswell, in a paper pre’sented to this Parliament last year, and contained in Volume II. of the Votes and Proceedings. He proposed that the Federal Government should commence with a modern cruiser of the Highflyer type, costing £300,000. He suggests that the use of such a ship might be obtained from the Admiralty, upon terms and conditions as regards the payment of interest and the creation of a sinking fund similar to those in the agreement now before us. The vessel would have the latest armament, and be manned in time of peace by a reduced crew, which, in war time, could be increased to war strength from the reserves and the Australian mercantile marine. The annual interest charge for such a ship would amount to £9,000 ; 120 officers and men could be provided for £16,000; coal, ammunition, and stores would cost £12,000 ; and £10,000 is put down for unforeseen expenditure ; making the total cost £47,000 per annum. Two or three years later we could, if we felt that we could afford it, obtain another cruiser, and later again a third.
– Borrow them !
– The Minister seems to sneer at the idea of borrowing, but, under the agreement now being discussed, we are practically borrowing. The expense of one cruiser will be £47,000 a year, and if we had three it would be three times as much. A saving could, however, be effected by a reduction of the local defence vote. At thepresent time our local naval defences cost between £40,000 and £50,000 a year. We could save that money if we used the men to carry out Captain Creswell’s scheme, and he suggests that the contribution, to the Auxiliary Squadron might be reduced by one-, third, or £35,000, and that in that way we could pay for -a cruiser without additional expenditure. He is of opinion that a fleet of five cruisers could be provided for on the lines I have indicated at an annual cost of £300,000. It would not be necessary to go to that expense to begin with, but, as an initial step towards the development of the naval spirit in Australia, what he proposes would be more effective, and would give far better results in the long run, than an arrangement for the paying of a financial subsidy to the Imperial Government. I join with the most pronounced Imperialists in the. Chamber in saying that it is our duty to take part in the great work of naval defence. I differ from them in regard to the method rather than on the question of expense. I believe that the statesmen and people of England will think just as much of us as citizens of the Empire if we plainly set forth our views on this subject and tell them how we wish to discharge our obligations, as if we blindly vote a subsidy of £200,000 to the British Admiralty. We shall do more to consolidate the Empire and to foster and promote the spirit of Imperial unity by showing that we are not content to give a mere money subsidy, and desire to take an active and personal part in the national defence than if we consent to this agreement. More than that, I believe that a scheme such as that to which I have referred will conduce more to the object professedly aimed at by the proposed agreement - the encouragement of Australians to take immediate and definite personal action in the organization of naval defence - than will the handing over of our constitutional authority obtained by the latest instrument - the Commonwealth Constitution - to the Admiralty. W e shall be more successful by directly and continuously participating in naval defence than by handing over the whole matter to the Admiralty for a period of ten years. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to commit ourselves to a cast-iron system for so long a period. I deplore the fact that the proposed agreement involves the absolute effacement and annihilation of the naval forces of Australia which have been organized under State administration during a period of 40 years. While nothing is proposed in the direction of increasing our local naval forces, the Protector and the Queensland warships will, under the agreement, be sold up within a year or two, and their men disbanded, the only local vessel to be retained being the Cerberus. What is tobe done with those men? It is said that the Admiralty will absorb them. I, for one, object to that. In my opinion, the Australian Government could as effectually control these naval brigades as could the Admiralty. If the Commonwealth does not retain its control over them, and the men are allowed, if theychoose, to join a naval reserve under the Admiralty, we shall have Imperial officers parading our streets for recruiting purposes. Is that a thing which should happen when we possess the necessary authority and organization to establish here branches of the Royal Naval Reserve as successfully as they could be established under the Admiralty ? All we want is a vessel in which to give our men sea training, and all we ask is that we shall be allowed to retain our naval forces as they are, with the right to go on improving them.
– There is nothing to stop us from doing that.
– If we agree to pay for a naval reserve we cannot retain the present naval brigade. We must abandon one or the other.
– Not at all.
SirJOHN QUICK.-At any rate, I intend to make a strong effort for the retention of the existing naval forces, and, in Committee, I shall move an amendment to give effect to a clause in the agreement of 1887, under which, notwithstanding the subsidy, nothing shall be allowed to interfere with the existing organization of tha naval forces of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable and learned member intend to vote against the second reading ?
– No; becauseI hope to have the Bill amended in the direction I have suggested. But, unless some such provision is agreed to, I shall feel bound to vote against the Bill in the final stages of consideration.
– Does not the honorable and learned member think that we could. postpone this matter for a few years ?
– That is a subject for further consideration. I hope that the House will not be led astray by wildly exaggerated statements as to the cost of an Australian naval force, and will insist that the Commonwealth shall retain control of its naval forces, and thus show the world that we are not ignorant or neglectful of our duties as a part of the Empire. Let us prove that we are worthy of the traditions of the sea-fighting race from which we sprang, and not allow any nation to accuse us of forgetting our duties to ourselves and to the Empire to which we belong.
– After the very long and able speeches which have been delivered by the Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, I feel that out of compassion to honorable members I ought to strive to avoid repeating anything that has been so well said by them. Another reason for condensing my remarks is that a number of honorable members wish soon to leave for their distant homes. The measure, however, is one of great interest, more especially because of the profound sensation caused throughout the Empire by certain new departures from the line of Imperial policy, traces of which can be found in the proposed arrangement. There was a time not so very long ago when so jealous was the feeling in the minds of the Imperial authorities as to their colonial possessions, that the last thing in the world a British Minister would have dreamt of proposing would have been any sort of partnership between the Imperial Government and the British dependencies, whether for military or naval purposes. The view in Downingstreet then was, that the last thing which it would be prudent to do would be to encourage the development of either a military or a naval spirit in the various outlying parts of the Empire. A much happier phase has now come over the relations between the British Government and the other governing bodies in the Empire upon this and many other important questions, and we now find the Imperial authorities profoundly eager to draw us all into partnership, whilst on the part of the self-governing States of the Empire there is a profound disinclination to adopt that course. So far as the loyal and patriotic utterances of the Prime Minister are concerned, I think that honorable members, whatever view they may take of this particular Bill, will heartily indorse them, and will not find it necessary to repeat them. Patriotic sentiment is a grand thing, even when it leads us along the flowery paths of rhetoric ; but a grander thing about it is that it inspires us to noble deeds. I always draw a sharp distinction between verbal expressions of loyalty and such a grand manifestation of that spirit as was given by our Australian sons when they went to South Africa to fight, and risk their lives and shed their blood for the Empire. The less we indulge in verbal manifestations of our loyalty the better, and I do not propose to take up the time of the House in asserting a fact which ought to have been obvious enough to anyone many years ago. But there is a great deal to justify the observations of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I have some acquaintance with the history of this question, and it is a most interesting one. I wish to give the House the benefit of my information in a very brief compass. I should like first to remind honorable members that something like a compact was entered into between the Imperial Government and the self-governing States, on this matter of defence, about 30 years ago. As we all know, about that time we had not only British ships on our coasts, but Imperial troops quartered in our towns. In 1S70 an understanding wasarrivedat between the Imperial and the Australian Governments, and probably also with other Governments, to the effect that the colonies would be looked to to provide their own coast defences, whilst the Imperial Government wouk be responsible for the safety pf the Empire’s1 interests on the seas. That was a clear understanding arrived at, in virtue of which the troops were removed from Australia, and in virtue of which also we inaugurated an elaborate and very expensive system of coastal defence. In 1881, at a conference of very able Premiers of Australia, this step was taken : Following upon the lines of that understanding, the Premiers passed a resolution affirming the necessity of making our coastal defences more efficient, and impressing upon the Imperial Government the necessity of making the naval defences more efficient. The British Government received with satisfaction the assurance that’ the Australian Governments were prepared to develop their coastal defences, but they did not regard with the same feeling the request for the strengthening of the British Navy in these seas, maintained wholly at the cost of the Imperial Government. It was in that year, 1881, that this question first took the shape of a joint contribution by the Imperial and the Australian Governments to the navy in these waters. As time went on, Commodore Tryon, who was commissioned by the British Government to move the various Australian Governments, so far prevailed upon them that a conference was assembled in London in the year 1S87. I think a number of matters were dealt with, but the principal question was that of naval defence.
– That was the occasion of the Queen’s first jubilee.
– The Queen’s jubilee celebrations were held in the same year, but the conference had really nothing to do with them. The representatives of the colonies did not go home in connexion with that event, and I do not know that they were in England at the time it occurred.
– No, they were not; except,’ perhaps, one or two of them.
– My honorable friend was a member of that conference, and, therefore, his memory is probably correct. I know that the conference was held quite apart from the event referred to. The question of naval defence was thoroughly discussed by a number of able gentlemen representing both the Imperial and the colonial Governments, and it is rather interesting, in view of the very strong objections which have recently been made to any limit of discretion in any way seeming to fetter the mobility of the Imperial Navy in connexion with its ships in these seas, to know that the memorandum of the Admiralty, which was mentioned by the president of the Conference at the opening of the proceedings, proposed that there should be a limit within which the first Auxiliary Squadron should work. So that this theory of the limit did not, so far as the documents show, emanate from colonial selfishness, but from the Admiralty memorandum.
– Hear, hear. I mentioned that last evening.
– The memorandum to which I have referred is to be found in the volume of Parliamentary Papers on the subject, and is dated the 25th February, 1887. The Admiralty authorized the representative of the British Government to propose certain vessels for the Auxiliary Squadron, and, further, it was suggested that the limits of employment of these vessels should be fixed.
– Was not that provision inserted at the instance of the Premiers?
– My honorable and learned friend must understand that I am speaking of the memorandum read by the president of the Conference before there was a clause of any kind in any agreement. The president of the Conference delivered an opening address, and the memorandum which was read formed the basis of the deliberations of the Conference. For all I know, some colonial Minister may have suggested the limit, but it was not a matter of controversy. The Admiralty accepted the view - if it was pressed upon them - and it was accepted all through the discussions as the basis of this agreement.
– That is all that appears on the surface, at all events.
– Yes. Now I wish tocome to the draft of the agreement which is embodied in the various statutes of the different States. The agreement was settled, and afterwards submitted to and passed by the various colonies, and it is important to notice the statement made in the preamble to this agreementof 1887. Itissupported by the language of the Conference, because throughout the proceedings the object of the naval agreement was defined to be “the necessity of increasing the naval force for the protection of the floating trade in Australasian waters at their joint charge.” So that we have clearly brought out in the existing agreement the idea, first of an Imperial squadron in the ordinary sense, such as they have on the China or East Indian, or Northern Pacific stations, and then an Australian squadron. These are twodistinct affairs, one being vessels, as other ships of the
King are, the other consisting of vessels for a definite purpose, and for the protection of Imperial trade within a definite area. There were further considerations embraced in this agreement which are worthy of notice. They were very important. There was the condition that, if the Auxiliary Squadron were established, there should be no diminution of the force of the Imperial Squadron in these seas. It is obvious that if the establishment of the Auxiliary Squadron were to lead to the removal of Imperial vessels, we should, after the agreement, be in exactly the same position, or in an even worse one than before ; and therefore one of the terms of the agreement was that no reduction should be made in the Imperial Squadron. It is provided -
That notwithstanding the establishment of these joint naval forces, no reduction is to take place in the normal strength of Her Majesty’s naval forces employed on the Australian station, exclusive of survey vessels.
The object of the agreement was perfectly clear. The Imperial Squadron was to remain continually at its previous strength, and the Auxiliary Squadron was to be an additional defence - for the purposes of protecting the trade in Australian waters. The limits of employment were also well defined. To carry out that portion of the agreement there was a proviso that the ships might be employed beyond certain limits only with the consent of the colonial Governments. So that we see that in 1887, whether lightly or wrongly, there was none of this overwhelming earnestness as to the matter of naval tactics which have been so ably and technically elaborated in the speech of the Prime Minister. The Admiralty and the Imperial Government then had no objection to the limitation of the operations of the Auxiliary Squadron, because the object of that Squadron was not so much to add to the mobile strength of the British Navy as to perform a special service in one particular part of the British Empire. I am simply mentioning these matters as worthy of consideration. We come now to a later date, namely, the year 1897. Honorable members will recollect that at that time the Premiers of the different States were deputed to visit London, to be present at a certain great celebration in connexion with the late Monarch’s reign, and also to attend a conference. At that Conference and in public addresses - particularly in one which was delivered by the
First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Goschen, at a public banquet - tentative proposals were made - obviously made - in the direction of altering the naval agreement and increasing the contribution of Australia.
– T - The right honorable gentleman did not “ fall in.”
– At the banquet at which this speech was delivered, I ventured to make observations, the echo of which I heard in some very sensible remarks by the Prime Minister the other night. A day or two afterwards, the First Lord of the Admiralty attended the Conference, and told us that the Imperial Government had no desire to alter the terms of the agreement, and intended to send us a better flag-ship. It is, however, only fair to state that the motive for that action may have been one of the most refined and generous character. Probably the motive was this : We were guests of the Imperial Government at the time, and it might have been felt to be rather an incongruous proceeding to force claims of such a character - involving, as they did, pecuniary obligations - upon gentlemen, however responsible, occupying such a delicate position. I wish to make that observation, as that may have been the motive which inspired the sudden change of attitude adopted by the First Lord of the Admiralty. But there was a remark made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies at the beginning of that conference, which I shall presently quote from the authorized official report of its proceedings. It is worth quoting, because it is only by reading the lines which I am about to read that the true impulse of the recent departure of the Secretary of State for the Colonies can be understood. He speaks with perfect frankness, and the House will, perhaps, pardon me if I read a short extract from his address on that occasion. I ask honorable members to note that these observations weremade in reference to a project to create a sort of Imperial Council. They read -
There is only one point in reference to this which it is absolutely necessary we all should bear in mind. It may be that the time has come, and, if not, I believe that it will come, when the colonies will desire to substitute for the slight relationship which at present exists, a true partnership, and in that case they will want their share in the management of the Empire, which we like to think is as much theirs as it is ours. But, of course, with the privilege of management and of control, will also come the obligation and the responsibility. There will come some form of contribution towards the expense for objects which we will have in common. That, I say, is selfevident, but it is to be borne in mind even in these early stages of the consideration of the subject.
Now, the Secretary of State for the Colonies was perfectly plain and straightforward in that declaration. He puts it as if the colonies were anxious to have a share in the management and control of Imperial affairs. But in that respect I think he failed to express the true inwardness of the situation, which was not that we should have a share in the management and control of Imperial affairs, because I have never yet encountered in history any anxiety that any one should have a share in management and control, unless it was accompanied by a desire that they should render some substantial assistance. That really is the question which those who talk so lightly about Imperial federation have to face. If we are to ask for a share in the management and control of the affairs of the Empire we must be partners, at least in the sense of making our substantial contribution towards the expense of maintaining the Empire.
– And vice versâ.
– Of course,vice versâ, as the honorable and learned member says. It is necessary to make these observations because this agreement makes us partners in the sense of the Secretary of State’s remarks. The Auxiliary Squadron agreement made us partners with the Imperial Government inan Australian squadron which was to be used in Australian seas. The agreement which we are now asked to adopt makes us partners in the Imperial Navy of the Empire, apart from Australian seas. I am not going to adhere to matters of form in reference to this agreement, but it is really right that this change should be pointed out. The Act under which our present agreement came into force plainly sets out a partnership in Australian defence, whereas the Bill under discussion sets out a partnership in Imperial defence. Practically, from one point of view the two things are identical. So long as we remain a part of the Empire the two things are practically the same. But, in view of recent developments, it is right that we should not be blind to the evolution which has taken place in connexion with these naval agreements. Whilst I intend to support the new agreement, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I altogether repudiate the attempt which is obviously being made to change the position and relationship of the Commonwealth to the British Government in matters of Imperial policy. The subject of a change in these relations is oneof vast importance. I have al ways preferred to defer serious investigation of these matters till such time as some definite proposal is made. But, in the first place, I would point out that, in my opinion, the Government have absolutely misrepresented the feelings and views of a majority of the people of Australia in a minute which was submitted to the recent conference in London by the Prime Minister, and which was signed by the Minister for Defence. I wish it to be understood that it is a thoroughly able minute, and I am in no sense disparaging the ability which is evident in its composition ; but I must take serious objection to the light in which it puts the Commonweal th before the British Government. If that minute had not been adopted by the Government, I do not suppose it would have found a place in the pages of the proceedings of that conference.
– Why not?
– -I suppose that Ministerial responsibility has not yet reached that stage when the Prime Minister will submit a State document to the Imperial Government, upon the understanding that if it comes out all right it belongs to the family, while if it does not it may be regarded as containing only some wild notions on the part of the Minister for Defence.
– I do not know that the Prime Minister did submit it.
– These are the official papers of the Conference.
– It does not follow that the Prime Minister submitted it.
– It seems to me that there are too many captains in the ship, even when two members of the Ministry are on a foreign voyage. There were only two members of the Government in London at the time, and still it seems to be doubtful how this State paper found its way to the Conference.
– I was not present at the Conference.
– No; but the right honor-
Able gentleman’s minute was. If the Minister for Defence had been present at that Conference no doubt he would have taught the Admiralty authorities a large number of things in connexion with the management of the British Navy. But, being unable to be present, he put his ideas in writing, as many other great reformers have done before him. His ideas upon naval defence are so admirably expressed in that minute that Lord Selborne’s memorandum seems like a feeble imitation of the paper of my right honorable friend. It is true that this minute was dated the 24th of April, 1902. My point is that it was placed upon the official records of the British Parliament as a .State document from the Commonwealth Government. Here I may be allowed to mention one matter which is referred to in that minute which is not quite satisfactory to me. The Minister embodied in that document a scheme for a naval agreement submitted to him by Rear- Admiral Beaumont, and when I look at the scheme which that distinguished naval officer thought necessary for the adequate defence of these seas, I am rather concerned to find that whilst the force which is to be supplied under the new agreement is estimated by the Prime Minister to involve a capital cost of £2,500,000, the Rear- Admiral pointed out that a force the capital cost of which involved £3,500,000 was ‘ necessary. His proposal, which was adopted by the Minister for Defence in the minute to which I have referred, is that there should be two firstclass cruisers and six second-class cruisers, two of the latter to be in reserve and four in commission. Now, that is a vastly stronger force than is the force provided for in this agreement.
– It is twice as strong.
– But it would cost more.
– It is true that it would cost more, but the point is that it is the force which the naval authority whom I have quoted believed would be necessary for the purpose. Therefore, under the new agreement, we have not the satisfaction of obtaining the force which a competent authority, whose opinion was adopted by the Minister for Defence, declared to be necessary. But there is a much more serious matter than that - and I do take strong exception to the want of knowledge displayed by the Prime Minister after all these negotiations and conferences upon a most important question. Whilst the Prime Minister was speaking, the honorable member for Robertson put to him a very pertinent question. He asked, “ What about the Imperial squadron. Will that be continued ?” That is a very important question. In the agreement of 1887 there was an express stipulation that the Imperial squadron should not be reduced in consequence of the naval agreement - a very important stipulation. There is no such stipulation in the present agreement. So far from there being any stipulation of that sort, the present agreement substitutes these vessels for those of the Imperial Squadron. It is not merely a question of the chance of retaining the Imperial vessels in addition to the Auxiliary Squadron, but the deliberate agreement is that these vessels are absolutely to take the place of the Imperial Squadron. That is the important difference between the two agreements, and surely it is one that the Prime Minister should be clear upon. Surely the vital point in the agreement is one of which the Prime Minister should have some knowledge. I shall refer to the agreement itself, in order to show that what I say is correct. If honorable members will turn to article 2 they will find, not the distinct condition contained in the agreement of 18S7, that there shall be no reduction of the Imperial Squadron in consequence of this naval agreement ; but the statement that - nothing in the 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.
In other words, the agreement is that, instead of having an Imperial squadron and an Australian Auxiliary Squadron, we shall have only one squadron - that the Australian squadron shall take the place of the Imperial one. It is a mere idle use of words to say that if the necessity arises the fleet will be increased. W e do not require any provision in a naval agreement to tell us that in time of war or danger the power of England will be increased where danger is most imminent. That, however, is the statement contained in this agreement, as compared with the positive stipulation in the first one. It amounts to a perfectly clear agreement that the new squadron shall take the place of both the previous squadrons.
– That is right.
– Then why was not the Prime Minister aware of that fact when he moved the second reading of the Bill ?
– I think he was.
– We must give the Prime Minister every credit for the ability to express himself in regard to any matter with which he is familiar - an ability which my honorable friend who interjects has in excess of most other individuals. We must give the Prime Minister credit, I say, for the power to convey information if he ‘possesses it. What was his answer to this pointed question ?
What about the Imperial squadron ? Will that be continued ?
The Prime Minister’s reply was -
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
It was nothing of the kind. There was an express stipulation in the first agreement * that they should not be reduced, and, therefore, that they should not be removed. Itwill thus be seen that on that most important point the Prime Minister was absolutely at sea. But what followed is more important still, because it shows that the Prime. Minister absolutely does not know the nature of the agreement into which he hasnow entered. In answer to this question by the honorable member for Robertson, he continued -
It is a matter upon which I cannot give definite information.
We have definite information in the agreement.
– He meant to say there might be several more vessels.
– If we are to have one Minister explaining the English language by means of another, I do not know where we shall be. I prefer to take the plain remark of the Prime Minister. Having shown us the depths of his knowledge of this most important matter by stating. that this was entirely a voluntary contribution, he proceeds to remark -
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.
Thus the Prime Minister was not aware, or to put the. matter in the most charitable way, he had forgotten the true nature of this new agreement.
– He was thinking of the concluding portion of article 2 of the new agreement. - Mr. REID.- Whatever the right honorable gentleman was thinking of, he did not ‘ seem to know what the agreement really was. The Minister for Defence has no doubt as to what I am saying. If he had been asked, “What about the Imperial squadron ? “ he would have givena straight, intelligent answer in the language of this agreement. He would have said that there would be no Imperial squadron in these seas after the adoption of this agreement.
– That it would be an Empire squadron.
– That is the grand language of my right honorable friend. It is Imperial language which befits the Imperial personage from whom it emanates. I desire now to show how the Minister for Defence’s rough-and-ready methods of solving the most profound problems of politics led him into expressions which, I contend, with great respect to him, will scarcely stand the test of reason. In the minute which was adopted by the Government, and put before the bright intellects of the Empire, the Minister referred to a naval plan suited to Imperial needs, and made use of this expression -
If such a plan can be brought about, it would be necessary for the “British dominions beyond the Seas “-
Rhetorical patriotism again - to be adequately represented -
Where do honorable members think - at the Admiralty.
Imagine my right honorable friend taking his seat on the Admiralty Board, in order to assist to manage the British Navy as a representative of the Commonwealth of Australia. I am sure that he would take that position without a moment’s hesitation, and I do not suppose that he would be on the Board for half an hour before all the other lords would be completely silenced. But it almost transcends one’s power of intellectual digestion to comprehend the fate of the British Navy when submitted to this sort of control. It is another proof of the somewhat dissimilar views upon naval tactics which have been expressed by the Minister in charge of the Defence Department and the Prime Minister that, while the Prime Minister occupied much time and used a considerable number of quotations from Admiralty documents in order to give us a few elementary lessons which I suppose were obvious, pointing out that when a war is going on it is necessary to be vigorous and to have your ships at points where they will be able to do the greatest damage to the enemy, and protect most efficiently your own commerce - whilst he was at great pains to show that for such purposes we must have one brain to think and one arm to strike, the Minister for Defence considers that the British Navy cannot be efficiently managed even in times of war-
– I was referring to the management of the navy in times of peace.
– Then God help the navy in times of war. If most reasoning men still consider that it is absurd to suggest the creation of an Imperial Council to deal with political problems for the solution of which even colonial politicians may be supposed to have some aptitude, how inexpressibly absurd it is to suggest that a body of men selected from Canada, Australia, Natal, the Cape of Good Hope, and Hong Kong should deal with the tremendous machinery of a great Empire in time of war.
– One man might represent all the colonies.
– No doubt my right honorable friend would undertake that duty. But that is not the view that is held as to the constitution of such a council. If Australia were represented, surely Canada would also have a right to be represented.
– Not necessarily.
– Not necessarily I suppose, in my right honorable friend’s view, so long as Australia was represented. But I wish to point out that this theory of a partnership with the British Government - of a share in the control of the British Admiralty - is a proposition to which, for the sake of the name of Australia, I should have liked my right honorable friend to have committed himself in his own State in the far west, rather than in the documents submitted to the Imperial Ministers and the people of the Empire.
– It will come yet.
– It has come; I have it here. It is only fair to my right honorable friend to say that he recognised some of the obstacles in the way. He said -
In time of war there could not be any division of responsibility, and until a more extended federation of the Empire is established, that responsibility would have to rest upon the Imperial Government.
In other words, we were to be partners when there was nothing of importance going on, but when a great crisis in the partnership had to be fought out, the partnership was to be dissolved. That sort of partnership is one which no Australian community will ever enter upon. Whilst it is fashionable, in the language of Mr. Chamberlain, to represent the selfgoverning colonies as knocking at the door of Imperial power and asking for a share in the management of the Empire, I submit, with great respect to that most distinguished man, that that necessity, wherever else it may exist, is not to be found in this part of the British Empire. That is not because we are less loyal or less ready to share in the heat anc! burden of the Empire in times of danger or of war, but because we have a sufficient amount of common sense to know that if we were to endeavour to manage the concerns of the British Empire as we would manage the concerns of this House, or this Government, the project would inevitably break down. When people speak of the British Empire, do they forget that 34.0,000,000 of His Majesty’s subjects, out of the total of 400,000,000, are to be found in one part of Asia - in India. In what sort of manner could a representative from Australia undertake the control and management of problems affecting those races t Then let us turn to Africa and the marvellous range of protectorates dotted all over that vast continent. In mere protectorates alone, we have between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 square miles of country there, and 35,000,000 of African races. . How inexpressibly ridiculous then is the theory that we should call upon the brightest intellect of Australia to go to London to manage the affairs of South Africa and India ! I wish to say that my right honorable friend in these .crushing expressions, which point to a partnership of that kind, in no way represented the feeling or the common sense of the Australian people. Let us think of the matter for a moment. We have 41,000,000 out of the 51,000,000 of white subjects of the Crown gathered together upon a comparatively small spot on the earth’s surface. Think what a marvellous concentration of mental and physical power exists upon that little spot of earth where those 41,000,000 of the British race live. If those people were scattered throughout the Empire, where would the Empire be? Where would its centre of gravity be 1 Where would be the possibility of that clear, decisive, independent thought and action which alone can maintain the marvellous burdens of the great series of British possessions? It is. because there is that marvellous heart that the currents of life and power circulate sofreely and so grandly to the furthest extremities of this vast fabric. To indulge in these silly attempts to spread over this, vast surface of 11,000,000 square miles a controlling and directing power amounts to> that sort of pretence which you can see any day in the Chamber of Deputies in Paris. There they have representatives from Algiers. What a grand idea it seems ! The French are so liberal in their forms of parliamentary government that you see two or three dubious-looking persons in shawls, huddled together in a corner of that greatChamber, and when you ask who they are, you are told that they are the representatives of Algiers. Different as Australians are, and different as our circumstances, are, any attempt on our part to exercise a real living share in the management of this mighty Empire of 11,000,000 square miles, spreading all over the surface of the globe, would be profoundly absurd. I can understand statesmen who are passing into an hysterical condition, whose nerves are not equal to the giant burden which their ancestors maintained - though the population was. then less - trying to think out some means for gaining additional power to face the future. But you may depend upon it that the Empire is not to be maintained by methods of that sort. If the heart fails the whole system falls to pieces. One of the saddest thoughts in my mind, when I read Mr. Chamberlain’s speeches in South Africa and in England about the mothercountry staggering under the burdens of Empire, is that, whilst I saw there hundreds of thousands of bright young people who gave an assurance of a greater and stronger England in the days to come, I find in the circles of statesmanship an attitude of fear, and a desire to seek fresh methods of strength which has never been characteristic, of the race in its hours of trial. If it could be done it would be a grand thing, but the idea is almost as extravagant as that of
The Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
It is impossible. This new policy is only 50 years old. When people speak of the British Empire and the fortunes of the British race, do they remember that only 50 or 60 years ago British statesmen looked upon the great self-governing colonies as powers to be dreaded and kept in subjection ? Do not we know that the theory of tying up these scattered energies by a multitude of minute ligaments has already been tried, and failed ? This new style was the old style. Sixty years ago, Downingstreet controlled the appointment of the humblest clerk in Australia. Then you had a thorough Imperial Federation, because one brain in Downing-street ruled the whole Empire. No doubt it seemed to the statesmen of 50 years ago, as each of these great stretches of .territory, full of the rising and restless spirit of the race, was allowed to separate from that intimate subjection, that the last days of the Empire had come. But we find that so long as in those matters of life and death, such as defence, which are essential to the maintenance of the Empire, we maintain the principle of one brain and one array, the more we leave, in matters of civil and political liberty, the common sense of the Anglo-Saxon race to fight its own way, the grander will be the life of those who belong to it. At this very time, when we. are practically independent, there has been the grandest exhibition of loyalty from one end of the Empire to the other. When you have these marvellous constellations each pursuing its majestic orbit without friction, he is indeed a bold man who seeks to improve the position by legislative contrivance. I feel that the minute of the Minister for Defence gave the keynote to the proceedings right through this last Conference. When Mr. Chamberlain speaks of sharing the control and management of the British Empire, I ask what share had . Australia in adding 4,000,000 of square miles of territory to the Empire during the last fifteen years ? What share have we had in increasing the .burden of taxation in the mother country to such a marvellous extent ? I may, perhaps, be allowed to show where the real seat of this terrible strain upon the British people is ; where the desperate urgency is for obtaining pecuniary offerings from the various members of the Empire. Let us turn to the eloquent history which a few figures give us of the enormous development in expenditure and taxation in the mother country during the last few years. In 1886 the taxation of the British people had increased in about 30 years by £16,000,000- -from £60,000,000 per annum to £76,000,000 per annum ; and in 1896 the increase was proceeding at very much the same rate. But during the last six years it has increased by many millions. In England revenue, if you except the Post-office receipts, is mainly taxation, and the revenue and expenditure of England in 1870 was £124,000,000; in 1896, £180,000,000; and, in 1903, £300,000,000 ; an increase of £56,000,000 in the 26 years between 1870 and 1896, and an increase of £120,000,000 in the last six years.
– Was not a great deal of that war expenditure1?
– Yes. The enormous expansion of the expenditure of this great motherland of ours for defence is one of my reasons for notpushinga number of serious objections which I have to the Bill. In 1870 the navy cost Great Britain £9,500,000 a year : in 1897, £22,000,000 a year; and in 1903, £35,000,000 a year ; so that, within a period of 33 years, it rose from £9,500,000 to £35,000,000.
– And the estimate for this year is £39,000,000.
– I am not taking the very latest figures, because I wish to be as moderate in my statements as ‘ I can. The expenditure upon the army was £14,500,000 in 1870; and about £35,000,000 in 1903. Therefore, the expenditure upon army and navy increased from £24,000,000 in 1870 to £70,000,000 in 1903. When I remember, as I never fail to do, the substantial benefits which we derive from our connexion with the Empire, and when we see the devious paths taken by great military and naval powers in their frenzied anxiety to establish themselves in new territories, I am profoundly impressed by a sense of great obligation to the mother country in the matter of defence. I cannot quibble over the terms of this agreement. I may criticise it ; I may show that I see what is being done, and what it is attempted to do ; but I cannot hesitate for an instant in regard to* the proposal to pay out of the Treasury of Australia the sum of £200,000 per annum for the maintenance of a squadron in the Australian seas. I have always endeavoured to pursue a line of fidelity to the interests of the people of Australia, because I cannot help feeling that we are performing a great service to the Empire. If our obligations to the mother country are to be measured by a money standard it will be impossible to fulfil them. But it seems to me a new sort of British statesmanship which takes such infinite pains, when the expenditure of Great Britain upon defence is £70,000,000 a year, to obtain an increase from £100,000 to £200,000 in the contribution from Australia. There is an intense sense of disproportion about such a request. The true and perhaps intelligent motive underlying it is to make us partners in the great burden of empire. But just as it is impossible that we can have a share of control or management in any rational sense in the affairs of the Empire, so it is impossible that we can enter into such a partnership. We cannot pretend to be competent to rule the affairs of India or South Africa. Thus we try hard in this portion of the Empire to serve our race, and to develop our opportunities. I warn - if it be necessary to warn them, and I do not think it is - these gentlemen in the old country that this desperate eagerness of theirs to upset the present conditions of Imperial relations argues in my mind not statesmanship, but a failure of nerve. Viewed by natural standards, the mere existence of the Empire for one day is a phenomenon. The fact that a small island in the northern seas can govern, as an autocrat, 350,000,000 of human beings on a distant continent presents a situation in real life which no author of fiction would endeavour to portray. It is quite true that, judged by some standards, the Empire is always on the brink of ruin, but it has always been preserved, not by any meddling interference by one part of the Empire with another, but by the resolute accomplishment of that which each part had to do for itself. What sort of executive, force and cohesion would an Imperial Council have? What sort of a travesty of government would it present? The self-government which we have here is worth a thousand chances of interference in the affairs of other people, because we can only interfere in the affairs of other people under the reciprocal obligation of allowing other people to interfere with ourselves, and in such a relation we should lose rather than gain. Now, coming back to the agreement, I sympathize very strongly with the spirit which animates the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. Reference has been made to an address, delivered somewhere in Victoria by the present Governor of that State. Since certain observations have been made in another place with reference to this deliverance, I wish to say for myself that, having read the address, I cannot appreciate the intelligence of any man who takes exception to it. It is one of the finest and most patriotic deliverances that I have ever read. It comes from one of the greatest, if not the greatest authority in the mother country upon certain aspects of military defence. It is a. noble address, animated by a noble spirit, and one which does honour to Australia ; and it is strange to me that men, who call themselves democrats, and who assert their absolute freedom to say all sorts of horrible things about other people, should be so delicate in their political susceptibilities that they could take exception to an utterance of that sort.
– It was not the utterance they excepted to.
– Then to what- the man?
– Their point was, whether it be right or wrong, that His Excellency, being in a responsible position, should not have spoken so.
– I read the paper in that very sense - as a paper delivered by the Governor of Victoria, and I do not believe that even in the darkest days of press censorship in England any one would have looked upon it as objectionable, even from the point of view of Government. Surely an eminent authority in matters of defence can honour this country by expressing his opinions in it, as long as he trenches in no sense upon the political affairs of his State.
– H - Hear, hear. Why should he not hit out if he wants to, and say what he likes ?
– I do not take that view. Only recently I took it upon myself to refer to what I regarded as an infringement of constitutional usage by a former GovernorGeneral, and I am not at all inclined to be lax in these matters. I say, however, that the deliverance of His Excellency the Governor of Victoria was an admirable one, with which I can find no fault. I desire to make use of one of his observations, in directing special attention to the sentiment which lies behind the yearning for an Australian Navy. My right honorable friend, the Prime Minister, is an Imperial statesman, and he is carried away by the rhetorical aspect of the achievements of the British race, but there are words used here by His Excellency Governor Clarke which, I think, are worthy of attention. He says - “We ewe all to the inherent capacity of our race for the service of the sea.” If that be true as applied to the people inhabiting the British Islands, surely- it is equally true of the Anglo-Saxon race inhabiting this vast island in the southern seas. His Excellency quotes the observation of Voltaire with reference to the continued success of the British Navy in all its engagements against all the Great Powers of the world. He says -
Voltaire asking himself “ What oan be the reason of this continued superiority ?” replies - “ Is it not that the sea, which the French can live well enough without, is essentially necessary to the English, and that nations succeed best in those things for which they have absolute occasion ?” Only inherited instincts of the sea developed and intensified by necessity, constantly enforced upon the British people during many centuries, could have enabled us to win our Empire. Only by maritime strength can we hope to hold it.
Now I say that these grand instincts are in the Australian race. They have come down to us through centuries of achievements on the oceans of the world, and there are men who, perhaps, mistaken in the terms of their suggestion, seek to have this grand instinct of our race cultivated and encouraged. Would it be any disloyalty to the great mercantile marine of England to look forward to a time when there will be a mercantile marine of Australia? Would that be disloyalty t Are we to avoid building ships and manning them, and carrying the flag of the Commonwealth over the seas, because there is a great fleet of Imperial ships ready to do all we require ? We have the same instinct which has urged the people of the old country to ‘ expand upon the seas in time of war and ,in times of peace, and it is this capacity for expansion and triumph on the seas at all times that has not only made the Empire what it is, but has made the British people what they are as a great commercial nation. Therefore, I sympathize intensely with those who wish to see the beginnings of an Australian Navy. At the same time I quite see - just as I see that we cannot give our millions to the Imperial Government for defence purposes - that we cannot incur any very large expense just now, even for that. There is, however, one direction in which I think we could cultivate this instinct. When the Defence Bill was before this House some time ago, I expressed my regret at the absolutely lamentable state of affairs under which we had sons of this grand old sea-going race growing up here, and ready to put on uniforms, who had never been offered an opportunity of becoming efficient sailors by serving on the ships of the Australian squadron. Surely, whilst the ships are lying lazily in our harbors in times of peace, the old genius of the race can be encouraged by training men to swell the ranks of our naval brigades - our citizen sailors. If it is a grand thing to have citizen soldiers, it is surely an equally grand thing to have our citizen sailors. There need be no jealousy about that. We have never, I believe, heard a word from the great War Department of England to discourage the development of our militia or volunteer forces all round Australia. Now, I say that the naval brigades of Australia have never been encouraged as they ought to have been. Between our 35,000 men in the land forces, and our 2,000 men in the naval brigade, there is a discrepancy I do not like. I have no hesitation in saying that if I thought this agreement was to be made use of to interfere in any sense with the vigorous development of our naval brigades, I should vote against it. I should think myself absolutely disloyal to this country if I did not do so ; but I think it is possible to vote for this agreement and to pay this money. In point of fact we owe a great deal more. We are not giving away the money of the people of Australia in paying this amount. We spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on our militia and volunteers, .and instead of the few beggarly thousands we spend upon our naval forces, we might advantageously devote a good deal more of our money to the cultivation of the grand instincts of our race for the sea. One of the best features about these ships to my mind is the fact that three of them are to be drill-ships ; but, drill-ships for what 1 - for the British Navy 1 The British Navy can be very well left to look after its own drill ships, and those belonging to the Australian squadron should be available for the training of Australian sailors for our own Naval Reserves. I do not object - I have never objected - to the British Navy recruiting here in Australia. Any Australian who enters the ranks of the British Navy takes a step which I have po word to say against. There are, however, tens of thousands of Australians who cannot and do not want to do that, but who, at the same time, are willing to swell the. ranks of our naval brigade, and to be properly drilled on modern vessels of war. Therefore, I strongly support those who would give our naval brigades more prominence than they have had in the past, and I shall also strongly advocate the use of the war-ships for drilling them, as well as the reserve men of the British Navy. I had scarcely intended to detain honorable members at such length, but I should like to mention a matter which has been one of some surprise to me. I do not for a moment profess to be competent to say that all the naval expenditure of England has been absolutely necessary. The Minister foi- Defence might express himself authoritatively on such a matter, from his knowledge of the subject, but I do not profess to know whether this vast expenditure has been necessary or not. The presumption is that it was. When people talk, as so many do, in alarmist tones about the overwhelming advances made, say, by Germany in the strengthening of her navy, we should remember that thesame thingis being don inall partsof the world. The statesmen of theworld, whether in Germany or the United States, seize hold of every little phase of jealousy, dislike, or distrust in order to commit their unfortunate peoples to. huge expenditures. This has become a fine art in Germany and the United States, and would be far more excusable in Great Britain, with its enormous possessions and with its trade of £1,500,000,000 a year. In view of what hag been said as to the German Navy and the immense advances it has made, honorable members will scarcely be prepared foi’ the figures which I propose to read as to the relative strengths of the British and Germany navies, in regard not only to the shipsin existencebutto those which are building. Of battle-ships Great Britain has 42 against Germany’s 1 2. Of armoured cruisers Great Britain has 14 as against Germany’s 2 ; and of protected cruisers 109 against 17, making a total of 165 first-class fighting ships belonging to Great Britain as against 31 belonging to Germany. Great Britain is building 12 battle-ships as against Germany’s six. Germany is building three armoured cruisers ; Great Britain is constructing twenty. Germany is building six protected cruisers, and England eight; so that in course of building, Great Britain has 40 vessels as against Germany’s fifteen. Honorable members will . therefore see that much of this alarmist talk is either folly, or there is a reason behind it. But 1 do say that when a distinguished statesman like Mr. Chamberlain talks about Britain staggering under the= burdens of Empire, the people of England, might well inquire how it is that their burdens have been increased to these marvellous extremes during the past six or seven years. No man has a clearer view or a. greater appreciation than I have of the immense responsibilities devolving upon those who govern the British Empire. But I think that one of the grandest characteristics of the British race, which has been faithfully maintained without ruin to the Empire, without destruction to the State, in the dark da)’s of the past, has been this conviction: that the ‘truest strength of a. country consists, not so much in the amount of its expenditure, as in the prudence and economy with which its affairs are controlled. On no grounds do I need to justify the vote which I shall give upon this Bill. Under it, Australia’s contribution is infinitely less than we should like to make it if this country were more populous and richer. But, in giving my cordial vote to this agreement as some slight acknowledgmentof the great benefits which we derive from the Empire, I cannot shut my eyes to the mode which has been adopted of initiating this increased contribution. If this agreement had been submitted to the people in 1887, I maintain that it would have been scouted. If it had been put to them at that time that there was not to be an Auxiliary Squadron combined with a purely British Squadron; that the British fleet was to be removed ; that instead of having two squadrons we should have only one, and that the limits of the station were to be enlarged - I was a Member of Parliament at the time - and from my knowledge of political feeling at that day, I say that I have no doubt whatever that such a proposal would have been scouted. But we must admit that since the days of 1887 events have marched rapidly. We must admit that, since then, marvellous developments have taken place in other countrieswhich have necessitated the British Empire embarking upon a much larger expenditure. I wish it to be understood, by the vote which I shall give on this occasion, that whilst I hope I shall always play the part of a loyal subject, I shall never show the slightest countenance to any project which aims at altering the relations which this Commonwealth now has in the scheme of the British Empire.
– I heartily congratulate the leader of the Opposition upon the speech which he has just made. It was a most remarkable deliverance, seeing that though he has advanced the most powerful arguments that could possibly have been urged against the acceptance of the agreement, he has concluded with an intimation that he intends to vote for it. I do not know of any arguments that could have been advanced that would tell more strongly against the wisdom of adopting this agreement than those contained in the very admirable speech of the right honorable gentleman. Yet he takes up the remarkable position that, although the adoption of this agreement is the first step towards a kind of Imperialism which he discounts, he is willing to support it. To my mind, his attitude is simply inexplicable. It seems to me to be thoroughly consonant with’ the action which he has taken in connexion with a great many other matters which have come before this Chamber. He deprecates certain aspects of Imperial development, but the moment it comes to be a question of Australia paying a very considerable subsidy for its naval defence, he forgets all about the dangers appertaining to Imperialism, and announces his intention of voting for the agreement. I am fully seized of the many difficulties which surround this question, and it is with considerable diffidence that I rise to speak upon the subject. I feel under a special disability in having to follow the admirable speech of my right honorable friend - a speech which was marred by its illogical character and gross inconsistency. The right honorable gentleman has not said a single word in defence of the agreement. On the contrary he has pointed out that it is fraught with all sorts of clanger and difficulty. He says that the gentleman who represented this Parliament at the Imperial Conference almost gave Australia away, and yet, forsooth, he intends to support his action. He has entirely overlooked the fact that Australia is of considerable help to Great Britain. Honorable members are well aware that we have always been prepared to render assistance to the Empire in time of war, thus indicating that in her hour of trial and difficulty, we are quite willing to bear our share of her burdens. In this agreement, however, it is urged that we should do a great deal more, and the leader of the Opposition has gone so far as to declare that the annual contribution of £200,000 by Australia towards naval defence is a mere bagatelle. His regret is that the amount is notmuch larger. In this connexion I wish toquote the authority of no less a person than Captain Mahan as to the value of the dependencies of Great Britain in regard tonaval defence. He says -
It may with much more certainty be now alleged, and the assertion can be supported to thepoint of demonstration, that the acquisitions of recent years, despite the additional requirements of their defence imposed upon us, have not necessitated any increase of our naval force beyond, that which would have been imperatively demanded at the present time, had they never passed into our hands.
– Is he not speaking of the American possessions 1
– Yes ; but the same argument is equally applicable to the British possessions. He also points out that the increase of naval expenditure by £25,000,000 within the past ten years is not attributable to the fact that Great Britain has to protect her dependencies. Indeed, Great Britain’s dependencies are a tower of strength to her, rather than a source of weakness. If honorable members will note the remarks of Captain Mahan, they willobserve how they bear out that contention. He says -
Even more, the3’ have lessened the burden of purely naval development, which but for them would have been necessary : for by the tenure of them, and due development of their resources, the na’3’ itself receives an accession of strength, an increased facility of movement, by resting upon. Strong positions of equipment and repair - upon bases, to use the military term - in several parts of the’ world where our interests demand naval protection of the kind already mentioned - namely, readiness to take the offensive instantly.
In other words these dependencies provide » base for naval operations in time either of war or of peace, the)7 offer coal supplies and facilities which are of infinitely more importance than any subsidy which we can pay to Great Britain. Captain Mahan proceeds -
Facilities of this character add a percentage of value to a given mobile force, military or naval, for they by so much increase its power and its mobility. This percentage may be difficult of precise definition as to amount, but it none the less exists. That coal can be obtained near at hand, plentifully, and with certainty ; that ships can remain in readiness, and in security, near the possible scene of operations ; that they can be repaired there, instead of returning to the United States, all’ these conditions, which our new possessions will afford, enable the work on the spot to be done by fewer ships, and diminish by their storage facilities - by their accumulated and natural resources, the immediate dependence upon home by a long chain of communications, which is the great drain on all military operations.
I contend that in affording similar facilities the Commonwealth is giving a handsome endowment to the British Navy. If we develop our own naval brigades, for which the leader of the Opposition has so eloquently pleaded, man our own ships, and conduct our own affairs, we shall be doing quite as much for Great Britain as we are by contributing a paltry subsidy of £200,000. This question I would remind honorable members has been freely discussed, not only in Australia, but in Great Britain, and many authorities in the latter country favour the idea of establishing an Australian Navy. I am about to quote from a number of essays which were prepared and read before the Royal United Service Institute. In this connexion I may mention that each year that institute offers a gold medal for the essay which is considered the best on a naval or military subject, the text of which is supplied by the committee. These essays are judged by a committee of admirals and other senior officers in the case of naval essays, and by corresponding army officers in the case of military essays. I take the following remarks from the prize essay at the last competition -
Our large self-governing colonies provide a certain proportion of personnel, and in the case of Australia, of ships also. On the first outbreak of war, the enemy will detach certain ships to prey on pur commerce, and the trade routes will want protection. It will inevitably take some time for the enemy to get his cruisers to the spots lie selects, and a further time before we hear where these attacks are being made. In the meantime we may commission ships to deal with them. The attack on commerce will be made partly by cruisers - some of them specially built for the purpose - and partly by armoured merchant vessels. The enemy’s difficulty will be his want of coaling stations, and of this we shall doubtless take full advantage. If we keep cruisers at our colonial bases, and arm merchant ships there, we mast be prepared to man them, and the only places out of England where we can do this ‘are our large self-governing colonies. In Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and doubtless later on in South Africa, there are trained men ready and willing to be employed in the naval defence of the Empire, but so far, to a large extent, unorganized for this purpose. With proper organization we ought to be- able to keep whatever ships we want at; these) bases ready for mobilization.
Surely that is a very great contribution, and one which should weigh with the Admiralty in considering the position of the
Commonwealth. The writer goes on to say -
The local naval force should be encouraged in every wa3’, both officers and men. and made to feel that they had a definite part allotted to them in the naval defence of the Empire. This force on ordinary occasions is separated from the navy, and is under their own rules ; but they should be required to amalgamate for periodical training with the navy under naval regulations. Local conditions must, however, be taken into consideration. Local rates of pay, local ideas of discipline, local ideas of dress even, should be given due thought where such exist, and must not be allowed to prevent the thorough amalgamation of the service into one efficient whole.
The essayist goes on to say that he believes we have the material and the men, and that every consideration should be ‘ given to colonial condition, colonial rates of pay, and colonial aspirations. That view is supported by other authorities, whose opinions have already been quoted. The views advanced by the Spectator and several other English newspapers have been brought under the notice of honorable members ; but there are one or two quotations which, I think, may well be given. The Speaker of September, 1S95, wrote -
We desire to see local supplementary navies owned I33’ the colonies and manned and officered by the colonists. Such a navy 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 seethe colonists, as it were, hiring British ships at so much per ton per annum to guard their shores.
The Spectator of 5th July, 1902, makes the following observations : -
Before we leave Captain Mahan’s interesting paper, we must say a word as to the 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.
Other authorities have been quoted, but ‘I do not propose to go over ground which has already been so ably traversed. The argument is that we are not in a financial position to support an Australian Navy, and I understand that consideration weighs with many honorable members who propose to vote for this agreement. It is said that we ought to have an Australian Navy - and, according to the leader of the Opposition, we are to avoid even the semblance of Imperialism - but that we are unable at this juncture to bear the cost, and that we should consent, therefore, to pay away £200,000 a year under this agreement.
– Why not allow the old agreement to continue? It would do no harm.
– The old agreement might be improved, ‘and if that were done we should not be called upon to sign an agreement which we do not profess to believe in. I have had submitted to me by a person who knows what he is talking about, a statement of the possible cost of. inaugurating an Australian Navy. The statement sets forth what he believes the Commonwealth could do with the £200,000 per annum, which we propose to contribute under this agreement in addition to the present expenditure of £46,000 per annum, on our local forces. The items are as follows : - Salaries, wages, and rations of 900 permanent officers and men, £145,000; repairs to machinery, &c, of all vessels, £2,000; docking, periodically, of all vessels, £2,000 ; boatswains’ and carpenters’ stores, £5,000 ; coal for vessels and depots, £16,000; ammunition and other warlike stores, £10,000 ; salaries wages, and rations of 2,000 reserve officers and men, £32,000. That is the amount my friend has allowed in respect of the naval service men who would be trained on the ships, and be ready to do service at any time. They are the men who, I think, would be most valuable. Some of our local naval forces were sent to China during the recent war, and we have the evidence of the officers who were in charge of the contingents that they proved themselves to be equal to the British sailors in the work which they had . to perform. It seems to me that we could utilize these men, properly trained and drilled, at far less expense than we could employ regular forces. Then the gentleman to whom I have referred proposes that the system of leasing ships from Great Britain should be extended. The Cerberus is leased from the Imperial Government. We pay interest on the first cost ; we keep her in repair, man her, and provide her with the necessary officers. Interest at 3£ per cent, on £1,250,000, being the prime cost of four second-class cruisers, would amount to £33,750, so that an Australian Navy could be inaugurated, on the lines laid down by my” informant, at a total cost of £245,750 per annum. In that way we should secure the nucleus of an Australian Navy. I admit that it might not be altogether adequate, but surely we do not think that the £200,000 per annum that it is proposed to pay under this agreement will give us anything like an adequate provision for defence? That sum is to be merely a contribution towards that security that we think is necessary. Whether we pay the subsidy or not, I presume that the British Navy, in the interests of Great Britain herself, will be prepared to protect us.
– Not in our own interests ?
– I am assuming that Great Britain will be prepared to protect us in her own as well as in our interests. We are indebted to her to an enormous extent, and if Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane were bombarded, I dare say the loss to Great Britain would be even greater than the loss which we should suffer.
– They ought to pay us for living here, as we borrow money from them.
– I think the leader of the Opposition will admit that Great Britain has immense monetary interests in the Commonwealth of Australia.
– But we obtain full value for every pound that she lends us.
– We pay full interest for every penny we receive, and we are prepared to do so as long as we can.
– We should not fall out with the man from whom we borrow.
– I am not suggesting that we should. I am not attempting to deprecate the immense value which Great Britain is to us, or the importance which we are to her. I am as loyal as is my right honorable friend.
– I am sure the honorable member is, although he helped to put up a wall against England.
– I am prepared to put up a still higher wall against other countries. Will my right honorable friend support me 1
– When my two honorable friends agree - well, what is to happen ?
– I suppose we shall never agree on fiscal matters.
– We are agreed on every other point.
– Except in regard tothe payment of this subsidy. The figures I have quoted show what it would cost us toform the basis of a naval defence of our own. Why should we not be able to lease other ships from Great Britain just as we lease the Cerberus ? Of course, we should require British officers. We recognise that that is essential. But it seems to me that it would be contrary to the idea of Australian progress to put ourselves completely in the hands of the Admiralty, and to have no voice whatever in regard to the management of the force to which we are asked to contribute so largely. I know that it is urged that we are going to place a, number of our own men on these vessels, and to pay them at a higher rate than is proposed to be allowed to the British sailors. But that, I think, is a blot on the agreement. Imagine two sets of men working on the same ships under the same officers–
– Not on the sameships
– They will be working for the same employer, and mixing one with the other.
– I think that is the maddest proposal to which the Admiralty has ever consented.
– I believe that it will give rise to friction and trouble. Under this agreement we shall be paying able seamen more than some of the officers over them will receive. ] Sir John Forrest. - They will be paid on shore.
– What difference will that make? Surely that fact does not alter the force of my argument.
– I do not think the honorable member’s argument is a very good one.
– My contention is that every man working on vessels iii Australian waters should receive Australian pay.
– Especially when some one else pays the money.
– I propose that we shall establish our own Australian Navy, and that we shall bear the whole burden.
– With Australian rates of pay, the British Navy would have to come down.
– Would it not be a good thing if it did, providing that the navies of other powers came down with it ? The following table shows the varying rates of pay-
Senator Matheson points out in his paper that these -
Australian rates are those actually paid to the permanent men in Victoria, while the highest British rates quoted are above anything I can find in the navy list.
It is also worth While to note the following rates in the British Navy.:-
This shows that some of the officers in these ships will receive less than will be paid to the Australian seamen under them.
– But some of them will obtain pensions.
– Then our men are to be deprived of advantages which others are to receive. Apparently, the advantages are not so great as they appear to be on the surface. I thought there was to be an allowance, in addition to everything which the British seamen receive. If that is not so, the bargain is not so good as it would appear to be at first sight.
– The honorable member is blowing hot and cold.
– I think that the right honorable gentleman is blowing hot and cold in contending that this proposal is an equitable one. The discrimination in regard to pay will be exceedingly objectionable. It must lead to endless confusion and jealousy, and it is not a system that we should desire to see established here. It constitutes one of the strongest objections to the scheme submitted by the Prime Minister. The greatest objection of all is that it proposes to bring us into line with the worst features of Imperialism without giving us any recompense. These vessels will be able to leave our waters. We sholl have no control over them. Once the men have signed on, and go on board, they will be absolutely under the control of the Admiralty. There can be no excuse for this condition of affairs .when we find that there is not an honorable member of this House who would support such a proposal in relation to our military forces. If we were to bring four or five regiments from England and allow some of our men to join them on certain conditions, so that, when war broke out, they would be absolutely out of our control, and under the direction of men far away, what would be said ? From a national point of view, this proposal is objectionable. From the point of view of discrimination in regard to payment, it is also objectionable. I think we shall best serve the Empire by protecting our own shores ; by being prepared to assist her with men in time of war ; having a careful regard for her interests at all times. I am going to follow the good example set by the right honorable gentleman who preceded me by refraining from making a lengthy speech. Like him, I do not care for the agreement, but, unlike him, I am going to vote .against it. I hope it will not be accepted.
– “We have listened with attention and pleasure to some of the speeches which have been delivered this afternoon, and more particularly to the patriotic utterance of my right honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition. I cannot say that I agree with all that he has said, but I presume it is scarcely reasonable for me to expect that I should be able to do so. We have heard some other important utterances in regard to this measure - one from the Prime Minister, in which I think he exhausted the whole of the facts concerning the agreement ; another from the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who was opposed to the” Bill ; and a third from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who seemed to be also altogether opposed to the agreement. It is gratifying that all the speakers, although they disagree in regard to some of the provisions of the Bill, have dealt with it in a manner to which I, and those who think with me, can take little exception. They recognise the obligations which rest upon us in regard to the great Empire to which we belong, and if their views are not altogether in accord with the provisions of the Bill, it is as to the manner in which assistance should be given to the mother country rather than as to the giving of’ that assistance. I could, if I desired, attempt to make some patriotic utterances upon such a splendid subject as the British Navy, and it would not be disagreeable to me to try to do so ; but I think with the leader of the Opposi tion that we have heard a good deal in regard to that side of the question, and therefore I propose, in the remarks which I shall ask honorable members to listen to, to deal with the matter, not so much on sentimental or patriotic grounds, but as a pure matter of business. I should be very glad to import patriotic sentiment into the discussion if I thought it necessary to do so, but it seems to me that the proposals to which we are asked to assent are so advantageous from a business point of view that it is not necessary, at this stage at any rate, to deal with them from any other. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in a long and carefully prepared speech, exhaustively placed his objections to the proposals before us, but to my mind the attitude he assumed towards the measure would have been more appropriate and to the point if we were an independent country rather than part of the great Empire to which we are all proud to belong. I think he forgot that if we were not part of the British Empire we should not beable to maintain anyeffective naval defence for so small a sum as £200,000 per annum. So far as I am able to judge from what is going on in other places, if we were an independent country we should have to spend at least from £750,000 to £1,000,000 a year upon naval defence alone, and even then would be in a humiliating position in regard to the great naval powers of the world. Upon a notable occasion a year ago; in an after-dinner speech, I said, speaking of this Government, that we were a curious Government, as there were too many captains in it. I might say to-day that this Parliament seems to me to also have too many captains in it. In addition te the Government captains we have our friend the captain from Bendigo, our friend the captain from Gippsland, and our friend the captain from Northern Melbourne, besides others:
– What about Admiral Watson 1
– All these extra captains at times fire shrapnels into us, and sometimes are not sufficiently careful lest they do us injury, and that if they go on as they have been doing it is just possible they may inflict a mortal wound. But we have this satisfaction : that whenever we are in dire distress through their attacks, our friends opposite take compassion upon us, and come to our rescue, and if we are not grateful for their assistance we ought to be. I should like to point out in reference to the agreement, which is a schedule to the Bill, that it has not perhaps been sufficiently pointed out that we are being asked to approve of not an altogether new agreement, but rather the continuance of an existing agreement, which is being enlarged and improved in some particulars. At the present time Australia contributes £106,000 a year for the maintenance of what is termed the
Auxiliary Squadron, while the Imperial Government, in addition, keep in commission on the Australian Station the Royal Arthur, and several smaller vessels, principally for police patrol in the Pacific Islands. It is generally acknowledged that these ships are becoming old and insufficient for the defence of Australia, but up to the present time no notice has been given to the Imperial Government - and two years’ notice is necessary - of our desire to discontinue the existing agreement. The Bill provides for a new agreement, based to some extent, but not altogether, upon the old one. Under it the Admiralty undertake to keep a certain number of ships here. One of the ships is to be manned by Australians and New Zealanders, who will receive Australian rates of pay ; and there will be three drill-ships, two for Australia and one for New Zealand, officered by the Royal Navy, but manned by Australians and New Zealanders. Employment will be found at local rates of pay for 925 Australians and New Zealanders on these ships, and 725 naval reserve men will also be trained on them in the same way as the reserves are trained in England, although the pay will be based on local naval militia rates. Altogether we shall have 1,625 officers and men instead of the 1,000 we have now in our local Naval Forces. For the maintenance of these vessels we are being asked to contribute £200,000 a year, instead of £106,000 which we pay at the present time. In addition to the naval defence under this agreement, the Government intend to provide for the harbor defence of the principal ports of Australia, immediately wherever possible, and at some later date in other cases. I was glad to hear my right honorable friend the leader of the Opposition say that he considers it a very small sum. I agree with him in wondering why the Imperial Government, which spends £35,000,000 a year upon the navy, should care at all whether we provide such a small sum or not. The amount is so insignificant in comparison with the immense cost of maintaining the Empire’s navy that one would think that the Imperial authorities would be indifferent about the matter altogether.
– It is the principle that they are concerned about. -
– No doubt that is so. The principle is a very important one, and as we. are asked to give so little, and will receive so much, it would be impossible for me, whatever position I occupied in this
House, to do otherwise than support theproposal. I could not help thinking, when listening to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that the views he uttered were intended more for historical record, than for immediate use. I do not think it advisable that we should have an Australian Navy, and although it may come in the future, I do not desire that it should come in my time. But should its establishment be ever proposed, in time to come, thehonorable and learned member’s speech will be looked up, and the sentiments he hasexpressed will find ready acquiescence from those who then put forward the proposal. I could not help thinking, however, that, as applied to our present conditions, his speech was in many respects not to the point. It must not be forgotten that in contributing £200,000 towards the Empire’s navy we are, as my right honorable friend theleader of the Opposition said, becoming a junior partner in it, and that we have the protection of the navy which costs the people of the mother country £35,000,000 per annum. The minute which I wrote some time ago has been referred to by my right honorable friend the leader of the Opposition, and I shall have something to say later on with “regard to hissneers at my suggestion that if the plan of contribution therein suggested wereadopted, the “dominions beyond the seas” would require to have some representation at the Admiralty in time of peace at any rate. I think that a great deal too much has been, made of the question of our not having control over the movements of the vessels forming the Australian squadron. Article 2 of the new agreement 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, as 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 and New Zealand.
The concluding words have not been sufficiently referred to by the opponents of the agreement. It is clear that the vessels are tobe used in those places in which they can “ most effectively act against hostile vessels which threaten the trade or interests of Australia or New Zealand.” Surely these wordsmean something. They are not put in as mere surplusage. Although it is claimed that control, in time of war, should rest with the Admiral in command of the squadron, the provision to that effect must be read in the light of the special words I have referred to. The article previously quoted also provides that -
No change in this arrangement shall be made without the consent of the Governments of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand ; and nothing in the 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.
Those who are opposed to the agreement ignore these words or say that they mean nothing, but this I deny, and I consider that they are very important, because they show the intention, on the part of the Admiralty, that the squadron should be utilized in the way that is best for the protection of Australian trade and interests. It is specially indicated that either in time- of peace or war, a very much larger force might be kept here, if it were considered desirable or necessary. There is another very important item in this agreement which marks the great difference between it and that which is now in force. It is provided that all the ships shall be sea-going ships of war, and that they shall “from time to time, throughout the terms of the agreement, be of modern type, except those used as drill-ships.” That shows that the vessels of the squadron are not, as in the past, to be permitted to become obsolete. If we were to buy ships for ourselves we should be called upon, as soon as they became obsolete, to buy others; but the Imperial Government have taken upon themselves the full responsibility of keeping the proposed squadron up to date.
– Is not that provided for in the present agreement 1 The Royal Arthur was brought out to replace the Orlando.
– No; there is nothing in the old agreement with regard to replacing the ships of the auxiliary squadron as they become obsolete. The Admiralty agreed to keep here their own ships already on the station, or ships equal to them ; and it was under that arrangement that the Royal Arthur was brought out here. But there was no provision that the ships of the Auxiliary Squadron should be replaced, and, as a matter -of fact, they are becoming obsolete at the present ‘time. Of course, we should all like to have a word to -say with regard to the movements of the ships of the squadron in time of war. We should like to have something to say regarding the protection of Australia within and without at all times ; but we must look at this question in a reasonable way. We contribute to only a small extent towards the cost of this immense naval force, and yet I think we may fairly assume that, as in the past, our wishes will be respected. We have never yet had our wishes disregarded, and, I think, we are still less likely to have them ignored in the future. There is not a matter of importance affecting the “ dominions beyond the seas,” of which we form one of the principal parts, in which our wishes are not consulted and heeded. So that we have nothing to fear in that respect. The Admiralty make a great point of the necessity of having absolute control over the squadron, and they attach much more importance than I do to that provision in the’ agreement. Personally I do not really think that there is any great value in the provision in the present agreement under which the vessels of the Australian Squadron cannot be removed beyond certain limits without our consent. Leave to remove ships as might be required to meet the requirements of the Empire has never and would never be refused by any patriotic and selfrespecting Government. There has always been a desire on the part of the Admiralty for exclusive control, whether they require to exercise it or not. Honorable members will notice that the necessity for having a single navy under one authority is mentioned in the preamble of the agreement. But, for the reasons I have already stated, I personally think but little of the provision, and its principal use is that it is a good peg upon which our opponents may hang an argument. I do not think it is necessary to deal with the question of our abstaining altogether from contributing toward the. navy of the Empire. No one in this House would, I feel sure, suggest that we should take up that attitude, and honorable members who have already spoken differ only as to the best way of assisting the mother country in her great obligations inconnexion with the defence of the Empire. There are only two methods open to us, namely, the establishment of an Australian Navy or that proposed, viz., a modification or re-adjustment of the existing agreement system. Upon the question of establishing an Australian Navy, I desire to point out that provision is made under the new agreement for a squadron which will cost £2,500,000 ; and although that expenditure may suffice, in view of the surrounding circumstances, it would not be sufficient if we were to set up a navy of our own. The maintenance of this squadron will cost, in round figures, £500,000 a year, towards which Australia would contribute £200,000, and New Zealand £40,000, the remainder being provided by the Imperial Government. My right honorable friend the leader of the Opposition has referred to my minute on Naval Defence of 15th of March, 1902, which I wrote for the consideration of the Prime Minister and my colleagues, and which afterwards formed one of the confidential papers presented to the Conference in London. I desire to say that although I sent a copy to every one of my colleagues at the same time that I handed the original to the Prime Minister, the minute never came up for discussion, and was, therefore, never adopted by the Cabinet. It represented my views at that time, and I have seen no reason for departing from them. I am glad to say that the views expressed in the minute are mine to-day, and I hope I shall be able to adhere to them for many years to come. Not only do I hold those views as strongly as ever, but it is satisfactory to know that my opinions are shared by many eminent men who have a large and life-long experience of the subject.
– It sounds like an Admiralty minute : it is splendid.
– In that minute I dealt. with the proposal for the establishment of an Australian Navy, and I think I put the case very fairly. I said that “ the small squadron proposed by Admiral Beaumont, of two first class and six second class cruisers, together with depots and stores, would probably cost £3,600,000,” and that if this squadron “ were fully manned and equipped in a way that would enable it to engage successfully the first-class cruisers of the enemy,” its maintenance “would probably amount to £1,000,000 a year, including interest at 5 per cent, on the capital cost.” I went on to say -
It has been proposed, and the plan is much favoured b3’ some, that during time of peace a squadron thus organized should only be manned with sufficient men to maintain the .ships in working efficiency, and should be wholly employed in training the naval militia, and that in time of war it should be fully manned by such naval militia collected from the several parts of the Commonwealth.
To this I appended .Admiral Beaumont’s opinion that -
A squadron thus mobilized and manned would not be able to meet on equal terms the powerful cruisers, with highly trained crews, that would be certain to be used against us, and that “ for the present the safety and welfare of the Commonwealth require that the naval force in Australian waters should be a sea-going fleet of modern ships, fully equipped, fully manned with trained crews, homogeneous as to type and personnel, and under one command.”
I then proceeded in my minute to say -
I am not prepared to recommend, under existing conditions, the establishment of an Australian Navy. Even if it were established, I am afraid it would not be very efficient, for besides the enormous cost of replacing the fleet from time to time with more modern ships, there would be no change for the officers and crews, who would go on, year after 3’ear, in the same ships, subject to the same influences, and. I fear, with deteriorating effects.
That is the opinion which I formed then, and which I still hold. I am very slow to arrive*at a conclusion, but, when once I have formed an opinion, I am glad to say, I do not very readily alter it. In regard to this agreement I desire to point out that I am not the spendthrift which I have recently been represented to be. I have been held up to the public of Australia by a section of the Press as one who says - “What is £1,000,000, and what “are£5,000,000? They arenothing at all.” Of course, such reflections constitute an absolute libel upon me, because the very nature of my early training could- not fail to teach me to be the reverse of thriftless, at any rate, not to be wasteful of money. Extravagant desires are altogether foreign to my natural instincts. Upon this occasion I am not opposed to the “Kyabram movement.” It is rather the honorable and learned member for Bendigo who is opposed to that movement and its motto “economy.”’ If I can save the Commonwealth from £300,000 to £800,000 a year by making this arrangement with the Imperial authorities for an adequate naval defenceof Australia, I cannot surely be regarded,, on this occasion at any rate, as a spend-‘ thrift. It is the honorable and learned’ member for Bendigo who has deserted “Kyabram” and “economy.” He is desirous of having a local Australian Navy,, which will cost at least £500,000 annually,, instead of entering into this agreement,, and receive a more efficient service for- £200,000 a year. Is he,-as representingthe city of Bendigo, prepared to advocate an expenditure of £500,000 per annum for this purpose? I claim that the maintenance of a small Australian Navy, such as is contemplated in the minute, to which reference has been made, would cost £1,000,000 a year at least. I desire to have the service of a navy which will be efficient. I wish to effect a saving of £300,000 a year for certain, equal to £3,000,000 in the ten years, and possibly of £800,000 a year, or of £8,000,000 in the ten years ; double the amount that would be involved in constructing a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, ls it wiser for us to accept this agreement and spend £200,000 a year, or to establish a navy of our own, and annually expend upon it from £500,000 to £1,000,000 a year? We should have no hesitation in adopting the former course, thereby effecting the saving of an amount in ten years sufficient to pay for the construction of a railway to Western Australia. Under this Bill, I claim that we shall secure greater efficiency than we have yet obtained for all the money which has been spent upon Australian naval defence. But because I confess that our local naval force is inefficient, I cannot allow the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to declare that I have reflected in any way upon the personnel of that service. We have as good men in Australia as can be obtained anywhere, but we have no ships upon which they can be either trained or on which they can face the enemy. By adopting the new agreement, we shall insure a sound training for all our Australian reserves. We shall provide good employment for about 900 men on the second-class cruisers and training ships at Australian rates of pay, and 725 officers and men will be trained as reserves, and be paid local naval militia rates. These men will be recruited from the naval brigades, and if sufficient are not forthcoming from that source, they will be obtained from volunteers. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo stated that, under this agreement, we shall part with £2,000,000 of “good Australian money.” That expression leads me to wonder whether our money is better than that of anybody else. It reminds me of the man who says “ golden sovereigns “ when he wishes to enhance the apparent value of those coins. The honorable and learned member declared that under the agreement, we would part with £2,000,000 of “ good Australian money “ within the next ten years, and that we should at the end of that period have nothing to show for it. My answer to that objection is that we cannot have our cake and eat it, too. Indeed such an argument is one of the most foolish that I have ever heard addressed to a deliberative body.
– I do not think that he used those words.
– Oh, yes, he did. I took them down at the time. I repeat that the argument is not a fair one. When I look round this Chamber I see some gentlemen who have probably spent many thousands of pounds upon insurance. What have they to show for that expenditure? They have had their goods, and they have enjoyed a certain amount of security. When an individual has received for his outlay everything that he expected to obtain, and everything which the party with whom he is doing business contracted to give him, I hold that he should be satisfied. To complain that he has nothing to show for his expenditure is absolutely childish.
– O - Only a Government supporter would use such an argument.
– Take the railways which are all over this country as an illustration. Those works have been built by borrowed money, and have cost a couple of hundred million pounds, and we have to pa)T a large sum annually for interest. If we travel to Bendigo and back we have to pay for the use of the railway. What do we get for our expenditure? When we have safely returned, we have nothing to show for it. Indeed we have to pay toll upon the railways, in the nature of interest, and afterwards to repay the principal. Even after the money absorbed in such public undertakings has been repaid, the works themselves wear out and require to be renewed. They become in time absolutely worthless. When a railway has become worn out, what have the people to show for the expenditure ? The honorable and learned ‘member for Bendigo ought not to make use of such arguments. It is the business of life to make a bargain, to obtain consideration, and to pay for that consideration. I have seen the same argument used by a leading journal of this country, altogether oblivious of the experience of our daily lives both in our private and public capacities. Surely if there were any wisdom underlying such an argument,, the taxpayers of England who annually have to provide £35,000,000 for naval purposes, might more fitly ask, “What have we to show for our enormous expenditure?” I am afraid that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and many other Australians who enjoy the many blessings and advantages of peace and security, and who are happy in their immunity from attack, are too apt in dealing with this great national question to - . . take the rustic murmur of their bourg For the great wave that echoes round the world.
I should like to emphasize the exception which I take to the views of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in his references to the British Navy. He referred to it as if it were something altogether apart from us ; as if, because our fathers years ago crossed the seas and founded this country, we were no longer British people, and had no pride or interest in the British Navy. He seemed to disregard the fact that we have had the protection of the British Navy from the day Australia became a British country. AVe have, I believe, always viewed the British Navy as our own. We have, I believe, always considered that we have as much right to its protection and to the force of its authority when we require it, as has any man who lives within the sound of Bow Bells; and this, strange to say, although we have not been a contributor to its maintenance. Although we now make only a very small contribution towards its upkeep, we receive as much from the British Navy as do the taxpayers at home. It . gives us- security ; it guards our lives and our property. What more does it do for those who pay for it? It is as much the navy of the people of Australia as it is the navy of the British taxpayer. The only difference is that we secure all the benefits to be derived from it for next to nothing, while those who pay for it obtain no additional advantage. When we consider these matters fairly, I am sure that we shall take a wider view of our responsibilities, and advantages, and will willingly consent to do something to show that we fully recognise our obligations. When we have given these considerations the attention they deserve, I am sure that we shall feel proud to share - even although to a limited extent - the great burden which falls upon our countrymen at home. We shall be glad to share that burden, and to feel that we are not receiving everything and giving nothing in return. It was quite refreshing to listen to the remarks made by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who showed to-day a total disregard of monetary .considerations.
– He is not here.
– I am sorry that he is not present. As one who has found so many honorable members anxious to prevent the Commonwealth from spending anything however necessary or useful, and inclined to look upon a five-pound note as if it were £5,000 - a disposition which has been bearing me down ever since I entered this House - I felt that it was quite refreshing to listen to the remarks made by the honorable and learned member. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo said that he did not regard this question from a monetary point of view ; but viewed it from a patriotic stand-point. I think, however, that this matter may well receive the benefit of being dealt with from a purely monetary point of view. What do we find ? We find that New Zealand, Cape Colony, and Natal are all united in this matter, and that, subject to the approval of this Parliament, the Prime Minister has agreed that the Commonwealth shall join with them in assisting, in a small degree, in the naval defence of the Empire. The amount proposed to be expended in this way, however, will not be lost to us. As the result of the adoption of this agreement, a sum considerably in excess of £200,000 a year will be expended in Australia. Not one shilling of the amount proposed to be contributed under this agreement will be carried beyond the bounds of Australia. Out of the total sum of £500,000 to be expended upon the fleet, quite £300,000 per annum -will be expended in Australia. Thus, it will be seen that, even from a business point of view, the arrangement will not be an undesirable one. Some people refer to this proposed contribution as if the money were to be thrown into the sea. On the contrary, however, it will be expended in the employment of our own people, and the producers of the country will have the advantage of it. Thus, even -from a monetary point of view, it will be a good investment. The honorable and learned member also said .that this proposal disclosed a reversal of the policy which the Admiralty had pursued for 40 years. If it does it serves to show that changes are going on, and it may be that we are becoming wiser as we grow older. It indicates, also, that what was good enough 40 years ago is not considered to be so advantageous now. Other nations are coming into prominence, and although the statement made by my right honorable, friend the leader of the Opposition is very encouraging, we have still to remember that combinations on the part of other Powers may take place. The great countries of Europe - Russia, Germany, and Prance - do not always look with a kindly eye upon the aspirations of our race, arid we do not know what combinations may be brought about. Thus it does not seem to me that there is much in the argument put forward by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I should like to ask him whether he would be prepared to advocate in this House a policy which would cost this country at the present time £500,000 a year t In carrying out his proposal for an Australian naval force, he would begin with one ship, and I believe he would borrow that one.
– We should have to borrow the money for it.
– He would request the loan of a ship from the British Government, and we should really go on as we have been doing in the past. What have we done in regard to the naval defence of Australia? At present we have 169 permanent officers and men in the naval defence force of Australia, and 1,079 naval militia. That represents the whole strength of our forces.
– Their numbers have been cut down.
– Who cut them down?
– I am afraid the present Minister for Defence did so.
– The Common- * wealth does not own a ship that could meet a foe at sea. This is all we can show, notwithstanding all that has been said about what we ought to do. It is strange that we have not done something in the p&t.
– We have been subsidizing the auxiliary squadron.
– The total contribution under the old agreement was £106,000 per annum. At the present time we are spending some £43,000 on the local naval defence forces of Australia.
– The annual expenditure was £65,000 until it was cut down by the Minister.
– That is not the case. What was the state of the naval forces of Victoria when we took them over in March, 1901 1 Their numbers had dwindled down to next to nothing. The reason for that reduction was the cry of economy. Public men in Victoria have said to me, “ If I had my way I should remove these local forces altogether.” Honorable members of this House did not have much hesitation iri cutting down either the naval or military votes last year and the year before, and the forces found but few to say a good word for them. At present we have in Victoria the Cerberus and two good torpedo boats, in addition to two others that are useless. The Cerberus is armed with old obsolete guns, and in her present condition is next to useless. She would be of no value for defence purposes, unless some small vessel happened to enter Hobson’s Bay. The Victorian contribution to the local naval forces amounted to about £19,000 a year, and the force consists of 1 1 9 naval militia and 105 permanent men, or a total of 224; but,, as I said before, we have not a vessel with which to meet a foe outside Port Phillip Heads. This is the position in which Victoria finds itself after many years, and. after spending hundreds of thousands on naval defence. At one time Victoria owned two gun-boats. They were sold, however, and I believe their guns are stored away.. This shows that prior to the establishmentof the Commonwealth the people of Victoria had given up any idea of having an. efficient local naval force in this State. As a matter of fact, I purchased one of the gunboats in question for the purposes of the Western Australian Government. For some reason of their own, the people of Victoria were content that there should be an annual expenditure pf over £20,000 on their naval forces, knowing at the same timethat there was no real efficiency. Why did. the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, as a member of the State Parliament, agree to this expenditure when he knew there wasno efficiency ?
– I am sorry to say that I could not prevent it. I desired that there should be a larger expenditure and greater efficiency.
– Why all thistalk on the part of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo about what we ought to do 1 He has been a public man in Victoria for years, but all that Victoria has to show for an immense expenditure on its naval forces is a ruin, or something akin toit. There is certainly no real efficiency.
– The gun-boat that we sold to the Western Australian Government would not sink a bark canoe!
– She was employed by the Western Australian Government as a tug-boat. The reason why there is no adequate naval defence in Australia - and I express this opinion in the presence of my right honorable friend the leader of the Opposition, who is as familiar with the public affairs of Australia as is any one in the Commonwealth - is not that the people do not desire it, but because they .ire not desirous of expending large sums of money in that direction at tho present time. That being so, they should certainly support this Bill, for under it they will be able to secure sound and efficient defence at a trifling cost. Honorable members should not make speeches about what we ought to do when they are unwilling to assist us in doing it. I do not believe that the people of Australia are prepared to expend even £500,000, a year upon naval defence at the present time, if it can be in any way avoided, and especially if a more efficient service can be obtained for £200,000. The people of Australia have so many things to do on this vast continent, and so many obligations to meet, that they have awakened to the desirability of economy, and I believe that if they could directly express their opinion, they would sa,y that they prefer “this agreement, entailing an expenditure of £200,000 a year, to any arrangement which would cost twice or three times as much. In my opinion, it meets the present condition of our affairs, and provides the most economical means for obtaining efficient naval defence. It is interesting to compare the naval and military expenditure of other countries whose populations- and whose revenue is somewhat similar to our own, with our expenditure .under that head. The Argentine Republic is such a country, and I find that it expends £807,000 a year on naval defence and £1,313,000 on military defence, or £2,120,000 altogether. Belgium, whose position is also in the respect I have named similar to our -own, spends about £2,210,000 a year upon her defences, and Portugal spends £723,000 -a year upon her naval defences, and £1,422,000 on her military defences, or £2,145,000 per annum altogether. Each -of those countries spends more than £2,000,000 per. annum upon its defences, whereas our total defence expenditure, both naval and military, is only about £750,000. It must not be forgotten, too, that the rate of wages is much higher in Australia than in the countries I have named. Surely these facts show that the agreement is a good one for us and that its adoption will be a good business transaction, and will secure both economy and efficiency. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo expressed some regret that the Prime Minister had signed the agreement. in London before the sanction of this Parliament had been obtained. I do not think that my right honorable colleague looks to me to defend him, because he is much better able to do that himself, but I should like to say one or two words in reply to the criticism of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. In the first place, the Prime Minister signed the agreement subject to the approval of Parliament, and, in .the next place, he knew, or, at any rate, had a good idea as to the views of honorable members and of the public on the subject, and believed that his action would meet with the approval of the country. Personally, I should have liked to see the contribution made larger, so that we might have got a still stronger fleet, but my right honorable friend, who had a great responsibility resting upon him, was rightly very anxious not to do anything which would not commend itself to Parliament. He knew to some extent the views of the leader of the Opposition, and of the honorable member for Bland, who leads another party in this House, and he knew the views of many honorable members who had expressed themselves in no uncertain terms in regard to naval defence when the Defence Bill was under ‘ discussion last session. I do not wish to unduly tie honorable members down to what they said then, but I shall quote a few of their remarks to show that the Prime Minister had good reason for thinking that he knew the feeling of the House upon the subject. Nineteen honorable members spoke about naval defence on the second reading of the Defence Bill, and fifteen of them were in favour of increasing the naval contribution instead of having a local navy. The honorable member for South Sydney said -
I am sorry that in connexion with this question of naval defence, I am not in accord with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I do not think that we can do much better than we are doing. We have not the means to create a navy, or train up a body of men in ships com” missioned for fighting. All that we can do is to carry on the present system.
The honorable member for Dalley said -
I do not agree with the honorable member for Bendigo, that the Commonwealth can establish a navy. My vote will be in the direction of extending and enlarging the arrangement with the Imperial Government to provide an auxiliary squadron.
The honorable member for Wannon said -
I cannot help considering that it is a shame for us to contribute so little as we do to the defence of the Empire.
The honorable member for Bland said - ….. All th is emphasizes the fact we cannot have anything like an Australian Navy without incurring an expenditure that we dare not face, and it is, therefore, of no use for us to discuss a question of this kind at the present stage. I am quite prepared to admit that as far as outside defence, and the protection of our commerce is concerned, we ought to be prepared to make some contribution towards the maintenance of something like an efficient British fleet. We make a contribution now, but I am afraid that the vessels that are here under the auxiliary squadron agreement are fast becoming obsolete, and that even the guns with which they are armed, are not of sufficiently new design to be effective on active service.
The honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, said -
I quite agree with those honorable members who point out the impossibility of our having a fleet. . . . Nor do I think we can do what the honorable member for Bendigo suggested, if I understand him aright - namely, establish naval stations or bases at different points.
The honorable member for Gippsland said - I fear that the great cost of a navy is beyond our resources at the present time. But I think that we might make a satisfactory arrangement with the mother country by giving a larger subsidy, or, perhaps, by providing a portion of the men.
The honorable, learned, and gallant member for Corinella said -
I agree with the honorable member for Gippsland that it would probably be money well spent if we were to increase our contribution towards the maintenance of the Australian squadron.
The honorable member for Kooyong said -
It has been stated that the Bill makes no provision for naval defence. I am perfectly satisfied that the more honorable members consider the enormous expense which would be necessary to create a fleet at all adequate to our requirements of coastal defence, the more they will be inclined to agree that the Minister has acted wisely in deciding that for many a long year to come we must depend upon the mother country to assist us. I think, however, that the time is not far distant when it will be necessary for us to contribute more than we are now paying for the protection which we receive from the mother country.
The honorable member for Corangamite said -
We have in the. past contributed a certain amount of money to the British Government towards the maintenance of certain war vessels on the Australian station, but I believe we shall, in a short time, have to increase that subsidy.
The honorable member for New England said -
The idea is abroad that we should construct a navy, and if we are to construct it, we should certainly control it. However, what I wish to say is that, whilst I am opposed to the construction of a purely Australian Navy, at Australian expense and to be under Australian control, I trust the Government will ask the Parliament to rise to a proper conception of its responsibility and vote an adequate sum towards the support of the British Navy.
The honorable member for Parramatta said -
We may. take it that the Bill does not contemplate the immediate establishment of a naval force of any description, and I do not go with those honorable members who think that we ought not to have any navy at all, unless we can set up one of our own. It seems ridiculous to argue that, because we cannot run ships of our own, we should not have any at all. I believe that the ships provided for us by the Home Government are furnished at a ridiculously cheap rate, and that we ought to be grateful for them.
The honorable member for Flinders said -
It seems to me that a navy is our natural means of defence. . . . We cannot attempt, at least for many years to come, to either build or buy a navy. . . . Therefore, our proper course would be, if possible, to continue some such arrangement as we now have with Great Britain. I think we might very easily arrange with the mother country to provide us with better ships, more heavily armed, and swifter, without having to pay a yearly sum in excess of what it would cost us to maintain a navy of our own.
The honorable member for Fremantle said -
With regard to the establishment of a Commonwealth Navy, I think that any proposal of the kind would be absurd. . . . The present arrangements for naval defence are very good.
The honorable member for Oxley said -
For some years to come it would be wise for us to leave ourselves in the hands of Great Britain, so far as naval defence is concerned, instead of plunging the country into an outlay of many millions of money. We are at present contributing £126,000 per year towards the Australian auxiliary squadron, and it would be butter, even if we doubled this amount, to continue under the protection of the British Navy.
The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, said -
So far as naval defence is concerned, I consider that it is beyond us altogether to raise a fleet. One honorable member suggested that we should start by building one man-of-war, which would probably run us into an expenditure of -£1,250,000, but if we were to adopt that course our first ship would probably be obsolete before we could construct a second one.
Those were the sentiments expressed by honorable members, and those were the words that my right honorable colleague, the Prime Minister, carried in his mind to England, and I think that he was fully justified in corning to the conclusion that a proposal which contains far better conditions than those embodied in the existing agreement would prove acceptable to Parliament and to the Australian people. He had, I think, good reason for thinking that he could with a light heart conclude such an economical arrangement, and to feel that he had done well for Australia. A great deal has been said wi th regard to the way in which the Imperial Government would viewthecreation of a local Australian fleet. I do not speak with any authority, but, after having had something to do with public men in the old country, I do not think there would be the slightest objection to our having a fleet of our own, and I never heard one word of objection urged against it. We are endeavouring to enter into a partnership with the Imperial Government, under which we are to contribute a small amount which will represent about one-half of the direct burden, and but a very small part of the indirect burden which the British taxpayer has to bear on our behalf. The Australian squadron will cost about £500,000 a year ; towards which we shall contribute £200,000; but the total cost of the British fleet, which is available for our protection as well as for that of all other parts of the Empire, involves an annual outlay of £35,000,000. We are not in a position, or, at any rate, are not desirous of, providing a fleet of our own at present, and therefore we cannot do better than enter into an arrangement which offers us such great advantages as that which is now submitted. Coming back to the question of control, I may point out that we are small partners in the Empire’s Navy, and I do not think that it would be fair for us to expect to have sole control over the Australian portion of it. That would be unreasonable, and I feel sure that honorable members will come to the conclusion that we should be content with the conditions set forth in the agreement. We are a free people, under a free form of government, and there is no hoop binding us to the
Empire except the crimson thread of kinship. We are united to the Empire only by good-will and the ties of blood, and I do not see that there is any reason to cavil at the terms of the agreement in this Bill. I desire to say a few words with regard to what I may call the contemptuous sneers of my right honorable and learned friend the leader of the Opposition in reference to a part of my minute to the Prime Minister on Naval Defence’ of the 15th March, 1902. My right honorable friend seems to think that my ideas as to the “ dominions beyond the seas “ being in the future adequately represented at the Admiralty, were not practical ; in fact, he said that they were absolutely silly. I may tell him, however, that I am perfectly satisfied with what I wrote in that minute. I pointed out in paragraph 18 that -
Our aim and object should be to make the Royal Navy the Empire’s navy, supported by the whole of the self-governing portions of the Empire, and not solely supported by the people of the British Isles, as is practically the case at the present time. It is, I think, our plain duty to take a part in the additional obligations cost upon the mother country by the expansion of the Empire, and the extra burdens cast upon her in maintaining our naval supremacy. “Our” naval supremacy, remember, not “theirs” only ! For I hold that the naval supremacy of the Empire is as absolutely necessary to us as it is to the people of the mother land. I then went on to say -
If a proposal were adopted that the Empire should have one fleet maintained by the whole nation, every part contributing to its support on some plan to be mutually arranged, probably on that of the comparative trade of each country, and not necessarily on an uniform basis of contribution, what a splendid idea would be consummated, and what a bulwark for peace throughout the world would be established. Besides which, we should be doing our duty to the mother country, which has been so generous to us during all our early years.
If the Federations of Canada and Australia and the colonies of South Africa and New Zealand were to agree to this great principle of one fleet for the Empire’s naval defence, then the question of contributions and all other matters connected with it could be afterwards arranged by mutual agreement. I. cannot think that for Canada and Australia to each have a few war-ships, and the Cape and New Zealand a few also each independent of the other, is a plan suited to Empire ; such a plan would seem to be in accord with the actions and sentiments of a number of petty States, rather than in accord with the necessities and aspirations of a great, free, united people.
If such a plan can be brought about, it would be necessary for the “ British Dominions beyond the seas” to be adequately represented at the Admiralty, and I feel sure this could be arranged on a mutually satisfactory basis. In time of war there could not be any division of responsibility, and, until a more extended federation of the Empire is established, that responsibility would have to rest upon the Imperial Government.
I do’ not believe that in the future the people inhabiting the “dominions beyond the seas” would be likely to be for long content to contribute largely towards the naval power of the Empire unless they had some voice in its administration. I do not consider the small contribution we are now proposing to make comes within the category, but as the British people beyond the seas increase in numbers, and as their population more closely approaches that of the motherland, is it reasonable to suppose that they will be content to intrust to the people of the United Kingdom the sole control of the Empire, and to place their destinies without demur in their hands 1 My idea is that, as we grow in power and in numbers, the time will come, although perhaps not in my day, when some plan will have to be devised under which the people of the “dominions beyond the seas” will be required to bear a portion of the burden of empire, and will have representation in the councils of the nation. Otherwise we might find our ports blockaded and our homes made desolate as the result of quarrels in which we had taken no part. Notwithstanding the sneers of my right honorable friend the leader of the Opposition, the day must come when we shall increase in numbers and in power and influence, and when it will be impossible for the Empire to hold together unless some steps are taken in the direction I have indicated. I have spoken about adequate representation at the Admiralty, and I do not see any reason why we should not in the future have some representation on that body, in time of peace at any rate. We should not exercise any dominating influence, and our representation might be even limited to matters in which we were specially interested. I do not speak with any authority, but I do not think any objection could be raised to our being represented, or at any rate consulted, in regard to matters affecting Australian interests. When we consider that the Commonwealth has only recently been inaugurated, I hold that, in regard to large schemes for local naval defence, we can well afford to hasten slowly. If we adopt the agreement which forms the subject of this Bill, we shall at least obtain some breathing time. At the end of the currency of that agreement I have no doubt that the condition of affairs will be very different from what it is now. We shall have settled down to our Federal work, and the legislative machine will be running smoothly. The experience of Canada will probably have been repeated. In the Dominion to-day the people are proud of their federation, and the idea that it might have been better for the provinces not to have entered into federal union has passed away. History will, doubtless, repeat itself here. Further, the Braddon clause, which some people do not like, but which, I think, is an excellent provision - at any rate, for the State I represent - will have ceased to be operative. We shall thus be in a position to consider what is the wisest course to adopt. If Parliament, in its wisdom, then thinks that we ought to establish an Australian Navy there will be nothing to prevent it from adopting that course. Personally, I am opposed to such a scheme, because I think we shall be able to do better by making fresh arrangements - perhaps upon different terms from those contained in this agreement - although still continuing a partnership which, I think, is good, and can be enlarged. My idea is that by so doing we shall secure a more efficient and more economical service. The agreement contained in this Bill is merely intended to meet existing conditions, and at the end of its currency the House will have full control over the whole matter. At the expiration of that period we shall have as a. result of this agreement at least 2,000 thoroughly trained naval men in Australia. The movement in favour of economy known as the “Kyabram movement,” will then have finished its labours, and honorable members will be able to deal with the question without fear of being branded as either wasteful or extravagant. I have previously pointed out that the agreement does not interfere with local defences. If it is deemed desirable to have an extended system of naval militia there is nothing to prevent its being adopted.
– Will the Government provide such a system 1
– We propose to continue and improve our local harbor defences. W e expect that under this agreement a good many of our local naval militia will be absorbed, and that the rest will be available for harbor defences.
– What about the naval brigade ?
– I do not thinkthat .any injury will be done to them under this agreement. At Sydney and Queenscliff the work of submarine mining is under the control of the military, and I have been advised that it might very well form portion of the duties of our harbor defence force. . The Government desire to conserve the interests of those who are enrolled in the existing local naval forces to the utmost of their power, and we shall keep -a watchful eye upon them. In conclusion I have very much pleasure in urging honorable members to accept this agreement. I hope that we shall not forget that the British navy is the heritage of us all; that to it, through the centuries that are passed, just as to-day, we owe our position as a great nation, and that, as in the past, go where we, will throughout the world, our lives and property are secure and in specially safe keeping, whilst the flag of our country is everywhere in evidence, ready, willing, and able to protect us.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I am a great admirer of the Minister for Defence. I like to hear him when he is right, and when he is wrong ; but on the whole I prefer to hear him when he- is wrong, because then he speaks from the pure heart absolutely, and his heart is very good. I sympathize strongly with him in his desire to show that we are grateful for the protection and liberty which are accorded to us by the old country. I yield to no one in acknowledging that we obtain invaluable privileges from that connexion. Upon this occasion I am very sorry that I am again in opposition to a Ministry which I support. On this particular question, however, I speak with diffidence, because I possess no knowledge and no experience, and what can I do under the circumstances? I suppose the only course open to me is to lean upon experts.
– Does not the honorable and learned member sympathize with us in dealing with legal matters ?
– The honorable member needs no sympathy. He is quite competent to deal equally well with law or illegality. After all, what is the substance of the agreement that we are asked to affirm? It is an agreement which recites very excellent things about the importance of the sea and the navy, together, with the advantage which will be derived by developing the sea power of Australia and New Zealand. I confess that I cannot see how it is to develop that power. Then it is proposed that, in place of having an Imperial Squadron confined to Australian waters unless removed with the consent of the Australian Governments, there shall be a squadron whose sphere of operations shall extend from the Mauritius and Madagascar on the west, to beyond New Caledonia on the east, and from Calcutta on the north to the Antartic regions on the south. As the Minister for Defence has spoken so strongly about the necessity for providing an effective defence, I desire to know from him what greater security is conferred by this agreement than is conferred by the existing one? In time of war this squadron is to be at liberty to go wherever it desires, and the Commonwealth Government cannot say it “nay.” It may go to any spot where it thinks the enemy is likely to be found, for the purpose of crushing him if it can. Thus, in time of war, we shall npt have any distinctive protection for our floating trade upon the narrow route which vessels follow round our coast by Cape Leuwin, and inside the Coral reefs northward. There is nothing to insure that in our big cities, which are coastal cities, we shall not be thrown into the most horrid panics, that business will not be interrupted and confidence destroyed at the very time when it is most needed. In times of peace we shall have the advantage of a number of pleasant young fellows who, in good uniforms, will adorn the ball-rooms. But we want something more than that for our contribution of £200,000, which we can ill spare. What I chiefly desire to ascertain is where the Minister for Defence expects us to derive superior efficiency under this agreement. In looking through the papers relating to the conference of last year, I find that the First Lord of the Admiralty and others - and the Minister for Defence himself - sneered at the idea of a local defence. I find that the First Lord of the Admiralty, Earl Selborne, puts his position in as plain language as one can desire. He said -
To-day I will merely endeavour to lay emphasis on two points which are contained within this memorandum. The first on which I would lay the greatest possible stress is, the reason why we have eliminated from this memorandum any allusion to the word “ defence.” There was a time in this country, not so very long ago either, when naval strategists regarded the naval problem mainly from the point of view of defence. That, I submit, is altogether heretical. The real problem which this Empire has to face in the case of a naval war is simply and absolutely to find out where the ships of the enemy are, to concentrate the greatest possible force where those ships are, and to destroy those ships.
He scorns the idea of a navy for defence purposes, and lie is not alone in that respect. I find that in the Admiralty memorandum, submitted to the Prime Minister and the Minister foi- Defence, the following words occur : -
In the foregoing remarks the word defence does not appear, it is omitted advisedly, because the primary object of the British Navy is not to defend anything, but to attack the fleets of the enemy, and, by defeating them, to afford protection to British Dominions, shipping, and commerce. This is the ultimate aim.
To use the word defence would be misleading, because the word carries with it the idea of a thing to be defended, which would divert attention to local defence instead of fixing it on the force from which attack is to be expected.
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.
We have heard and read many platitudes with regard to the importance of concentration, and as to offensive tactics being the best to crush an enemy. No one impeaches the judgment and experience of those who have said that offensive tactics are the best to pursue, especially in relation to the operations of the navy. No one denies the advantage of superiority in vessels and guns at the critical point in time of war. But the point is that under the Constitution the only purpose to which this Parliament can allow money to be used in this direction is that of “defence.” The very office which the Minister holds is that of Minister for “ Defence ;” and I may say that I have very grave doubts as to whether this proposal to give money for offensive purposes - distinctly and avowedly offensive purposes, in all parts of the world - is within our Constitution.
– In all parts of the world?
– From Mauritius to the Gilbert Islands, and from Calcutta to the Antarctic regions. Surely that is wide en ou gil ?
– For the defence of Australia.
– No-; to protect the “interests” of Australia. That is a very different thing from “ defending “ Australia. Any one may argue that we have interests in the export of horses to India, olof wool to China. Any one may say that we have an interest in obtaining machinery from America. But that does not come within the powers of the Australian Parliament. Section 119 of the Constitution provides that -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion, and, on the application of the Executive Government of a State, against domestic violence.
So far, so good. But if honorable members will turn to section 51, they will see that we have power to make laws, not even for the laudable purpose of assisting the Empire in a just war, but for the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States, and the control of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth.
I would ask the Minister for Defence under which of these powers he places this agreement? _
– The honorable and learned member should read Article 2 of the agreement.
– But under which section of the Constitution does the right honorable gentleman place Article 2 1
– Under every one of them.
– Then perhaps it comes under section 1 1 3 -
All fermented, distilled, or other intoxicating liquids passing into any State or remaining therein for use, consumption, sale, or storage, shall be subject to the laws of the State as if such liquids had been produced in the State.
I think that the Minister will have to justify to the House and to the country an appropriation of money for purposes which ‘ admittedly are not purposes of defence, but purposes of aggression.
– If that is the whole argument, the justification will be easy.
– No doubt the Prime Minister will explain. I dare say that he does not consider that there is anything in the argument, but I have considerable doubt in regard to the matter, and I should like to hear the Prime Minister on the point.
– Will the honorable and learned member read Article 2 of the agreement ?
– Order !
– Article 2 provides that -
The base of this force shall be the ports of Australia and New Zealand, and their sphere of operations shall be - ‘ not Australia, but - the waters of the Australia, China, and East Indies stations, as denned in the attached schedules, where the Admiralty believe they can most effectively act against hostile vessels which threaten the trade or interests of Australia and New Zealand.
– Is that not defence ?
– Certainly not.
– If that is not a quibble, I have never heard one.
– The Prime Minister “ may smile and smile, and be a villain “ ; but I hope he is not. At the same time, I think he will have to face more gravely the point that has been raised in several quarters, and which will be discussed if there is any appropriation for this purpose. If he succeeds in establishing a High Court of any calibre, in all probability one of the first questions which it will be called upon to determine will be whether this proposed appropriation is right or wrong.
– That will be a very easy job for the Judges.
– They will want easy jobs.
– The honorable and learned member’s argument implies that the power to make appropriations is limited by the legislative powers conferred by section 51.
– Yes. Under the States Constitutions, very much wider powers are conferred. There are powers to make laws in and for Victoria or New South Wales in the very widest terms. Thus it was impossible to impugn any appropriation for Victoria or New South Wales. I was speaking, however, of an appropriation which is not for one of the objects in respect of which we can make laws. Every appropriation is by law. It is by making a law that we make an appropriation. What right have we to make a law for an appropriation of this kind, which is not for the purposes df the defence of the Commonwealth or the defence of the States’? I submit that the whole discussion in England has been carried on from the point of view of the British taxpayer rather than from that of Australian interests. I can well understand it. The British taxpayer has burdens beyond precedent - burdens that were never dreamt of. Last year the navy alone involved an expenditure of £35,000,000, while the expenditure for the current year is £39,000,000. They had last year an army and navy expenditure of some £62,000,000 apart from the cost of the Indianarmy,representingabout£20, 000,000, which falls upon the Indian revenue. These are burdens which are beyond precedent, and very naturally the Imperial Government feel that they may have incurred the wrath of their constituents by their policy of Imperialism. I say nothing against Imperialism of the right kind ; but as honorable members are aware, I have always objected to the Imperialism which has characterized the Empire for the last few years. I know that I am in disagreement with most honorable members in regard to that matter ; but, even although they disagree with me as to particular facts that have recently occurred, and as to the aspect of those facts, I believe that I agree with many of them as to the inexpediency of taking on our shoulders the burden of the navy and army of the Empire, unless we have to an equal extentthe privilege and right of controlling them and their operations. It is the Imperialism of the last few years - the rampant, jingoistic- Imperialism - which has now to be faced in its consequences. It is when it comes to “ pay, pay,, pay,” that the men who were loudest in their vociferations for an Imperalistic policy, are the first to cry out for others to share the burden. If there is one thing which is of importance to this country, it is that,, as far as we can do so consistently with honour, we should avoid joining in any policy of aggression.
– We cannot help it.
– Then the right honorable gentleman admits that by this agreement we shall be committed to a policy of aggression.
– The honorable and learned member’s argument is that, if a. man is lying in wait for you with a gun, you should not try to get the first shot.
– I think that theCanadian Ministers took a much more statesmanlike attitude in regard to this matter. They saw how this proposal would bear upon responsible government, upon therelations of the Empire, and upon the different colonies. They saw that there was nothing so likely to create friction within the Empire, whichis at present sympathetic and in accord in all its parts, as a demand for the payment of a round, and probably increasing, sum of money, which is sadly needed for the development of a new country.
– We have been contributing to a naval subsidy for fifteen years.
– I take up the position that the naval subsidy agreement of 1S87 was a mistake. I think that it went too far in a certain direction ; and that this -agreement goes two steps further. The first agreement was merely to support an Australian Squadron for Australian defence. As the leader of the Opposition pointed out this afternoon, there is also another distinction, namely, that by this agreement, we are actually proposing to throw into the pool money which may be used for purposes of aggression.
– Would the honorable and learned member reject this agreement, and give notice, of our intention to -discontinue the existing one ?
– I should certainly refuse to accept this agreement, and as soon as we could honorably get out of the other -one, T should do so.
– What should we do then 1
– I shall deal with that -question presently, if the right honorable gentleman will allow me to proceed. I -admit that the Prime Minister is entitled to ask those who oppose the agreement to state frankly what they consider is the best course to pursue. I claim . no expert knowledge in these matters, but I shall show, as well as I can, what I think should be done. I do not find that the representatives of -Canada at the Colonial Conference used the phrase which was so effectively employed by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, that he did not want Canada to be “ drawn into the vortex of militarism,” but they made the following statement : -
The Canadian Ministers regret that they have been unable to assent to the suggestions made by Lord Selborne respecting the Navy, and by Mr. St. John Brodrick respecting the Army. The Ministers desire to point out that their objections arise, not so much from the expense involved, as from a 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 it 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. But while, for these reasons, the
Canadian Ministers are obliged to withhold their assent to the propositions of the Admiralty and the War Office, they fully appreciate the duty of the Dominion, as it advances in population and wealth, to make more liberal outlay for those necessary preparations of self-defence which every country has to assume and bear.
That the taxpayers of the United Kingdom should desire to be relieved of some of the burdens which they bear in connexion with military expenditure is quite reasonable. Canada, in the development of its own militia system, will be found ready to respond to that desire by taking upon itself some of the services in the Dominion which have hitherto been borne by the Imperial Government. What has already been done by Canada must give assurance of the disposition of the Canadian people to recognise their proper obligations.
The position taken by Canada is. that which, I think, we should take. I recognise the importance of naval defence, but I want to leave the British ships free to operate in any .part of the world where it is deemed expedient that they should be, and to make our local defence as effective as possible.
– The honorable and learned member thinks that we should wait until the enemy comes to us.
– We should be ready if the enemy does come. Under the proposed arrangement, if war were declared, the Australasian Squadron would be free to depart to Asian or African waters, and our big cities, which are all on the coast, would be liable to scares and panics, and the incalculable damage which a stray cruiser might inflict. The problem we have to face is, how best to help the Empire and ourselves. I find that the advice of experts on this subject is all in one direction. I cannot discover any expert advice in favour of the proposal which the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence have advocated. I understand that there have been great improvements in naval ordnance and armaments of late years, but naval strategy is still much the same. We in Australia have, for the last 30 years, acted upon the advice of naval experts who were sent out from England to advise us. They reported over and over again, and we implicitly followed their recommendations. Were all those experts wrong ? Who says that Sir Peter Scratchley, Sir William Jervois, Lord Kimberley, and Admiral Tryon were wrong, or that the officers who have served out here, Captain Creswell, Captain Collins, Captain Hixson, and the rest of them, are wrong ? In my opinion, the proposed agreement has been suggested by a Government which wants to propitiate the taxpayers of England.- I have taken the trouble to trace the history of these matters for the last 30 years, and my efforts have been greatly lightened by the admirable speech of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I find that so far back as 1871, Lord Kimberley, who was then in office, approved of provisions in a Victorian draft Bill which involved Victorian local defence. A Defence Bill had been sent home which he said could not be submitted to Her Majesty for assent, but he got his officers to draw out a draft Bill which would effect the same purpose. Speaking of the original Bill he said -
The provisions are substantially right in themselves.
What were those provisions ? After providing for a Victorian defence force, the Bill of Lord Kimberley said -
The aforesaid armoured vessels shall be provided and maintained for the purpose of defending the coasts of Victoria, and co-operating in time of war with the ships of the Royal Nan, in such a manner and for such purposes as the Government of the said colony with the advice of the Executive Council shall approve.
That is distinct enough.- Then, in 1S77, Sir William Jervois said -
The enemy might, no* doubt, despatch one or more cruisers to operate against our maritime commerce, or make a descent upon any of our colonial possessions ; and the Australian colonies, owing to their wealth and prosperity, would, if undefended at certain points, be tempting objects of attack. A squadron intended. for such an operation might consist of some three or four vessels. Eluding our cruisers and appearing suddenly before Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, or in Moreton Bay, it might capture the merchant vessels lying in the harbors, intercept any of the numerous vessels conveying valuable shipments of gold, or, under threat of bombardment, or after actually firing into one of the large towns, demand and obtain a payment of many millions of money.
He points out the danger, not of our vessels being insufficient to meet the enemy’s force, but of the enemy’s cruisers eluding our fleets. The sea is wide, and it would be easy, by means of false telegrams and other devices, for fast cruisers to evade the biggest fleet that the world has seen. In 1882 a Royal Commission, under the chairmanship of Lord Carnarvon, accepted Sir William Jervois’ recommendation, and concluded its report with” these words -
We think this principle -
That the Australian colonies should provide for their local defence - is upon the whole sound, and that the above statement (of Sir William Jervois) fairly represents at the present time the relative positions and duties of the Imperial and Colonial Governments.
Sir Peter Scratchley and Admiral Wilson gave practically the same advice. Then I come to a very interesting report by Admiral Tryon. In March, 1885, he was asked for advice by the then Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Loch; who ‘was very guarded on the subject. Sir Henry Loch wrote -
In seeking for Your Excellency’s advice on this important subject, I trust it may not be understood as intended to lessen in any way, the Imperial responsibility for the external defence of these colonies, or for the protection of the commercial trade of the Empire in Australian waters, in connexion with which Imperial and colonial interests are both so closely and largely concerned, but that anything done in the direction I have indicated should be in addition to, and not in exchange for, any protection now provided for these purposes by Her Majesty’s squadron in these seas.
In reply to that request, Admiral Tryon wrote a memorandum, from which I quote the following sentences : -
It is possible that an attack maybe delivered by a small squadron of ironclads of a type that does not entitle them to a place in the first rank - they would be very formidable if employed to attack our colonies. And still more possibly, a hostile squadron might contain vessels of the fast, partially-armoured class, that are now much in fashion, and the construction of them is on the increase. It is well to consider what such a squadron could do, supposing it had arrived off our coast, having avoided detection - the Admiral in command, deceived by false reports, gone to New Zealand,, with the telegraphs cut. . The destruction of trade and commerce, and with it the infliction of long and lasting injury, could be also effected by an enemy who sent fast cruisers oft our ports to capture our vessels. . . For the above it appears that two forces are required, each with its special mission, but each aiding the other. The duty of the first is to defy attack, and to welcome the coming friend and afford him a safe harbor ; the latter to chase and capture the enemy on the wide sea, or, if driven home by superior force, to join in the defence. It appears to me that the local defence forces - I include in this term the naval and military force, the forts, mines, and torpedoes, in fact everything - at Melbourne are designed to comply with one condition, viz., to furnish local defence…… Although it probably will not be questioned that a regularly trained force is n, more perfect force in itself than any militia or volunteer force, still there is a reasoning to which weight must be attached in favour of leaving by far the greater portion of local defence in the hands of local corps. .
I think that the following is a statesmanlike view to take : -
Local corps can be formed on a system which withdraws those who join them but little from those occupations which increase the wealth of the country. Local corpsare subject to the keenest local criticism - to a criticism that is perfectly well understood by them, but which would probably ruin a more regular force. 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 not continuously separate the men from their wives and families. It habituates the people to feel that possibly some day they may be required to make personal sacrifices. It gives a sense of security. It tends to allay panic. It accustoms the G overnment of the country to study the questions involved, and the responsibility that belongs to it on this subject is kept perpetually before their eyes….. If the reasoning contained in what I have already written is accepted as right, and assuming that the local defence is satisfactory, it follows that what are wanted in the first place are cruisercatchers.
– That report was written a long time ago?
– I am going to show that the same policy has been advocated by more recent naval experts. At that time it was in contemplation to have, in addition to the local defences, a squadron for service in Australasian waters, and there would also have been the Imperial fleet provided by the English taxpayer. With regard to the Australian squadron, Admiral Tryon said -
At no time will these vessels be removed without the waters of Australasia without the sanction of the Governments of the colonies.
That is the very point that has been given up in this new agreement. What he suggested was that there should be a reserve force created for the local supply of men. He says: -
During a time of peace, the officers and others of such ships as are not in active commission could be well employed to instruct the reserve forces and volunteers.
Nothing has been done during all the fifteen years covered by the existing agreement in the way of training a single man for the purposes of Australian naval defence. The idea of Admiral Tryon was to have men trained by the officers of the permanent forces during time of peace.
– We are proposing to do that now.
– In a very lame way. Admiral Tryon concludes his proposal in a summary as follows : -
Sea-going colonial fleet, if all joined, including New Zealand - six cruiser catchers, eight torpedo boats, sea-going, say of 1 50 tons.
The above to be furnished, manned, and maintained by the Admiralty at the cost of the colonies (a portion of this force only to remain in commission during a time of peace).
Local defences to be officered and manned by local forces, namely, harbor defence vessels and Whitehead torpedo boats ; small class generally speaking.
Batteries and mines to be intrusted to local corps.
That local corps should have a good nucleus of highly trained men is an essential condition.
The Whitehead system to enter largely into the system of defence, and dropping gear to be provided in readiness to be fitted to local boats to supplement the regular torpedo boats.
He did not stop there. On the 24th April, 1886, he wrote further as follows : -
It will be found, however, that some colonies and Rome places of special importance will require special treatment, and that they call into existence a naval force that does not primarily enter into or belong to the system on the lines on which for strategic reasons the main fleet of the country moves.
He, of course, recognised that beyond all question we must have one navy and that it must be mobile and ready to go anywhere. But he said there were special places to be specially treated, and pointed out that Australia had a narrow line for vessels up to Prince of Wales Sound, and then across from the east of Australia over to Cape Leuwin.
– It is a very wide line to Cape Leuwin. It stretches away 10,000 miles to the south.
– Yes, but as a matter of fact a practised captain tries to head as nearly as he can for such a point as Cape Leuwin to save time, and it is the channel following that particular line which has to be watched so closely. Admiral Tryon continues -
However superior our force may be ; however skilledmay be the strategic arrangement ; however vigilant our admirals, history may repeat itself. An enemy may escape touch, he may escape notice, and it may be some time before his destination is known and his designs penetrated. We may feel confident he will be quickly followed, but his power for mischief, for a time at all events, would be great ; and the difficulties attending a pursuing squadron are great compared to those experienced by one that is carrying into effect a well-devised, pre-arranged scheme. This condition must not be overlooked. The power to avoid notice is much greater in 1886 than it was at the early part of this century.
If that were so in 1886, the same thing would apply with still greater force at the present time. He remarked that the British taxpayer had to contribute approximately £13,000,000 annually towards the
British Navy. Now he has to contribute three times as much. He said, further, that the British taxpayer paid £30,000,000 per annum for the maintenance of the army and navy. Now he has to pay, apart from the army in India, a total of £67,000,000.
– Where is it all going to1 end!
– I hope it will not end in insolvency. Admiral Tryon continues - >
There are ports that require a considerable amount of naval force for their defence - Melbourne, for instance ; Port Phillip cannot be denied to an enemy by batteries and minefields alone. There a local naval force of very considerable strength is already called into existence.
I admit that that local force has been seriously diminished-, docked, and handicapped, and that the retrenchment was in its case applied in the wrong direction. I do not care to express my own opinion in this matter, and, therefore, I rely upon the judgment of experts. Admiral Tryon remarks further -
Some ports only require a few torpedo boats. Queensland possesses gun vessels well suited for service off her coral-girt shores. South Australia has a vessel of another type altogether - that is, specially well-adapted for the service she was designed to render ; and of the efficiency and reliability of these forces I am glad to bear personal testimony.
That seems to speak of an effective incipient naval force.
– But things have changed since then. Those ships are not efficient now.
– The statement from which I have been quoting proceeds -
There is no difference of opinion as to the necessity .for protecting the most distant parts of the Empire. The question, is, how is this best effected ? It cannot be better done than by destroying an enemy before he has time or opportunity to act to our disadvantage, but it is certainly wise to take every precaution lest, as in days gone by, a squadron should escape notice, and suddenly appear off u distant shore.
That Carries us as far as 1886. The right honorable Minister for Defence referred to more recent events: In 1899 there was a meeting of the chiefs of the colonial naval forces, and on the 5 th August they furnished their report, which repeats the same recommendations in a very much more emphatic way. Three resolutions were passed as follow : -
I am not aware that any answer has been made to these resolutions.
– What we want is a force that will be capable of fighting.
– Yes ; but it will be utterly useless for us to attempt to maintain a fleet that would be likely, in time of war, to go to distant parts. We might have a few cruisers for the purpose of following an enemy for a short distance, but beyond that we could not go. I find that in 1897 Mr. Kingston brought before the Conference of Premiers a recommendation that we should apply the money contributed towards the support of the Auxiliary Squadron to the training of a local force. I am afraid that the right honorable gentleman has been too busy with his Customs prosecutions to attend to the matter at this stage. At that time the cost of the maintenance of the naval forces of the Commonwealth was £65,000 per annum, but the amount has since been cut down.
– Did the Minister for Trade and Customs recommend ships for those trained men ?
– I do not know, but “ what he proposed was the substitution of ‘ a locally-trained force for the Auxiliary Squadron.
– But we must have ships.
-Order! The Minister was heard throughout his speech without interruption, and I must ask him not to interject so frequently.
– I am sure the right honorable gentleman will always obey your injunctions, Mr. Speaker, but really I have been assisted to some extent by his interjections. The report of the naval commandants previously mentioned, referring to Mr. Kingston’s proposal, points out that-
The cost of the maintenance of the local naval forces of Australia is at present about £65,000 per annum, which, together with the £126,000 contributed each year towards the cost of the Australian squadron, makes a total annual expenditure on Australian naval defence of £121,000.
The report proceeds -
The Conference are of opinion that this expenditure, controlled by the Federal Government, would be sufficient to provide for the maintenance of five second-class “ cruisers stationed in peace time, as proposed, in the principal ports and exercised from them, and for the raising and maintenance of a reserve of sufficient strength to provide not only for the manning of these vessels in time of war, but also to furnish a source from which men would be available to meet Imperial naval requirements and to make up waste.
It is pointed out, further, that the effect of adopting this suggestion would be - to develop our resources and the training of our Seamen, so that instead of remaining a source of weakness and anxiety to the mother country - an exposed flank - we may gradually become a Strong outpost.
If we once concede the principle of throwing money into the Admiralty without control over it, we shall be entering upon a course which logically will lead us to do more. If we are logically and justly right in giving money to the Imperial authorities for purposes over which we have no control, and in regard to which we have no representation, we shall be told that we are not contributing enough. The great thing for the Imperial authorities is to introduce the thin end of the wedge. Does any one think that all the anxiety now being displayed would be shown for the sake of securing a grant of £200,000 a year, when the total expenditure upon the British Navy is £39,000,000? No; the Imperial authorities entertain the idea that they can solve the question of adjusting the burdens of the Empire, without showing how the different parts of the Empire can have a fair and reasonable share of control over the policy of war and peace and the policy of the navy and the army. I find that Major-General Sir Bevan Edwards has used some very emphatic words. He says -
If we are found without a decided naval superiority we shall again see attacks made upon our stations and bases in all parts of the world. If we hud this undoubted superiority, the Australian colonies need only be prepared to resist the attacks of stray Cruisers which would make a raid upon stations where coal is to be had, or to extract a ransom from some of the towns on the coast by threat of bombardment. The large ocean steamers, which all maritime nations now possess, would under such circumstances make a descent upon the distant shores of Australia - not an impossible undertaking. You may say this is not probable, but still it would be an unpardonable risk not bo’ make a provision against such a contingency.
I now wish to refer to Senator Matheson’s book containing the report of the paper delivered in London by him before the Colonial Institute.’ The book has been most excellently compiled, and we are deeply indebted to Senator Matheson for it.
– The Colonial Institute compiled it.
– At any rate, Senator Matheson wrote and delivered it. I also find here the opinion of Sir George Clarke upon this matter, but I shall avoid quoting that opinion. My idea is that the less we drag His Majesty’s representatives into these discussions the better. If a favorable comment is made upon their opinions - as was the case to-day - an unfavorable comment may be made to-morrow, and, therefore, I propose to avoid touching upon the view entertained by the present Governor of Victoria. Then, I observe that the Colonial Defence Committee, on 30th March, 1901, said-
The Admiralty have accepted the responsibility for protecting all British territory abroad against organized attack by sea, they go on to recognise that, while His Majesty’s ships are engaged in destroying or disabling the enemy’s squadrons, they may not always be in a position to prevent raids by hostile cruisers, their objects being to destroy shipping, or other accessible property of value, especially naval and mercantile marine resources, such as docks, repairing shops, storehouses, jetties, cranes, and coaling appliances ; to seize coal or stores which might be urgently required ; to levy a money contribution, or even merely to create alarm, and obtain a prestige which might appear to attach .to an operation of no real military importance whatever. The destruction of the shore ends of ocean cables is another possible object for the attack of a hostile’ cruiser. The action of fast cruisers or armed merchant auxiliaries against Australian trade on the high seas constitutes a far greater danger than attacks upon Australian ports.
Of course, as to most countries, privateering was abolished by the Treaty of Paris ; but it is possible to achieve the effects of privateering without calling it by that name ; and I understand that Russia has a volunteer fleet which will serve that purpose equally well. Next, I find that Captain
Mahan is most explicit in favour of having a special local defence for the purpose of protecting San Francisco. He says -
Sun Francisco and Puget Sound, owing to the width and great depth of the entrances cannot be effectively protected by torpedoes, and consequently, as fleets can always pass batteries through an unobstructed channel, they cannot obtain perfect security by means of fortifications only. Valuable as such works will be to them, they must be further garrisoned by coast defence ships, whose part in repelling an enemy will be co-ordinated with that of the batteries. The sphere of action of such ships should not be permitted to extend far beyond the port to which they are allotted, and of whose defence they form an important part, but within that sweep they will always be a powerful reinforcement to u seagoing navy when the strategic conditions of war cause hostilities to centre round their port. By sacrificing power to go long distances, the coast defence snip gains proportionate weight of armour g uns - that is, of defensive and offensive strength. I t further adds an element of unique value to the fleet with which it for the time acts.
– Can the honorable and learned member give me the page upon which that appears ?
– It is page 23 of Senator Matheson’s paper.
– Does that pamphlet show the page of Captain Mahan’s book upon which that passage appears?
– Senator Matheson has not put the reference here. Does the Prime Minister doubt the accuracy of the quotation?
– I merely wished to ascertain the page of the book in order that I might read the context.
– With regard to England, what is the position ? Not only has she a Channel fleet, but a Home fleet and cruisers which, according to the Naval Annual, are to work within a 60 miles radius from the Lizard and the Smalls, keeping the water within the circumference of the circle free of the enemy, and safe for the lines of ocean traffic that there converge towards the English, Bristol, and Irish channels. Then I find that Mr. Wilson, a member of the Executive Navy League, and editor of their Journal, on 2nd December, 1902, writes -
There should always be an effective reserve squadron, absolutely confined to home waters, sufficient to hold the Channel and protect the coasts and commerce of the United Kingdom, in addition to the coast defence ships which would be required for active local defence.
The same gentleman also urges that a North Sea fleet should be provided for the purpose of always cruising in British waters. I find, also, that it is recognised that it is impossible to have two sets of men at two rates of pay working together. I have tried to understand the bearing of the new agreement upon this point. Under its operation I have ascertained that we shall pay an ordinary able-bodied seaman the same rate of wage as is paid to a lieutenant on a warship. How will that conduce to discipline? Let us consider that the Royal Navy Reserve squadron is ordered to China, India, or New Caledonia. How can the men work in harmony ? Admiral Fitzgerald has put this position very strongly. He says -
It would be subversive of all discipline, contentment, and good fellowship to have two sets of men doing the same work, holding the same nominal rank, and yet receiving two totally different scales of pay on board one of His Majesty’s ships. We could not, in justice to our own men, permit such a thing, save, perhaps, as a very temporary expedient.
We all know that, even in South Africa where the conditions obtaining were not nearly so critical as would be those upon a warship, grave discontent was created amongst the home forces when Tommy Atkins found that he was receiving only ls. 3d. per day, whilst the man beside him, whom he thought was no better, was getting 5s. per day. On the 7th February, 1902, Captain Creswell put forward a suggestion which at all events is not to be scouted, but must be treated with respect. He suggests the purchase of a cruiser for £300,000, and afterwards, when events permit of it, the purchase of another, and so on. Another proposal which has been made is that all the vessels should be hired.
– Yes ; but at the same time that we should supply the blood, muscle, and brain, and should pay the Imperial Government the interest due upon their capital cost, provide for their maintenance, and establish a sinking fund. Captain Creswell says -
On the other hand the alternative proposed, that of an increased contribution to the Imperial Government, is one of stagnation and continued naval impotence for Australia - tying up for an indefinite time the country’s best defensive arm.
He says that our first step should be to purchase one modern ship of war - not a battleship, which would cost £1,000,000 or thereabouts. What we want, according to this authority, is a vessel which could be purchased for £300,000. The interest, wages stores, and initial cost to a modern service he sets down at £47,000 annually, and he would meet that sum by reducing Australia’s contribution to the auxiliary squadron by one-third, or £35,000, and by effecting a reduction in the cost of our local defences of £12,000. He further says -
An Appropriation Act, extending over ten years, setting aside £300,000 to £350,000 annually for naval defence, would be a more satisfactory arrangement. It would suffice to provide a fleet of five cruisers suitable for our defence, and leave no debt. If continued, even at a reduced amount, it would provide for all renewals as required. The total vote lor defence is £850,000. The naval vote of £350,000 is a moderate proportion in a country only liable to a naval attack.
He continues -
The fleets of Powers that have little or no commerce to defend, and maintained for purely aggressive purposes, are rapidly increasing. Absolute and complete dependence by Australia upon the British Navy, situated as we are, at the extremity of the Empire, will add to that strain. . . The spectacle of some 5,000,000 AngloAustralians, with an army splendidly equipped, unable to prevent the burning of a cargo of wool in sight of Sydney Heads, is only the ordinary consequence of a policy of naval impotence. The main arter3’ of trade in Queensland, that which connects the sea terminals of the several lines of railway, is the coast route. It carries all her commerce, and is exposed. . . . If it is intended that this force shall be abolished, all previous expenditure will be wasted, and the creation of an Australian Navy de novo will be rendered far more difficult, will take a considerably longer time, and be far more costly,
I do not think those are the words of an irresponsible or inexpert man. The General Officer Commanding the Commonwealth forces - although he would not venture to set his opinion on naval matters against that of the Admiralty - has in his memorandum very frankly pointed out dangers to be apprehended. He says that there is no danger to be feared from a large, wellequipped force conveyed in numerous transports and escorted by an enemy’s fleet. He continues -
Efforts at oversea aggression upon Australian soil will, in all probability, therefore be reduced to raids by an enemy’s cruisers, based on his defended ports. Such raids might be undertaken to - extort an indemnity under threat of bombardment, or to destroy commerce, or to obtain coal.
He points out the importance of defending the naval base of Sydney, and of making secure the. important strategical positions of King George’s Sound and Thursday Island, the two vital points in Australia. I feel ‘that we have here the confirmation of a military man as well as of a naval man, and that if we are blind to the suggestions which have been made, we shall be greatly to blame. What of the effectiveness which it is said we shall secure by the payment of this £200,000 a year? The time” when we shall need help and protection will be the time of war, and that will be the very juncture at which the vessels of this squadron will most likely be removed from here. At page 28 of his paper, Senator Matheson has stated his suggestions as to the alternative. There may be a fallacy in them, but at the present I cannot see that there is. He points out that the additional £94,000 per annum, which will be paid under this agreement, together with the £46,000 which is at present expended upon our naval forces, would’ be sufficient to maintain even now three cruisers, leaving - about £34,000 available for interest on the cost of their armament, for the payment of further naval reserves at an average of £10 per man per annum.
Of course, the naval reserves would be only for a limited time. and for the support of naval depots in each State. In three years’ time, on the expiration by notice of the present subsidy £106,000 would become available for the rental by Australia, and commission with Australian crews, of three more cruisers hired from the British Government.
Senator Matheson assumes that the British Government would be willing to hire out vessels if provision were made for interest, sinking fund, and maintenance. I could well understand the Minister saying to us - “ I quite admit that on this expert advice we must provide for local defence, but I want you to give the Imperial Government £200,000 a year, because we are a part of the Empire.” There would be far more reason in a declaration of that kind. What I object to is that during the continuance of this agreement we practically close the door to anything being done in the direction I have indicated. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has put the ‘position very clearly. We cannot have two naval reserves ; we cannot have a naval reserve under the agreement, and also a naval reserve developed under our own conditions. The Imperial officers would not have anything to do with it. We have to remember the position of affairs in Australia. I do not say it in any unkind spirit, but the chief value of the over-sea trade is its value to Britain ; the principal loss by any war would be the loss toBritain. As yet no feasible project has been put forward that, while giving us the burden of Imperial taxation, would confer upon us at the same time the privileges of Imperial responsibility. I desire to see the present good feeling sustained between the colonies and the mother country ; butI ask any one who is familiar with the wants of Australia and thedifficulty of obtaining money - any one who knows that a new country requires every penny that it can raise for the purpose of its development - whether there is anything which would tend to injure the silken tie of sentiment, of blood, and affection, so much as would the requirement that we should subscribe £200,000 year after year for purposes over which we should have no control, and more especially when that payment would have very little effect?
– Is the honorable and learned member in favour of the continuance of the existing agreement ?
– I should like to see it terminated as soon as possible.
– I thought so.
– I see nothing mysterious about the matter. I consider that that agreement was a mistake. I have glanced through the report of the discussion which took place upon the subject in the Victorian Parliament in 1887, and I find that the late Honorable John Woods, who spoke rather in opposition to the proposal, did so in a way that showed thathe could see far ahead. He spoke of the danger of drawing Australia into the ring of belligerent nations. We are certainly standing at a critical turn of the road. Hitherto, all our efforts, in the way of military and naval preparations, have been made distinctly for defensive purposes. Now an effort is being made to draw us into the ring of offensive operations.
– Offensive defence.
– The agreement means any kind of defensive operations that the Admiralty may be called upon to adopt. That is an important step beyond the agreement of 1887, and we shall do well to think over it before we go any further. Do we wish Australia to enter this ring of pugilists, ready to fall upon one another with the direst hatred, and with the utmost efforts of warfare?
– If a war took place we should be in it.
– I should like to see us able to relieve the mother country as far as we can of the burden and necessity of looking after us here. We can not do more. The question is : Shall we spend what little we can afford in developing our resources, in protecting our shores, in making our men able to defend their families and homes when the time comes, or shall we throw this money into the bottomless pool of the Admiralty ?
– I must necessarily make the same apology as that which was offered by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, that I am not an expert in these matters. I have never had any training which would render me able to give an opinion in regard to naval matters, except that which I have obtained second hand. One never knows what may happen to a man in Victoria. When I heard the leader of the Opposition thisafternoon chaffing - if I may use the expression - the Minister for Defence on his interference with expert questions, it recalled to my mind the fact that one of England’s greatest admirals - I think it was Blake - was 50 years old when he first went to sea. Thus there may still be hope for the Minister. He may yet be able to take command of the squadron here with the success that attended Admiral Blake’s career, or atalleventsto direct its operations as successfullyas would the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. My mind has been considerably relieved as to my attitudein regard to this agreement, by the statement of the Prime Minister that it is not intended to do away altogether with the existing local forces. I hope that the local forces will not only be maintained, but that they will be expanded to such an extent that from them perhaps we may be able to obtain the nucleus of an Australian Navy. I do not refer to a navy of the extent to which some people desire that Australia should aspire, but to one which would be sufficient for all ordinary requirements. The Minister’s memorandum of the 15th March, 1902, contemplated two distinct and separate risks ; the first was attacks upon our floating trade, and the second, raids upon our coastal towns by powerful steamers. It seems to me that we shall have to depend upon the Imperial Navy to defend us from the first risk. I think it is only the Imperial Navy which could supply us with ships that would be equal to cope with the powerful cruisers, that we might expect to come out here during a time of war. The honorable and learned member for. Northern Melbourne referred to the desirableness of obtaining cruiser-catchers. If we were to introduce a cruiser-catcher here, as one of our own ships, in a few years she would not be equal to the work that she would be called upon to perform. Under this agreement, however, and this is one of the most favorable aspects of it, the British Admiralty would be required to keep us supplied with up-to-date ships during the continuance of the arrangement;
– If we were to lease ships from the British Government, would theynot be equally up to date.
– I do not know that we should secure an equally good service. I am satisfied, however, that whatever arrangements were entered into, the British Admiralty would go rather beyond the letter of the agreement. It would be to their advantage to send us the very best ships that could be obtained. I read some little time ago an article in the new magazine, The World’s Work, which told of an American who went to England to see if he could not obtain better work from English workmen. He was able to do so, and one of the reasons that he subsequently gave for his belief that the Americans were superior in every way to the British, was that the latter had not yet come to realize the value of the “scrap heap.” He said that all their machinery and buildings were too long lived, and that they were not prepared to keep them up to date. It seems to me that that contention has some application to this matter. If we were to attempt to keep cruisers here to defend our coasts, we should soon have ah enormous scrap heap. That scrap heap, the British Government undertake under this agreement to take ff our hands, and they can do so without any great loss, because throughout the wide area of Empire they have use for vessels which would be unsuitable for the one purpose for which they are required here. I had made a note to deal with the contention that at the expiration of this agreement we shall have nothing to show for what we have paid. That contention, however, has been ably dealt with by the Minister for Defence, and I shall only say that it applies to all classes of leases. There is an old adage that “fools build houses for wise men to live in.” It would be a matter of no difficulty to point out to a man who had been paying rent for 30 or 40 years that he has nothing to show for it. I think the argument was well demolished by the Minister for Defence. With regard to the area over which the fleet may be supposed to roam, I would point out that large issues are likely to arise in the East in which we may be concerned. The battle-ground of the naval forces of Europe, in all probability, will be transferred from the Mediterranean to the East, and it is there that the trouble is likely to arise. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne spoke about vessels of the squadron sailing away to Antarctic regions. That is a very good catch argument to use ; but there is another aspect to be considered. We have to remember that if the vessels of the squadron are removed from our shores, it will be because of complications and heavy fighting on the borders of China, or perhaps India.
– Or in the Pacific.
– I am referring, of course, to Eastern Asia, to Japan, and China, and so forth bordering on the Northern Pacific. The Prime Minister told us last night that, whilst we should have only. 15 per ‘cent, of the. fighting power of the Empire to send to them from these southern seas, they would have 85 per cent, of that fighting power to send to us. I think we could very well afford to have our 15 per cent, sent to fight in the waters of Eastern Asia, and have the battle-ground removed from our own shores. The position in the East has attracted the attention of Captain Mahan, who has written an article on the subject, which I shall presently quote. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne referred to an article by the same authority on the defence of San Francisco. My recollection of that article is that Captain Mahan suggested cruisers for the defence of the Californian coast because the Americans must keep the bulk of their fleet on the Atlantic, and the journey round the Horn to the Pacific is a very long one. I will show presently, however, that Captain Mahan does not generally consider cruisers necessary for coastal and harbor defence. I have here a quotation which is so closely on the lines of the proposed agreement that one might almost be the outcome of the other. Captain Mahan, in an article on the disposition of navies in the July, 1902, number of the
National Review draws a vivid mind-picture of the naval power of Great Britain, with its root in the English Channel, its trunk in the Mediterranean, its branches extending through the Suez Canal and down the Red Sea, and bifurcating in two long arms at India, one extremity reaching to China, and the other to Australia. Speaking of the needs of Australia, he says -
What Australia needs is not her petty fraction of the Imperial Navy, a squadron assigned to her in perpetual presence, but an organization of naval force which constitutes a firm grasp of the universal situation. Thus danger is kept remote, but if it should approach, there is insured, within reaching distance, an adequate force to repel it betimes. The essence of the matter is that local security does not necessarily, nor usually, depend upon the constant local presence of a protectorship or squadron, but on general disposition. . . . Local safety is not always found in local precaution.
That passage might have been written as a report upon our position. But while Captain Mahan, dealing with general principles, writes in that way of the needs of Australia, he also says, in an article on “ Preparedness for War,” that coastal defence, to make it complete, must have an element of offence in it.
Coast defence implies gun power and torpedo lines, . . . but coast defence, though essentially passive, should have an element of offensive force local in character….. That offensive force is to be found in the torpedo boat in its various developments. There should be a local flotilla of small torpedo vessels which, hy their activity > should make life a burden to an outside enemy.
The honorable and learned members for Bendigo and for Northern Melbourne quoted Sir William Jervois and Sir Peter Scratchley as experts who recommended the employment of cruisers! Without wishing to detract from the reputation of those experts, I should like to point out that a good many years have elapsed since they reported on the question. Electricians at that time would not have recommended electrical traction, nor was wireless telegraphy thought of, though it is likely to play an important part in the warlike operations of the future. Therefore I do hot think that the opinions which have been quoted can be compared with those of a present-day authority. It has been said that if a powerful foreign fleet were approaching our shores the vessels of the present Auxiliary Squadron would be afraid to go outside the Heads. I can understand that they may not be in a position to contend on anything like equal terms with the newer vessels that are now afloat. But it must be remembered that there is always a possibility of the enemy’s vessels entering our harbors.
– The Cerberus is to be made effective to prevent that.
– I was very glad to hear that that was intended. Honorable members are aware that during the SpanishAmerican war Admiral Dewey took his fleet right up to Manilla, and the mines which were laid to prevent such a thing were only exploded after he had passed. A few years ago a French fleet entered Foochow Harbor before notice was given that pressure was likely to be brought to bear upon the Chinese Emperor, while three or four years a,CO the Vulcan was able to enter Port Phillip, and pass under the forts of Queenscliff, without being discovered by those on shore, although they knew that she would attempt to come in. Those instances show that there is a risk of an enemy’s vessels entering our harbors, and, that being so, we should have at hand some force which would be able to meet them. I am glad that the Cabinet have decided not to do away with the old vessels, though I hope that in getting new ones we shall have the very latest appliances and improvements. In a list published by The Times a few days ago, it is shown that Great Britain, which recently had only five submarine boats, is now building fourteen, and that France has fifteen, and is building more. A matter which has been exercising my mind to some extent is the difficulty which I think will be caused by the different rates of pay which will prevail on the three drillships which will be manned by Australian and New Zealand seamen, and the- vessels which will be manned by British seamen. I understand that there is a feeling amongst naval men that this difference will create difficulties, and, to my mind, it will be better if the drill-ships -can be placed under the control of the local authorities, going out to sea with the Imperial squadron for practice when necessary. In connexion with the pay of the men, I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister a matter which I thought of speaking upon when the Defence Bill is before the House, but which it may be as well to introduce now. We are offering facilities and encouragement to young men to embark upon a precarious life full of risks, in which they are unlikely to make provision for their old age. There is, moreover, a growing dislike to the pension system. I have, therefore, given some thought to the possibilities of life insurance. Of course, without knowing exactly what the rates of pay will be, and what the pensions usually given are, I have not been able to make very exact calculations, but I have ascertained that a man entering the service at the age of 21 could, for a yearly premium of £21 14s. 7d., or1s. 2¼d. per day, insure his life for £500, the policy to mature when he reached the age of 42. I have fixed that age because the British sailor is entitled to a pension after he has served 21 years. At the end of that time, the cash value of the policy and its bonus additions would be about £680, a sum which would purchase an immediate annuity of £40 15s. 4d. Those figures were obtained from an actuary of one of the best institutions in Melbourne. Now, there is in the Savings Banks here a system under which the employes are compelled to insure their lives, the bank paying half the premium and the employes themselves the other. If that system were adopted in connexion with our naval forces, the State would be called upon to pay 71/8d. and the sailor 71/8d. per diem. In this way an investment might be provided for him, which, perhaps, would not be too expensive for the Government, and which would make provision for his old age, or benefit his relatives in the event of his premature death.
– My experience is that the British seaman likes to invest his own money.
– Yes, but I wish to take a little of the money out of the hands of the seamen, to provide for their own benefit. If something of the kind suggested by me could be done, the men entering the service would know that they had something to fall back upon, and there would be no difficulty in connexion with the question of pensions. Another matter referred to by my honorable and learned friend for Northern Melbourne was the attitude of Canada. He stated, in the first place, that Sir Wilfred Laurier was afraid of militarism. I have a distinct recollection of reading aspeech delivered by that eminent statesman at a banquet in London, in the course of which he said that, of all the nations, England was exposed to the least danger from an excess of militarism. I also recollect reading a statement by Professor Fiske that, whilst there had been one instance in which a kingdom had been put up to auction and sold by the military to the highest bidder, there had never been any danger to be apprehended on that score from the naval forces. The real trouble with Canada was one which had reference to her trade relations. In an article, by Lt.-Col. George T. Denison, in the Nineteenth Century, of June, 1902, the writer first speaks of the reciprocity treaty which existed between the United States and Canada in 1854, and explains how the federation of Canada was one of the results of the notice which was given for the cancellation of the treaty. Leading up through other matters which helped to create a strong Imperial sentiment in Canada, he says -
Every great nation in the world, except our own, seems to have become united and consolidated for trade and defence. Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Russia have organized their forces to an enormous extent. They are increasing their navies with great rapidity. The United States have become consolidated as the outcome of the Civil War, and are largely increasing their navy. No one can tell when the British Empire may be involved in a great war. Lord Salisbury, Lord Dufferin, and other able leaders have expressed their opinion of the possibility of war, and alarm on that account has caused immense increases to. be made in our navy. All this has had its weight on theCanadian mind, and has led to the general opinion that the Empire should be organized for defence, and that large additions should be made to the military and naval forces of it in every part.
While the view is held that large sums should be expended in warlike preparations to enable us to hold our own in the face of the gigantic war power of other civilized nations, yet the Canadian people can see that no military or naval preparation can be of any use. unless in addition the food supply is sufficient and secure, and unless our trade is preserved so that our Empire may have the financial strength to maintainthe defence expenses.
The Canadians are a practical people, and naturally cannot see the wisdom of entering upon a great and costly scheme of defence unless the system is to be complete in every respect, and have no weak links. Therefore, they feel that the question of the food supply of the mother country is the first defensive step to be taken, and that arms, munitions of war, battle-ships, cruisers, and millions of armed men are all worthless unless food for the nation is secured.
I have also seen another article written by Colonel Denison upon the same point, in which he argues that the Imperial Government may be influenced by the electors, that seven millions of the population would very soon be at the starvation point in the event of an interruption of food supplies, whilst another seven millions would be quickly reduced to similar straits, and to accept terms for peace which would be unsatisfactory to other parts of the Empire. Some of those who are engaged in the grain trade in Great Britain have stated that grain would very soon be worth from 70s. to 100s. per quarter in the event of an interruption of food supplies; and quite recently a large association was formed, including many men in the highest position in the old country, with a view to inquire into this matter. All through, the Canadian attitude has been influenced by trade considerations. There seems to have been some little pique felt in connexion with the preferential Tariff from which Canada derives no benefit. They were disappointed with the action of the British Government in connexion with the sugar duty, although it did not affect them very much, and afterwards they were disappointed at the removal of the corn duty. I believe that the recent new departure of Mr. Chamberlain in the direction of preferential trade within the Empire was forced upon him by the attitude of the Canadian people in this respect. In a speech which he recently delivered in the House of’ Commons, he spoke of the possible dismemberment of the Empire, unless some arrangement could be made for reciprocal trade relations. With regard to the question as to whether we should be mainly dependent upon Great Britain for the protection of our trade routes and our coasts, we must not forget that this is an age of big combinations, and that the battle-ground of the world is approaching us very closely. If we started with a navy of our own, the chances are that we should not be quite so closely in touch with’ the mother country and its defensive organizations, as if our squadron were acting under the guidance of the British Admiralty. We might be left to find our own way through a trouble which would be altogether too gigantic for us to cope with. Either we shall ha ve. to fall into line with and adhere closely to the old country, or else take our own part and sink into insignificance. If we attempt to paddle our own canoe we shall not share in the glory of the British Empire, but we shall sink into a position of no importance among the nations of the world.
– How do the small South American republics manage ?
-They are good enough to fight among themselves, but they hold no position amongst the nations of the world.
I look forward to a greater combination than that between the Commonwealth of Australia and Great Britain. Everything seems to be tending now towards the establishment of the most friendly relations between ourselves and the United States, and I hope that some day we shall be able to realize the aspirations of leading statesmen who look forward to a union of all the English-speaking nations. In this connexion, I should like to read a short extract from the Times weekly edition of the 1st May. A report from New York, under date 24th April, says -
There was a wonderful expression of AngloAmerican good feeling at the 117th anniversary dinner last evening of the St. George’s Society of New York. The speeches, both by English and Americans, were in. a tone seldom heard till lately, and met with the warmest responses from the company of 300. President Roosevelt’s health, proposed before the King’s, was drunk standing and cheering, as was the King’s, “ the toast of the evening.” Mr. Woodford, who was American Minister at Madrid before the Spanish war, putting morals above force, declared, eloquently that England’s best strength lay in her sense of justice and right wherever her flag floats. Stillmoresignificantwasthecritical, almost hostile tone, towards not Germany, but recent German pretensions. The three nations, said Mr. Woodford, dispute with each other for the primacy of the world. “Germany competes directly with England and America. Let the men of one language and one race go in, and let the best man win ; but God keep and draw to- § ether the men of the English-speaking race.” till straighter was the challenge by Captain Stayton, one of Admiral Dewey’s officers at Manilla - “ When the German fleet threatened us the English fleet silently changed its anchorage into line with the American, and we did not need to ask which side they were going to take. We knew.”
Are we to cut ourselves off from the great destiny which is opened up for us in a continued association with our kith and kin throughout the world ? I fear that if we attempt to adopt the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, to look after ourselves and let Great Britain look after herself, we shall make a great mistake. I think that that is hardly the spirit in which a true-born Briton should view this question, and I certainly do not regard it in that way. If Great Britain should ever be threatened, as she was some little time ago, with a combined attack by some of the greatest nations of the world, and we had a fleet which we could send to her assistance, I should not hesitate to place it at her disposal. When Great Britain goes to her Armageddon, we must go along with her, for as a people we could not survive her destruction. This is not a Bill of small details, but it embodies a principle which may lead us to a higher sphere.If we do not accept it, the only alternative that presents itself to me is the adoption of a course which must involve our annihilation, or at least consign us to a position of insignificance
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hume Cook) adjourned.
– I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next.
I am. informed that those honorable members who have business on the notice-paper for to-morrow are agreeable that we should adjourn as proposed. We intend that the first business for Tuesday shall be the consideration of the message from the Senate on the Sugar Bonus Bill, in regard to which the Government will have a definite course of action to propose. The consideration of that matter will precede the resumption of the debate on the Naval Agreement Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 July 1903, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030709_reps_1_14/>.