1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chairat 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. R. EDWARDS presented a petition, signed by the presidents and secretaries of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce and the Brisbane Chamber of Manufactures, praying the House to repeal section 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act.
– I find that thepetition is not under seal, and therefore it can be received only as from the persons whose names are attached to it.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Defence if it is a fact that the new militaryregulations are now operating in Queensland, although they have not been sanctioned by the Governor-General in Council ? If so, upon whose authority have they been put into effect ?
– I have read in the newspapers, and I believe that it is so, that the proposed new organization of the forces has been published in Queensland in general orders. I think this is due to some misunderstanding as to how it was to be communicated to the various officers concerned, but I am making inquiry into the matter.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether, having reference to the disclosure to a newspaper of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill before its submission to Parliament, and to the conflicting statements of the Minister for Trade and Customs and the representative of the newspaper concerned, the Government would offer any objection to the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the circumstances under which their proposal obtained premature publication, and generally as to the manner in which the newspapers obtain information from Government Departments?
– I think the best course would be for the honorable member to give notice of the question.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Defence if the Government have yet received Major-General Hutton’s report for the year 1902-3? Is it true that the Minister returned it to the General Officer Commanding for alteration and revision? Have any alterations been made at the Minister’s request? When will the report be laid on the table ? Will it, when presented to Parliament, show the alterations, if any, made by the General?
– The honorable member had better give notice of his question, but I may say that the report will be laid upon the table shortly. There is no desire to keep it back ; but it has not yet been seen by the Prime Minister, andI wish him to see it before it is presented to parliament.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Home Affairs if he does not think that the time fixed for the report of the Federal Sites Commission - the 30th April last - has been sufficiently exceeded? Can he give the House positive information as to the date upon which the document will be available for Parliament ?
– The report is completed and is being printed in Sydney, but I received a telegram this morning to say that, in consequence of delay in the Lands-office in connexion with the preparation of the maps to accompany it, a copy will not be available until Thursday.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Home Affairs if he has yet received any information from Mr. Houston concerning the revisionof the proposals for the New South Wales electoral divisions?
– No, none whatever.
– When will the consideration of the report received from the South Australian electoral officer take place?
– I cannot tell the honorable member the exact date, but there will be no undue delay in regard to the matter.
– It is important that it should be considered early, if anything is to be done.
– I have spoken to the Prime Minister about the matter, and, as soon as possible, a date will be fixed for dealingwith it.
– Has the Minister yet made any arrangement for the printing of the New South Wales rolls to be proceeded with ?
– Yes ; all the arrangements are made.
– Has the work been commenced ?
– I believe so. Some of the lists are now in the hands of the Government Printer, and I believe that he is now proceeding to print them.
– I should like to know how the Minister can reconcile his statement that the rolls are being printed with that made a day or two ago, in which he said that the names are now being taken by the police, simultaneously with the collection of the names for the State rolls ? Is it possible to proceed with the printing of rolls for which the names have not all been collected ?
– The two statements are absolutely consistent. The rolls have been completed up to a point, but separate lists have to be prepared for each polling place, and those lists are now being arranged and printed. If subsequently they are found to requireany additions or alterations it will be a small thing to make them.
Royal assent reported.
Sir EDMUND BARTON laid on the table
Correspondence from the manager of the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand with reference to the refrigerating accommodation on the steamers engaged in the Vancouver mail service.
– Will the Prime Minister, at a date as early as may be convenient to the Cabinet, make a statement to the House in reference to the difficulty which has arisen about the carriage of mails between Australia and the mother country ? I do not ask him to make a statement at an inconvenient time, but at any time he may think convenient I should like him to say what course the Government intend to pursue in regard to future contracts.
– I shall have pleasure in making such a statement as soon as I can fairly do so.
– Is it the inten tion of the Government to introduce a Bill this session for the appointment of a High Commissioner ?
asked the Minister for Home Affairs,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– , for Mr. Bamford, asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
No persons have been specifically appointed field inspectors. The police in each district by arrangement exercise supervision as to compliance with the regulations and report to the local Customs any case in which breaches of the regulations are suspected, and upon their report such action is taken as the case requires. They do not receive payment for this duty. All officers, especially those employed in connexion with rebates, are also required to exercise vigilance and report suspicious cases.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments).
– I move -
That the Committee disagrees with amendment No. 3 made by the Senate in the Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act to provide for a Bonus to Growers of Sugar-cane and Beet” for the following reason : -
Because the Bill is a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys, and amendment No. 3 is an infraction of the provisions of section 53 of The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, which prohibits the Senate from originating a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys or from amending any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people, and the Committee does not deem it necessary to offer any further reason, hoping the above may be sufficient.
That the Committee agrees with all the other amendments of the Senate in this Bill.
Honorable members are aware that this Bill came down from the Senate with certain amendments, one of which, at least, has been pointed out by the Speaker as involving an infringement of the rights of this House. I purposely avoid using the word “ privileges “ in order that there may be no confusion in discussing this matter, which seems to me one of rights, and one which should not be encumbered by any term which may confuse its exact nature. My motion is not so drastic as proposals which are sometimes made with regard to Bills in which a Second Chamber, or any Chamber, has made amendments which are deemed to be unconstitutional. Frequent as is the practice under such circumstances to lay a Bill aside, and introduce another for the general purposes of legislation, it is yet permissible to deal with the matter by the milder course of disagreement which I now propose, because in the first place it will, in some degree, hold out the olive branch, and, secondly, it will be more compatible than the course first mentioned, with the possibility that the amendment exceeding constitutional power may have been made under some misapprehension. The propositions laid down in the motion are sufficiently definite to enable honorable members to follow them and take their own course of action. In the first place, we propose to disagree with one amendment on constitutional grounds, and in the next place to adopt all the other amendments. Most of these other amendments are verbal. They consist in the substitution of the word” bounty” for bonus, to which we take no exception ; more especially as the word “ bounty “ is used in the Constitution to denote the kind of appropriation with which this Bill deals. Another amendment at the end of clause 2 provides that -
No bounty shall be paid in respect of the production of sugar on land which ha,s been cultivated by other than white labour after a bounty has been paid in respect of the production of sugar thereon.
That is an amendment solely for the purpose of preventing any backsliding - if I may so term it. It is intended to prevent a planter who, after receiving the bonus under the terms of the Bill, may afterwards cultivate his land by means of black labour and then revert to white labour, from making a second claim for the bonus. It is proposed not to interfere with that amendment, because, looking at the terms of the 53rd section of the Constitution, we do not conceive that it is unconstitutional; and moreover, in view of the general intentions of the Bill, it may be considered an improvement. But the amendment to which we have called attention as an infringement of the rights of this House follows on these word? in clause 2 -
There shall be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly
Honorable members will note that this is a distinct appropriation : - to every grower of sugar-cane or beet within the Commonwealth in the production of which sugar-cane or beet white labour only has been employed, after the twenty-eighth day of February, one thousand nine hundred and three.
Then come the following words, which constitute the objectionable amendment : -
Or for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.
That is the amendment to which, on constitutional grounds, exception is taken, and I think that I shall have little difficulty in convincing honorable members on both sides of the House that, whatever opinion we may hold, whether regarding the Bill as a party measure or as ameliorating legislation, this is an amendment which, to have been accepted at all, must have been made in this House. The controversy turns upon the second and third paragraphs of section 53 of the Constitution. As honorable members well remember, the Senate is, by the Constitution, prohibited from amending either proposed laws imposing taxation, or, to put it shortly, the annual Appropriation Bill, which is described in these terms : “ Or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.” These are the proposed laws which the Senate may not amend. But the Constitution does not provide that the Senate may notamend any Bill which contains an appropriation. As appears by the next paragraph, the Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people. If, then, this is a law imposing a charge or burden on the people by means of an appropriation, it is a proposed law which may be amended by the Senate, inasmuch as it is not an annual Appropriation Bill ; but it is also a law which they may not amend “ so as to increase .any proposed charge or burden on the people.” If honorable members have followed the words I have read, they will see the exact point. To put it shortly, any contention on which this amendment can be upheld on the part of the other Chamber must rest on the ground that it is an amendment which will not increase any proposed charge or burden on the people. I am aware that it has been argued that there is a difference between’ charges on the revenue and charges on the people, and, therefore, that while charges on the people may not be amended upwards, so as to speak, or by way of increase, yet amendments by way- of increase of mere charges on the revenue - which, be it noted, »is the people’s revenue - may nevertheless be. admitted under our Constitution. In the first place there can be no doubt that the Bill makes an appropriation, because it provides that -
There shall be paid out of ‘the consolidated revenue fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly -
Then if an amendment, which would have the effect of increasing that appropriation, is to be in anyway constitutional, it would have to be true that there are Appropriation Bills which are not burdens on the people. The Government, insistent as it is with the Speaker in guarding the rights of this. House, cannot come to any other conclusion than that a proposal for an appropriation out of the consolidated revenue fund imposes a charge or burden on the people. If that view “ be correct, then this amendment must be taken to be improperly brought to this House. I understand that various arguments have been used to show that there are appropriations of revenue which are not burdens on the people. If those who, when arguing in this matter, and pointing to the data of the old struggles between the Lords and the Commons, would turn their attention to the “historical aspect of those struggles and the terms which were evolved during their continuance, they would at once see that the money matters dealt with during those troubles - which I do not wish to revive, and I wish to be definite on that point - were, putting it broadly, on the one side taxes, and on the other side expenditure, and that the prohibition to amend measures which involved expenditure, dressed as it may have in the phrase “charge or burden on the revenue” or “charge or burden on the people,” is one thing in - meaning and effect, simply because a charge on the revenue is a charge on the people’s revenue, and therefore a charge on the people. The first branch of the motion dealing with the amendment which I question uses the word “originate.” “We put this subject forward in two phases. We say that the amendment is an infraction of the 53rd section of the Constitution, because the Senate is prohibited from originating a proposed law appropriating revenue or money. We say, in the second place, that it is an infraction, because the Senate is prohibited from amending any proposed law so as to increase any charge or burden on the people. In order to clear the ground, I will deal with the implied assertion in the motion that this is an origination of appropriation of revenue or moneys. Our position in regard to this part of the subject may to some extent depend on the question whether the words “ proposed laws,” used in the Constitution, refer to the whole of a Bill, or whether they deal with any Bill in such a way that the enactments’ contained in it may be considered separable one from another. It will be clear to honorable members, assuming that this is an Appropriation Bill - about which I think there can be no doubt - that any provision in a clause of a Bill of this kind which prescribes a larger expenditure than that proposed by this House is to the extent of the excess which it involves an origination of further appropriation. If, for instance, we had specifically purported to appropriate ?60,000 out’ of the consolidated revenue fund, and the amendment, instead of being in its present form, proposed to increase the amount to ?65,000 or ?70,000, then we suggest that to the extent to’ which that amendment would overtop the original proposal of this House - the authority ultimately responsible, at any rate, for the care of the purse strings - it would originate a further appropriation. An appropriation of, in the case of the illustration, ?5,000 or ?10,000, which does not come from this House, and is placed by the Senate in a Bill orginated in this House is, to the extent of that increase, an origination of public expenditure. Nobody can doubt that it is so. It seems to me that it is stating a truism to put that proposition, because if the increased appropriation does not originate in the amendment, where does it originate 1 It cannot orginate anywhere else. The second branch of the motion is that this is a proposed law appropriating revenue, and is, therefore, a charge or burden upon the people ; and that being so, the Senate cannot so amend it as to increase, that charge or burden. I should have thought that it would not need any lengthy argument to establish a proposition of this sort. I say that, leaving aside - except for the .purpose of explaining the meaning of the terms - the records of old struggles, and confining myself to this section, to the terms which it uses and to the meaning of those terms even as .shown by any historical usage. If I may cite Bourinotin this connexion - an authority of admitted eminence - we shall see by reference to his book upon Parliamentary Procedure, the way in which similar matters are treated in Canada. I cite this authority mainly for the purpose of demonstrating what is the meaning of the term - “A charge or burden on the people,” and of making clear whether or not there is any difference in its meaning irrespective of whether it be called “ a charge on the people “ or “ a charge on the revenue.” In the second edition of this book, published in 1892, I find, on page 596, the following passage : -
It is the invariable rule that all measures involving a charge upon the people, or any class thereof, should be first considered in a Committee of the whole..
That consideration in Committee of the whole interests us only incidentally in our discussion of this matter.
Rule 88 orders “If any motion be made in the House for any public aid or charge upon the people, the consideration and debate thereof may not be presently entered upon, but shall be adjourned until such future day as the House may think fit to appoint; and then it shall be referred to a Committee of the whole House, before any resolution or vote of the House do pass thereon. “
Mr. Bourinot goes on to say
Under this rule all Bills providing for the payment of salaries or for any expenditure whatever out of the public funds of the Dominion - and this Bill is “ for the payment out of the consolidated revenue fund which is hereby appropriated accordingly “ - - must be first considered as resolutions in’ Committee of the whole. And all such resolutions necessary to the introduction of a Bill must first obtain the recommendation of the GovernorGeneral.
I need not point to the fact that this Bill originated upon a message from the GovernorGeneral, which was dealt with by a subsequent Committee. That is to say, we adopted the ordinary course which is followed in dealing with financial measures.
– Does the quotation which the Prime Minister has read say “all Bills”?
– Yes. I cite Bourinot to show that in the opinion of that authority the words -
Public aid or charge upon the people, are applicable to any expenditure whatever out of the public funds of the Dominion.
– The fact of any Bill being recommended by message from the Governor-General governs the whole procedure.
– I will not go so far as to insist upon that, because I wish to get upon still closer ground, though the honorable member is perfectly right in saying that the origination of any measure by message amounts pretty well to an admission on the part of the Government who introduce it, that they could not obtain what -they desire to secure, unless such a message were brought down. But that is not the conclusive guide. The conclusive guide is in the essence of the transaction.
– The first paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution shows that there are a number of Bills appropriating revenue which do not require to be initiated upon a message.
– I wish honorable members to understand that I am not contending that certain Bills appropriating public moneys, and involving expenditure, cannot be amended by the Senate, but rather that under the Constitution those Money Bills which it can amend it cannot so amend as to increase the burdens on the people. That is the whole point. I am able to turn to passages in May which throw a light upon the subject in this connexion ; first, in regard to the way in which public expenditure is brought about and made good, and next, in regard to the meaning of the terms used in the Constitution. I do not intend to apply these practices any further for the purpose of insisting that, in all matters under this Constitution, we are bound to make provision in accordance with the limitations which have arisen out of the constitutional struggles between the two Houses in the old country, simply because - irrespective of whether we have legislated here, or whether the very Parliament which was the scene of those struggles has legislated with reference’ to them - there can be no mistaking the meaning of the words used in the two paragraphs of the Constitution to which I have referred. It does not matter, therefore,, whether we are dealing with this matter in, the light of privileges asserted on the one side and denied on the other, until out of the confusion and chaos thus caused there arose a settled practice ; but it does matter whether certain words which are used here have acquired, as the result of the strugglesbetween the two Houses, a technical parliamentary meaning, and whether that meaning applies to the measure with which we are now dealing. As to the procedure adopted in the British Parliament and its. meaning, I refer honorable members to page 515 of the tenth edition of May, where the following passage occurs : -
The Sovereign being the executive power is charged with the management of all the revenue of the State, and with all payments for the public service. The Crown, therefore, acting with the advice of its responsible Ministers, makes known to the Commons the pecuniary necessities; of the Government;- the Commons, in retain, grant such aids or supplies as are required to satisfy these demands ; and they provide by taxes, and by the appropriation of other sourcesof the public income, the Ways and Means to meet, the supplies which they have granted. .
I ask honorable members to carefully note the order of these steps -
Thus, the Crown demands money, the Commons’ grant it, and the Lords assent to the grant ; but the Commons do nob vote 11101103’ unless it be required by the Crown -
That practice lies at the root of the interjection just now by the honorable member for South Sydney - nor do they impose or augment taxes, unless such taxation be necessary foi: the public service, as declared by the Crown through its constitutional advisers.
Now, an argument has been raised, not in this House, to the effect that the only realcharge or burden on the people is a tax, and that, as this Bill does not .impose a tax, it does not provide for a charge or burden on the people, and, therefore, may be amended in the way that is claimed. A very little examination will dispose of that argument. In paragraph 2 of section 53 of the Constitution, the Seriate is prohibited from amending proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or money for the ordinary annual services of the Government. Of course, the latter portion of that provision relates to the ordinary Appropriation Bills. The next paragraph provides -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so ils to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
Now, to make it clear that the term “a charge or burden on the people “ is not used in the Constitution in the sense of a tax, it is only necessary for me to refer to the paragraph immediately preceding the provision which I have quoted, and under which the Senate is prohibited from amending proposed laws imposing taxation. That is a direct and specific prohibition. But if “ a charge or burden on the people “ meant merely a tax, there would be absolutely no necessity for the succeeding provision, the words of which would be meaningless, because, if a tax is “a proposed charge or burden on the people,” the Senate under the prior paragraph has been prohibited from amending such a measure. Consequently it could never have been the intention of the framers of the Constitution to use other words which imply a power to amend, and a prohibition against amendment rising beyond a certain point.
– Yet a tax is a burden on the people.
– There is no doubt that is so, but it is not the only one. These words are inclusive. They are designed without doubt to include not only the area of taxation; but also the area of expenditure in all its bearings.
– The force is to be found in the word “ any.”
– Yes. I <do not know whether I have failed ito make myself clear to honorable members, because this is rather a difficult matter to deal with, but I am endeavouring to show that the first of the two paragraphs in question altogether takes away from the Senate the power to. amend taxation Bills in any way. Having done that it would be idle and futile in the very next two lines to say that -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law -so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people, if the construction is right that a tax is the only charge or burden which can be imposed on the people. If there are charges or burdens on the people, in addition to those of taxation, it seems to me to follow, with irresistible inference, that those other charges or burdens on the people are appropriations. It is, I suppose, unnecessary to refer to what was said by delegates in furtherance of their arguments during the sittings of the Convention. I understand that a passage from a speech of mine has been cited in this connexion. But I would point out that those remarks were made at a certain stage in the proceedings of the second, and not the final session of the Convention. They were merely an expression of opinion as to certain matters which arose at that time, and the question of the power of the Senate to increase the burdens on the people by means of amendment was not, in any sense, before me. How have we come, in the course of history, to the present settled practice of dealing with matters of taxation and appropriation 1 Matters of taxation we may lay aside for the moment, because they will be dealt with in the third stage of the arguments which I intend to put forward. How did we come to deal with appropriations iti. this way1! May has told us that the Crown, through its Ministers, makes known its necessities.
That is to say, its necessities for the purposes of Government. Then the Commons in return grant such aids or supplies - which are convertible terms, as are required to satisfy those demands, and, thirdly, that they make provision by taxation and’ by. the appropriation of other sources of public revenue - if there are other sources which can be used - for the supply granted. By that process they provide the means to meet the supplies thus granted. That is the origin of the nomenclature of our Committees. In the first place, we receive a message from the Crown recommending certain expenditure. After referring that message to a Committee, which ordinarily is a Committee of Supply when we are not dealing with a Bill but with a grant, what is the next step taken ? Committee of Supply having been set up, the matter is referred to that Committee in order that the necessities indicated by the Government may be supplied. That is the origin of the term “Supply.” What follows next ? Immediately afterwards the House goes into Committee of Ways and Means - and I ask honorable members to note in this connexion that in the process Supply comes before Ways and Means. In appropriating money, therefore, the question of whether there is sufficient in the Treasury chest to meet the appropriation, though it may be the subject of argument, is not a matter ‘ of technical procedure. The next step is that the Commons say to themselves - “We have, in Committee of Supply, granted certain Supply, but the amount so granted must be made good.” Then they go into Committee of Ways and Means ; and, here again, the name supplies the reason of the Committee - the Committee consider the “ ways and means “ by which the money already voted can be made good, either out of fresh taxation or out of the proceeds of existing taxation.
– But “appropriation “ must precede “ ways and means.”
– “ Appropriation “ must precede “ ways and means.” In a very elaborate argument used elsewhere, there has been an attempt, on the very passage I have quoted, to make out that “ ways and means “ precede “ appropriation”; but I cannot conceive any stretch of ingenuity by which that contention could be made good. We have first the Message, next Supply, and then Ways and Means ; or, in other words, we have first the recommendation, secondly, the grant, and, thirdly, the making good of the grant.
– “-Section 56 is decisive.
– I think it is ; but I do not want unne’cessarily to go beyond the provisions of this paragraph, because they conclude the case. I now pass from this part of the question as to the order, and the way in which the . order indicates the origin of all these matters. It must be recollected that in the Senate there is no analogue - no parallel to the Committees of Supply and Ways and Means.
– The Governor-General may send a- Message to the other House.
– Possibly the Governor-General may send a Message to the other House, but that is a course which, although it has been followed even in late times in- the English Parliament, has not generally been pursued in Colonial Parliaments. I think that the honorable and learned member will agree’ with me as to what has been the practice in the House of Commons, and it may be that section 56 of the Constitution has some relation to what I am about to say.
When the Crown - that is to say, when the Government - is moving Parliament, for an expenditure by way of Bill, a. Message comes down from the Crown to theCommons, asking them to make an appropriation to cover the expenditure, and theonly Message which goes to the Lords is oneasking for their concurrence in the appropriation. The origination, even under this system, is with the Commons, who hold the strings of the purse ; and, therefore, until the Commons have agreed to an appropriation, message or no message, it is impossible for the House of Lords to touch the matter. That, I say, applies not only to an appropriation, but to an increase of an appropriation - that is to say, the logical reason forthe thing applies to that extent.
– The House of Lords have inserted amendments in “ red ink.”
– In some cases, but that is a very different matter. During the Federal Convention there was, I think, some desultory discussion with regard to “ red ink” clauses, but the discussion never took the shape of a proposal. In’ May, 10th edition, page 527, there is the following :-
The Commons have faithfully maintained the duty and responsibility “of the Sovereign, and. their own, regarding the custody of public money, by standing orders framed specially for that purpose.
Honorable members will observe the wideterms which are there used.
Three of these standing orders, numbers 57-59,. were the first - -
These are the standing orders of 1706-7 - and for more than a century were the only standing orders ordained by the Commons for theirselfgovernment -
That is, in these matters - and the regulations prescribed by those standing orders have been from time to time extended and applied. Under the practice thus established every motion which in any way creates a charge upon the public revenue -
And it is the words “charge upon the public revenue “ which are relied on to make a distinction from a “ charge on the people” - or upon the revenues of India must receive the recommendation of the Crown before it can be entertained by the House ; and then the recommendation, having been given, procedure on the motion must be adjourned to a future day, and be referred to the consideration of a Committee of the whole House. Unless the recommendation of the Sovereign enjoined by these standing orders be signified in the manner hereinafter mentioned (see page 528), the Speaker cannot put the question on a motion which comes within the scope of these standing- orders. Accordingly, if any motion or Bill or proceeding is offered to be moved, whether in the House or in a Committee, which requires but fails to receive the recommendation of the Crown, it is the duty of the Chair to announce that no question can be proposed upon the motion, or to direct a withdrawal of the Bill.
And even in cases where there have been two messages, there is a message which must precede.
In like manner, after the question has been proposed on an amendment, and it has appeared that the amendment would vary the incidence of taxation, the Speaker has declined to put the question.
Then follows another paragraph dealing with procedure on legislation which creates a public charge. I should like here to interpose the remark that, in quoting these passages, I am still on the question of whether a “charge upon the public revenue” and a “ charge upon the people “ are really both included in the term “appropriation.” If there is a charge or burden on the people, it does not matter, according to the authorities, whether it has alternatively, to prevent tautology, been called a charge on the revenue, because, as I have explained, the revenue is the people’s, and by so much as it is charged the people are charged. The paragraph which I have already indicated is as follows : -
In pursuance of the standing orders which regulate the financial procedure of the Houses, Committees of the whole House are appointed to -sanction by their resolutions grants of public money or the imposition of. a charge upon the people. The Committee is appointed either before the commencement or after the close of public business by a motion, that “This House will,” on a future day, “ resolve itself into a Committee,” to consider the matter specified in the motion. If satisfied that the motion will receive the Royal recommendation, the Speaker proposes the motion as a question from the Chair, and thereupon a Minister of the Crown, or a Privy Councillor, acting under instructions from the Treasury signifies to the Speaker and to the House that the motion is recommended by the Crown.
Whatever refinements may be indulged in, in any endeavour to distinguish in its constitutional effect between a charge on the revenue and a charge on the people, the endeavour must be futile, because each is a public charge. Let us examine the words which follow the . paragraph I have just read -
When the main object of a Bill is the creation of a public charge, resort must be had to this procedure before the Bill is introduced, and upon the report of the resolution of the Committee of the whole House thereon the Bill is ordered to be brought in.
There is actually no machinery by which the Senate can go through this procedure, and, therefore, the originating House has the control of the amount of the public charge, and, notwithstanding concessions made in the Constitution to the Senate, it is quite clear, from these passages, that the charge is still unalterable by way of inr crease. At page 529 of May, the following words occur : -
In deference to the usage expressed in Standing Order No. 62, that consideration of a charge upon the people “shall not be presently entered upon but shall be adjourned” to a future day, the resolutions of the Committee of Supply and Ways and Means, and of all resolutions which are sanctioned by the recommendation of the Crown-
As in the present instance, there are cases in which the Crown has made a recommendation which was agreed to only in Committee of the whole, and not in Committee of Supply and Ways and ‘Means. - are not considered on’ the day on which they are reported from the Committee, but on a future day appointed by the House.
What is the object of the recommendation % Simply that Parliament may part with the public money for the purposes .of the Crown’s Government.
– How far would the right honorable gentleman carry the third paragraph of section 53 % Would he say that the Senate could not, for instance, increase the number of J Judges proposed in a Bill ?
– I should not like to discuss that question on the present occasion. I do not think I ought to be asked for a hypothetical case, for the reason that in the courtesy which ought to prevail between two bodies such as the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is the duty of this House to wait until its rights are infringed.
– I suggested the Judges only as an illustration.
– If I may hope, however, that my remarks will not reach the other House, I can accept the illustration and say that were an amendment made by the Senate in the way of increas-‘ ing the number of Judges so that the total appropriation was increased, that would necessarily be unconstitutional - an infringement of the Constitution.
– Then there is a very great point at issue.
– I shall quote further extracts from May, because I wish honorable members to see to what extent and to what class of Bills this right of controlling expenditure - this right which is preserved with some modifications in the Constitution - has been extended in the House of Commons. In May, page 530, is the following : -
Examples may be given of matters which need recommendation from the Crown ; namely, advances on the security of public works, when funds in addition to the funds already available to such purposes must be provided to meet such advances ; advances to landlords and tenants beyond the scope and objects of the Public Works Loans Acts ; Bills relating to Savings Banks which create a charge upon the consolidated fund or other public liability.
There follow several examples with which I need not weary honorable members. I shall now read the standing orders passed by the Commons in 1671 and 1678 in order to show in what sense these matters are understood. According to May, page 541 -
The Commons having during nearly three centuries claimed the right to include the members of the House of Lords in the taxation levied upon the subjects of the Crown, advanced this claim still further by resolving, 1071, “That in all aids given to the King by the Commons, the rate or tax ought not to be altered by the Lords j” and by a second resolution, 3rd July, 1678, “ That all aids and supplies and aids to His Majesty in Parliament are the sole gift of the Commons ; and all Bills for the granting of any such aids and supplies ought to begin with the Commons ; and that it is the undoubted and sole right of the Commons to direct, limit, and appoint in such Bill the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations, and qualifications of such grants, which ought not to be changed or altered by the House of Lords.”
That resolution is, to a very large extent, the foundation of the claims which the Commons have successfully maintained. Without attempting to make the present a parallel case, I ask whether any honorable member supposes that, in the deliberate assertion of their rights and privileges in that resolution, the Commons would have allowed the possibility of any quibble - that they would allow any expenditure of public moneys to be amended iri the House of Lords, or anywhere else, on the ground that it was a charge on the revenue, and not a charge on the people 1 Such a position is inconceivable, unthinkable ; and the phrase, “ aids and supplies,”in that resolution, must be held to cover equally charges on the revenue and charges on the people. Because, if we look back to the cause - to the evil that was to be remedied in those da)’s - it was a fear lest another authority than the representatives of the people should expend public money, or originate any expenditure. It was essentia], therefore, that the Commons in their resolution should express, their intention in words so wide as tocover all the ground. To tell us that, notT withstanding the use of the words “ aidsand supplies, and aids to His Majesty in Parliament,” any expenditure was, under this standing order, allowed to be within the privileges of the Lords because it could be described as a charge on the revenue, or was not allowed within the privileges of the Lords because it could be described as a charge on the people, is simply to palterabout the matter. With all respect I say that any confusion of that kind is merely paltering with the question. If what was. originally aimed at was expenditure - if, inconsidering the mere technical words used in an instrument like our Constitution - we arrive, by history and by analogy, at the fact that the instances are all instances of expenditure, and are all under the same ban, whatconclusion can we come to except that when the Federal Convention, the people of Australia, and the Parliament of the United! Kingdom, when the latter gave the Constitution the form of law, used the words “charge or burden on the people,” they intended toinclude all expenditure of public money ‘ I carry the thing to that length - that noright is given to the Senate by the Constitution in respect of any Bill which it can amend to so amend the Bill as to increase the expenditure of public money.
– Suppose that it appropriated the whole of the revenue 1
– If it oan originate an appropriation of i 5, it can originate an appropriation of £5,000,000. I have quoted a number of these passages, and I might have quoted more for this purpose primarily - to show that by such an authority on parliamentary practice as May, the terms “ charge on the revenue “ and “ charge on the people “ are used interchangeably for the expression of the same thing - that a charge on the revenue is a charge on the people. If it could be made more clear, I find that it is made more clearon page 565 -
The practice requiring the recommendation of” the Crown and the Committee stage -
For what? for proposals involving public expenditure has= been explained.
What confusion is to be found there between a charge on the revenue and a charge on the people 1 “What does it say 1 It includes in the matters to be dealt with by the ordinary constitutional process “proposals involving public expenditure.” If a man raises so many tons of sugar by white labour only, and it is proposed in this Bill that he is to have a bounty of £2 a ton on that quantity can we escape from the conclusion that it is public expenditure^ If we are to run away from the consideration of matters of this kind by saying - “ Although it is an expenditure, it is not a charge on the people, but only a charge on the revenue,” then this refinement of interpretation can be carried to such length that absolutely the originating power of this House would be abandoned, and it should be’ regarded as a warning to the House, if I may use the expression, because, if we allow a thing of this kind to take place, then there will be no end to it, and almost anything may be defined as a charge on the revenue, because it means practically the same thing as a charge on the people.
– lias the Senate explained to Kyabram that an expenditure is only a charge upon the revenue, and not a burden upon the people.
– Its next suggestion may be that the word “ Kyabram “ occurring in any Bill must be considered a burden on the people. Now, let us look at a standing order of later date, by means of which the House of Commons has again expressed the public understanding of the words I am talking of. I am asking honorable members to arrive at their conclusion as to the meaning of the words used by relation to the only source, not merely of authority, but of practice, that we know of. On the 20th March, 1866, the Commons passed this order -
That if any motion be made in the House for any aid, grant, or charge upon the public revenue, whether payable out of the consolidated fund or out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, or for any charge upon the people the consideration and debate thereof shall not be presently entered upon, but shall be adjourned till such further day as the House shall think fit to appoint, and then it shall be referred to a Committee of the whole House before any resolution or vote of the House do pass therein
The value of that seems to me to be in the words “ for any charge on the people.” It is argued that a distinction is drawn in that very resolution between a charge on the revenue and a charge on the people.
But honorable members who read it closely will come to this conclusion - that when the House of Commons used the words “aid, grant, or charge upon the public revenue,” and followed that phrase up with the words “ or for any charge on the people,” it meant to give full effect to the use of that word “ any” to prescribe the practice as to aids, grants, or charges on the public revenue, or any charge on the people, because not only the charge on the public revenue, but the aid or grant, which stands in the same category with it, is equally a charge on the people and comprehensible in the same terms. As to that phase of the matter, I think it would be unfair to the House to multiply argument or instance. But it may be said - it is not urged, I understand, in argument elsewhere - that this amendment does not increase the appropriation. Let us look at it. The Bill .prescribes that a bounty shall be paid out of the consolidated revenue, which is appropriated for the purpose, to growers of sugar-cane or beet, who have used only white labour after the 28th February, 1903. These are the words which have been added by the Senate -
Or for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.
So that, even if ‘ the white labour hs;s been resorted to, not under the terms of the Bill as it left this House, there is an alternative aid, giving in addition a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery of the cane for manufacture. That of course, if the words mean anything, means that the quantity of cane which has to come under the provisions of the Bill is increased ; it may be rightly or wrongly increased, but that is not for us to consider now.
– That was the intention
– The intention of the amendment was to widen the area, to increase the number of tons of cane to which the bounty should apply, and to that extent therefore to increase the appropriation. Our ultimate date in the Bill was the 28th February, 1903. If the Senate did not stop at that date, but went on to prescribe a time after that in which the bounty might be earned, then it is clear that to the extent to which it gave that widening application to the Bill it was originating an appropriation, or, at any rate, increasing the appropriation made. If honorable members believe with me that the appropriation includes both a charge on the revenue and a burden on the people, then the Senate was increasing the burden on the people by fixing a date not limited by the 28th February, 1903, and allowing a further time during which, simply by going through the formality of giving a notice, the bounty might be earned, bringing the expenditure provided by the Bill to an amount larger than that intended by this House. I shall have disposed of the question whether or not there is an increased appropriation if I show that, when the Treasurer came to disburse the bounty provided by the Bill he would, under the amendment, have to distribute it on a larger number of tons of cane, and that this is so is proved simply by a mere reading of the amendment. How have we put this? We have said that certain sugar-growers should have a cash bounty if it is earned in a certain way. The Senate says that certain other sugar-growers who are not eligible under our proposal shall also get the bounty. That increases the expenditure. First, it increases the number of persons who are to benefit by the’ Bill ; secondly, it increases the amount of cash paid to them; and, thirdly, by doing that it increases the drain on the resources or pockets of the people, and whether or not any one chooses to refine to the extent of calling it a charge on the revenue or a burden on the people, the effect is the same. It is the precise kind of expenditure intended to come under that provision of the Constitution which prevents the Second Chamber from increasing the proposals of . this House in that regard. I do not intend to .ask the House to follow me at any greater length, but I wish to revert to the fact that I am taking, and asking the concurrence of the House in my taking, as between two courses by which this infraction of our rights might be opposed, the more conciliatory and milder one. I might have proposed to ‘throw the Bill under the table, and have proceeded afresh in such a way as seemed right to us in our position as guardians of the public purse. But there was precedent and warrant for our proceeding by the means we have elected, which insures to the Bill its vitality; which does not throw it away or end its life, but leaves the matter altogether as one for further amicable consideration between the Houses. But, accepting as we do certain amendments, there is one principle upon which I must ask the House to stand firm, and that is to carry the motion disagreeing with this particular amendment of the Senate=-to stand firm in this resolution, because if a concession were once made to a process of which this may be the beginning, I cannot see in what way the House would be further able to defend its rights. Honorable mem bers will recollect that I have taken a very large part in the dealing with this Constitution, and particularly in the dealing with the money provisions. My voice was often raised during the Convention and elsewhere in favour of the proposition that, so far as could be done compatibly with preserving the ultimate sole right and responsibility of this House in matters of money, concessions might be made to another Chamber, seeing that it was to be elective, and constituted on the same suffrage as that of the other House. Over and over again I have laid down that principle, and I may recall to the memory of honorable members that in our first Supply Bill I endeavoured - and successfully endeavoured, very much to the disappointment, I know, of some of my friends - to lay down the principle again, and to point out that, though we might have to look to old-world struggles for the meaning of terms, ultimately our rights in relation to each other were defined in the Constitution, and particularly in the money sections. I say that again, and I do hope that it will not be supposed that in taking this stand 1 am endeavouring to make for a moment any encroachment on the rights of the Senate. It is our rights which are attacked ; it is we who are on the defensive ; and unless we defend our rights by the adoption of this motion they may be open to prolonged, indeterminate, and possibly successful attack.
– I suppose that we shall follow the course pursued by the Prime Minister in not at present discussing the merits of the suggestion contained in the proposed amendment. The leader of the House has felt it to be necessary - perhaps in view of the novelty of this matter - to enter upon a very exhaustive statement of the views which he entertains. But, so far as I am concerned, I think that we shall have in the future to a large extent to cast aside our Mays and our Bourinots in relation to these matters, and to simply examine the. provisions of the Constitution. They seem to me capable of a very simple consideration. The first question for us at present is - can the proposal of the Senate be said to be one which would involve the Treasury in an increase of liability ? The language of the section of the Constitution does not refer to an increase in charges or burdens on the people ; it refers to an increase in a “proposed” charge or burden. And that is a very sensible way of putting it ; because there might be many discussions on the question whether, in fact, an amendment would involve an additional charge within the meaning of the words of the section. The section does not concern itself with whether, in point of fact, there would be an increased charge on the people, but with whether there is an increase in a “ proposed “ charge ; that is to say, whether the proposals of the Bill are widened in the nature of further charges by the words proposed to be added. On that question of fact, it is perfectly clear that the intention of the proposed amendment is to widen the area of benefit to the sugar-growers, and therefore to increase the area of the burdens on the people. I agree with the Prime Minister, that it simply seems a waste- of words to combat arguments to the effect that an increased charge upon the public Treasury is not an increased burden on the people. Upon whom is it an increased burden? On the Treasurer? On the Crown 1 On the members of the Government ? On none of these ; because it is immaterial to them personally whether the appropriation amounts to iti, 000,000 or £2,000,000.
– It was argued that the more we pay £2 a ton in bounties, the more we lessen the payment of £6 a ton Custom duties; and that, therefore, this proposal is a reduction of the burden on. the people.
– This Constitution does not leave many openings for mental exercises of that description. We are fortunately able to decide this matter on very simple grounds. It is a question. as to a proposed charge, not as to the view of each individual member concerning something which may happen after the Bill is passed. Will any one deny that this proposed bounty is a “proposed charge” on the people? If they cannot deny that, they cannot deny the corollary, that the amendment increases the proposed charge. It seems to me to be almost a waste of words to engage the attention of the , Committee any further. The Prime Minister has gone over the ground at unnecessary length. The matter seems to me to be so clear that I do not propose’ to say any more about it ; except that I quite agree with the Prim Minister that we should take the most courteous means we possibly can in dealing with these difficulties. There may be a time - which I hope will never arrive - when an amendment is made under circumstances that may call upon us to take a different course. But looking upon this as a matter which has given rise to debate in another place, and considering that probably there w;as no real intention to invade the pro-: visions of the Constitution, I quite concur in the inoffensive method which has been adopted by the Government in the present case.
– I am very glad indeed to find the leader of the Government and the leader- of the Opposition in full accord, because it would, I think, be disastrous if there were a party difference on a subject that is so ‘foreign to any party considerations. 1 agree with the right honorable the leader of the Opposition that the matter is so clear that very little argument is necessary ; but I am glad that the Prime Minister has placed it at such length before the Committee and before the country, because the other Chamber debated it by so many of its honorable members, so well and so ably, that a full and explicit answer was due to it. It is only consonant with that respect which this House owes to its sister Chamber, that the fullest reasons and explanations should be given as to why we are taking this stand. I fully agree with what has fallen from the Prime Minister, that we have to look at the records of past discussions and struggles, both in this country and in the mother-land, in order to ascertain for the guidance of Parliament in its procedure the meaning of terms, that are used in the Constitution, so far as those terms can be ascertained in that way. We can derive great enlightenment from such books as May Bourinot, and other works of an authoritative character. In my opinion, the matter is concluded by the words of the Constitution. If honorable members will look at the 81st section relating to “ Finance and Trade “ they will see that it says -
All revenues or moneys raised or received by the Executive Government of the Commonwealth shall form one Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be appropriated for the purposes of the Commonwealth in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution.
Now, that revenue and those moneys go into the consolidated revenue fund ; and the first question we have to ask ourselves is, to whom does that consolidated revenue fund belong ? It belongs to the people.
– Does it not belong to the Crown ?
– Technically, in one sense it does belong to the Crown.
– The Crown cannot take a penny of it without a vote of this House.
– Exactly ; to all intents and purposes it is the property of the people of this country. Any money taken out of that fund, or appropriated to be taken out of that fund, is as much a charge and a burden on the people of this Commonwealth collectively as .a tax is a burden or charge upon any individual amongst the people. So that I give a wide meaning to the paragraph in section 53, which provides that -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden oil the people.
I think it is too narrow an interpretation to give to the word “people” there used to exclude from its connotation the people as a whole. Suppose the whole of the consolidated revenue were appropriated ; could any one imagine for a moment that that was not a charge on the people ? Suppose the whole, of the money were appropriated for any purpose or purposes, leaving no means to the people with which to pay for the ordinary annual services except by further taxation - which would inevitably be the case - would not that be a “ charge or burden on the people”? Yet according to the arguments presented on behalf of the’ Senate it would not be a “charge or burden on the people.” I think, therefore, that altogether too narrow a view is taken by those who contend that the Senate has the power to do what it has .done, when they restrict the meaning of the words “ charge or burden on the people “ to ordinary taxes. Section 56 of the Constitution has been relied upon by honorable members of the Senate. Now, section 56 prohibits any- - vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys - from being passed - unless the purpose of the appropriation -
That must refer to specific appropriations - has in the same session been recommended by Message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated
Not in which the proposed law originated, but “ the proposal “ - that is, the specific proposal for appropriating that particular money. Where has there been a compliance with that section? Where has there been a Message sent to the Senate by the Governor-General under section 56 or any other section recommending the appropriation which the Senate has added - and which is an original appropriation to that extent - to the appropriation passed by the House of Representatives?
– Does the honorable member think a message could go to the Senate under section 53 ?
– I do not think it could. I agree with my honorable and learned friend that if section 56 stood alone some misunderstanding might arise; and in the Convention, I endeavoured to have that section corrected. It was not corrected ; but I agree with my honorable and learned friend that notwithstanding that the words “the House in which the proposal originated “ stand there, they can have reference only - as far as such a matter as this is concerned - to the House of Representatives. Recause there is in section 53 a distinct prohibition that -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
So that even if we could imagine a Message for appropriating money going to the Senate, that House would be absolutely prohibited by section 53 from initiating any legislation appropriating moneys or revenue. I should like to draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that, in the Senate, the Chairman of Committees, Senator Best, placed this matter on precisely the same footing as that upon which the Prime Minister has placed it to-day. Senator Best explained his views very clearly. Honorable members will find them in Ilansard, but I am prohibited by the standing orders from quoting them.
– I rise to order. Is it competent for the honorable and learned member .to refer in detail to speeches delivered in the Senate ? I was pulled up on a matter ‘of this kind, and I wish to have the course of procedure defined.
– On the point of order, I desire to say that I have not referred in detail to what took place in the Senate. I have not referred to anything except, in the most general way, the fact that a certain position was taken up by the Chairman of Committees in the Senate.
– Standing Order 270 makes provision that -
No member shall allude to any debate in the current session in the Senate or to any measure pending therein.
I ask the honorable and learned member to observe that rule.
– If it is not in order to do so, of course I shall refrain from alluding to what took place elsewhere ; but perhaps I have said enough to indicate that the views entertained by .the Prime Minister, and, I think, by nearly every member of this House - if not by every member - are -also entertained by a responsible officer of the Senate. I think it is unnecessary. One thing which strikes my mind very strongly upon this point is this : Suppose that this Bill, appropriating moneys for a limited purpose, had passed its second reading in this House, and that it had passed into Committee. I understand that that Committee of this House would not, under our standing orders, have had power to make the very amendment which the Senate has sent down to us.
– We tried to do it.
– Then it is clear that a Committee of the House of Representatives would not have had that power.
– Why not ?
– I think it would have been contrary to our standing orders for the Committee of this House to have made the amendment in the way > in which smother place has sought to make it, and, that being so, it would be strange indeed if we permitted such an alteration to be made by the Senate.
– I agree with the honorable and learned member, but this House took a different view when dealing with the Tariff.
– I do not desire to enter upon a discussion of what was done in regard to the Tariff; I think that we should be led away from the point we are now discussing if we were to institute comparisons dependent upon the views taken by honorable members in dealing with any particular Bill.
– Does the honorable and learned member know what were the precise terms of the Governor-General’s message in regard to this Bill?
– I do not; but I think the message was in general terms, and did not specify any particular amount.
– Then it would , have allowed us to deal with the matter?
-Yes, as a House. When we read section 53 in the way we have to regard it, it seems to me that the meaning of the words -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys> or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate. is that appropriations shall not originate in the Senate, and I consider that we should be wrong in permitting any infraction of that well-understood principle, which lies at the back of the mere words of this Constitution, which is involved in these words, and which must be regarded as part of its interpretation. I hold, therefore, that the objection that what the Senate has done is an infraction of the prohibition against origination, and an infraction of the prohibition that a proposed law shall not be amended by the Senate - so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people, is well founded. In these circumstances, I hope that we shall have a unanimous expression of opinion on the part of honorable members in regard to the matter.
– I do not think I can add anything to the very able discussion that has taken place on the difficulty that has arisen ; but as I was the first to propose in this Chamber the amendment which another place subsequently introduced into the Bill, I desire to intimate my entire approval of the course proposed by the Government, and supported by the leader of the Opposition. It seems to me that it is clear that, whatever view we may hold as to the rights or wrongs of the policy involved in the proposed amendment, the words of section 53 of the Constitution, that -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people, without regard to any other section relating to the question, make it incumbent upon this House to decline to receive the amendment in the form in which it has been sent down to us. Before the Bill was sent to another place I urged very strongly that as a matter of policy the amendment was one that we might very well adopt with justice to the interests of the sugar planters concerned ; but, on the other hand, I think it is incumbent upon this House, more particularly in the early stages of its careel1, to sternly stand up for the rights reserved to it by the Constitution. I have my own opinions, which may be somewhat peculiar, as to what will be the relative importance of the- two Houses in subsequent developments under the Constitution. I believe it is inevitable that the Senate will play a very large and important part in that development, and that in the great and important crises that will take place, we shall find that the Senate will ultimately prove to be the more popular and stronger House.
– -That fact ought to influence us to strictly preserve the rights which have been given to this House, and given to it, I believe, for very good purposes. It seems to me that the Prime Minister very lucidly and clearly made out his case that the provisions of the Constitution, so far as they safeguard the rights that it was intended should be conferred upon this Chamber, have been violated by the form in which this amendment has been made by another place. Although I was the first in this House to suggest that an amendment of this kind should be made by us, I strongly support the Government in the action they have taken ; but I hope that, if the message comes buck to us in a proper constitutional form, we shall find ourselves in a position to adopt the suggestion.
– I concur in the remarks which have just been made by the honorable member for South Sydney.
– What ! That the Senate is going to be the popular House ?
– I do not know about that ; but I certainly realize that the Senate is a deliberative assembly elected under the Constitution, and I dare s.ay its members are endeavouring, to the best of their ability, to legislate for the welfare of the Commonwealth.
– I agree with the honorable member that that is so.
– That is the position occupied by the Senate as well as by this House. I rose to support the proposition made by the Prime Minister ; but it seems to me that it .is only fail- to express the view that, if the Senate sees fit to deal with the proposed amendment in another way, its desire should receive every consideration in this House. We are now only discussing the constitutional difficulty, and apparently the Senate has gone to work in the wrong way. I sincerely hope that another place will submit the proposal to us in a way that will recommend it to us, and that we shall have an opportunity of discussing in a proper form the question of policv involved.
– I fail to understand why those in another place should have adopted their present attitude in regard to this matter, and why they have gone out of their way to make it clear that in their ‘opinion there is a very great distinction between the power to amend and the power to’ request. In my opinion that is the most peculiar feature of the present situation. I always understood that the right of request was equal to the right of amendment. In these circumstances I fail to see why the Senate should have gone out of its way at the present juncture to demonstrate to this House and to the Commonwealth generally that in its opinion there is a radical difference between the two powers ; but as they have seen fit to emphasize the difference we perhaps should not complain on that ground. I could not help feeling somewhat amused when I heard Mr. Speaker call attention to the message in the way that he did. It recalled to my mind a little incident that occurred in this House only a week ago in connexion with the motion authorizing the Government to renew the contract for the Vancouver mail service. When that motion was before the House, I called attention to the fact that the proposition was one by which we were asked to authorize the Government to make an entirely new charge upon the people of the country. Mr. Speaker, as well as the Government, then took the point that as there was an appropriation to follow there was nothing in the contention that the matter should have originated, as Money Bills do, in Committee of the whole. I understand that that is precisely the argument which another place has adopted in regard to this amendment.
– The appropriation in this case is made in the Bill itself ; that is the difference.
– I apprehend that it will also be made on the Estimates.
– I do not think it need be. There is a special appropriation in this case.
– The right honorable gentlemen will not say that we cannot refuse to vote the amount in question, if we choose to do so, when we are dealing with the Estimates.
– This is no more an appropriation than was the proposal in connexion with the Vancouver mail service. In that case this House deliberately stated that the contract should be continued, and that an additional sum should be voted for that purpose. The Government then employed precisely the same argument that another place is using in regard to this Bill. I understand that the Senate contends that this is not a monetary proposal, and that therefore the amendment may be made. Their -argument is that, as there is to be an appropriation on the Estimates to cover the amount involved by the amendment, they have a right to amend the Bill in the direction sought. However much we may take exception to such an attitude, it is difficult to understand how the Government can do so with consistency, having regard to the stand which they took up Upon the motion relating to the Vancouver mail service. Personally, “I believe that the amendment which another place now desires to make, as well as the arrangement which the Government made by resolution a few days ago in regard to the Vancouver mail service, involves a charge on the people of the country, and that therefore both of those matters should have gone, first of all, through a Committee of the whole of this House, and should have been recommended by a message from the Governor-General.
– The honorable member is right.
– The honorable member did not take that view the other evening. He then left me in the lurch, but I am glad to learn that he believes now that I was right in the action which I took on that’ occasion. Whether I was or not, I certainly am of opinion that in this matter the Senate is going out of its way in the most extraordinary manner to emphasize a distinction which many of the people who argued the question so vigorously during the Federal referendum contended did not exist. It was urged then that there was no distinction between the power to request and the power to amend. As the Senate has still the power to make a request, and to make it more than once–
– It is not at all clear that they have the power to make a request in regard to this particular amendment.
– They have exercised this power.
– Not in similar cases.
– As they have exercised the power, and the right to do so has gone by default, the honorable and learned member will have to put forward a very strong argument in order to maintain the position which he now seeks to set up. In any event, they have the power to request. ‘
– Only where they cannot amend. They have power to amend this Bill, but not to make an amendment of this kind.
– They have the power of request which is inherent in all legislative bodies.
– They have the power to make a* request in connexion with this Bill, or any proposed amendment which they may send to this House.
– I think the Prime Minister should make a clear statement on that point.
– I care very little whether he does so or not, although I .do not deny that he is one of the best authorities of the House on this point. I listened with pleasure to his very able speech/ and I cannot understand why another place should have raised trouble over what after all, from their point of view, is a very small matter.
– I quite agree with the honorable member for Parramatta, that the question as to the difference between a request and an amendment, which threatens now to become rather serious, was described during the referendum campaign as being one of very great moment. We were told then that it was essential that there should be a difference, but apparently we are told now by some people that the difference is rather important, and by others that there is really no distinction. One who has posed in this House as a leading light on constitutional practice has said that the difference between a request and an amendment was the difference between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee. As that honorable and learned member has not given us the advantage of his constitutional knowledge to-day, we must reluctantly put his opinion on one side. It appears to me that the real question before, the Committee is simply this : Is the power to impose a tax the same as appropriating the revenue derived therefrom ? The honorable and learned member for Indi has just now referred to the fact that section 53 provides that a proposed law appropriating revenue or money, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate. It is quite clear that that is a prohibition, so far as the imposition of taxation is concerned, but it is not quite so clear to me that it is a prohibition of the Senate from making any amendment upon a proposed law that, having originated here, has been sent on to the Senate.
– We admit that they can amend, but we say that the third paragraph of the section prohibits them from amending upwards by way of increase.
– Therefore they may make any amendment except one which will increase taxation. That is so with regard to the imposition of taxation, but is that section a prohibition against the appropriation of revenue? If it is, what does the next paragraph of the section mean? The Senate may not do three things apparently : It may not originate a tax, it may not amend a proposed law appropriating revenue for the annual services of the Government, and it may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
– An annual Appropriation Bill may not be amended by way either of increase or decrease by.the Senate.
– Then what is the second paragraph of the section for ? Why should there be a differentiation in the section as to appropriating revenue for the annual services of the Government, and no mention of a prohibition respecting other appropriations ?
– Because they can amend those by way of decrease, but not by way of increase.
– The Prime Minister, as leader of the Convention, speaking upon this paragraph of the section, said that the purport of it was to limit the right of the Senate ,only in respect to appropriating revenue for the ordinary annual services of government, and not to limit their right in an-v of her way.
– That is with regard to the second paragraph of the section.
– It is the only paragraph that deals with it.
– No ; there is the third paragraph.
– The third paragraph deals with general matters of policy - the Federal, capital for instance.
– It provides that the Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase a charge or burden on the people. I say that the Senate may not do three things. It may not originate a. tax ; it may not amend an Appropriation Bill appropriating revenue for the ordinary . annual services of government ; but it may not do something else, of a rather vague but evidently of a comprehensive nature. It may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden, on the people. That may include both the other prohibitions.
– The honorable and learned, member has overlooked the first line of section 53.
– What I desire to ask the honorable and learned member for Indi is - Why there is a differentiation in thesection ? Obviously, that particular paragraph of the section differentiates an Appropriation Bill for the ordinary annual services, of the Government from any other Appropriation Bill.
– The Appropriation Bill for the ordinary annual services may not beamended in any direction, or to any extent,, by the Senate ; but a special appropriation may be amended b3’ way of decrease, and! not by way of increase.
– It may be so; certainly it does not seem quite clear that they have not that right. What does seem quite clear to me is that unless these words include only taxation, as was suggested in theSenate, it appears difficult to understand what they mean, for this simple reason :: the section says that all Bills imposing taxation must originate here; and all taxation - Bills, according to the Constitution, must contain nothing but what is necessary toimpose the taxation. It is quite clear that, this is not such a Bill, and therefore theprohibition must apply to something else than this. If that is so does it- cover such a case as this Bill? It cannot apply to a. taxation Bill, because such a Bill mustoriginate in this House and must not contain. anything but that which imposes the taxation. Therefore, if there be any prohibition in the section - and it is pretty clear that there is a prohibition of some sort - these words -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase a proposed charge or burden on the people - cannot refer to a taxation Bill, because the Senate may not originate such a Bill nor amend it by way of increasing the tax, and may not tack anything on to it. They therefore must refer to an appropriation. Now, it is clear that they cannot refer to the appropriation of revenue covering the ordinary services of Government, because that is already prohibited by the preceding paragraph of the section. Therefore, if they apply to anything, it must be to other appropriations which will have the effect of increasing a charge or burden on the people. The only question therefore for us to consider is, does this proposed amendment increase a charge or burden on the people ? It appears to me that it is quite clear that it does do so. That is to say, that I and every other taxpayer in the community will be called upon to make up the shortage, if there be any, as the result of the operation of the proposed amendment. I do not think there is any doubt about that. The contention of the other Chamber is that we are to ask what the Bill specifically does, and not the effect of the Bill. But if that line of argument is to be persisted in, our power over the purse is gone. If the Senate may do something indirectly which has the effect of increasing a burden on the people, and we may not stop them, because the direct effect is not so, our control is gone. It is quite clear that it was intended by the Convention, and also that the practice of the British and State Parliaments has uniformly been that the House of Representatives, the Lower House or popular branch of the Legislature, should have this control. Unless it be shown that there is some power given to the Senate which takes away that right of control from the House of Representatives it is still retained, and 1 do not think that section 53 gives the Senate any such power. While there is some doubt in my mind as to whether they may not amend such a Bill under the first paragraph of section 53, or whether they may not make an amendment in an appropriation Bill which has originated here or anywhere else, it is quite clear that the paragraph of the section which says “ the Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people,” as it cannot refer to a taxation Bill, because that must originate here, and they may not amend such a Bill by way of increase in any circumstances. Since it cannot refer to taxation, because, according to the Constitution, a taxation Bill must not contain anything but the taxation proposals, it therefore appears tome that it must refer to an appropriation of revenue, and as the preceding paragraph prohibits the Senate from amending proposed laws appropriating revenue for the ordinary annual services, it appears to me that this third paragraph of the section covers the other cases in which a proposed amendment has the effect of increasing the charge or burden on the people. And, since I agree with those who contend that this amendment does increase the burdens of the people, therefore the balance of reasoning being, as I think, in favour of the rights of this House, there must be some very good and sufficient reason shown why we should depart from the practice of British Parliaments. I shall vote for the motion.
-I really do not think that there can be a serious doubt as to the Prime Ministerbeing correct in this matter. I looked into it with some care, because it does seem tome that it is rather hard upon the Senate. If this is not a Bill for an appropriation for the annual services of the Government they may not have the right, even by way of suggestion or request, to secure the making of this amendment. If this is an appropriation by a proposed law which the Senate cannot amend, then under the fourth paragraph of section 53 they may make a request. Unless it is an appropriation of the annual services, they can amend, but not so as to increase the charge, and, if they are able to amend it, I think it possible that they cannot even make a request for an amendment in this direction. For that reason it is incumbent upon honorable members to look carefully into the matter, and see whether we cannot find a way out of the difficulty which will arise from our having to decide that this proposed change cannot be made by way of amendment.
– Does the honorable and learned member mean that they can make a request?
– I do not think that they even have power to request an amendment unless we hold that this is an appropriation for the annual services of the Government. If this is such an Appropriation Bill, and not a special Appropriation Bill, the Senate may not amend it, but they may make a request. Unless it is such an Appropriation Bill, I am afraid that, on the wording of paragraph 4, they cannot even make a request.
– I do not think it is necessary to decide that matter now.
– No doubt. I mention it rather as an apology for speaking upon the question. The honorable and learned member will see, upon carefully considering the matter, that we may be limiting the powers of another place to a greater extent than some honorable members would wish.
– It is a very real difficulty.
– That is the only reason I mention it. One might find a way of holding this to be an appropriation for the annual services of Government. I do not think those “annual services” should be limited merely to votes for the civil service and the ordinary stable matters of administration. Suppose a charge has been commenced which is to extend over six or seven years, the fact that the expenditure will cease to recur after the seventh year will not prevent it for six or seven years being an expenditure for the annual’ services of the Government.
– The honorable. and learned member will hardly say that this is a Bill covering the ordinary annual services of the Government 1.
– I would not say that now. I may possibly, after consideration, be able to find that it is part of the ordinary services. No service lasts forever. Every service is subject to any changes which Parliament may make therein. No service is definitely made at first to continue Without being liable to any subsequent change. A service may be proposed to continue for 30 or 40 years specifically. I do not say so definitely, but it might possibly be held, to be during, the 30 or 40 years an appropriation for the ordinary annual services of the Government. If that were so,, in such a case the Senate could make a request for an amendment. But if one cannot strain the meaning of the words “the ordinary annual services “ to cover an appropriation for a specific number of years, it seems to me clear that the Senate cannot even make a request in this case.
– Is it clear that this is any service of the Government ?
– This may be held to be an appropriation of moneys for ordinary annual services. The word “ services “ is not confined to merely the machinery of government. Recurring items of expenditure, if I am not mistaken, have been held to be “ services “ in the ordinary sense. I think the comprehension of the term is wider than the honorable and learned member for Indi seems to suggest. I say it is not limited merely to ordinary civil service machinery.
– I am not suggesting that it is. But can a bonus to sugar-growers be broughtinto.it?
– I am merely suggesting doubts on the subject ; I am not arguing that it can. I merely suggest that upon further consideration a way may be found out of the difficulty in which we are placing the Senate in saying, that they not only cannot amend, but cannot even suggest. If a proposed law does not fall under the definition of a. proposed law imposing taxation or appropriating revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Government^ the Senate do not seem to be able to make an amendment by way of suggestion.
– They cannot suggest in regard to any measure that they can’ amend.
– I am dealing, with clause 2, which is a proposed law such as paragraph 4 of section 53 of the Constitution refers to, not to the amendment. Clause 2 being a provision which the Senate can amend, they cannot alter it by way of suggestion. If we say that what they are doing amounts to an amendment which they cannot make in the clause, then, as they can amend the clause to some extent, they cannot, on the strict reading of paragraph 4, make this particular amendment by way of suggestion. That shows the difficulty in which this construction may land us, though T do not think there is any way out of it. In addition to the points taken by honorable members, I think that some of the exceptions mentioned in section 53 are particularly significant. It is there provided’ that -
A proposed Law shall not be taken to appropriate revenue or moneys, or to impose taxation, by reason only oi its containing provisions’ for’ the imposition or appropriation of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand or payment or appropriation o£ fees for licences, or fees for services under the proposed law.
Honorable members, in reading that provision, would at the first glance imagine that such provisions could not be held to be appropriations of revenue, but in England such measures, although they do not deal with specific sums and are contingent upon acts which may never happen - licence-fees, for instance, may never be paid - have been held to be appropriations, and these exceptions were therefore put into the section by way of further caution.
– Are they not the laws contemplated by section 56 1
– I think so. Section 56 is one upon which some insistence was put, inasmuch as the word “House “ is there used instead of the words “ House of Representatives.” The use of the word “House” seems to imply that some classes of Money Rills may originate in the Senate. The reason why the word “House” alone .was used by the framers of the Constitution was that it was held by some that messages would be necessary for the purposes of these exceptions - provisions for the imposition of fines or penalties, or for the demand of fees. The word “ House “ was used to indicate that there can be messages for appropriations and fees which do not fall under the term “ appropriation,” but no other proposed laws appropriating revenue can be originated in the Senate. As regards these particular words, I may mention that it is stated on page 547 of the . tenth edition of May’s Parliamentary Practice that these particular exceptions are charges upon the people. Surely if they fall under that heading, an appropriation of £2 out of every £3 of an excise duty - which is practically what the amendment provides for - imposes a charge upon the people. What the bonus really does is this : It almost specifically appropriates twothirds of the money raised for the purposes of government by another measure. In every £3 raised under the Excise Tariff’ Bill, there is an exemption of £2 if certain conditions are complied with.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I believe that I am the person to whom the honorable member for West Sydney alluded as having spoken of the distinction between requests and amendments as a distinction between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee. I am still firmly convinced that that is a true description, especially having regard to- the fa’ct that it was held last session that a request may be repeated at any stage. But as we are spending a lot of learning upon a petty distinction of this sort to keep the transactions, of the Houses in order, I must say that I do not think that the case against this House has been put as strongly as it can be. Throughout the discussion, some of us seem to have forgotten that there are two things which we do in regard to Money Bills. The one is to raise money for the Crown. In theory, the money when raised is the money of the Crown : we give it to the King.- That is taxation. Then, when the King has the money, we determine how it shall be spent. That is appropriation. If we keep in mind those two distinct acts, it will be perfectly clear . what is meant by the” section of the Constitution to which reference has been made. The third paragraph of that section may mean that the Senate may not amend any law in the direction of increasing taxation, although it does not impose taxation. For instance, the Customs Act does not impose taxation. It is a machinery Act, but it provides that ad valorem duties are to be computed on the value of goods delivered free on board at the port of shipment. If the Senate, in dealing with that measure, had said that’ ad valorem duties were tobe computed, not upon the value of the goods at the port of shipment, but on their value at the port of discharge, they would have been amending a proposed law so as to increase the charge or burden upon the people. We are now dealing with fine parliamentary theory, and in theory to spend the Crown’s money is not to impose a burden or charge upon the people. The expending of the money of the Crown is not imposing a charge upon the people. We are merely spending other people’s money. That is the theory.
– But the people provide it.
– Quite so, and it is in providing the money that the imposition of charges or burdens comes in. The idea of these provisions, as I understood them originally, and right through until this discussion was raised, is this : Suppose you have a law imposing taxation, or a law appropriating revenue or moneys, it must originate here. But if a fine or penalty is merely incidental to a proposed law, that proposed law may originate elsewhere. Then paragraph 2 says -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
That is perfectly clear. Where you have a Taxation Bill, or an Appropriation Bill for the ordinary annual services of the Government, pure and simple, there can be no amendment by the Senate. But the Senate might do indirectly what it is forbidden to do directly, and, therefore, the third paragraph provides that it must not do indirectly what it is forbidden to do directly. It could not, for instance, amend a Customs machinery Bill, so as to provide that the duty, whatever the rate, imposed by the Taxation Bil], should be assessed on the value of the goods at the port of discharge, instead of on their value at the port of shipment. This matter will assume importance only in the event of the proposal coming down again to us as a request. I think that, irrespective of our private wishes, we should try to give both Houses of Parliament the rights which the Constitution secures to them. I have heard in some quarters, however, the assertion of a principle which I shall never adopt - that it is our business to try to strain our privileges as far as we can, and that similarly it is the business of the members of the Senate to try to strain their privileges. I think that that is a wrong way in which to approach the subject. A very difficult situation may ultimate])7 arise in regard to this matter. It does not arise now, but we must look ahead. If we return the measure to the Senate, and say that they cannot amend it, under the fourth paragraph of section 53 they cannot request an amendment, inasmuch as that paragraph provides that -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, l>3’ Message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Repre-, sentatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications.
It will be urged that they may amend and have amended the proposed law in other respects, and therefore this paragraph with regard to requests does not apply. Therefore we must look a step ahead, and see whether we are not going a little wrong.
– May not that provision be read - “ May not amend in the direction they desire?”
– Perhaps so. I am not discussing that matter now. I am not at all convinced by the reasoning of the Prime Minister. If it is valid, it goes too far. It means that the Senate’ would not be able to amend a Bill providing for six public service inspectors so far as to say that there should be seven, because, if such an amendment were made, the Crown would have to pay for seven instead of six. In a Bill with which we dealt last week, provision is made for the appointment of three Justices to the High Court Bench. If the reasoning of the Prime Minister is correct, the Senate will have no power to provide that there shall be four or five J Justices, because, if such a provision were carried, there would be more salaries to pay, and that would mean the imposition of an increased charge or burden upon the people. I do not think that that was the intention of the framers of the Constitution. In my opinion, the emphatic word in the third paragraph of section 53 is the word ‘‘any.” It is provided that the Senate must not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, and the Constitution goes on to say also that it must not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
According to the theory of parliamentary practice, every tax is a burden on the people, although economically it may be disputed whether a protective tax is a burden or not. The intention of section 53 of the Constitution is, I take it, not only that the Senate must not amend laws imposing taxation, but that they must not amend other laws in’ such a manner as to impose a greater charge or burden on the people.
– Paragraph 3 must refer to measures other than Taxation Bills.
– Yes, that is my point. I admit that* the honorable arid learned member is quite right, and that we must read the paragraph as referring to Bills which do not impose taxation. There are Bills which do not actually impose taxation, but which might be altered so as to make the incidence of taxation heavier, and such measures are contemplated by the third paragraph. I have no desire to dwell upon this matter, but I think that it is only right to place before honorable members the views expressed in another place in support of the Senate’s power to amend. The fact that honorable senators have weakened their case by seeking to draw a distinction between burdens on the revenue and burdens on the people need not rest in our minds. The point for us to consider is what is meant by a proposed charge or burden on the people. We make a charge on the people only when we begin to pull money out of their pockets. It is quite true that incidentally if we spend theCrown’s money we shall perhaps have to call upon the people to put their hands into their pockets more deeply than before, but that does not make an increased charge upon the revenue an increased charge upon the people.
– But the Senate has no power of origination in regard to taxation or increased charges upon the people.
– I do not think that the amendment to which exception has been taken amounts to an origination. We are speaking of an increase of the proposed charge or burden on the people. The whole idea seems to be that the Senate must not alter a Bill other than one imposing taxation so as to increase the charge or burden on the people. We can conceive of many Bills in which this might happen were it not for the prohibition contained in section 53 of the Constitution. Suppose that we exercised our power to impose an income tax, and prescribed that the tax should be charged at the rate of 6d. in the £1. So far, so good. Suppose that the Senate afterwards, in connexion with a separate machinery Bill, proposed that incomes should be assessed upon a basis higher than that proposed by the House of Representatives. Their action in such a case would be contrary to the provisions of section 53 of the Constitution. There is no difference between a request and an amendment so long as requests can be made at any stage and as often as may be considered desirable. We absolutely gave up the whole case last session, and the only danger is that the Senate may not be able to exercise its just rights by suggesting this amendment.
Mr. L.E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I think it necessary to emphasize the point put by the honorable member for Wide Bay, that although we are dealing with a purely constitutional question, the amendment made by the Senate is intended to carry out the policy, and that therefore honorable members should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at some definite and fair decision upon that policy. In connexion with the constitutional question, a certain amount of danger arises from the fact that the motion practically admits that this is a Bill which may be amended by the Senate, but not so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people. In giving my vote upon this matter, I do not intend to preclude myself from the consideration of the further question, whether the Senate has the right of suggestion in this case in which it cannot make the present amendment. I wish to keep an open mind upon that question until it conies forward for discussion. I think it was fairly recognised when the Constitution was framed that with regard to revenue matters the powers of the two branches of the Legislature should not be the same. The Senate was placed under three financial disabilities. The first was that they could not amend any proposed law imposing taxation, the second was that they could not amend any law appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government, and the third prohibition was that they could not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people. In all other respects the intention was that the Senate should have equal powers with the House of Representatives. It seems clear to me that this is a matter in which theSenatehas no powerof amendment, because the amendment involves an increase of the charge or burden on the people. The Senate can deal with Appropriation Bills for the annual services of the Government only by way of suggestion. But in regard to measures containing provisions for fixed charges on the revenue - and I consider this Bill as coming within that category - or providing foran extraordinary charge, such as that necessitated forthecarrying out of public works, the Senate has power to amend, but not in such a way as to increase the charge or burden on the people. On the whole, it seems clear that this particular amendment is one which the Senate had no power to make, but I wish to reserve to myself the right to consider whether what has not been covered by their amendment can be covered by way of suggestion.
Mr FISHER (Wide Bay).- After listening to the able and lengthy address by the Prime Minister, most honorable members must have been struck with the fact that he failed to give the slightest indication of any alternative course that might be open to the Senate. It is well known that the right honorable gentleman’s opinion is that the Senate has no power to make even a suggestion in regard to this Bill.
– That question has not been argued. The Prime Minister expressly refrained from dealing with that point, because the question did not arise ; it may arise hereafter.
– I would remind the AttorneyGeneral that the question is partially raised now, because Mr. Speaker indicated that, if alterations were to be made in the Bill upon the lines desired by the Senate, they should be brought before this House by way of request, and not by way of amendment. Is it proper that the Prime Minister should ignore entirely the statement made by Mr. Speaker ? He is not entitled to shield himself from the responsibilities of his high office by dealing with only one aspect of the question. If Mr. Speaker had not mentioned the point referred to, the Prime Minister might have been excused, but he should be the leader of the House on all points involved, and not take up the particular line of defence that may seem easiest, from his own point of view. We are entitled to hear from the Prime Minister his views with regard to the whole matter, and it is not too late for the AttorneyGeneral to make a supplementary statement. No doubt the matter would be further argued if the Government declared that they did not admit the right of the Senate even to make ‘a request with regard to this measure. I shall not attempt to deal with the legal aspect of this question, but, as a layman, I understand the position to be this : As regards Bills the Senate may not amend, they may suggest amendments ; but they may not suggest the amendment of Bills they have the power to amend.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and agreed to.
Debate resumed from 9th J uly (vide page 2011), on motion by Sir Edmund Barton -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– From the time that the proposed new agreement with regard to the Australian Squadron was’ made public, I have been endeavouring, both by reading and other inquiry, to understand the exact needs of Australia in the matter of naval defence. I have to admit that the subject has proved much more difficult than I anticipated, both from the historical and the practical point of view. From the latter stand-point, the very fact that, to a large extent, expert advice has been disregarded introduces troublesome complications. When I say that expert advice has been disregarded, I mean that questions of high principle and policy have, in many cases, been determined upon the somewhat low grounds of parliamentary expediency, or it may be upon the varying fortunes of the States exchequers. I make this statement because I find that from Sir Peter Scratchley to Captain Creswell, and from Admiral Tryon to the latest of our naval authorities, Captain Mahan, all are practically agreed that in the matter of naval defence, Australia has not taken that part which she should have done. Of course, I am bound to admit that the disintegration of the various States prior to the accomplishment of federation partially accounts for what might appear to be party lines of policy. At the same time, everybody will agree that Australia never stood in any danger from internal attacks. Her people have a common language, they are one in race and aspirations, and there was never any apprehension that the States would make war upon one another. The real danger then, as now, was from over-sea attack. But despite the recognition of this fact, expert advice in these matters has, for the most part, been disregarded, and lines of policy have been pursued with respect to naval and military matters which are not in accord with what appears to be sound common sense.. The fact that this is an island continent, and that it could not be attacked except from over-sea, rendered it particularly desirable that we should pay special attention to the subject of our naval defence. As a matter of fact, however, in every one of the States, very much more attention has been given to the matter of our military defence. It has been pointed out by authorities of the highest repute - and I propose to quote some whose opinions are worth reading - that practically the reverse policy is the true policy for Australia. I find, for example, in the report by Captain Creswell, which was presented to this House on the 7th of February, 1902, two extracts, one from the Monthly Review of June, 1901, in which Sir J. C. R. Colomb makes some reference to British control in the Pacific, and the other from the United Service Gazette of July, 1901. ‘ The first passage reads as follows : -
The hope of British survival in the Pacific is not in mounted infantry or bushmen scouts - those admirable troops of proved excellence in modern war by land - it lies in means of local production and maintenance of battle power in that ocean. In the face of such developments as are now in progress on both sides of the Pacific, our island resources in the north-east corner of one hemisphere cannot indefinitely compete on equal terms for maritime control of the other. The mere fact of having to drag across the globe almost every single thing necessary for the repair and equipment of British ships is a heavy handicap in war with a nation or nations having the necessary sustaining power,- so to speak, on the spot.
The. other extract, which is even more to the point, reads thus -
We would go further, and say that the fostering of the idea in a colonial mind that their island continent can be protected by any other means than the navy is a positive danger, for it diversifies consideration from the principles which must for ever govern the defence of our Empire. The duy that Australians are called upon to resist the onslaught of some great invading force by massing troops for the defence of their coasts will mark the close of our rule of the seas, and consequently the disintegration of our vast dominions.
The latter quotation, it appears to me, summarizes the whole position so far as Australia is concerned. Our real security lies in the improvement of our naval defences, ‘and greater attention should certainly be given to them in the future. From my reading and from inquiries which I have made, it seems to me that there are practically three lines of defence which Australia should adopt. These I propose briefly to place before the House in their order of merit, because, in part, they support the arguments which I propose to adduce at a later stage. The first of these lines is that of a floating defence. As far as I am able to gather from reading the opinions of competent authorities, including admirals and captains in the navy, this should consist of torpedo boats and cruisers, whose mission it would be, riot to wait along our coast until an enemy appeared in sight, but having had notice of his intention to meet, to attack, and to defeat him if possible, but, if not, to delay him prior to preparing for him in a more serious way. Our second line of defence, I think, should be a fixed defence in the shape of forts, batteries, mines, and other fixtures which could be very well utilized to guard our port entrances, harbors, and cities beyond. Special attention to this phase of defence is necessary, because - as has been repeatedly pointed out - the only object of an attack upon Australia would be, not that of acquiring territory for the purposes of colonization, but rather of levying tribute upon us. If we adequately protected our principal ports and richer cities, and that fact became widely known, the chance of these raids being made upon us would be very much diminished. Then, of course, we must have a third line of defence in tha shape of a military force, to resist to the uttermost any attempt on the part of a foe to effect a landing should both our other lines of defence fail. That land force, however, need not partake of the character that it has assumed in the several States. We have now reached a period when a great opportunity presents itself to us of reversing the wrong policy that has been pursued in regard to the defence of Australia. I hold that we need not build up our military establishments in the way we have done, and that by so much as we reduce the expenditure upon them, we can improve the more necessary arm of our defence which I am specially discussing at the present moment. What we particularly require, so far as the military force is concerned, is something in the nature of a citizen soldiery consisting of expert riflemen, instead of the gold lace element, large staffs, and extravagant expenditure which have characterized it in the past. We should embrace this opportunity - the first which has presented itself to me, although I have been a Member of Parliament for nearly ten years - to carry out the policy which is dictated by prudence. I should further like to add that even under the new agreement the expert advice to which I have referred is being disregarded. Under it, the military element is still to predominate in matters connected with Australian defence. It is still to absorb a very large proportion of the money which the people of Australia are willing to expend upon their defence.
– Far too much in proportion.
– Yes, far too much in proportion to our total expenditure upon defence. Our naval needs, I repeat, are still in large part to be disregarded though it may possibly be argued that the new agreement is designed to strengthen the naval defence of our coast. In my view it does not accomplish anything of the kind. In that respect it is scarcely any better that was the old agreement, whilst in many other respects it is much worse. I have already stated that if ever an attack is made upon Australia, it will probably be for the purpose of securing money from us, and not with the object of obtaining territory for colonization. In this connexion, Admiral Tryon, to whom we owe a good deal, pointed out some years ago, though his words are equally applicable to-day, that even if we had to resist bombardment, and to suffer hardships as a result, it would be very much better to submit to them than to yield without any show of resistance. Speaking of the possibility of an attack by a privateering squadron, which might descend upon our shores for the purpose of extorting money from us, he says-
It could effect a certain amount of harm by bombardment ; but to such towns as Melbourne and Sydney the injury would not be very great, even if the fleet expended all its ammunition. The more lasting effect would be the destruction of trade, and with it the recuperative power of the country for years. If, in lieu of resistance, there was hesitation followed by a decision to yield - a condition I hardly can contemplate - trade and commerce will be equally destroyed ; and if there is one thing more certain than another, it is that demands, if yielded to, would have a more disastrous effect on the welfare of the country than ever could be produced by the heaviest bombardment.
These words are pregnant with meaning, and conclusively show not only that we must strengthen our first two lines of defence, but that, even if both of these are defeated, we must still resist, by means of our military forces, any attempt at invasion or attack. More especially, he points out, ought we to make adequate provision for the protection of our harbors and cities, as well as of our coaling ports. There are two classes of ports, therefore, which require to be efficiently protected according to this authority - the capitals themselves, and our coaling ports. In view of these circumstances I suggest that we should reduce considerably the military arm of our defence, and utilize the money thus saved to increase the strength of our naval arm. It does not appear to me that the people of Australia are either willing or able to withstand any additional taxation for defence purposes. I believe that full and complete protection can be obtained for the money which we are at present expending. I hold that we are expending that money in a wrong way. The proper policy to adopt is to reduce the outlay upon that arm of our defence which is of least service to us, and to increase and strengthen that arm which is of most service, namely, the naval arm. We further require to modernize our harbor defences. It has been pointed out by authorities upon the subject that the equipment of most of our defence works is old and not of modern type. To mymind, we ought to take notice of such statements, and endeavour as far as our means will permit to modernize, strengthen, and render more efficient our harbor defences.
– These are beautiful generalities to indulge in, but why does the honorable member not particularize ?
– I have already declared that an adequate defence of Australia can be provided by reducing the present expenditure upon our military forces, and devoting the saving thus effected to the strengthening of our naval defences, and in the latter I include harbor defence. Every year we vote, in round figures, about £1,000,000.
– That, again, is only general.
– The honorable member does not expect me, I hope, to give the details of a whole scheme, more particularly in view of the fact that I speak, as he and all others must do, with a certain amount of diffidence on an expert subject. I am not an expert, and all the opinions I am voicing are based upon what I have read and the inquiries I have made. Practically every honorable member is in the same position’. We can only gather what is proper to be done by reading, making inquiry, and taking the views of those experts whom we can consult. We ought to strengthen our coal bases ; we ought to specialize city protection, because we may at some time or other be raided for money or loot ; and, as far as possible, we ought to replace our old appliances. I am not in a position to speak with any authority, but I have heard it asserted by those who have had some experience in Australia that a great proportion of our armament is not nearly efficient enough for modern requirements.
– B - But there is no requirement.
– There may be. As the old adage says, the best way to prevent war is to be prepared for it, and though I, like the honorable member, hate war as much as any one can do, yet I am not so blind as to imagine that we may never be attacked. It may be said, and perhaps it has been said, that the new proposal is quite adequate to carry out all the matters to which I have been alluding, but I do not think it is. It has been stated that the naval squadron we are to get is to take the place of both the Auxiliary Squadron and those naval forces which were previously owned and controlled by the States. It has also been pointed out that the Naval Brigades which were built up . under previous conditions are likely to be swept away. Under such circumstances, I think that the new agreement does not give us- as adequate protection as did the old -one. Notwithstanding the fact that the ships are to be heavier in armament and greater in number, I think that the old agreement in very many respects indeed gave us a very much better service than is likely to be obtained under the new one.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Admiralty experts would deliberately give us a worse defence t
– It is not the Admiralty experts alone, but the Government in treaty with the Admiralty experts who have agreed on this scheme .as a basis.
– But the Prime Minister says that the scheme is that of the Admiralty.
– I suppose that in « large part it is. The Admiralty, however, may think that they are giving us better protection. I am voicing my own opinion, when I say I do not think they are, and I shall emphasize my view a little later on by quoting from the agreement. In the meantime I wish to give another reason why the scheme is not so good as the old one, and that is that the squadron may be withdrawn at the very time when it may be required - namely, in war time. It stands to reason that, wherever the major scene of operations is, there the Admiralty will concentrate their strongest and best ships, and if any such operations necessitate the withdrawal of the ships from the Australian coast, then not only will our trade and commerce be exposed to attack by privateers or foreign powers engaged in war, but our coast line and cities will also be exposed, and to that extent I think the agreement is worse than the old one. Quoting again from that splendid report of Captain Creswell, which has never received sufficient consideration, I think, at the hands of the House, the case is exceedingly well put when he says at page S -
Any future naval war, it is certain, will be waged against a combination of naval powers. It is most unlikely that any single power will undertake the task. Great and powerful as the British fleet is, it will be taxed to the uttermost to cover and protect a world-wide commerce, which is the life of the nation, and at the same time carry on the heavy work of the major operations of war in Europe. The (leets 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. Failures, defeats, inability to afford us a complete, perhaps any, protection - it is only reasonably prudent to take into account - our condition in such a contingency would be one of absolute helplessness. However powerful and perfect our military organization, and well armed and garrisoned our forts, our sea traffic must cease, or be at the mercy of the merest privateer.
These strong statements - made by a gentleman who has, beyond any doubt, given the subject very grave and serious attention, and who speaks as an expert - are worthy the attention of this House and of this country. I quote the passage with great satisfaction, the more so because it agrees with my own view. The new agreement also professes to encourage and develop Australian seamanship. It says -
The Commissioners….. having recognised the importance of sea power in the control which it gives over sea communications ….. and the advantages which will be derived from developing the sea power of Australia and New Zealand; nave resolved to conclude for this purpose an agreement.
This is merely so much verbiage, because there are not, even taking the Prime Minister’s estimate into account, to be nearly so many men engaged in the naval defence of Australia as there were under the old agreement. We are to have more ships, it is true, but the greater number of ships will not employ a larger number of Australian seamen, and therefore that statement in’ the schedule does not carry any truth in it. There will not be anything like the same number of men employed, and, therefore, this talk about developing the seamanship of Australia is not by any means in accordance with the facts. Again, we are told by the sponsors for the Bill that the agreement is to give us a greater defence of Australia. Now, according to its terms, nothing of the kind is contemplated. It sets out in the plainest terms that what is contemplated is not so much the defence of Australia as the defence of the trade and interests of Australia. Article 2 shows quite clearly that what the squadron is to be put into Australian waters for is to protect the trade and interests of Australia and New Zealand ; that the protection is to be under the direction of the Admiralty, and that the squadron is to be where the Admiralty believes that it can most effectively act against any hostile force. The agreement says nothing about the defence of Australia itself, and does not carry out exactly what is claimed by its supporters. Further, I should like to have some definition or understanding of what is meant by article 9-
The Imperial Government recognise the advantages to be derived from making Australasia a base for coal and supplies for the squadrons in Eastern waters.
I do not know that they recognise that it is an advantage to Australia. I presume they recognise that it is an advantage to the Admiralty authorities to be able .to come to Australia, it being adequately protected in time of war, to get a supply of provisions or coal. But I do not see what advantage Australia is to get. It is not provided that the ships which are to be on the Australian or Eastern stations are to take all their supplies from Australia. If that were part of the bargain it would be a very good contract possibly that we are making ; but Great Britain and the Admiralty authorities do not bind themselves to do anything o.f the kind. They merely make a bald declaration, which covers nothing, which agrees to nothing, and which binds them to nothing. If it bound them to accept coal and other supplies for the Eastern squadrons from Australia, it might be asserted, with a very good show of reasoning, that the bargain was not such a bad one after all. But it does nothing of the kind, and because it does not, the article, to me, is perfectly meaningless: I made some reference to the fact that it is principally the trade of Australia which the new squadron is to protect, and I wish to say, with some hesitation, that that trade is of more importance to the Empire as a whole, in many respects, than it is to Australia. From the figures given by the Prime Minister, which I have verified by reference to other, authorities, particularly Coghlan, I find that out of a total trade of £110,000,000 belonging to Australia and New Zealand, practically £90,000,000 goes to the Empire, £66,000,000 going direct to the United Kingdom, and the balance to British possessions. I also find that in 1891 the trade amounted to the large sum of about £50,000,000. So .that the increasing trade of Australia with the Empire itself is of very great importance to the Empire, and requires to be protected. I further find, as another instance of the interests which the United Kingdom has in Australia, that the interest bill of this country has risen, during the last ten years, from £7,000,000 to very nearly £10,000,000. Under these circumstances, there was some very good reason for inserting in the agreement that it was not so much the cities and people of Australia as the trade and interests of Australia which were to be protected, and which the Admiralty authorities recognised. Of course we cannot deny that the trade of Australia is of importance to ourselves, and I propose to show, at a later stage, that whilst the Empire represented by the UnitedKingdom has a certain duty to perform in respect to all trade and commerce, we, in the several possessions of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have our duty to perform, and that if we divide the duties of Empire we shall succeed much more effectively than if we combine and attempt to protect them in the way suggested by this agreement.Something has been said about “ burdens of Empire.” When this matter was under discussion in the House of Commons, Sir Charles Dilke - I quote from memory - said that the question of a naval contribution from the Australian colonies ought not to be taken into account, and added that the spontaneous offering of the people of Australia to the motherland, in connexion with the Boer war, was such as might be accepted with gratitude, because it inculcated the lesson, not only to the British people, but to the world at large, that the Empire is really one and indivisible. But so far as contributions are concerned Sir Charles Dilke said - and here I quote, the substance of his words - “ They are worthless.* Voluntary contributions, whether in the shape of money or men, is what the
Empire appreciates. I cannot give Sir Charles Dilke’s exact words, but I think I have adequately expressed what he said on that occasion.
– Sir Charles Dilke holds a very strong opinion that we mightcontribute a great deal more.
– I read the House of Commons debate on the subject, and that was not what I gathered, though other utterances might of course prove the honorable member for Parramatta to be correct. No one will deny ‘that we have certain obligations to the Empire, but, as I have already indicated, we on our part do certain work which, perhaps, the Empire does not fully recognise. It has been pointed out that the work which Canada is doing for the Empire furnishes reasons for the refusal of that great Dominion to indorse an agreement of the kind before us. In this connexion the position of the Australian States is not, in my opinion, sufficiently recognised by the mother country. A very great number of people in the motherland know nothing of the work which has been done in the States - work which is not even dreamt of and which could not possibly be done by the home authorities. In brief, Australia, together with Canada and New Zealand, maintains and develops a large portion of the earth’s surface for tlie British race, and in so doing, does more than merely provide depots where the surplus population of the mother country may settle in peace and tranquility - on another occasion I pointed out that the chief export of the United Kingdom is human beings - and they also provide for the British race both breeding and feeding grounds, where the sons of -the mother country may increase and multiply ; where those who speak our mother tongue may strengthen and develop the power of the Empire, and build up an even greater system of trade and commerce than they now control. .
– There is not much consolation in that for the struggling taxpaver at home.
– There can be no consolation to the struggling taxpayer in the fact that Australia does this kind of work ; but it ought to be some consolation to the British people to know that their fellow-countrymen are maintaining large parts of the earth’s surface, wherein and whereon they may, if they choose, settle in peace and tranquility, and make honest livelihoods. The British people ought to know that because of this work a large amount of taxation, which would be otherwise thrown upon them, is avoided. Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders, nowadays undertake a large amount of work which was previously carried out by the British people themselves. For example, it has been pointed out in the course of this debate that some years ago regiments of soldiers were maintained in this country by the home authorities as a means of defence. The military defence we have now undertaken ourselves. ; and I am arguing that we are also prepared to undertake our own naval defence, provided we are allowed to do it in our own way, and under circumstances which will give us the control and management, and not leave us absolutely helpless should the home authorities take away that protection which they now profess to give. These possessions are also doing what may be termed pioneer work, in constantly opening up new country by the expenditure of loan moneys and in other ways, and thus, increasing opportunities for the surplus population which is constantly flowing . to them from th& mother land. Might I also say, without trenching on another subject, that the people of this country, recognising their obligations to the mother country - I think I am safe in saying this - are willing, having provided for their own needs, to give the United Kingdom a preference in all trading concerns. That preference is shown most assuredly in connexion with financial operations, because, so far as I ‘ know, no Australian State has ever dreamt of placing, a loan in any other country except Great Britain. The whole of our financial operations are as a matter of course conducted in England, and in that and other ways we admit our obligation, and give a practical turn to a loyalty and a regard which cannot he ignored by thoughtful students. A very “fine picture was drawn by the honorable and learned member for East Sydney of the Empire as an individuality, with one brain to conceive, and one arm to strike. In drawing that picture the honorable and learned member was arguing in support of the proposed naval agreement, and endeavouring to show that the navy as a whole should be under the control of that “ brain “ centred in Great Britain. The honorable and learned member had something further to say about aggregations, and the tendency to aggregations in modern tiroes. But the magnificent simile presented does not, in my opinion, quite apply to our present circumstances. The Empire is not so much like an individual as it is like a huge modern trading business, in which there are several departments, each under the control of a separate manager, and each manager responsible for his own department. It is quite true that the general management is centred in what may be termed the “front office,” which, for the purpose of this argument, is the United Kingdom ; but in the several departments the managers are responsible for all that takes place. That is exactly, in 1113’ view, the position in relation to the .great British possessions oversea, such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. It is not quite fair to speak of aggregations unless we take into consideration the fact that, where they occur, specialization runs with them. Every department of work becomes a speciality for one manager or a number of managers ; and what we have to do, as I indicated in a previous portion of my remarks, is to specialize the work which Australia has to do, and the work which Great Britain has to do. By this means we shall render much more effective all that has to be undertaken in regard to the defences of the Empire. If I can make my contention clear, the duty of Australia is to defend in every way, both on the naval and on the military side, this great possession with which we have been endowed. Australia ought to defend herself against all kinds of attack, not merely attack which might come in time of war, or as the result of the fact that Great Britain may be at war with some other nation, but all along the line - at all times, in peace and war, she ought to undertake the whole System of defence. When I speak of defence, I mean the defence of Australia - her population, her cities, and all the interests within her borders. On the other hand, the duty of Great Britain is, in my opinion, to protect the ocean routes and the shipping on those routes - to keep op,en the highway which lead to and from her own possessions, and to guard and control as far as possible that trade and commerce, which, as I said previously with some diffidence, is of more importance to her than it is to ourselves. Great Britain can gain access to her own possessions only by keeping open those great ocean highways ; therefore, the freedom of these routes and highways are of paramount importance, and should be her especial care. On the other hand, if the British possessions were each to undertake the defence and control of its own particularpart of the Empire, while the mother country kept open the trading routes and highwaysthe work would be specialized, and weshould be much more successful in the conduct of our business. For those reasonsand others, I think the proposed agreementis not in accord with Australian sentiment, thought, or feeling, and that, further, in the nature of things, the agreement is a bad one. If we take it as a mere contribution, to Imperial naval expenses, then it is petty,, paltry, ridiculous. A contribution of £200,000 a year to an expenditure of nearly £40,000,000 cannot be otherwise described ; indeed it can hardly be regarded in the light of a contribution at all ! If it is to be taken, as a mere indication of loyalty, I think it is somewhat stupid ; a.nd it brings, into existence a somewhat reprehensible practice of measuring loyalty by money. There is no gauge of Australian loyalty or sentiment towards the motherland in an annual payment of £200,000; indeed, as an advertisement of Australian loyalty this contribution is absolutely ridiculous. If it is t’o be considered as payment for services rendered - as the agreement setsout almost in so many words - then I think it is wrong in principle. What we ought to attempt on our part is not to hire patriots to fight our battles, but to encourage and stimulate a patriotic sentiment in our own citizens. We ought to endeavour to encourage in our naval defences that splendid spirit of patriotism which has been evident several times in connexion with our military defences. We ought not toact in opposition to all British ideals of loyalty in this regard - we ought not, as I have said, to hire patriots, butto stimulate our own citizens to carry on the.naval defences, of our own shores, cities, and people, as they have been stimulated in the case of the military defences. We- could make better use of the money in employing our own men. It may be interesting to turn to authoritieswho may have weight in this House, and ascertain what were their opinions some time ago on the subject. I have said that I think we could make better use of the money by employing our own men and taking control of our own naval defences ; and I find that view was taken some time ago by such gentlemen as the honorable and learned member for East Sydney, and by the Minister for Trade .and Customs. Speaking of the Colonial Conference which was held in 1897, and in making his report thereon to the South Australian House of Assembly, the present Minister for Trade and Customs, as reported on page 613 of the South Australian *Hansard, said -
I was present when the First Lord of the Admiralty, in proposing or replying to some toast at the dinner of the Royal Colonial Institute, threw out the suggestion … that possibly the time would come when an increased contribution to the maintenance of the Imperial fleet by Australia might ‘be felt to be justified. Mr. Reid, who spoke shortly afterwards, referred in the plainest terms to this proposal . . . and put it that we could make better use of the money for the present, and with that expression I thoroughly agreed.
He added -
I am inclined to think it would be far better if Great Britain no longer sought this contribution from us, and an understanding were arrived at whereby that or some equivalent might be expended as Australia thought best under Australian management.
I do not know whether the Minister for Trade and Customs is still of the same opinion; but it would appear, from what the right honorable member for East Sydney said last week, that he has changed his mind on the subject. The Minister for Trade and Customs is a man whom we in this Chamber all respect, and who said that we f-ould make better use of our money by having a navy of our own, under our own management, and employing our own people. I think that that is so ; I agree with the right honorable gentleman. It has been said that under this, agreement we shall not lose anything in respect to the number of seamen employed. But that view has been strongly controverted by those who have studied the question most carefully. It has been shown that we shall not employ anything like the number of nien that we have previously employed in our naval defence. One of our chief objects is to find employment for our own citizens in the naval defence of Australia, not merely because we desire to see them employed, but for the reason that we wish to have them trained for purposes of naval warfare, so that whenever a time of stress comes we shall be able to find not merely money, but also men who know their business, to assist in the defence of the 6 j5
Empire. I’ say, as was said by Admiral* Tryon years ago, that what is required for thedefence of the Empire is the services of ourown kin, which are worth far more than any mere money payments.
– Nothing is worthmuch in time of war except money.
– We know that men backed by very little money can do a. great deal. That was proved under circumstances which occurred some time ago..
– But not in naval warfare.
– What applies topatriotism and enthusiasm and fighting ability in connexion with military matters, I take it, will also apply in naval warfare. When honorable members come to consider that this is an island continent - as has been pointed out times without number - and that, therefore, we may hope in time todevelop a huge maritime population, the earlier we begin to take an interest in matters of naval defence the better it willbe for ourselves. I do not think that patriotism is to be purchased. It is not a quantity that can be bought and sold. It is thoroughly a child of locality. It isvery often stimulated and strengthened in, nationality and self-reliance, and sometimes it is perfected only in adversity and. misfortune. But it is never made perfect under any circumstances by the merepayment of tribute, or by the hiring of a, number of men to do what should be doneby the citizens of the country themselves. Under these circumstances, what I think should be done by this House is to reject the proposed agreement, and to endeavourto substitute for it something which will be more in harmony with Australian: sentiment, which will open the way to agreater extent to the training of our own citizens in naval matters, and which will give us a real and permanent interest in the naval defence of our own coasts, our own cities, and our own people. It may be objected that the proposed naval agreement gives us as many men as we want, and that we are not rich enough to purchase a navy of our own. It may be objected that under the terms of this agreement we are to have the services of modern ships all the time, and that if we purchased our own vessels they would soon become obsolete. A number of objections of a like character may be pointed out. But, as has been observed by other speakers - and I need not repeat the arguments - the Admiralty is to be the sole authority in all these questions. Whether ships that have become obsolete are to be continued or not, is not to be decided by Australia, but is to be entirely within the discretion of the Admiralty. Therefore, we do not know whether we shall get a new ship in ten years’ time or less. Whether the modern ships that are referred to are to be constantly sent here or not we do not know. We certainly cannot find .out by “reading the agreement itself exactly how many men resident in Australia are to be employed in connexion with the naval service. It is true that the Prime Minister has pointed out that there are to be 1,600 of them, but I cannot gather from the terms of the agreement itself that there is anything binding upon the Admiralty authorities in England to have that number of Australians employed upon these ships.
– It is not possible to find the exact number of men until it is found out how many are willing and able to go on board the cruiser and the training ships in addition to the reserve forces.
– The difficulty about the whole situation is that the term of service is to be from three to five years, and what is to happen after that period to these men who join the service nobody knows. What inducement is there for men to join the service under those conditions ? There may indeed be a difficulty in inducing Australians to take service in the ships at all ; whereas if we had a navy under our own control the men who joined it would be given permanent situations so to speak. Under the agreement, they may have to retire at the end of five years, or be transferred to the reserve. There is not much likelihood of getting many good men under these conditions. So that on that account I regard the agreement as being not good enough. Now as to the costliness of a navy. It has been admitted that much that has been said from that point of view has been exaggerated. We have been talking of battle-ships and of the better class of armoured vessels, whereas we require for the defence of Australia something entirely different. I think, also, that we ought not to talk about getting a big navy at once. Indeed, what I would suggest is this - we should have a combination of leasing and purchasing. We should lease those ships that are necessary for the defence of our own coasts until such time as we have secured by purchase a sufficient number of vessels to be capable of defending us against all-comers.
– From whom would the honorable member lease them 1
– From the mother country, of course. I would not think of leasing vessels from any country but Great Britain. I believe that the mother country would just as readily lease to us a squadron of ships as she has lent us odd vessels at various times.
– The fair value on a lease would be far more than the 5 per cent, provided for under this scheme.
– I should think so. More like 10 per cent.
– And Great Britain would want them back in time of war.
– That is a reason why we should have ships of our own to defend us and our coasts. The whole of the Australian Squadron might be taken away in time of war, whereas if we had vessels of our own we should be sure of some means of defence. With respect to the quality and type of ships, I should like to quote the opinion of Captain Creswell.
– Captain Creswell is very pleased with this agreement, I may tell the honorable member. He was one of the first, when he met me in Brisbane on my return from England, to congratulate me upon it.
– I am not aware that he is pleased with this agreement. It has already been admitted that we do not require a number of expensive modern battle-ships or great armoured cruisers for the defence of Australia. No words of mine could convey so cleanly what we do require as the words of Captain Creswell himself. They are to be found in his report, page 7.
– What would the honorable member expect if vessels such as the Gromoboi came down on his cruisers 1
– What Captain Creswell says furnishes an answer to the Prime Minister’s interjection. He says -
Ships of the Royal navy may be called upon to serve all over the world ; they are built, armed, and fitted accordingly. Such a ship must be able to steam great distances on end, and carry on operations away from a base for a comparatively long time. Long distances steaming compels great coal capacity. Long absence from a base requires that there shall be large stowage room for stores and provisions. The whole space and tonnage of a vessel of war is roughly divided as follows : - (1) Engine and boiler-rooms, (2) coal and stores, (3) crew’s space, (4) guns and ammunition, (5) armour.
Tonnage being limited, none of the space under the above headings can be increased unless at the expense of the others. To increase coal stores and armour would be to decrease engine-room and boiler or crew’s space.
Ships of the Royal navy, being designed to steam great distances, and to be absent from their base for long periods, a very large proportion of the tonnage is set aside for coal and stores. This compels reduction in armament, and they are therefore very lightly armed in proportion to their tonnage.
Service in Australian miters would not be at any great distance from a base; all ports would be open to our ships for replenishing their coal. The generous allowance of space or tonnage for coal and stores (especially for stores), required by theBritish cruisers, would be unnecessary for Australian service. By adapting our design to the favouring conditions of a long coast-line with many coaling ports we can reduce the coal and stores space, and increase largely armament and gun power.
There can be no greater waste than to carry hundreds of tons of coal and stores more than necessary. Gun power can, therefore, be so largely increased in an Australian ship that she would be equal to a ship twice her tonnage. Besides greater fighting efficiency there is a large economy in purchase-money, maintenance, and up-keep of the smaller vessel.
The answer to the Prime Minister’s interjection is, as I have indicated, partly to be found in that statement. It is also to be found, in the other part, in what is recommended by men like Captain Mahan, Sir Peter Scratchley, and Admiral Tryon, all of whom have suggested that what we need is a class of ships with comparatively small store-space, and greater armament and gunpower, to be backed up by torpedo boats, that would harass an enemy that attempted to attack our ports and harbors. I have almost concluded what I have to say on this subject ; but, to summarize, what we require, as far as I able to judge, is a combination of leasing and of purchase, in order to begin our own navy. We require a special type of ships, effective for the defence of Australia herself and her interests, and not the same type of ship as Great Britain generally builds for service in all parts of the world, which in consequence lose something in armament and gun-power.
– What would they cost?
– The authority from whom I am quoting says that while a battle-ship would cost a million of money, the cost of the class of vessel which Australia would require would be from £250,000 to £300,000. I take it that if we reduce our expenditure in connexion with military matters, we can afford to purchase one of these ships every year or two.
– In the meantime what about our defence?
– I have already said we could lease more ships for defending our coasts.
– Does the honorable member know that Great Britain would be willing to lease them to us?
– It has never been done yet.
– I presume that she would lease them if we were prepared to pay for them.
– Great Britain does not keep a time-payment furniture shop.
– The more we were prepared to pay the greater value we should get for the money expended. We are now paying for services rendered. If it is not leasing, it is something pretty well akin to it; but I only suggest the word “leasing” as being perhaps something a little different from what this agreement proposes, and in order to avoid confusion. Under a leasing system we should absolutely control the ships on the Australian station, whereas under this agreement wehave no voice in their control. I wish also to say that my position with regard to this agreement is not merely a selfish position. I oppose it, although I agree with the Prime Minister when he said that we ought not lightly to pass over our obligations to the mother country and to the Empire to which we belong. I do not desire to do anything of the kind. To my mind, the question is how we can best carry out our obligations to the mother country, how best maintain the Empire as a whole, and how best, having a thought to these things, defend our own shores against invasion and attack. It seems to me that the principles and the plan which I have laid down best serve that end. I cannot see that anything less would be satisfactory to Australia. Ithink, too, that it is the only way in which to stimulate patriotism which, in circumstances such as the agreement dictates, might never have the opportunity which otherwise would offer. Vice- Admiral Penrose Fitzgerald dealing with this subject in the Spectator on 7 th December, 1901, said -
But what appears to me to be the cardinal defect in the present plan is that the ships are not Australian ships, that they do not fly an Australian flag, and the officers and men do not wear a distinctively Australian uniform such as the troops wear.
These are not the words of a nian who is a republican or of one who wishes the Empire ill. They are the words of an admiral in the British Navy, who declares that what Australia requires is something akin to the plan which I have been endeavouring to map out. She requires to give every opportunity to her own citizens because, as I believe, she is willing to undertake her own defence.
– It is very interesting to know of these ideas, but it would also be interesting to know what it would cost to carry them out.
– Th These questions must necessarily involve the further consideration of how far we are prepared to go in the matter of expense. I do not think it is proper in the course of a second reading debate to enter upon the full details of proposals of this kind ; but I have endeavoured to point out in a general way that I consider first of all that we have neglected expert advice, that we have consistently and persistently built up the military arm of our defences at the expense of the naval arm, although the -naval arm is the more importtint. It is undoubtedly more important, because any attack to which Australia is likely to be subject must come from oversea. I think that we require less military and more naval expenditure, and that by reducing our military outlay we should be able to find sufficient funds to increase and strengthen our naval defence, without imposing an additional penny of taxation upon the people of this country. By adopting that course, we should give greater satisfaction to the people of Australia and to the Empire as a whole, while we should also give a greater stimulus to patriotism by opening up wider avenues of employment than would be available under the terms of this agreement. If we divide the duties in the way I have suggested - if Australia takes upon herself the duty of maintaining these lands for the British race, and if Canada, New Zealand, and other British possessions, follow the same lines, the Empire as a whole undertaking to keep open and to preserve all the trade routes and ocean highways over which the surplus population of Britain is to flow to these distant possessions, and through which trade and commerce is to flow back to her - -then we shall really specialise in such . a way as to improve the defence of the Empire, and to make its indivisibility surer than it will be under the terms of this agreement.
– We have had some very able and elaborate speeches on this subject, and- therefore I do not intend to detain the House at any great length. What I have to say to-night will be perhaps largely a repetition of the views I have expressed at different times as well as of those which have been put forward by other honorable members. . I desire to say at once that I have every sympathy with those who wish to see the development of an Australian Navy. Some time ago, during the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Defence Bill, I drew the attention of the House to the cost which the proposition involved, -and with all respect to the -opinion of certain gentlemen connected with the colonial navies, I do not think that they have ‘ yet dissipated the fear that it is almost impossible to look forward to the immediate establishment of an Australian Navy. I read with a great degree of interest the paper presented to the Government by Captain Creswell, and also that read before the Colonial Institute by Senator Matheson, which apparently was largely founded upon Captain Creswell’s estimates. It does not appear to me that the accuracy of the calculations as to the preliminary cost of the construction, or the maintenance of such a squadron as Captain Creswell contemplates, has been sufficiently demonstrated to enable us to take up the matter. It seems to me that if at a later stage we have a Government in power which supports the sentiment of an Australian Navy, it will be desirable for them to institute some form of inquiry by experts as to the cost of establishing such a navy and as to the time within which the scheme could be carried out. Unfortunately it appears that we have in power a Government which is distinctly opposed to the idea of an Australian Navy. It is not merely that they are unwilling at present to initiate such a project, because they see financial difficulties staring them in the face; but according to the statement made a few nights ago by the Prime Minister, he has no sympathy with the proposal that we should have a separate navy. Both the Prime Minister and the
Minister for Defence within the last few days have made statements to that effect in the House. They are influenced by the theory that we, as part of the British Empire, must join forces with, and practically merge our naval defence, in the general defence of the Empire. I for one do not agree with that idea. I was quite prepared to support the previous agreement, on the understanding that it was merely a tentative one, to operate until we should be in a position to do something towards the creation of a navy of our own. I regret to say, however, that the present Ministry seem to be imbued with a very different feeling. The Prime Minister said that the suggestion that the contribution from. Australia should go towards the creation of a fleet that would work as one, to meet an enemy wherever it might be most advantageous to do so, was the #idea which he entertained before he left Australia, and we know that that same opinion was put forward very strongly by the Minister for Defence in the minute that he forwarded to the Prime Minister just prior to his departure for London. I do “not look at this matter as one who is desirous of immediately bringing into existence an Australian Navy, because, after all, the most that we could hope to do for some considerable time would be to bring a small squadron into existence. As the result of every inquiry I have made, the fact has been brought home to my mind with greater force every day, that it is impossible to look to the adequate defence of Australia by any one squadron. I learn from Brassey’s Naval Annual that, during the last British naval evolutions, Admiral Wilson, who was in command of the attacking squadron in the English Channel, was able, in spite of the fact that a fleet, numerically stronger than his own, was on the look-out for him in the same waters, to proceed without molestation over a distance of over 170 miles, to relieve . some of his torpedo boats and destroyers that were shut up in Alderney, and. to return over the same route, without even being sighted by the defending fleet. The moral of that incident is that it is idle to imagine that any one squadron would be able to . defend Australia, or to offer anything like a show of defence, against the attack of even a few raiding cruisers; because, whilst the combined squadron would be able to dispose of them—
– That is an argument rather in favour of this agreement, which provides for three squadrons.
– Surely the honorable member is overreaching himself. The agreement does not provide for the continued presence of even one squadron in Australian waters. That is where the honorable member is in error. It provides for the presence of three squadrons in AustralianChinese waters ; but it does not provide that they shall be on this coast when they are required. It seems to me that that is a very material difference. The point I was endeavouring to make was that it is impossible to expect that any one squadron would be able to adequately protect us from raiding cruisers. I think it is also impossible to expect that any squadron in these waters would be so strong that, even if it were cut up into sections, any one of those sections would be able to cope with a possible enemy If that be so, we have then to look to what is the next best means of defence. I for one think that we shall have to expend a very -considerable sum upon our ports and harbor defences and such like works, before we shall be able to believe that anything like adequate protection is afforded to our shipping and commercial interests. We have at the same time to undertake a very considerable expenditure upon military equipments. We have the contention of those in authority to-day -that, with but very few exceptions, all the field-guns in Australia are obsolete, and that in the event of war they would be of no value. We have also the admission on the part of the Minister for Defence that until recently we had only some 13,000 magazine rifles in Australia. We have now a further, instalment of some 7, 000 . of these rifles; but I contend that even the total number is wholly insufficient, having regard to the fact that the rifles have to be distributed over the whole area of Australia. In addition to that fact, if we are to have an enlightened administration of the Defence Department, we require one if not two ammunition and small arms factories in the Commonwealth. We shall probably require more than that number. That, again, must lead to expenditure. In my belief, if the Government have a proper regard for even that portion of the defence of Australia which can be achieved by’ means of land forces, they will have to spend, during the next few years, at least £250,000 per annum - in addition to what is now being expended on our forces - in the acquirement of up-to-date armament and equipment. I know that the members of the party to which I belong have been taunted with a cheese-paring policy in regard to defence.
– They say we spend too much.
– Kyabram charges us with spending too much, while others say that we are too economical in the matter of military expenditure.
– They will no longer be able to say that of the honorable member.
– I object to extravagant expenditure upon matters connected with the military forces that are not essential. That is the point. In the past we have spent vast sums upon the training of a more or less efficient number of men, but we have made no provision for arms for them or for supplying them with ammunition. That is a most wasteful and wickedly extravagant expenditure.
– And we have made no provision for field equipment of any kind.
– So the honorable and learned member has informed me. I do not pretend to speak for the other members of the labour party, but personally I should have no objection to a reasonably large vote to place the equipment of our forces upon a satisfactory footing. I would sooner vote for the expenditure of £1,000,000 in providing guns and rifles than for the expenditure of £100,000 in training men who had no rifles to use. That is the. way in which the matter appears to me. To get back to the subject immediately at issue, if we are to expend that large sum upon a purelymilitary or semi-military establishment of defence ; if we are to thoroughly arm and equip our troops, to thoroughly defend by guns of position the various ports and harbors and coaling bases, by furnishing them with torpedo and other available defences of a naval though not of a seagoing character, is it likely that at the same time we can get from the taxpayers a sufficient amount to instal a fleet for Australia? I do not think we can. If we have to choose between the two evils of doing without a fleet, and of doing without adequate local defence on land and of a semi-naval character, I for one say that we should choose to do without a small naval squadron, because I contend that we cannot get adequate protection from any one squadron. There is another aspect of this question, which, in present circumstances, appears to me even to transcend in importance the considerations to which I have already referred. While a number of us - and, I think, a large proportion of the people of Australia - are quite prepared to continue the old agreement, or an agreement on the basis of the old one, pending an opportunity to establish an Australian Navy, we find that the Prime Minister, animated by the spirit of a new-born Imperialism - which seems to me to be a rather dangerous element to animate a gentleman representing such a small fraction of the total white population of the British Empire - has, in this instance, tentatively agreed to an arrangement by which we altogether lose the control of a fleet that formerly had some special Australian significance. I listened with a great deal of pleasure to the remarks of the right honorable the. leader of the Opposition on Thursday night. In a way in which few in this House or in Australia could have dealt with the subject, the right honorable gentleman put the objections to the agreement as at present formulated and submitted to this Chamber. He pointed to the gradual evolution, as he termed it, of this extravagance of Imperialism that was altering the old agreement into the shape of the one now proposed, from a provision for an Australian squadron to a provision for a tribute to the general naval strength of the Empire. I admired exceedingly the clear and concise manner in which that new aspect of the question was explained, and I was correspondingly astonished when I found that, notwithstanding all these considerations, the right honorable gentleman was still going to vote for the Bill.
– I - I think the right honorable member made a mistake.
– I think he did make a mistake. I think that any honorable member of this House who holds opinions so strongly adverse to the spirit in which the proposed agreement is framed, is indeed making an error when he allows any consideration to weigh with him ingivinghis vote for it, and for this reason : That every vote given in favour of thisproposal will be taken as expressing an approval of the spirit in which the proposal is framed, and it will be an encouragement for those who have engineered the present undertaking to go a little further in the same direction when the opportunity presents itself.
– Why use the term “engineer “ ?
– I use it deliberately. I submit that the people of Australia are not behind the extension and expansion of this agreement. In view of the imminence of the elections, and the fact that we must go before the country in a very short time, I say it is a proper thing that the people of Australia should have an, opportunity of expressing either by a direct referendum, or through the members whom they will elect to this House) their opinion upon the subject before this agreement is ratified. I say most distinctly that if this agreement is carried, the squadron supplied will have ceased to be an Australian Squadron. It will be no longer one upon which the people of Australia can rely in the slightest degree for their coastal defence.
– We shall get our money’s worth anyhow.
– That is a matter of opinion. If the honorable member for New England believes that we have a right to make a general contribution towards the British Navy, apart from Australian defence, he is welcome to that belief, and I have no quarrel with him, although personally I do not agree with such a view. I agree rather with the attitude which Canada has taken up. The Prime Minister said a few nights ago, when Canada was mentioned in connexion with this agreement, “Although the Canadian Ministers have not agreed to this plan, I find signs of weakening. I spoke in Canada on the broad Imperial aspect and received the greatest encouragement.” That is roughly what the right honorable gentleman said. But I find that so far from there being any alteration in the attitude of the Canadian Ministry since the holding of the conference in London after the Coronation festivities - -
– I never suggested that there was any alteration on their part.
– One might imagine from the importance attached by the right honorable gentleman to the influence of his speeches in Canada that the Ministers of the Dominion had caved in as a result of what he had to say. But instead of that I find that Sir William Mulock, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Government at a gathering of the Empire League, on just such an occasion as we can imagine he would be expected to voice the opinions of the Ministry of which he was a member, is reported to have spoken as follows -
He first deprecated the idea of nations engaging in an exhaustive process.of a war of armaments, and thought the policy of disarmament would better contribute to the peace of the world, leaving nations to rest the justice of their cause to a large extent upon the public conscience. Of course, in anything he had said, he did not mean to convey the idea that Canada should not make preparation for self-defence.
And this is what I particularly desire to direct the attention of honorable members to -
He thought, however, that Canada would best serve the cause of Empire and its own interest as well by populating its vacant lands and developing the country rather than voting millions for military purposes.
That is a report of the speech appearing in the Toronto Globe of 26th May last.
– He would be called a pro-Boer out here for that.
– He is classed there as a patriotic statesman, and as he was one of those who assisted Great Britain in South Africa a little time ago, I do not suppose that it is any feeling of disloyalty which causes Sir William Mulock and the members of the Ministry of which he is a member to take that view.
– -The difficulty of Canada is not from the sea. She has a very large frontier to defend.
– Canada has just as great difficulties to face, so far as the sea is concerned, as we have. She has a greater trade and- a big coast line, I do not know whether it is as extensive as ours, but she is also much closer to the bases of the navies likely to attack her. Certainly Canada’s case so far as that is concerned is in my opinion worse than ours. Notwithstanding that, so far as the contribution to the main Imperial Navy is concerned, Canada takes up the attitude that it is not her duty as a portion of the Empire to contribute in that fashion. Getting back to the apparent suggestion of the honorable member for New England, I say that if the honorable member holds the view that we have a right to contribute to the general up-keep of the British Navy as an institution, I, for one, dissent from that view. I say that even as most loyal subjects of the Empire, and desiring, as we -all should, to see the Empire extended in all reason and developed to the utmost possible extent, it is still no part of our duty to help forward or maintain the British Navy as an . institution. It is, however, our duty to see that those responsible at the head of the Empire are not placed in a position of anxiety because of our inability or unwillingness to defend ourselves when the Empire is in trouble. It is our duty to keep ourselves free from any possibility of successful attack. I am quite prepared to do anything I can in order to secure that object. Our duty of defence, it seems to me, is to secure, so far as possible and practicable, the immunity of our own shipping and our own ports. To say that we should take part in a general movement for the expansion of the Empire and for the maintenance of the British Navy, no matter what aspect the navy may take or to what extent it may grow, is to put forward a view with which only a comparatively small section of the, people of Australia will sympathize. Just imagine what those who take up a position of that sort undertake. If we are equally interested with the people of Great Britain in the maintenance of the British Navy, then it is not enough that we should contribute ls. per head towards it, but we should rather contribute a fair proportion on that basis, which is 17s. 6d. per head. I ask the honorable member for New England and other honorable members who support the view to which he has given expression, if they are prepared to go before their constituents and recommend that seven-eighths of £1 per head should be raised annually in order that they may contribute their share to the up-keep of the British Navy? I say it is meanness on the part of honorable members to say that we are. liable for an equal contribution, that we have the same liability, and yet are not prepared to meet it. I say we are not prepared to meet it.
– No one said that Australians are equally interested with the people of Great Britain : but to some extent they are similarly interested.
– Then the whole case is given away. If we are not equally liable and ‘have not the same general interest, all that we can reasonably be expected to do is to provide for our own defence. But I say that this agreement goes far beyond a provision for Australian defence, and it leaves us just when a crisis arrives at the mercy of the enemies from whom we desire to be Saved.
– T - The Chinese junks
– I am not much alarmed about them at present.
– Fear of the Chinesewas the inducement used the last time the agreement was before Australia.
– Just so. I say that the people of Australia have a right to be consulted in regard to this matter. I cannot conceive that any honorable memberson either side will object to that being done. Even the Prime Minister himself must admit, as has been pointed out by the right honorable the leader of the Opposition, that this agreement constitutes a very wide departure from anything of the sort before entertained. A little time ago the right honorable the Minister for Defence quoted myself as being in favour of a per-‘ petuation of the existing agreement. Thereis, however, no use in making such quotations, because it might as well be said that those of us who hold that view are bound to support any agreement, though it may be for the maintenance of a navy in the Arctic regions. I say that that does not bind usat all. We are in the position, it seems tome, of having to justify to the people of Australia a departure altogether foreign to anything, they previously contemplated, andupon which they have never yet been consulted. I move -
That the word “now’-‘ be omitted, and that after the word “ time “ the words “ on this daysix months “ be added. ‘
– Thus far there has been a total absence of acrimony in connexion with this debate. This question has no individual aspect, and each honorable member who has spoken has placed himself on solid ground by expressing the view that the question we are considering is not one of loyalty, but of method. Therefore, all who hold, as I do, the view that it would be disastrous to Australia to divide Imperial and Australian interests so far as the navy is. concerned, still are prepared to concede that those who hold diametrically opposite opinions are loyal to the Empire. A debate of this kind should not degenerate into a. discussion of motives. I agree with the view expressed by the leader of the Opposition that loyalty does not depend upon public protestations. Every man who has been, long in public life knows that some of the most loyal speeches ever delivered were uttered by the greatest rascals in the community. It is essential for men who value a seat in Parliament, perhaps more highly than their own honour, to secure votes in nefarious ways, and they are prepared to make patriotic speeches to delude the community, and to thus secure some support - the necessary residue of votes being obtained because of their known private opinions - one section of the support being obtained by public protestation, and the other by secret connivance. Therefore, there is no need for protestations of loyalty in connexion with a question of this kind. As with a man’s honour, we take loyalty for granted. As in the case of other things in politics, so it is with loyalty. Some of the ablest speeches are made by men . who have no belief in the views the)’ are expressing. I desire to direct attention to the statement made by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, which was to a certain extent an echo of the views expressed by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. Both these honorable and learned members contended that because experts had expressed certain views we should be absolutely guided thereby. I take it for granted, however, that no man would ever accept the opinion of an expert in regard to anything beyond a certain point. An expert’s opinion with regard to the navy or anything else is only of special value if the expert himself is possessed of rare ability. Training alone cannot entitle a man to express an authoratati ve opinion. A number of men who have been connected with the navy, and who have ottered advice with regard to it, may have owed their positions in that service to an accident of birth or some other equally fortuitous circumstance. When we find experts of rare ability with receptive brains, able to embrace new ideas and to argue logically, we are justified in attaching value to their conclusions, but it is useless to quote the ordinary expert. Works of construction, such as railways and harbors, strew the face of the world as monuments of error, on the part of experts. A business mau requires, the expert to make clear his “views, and to show that the basis of his conclusions is sound before giving his adherence. If, however, we are called upon to consider the opinions of experts, why should we pay special regard to those which apply not to latter day conditions, but to a state of affairs which has changed. If we have forced upon us the opinions of experts concerning the Admiralty, why not accept those of the present day? If an able expert gave an opinion twenty years ago, and another equally able expressed an opinion to-day, we should prefer to be guided by the latter. The opinions of the Admiralty experts of to-day are in favour of the proposal before us, which virtually contemplates that there shall be no separation of Australian and Imperial interests so far as the Navy is concerned’. Every honorable member who has spoken has granted that there must be no separation of Imperial and Australian interests generally. It has been conceded by all that if Britain goes down, we must go down, and that if the British Navy loses its power we cannot stand. We could not hope to maintain an independent position among the nations without the aid of Great Britain. Every man desires to preserve, as far as he can, the bonds of kinship and affection, not only with the British people, but with those of America and others of our own race in every part of the world. That is the end we should have in view. Therefore, it may be plausibly argued that the whole question resolves itself into one of method. The first argument with which we are brought face to face in connexion with the opposition to this measure - is that based upon the fact that we have an Australian Army, which, it will be granted at once, has done good work - better work than we had a right to expect from the training it has received. Our men did well in the forefront of battle, because they were possessed of that acumen and intelligence which was bred in them from having to rely upon themselves in their struggles with nature in this vast continent. Naturally we are proud of our army. It has been argued that as we have an army that has done so well, we should also have a navy. None of the authorities either of afew decades ago, or of the present day, have laid it down that the Army and the Navy should be considered from the same standpoint.” The main duty of the Army in Australia is to remain at home ; its main work being very much that of a garrison in a fortress, namely, to protect the country and to destroy the enemy, should he reach here. The object of the Navy, however, is to seek
I the enemy and destroy him wherever he may be found. Some rather homely examples have been used in connexion with this debate, and I will give one which strikes me as fairly applying to the relative positions of the Army and the Navy. When rats are known to infest certain houses their destruction is brought about by the use of traps and cats. The trap is placed in some sequestered spot that it is presumed will be visited by the rat. The rat may not go there, but if he does he is offered such inducements that he will probably remain. The cat, on the other hand, instead of being stationary like the trap, travels from the basement to the ceiling: - anywhere that the rat is likely to be found. The usefulness of the trap depends, so to speak, upon the volition of the rat, whereas the effectiveness of the cat as a destructive agent depends upon its own volition. Thus the Army remains at home to destroy the enemy should he landon our shores after having escaped our cruisers abroad. The Navy, however, goes out into the blue water to find the enemy no matter where he may be and to destroy him there. Sincean Australian Navy would have to work in concert with the Imperial Navy it could not stay at home. The honorable member for Bland has pointed out the vast extent of the water-way surrounding Australia. Our Navy must go out to fight, and that is why the honorable member contends that we cannot afford to build an Australian Navy commensurate with the work which it would have to perform.
– Not at present.
– But if we cannot have an Australian Navy, we should provide for the next best thing. The honorable member proposes to do nothing.
– We propose to do a great deal.
– However, it must be apparent that the control of the Navy, working, as it will, with a world-wide responsibility, and with a world-wide scope, must be different from that of the Army. I need not labour the question, in order to prove that which must be apparent to every honorable member as a truism. The proposal now before us is to give £200,000 as a contribution or tribute to the British Navy. The best way in which we can look at this question is by considering what would be secured to us by the expenditure of that sum in that way, and, on the other hand, what we should get by the expenditure of that sum upon a navy of our own. That fairly well coversthe question of the contribution itself. I have no desire to labour this question by quoting figures having reference to the number of war-ships, their capacity in horse-power, or anything of that kind. But for the sake of comparison I will mention the fleet at present in Australian waters - but which doesnot comprise all the vessels of the Australian fleet, and is not limited to them. These include the Royal Arthur, Ringarooma, Tauranga, Karakatta, Mildura, Katoomba, Wallaroo, and Boomerang. These aggregate a tonnage of 18,000, with a horse-power of 40,000. Their guns, roughly speaking, number 117, and they carry a complement of 1,580 men. Let us endeavour to reach the crux of the situation by means of a small sum in simple proportion. Under the new agreement it is proposed to provide us with eleven ships, so that if a complement of 1,600 men be required upon eight ships, it is obvious that the complement of the new fleet will number at least 2,000. I am leaving altogether out of consideration at this juncture the question of the training of 1,600 Australians and New Zealanders, who would form the basis of an Australian Navy. This is what England offers us for an annual contribution of £200,000. We are to have eleven ships kept fairly well up to date, and the crews of which will number at least 2,000 men. What would it cost us to obtain these advantages for ourselves? The initial cost of providing the ships would be from £2,000,000 to £3,000,000.
– Has the honorable member read Captain Creswell’s report?
– Then why does the honorable member tell us that tale?
– I repeat that between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 would be required to furnish a navy similar to that which Great Britain offers to provide for an annual contribution of £200,000. Its maintenance would cost at least between £400,000 and £500,000 a year. If we are an integral part of the Empire, as honorable members unanimously assert, ifwe are equally interested with Great Britain in the preservation of the highways to the mother country, it is apparent that the contribution asked for is a very small one indeed. Seeing that we desire a navy of a certain calibre,. comprising a certain number of men, and can obtain it from Great Britain for £200,000 a year, whereas if we provide it ourselves we shall require to spend between £400,000 and £500,000 a year in its maintenance apart from the initial expenditure of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, I hold that we are making an. extremely good bargain.
– What shall we have at the end of ten years after having paid £2,000,000 by way of naval subsidies?
– We shall have had protection for that period. Our own men will have been trained, and we shall have avoided the possible loss of the £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 which it would have been necessary to spend in the building of our own vessels, because by the end of that period they may have become obsolete.
– The Prime Minister stated that only 2 per, cent. is to be devoted to a sinking fund,
– I shall deal with that aspect of the question at a later stage. If Australia desires to make a cheap bargain, then never was a cheaper bargain than this offered to any community. Is not this a time of cheapness ? The honorable member for Bourke spoke of the difficulty which is experienced in procuring certain rifles. I will tell him that we can only get rifles for every man who desires to qualify himself to take part in the defence of his country by paying the full price for them, with freight charges added.
– We cannot. They are not to be had.
– That makes the position put by the honorable member infinitely worse. Notwithstanding that a large number of the Australian people desire to become citizen soldiers, the State refuses to aid them in any way whatever.
– That is the policy of the same Minister who desires to contribute £200,000 annually to the naval defence of Great Britain.
– I find no fault with the attitude taken up by the Minister for Defence. My political creed renders that impossible. But leaving the question of politics out of consideration, my common sense suggests that it would be unfair to do so. Whatever the abilities of the Minister for Defence may be, the right honorable gentleman cannot, any more than could the Israelites of old, make bricks out of straw.
The House has refused to provide him with the money necessary to purchase the requisite number of rifles.
– That is not correct. He has never asked for straw in that connexion.
-The Minister thought that the money which the House voted was not sufficient for all purposes. Honorable members protest that defence is wanted, and that it is essential that we should preserve the bond that exists between us and the mother country. If those protestations have any basis at all, if they be prompted by any feeling of loyalty, we must do something to assist her, and this is the cheapest thing we can do in the cheapest time that Australia has ever known. At the present time this continent, as far as the Federal Parliament is concerned, is not being governed in keeping with ideas of economy, but of parsimony. If one desires to secure a “ lean-to “ in one of our country towns, or some other necessary work, he will grow weary and grey-headed in his attempt to obtain it. If the proposed bargain is not a good one for us, seeing that the senior partner invests between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 in the ships, in addition to paying more than half the annual expenditure of maintaining them, it is difficult to know where, out of Kyabram, such a bargain is to be found.
– That is not the honorable member’s idea of making a bargain. He wants something for what he pays.
– As a rule, I am inclined to believe that there is a little human nature even in Members of Parliament. Still, adhering to the question of cost - because I believe it has been said in the Maranoa district that “money makes the mare go “-
– Always there.
– But it has been said by an authority almost as great as the honorable member for Maranoa that an army travels upon its stomach, although “ stomach “ was not the term used. In other words, nations with money can fight more satisfactorily than can nations without money. That is an obvious fact. If Australia were not infested with Kyabramese, if she had fabulous sums of money to spend for various purposes, she could build a very useful adjunct to the British Navy, and I should not be opposed to the adoption of that course.
– We are not looking for fight.
M r. EWING. - Did the honorable member ever see a bulldog with his upper lip curled and his teeth showing? If so, he would know that such a dog could walk down the street a dozen times without anyother dog desiring to try conclusions. It is only the dog which timorously crouches near the wall that other canines wish to attack’. Similarly when a nation breaks down, every other nation rushes into the arena eager to fight.
– I knew a man who took a bulldog down the street, and it got beaten nine times in one night.
– I thought it was necessary to use a simile that honorable members would understand, and the remark of the honorable member for Kennedy shows that I was not mistaken. If we have a navy of our own we must have one which is fit to fight something, and if we have a navy we must be prepared to pay for it. What has Great Britain spent upon her navy? £200,000,000 at .least is the value of the British Navy to-day, the yearly expenditure upon which amounts to from £35,000,000 to £39,000,000. That is the cost of the Navy which Great Britain has built for her defence and our own - for the protection of the man by the banks of the Yarra just as much as for that of the man by the banks of the Clyde. It is obvious that honorable members do not desire to spend £200,000,000 in the building of an Australian navy which could meet that of England. It is not necessary to go into details regarding the navies of Germany, Russia, or France, but, speaking generally, the naval strength of each of those powers is about one-half or one-third that of Great Britain. Thencost therefore would represent possibly approximately £100,000,000. Obviously if we decide to establish an Australian navy we cannot meet the navies of these nations. The United States has been galvanized into activity in naval matters by her oversea conquests and by her war with Spain, and she will possibly become, in the near future, the greatest naval power in the world. Everything points that way at present. It is clear, therefore, that the Australian Navy will not be strong enough to fight that of America.
– B - But America will not want to fight us.
– That is so-; and we should cautiously preserve friendly relations, with America. I . have no sympathy with quarrels between people of similar races.. That is not the real trouble which Australia, has to face, as I shall presently show.
– We should only fight a. little place like the Transvaal.
– If I pay attention toevery interjection I shall be led off thethread of my argument. But the reply to the honorable member is that England might as well have met her enemies in the Transvaal as anywhere else. During the course of his remarks the honorable memberfor Bourke made some reference to Chinese junks. I ask - “Can we build an Australian navy which will be fit to meet that of Japan?” The Japanese navy must have cost at least £20,000,000, and the expense of its. maintenance and improvement cannot be less than £3,000,000 or £4,000,000- annually. Again, let us take the case of the Argentine Republic and that of Brazil. Each of their navies must have cost about £6,000,000. Obviously we cannot affordto build a navy able to engage the navies of these places. Some honorable membersmay ask why it is - if it be truethat Australia is in danger because shedoes not possess a navy - that Brazil and the Argentine Republics are not in similar danger. The answer is that they are not exposed to danger for the best, of all reasons, namely that the moment any European power interfered with themthe Monroe doctrine would stand as a barrier in its way. No foreign powerwould dare to run up its Hag in any part of South America, because if it did so the wealth, prestige, and power, of tlie United States would be found behind even the smallest of the South American Republics.
– Does not the same remark apply to England and her possessions ?
– Yes ; but the whole costshould not rest upon Great Britain alone if we share in the protection. I am merely pointing out that it is the power behind the Stars and Stripes which prevents other nations from interfering permanently with the South American Republics. If wespent £200,000 annually upon an Australian navy, we might be able to obtain onethat would be about fit to tackle thenavies of Portugal, Morocco, or Hayti.
– Our navy could beat them to-day.
– What navy ?
– The Protector, Gayundah and Palumah
– If honorable members will look into this matter they will see that this would be about the capacity of a navy costing £200,000. I am taking it for granted that honorable members do not desire to increase taxation, that they wish to tell the people of Australia that they will- not spend more money for defence purposes than is absolutely necessary at the present juncture. If that be so, instead of devoting this money to Imperial purposes–
– The honorable member is the only speaker who has admitted that the money is to be voted for Imperial purposes.
– I grant that it is to be voted for Imperial purposes.
– And not in . the interests of Australia.
– And specially in the interests of Australia. I see no difference between Imperial and Australian interests in this case. I regard the future of Australia, except as part of the British Empire, as absolutely and utterly hopeless. Those who are unwilling to agree to this contribution, and tell us that the money should be used to build an ‘ Australian Navy, are talking absolute rubbish. Nothing can be done with £200,000 in the building of war vessels. This is how the case stands : Great Britain has spent £200,000,000, at least, in building her Navy. Australia has made, and is to make, no contribution to the initial cost. But if our interests are bound up,with those of Great Britain, if it would mean ruin to us if Great Britain went down, ought we not to contribute to the maintenance of the Navy ? The Navy costs Great Britain £35,000,000 a year, and as our population is one- tenth of that of the Old Country, we should, if the mathematical argument were the only one to be taken into consideration, pay about £3,500,000 a year. As a matter of fact, however, we are asked to pay only a 150th part. But Australian money may be needed to help the Empire in the development of our country in ‘meeting the difficulties which beset us here ; and I desire it to be clearly understood that I do not ad vo-, cate such a payment ; still it would be competent to so argue the case. Two hundred thousand pounds may strike honorable members asa very small contribution, but it is sufficient for us to pay the amount which Great Britain asks. The honorable member for Bland does not claim that Australia is not part of the British Empire, but when he pointed out that the contribution which is being asked for would be a mean contribution if we were part of the Empire, he inferred that we are not. When we pay all that Great Britain asks for, we do all that is incumbent upon us.
– We are not paying all that we were asked for. At the Conference £467,000 was asked for.
– This Parliament is not being asked for a larger contribution. We cannot discuss the questions that were placed before the Conference in England ; we can deal with the matter only as it has been placed before us. Two hundred thousand pounds is an amount which is a mere nothing in the expenditure of Great Britain. I look upon it more as a vote to show our sympathy with the mother country.
– On the honorable member’s line of reasoning the present contribution of £106,000 per annum is sufficient to show our sympathy.
– The contribution that we are now asked for is so small, and the additions to the fleet so large, that the arrangement is a very cheap one for us, and much more satisfactory than the old agreement to us. Australia cannot refuse to contribute on the ground of poverty. While the wealth of Great Britain is £247 per head of population, that of Australia is £243 per head, and while the shipping of the United Kingdom is 2-1 tons per head, that of Australia is 3’1 tons per head, and other figures prove that from a consideration of what may be called the material aspect of the case we are as much interested as is Great Britain in the proper control of the sea. Now, let me turn to what appears to me to be the vital, and perhaps the most plausible part of the argument of the honorable members who oppose the Bill. They claim that an Australian Navy would be always on the spot. The honorable member for Bland referred to that aspect of the case. It is therefore reasonable to ask, in what part of Australia will the Australian Navy always be found? The people of Sydney have visions of it destroying the enemy right against Port Denison. The people of Mel- , bourne imagine that a bloody battle will be fought on the pellucid waters of the Yarra.
The South. Australiana expect that an engagement will take place in Largs Bay,” adjoining the precincts of the evangelical, city of Adelaide, while the Western Australians imagine that the squadron will always be found off Fremantle, at the mouth of that magnificent streamlet, the Swan. Every coastal village and seaport town has the fantastic notion that the naval battles of the future will be fought on the adjoining ocean. Are honorable members aware that Australia has a coast line 8,000 miles in extent, so that to circumnavigate the continent is to travel as far as one-third of the distance round the world, or two-thirds of the distance to England ? Before an Australian Navy could steam once round the continent, war vessels could arrive from Africa, from India, from China, and from the Mediterranean.
– Would not the same thing happen if we had vessels of the Imperial Navy here ?
– No; because the vessels of the Imperial Navy do not wait behindfortresses until the enemy attacks .them. They come out into the open and destroy the enemy wherever they find him. If the vessels of an Australian Navy are to wait behind fortresses, and to remain in the vicinity of the coastal cities, how many shall we require? How many will there be to protect Sydney ? How many will lie off Port Phillip? How many will be required to protect our coast and trade? It is obvious that, to keep open the highway of the sea, our ships must not wait for the enemy. Our navy must be strong enough to seek out the enemy, and destroy him wherever he may be found. That is the difference between having a navy and having a few torpedo boats or cruisers to protect our ports. What is essential is to control the sea by destroying the enemy. I have pointed out to honorable members that an Australian Navy could not do much in the way of patrolling and protecting our coast. Let me now put another case. Suppose that Russia had a fleet of 23 vessels somewhere south of the China Sea.
– She has 52 vessels there now.
– I am taking, for the sake of argument, a problematical number. Suppose that England had twenty menofwar, equally armed and of the same power, and a battle was imminent. Whatever we may think of the courage of our seamen, we must admit that in modern warfare, when boats are equally armed, one cannot be perfectly sure that the Britishers will always’ win. There might be six men-of-war in Australian waters, which, if they joined the British squadron, would turn the tide of battle. Would they remain skulking under the protection of the fortresses of Port Phillip or Sydney Harbor, waiting to be eaten- up in detail by the conqueror? On the contrary, would not Parliament with united voice say, “Go to the help of our allies “ ? Would not our ships, instead of being kept on the spot, be sent where they could do the best work ? Would they not be found where Australian ships and Australian men should always be found, in the forefront of battle ? Obviously this notion of an Australian Navy remaining in port rests upon a rotten foundation, and need only be dealt with iri the most casual way for the whole argument to evaporate. There’ are several propositions which I should like to put before the House which fairly cover the whole situation. In the first place, the agreement is a cheap one. There can be no doubt about that.
– How does the honorable member propose to get over the difficulty which will be caused by having two rates of pay on board the boats ?
– That is a detail which we cannot discuss now. My second proposition is that we pay nothing for deterioration. Many honorable members are, perhaps, more conversant with the historical aspect of this case than I am, and they know that in a few months during the war between the Federates and Confederates of the United States of America it was proved that the wooden warship was obsolete. Then came the ironclad, and, almost simultaneously, the monitor. The naval world passed through two evolutions in marine architecture, and discovered the uselessness of the fleets in which they had been accustomed to put their trust, in the course of a very brief period. Some honorable members will see the enormous risk that a nation runs which puts £200,000,000 into her naval armaments. We escape that absolutely. It may be mean to escape it, but we do. It is cheap from that stand-point. I do not desire to speak lengthily about local matters; but take the case of the Cerberus, lying in Hobson’s Bay to-day. Built 30 years ago, she cost £117,000 of good Victorian money. In her best days, she could travel at the enormous rate of 9 miles an hour. She had good guns for that time, and what is she to-day t Simply a dismantled hulk, which might as well be turned into a hen-roost. I know that it is proposed to re-arm her. It is a toss up whether it is worth while to do anything with the boat which cost £1 1 7,000. What have the authorities determined to do with her? To make her a floating fort. Every man knows the disability under which a floating fort lies. There is no elevation. A few good guns here and there, behind a few sandbags, would be of more value to Hobson’s Bay than the Cerberus. There is an example of loss from the evolution in naval architecture. The vessel has ceased to be valuable, and so if an Australian Navy were built in the course of a decade or two, a similar result would possibly happen. We escape that position. Then, no navy within our means could patrol this vast continent. It is of no use to talk about patrolling the continent. We have to destroy our enemy. The next point is that with the means that Australia is likely to devote to such work, we cannot build a navy which is capable of fighting any considerable battle.
– The same thing was said in the Transvaal war, when they mounted a 4’7-gun at Kimberley. It was said that they could not make anything at the Cape ; but they made guns.
– Because they had to. All those things were makeshifts. There were unfortunate incidents which should not have happened ; provision should have been previously made. I do not wish this community to find itself unprotected on the threshold of a war. But we shall be absolutely unprepared, unless we adopt some such proposal as that which is submitted to us. The fifth point is that 1,600 Australians will be trained as the nucleus of an Australian force. Finally, a navy costing £200,000 yearly, with no provision for initial expenses, would simply expose us to the derision of the world as a nation, unless we had the British flag behind us. These six points fairly well cover the view that I desire to submit. The honorable and learned member for Corio in his speech made some reference to the question of taxation without representation, saying that this subsidy meant taxation without representation. Nothing more ludicrous than that was ever urged in any Parliament in the world. Are we not the representatives of the people? I frequently think that honorable members opposite misrepresent them, but speaking generally we are the representatives of the Australian people. A proposal for expenditure is submitted which we can accept or reject. Therefore, when it is passed by tlie Australian Parliament it cannot -be said to be taxation without representation. It is a subsidy of which the people approve in the only way possible - through their representatives. It might as well be said that the Vancouver mail service, to which we give a subsidy, means taxation without representation.
– But the Minister for Defence has an idea that we are to be represented in the councils of war.
– That is foreign to the question I am discussing. When the topic of taxation without representation is spoken of, the idea that flies into the mind at once is the unwisdom of Britain in regard to the United States. The great question the colonies fought out was the principle of taxation without representation. What were the facts? Benjamin Franklin, the accredited representative of America to London, was in close communication with m’en like Burke and Chatham, and we all know the views they took in regard to the American rebellion, or whatever it may be called. They prepared a Bill for submission to the British Parliament, and the American people approved of it, so far as we can judge, through their accredited representative. The Bill laid down the fact that the Americans were prepared not only to give a subsidy to Britain, butalso to accept the responsibility of a portion of the national debt of Britain. The point at issue was not the voting of the subsidy, but the fact that the British Parliament, unwisely, refused to recognise the local Legislatures in America in dealing with the question of taxation. If the’ views of Franklin, Burke, and Chatham had been accepted, there would have been no friction. It would have been postponed. It might have come sooner or later ; but there would have been no immediate quarrel with the colonies : it would have passed over. This proposal comes to us exactly in the’ way that men like Benjamin Franklin, the accredited representative of the . American people, claimed that a question should go before the Legislatures of the American colonies. The experience of America and the unwisdom of Britain, for which she paid very dearly, affords no parallel. I wish people to remove their minds from the past. We an must understand that we are progressive - that Britain has learned her lesson, that all nations are learning their lesson, and instead of being to-day “ those wretched colonies” of which they used to speak in the House of Commons, we are now the sons of the Empire. The feeling in regard to us today in all parts of the United Kingdom is as friendly and parental .as it is in regard to their own people in Britain itself. Thus far I have dealt with the case absolutely from the stand-point that every man in this Parliament and every man in the community believes that the best interests of Australia were served by the preservation of the ties and responsibilities between the mother country and us. There may, however, be some who believe that Imperial interests are so widely separated from us and so widely spread over the whole world, that we should be safer if independent. I wish to say a word or two to any honorable member or to any person who believes that it is possible for Australia to go alone. We may fondly believe that in our great wisdom, our wonderful power, and our great acumen, we have dealt with the question of white Australia. We have done nothing of the sort. The House has dealt as reasonably and as wisely as it could with only one aspect of that question. We have kanakas whom we have agreed to deport. We passed an Immigration Restriction Act with one idea in view - to keep what away? - the silent invasion of these people. Leaving out the kanakas, because they are a dying race, do honorable members know what the yellow and the black men are - what we have to deal with ? The men we have dealt with and warned off our shores are only the pioneers of myriads of men behind them - only the ripple that is a forerunner of the greatest storm which the world has ever seen when the white man eventually in these latitudes faces the yellow man in deadly war. We may not see the day, but our children will. Between the white and the yellow man there is racial hatred. We know not what it is, but there is a vital feeling of antagonism, ever existent and persistent, between the white and the yellow man. They are destined to be enemies for all time.
– There is something else, unfortunately, between them.
– I am not dealing with the question of their mode of life or their rate of wages. I leave that all out of consideration. There is something higher and greater than that, and every man who .is fair to himself and to his race knows that the white man is superior to the coloured man, and that he must maintain his superiority. How is it to be done ? Not by legislation. What is legislation ? It means nothing unless we have the power behind us to enforce it. Do not honorable members know that when these nations have taken a few more steps up the ladder of civilization or advancement, they - having developed, as it were, into a concrete nation - will pour down on us in countless numbers.
– What nation does the honorable member refer to ?
– I refer to the yellow men to the north. We have virtually kicked these men off our doorstep; we have slammed the door of. Australia right in their faces. Do not honorable members know - and it is the main question to which any Australian can direct his attention - that only for the British flag floating over Australia to-day, if one, at least one, of these nations saw fit, not a boat could leave any of our. ports. No shipping could be carried on along our coast.
– What would Russia be . doing in the meantime ?
– I am not dealing with the question of Russia. There may be trouble with Russia, or with other nations, and we shall all regret it, but it will only be ephemeral. I am dealing with the great battle of Armageddon, which has yet to be fought between the yellow and the white man, and Australia will be right in the vortex of the struggle. Do not honorable members know that modern warfare depends on numbers and munitions of war ? When we see these great yellow races, after their long hibernization, quietly rubbing their eyes, looking round the world, and wondering what has been going on, are we to keep our eyes shut ? Do we not know that one dominant man might galvanize these nations into life, and plunge their forces upon Australia? If a nation were to legislate that no Australian could land - if we were virtually turned out of a country - should we not seek the first opportunity for revenge ?
– If an earthquake were to happen, what should we do?
– An earthquake is in the hand of Providence, whereas this matter is in our own hand if we have intelligence enough to see the danger. With this war-cloud “no bigger than a man’s hand” arising on the horizon, which will eventually burst with all its attendant horrors, for us who have developed Australia, and have children growing up, to break the only alliance that will see us through the great crucial difficulty, appears to me to be a malignant act. Australia, if she does not preserve her kinship with kindred races - Great Britain and America especially - will in the course of 100 or 200 years be simply a heap of ashes - a few embers from which are dying out the lastflickers of civilization. We talk about our democratic legislation, our eight hours law, our “ white Australia,” and what we have done for the labouring classes. We all take credit for the onward march of progress and democracy, and we value that progress. We know that the broader we lay the basis of government and representation, the more wholesome it is for the State ; but if, after having done all this, we were to break the only alliance which can save us from utter destruction, it would be the work of madmen or fools, or worse than fools. Why will not honorable members open their eyes ? Cannot they see. the change coming ? Dare we warn the alien from these shores for ever unaided ? Hundreds of millions of yellow men will yet coalesce against the white man ; and we shall want every particle of power which the white man has in every part of the world to save Australia from being submerged.
– A terrible picture !
– It is a true picture, nevertheless. Why have nations fought in the past? For a little bit of land on this side or that side of a boundary, or some triviality with regard to succession. But once racial hatred is aroused, there will be a fight to the death, and Australia will be in the maelstrom. I regard this as a question so far above that of fiscal policy, or another, that it formed one great reason why, at all hazards, I desired to have Australia united. The men who have made Australia what it is will surely not separate from their kinsmen in the face of the great troubles that are before us.
– Does the honorable member think that our friendship is only worth £200,000 ? Does it mean separation if we do not pay ?
– It does not mean separation, but my feeling is that it would be a singularly ungracious act to refuse to do the little we are asked to do. It is so small an amount that I cannot understand any man, while he believes in the Empire and the future of the race, refusing the request, whether he advocates an Australian Navy or not. I should like to say one word further on the question of the Australian Navy leaving our shores in time of war. There is no doubt that at such a time the navy, whether it be a purely Australian Navy or otherwise, will go away ; indeed, it should not remain here if better work lay elsewhere. The men of our navy must not skulk behind the fortress ; they must go out upon the sea and do their work. The honorable and learned member for Corio, who, I have no doubt, would give a very good account of himself under any circumstances, seemed to havevisions of destroying Australia’s enemies by a gallant foray down Little Bourke-street, or a great battle on the side of Albert Park Lake. But it is absolutely immaterial whether the battle be fought 10,000 miles away, or within the precincts of our cities, so long as the enemy be destroyed. I grant the plausibility of the argument that the Australian Navy should be always with us ; but Australians would not permit the navy to remain here if there was better work to be done elsewhere. And if the navy did remain, it would be only to be eaten piecemeal by the conqueror. The best way to state a case is to give the. other side. If Great Britain were in trouble, all the ships of the Australian Navy would go to her assistance, though at best there would be but a handful. But if Australia were in trouble, what would come to our assistance ? If the hand of the aggressor were laid on Australia, what would come to our aid ? Ships from every part of the world ; and the vision is one to make our blood tingle ! If Australia were in trouble there would be a muster of British ships threshing their way from the Arctic Circle, from the sweltering Caribbean, from the coast of China, from all parts of the world. The British Navy was not built for the protection of Britain alone, but for the protection of the Empire ; the ships would come from Africa, from the Mediterranean, and from Britain itself.
And what a marvellous spectacle it will be if ever the fiery cross goes out to the British Navy that it is wanted in Australia. They would come with one mandate, “Hands off; these are sons of the Empire.” The proud position of over-lord of the sea was won for Britain by the dauntless courage of our ancestors, and preserved by the. selfabnegation and self-denial of the British people ever since. This Continent of Australia was not thought of little more than a a century ago - its very existence was doubted. But if the hand of the aggressor were laid on any portion of this continent we should have this mighty muster of warboats £200,000,000 worth of iron and steel manned by the greatest army the world has ever seen - rushing to our assistance. No one doubts the valour of the British tar; and it is because I have visions of the strength of Britain - because I believe in the cohesive action of the navy under all circumstances - that I urge that under no circumstances ought Imperial and Australian interests to be divided, and that under no circumstances ought we to ungraciously refuse the small subsidy which is asked.
– And we are to get all this for £200,000 !
– No ; we do not get all this for £200,000 - we get it because we form part of the British people. We are what is called a composite people. We are formed of three nations, usually spoken of as the triple nations, between whom at one period there was much blood-letting, much cruelty, and much wantonness. But the nation is endeavouring, as far as it can and under all circumstances, to atone for its errors whatever these may have been. No reasonable man blames Britain to-day for excesses of the past which were not typical of the race, but were significant of the time, any more than he blames the cultured German of to-day for the savagery of his ancestors in the Baltic forests, or the modern Frenchman for the darkness and savagery of the Middle Ages. In Australia we are a united people - the “ red blood of kinship” runs through all. No one asks an Australian what was his origin, or what is his faith ; the question asked is purely one of competency and fitnes3. We in this country cannot, under any circumstances, afford to dwell unnecessarily on the past. We cannot afford to stand in the stern of the boat looking out on the wake. Whatever the evolutionary grandeur of a nation may be, it is perfectly sure that the way has been sinuous ; that is proved by the fact that it has been evolutionary. The trail dies away in the twilight of despair and darkness. We must look to the future for enlightenment and advancement. In this debate we shall no doubt hear of England’s action in the past. Australia may at one time have been thought by England of no use but for a convict settlement; but we cannot blame England, because Australia’s sons themselves did not know the potentialities and possibilities of this continent for many decades later. We cannot blame a nation for the excesses of the past, which, as I have already said, are significant of the times and not typical of the nation. We will not roll away the stone from the mouth of the sepulchre. “Let the dead past bury its dead.” We have to deal with the living present, and a future full of hope. It is difficult to drive out of people old ideas and associations. Old precepts and ideas have a strong hold on the imagination. Each of us should endeavour to promote the feelings of real kindredship. We have done with old world legends and the troubles of the past - with the anxieties, and brutalities which separated the triple nations in the past - and we have to live only for the future -
They passed these old-world legends, that tell of wrong and dearth -
Our fathers held by purchase, but we by right of birth.
Our hearts where they rocked our cradles, our faiths where we spent our toil ;
And our faith, and our hope, and our honour, we pledge to our native soil.
We pledge ourselves not only to the native soil of this sea-girt continent, but to every land over which the British flag flies ; and in every one of those lands each man will be found prepared to do his duty when the Empire calls.
– I am sure that even those who differ from the conclusions of the honorable member for Richmond, must compliment him on a speech marked with an eloquence which he can employ when he wishes, and with a fervour which certainly justifies us in assuming an intensity of conviction. I have unfortunately to differ from the honorable member, but I am sure that he will give me credit for quite as earnest a desire in the direction of Imperial integrity. Whatever the method we adopt for recognising our Imperial responsibilities, we are all actuated by motives which -we believe will ultimately conduce to the true consolidation of the Empire. When the honorable member was dealing with the latter part of his subject, I really could not help thinking that the Bill - which I, perhaps, had not carefully read in all its details - was one dealing with the separation of the Empire ; because his remarks would have been quite as applicable to a proposal that the union of sentiment and of affection, with a loose political texture, which has done so much for the British race throughout the world, was to be dissolved if this Bill were not accepted by the House. I think that a request for an increased naval subsidy is really but part of the Imperial policy of the last 20 or 30 years, under which England was to become the
Centre of a great world State, whose members were to become entitled to all the privileges, whilst participating’ in the responsibilities, of Empire. Since the publication of works such as Seeley’s lectures On The Expansion of England the ideal of a great Imperial union - with all the perfect co-relation of the parts of a highly-organized State - has begun to take clear shape. I believe that this Bill is really the beginning of a full recognition of a .deep and radical principle of a by no means salutary character; and I am therefore bound to vote against it. The idea of Seeley was expounded in his Oxford lectures. We must remember that Oxford and Cambridge are really the centres in which the first political education of the leaders of English opinion takes place. Under the conditions of electoral representation which prevailed until a few years ago, and which, to a great extent, are operative still, owing to social conditions, want of funds, and so on, those universities of “England are the training grounds for the men who subsequently come to lead in great movements. Therefore, when we find that lectures like those by Seeley on The Expansion of England are delivered in a university, we may look, if not for an explicit adoption of them, at any. rate, for their influence in the action of those who subsequently lead in politics. Sir John Seeley’s idea was this - that the day of small States has gone, and that if England is to retain her position of eminence, if not supremacy, amongst the great nations of Europe - if she is not to go down before such colossal growths as the Empire of Russia and the German Confederation - she must draw the scattered members of her Empire into the unity and strength of an organic whole, and must enter into some definite form of political union with her colonies and possessions. This is the lesson taught by that celebrated work which marks an epoch in these matters - The Expansion of England. Sir J ohn Seeley says - in fact I may express his meaning by a quotation which embodies the result of his lectures -
The lustre of Athens grew pale when Macedonia rose, and Charles V. speedily brought to an end the great days of Florence.
The result has been this, first - and honorable members must have read it in the papers for the last five or six years - that the members of the Empire that were related to one another, either by geographical contiguity or by homogeniety, should be brought together as co-ordinate federal groups, and that from these minor combinations was to come the ultimate Imperial federation. We have started with an Australian Federation. This was the policy of the Imperial Federation League of 1884, which had, I think, as one of its first presidents - perhaps its first - the Earl of Rosebery. There was to be some form of political union ; there was to be complete recognition in local matters of the independence of the colonies or the federated groups ; and as a beginning of complete Imperial Federation there was to be concentration, for the purpases of defence, of the various forces of the Empire. But in 1884 no doubt that proposal was premature. It was beyond the thought even of England at that time. So that the programme in 1892 was modified, and it was declared that as a beginning of political federation an advisory council should be established, but even that was a matter not completely within current politics, but for the not too near future. But as a beginning, and as leading up to Imperial Federation, there was to be unity and central control for the purposes of defence. The advisory council which was regarded as premature in 1892 is one of the recommendations of the Imperial Conference, or one of its suggestions ; because if honorable members have read the Blue-book that has been circulated amongst them they will find that it has been practically arranged that once in about every four years the Secretary of State for the Colonies is to call the representatives of Australia, and of other parts of the Empire, together, for the purpose of consultation upon matters of Imperial moment. So that we find that this, which was regarded as premature in 1892, has now taken definite shape; and that we have also this proposal made by the Ministry, which in combination with the advisory council, was to form -
The baby figure of the giant mass
Of things to come at large.
How quick thought moves in these matters ! Perhaps it will be a little out of place to take Mr. Chamberlain as a specimen of variability of type in politics. I should be very sorry to take the developments of such a protean politician as typical of the versatility of the average Englishman. But at the same time it is significant that about two or three years ago, when Mr. Hedderwick Suggested some’form of political union, of some Zollverein, Mr. Chamberlain “damned with faint praise “ in the House of Commons the idea of a Customs Union. We know what he thinks about it now. He then set up all possible forms of the Imperial union merely to, by analysis, knock them on the head. But what do we find him saying at the Imperial Conference, according to the Blue Book which has been circulated ? He says -
In my opinion, the political federation of the Empire is within the limits of possibility ; and that, in fact, if we took a proportionate share of the burdens we could have a corresponding voice in the councils of the Empire. So far as regards some leading politicians ; but let us go further. Have honorable members noticed that this really is a military as well as a naval question ? Have they noticed that the Secretary of State for War, Mr. Brodrick, at one of the meetings of the Conference of Premiers, suggested that there should not only be unity of control and responsibility in naval matters, but that the same principle should also apply to military matters ? I can prove that this is the policy of England as expressed by leading statesmen and organs of public opinion. Mr. Brodrick suggested that, following the example of Imperialistic New Zealand, which in 1900 established a reserve of a military character liable to serve in any portion of the Empire, for an expenditure of £180,000 a year there should be raised, as a beginning, with possibilities of subsequent development, a force of 20,000 Imperial troops - raised in the colonies for service throughout the Empire, and in the remotest confines of it. We thus find that the beginnings of an Imperial policy are marked not only in naval matters, but also in regard to military organization. Is it not therefore significant that while the Conference was sitting in London a series of articles upon military organization was published in the Times, in which this idea of Mr. Brodrick was also suggested and strongly advocated? It is all the more significant, because the Times is generally supposed to be named from being the echo of the Ministerial opinions of the day - in fact, as being - without being recognised as such - the emissary of the political thought that is responsible for the official lead of the Empire. Now to come a little closer to the Bill before us. In reference to the concrete question, upon which we are now touching, take the opinion of Sir John Colomb, who, in 1879, published a book on The Defence of Great and Greater Britain. In that book he suggested that we cannot possiblyseparate the question of naval defence from the question of Imperial representation. In fact, he scouted the idea of any levy being made upon the colonies, except on a principle which would give them some part in central representation. By such an expert authority as Sir John Colomb this Bill would have been scouted. What does he say ? These are his words -
The whole problem of defence resolves itself in practice into one of cost ; cost in its turn resolves itself into taxes ; and taxes cannot be separated from representation. We are all at once brought face to face with the naked fact that Imperial representation lies at the root of the problem of Imperial defence.
And he asks, supposing the position were reversed, would GreatBritain consent to a contribution of money without a share in the control of its disposition? He says -
Great Britain would certainly decline to pay bills for war purposes without control over the items or any voice in that question which rules the total - peace or war.
According to him, then, we may say that this Bill involves a subsidy without control; it involves, I will not say taxation, but certainly a levy without representation. And as representation would mean a radical, and I believe pernicious and dangerous, rearrangement of the political structure of the various parts of the Empire, it opens up to us a far bigger question than strikes honorable members at a cursory glance at this subject. I ask honorable members - “ Do they really think that this is a temporary arrangement - that the United Kingdom expects us to play with a policy of central control - with what has been declared to be a matter of tactics leading to concentration - for a period of eight or ten years, and then, when perhaps at some crisis that policy might become affective, will allow us to drop out ? “ I say that it is a deliberate principle which they are asking us to affirm ; but because some of the colonies are strongly attached to the principle of independence in political matters, and are disinclined to give up control in these affairs, to get over their reluctance, a temporary arrangement is proposed. But Ls it to be supposed ‘that it is intended that this shall be merely a temporary arrangement? By’ agreeing to it we may open the way to a further extension of the principle, if we may judge from the speeches of Imperial Ministers, from publications in England, from our Blue Books, and from contributions to the press. If we agree to give this subsidy or to affirm this principle we cannot hereafter, at a moment when perhaps danger to the Empire may thicken, with any sense of self-respect or of honour, ask to be allowed to back out of it. If Parliament affirmed this principle, and were to attempt to back out of it after eight or ten years, our action would appear in a very paltry light in the eyes of the other members of the Empire. My objection to it is that it involves a principle the adoption of which I cannot advocate.
– How could the termination of a definite agreement of this kind do anything of the kind ?
– No doubt, technically, and on a lawyer’s examination of the text, it could not do anything of the sort ; but we must find out what the professed tendencies are when the suggestion is made. If this principle is necessary for concentration, and for the efficiency of the Navy, it was never contemplated that we should back down after ten years. f the principle is adopted, and becomes perfect throughout the other parts of the Empire, that perfectness would be marred by the withdrawal of Australia. We cannot contemplate such a position.
– It does not prevent assistance in another form.
– No ; it does not prevent assistance in the form which I would advocate, and which we say is the true method of keeping the Empire together. The affection that binds us to the Empire is quite “ as potent without any political change. Distance seems to have made more perfect our relations ; the sea, which usually estranges, has made made us the better friends. What does this principle involve ? It involves one navy, one liability, and one control. Under this measure, the absolute and complete control of the fleet within the sphere of operations is vested in the Admiralty. Of course that control will be in the hands of the Admiral of the fleet, who in turn is subject to the control of the Admiralty at home. What does Mr. Chamberlain say as regards this policy ? I quote him merely to show that you cannot always take a statesman’s declaration as the measure of his action. Heaffirms the principle by which he wishes Australia to be guided, but which he hesitates to apply to the United Kingdom -
The real problem which the 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 these ships are, and to destroy these ships. . . It follows from this that there can be no localization of naval forces in the strict sense of the word. There can be no local allocation of ships to protect the mouth of the Thames ; to protect Liverpool; to protect Sydney ; to protect Halifax. ls there a localization of ships to protect the mouth of the Thames ? What does Sir John Colomb say has been a necessary part of the security of the Empire 1 The localization of fleets for the purpose of investment in the neighbourhood of England. Those of us who have read the excellent pamphlet by Senator Matheson will have noticed that he quotes Brassey’s. Naval Annual as his authority for the statement that there is certainly one squadron at Home whose sphere of operations is confined to a radial distance of about 60 miles from the United Kingdom, and whose function, according to Sir John Colomb, is, first of all, to prevent the cutting-off of the communications of the Empire at the centre of their convergence ; and, secondly, to protect the shores of England itself against raids or invasions. The principle is that there should be an Auxiliary local fleet, but the principle recommended to us by Mr. Chamberlain is that we should have no Auxiliary fleet, for the purpose of local defence, such as is employed by every other maritime nation in Europe, but that we should simply place absolute dependence upon the successful operation of the ocean-going fleet.
– Because the other Continental powers are alongside England ; only a narrow strip of water separates them from her.
– But there is no particularly narrow strip separating England from Russia, or even Germany or Southern Europe. “We cannot say that any particular nation is on terms of antagonism, or in alliance with regard to England. The alliances vary from time to time, but this policy is continuous:
– But the fleets would move from the shores of England if a distant power were involved. .
– But does not the honorable member think that the abandonment of all local defence would be a far greater danger to an isolated country like Australia than it would be to England ? The con.verging streams of commerce must necessarily attract a fleet to the neighbourhood of England. I shall say one or two words presently as to the class “of fleet that is recommended as a local one by some authorities who ought to be considered experts in this matter. The proposition of the experts to whom I refer is that you must have as your first principle an ocean-going fleet. That is a policy which has been preached in books for the last 20 or 30 years. Sir Charles Dilke, in his Problems qf Greater Britain, has pointed out time after time that the defence of English possessions may be made perfect perhaps in the Baltic - that it is by closing up the ports of exit very often that you stop the possibility of invasion by an enemy.
– That policy is as old as Pericles.
– That is the professed policy of great naval authorities. I have mentioned Sir Charles Dilke and Sir John Colomb as an indication of the class of men who have declared for this policy, which has been followed for at least 20 or 30 years. They do not rely on that policy alone. Whilst admitting all that is said as to the power of concentration at definite points, and as to blockading the ports of the enemy at the outset of a naval war, they insist that there must be an auxiliary fleet to secure perfect immunity.
– Does the honorable and learned member recognise that the investment of England by an enemy’s fleet for three weeks would starve out the .nation, but that such an investment would not starve out Australia ?
– What is the Channel fleet for but to prevent that possibility ? I desire to put a question to honorable members. Captain Mallan for instance, when dealing with Imperial defence, and not alone that of the defence of the United Kingdom, says that a sound defensive scheme is the foundation, but an offensive scheme is the superstructure thus joining the two ; and that -
Offence therefore dominates, but does not exclude.
The present Governor of Victoria, Sir George Sydenham Clarke, also admitted in 1896 that small-‘ raiding expeditions may evade a superior navy. Wherever national resources necessary for the purposes of war are accumulated, local means of resistance against a raid are necessary.
When we find these authorities all stating definitely that we must have an auxiliary, as well as an offensive fleet, why should we be asked to accept Mr. Chamberlain’s suggestion that we should dispense altogether with the defence of our coast bv a local fleet?
– Was not Sir George Clarke speaking of - forts ?
– I do not think so. I do not think his remarks were confined to land defences. Certainly the remarks made by Captain Mahan were not, and I may come closer home by quoting a report by semi-Imperial authorities. The Conference of naval representatives which met, as the precursor of federation, in 1899, at Melbourne, recommended the very principle that the authorities I have mentioned have declared themselves in favour of. At that Conference three resolutions were carried. The first declared that a Royal Naval Reserve could not be raised in Australia on conditions required by the Admiralty. Those conditions included the giving of two sets of pay on the same vessel, a suggestion that has been condemned by Admiral Bowden Smith, who, speaking on the occasion of the lecture delivered before the Colonial Institute by Senator Matheson, said that to have two rates of pay on board the same vessel might lead to a mutiny of the Imperial sailors.
Bub whilst the Conference declared in its first resolution that a Royal Naval Reserve could not be raised in Australia on conditions required by the Admiralty, it went on to say - that a naval force that would be efficient and available for service in vessels of war, can be raised on rates of pay and conditions of service suitable to the colonies.
The next resolution was in effect that the control of such a force should be vested in the Federal Parliament, while the third was that the Admiralty should’ provide the necessary ships, but that they should be manned by the Federal Government. It may be said that the weakness of the proposal was that the Admiralty should provide the ships. I believe, however, that the Admiralty had expressed their willingness to do so. It was pointed out in the report of the Conference that all that was really necessary could be secured by a fleet of five vessels, at an annual expenditure of the total of £191,000 a year, then devoted to naval defence by the various States. That estimate apparently made no provision for interest on cost of construction or any allowance for depreciation.
– Nor for the higher rates of pay to Australians.
– It made provision for that, although I do not think it was based upon an allowance of 5 per cent, for the cost of the vessels ; but even then the total cost would only amount to something like £240,000 per annum.
– For only five ships?
– Yes ; and that is all we should require for the purposes of local defence. We do not need to go in for a branch of the Imperial ocean-going navy.
– We certainly require efficiency.
– -Of course we do, but—
– The five would not be worth twopence without the Imperial fleet around it.
– We might as well try to fight a pitched battle with outposts.
– Does the honorable member think that by providing a local navy we should really give up all obligation on the part of the Imperial Government to allow us a share in the immunity from attack which is afforded by an Imperial fleet ? Is that the British policy 1 Does the British policy suggest that unless we provide for our local defence the operations of the Navy will not be permitted to conduce to the safety of Australia ? No doubt that is the policy of some petty carpers in the pages of the Times; no doubt it is the policy of Mr. Loring and others who have written to that journal, but is it the policy of responsible English statesmen ?
– The converse of that, policy should not be adopted by us.
– It is a reasonable mean between the two.
-That is what I have suggested.
– Not in the way of contribution. There is one paragraph in the report of the Naval Conference to which I have referred that I think is somewhat significant. It states that -
It has been the invariable policy of the motherlaud to encourage all her colonies and dependencies in self-defence, to encourage the organization of forces suited to meet and resist the particular danger to which they are exposed. The Cape, Canada, and India, are all cases in point - all have land frontiers requiring military defence. Australia, having no military frontier requires for her defence a sea or naval force.
I consider that we should not be too ready to regard the deliberate judgment of these naval representatives of - the States, which met in 1899, as being an obsolete or mistaken policy. Let me again quote Sir John Colomb upon .’this very point. He recommends an auxiliary fleet for all parts of the Empire. ‘He advocates a local fleet of small dimensions and points out that -
A single cruiser bringing her guns to bear on one of our coastal depots would in a few hours paralyze the action of the fleet for months.
– Q - Quite true. Look at Paul Jones in Scotland.
– -Hementions the Alabama, and he points out that -
The danger can in several instances be met by port defence vessels and torpedoes. A very small local force, if trained and provided with these weapons, would meet the requirements.
All the maritime nations of Europe employ both methods of naval defence. They employ an ocean-going fleet, and, as the corollary of that, a local fleet. According to Brassey’s Naval Annual, in 1900, when a large expenditure was made to meet the ocean-going fleet of France, provision was also made for a corresponding increase in the fleet for local defences. It is also pointed out in Brassey’s Naval Annual that a very large vote for local defence was at the same time passed .by the French Parliament. I think it is very clearly admitted that fleets for the purpose of local coastal defence are necessary as an auxiliary to the Imperial fleets. They are, of course, different in character. The only nation, perhaps, that ever lowered the pennant of England in a naval war was that of her own children - America.
– What about theDutch ?
-I think that, on the whole, that is the only case where there was a final defeat of the British Navy. There may have been temporary checks, but there has not been in English history a single case in which England eventually, at the termination of a war, went down. But in the war with America there is no doubt she did. England was defeated in fifteen out of eighteen pitched naval battles with the American fleet, and authorities say that the reason was that the American fleet was founded on the principle of local defence, with armament far greater in proportion to the size of the vessels than that of the British ships, and as a consequence the British guns were completely outranged.
– O - Only one American squadron was defeated on Lake Erie.
– Captain Creswell, in a report - not the papers circulated amongst honorable members - points out that we should treble the power of our present squadron, and he says -
Universal world service thus spells very light guns, and comparatively small fighting efficiency.
The same is the opinion of Captain Mahan. In fact, Captain Creswell points out that the Wallaroo, of the existing Auxiliary Squadron, though it is in size three times that of the Protector, which we now understand is to be sold, has a gun capacity 70per cent. less. Captain Mahan, speaking upon this point, says -
By sacrificing power to go long distances, coast defence ships gain proportionate weight of armour - that is, defensive and offensive strength.
I say, therefore, that those who are entitled to be considered experts, whether Imperial or local, are clearly of opinion that an auxiliary fleet for purposes of coastal defence is also necessary.
– Surprise was expressed that the Protector, a coastal boat, should be recognised as a good boat when she went to China.
– The Protector is still a coastal boat, and her guns are proportionately efficient. Captain Creswell points out that, although a good type of coastal defence boat, the Protector is efficient even over distances such as that from Australia to China, and that was absolutely proved by the experience gained in getting her to the Gulf of Pechili.
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman know that Captain Creswell approves of this agreement?
– I do not attach great importance to what a person says the moment he meets the Prime Minister on his return from England. We should not take that statement in the face of two carefully prepared reports, one of which has been presented to this House, and the other to the public.
– That is not saying much for Captain Creswell.
– I know Captain Creswell personally, and I have the very highest respect for his authority, but we cannot take a casual statement made to the Prime Minister as conclusive against the tenor of a report presented to the House twelve months ago, the tendency of which is diametrically opposite. This Imperial policyassumes also the continued supremacy of the sea-going fleet of the Empire at every period of a war. Though one does not wish to disparage, and there is no historical justification for doing so, the prowess of the English seaman, it is the duty of the statesman to be prepared for the worst, and surely in this case -
The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches
To the bottom of the worst.
Since the Crimean war English naval conditions have changed. The British Navy has not been engaged in any big naval warfare - unless we consider the American war of 1861 as such - since 1854, in which ironclads were really brought into action. It was pointed out some years ago in the pages of the Nineteenth Century that the great days of English seamanship, the time when England was displaying, to the envy of the world, her marvellous prowess in seamanship, passed with the evolutions of some of her ships under the walls of Sebastopol. Lord Brassey states that the personnel of the English Navy is suffering. He points out that the foreign blight is upon the British Navy, and that in 1900, 47 per cent. of the seamen on board British merchant vessels were foreigners. I know that the old spirit of the British is still there just as strongly as in the days when Campbell addressed his patriotic, apostrophe to “ Ye mariners of .England.” But surely when the proportion of British seamen drops, the efficiency must come down. There are still, no doubt, throughout the Empire men of the type of the heroes and idols of our childhood - Jack Rattlin and Tom Bowling - men who seem to have been born for the sea, “ to be cradled in the rude imperious surge”; but half tha attractiveness of the deep passed with the era of the sailing ship, so that there are now fewer youths led to the life by the glamour of the old conditions, and there is smaller scope for the display of those special qualities which established the unfailing supremacy of the past. Though I say that, I say it as one whose confidence is still unshaken in the comparative efficiency of the British seaman ; but we must note the tendency of the times and the changed conditions, and. it is the duty of statesmen, T repeat, while being confident, to be also influenced by a healthy caution. I acknowledge - and I am not doing so now for the first time, because I did so in 1891 in a series of articles in one of the Australian papers - the great obligations of the British Possessions to the British Navy. I acknowledge that to ‘ a great extent, if we were to eliminate local conditions of develop- ment, our contributions to the Imperial Defence Fund are ridiculously small. I think that of the total export and import trade of England, about one-fourth or onefifth is with British Possessions, and in that we are interested jointly with England. According to the latest returns there is a trade with British Possessions amongst themselves, and with foreign countries, that never touches the shores of the United Kingdom, totalling £254,000, 000,and which equally with the other part of the foreign trade of the Empire secures the protection of the British fleet. But what are the figures 1 If we take the white population of the Empire to be 50,000,000, and the naval estimate for 1901-2 as £32,000,000, we find that we pay in Australia about 6£d. per head, on the basis of the £106,000 contribution, to the defences of the Empire ; and the whole of the British possessions outside of the United Kingdom, inclusive of ourselves, contribute only 4d. per head. I acknowledge also that we have a very strong impulse of affection, apart altogether from the baser monetary considerations, to join in the naval defence of the Empire. We are parts of a mighty system whose members are invigorated by the pulsations of the little heart at home. The circulation may be slower and more fitful at the extremities, but the quality of the blood reaches us still, and we must, to some extent, feel the promptings of the ties of affection and the instincts of the old race, inducing us to make larger contributions to the monetary expenditure upon the sources of Imperial defence. But with me it is not any faltering recognition of the obligation ; it is merely a question of the most efficacious method, and of the one which suits the conditions of Australia equally with those of England. Upon this point let us not look only toan insularopinion or a local authority. Let us take some journals whose authority will be generally recognised, some periodicals of power in the United Kingdom. I take, for instance, the Spectator, the Monthly Review, the Edinburgh Review, and all strongly advocate the method of .contribution by local defence. To quote only the Edinburgh Review -
A strong movement exists in Australia in favour of obtaining control of the navy, and it found expression, we believe, at the Colonial Conference. The tendency is inevitable. State sovereignty is inextricably bound up with military power. No colony can be really selfgoverning which has not also control of its own forces.
The Spectator gives a whole-hearted adherence to the method of which I am an advocate, as one of those who support the principle of. local defence. I mentioned the political tendency and the ultimate political development to which this must lead as regards contributions. We have heard about this paltry contribution of £200,000, but this, according to the authoritative statement of Imperial Ministers, is simply but a modest beginning of a policy which is to be subsequently developed. Let us see what was said by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It will be found at page 5 of the Blue Book, to which I’ have referred -
The disproportion to which I have called your attention cannot, under any circumstances, be immediately remedied, but 1 think that something may be done - I hope that something may bo done - co recognise more effectually than’ has hitherto been done, the obligation of all to contribute to the commonweal.
The right honorable gentleman says there that he does not think it can be immediately remedied. These remarks were made on a I proposal that there should be a payment of £387,000 a year as the contribution of Australia.
– No such proposal had been made then.
– That was the suggestion of Earl Selborne.
– That was made afterwards, and not before Mr. Chamberlain had spoken.
– I know that I read it in the papers, and it appeared to have been made before Mr. Chamberlain spoke.
– I heard nothing of it.
– The Prime Minister will . recognise that that suggestion was made by the Earl of Selborne, who did not come down to the Conference without some understanding with the other representatives of the Imperial Cabinet. He came there to speak as the representative of the Admiralty, and the suggestion he made was that the payment should -be £387,000 a year as our share of a sum of £467,000 a year, including the contribution from New Zealand. That was the commencement agreed upon to be recommended to the Premiers of the self-governing colonies at the Conference. Take the Times, which, as I have said, is to a large extent the echo of British Ministerial policy-
Perhaps from these modest beginings an adequate and equitable system of Imperial defencemay some day be evolved.
Is not this a declaration of a tendency that some day must be developed. These are the modest beginnings - the proposal for the payment of £200,000 - but what will they mean hereafter ? The increasing naval expenditure will be beyond our control. The Naval Estimates for 1890 amounted to £14,000,000. In 1900 thev had crept up to £29,000,000; in 1903 to” £34,000,000 ; and if I am not mistaken I saw a telegram last week to the effect that owing to the new outlay upon ships the total next year will probably be £39,000,000. The statistician of the Board of Trade declared two years ago in the Nineteenth Century that the immunity which England should have against invasion and the power of protecting her communications could not be met by a smaller expenditure than £40,000,000 per annum upon the navy. In fact, the Times at that time mentioned that England must not stop short of any sacrifice required to place her absolutely in a position of supremacy.
– The statistician of the Board of Trade is not a naval authority.
– I may quote a statistician as well as naval authorities. If the honorable member desires authorities, I can refer him to some in all classes of society.
– The trouble is . that they are mutually contradictor)’.
– Sir John Colomb is quoted, not as a constitutionalist, but as a naval authority.
– The organ” of the Cobden Free-trade Society says that the true contribution of Australia should be £3,000,000, and of Canada £4,000,000. In fact, one of the strongest condemnations of our carelessness in this matter comes from that organ, which I am sure the honorable member for Parramatta will respect, as representing the views of the committee of the Cobden Club. The Imperial Federation League is circulating pamphlets showing the insufficiency of our contribution, and advocating an increased contribution. I merely point out what must be the result of this policy, if we once affirm it. We cannot honorably refuse hereafter a proportionate contribution in the face Of that being now declared to be the goal at which the Imperial Ministry are aiming. With regard to coastal defence one must speak with a certain whispering humbleness, but I would again remind honorable members that the initial cost of an Auxiliary fleet of five cruisers would be under £900,000. Lieut. Biddlecombe, who supported his estimate by the opinions of experts, put the total capital outlay at about £900,000. Senator Matheson, in a letter which honorable members may have seen, points out that an outlay of less than £900,000 would, on the admission of the Admiralty, be sufficient for the beginning of a coastal defence.
– He says that the maintenance of five second-class cruisers would cost £367,000.
– I am dealing only with the capital outlay. The one does not. exclude the other.
– He puts the interest and sinking fund at £125,000, and allows £242,000 for maintenance. That is the Admiralty estimate.
– The Admiralty estimate of the cost of the new cruisers and gunboats is £850,000. The sum of £125,000 includes £45,000 a year for capital outlay.
Senator Matheson assumes, on the Admiralty’s own figures, that something under £1,000,000 would be the capital outlay upon the fleet. Then let us take the estimate of the experts who in 1899 reported upon the matter for the benefit of the States. They gave the capital outlay as £900,000. Allowing 5 per cent, on that amount for depreciation and interest,, that would give £45,000, or a total annual outlay of £242,000 for a fleet which, they say, would be adequate for the purposes of our defence. Those who rely upon this method of recognising our Imperial obligations have a concrete suggestion for carrying them out. We may find then in the creation of some sort of local navy a way to recognise and acknowledge our responsibilities to the Empire and to the Commonwealth. As members of the Empire we must bear a reasonable share of its burdens and responsibilities. The method and extent, however, must pay some regard to the local desire for independent control and the vast differences between the interests at stake. Proportionate contributions are not_ called for by any excessive intermeddling on our part in international affairs, nor as a premium upon risks voluntarily incurred by us and covered by the Imperial fleet. But as units in the great Imperial system, whose real strength lies in the voluntary cooperation and independent development of its various members, we must and do acknowledge an obligation to bear some part of the cost of naval defence, and we are prepared to do so by a method which will pay some regard to local necessities and instincts, and will not in substance oppose Imperial desires.
– While I am unable to realize with the honorable member for Richmond that a bloody Armageddon is awaiting Australia if we do not indorse this proposal, I believe with him that we are now dealing with a very important matter ; a matter so important that I indorse the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland that the people of the country should be given an opportunity to realize what it means to them. This is not a question of pounds, shillings, and pence. The contribution of some £200,000 to the very large outlay upon naval defence annually incurred by the Imperial authorities cannot be of much moment to them, and therefore we cannot find, in the amount of the subsidy, a satisfactory explanation of their desire that we should pay it. Neither can I see that England, the weary Titan, is so very weary of his load as to require our assistance. As a matter of fact, in spite of the very heavy additions to the armaments of Great Britain of late years, at no period in its history has such expenditure’ been borne by the community with less difficulty. Neither do I believe that we ‘are being drawn by the Imperial authorities into what an honorable member of this House calls a vortex of militarism. In that respect Great Britain has not adopted, and is not likely to adopt, the attitude of some of the nations on the Continent of Europe with regard to military affairs. At one time militarism was a much more serious thing to the people of Great Britain than it is now, and I believe that Carlyle’s famous picture of Dumdrudge villagers being led like sheep to the slaughter on the battlefields of Europe is no longer possible. Whatever temporary waves of militarism there may be, the people of the motherland are not likely to commit themselves in cold blood to a policy which is entirely foreign to the instincts of the nation. Statistics to some extent bear out the statement I have made, that, so far as her expenditure on military and naval matters is concerned, Great Britain is in a better position now than she was ever in before. For that reason I cannot see that there is any need for the Imperial authorities to drag us into the so-called vortex of militarism, assuming that desire to exist. In my opinion, the true significance of the proposal of the Government is to be found in a departure indicated in the measure before ‘us. The principal difference between the proposal embraced in this measure and the old arrangement between Australia and the mother country, lies in the fact that the Admiralty proposes to retain power to send the Australian Squadron into other waters, presumably, of course, in our interest. Whilst. I listened to the speech of the Minister for Defence, I could not help admiring his courage in saying that he was thoroughly convinced that the Imperial authorities would exercise- this power wisely and well in respect to Australia. I think that the right honorable gentleman, in common with other representatives of Western Australia in this House, is beginning to entertain some rather disquieting ideas with regard to the attention given to Western Australian interests, even in this impartial
Chamber. Here we have a voice in all Australian matters, but what say does the Minister suppose that we shall have in Imperial affairs 1 If he shares with me the fear that the interests of Western Australia will not always receive the consideration they deserve at the hands of the Federal Legislature, surely he is rather rash in agreeing to hand over the entire control of the Australian Squadron to the Imperial authorities - control in which we have no representation at all. This is an important principle of which the people of this country should be fully seized before the measure is passed. It has been stated that the proposal embodies the principle of taxation without representation, but to my mind the question is not so much one of taxation without representation as one of contributing money, in the expenditure of which we shall have no voice. Here, I take it, is the precise point of departure. We are asked to become a partner in a large concern in which we shall no doubt have a certain interest, but at the same time I contend that we could more effectively safeguard Imperial interests in this part of the world by refraining from taking part in any such arrangement. There is another matter of some importance to which reference has not yet been made. We are reminded of the large expenditure undertaken by Great Britain in connexion with defence .matters generally, and it has been argued that we should, to some extent at least, imitate the mother land in that respect. I find, however, that the incidence of taxation in Great Britain is very different from what exists here. For some years past there has been a growing desire on the part of British statesmen to place the incidence of taxation upon a truly scientific basis. Direct taxation has been increased, and indirect taxation has been steadily reduced. At the time of the Crimean War, about 50 years ago, the proceeds of indirect taxation represented 66 per cent, of the total revenue, whilst 34 per cent, was contributed by direct taxation. At present direct taxation yields 51 per cent, and indirect taxation 48 per cent. That means, of course, that the wealthier classes are being called upon to bear increased taxation, whilst the masses are being correspondingly relieved. Now we are told that,in contributing towards the maintenance of the Australian Squadron, we are paying our money into a fund for the insurance of capital, and that, in fact, we ‘ ought - to be glad of the opportunity which Great Britain affords us. The protection given by the Australian Squadron, whilst it undoubtedly extends to even the poorest individual in the community, means a great deal more to the wealthier classes. This has been recognised in Great Britain as is shown by the changes made in the incidence of taxation. What, however, is the condition of affairs in Australia? According to Coghlan, the contribution to the revenue in the form of direct taxation amounts to 12s. 6d. per inhabitant, as against £2 7s. 9d. per inhabitant derived from indirect taxation. In other words, the masses would have to pay four times as much as the wealthier classes towards an insurance fund intended to confer the greater amount of benefit upon the latter. I contend that this is a phase of the question that requires consideration, and that until our taxation is placed upon a more equitable basis than at present, the Government should hesitate to commit Australia to even the expenditure now proposed._ When we have that measure of taxation reform which has been granted to the people of even Great Britain, there may be some reason for asking us to contribute to an insurance fund for the protection of capital.
– That argument applies also to a local fleet.
– Yes. Whilst I certainly think that the consideration of this matter ought to be postponed until the people have had an opportunity of realizing its full import and of indicating their attitude towards it, I should be equally hostile to any proposal in favour of the early establishment of an Australian Navy.
– What is to be done in the meantime ?
– In the meantime I think that we should adhere to the old condition of affairs.
– The honorable member has affirmed the principle involved under the old agreement.
– No; I have endeavoured to point out that there is a very radical distinction between the old agreement and the new. I have attempted to emphasize the fact that under the latter we are invited to enter into a partnership in which we shall have no voice as to the expenditure of the money. U Under the old system, while retaining our connexion with the mother country, we did not, as in- the present instance, indorse a proposition that Australian interests should be absolutely intrusted to the British Admiralty.
– The adoption of the amendment will obliterate the whole thing.
– I am entirely opposed to the proposals of the Government, and desire to give the electors of Australia an opportunity of indicating their wishes upon this matter. Reverting to the point raised by the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Cameron, I would remind him that the arrangement proposed by the Government is more than likely in time of emergency to recoil upon those very Imperial interests which some honorable members are so anxious to conserve. This fleet, under the control of the Admiralty authorities, can be ordered by them into any part of the1 Chinese waters. Let us assume that the mother-country is at war, and that we are taking a hand in the trouble. Let us imagine that it is rumoured that a hostile fleet is somewhere in Australian waters. Naturally the people of Australia and New Zealand would be anxious to secure the protection of the Australian Squadron. The Admiralty authorities, however, may decide that the interests of these countries will be best conserved if that squadron is despatched to the vicinity of Hong Kong to look after the welfare of our coloured fellow-subjects there, as I believe they are regarded in some quarters. If a descent were made on any port in Australia or New Zealand whilst the Australian Squadron was in other waters, honorable members can readily imagine what would be the result. The new agreement with the Imperial authorities would then be denounced in the most effective fashion. Indeed, such a contingency might possibly lead to that very calamity which so many honorable members are anxious to avoid, namely, the complete severance of our connexion with the motherland
– No such contingency is likely to arise.
– In my judgment it is a very possible contingency.
– What would be the position if the English fleet were defeated in Australian waters?
– Then, of course, we should have to face a very serious position indeed ; but it would be free from any illfeeling, such as would be engendered by the reflection that our interests had been subordinated to those of others in a different part of the Empire.
– They are of the same flesh and blood.
– We are ccertainly of the same flesh and blood as the people of the motherland, and that tie, of itself, will always be sufficient to bind us to them, and to insure that our best efforts will be directed towards the common good. But I hold that the new agreement contains elements of danger which may well make the Government pause before committing the country to it. I realize the significance of the proposed change so fully that I heartily support the honorable member for Bland in his demand that the people of the country shall have an opportunity of expressing their desires upon a matter which is of vital importance to them and to the. true interests of the Empire as a whole.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The point which has particular^- impressed me during the course of this debate is that nearly every honorable member who has spoken in opposition to the proposal of the Government has asseverated, in the most solemn manner, his desire to assist the Empire in every possible way. The trouble is that every one of these gentlemen has a different notion of how that assistance should be given.- Amid so much conflict of authority and opinion who is to decide ?
– The people of Australia.
– The possibility is that they may have as many different opinions upon the matter as we have heard expressed in this Chamber. What is the issue to be placed before the people when they are consulted ? May I remind the honorable member that if that is the object which he and his party seek, they have gone a very strange way about accomplishing it. They have adopted the course which is usually followed when an endeavour is made to kill a Bill outright. When an honorable member desires to defeat the second reading of any measure it is well-known that he submits a similar amendment to that proposed by the honorable member for Bland. That amendment, I would point out, contains nothing indicative of a desire on his part to take the sense of the people of Australia upon this matter. Had he merely been desirous of doing that, rather than of killing the Bill outright, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to have incorporated -some such provision in the amendment he has submitted. Instead he has simply moved an amendment which has for its object the killing of this proposal at the present time. If it were’ carried there is no provision made for the continuance of the old agreement, let alone the question of the new relationship to the Empire.
– We have to give two years’ notice before it can lapse.
– -Two years is little enough. 1 .take it that if we are going to appeal to the people of Australia on a matter of this kind, the two years will have expired before we can be ready again to deal with it.
– There is no need to give the notice.
– But the ships are getting old.
– I should like to know what honorable members propose. Either they propose to consult the people of Australia on this matter, and then effectuate it if the vote of the people be favorable or the)’ do not. There is no plan before the House to carry that resolution into effect.. What are they going to put before the people ? Are they going to ask the opinion of the people of Australia on the subject of the proposed agreement, or are they going to put it before the people as an alternative to a scheme of their own, and if so, what is that scheme 1 I have no objection to the course taken .by honorable members, if only they will make their proposal intelligible, but I rather suspect . that the only object which the honorable member for Bland has in view at the present moment is the defeat of this proposal without any regard as to what is to eventuate. I think it would be very much better and more straightforward if he had moved his amendment without making the pretence of saying that it was for the purpose of consulting the people of Australia on the question.
– Will the honorable member suggest a way of improving the amendment?
– I am not in favour of the amendment, therefore I am not likely to suggest a way of improving it. The thing which struck me in the debate was the way in which every one wishes to help the Empire in its defence. The honorable and learned member for Corio was quite pained the other night that any one should suggest any defectiveness in his loyalty to the Empire because of the attitude he assumed, and said that he hoped we should always be on affectionate terms with the Empire, and that the silken bonds and crimson threads would be perpetually maintained, while in almost the next breath he said - “ My responsibility is alone to Australia.” That is a rather selfish way of showing his loyalty to the Empire. Any man who believes in the maintenance of the ties between the mother country and these States must go further than that, and recognise that there is not merely a responsibility for Australia, but a responsibility to some degree for the Empire as a whole. There is no escape from that conclusion that I can see.
– On the same line of reasoning we should share in all the liabilities of the Empire.
– Nothing of the kind. The argument of the honorable member- and it is the one used by his leader - amounts to this : That because a son has equal responsibility with his father for the maintenance ‘of the family relation, therefore,’ even though he be earning only £40 a year, he should bring home as much as his father towards the maintenance of that family. The idea is ridiculous. He takes a responsibility according to his means, his position, and his relation in the family household. Similarly in pledging ourselves to take our share in the burdens of Empire we are not pledged to a pro rata, contribution to ‘ this navy. We are pledged to do what we can for the maintenance of the Empire, having in view at the same time our own peculiar position and condition of development. That is all that is set up by honorable members who say, as citizens of the Empire, we have a right to take some of its obligations. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, commended to me something that was being done by the Cobden league, and he was quite sure that I would pay some attention to the Cobden leaguers. If the Cobden leaguers on this question of Imperial defence choose to put themselves in a ridiculous position, that is no ground why their mere ipse dixit should appeal to my reason. I decline to be guided by the Cobden leaguers on the question of Imperial defence. In this agreement there are some things of which I do not altogether approve.
I take exception to what the last speaker regarded as the vital principle of the Bill, namely, the evident desire of the Imperial authorites to make a navy here merely an adjunct to the fleet of the Empire. I should like the Prime Minister to consider whether that is not a matter which might be modifled with advantage to the agreement? As I read the document, I take it that there is a desire on the part of the naval authorities at home to make use of this squadron for the purpose of policing the diplomacy of the Empire in the Eastern and Pacific waters. Article 2 lays down what the base of the force is to be, and says that the sphere of operations shall be -
The waters of the Australian, 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.
– “Trade or interests” is a very elastic term.
– It is so elastic a term - as I pointed out when the Prime Minister was speaking the other night - that the probability is that if this agreement were in force our fleet would be in Chinese waters now. We were told by the right honorable and learned gentleman that there is a foregathering of the fleets of the Empire in that direction ; that no less than 52 Russian war vessels are there ; and that it is a matter of the gravest concern to the wisest heads in the Empire to-day. I take it that that article in the agreement would enable our fleet to be moved up into Chinese waters at the present moment.
– And suppose it were, what would happen ?
Mi-. JOSEPH COOK.- I shall tell the Minister for Defence .what I object to. While I am prepared to agree to the Bill as to the disposition of that force, I do not think that we should be adopting a wise policy in agreeing to any proposal which would make our fleet the means of policing the diplomacy of the Empire in these seas. The honorable member knows as well as I do that every time there is a difference of opinion concerning a matter of policy, one or two war boats, or a squadron, goes to the scene in order to be ready in case of eventualities.
– We do not pay the whole cost ; it is not our fleet only.
– That is the point ; it is not our fleet, and we have no control over it.
– The Minister for Defence will at least admit that it is a new departure so foi* as we are concerned. I submit that our shores ought not to be left undefended when our fleet is sent merely to police British interests in parts outside Australia. The agreement does not provide that the fleet shall go away only in case of war, but that it shall proceed to any point where the Admiralty deem our interest to be threatened. “ I feel strongly that this provision in the Bill ought to be modified. I am willing that the fleet should be sent away in case of war or of positive danger, but not that it should go on mere policing expeditions of the kind I have indicated. This provision is a blot on the agreement, and I hope that before the measure emerges from Committee it will have been removed. At- the same time I support the. agreement as the best way out of a very serious difficulty. What have honorable members told us they would accept in place of the agreement? The honorable and learned member for Bendigo the other night told us that his idea was to have a fleet of five light cruisers to protect our commerce in our immediate waters. But I ask, as I asked before, of what use would five cruisers be aS a means of defending Australia if it were not for the fact that the Imperial Navy is behind it ? Honorable members who make these propositions seriously must know that there is something which they are keeping from the Committee, or they are taking’ a very superficial view of the position. The honorable member for Bourke told us to-night that we ought to reduce our military expenses by another quarter of a million per annum, and use the money in purchasing a ship each year towards the formation of a navy. The honorable member would begin to form the Australian Navy with one boat for the first year, two boats for the second year, three boats for the third year, and so on. But the pertinent question arises - What is to become of Australia with a navy of one boat flying its flag bravely to the breeze and challenging the whole world to mortal combat? The idea is too ludicrous for serious notice in a House of this kind. The honorable member for Bland suggests that we should veto the proposed agreement, and, without a squadron, organize better land defences until we are in a position to form an Australian Navy.
– I said I was quite prepared to support an agreement similar to the existing one, until we were able to form an Australian Navy, but not to provide a fleet for China.
– The honorable member for Bland went on to say that the agreement provided for one squadron in Australian waters.
– The agreement does not provide for that.
– It It does under normal conditions. There would, under the agreement, be one squadron in Australian waters, but liable to bc called away ; and that one squadron the honorable member regarded as useless as a means of defending Australia. I interjected when the honorable member was speaking that the Bill provides for three squadrons.
– At the other end of the world.
– The China Sea and the Indies are not at the other end of the world.
Mr.Watson. - Very nearly ; the China Sea goes as far as Siberia.
– One of the strongest points in the Prime Minister’s speech was as to the inter-relation of these various fleets, and the possibility of their converging at any point of danger. The Prime Minister laid it down clearly that the naval policy underlying the agreement was that each fleet should go to the assistance of the others in case of necessity. In answer to that, we have the honorable member for Perth, who says he can conceive trouble arising in the China Sea, and, while our fleet was there, some roving, marauding squadron pouncing on us in Australia. But what would the Admiralty be doing all that time? If that kind of thing be possible after every precaution has been taken, I must say that our squadron, even if chained here, would not be able to prevent a calamity to Australia.
– Why does England keep a squadron always in the English Channel?
– Because England is near to points of contact with possible enemies, and to constant sources of danger.
– The Channel Fleet is kept there because there is danger.
– And there would be danger to Australia if our squadron were away in China.
– No doubt of it; but the Admiralty engage with the whole British fleet to look after that, and I hope the honorable member will disabuse his mind of the idea that I want the Australian fleet to go to China, unless there is real danger of eventualities. Does the honorable member suppose that, even under the old arrangement, if there was real cause of danger to the Empire in China, we should keep our fleet idle here? If we desired to do so, I believe that, even under present conditions, the Imperial Government would order the fleet away.
– Then the old agreement is a fraud.
– Nothing of the kind. I do not think that any agreement we could make would stand in the face of any crucial position into which the Empire might find itself driven. After all, the aim and end of the Navy is the defence of the Empire, and I take it that our local agreement would not stand in the way of a supreme naval necessity in which the whole Empire was menaced.
– Then why have any agreement at all?
– For the purpose of securing and dealing with the fleet under normal conditions. .
– When it is not wanted the honorable member would have the fleet here ?
– I take it that the fleet is wanted at any time and all the time ; that the chief value of a fleet is to preserve peace, and not merely to get us out of scrapes when we are in them. Is the honorable member’s only idea of a fleet that of fighting in some terrible struggle for supremacy? My idea, and I think the common idea, is that a fleet is a sort of insurance to the Empire, and tends to prevent actual conflict.
– Would the honorable member keep a fleet for show?
– We do not want a fleet for show, but for the purpose of making war impossible. I want a fleet to preserve my own skin, and to preserve the skin of the honorable member for Maranoa, to give the reply as vulgarly as the honorable member put his question. I have no objection to the agreement as a whole, but I think some modification might be made in the second clause. The honorable member for Bland quoted the case of Canada, and argued that we might follow the lead of that country at the present moment. I do not think that Canada furnishes an example which we can follow. We are told that Canada will not contribute anything tothe naval defence of the Empire, although she is near to menacing continental navies. But the honorable member for Bland forgot to mention that Canada is a great deal nearer than we are to the greatest defending navy of them all.
– The only naval power Canada has to fear at all is the United States ; and the United States must protect her because of the Monroe doctrine.
– When considering the position of Canada, I always ask myself the question - would Canada go to any trouble to establish a naval defence force for herself if she had no relationship to the Empire at all? Should we be as careless as honorable members seem to be of our naval defence if we were not connected with the Empire at the present moment ? I venture to say that if we were not connected with the Empire we should be spending hundreds of thousands of pounds in the creation of at any rate the nucleus of an Australian Navy in Australian waters, and that Canada would be doingthe same. Therefore, because Canada chooses to take refuge under the flag of the old country - chooses to rely upon that already overburdened country for her naval defence - it is no reason why we in Australia should do the same. Another very important point has been raised by the honorable member for Bland as to what obligations in regard to expenditure we have towards the Imperial Navy. He says he declines to recognise our obligation to the Imperial Navy as an institution. First of all I ask myself - am I a citizen of the Empire or not? If I am a citizen of the Empire I take it that I have an obligation for the defence of the Empire as a whole. I have already explained that this does not involve equal or even pro rata expenditure on our part.
– Does it not involve some representation in the Councils of the Empire?
– No ; and because of difficulties of another kind. The difficulty I see is a geographical one. If we were not separated from the old country by the sea, we should “ make no bones ‘ about discussing these problems with them It is only because the sea separates us, and it would be inconvenient and perhaps dangerous for us in this portion of the Empire, 12,000 miles away from where these questions are considered, to be represented there, that we are not represented. But that is not a question which inheres in the nature of the bargain itself. It arises from our geographical position.
– We should only have a “ still small voice “ if we were represented.
– And make a very small payment, too.
– I suppose we should have a voice proportionate to our importance. However, this is not in question now. We have to consider also how much of England’s present expenditure on the Navy is due to the demands of her Imperial policy. How much of it is resultant upon her having these colonies belonging to her? England’s inflated expenditure at the present moment is largely owing to the troubles which have arisen in South Africa. It has gone up by leaps and bounds, and her trouble is to get it back again. Her Government find that it cannot do so. They have got to a level from which they cannot very readily recede, and that is causing trouble at the present moment. She wants 30,000 soldiers as a permanent garrison in South Africa. What for ? Not for the purposes of British trade, as some people have suggested, but for the purposes of protection and defence of the Empire. A great deal of the increase in the naval and military expenditure of Great Britain in recent years has been owing to the desire of Great Britain to keep the Empire intact, and to establish better relations with her colonies.
– It is the practice of some people to draw every inference against the Empire and in favour of her enemies.
– I do not wonder that people in the old country are saying that it is time we began to recognise our obligations. The taxpayers of England are having a very rough and a very heavy time of it, particularly the working classes.
– Their taxable burden is being steadily reduced. They carry their burden with less difficulty than did their predecessors 50 or 100 years ago.
– So do the people of every other Empire in the world that pretends to civilization. So does Germany mid Russia and France. As population and production increase, their taxation becomes less per capita. That is not peculiar to Great Britain.
– Surely the burden is getting easier, rather than more difficult to bear.
– That does not touch the point I am making. The question is how much of that burden is involved in the maintenance of present relations with the colonies. As a citizen of the Empire, I maintain that we have an obligation for the maintenance of the Navy as an existing institution. The question of whether at some time in the future we may set up a fleet of our own, relieving Great Britain al together of the obligation of defending these shores, is one that is quite consistent with what I am saying. That would be one way of discharging our obligations to the Empire. But I insist that at present we have a definite obligation. For these reasons, I urge that the bargain made by the Prime Minister, apart from the blemishes I have pointed out, is a good one for us. It is a cheap and adequate way of providing for the defence of these shores - a defence, which I believe, is becoming every day more and more imperative. One feature of the agree ment which appeals to me is that for the first time in our history it provides for the adequate training of our marine volunteers. Apart altogether from other considerations, I think this is a matter which we ought not to treat lightly. In my opinion, it gives us an immense advantage. Any one who desires that we should have in the near future an Australian Navy - and I am not looking with an unfavorable eye on the proposal, because while I dismiss it for the present, as I do not think it is practicable, I believe that the time .will come–
– How does the honorable member reconcile the proposal for an Australian Navy with the notion of concentrating the naval forces in one spot, perhaps thousands of miles away?
– I do not think that the two proposals conflict in any way. I take it that if we have an Australian Navy completely under our own governance we shall then require to make a working
Alliance with the Imperial Navy.
– Primarily for Australian protection.
– For offensive and defensive purposes, and not a one-sided one.
– Would the honorable member be in favour of the adoption of the same course in connexion with our land forces?
– These are really technical points ; we have already shown the Empire that we would do the same with our land forces. The moment an emergency arises our fleet and our land forces, too, would be placed at the disposal of the Empire for the purposes of its defence.
– Would the honorable member support the insertion of a similar provision in the Defence Bill ?
– I would not vote for such a provision in the Defence Bill, because I do not think that we need put to the front any more of these aggressive notions than we are compelled to do. I should not vote for this agreement if I did not think that it was the best that we could get, and if I were not under the impression that the Admiralty have asked for it for special reasons. I take it that the)’ have asked for it on strategical grounds, and on the grounds of adequacy. They tell us that by this means we shall obtain a more adequate defence than we should secure under any other circumstances. The Prime Minister has made it clear that it is not for any selfish purpose that the Empire suggests this alteration, but for the purpose of providing us with a more adequate defence than we have at present. At the same time, I tell the honorable member candidly that I would have much preferred to see the second article cast in very different terms. But the honorable member is raising technical difficulties when he inquires whether I would do this or that, or something else, in the case of a great national emergency. I contend that all agreements of this kind, and, indeed, all Bills, would go down before a great Imperial necessity, such as involved the fate of the Empire. That is why they do not assume the tremendous importance in our consideration at this moment that they would in other circumstances. But apart from all these blemishes, I say that the arrangement is a cheap one. It gives us an adequate defence instead of our present obsolete one. It has been suggested over and over again that the ships of the existing fleet are practically worthless. We must obtain a new navy of some kind, and I think that, under this agreement, we shall secure one upon remarkably reasonable terms, particularly if this fleet is to be up-to-date, as we aro promised it shall be. For the reason, therefore, that the agreement involves a cheap and adequate defence, besides providing for the training and ihe development of the sea power of Australia, so as to prepare the way for any other arrangements that may be made in the future, I think we shall do well now to vote for it as it has been placed before us by the Government.
Debate (on motion by Mr. A. C. Groom) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 July 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030714_reps_1_14/>.