1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the consolidated revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
Sir EDMUND BARTON laid on the table the following paper : -
Report upon European archives by Mr. F. N. Bladen, F.R.G.S., Barrister-at-Law.
The Clerk laid on the table
Commonwealth Military Forces. - Pay of warrant and non-commissioned officers of theInstructional Staff.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The following are the replies to the honorable member’s questions : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is his intention to make any proposal to the House, or any statement, with reference to the subject of the Queen Victoria Memorial, discussed at the recent Colonial Conference?
– A proposal will be made on this subject.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– This is a matter which falls under my administration. The following are the answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether, considering the importance of coast defences, he will give the House some idea of what fortifications are proposed to be erected at Fremantle, and if the work necessary will be proceeded with without delay.
– I have been furnished by the Minister for Defence with the following reply : -
The General Officer commanding has recommended the erection of two forts. Until the Estimates are submitted, it is not possible to say what provision will be made.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, having reference to the disclosure to a newspaper of the contents 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 newspaper representative concerned, the Government has any objection to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the circumstances under which the Government proposal obtained premature publication, and generally into the methods by which press representatives secure information from Government Departments ?
– The Government do not see any necessity for the appointment of such a committee.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Debate resumed from 14th July (vide page 2075), on motion by Sir Edmund
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Watson had moved, by way of amendment -
That the word “now” be omitted, and that after the word “time” the words “ this day six months “ be added.
– I have listened with great pleasure to the speeches which I have heard during this debate, and
I have read with great interest the Hansard reports of those which I have not been able to hear. Since my earliest boyhood, I have taken the keenest concern in all matters connected with the sea. One of my first recollections is my embarkation with my brother in a small boat on a lagoon in front of my father’s house. We stole my mother’s keys, and filed touchholes in them to make cannons, and, of course, were properly reprimanded for the adventure afterwards. In my opinion, the Prime Minister did the only thing possible under the circumstances when he signed the agreement which is now submitted to the House for ratification, and I intend to cordially support the measure which he has introduced. I am sure that every member of the House desires to see an Australian navy created in the future, but to my mind it will be some considerable time before we can have a navy of our own. Such an advance can only be made by degrees, for this very simple reason : While we must make arrangements with Great Britain for the protection of our commerce upon the high seas, and for the defence of our shores, we should, as the leader of the labour party said last night, provide our own home defences. But it is known throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth that we have hardly a gun of modern pattern in our fortifications, and as the honorable member for Bland has pointed out, we require an immense number of new rifles to arm our land forces, so that we shall have to spend large sums of money in bringing our armaments up to date, and in suitably providing for the fortification of our ports and harbors. But let us see what will be the result if we refuse to ratify the proposed agreement with the British Government for the payment of the naval subsidy. What do honorable members who are opposed to the ratification of that agreement suggest that we should do ? One proposition is that we should hire a navy. I do not know how, or from what quarter of the globe, we are to obtain it.Which of the powers is going to build it for us? Have honorable members considered what it would cost us to hire and maintain a navy of that kind? Is it not ridiculous to suppose that any naval power in the world would build, for hire, the ships we require, which, all are agreed, must be of the latest pattern, be armed with the most powerful guns, and be the swiftest vessels afloat, in order to be able to come up with and destroy any cruisers that may be sent against us ? But if a foreign power did consent to build us such a navy for hire, what would the expense to Australia be per annum? Does any one think that such a fleet as we require would be built and hired to us for a sum equivalent to 5 per cent. on the capital outlay? Would not the rate charged be at least 10 per cent., and probably more ? It must be remembered that if we hired ships for a period of ten years they would probably be obsolete at the end of that time, and not worth half the cost of their construction. The same remark would apply to their armaments. To make good the loss occasioned by such depreciation, the power which built them and hired them to us would require us to pay an enormous sum annually in addition to the interest on the capital outlay. Then there would be the cost of ammunition, manning, and general maintenance. It seems to be the general idea of honorable members that we should require six cruisers. A moderate estimate of the cost of such cruisers is £500,000 each, or a total sum of £3,000,000. On that sum we should have to pay interest, a large amount for depreciation, and another large amount for maintenance. Instead of paying £200,000 a year, which is the amount of subsidy proposed to be paid under the Bill, we should have to pay probably £600,000 or £700,000 a year, and then should be only in the same position as that in which we shall be if we agree to the proposals of the British Government. Honorable members who suggest the hiring of vessels forget that at the expiration of the term of lease we should be in the same position as that in which we shall be upon the termination of the proposed agreement. We should still have no navy, but we should have been paying for a period of ten years the sum of £600,000 or £700,000, instead of £200,000 per annum, and would be worse off under the suggested than under the proposed arrangement. But there is another aspect of the case to consider. I hope that some day we shall be able to build a navy for ourselves. ‘ What sort of vessels could we build now, and, if we wished to buy vessels, where should we be able to get them1! It is well known that the shipyards of Great Britain are as busy as they can be in trying to meet the requirements of the Admiralty, and that every year a number of vessels are not built because there is not room in the dockyards to turn them out. That being so, where should we be able to get vessels built ? Could we get them in America, or in Germany 1 If we could, what would it cost us 1 Are we prepared to. put our hands into our pockets and find £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 to payfor the vessels we should require 1 But it is admitted on all sides that it would cost very nearly that amount to provide ari efficient squadron for Australia. Suppose we had this navy what should we do with it? Would our navy remain here for the purpose of guarding our coasts, of patrolling our seas from one end of Australia to the other, arid to protect our harbors, as it should do 1 If so, and we had no help from Great Britain, what would become of our commerce on the high seas 1
What rates of insurance and freight should we have to pay upon our cargoes sent from here to Great Britain if we had no warships in these southern seas to protect our floating trade1! Are we to expect Great Britain to keep in Australian waters the same naval forces as at present, and to take the same interest in Australian affairs, if we do not contribute something towards the cost ? Would it be fair to rely on the old country to protect us from all foreign foes whilst we contribute nothing towards the support of her navy ? That does not seem to me to be a fair position to take up. What we require is a navy such as is provided for under the new agreement for the purpose of engaging an enemy at a distance from our shores, and of preventing him from coming here if possible. In addition to that, no doubt we shall require an Australian navy for the purpose of protecting us from attacks by foreign vessels which may be able to pass the patrolling ships of the British squadrons in the seas some distance away. That is what will, no doubt, come to pass in the future. We shall require for that navy the very best of ships. There would be no use in building slow ships for the purposes of local defence, because there is no doubt that any foreign war-ships which might be sent to attack us would be cruisers fully up to date, and having a speed of not less than 22 or 23 knots. We should require vessels’ of a similar class to cope with such attacking ships - vessels equal to the task of catching them if necessary, or, if not strong enough to attack them, capable of running away, and thus escaping destruction. Vessels of the class I have indicated are not to be built for the £200,000 or £300,000 each mentioned by some honorable members, but their construction would involve an outlay of at least £400,000 or £500,000 each. W e must have war-ships of at least 6,000 or 7,000 tons, because vessels any smaller would not be of much use to us. A great deal was said last night with reference to the advantages which would be derived by us from having our naval base here, and it was pointed out that if we had an Australian navy our vessels would not require to go any great distance away, and would not, therefore, be under the necessity of carrying large coal supplies. It was presumed from this that they would, therefore, be able to carry guns of much heavier calibre. I would point out, however, that our vessels would not be able to carry exceptionally heavy guns unless they were specially built for that purpose. You cannot put heavy guns on light-built ships, even though such ships are not required to carry heavy coal supplies. It does not matter whether ships cany much or little coal, they cannot be armed with heavy guns unless they are specially built to stand the strain and the concussion of the heavy ordnance. Another thing that strikes me with regard to our harbor defence is the fact that during the last three or four years submarine boats have come very much to the front. If this class of vessels are the success which we are led to believe, they should certainly play a very important part in the defence of our harbors. All recent trials of submarine boats have proved most successful, and there has hardly been a failure. In the recent trials initiated by the French Government, submarine boats were able, even in broad daylight, to approach to between 500 or 600 yards of ironclads, which were on the lookout for them, to discharge their torpedoes, and to strike ihe ironclads. This shows conclusively that submarine boats are effective agents of destruction, and are no longer looked upon, as they were some years ago, as marine toys, which were never likely to become any great menace to vessels operating near harbors or coasts. All that has now changed, with the result that the three principal naval powers - England, France, and America - are building submarine boats with almost feverish haste: The submarines possess a great advantage over cruisers in the matter of cost. According to the statements I have seen from time to time in the newspapers, a submarine boat-of good class can be built for £40,000 or £50,000. Such vessels cany only about half-a-dozen men as a crew, and have no guns, and the torpedoes with which the)’ are armed are not very expensive. Therefore, we could build a dozen submarine boats and arm them for the amount that would be involved in the purchase of one cruiser. That is the system of defence which we should adopt for our harbors, such as Port Phillip, Sydney, Adelaide, Fremantle, Brisbane, Hobart, and _ others. Every one of these places could be defended most effectively by submarine boats, if such craft are as good as they have been represented, and as they appear to be from the trials which have been made in England, France, . and America. I think that the
Minister for Defence would act wisely if he ordered one of these boats for trial purposes, at any rate. The cost would not be very great, and it might be shown that such craft would be of the utmost assistance to us in defending our harbors, and that it would be unnecessary to spend millions of money upon cruisers. During the last twenty years we have had the advantage of the advice of several experts, including Sir “William Jervois and Major-General Scratchley, in regard to the defence of our harbors. I should like to know if these gentlemen would, in view of the progress made in submarine navigation, now give us the same advice that they formerly offered. My own opinion is that they would modify their projects very considerably if they knew that submarine boats had proved successful and could be utilized for our purposes. Probably they would tell us that it was not necessary to further maintain elaborate forts such as we have at Queenscliff and at the entrance to Sydney Harbor, which are now practically useless, because we have not really one firstclass gun in them. A very large sum of money would be required to arm these forts with the weapons necessary to make them effective. According to my view we should spend our money in defending our harbors before devoting a thought to the establishment of an Australian Navy. Some honorable members have referred to the case of Canada, and have from time to time reiterated the fact that Canada is not contributing anything towards the naval defence of the Empire. Canada is in a position, very different from ours. Her eastern shores are already protected by the enormous forces which Great Britain keeps in the seas around and about the mother country. Moreover, as was remarked by the Prime Minister last night, the operation of the Monroe doctrine of the United States would prevent her from being attacked on that side, and probably she would derive great assistance from America in time of war.
– America would not allow any foreign power to take Canada.
– Exactly, and that is one of the reasons why Canada does not see the necessity of contributing towards the support of the British Navy.
– If there were no British navy the United States would take Canada themselves.
– Oh,.no !
– Another reason why Canada has not agreed to contribute to a naval subsidy lies in the fact that the idea is unpopular with a large majority of the French residents of that country. The present Government remains in power owing very largely to the support which they derive from the French-Canadians, because the British vote is at present split. But if the British vote could be united again, and there should be a change of Government, I am sure that an overpowering influence would be exerted in favour of the payment by Canada of a naval subsidy similar to that contributed by Australia.
– The present Government in Canada sent troops to assist Great Britain in South Africa.
– Yes, but that was different altogether. I think the honorable member for Bland himself admits that it was right and proper for us to send troops to assist the mother country in South Africa.
– Hear, hear; but my point is that the Canadian Government, which sent troops to South Africa, now declines to contribute to the naval subsidy.
– The honorable member for Bland objects to a naval subsidy altogether, and I do not see how he can claim to be consistent. An objection has been raised to the clause in the new agreement which gives the Admiralty power to withdraw the Australian Squadron from our waters in time of war. We must all agree that Great Britain would never withdraw the squadron from Australia except in time of direst extremity, and under the pressure of absolute necessity. An enemy might be a few hundred miles away from Australia, perhaps towards the China Seas, and it might be a grand piece of strategy to withdraw our squadron in order to attack and destroy the enemy before he could reach our shores. I presume that it was for some such reason that the clause referred to was inserted in the agreement. In the present agreement there is a clause providing that the Australian Squadron shall not be withdrawn except with the consent of the Governments of the States.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member says “Hear, hear,” but if an enemy were a few hundred miles away from our coasts, does the honorable member mean to say that the British Admiral would wait to consult the Governments of the States, one by one, for the purpose of obtaining their consent to withdraw the fleet and engage the enemy?
– He would not require to consult the States Governments, but only the Commonwealth Government.
– He would probably do as Nelson did, and look at the agreement with his blind eye. He would be off after the enemy, and rightly so, without any delay, and we should be only too glad to see him go. The provision to which I have referred might have been inserted for the sake of pleasing the Australian Governments, but in time of war it would not be worth the paper on which it was written. If that be true, then so far as that is concerned we shall stand in as good a position under the new agreement as under the old one. Apart from that, however, we shall derive great advantages. The present squadron is composed of ships which are in some cases obsolete, and in other instances rapidly becoming so. On the whole it is scarcely fit for the services required of it, and the sooner we get rid of it the better. I was rather surprised to hear the honorable member for Bland express his disagreement with the general policy of the British Navy, and with the necessity for having that navy to protect us. I ask honorable members whether, last session, we should have dared to pass the Immigration Restriction Act, had it not been that we relied upon the protection that is afforded us by the British fleet 1 Should ‘ we have dared to flout Japan in the way that we did, had we not been conscious of the strong arm that was behind us ? Should we have ventured to take the action that we did, .had we been standing, as it were, upon our own bottom, and lacking a fleet to protect us 1
– We should have carried a much more stringent provision.
– It is all very well to make that statement, because we knew that we had the strength of the British Navy behind us, but I hold that the Act in question may yet lead us into serious complications with the Japanese nation. ‘ I claim that the new agreement is necessary to provide us with an adequate ‘ defence, to give us breathing time, in order that we may - if that course is deemed desirable - establish an Australian navy, and improve our fortifications, so that we may be capable of defending outports and harbors. We can accomplish this only by degrees. Even if an Australian navy be established, I maintain that it can be only of such small dimensions that it will not be sufficiently strong to insure us protection from a powerful foe. It might act as a check, and keep a hostile fleet at bay for a time, but it would be absolutely useless for the adequate defence of Australia unless a large British fleet cooperated with it. I trust that we shall always have an agreement with the mother country somewhat on the lines of those contained in the proposal under consideration. I do not say that I am in accord with every provision in that agreement, because I am not. It seems to me the one great blot upon it lies in the fact that no provision has been made for maintaining the squadron in more than one place. To my mind ifc is totally unfair that the present Auxiliary Squadron should make Sydney Harbor its head-quarters for ten months in the year, and should pay Melbourne merely a casual visit at race time when the Melbourne Cup or the Grand National Steeplechase meetings are in progress, visiting Hobart during _ the ball season, or paying a flying trip to Adelaide for a few hours. It is unjust to the States which contribute equally towards the maintenance of that fleet that practically it should remain always in the one port. As a matter of convenience, it seems to me that it should be distributed over the various ports of Australia. I have no objection whatever to allowing the flag-ship and another vessel, if necessary, to remain in Port Jackson, but I think that the people of Victoria are entitled to have a war-ship always lying in . Port Phillip. The same remark is applicable to South Australia, Western Australia,’ Tasmania, and New Zealand. Under the new agreement two vessels are to be allowed to cruise in New Zealand waters, and, I think, that the same principle should be applied all round. Under such circumstances, should the fleet require to be mobilized at any time, that object could be accomplished almost as quickly as if the vessels were in closer proximity to one another. Moreover, if the war-ships were distributed throughout Commonwealth waters in the manner I have suggested, they would necessarily be kept in closer touch- with the movements of hostile fleets than if they were herded together like a flock of ducks in one harbor.
– I thought that the idea underlying this agreement was that the vessels should be concentrated as much as possible. - Mr. A. C. GROOM. - Their strength could be concentrated easily enough in time of war if they were lying in different ports of Australia, and, in addition, they would be able to act as watch-dogs and to give timely warning of an approaching foe. That is the policy which should be adopted in regard to an Australian fleet should” we ever have one. The vessels comprising it should be distributed over the various ports of the Commonwealth and should act as watch-dogs, the British fleet forming an outer line of defence, and engaging the enemy at sea, and, if necessary, co-operating with the Australian squadron when the foe approached closer to our shores. Another provision in the new agreement relates to the special rates of pay which it is proposed to give Australian seamen. That seems to me to be- almost unworkable. I am aware that the same objection has been urged by several honorable members during the course of this debate. I agree that the Australian seaman should be paid at a higher rate than that which obtains in the British Navy, but such a course of action, it seems to me, would be the cause of serious dissension and jealousy amongst the different crews. We can scarcely expert the British seaman who will probably be the better man of the two for the time being, because of his experience, to work for ls. 6d#. or 2s. per day, whilst his Australian confrere on the same vessel, who is performing exactly similar duties, is receiving 4s. or 5s. per day. I suppose that this matter has been considered by the Admiralty authorities, and that they “have arrived at the conclusion that the scheme is a workable one. In my judgment, however, it promises to prove a fruitful source of trouble. I should be very sorry indeed if such a provision caused dissension on board the training ships when Australian and the British seamen were working together. One of the great advantages in connexion with the agreement is that under it we shall be provided with a school of instruction for the training of our naval reserves. We have been told that these reserves at the present time number about 1,000. Very fine men they are, too ; but most of them have never been outside the Heads in their lives. It is true that they have had some naval drill on our Australian gun-boats ; but how few of them are lit to engage in active naval warfare at the present moment? Out of the 1,000 men comprising the naval reserves of the States, I do not suppose that 250 have ever been to sea, except in calm weather. They have been taken out on our vessels for a few miles in smooth water, put through a number of exercises, and have then been brought back. The great advantage of the cruisers which will be provided under the agreement is that they will be a training ground for our naval reserves under such conditions as will obtain in actual warfare. Let us suppose that we had an Australian Navy to-morrow, consisting of six vessels. Have we any men at the present time who are fit to man them ? Where are the necessary officers to come from? But by adopting this agreement we shall practically establish a school for the education of our own men in naval tactics, and possibly at the end of three years we may have one or two vessels of our own to which we can draft those men who have been trained and brought up to date. We should then have Australian crews, who would be thoroughly fit to take part in any war that might occur. At the present time, however, we have no such crew. In my judgment that is one of the great objections to the proposal in favour of the immediate establishment of an Australian Navy. Men cannot be trained in naval warfare in a day. A modern war-ship, as everybody knows, is a huge mass of complicated machinery from end to end. Men cannot be obtained - as they could in the time of Nelson - to understand the working of a vessel within a fortnight or three weeks. It take years for them to become properly acquainted with the details of a modern war-ship. For these reasons it would be utterly ridiculous for us to immediately establish an Australian Navy. I am in favour of the m,w agreement, because it will allow us breathing time - because it will provide fis with a school in which our men can be trained, so that in a few years when we have the necessary vessels we shall be able to man them straight away with a crew who are educated up to the requirements of actual warfare. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, last night asked whether we thought the new agreement would prove to be a temporary arrangement. By that he meant to inquire if we did not think that this was the thin end of the wedge of Imperialism, and if when the agreement terminated Great Britain would not ask for an increased contribution. Of course a subsidy of £200,000 a year seems little enough. But I hope that the time will never come when we shall not contribute something towards the maintenance of the British Navy. I trust that that bond between Australia and Great Britain will always continue. Australia can never support a navy of her own unless she is dependent upon outside help from Great Britain. Even should the time come when we have an Australian Navy, I hold that we can never dispense with the assistance of the mother country. Our naval contribution is a grand insurance for our commerce and for our sea-borne trade. It is comforting to find that Great Britain is able and willing, practically, to give us a guarantee that she will protect us from molestation for such a small sum. The amount asked is a mere bagatelle compared with the advantages that we derive from our connexion with the mother country. No foreign power will ever be likely to attempt to attack Australia whilst this agreement is in existence. The moment that it did so it would be confronted with the united strength of the British Navy in our defence. I trust that some such agreement as that which is now under discussion will always exist between1* Australia and the mother country, and it is absurd to expect that Great Britain should consent, for such a small sum, to be bound down to confine the movements of these vessels to Australian waters.- I should like the House to unanimously adopt this agreement, because I consider that it is the best that Australia can make ; at all events I trust that even if it be not agreed to unanimously, it will be carried by a large majority.
– If I thought that this agreement, as submitted to the House at the present time, were the initiation of a permanent Australian policy with regard to our naval defence, I do not think that even the considerations of convenience and propriety, that are inducing me to vote for it now, would secure my support for it. But it is because I consider that the circumstances of the Commonwealth to-day render it not only desirable but also necessary in the interests of Australia as a unit, as well as in the interests ‘of Australia as part of the British Empire) that this agreement should come into force, that, after giving the matter careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that it is ray duty, at all events, to support the proposal practically as it is now submitted by the Government. It seems to me that before we can give anything like a proper answer to the question as to whether we should support the agreement or not, we heave to consider what are the conditions of Australia at the present time, and what are the conditions that have to be applied to its ultimate successful protection, as well as its duty with regard to the Empire of which it is a part. One thing that I have long regretted, and which I hoped, and still hope, to see remedied as one of the main results of the Federation, is that there has not been either in Australia as a whole, or in the States individually, any reasoned and consistent policy with regard to warlike forces, ‘whether connected with fighting on land or sea. Possibly the short space of time that has elapsed since the accomplishment of the Union has prevented the establishment of such a policy, but I regret that, up to the present time, we have not heard of any policy that we might hope to be of a continuous kind propounded in official quarters, either here or at home.
– Nothing but regulations.
– I understand from recent developments that there are not even regulations in existence ; there are only proposed’ regulations. I think it is a pity that from some authoritative quarter - the Ministry of the day is the proper quarter from which such suggestions should proceed - we have not had some clear enunciation of a line of policy in regard to naval and military matters for the Commonwealth of Australia. We have had no enunciation of a policy which, it is true, might have been approved or disapproved by the sense of the community, but which would also have impelled the community to the consideration of what its definite line of action should be. I must confess that, in listening to the speech delivered by the Prime Minister, in moving the second reading of this Bill, I was very much disappointed to find that the right honorable gentleman confined himself practically to urging upon us that we were securing from the Imperial Government very good value for our money. He did not give us any clue as to what the Ministerial mind - if there is a Ministerial mind on this matter - was. He did not give us any indication of what the line of development in Australian naval’ and military affairs is to be. I speak of both naval and military affairs, because I consider that in our circumstances, and indeed in the circumstances of every country- which has a seaboard as well as a territory to protect, the naval and military forces are bound together by a tie which no theorizing can separate - the tie of the successful ultimate defence, first, of the people and, secondly, of the possessions of the community, lt Kas always seemed to me that not only in formulating, but in developing a policy, we should begin from within and proceed outwards. That rule, which I think is the right one, is the rule which seems to me to forbid our rejection of this agreement in favour of the establishment at the present moment, of an Australian Navy. It is some two years since I first stated in this Chamber that I did not think the times were ripe for the establishment of an Australian Navy, and I do not believe that events have since marched with sufficient rapidity in Australia to justify me in altering my opinion. Adopting the rule of developing our defence from within and working outwards - beginning near at home, with the navy as the outermost line of defence, for a community such as ours - the first duty is to insure that, in the last resort, our hearths and our homes shall be as safe as possible. Our personal liberty and our homes are the last things which we would surrender, and therefore they are the first that we should consider. In order to secure that object, the first defence is obviously that of land forces, not land forces strong numerically, and without proper training, but strong in every way. I am not referring particularly to military training, in the way of drill and so forth, because, although I have been connected with the forces of the Commonwealth for a good many years, I am afraid that I am regarded as rather a radical, so far as my views are concerned as to the quantity of pipe-clay which is necessary in older to turn out a good and efficient soldier. What we require is more training in the essentials of field work, amongst which rifle-shooting is obviously one of the greatest and gravest importance. We also require - as has been pointed out by several honorable members, and by none more forcibly than the honorable member for Bland - the materiel and equipment of our forces. This, of course, is merely a matter of money, and money is a matter of very great importance at the present time, as it is indeed at all times. I venture to think that, in ‘view of the fact that Australia is just recovering from a series of misfortunes, it is now of more importance than it may be on ordinary occasions. Nevertheless, it is the falsest economy to stint oneself in the matter of insurance. A man who refuses to insure his house because he desires to save the amount of the premium, when he cannot afford to do his own underwriting, is exercising economy of the most spurious kind. Indeed, such an attitude is not truly worthy of the name of economy. It seems to me that that is our first duty in developing a policy, and I venture to say, without hesitation, that in that particular duty the Government of the Commonwealth has, up to the present time, been singularly remiss. I am no advocate of extravagance, although I have already said in this House that before the defence of Australia, so far as equipment, fortifications, and so forth, are concerned, is complete, we shall have to spend £1,000,000. AVe shall have to incur that expenditure before we think of putting a vessel of our own in the water. This expenditure will be necessary because our defences, as regards equipment, materiel, munitions of war, and fortifications, have been allowed to fall very far behind. This is the first duty that we have to do ; and until that duty is performed, it is useless for us to talk about spending money in either building or maintaining battle-ships or cruisers of our own. I am speaking at present solely from the Australian point of .view, but I shall refer later on to our relations with the rest of the Empire. Having properly equipped our land forces with munitions of war, as well as with modern weapons - having supplied them with field-guns and rifles, and having provided in Australia the means of supplying losses in the munitions of war, as well as in the ammunition that is fired from them - we shall be able to enter upon the second line of defence. The second line is that of harbor fortifications. When I hear of the proposed establishment of an Australian Navy, and read sometimes of parallels between our condition and that of the United States of America in their early days, it seems to me that the expounders of that view forget that we have thousands of miles of coast-line in Australia, while the United States of America a century ago had only hundreds of miles. That is the first difference. The second difference is that 100 years ago it was comparatively easy to establish a fleet, and easy to recruit when vessels were lost. In those times it was possible to make up a working fleet by cutting port-holes in, and mounting guns on, trading vessels. Nowadays, however, when you must have vast, complicated, and expensive vessels, and when the chances1 of loss in a naval engagement are so enormously greater than they were 100 years ago, the position is altogether different. In those days it was the exception rather than the rule for an enemy’s vessel to be sunk. I do not mean to say that many were not sunk, but a ship was almost battered to pieces in those days before it was sent to the bottom of the sea. At the present time, however, one well-aimed shot, or one well-directed torpedo or submarine mine, may sink a huge battle-ship, whose powers of execution with its guns might be equal to the whole weight of the metal of a fleet of a century ago. The result is that at the present day the chances of disaster to and loss of fleets are much greater than thev were 100 years ago, when the United States of America were young, and when the population of that country was similar to that of Australia. Consequently any nation which desires to establish a sea-going, fleet of its own - I do not refer to purely, coastal defence vessels - and to have that fleet available for fighting in a serious war, should not place its reliance on one single set Of vessels. To do so would be to rely upon very doubtful material indeed, because one engagement might practically destroy the whole of that important line of defence. The second duty, I repeat, under a Commonwealth policy, is to make our harbors safe. We cannot ultimately protect the whole 8,000 miles of our coastline by anything but sea-going fleets capable of going out to find the enemy and of beating him before he reaches us ; but the next thing to do is to make our harbors safe. That course of action is essential for a two-fold reason ; and here we come into touch with the Imperial relation. The first reason why we should make our harbors safe is that we should prevent, as far as possible, any raids on our populous cities, and the probable exaction of large sums of money to prevent their bombardment. Secondly, by adopting this course we should perform a very important duty to the Empire. We should insure for any Imperial vessels in these waters in time of war a properly protected harbor where they could be refitted, re-equipped, and where they could be supplied with munitions of war to replace what might have been expended upon service. In making our chief harbors safe, in protecting them against hostile fleets, as well as against hostile cruisers, we should render a great and important service to the Empire as well as to ourselves. I venture to say that that duty has not so far been thoroughly performed in Australia. There are one or two harbors in Australia which are fairly well protected, but I am sorry to say that under the present system of control the gunners who man our harbor forts are being taken away from their special work to perform other duties. If there is any instance in which a soldier should stick to his special work, the case of a garrison gunner in relation to his guns is such an instance. There is often only a period of a few minutes in which the guns of a fort can be trained upon an enemy’s ship, and if the gunners take two minutes instead of one and- a quarter to fire their pieces, it may make all the difference between a hostile vessel getting safely past the fort and its failing to do so. One or two of our harbors are fairly, but only fairly, protected ; because a great many of our .guns are obsolete, nob being of the modern quick-firing type which is essential. But I have no hesitation in pronouncing in favour of land defences before harbor defence ships. It is the veriest commonplace in relation to the defence of ports that one gun on the shore is worth two on the water, and you cannot take up a service magazine or a book dealing with the subject without finding that assumed as a matter of course. Victoria, and some of the other States, instead of making their land harbor fortifications efficient and modern, have spent money on coastal defence boats, and, in doing so, have failed to understand the true order in which defence should be arranged for. It is not until our harbors are properly protected, and we have arranged to secure that their armaments shall continue to be modern, the men specially and thoroughly trained to nian the guns, the munitions of war, the shell and so forth available, without any fear of the source of supply being cut off, that we have carried out the second step for the defence of the country. When, but .not until, we have done that, we shall be in a position, in carrying out an orderly scheme of defence, to begin to protect our coastal trade. Then, and not until then, if we are proceeding upon a proper system and according to method, should we spend money upon vessels for coastal defence. I dismiss altogether the consideration that vessels are comparable with fortifications for purely harbor defence. The next step, then, is the protection of our coastal trade against the casual or isolated raider.
– What does the honorable and learned member mean by an isolated raider f
– A single raiding vessel, or possibly a small group of cruisers, preying upon our Inter-State sea commerce, or upon vessels from abroad entering or leaving our ports.
– There is hardly any chance of that happening.
– It is perhaps unlikely that single cruisers will come out here, but if the honorable member will carry back his recollection some years - to the days of Paul Jones, and to the period of the American Civil War - he will remember that isolated cruisers have often been able to do considerable damage to an enemy’s commerce. The Northern States of America had an overwhelming sea force as compared with that of the Southern States, and yet isolated vessels belonging to the Southern States were able to do enormous damage to the commerce of their foes.
– But they did it largely at a great distance from the coasts of America.
– That is so ; and if a great war arises, Australia may find that she is very far away from the main seat of operations. I am prepared to make that admission as, from one point of view, a defect in this arrangement. After all, it is only when a great war takes place that these matters will become of serious importance to us, because it is only then that the whole strength of the British fleets will be called into use to maintain British influence and supremacy throughout the world. We might, in such an event, find ourselves for considerable periods - I do not refer to intervals of months, but to intervals which are long in these days of - swiftsteaming vessels - at some distance from the main seat of operations. Then, to provide against the visit of a small squadron, or of an isolated vessel, we must create the beginnings of a fleet for the protection of the commerce being carried on the seas adjoining our coasts, either coming from abroad, or being taken from port to port. That is how we should begin our Australian fleet. If we make a very strict and clear division of duties, we must protect our coastal trade before we provide for the protection at a distance of our over-sea trade. Our local squadron, when established, must be sufficient to do that. That would be the third step in our preparation of defence. Not until we had taken those three steps would it be proper or right for us in the interests of Australia to engage in the construction of, or to undertake the maintenance of, a navy for the protection of our commerce on ‘the high seas. Then we come to that last, greatest, and most important means for the defence of a country with a great’ seaboard, or which is part of an Empire whose boundaries and highways are the sea, and whose armies must be transported across the ocean. As we are part of the Empire, and obtain the undoubted benefits that accrue from such a position, so we share in the attendant risk. A navy to effectively defend the oversea trade of Australia, must be able to seek and destroy its enemy in force. The duty of providing such a navy is one which Australia will not be able to undertake for years to come, because of the smallness of our population. We can, however, to the extent of our means, join in the manner proposed with the Imperial Government in the naval defence of the Empire. Concentration and unity of purpose is essential in every portion of the British Empire so Jong as the defence and benefit of one part is the defence and benefit of all. Even if we were rich, populous, and powerful enough to provide a sea-going navy, an absolutely unified control over it, together with the other navies of the Empire, would be necessary on the outbreak of a great war. Without such control suffering and loss would follow. ‘The history of the world has proved that the greatest source of weakness to allies engaged in warlike operations, either in the field or on the sea, is the division of opinion and differences and jealousies of commanders. Australian sentiment of an anti-British kind is not the sentiment that I desire to see cultivated. I desire to cultivate and promote Australian sentiment in the direction of pride in our country and the wish to make it as great a member of the Empire as possible. But, according to some, this great Australian Navy which we may possess in the years to come is to operate by itself, to show the Imperial Navy how, as it were, to do things. Such an idea may possibly be a proper fostering of Australian sentiment, but it would, if carried into effect in time of war, be disastrous.
– What combination of circumstances would bring about such a state of affairs 1
– It could not arise until we had a sea-going Australian Navy. Some of those who have been speaking in support of the creation of an Australian Navy appear not to have a very clear idea of what they wish it to do. They speak of it as something which will enable us, so far as the personal interests of Australia are concerned, to disregard the Imperial Navy altogether. It is said that so far as our Imperial relations are concerned, the Imperial Navy may be of service to us, but that so far as our material interests are concerned, it will be of no considerable importance. It . is because that sort of statement has been made that I venture to say what I have just said. I am not saying that such an argument has been used in this House, but it has been used elsewhere from time to time, and in discussing any public question one cannot reply only to the sound arguments of the other side. One must reply also to the unsound arguments, because people are hot always able to distinguish the sound from the unsound. I therefore ask those who have urged the creation of an Australian Navy to tell us what sort of navy they want. Do they want a squadron for the protection of our coastal and over-sea trade, or a navy which will be a’ weapon of offence as well as of defence ?
– Only a scheme for coastal defence has been suggested so far.
– That is all that has been suggested by persons with knowledge, but it is not all that has been suggested in other quarters.
– Did not Captain Creswell know what he was writing about t
– Undoubtedly he did, and on a professional matter I should not endeavour to maintain my opinion against his ; but upon great questions of policy, expert knowledge of the working of a ship, or -of naval operations in detail, is not necessary to enable one to form an opinion of more or less value. I have now said enough as to what seems to me to be the true method of developing a scheme of Australian defence. I use the word defence because I think that our policy should be one of defence rather than of .offence. There have been times, arid they may occur again, in which we have joined in operations which did not directly concern us, a notable instance being the recent South African war. On that occasion we took a share of the burden of Empire in regard to a matter which was not specifically Australian. But what was done was done by voluntary determination on the part of the States ..Governments, and of the individuals who went to fight. I do not believe in conscription for English speaking people, and therefore I should like to see continued a system such as that which was carried out in relation to South Africa. If at any time hereafter special aid can be given by us, I am sure it will be given. At the present time, however, we are dealing with the question how best to develop an Australian policy of defence, having regard to the particular interests of this Commonwealth. That being the case the question arises how shall we apply these principles to the circumstances of to-day ? In the first place, we have not put right our first line of defence - our land forces - with regard to their equipment and materiel; and, secondly, we have not put right our second line of defence for the protection of our harbors. Therefore we are putting the cart before the horse when we propose to begin with our third line of defence, that which is to protect our coastal and oversea trade. I say, further, that if we were to decide to-morrow to make a beginning with an Australian coastal trade protection squadron we should still require to enter into some arrangement with the Imperial Government for the services of a portion of the Imperial Navy, whilst we were developing that policy. Of course, we aleady have one ship in harbor in Victoria, the Cerberus, and one or two gunboats at various points on the Australian coast. I am quite aware that the quality of the men connected with our naval forces is all that could be desired, but they have not had opportunities for full naval training, and I do not think it would be reasonable to send them to sea, in some of our so-called defence vessels, to meet an enemy. I do not think it would be any kindness to the men to send them to sea in the ships now at our disposal to meet any modern war vessels. I repeat that, applying the principles I have mentioned to present circumstances, it is absolutely necessary that we should continue to have some arrangement with the Imperial Government. We cannot, of course, contribute to the maintenance to the Imperial Navy in proportion to our white population. I heard the honorable member for Bland say that if we admitted we could not pay an equal share we gave away the whole case. I was astonished to hear the honorable member say that, and I feel sure that on reflection he must see that that is not a correct view to take. That would be equivalent to saying that if one man had a quarter share and another man had a three-quarter share in a business concern, the former partner would have no responsibility in connexion with the protection of his part of the assets.
– The honorable and learned member proposes to pay such a small proportion.
– I will assume that we are called upon to pay only one-seventeenth of the total cost.
– Under the new agreement we shall not contribute a one hundred and seventy-fifth part of the cost of the British Navy.
– I am not prepared to go into fractions.
– We are proposing to pay all that we are asked.
– No ; we were asked to pay £460,000.
– We are proposing to pay all that we are asked now. I do not wish to compare the proceedings at the Confer’ence in London with the bargaining and huckstering of the market place in which “ A “ offers as little as possible, and “B” tries to get as much as he can, and they ultimately agree to a reasonable price. Whatever the Admiralty’s proposal was, the position is now that after representations have been duly made the Lords of the Admiralty say - “ Now that we know the facts of the case from your point of view as well as our own we ask you to contribute £200,000.”
That is a proposal which we can honorably accept, irrespective of what the previous requirements of the Admiralty may havebeen. I dislike, as much as any honorable member, the idea of buying our protection or the introduction of the element of purchasing mercenaries, and I think that that would be an extravagant analogy to apply to our present circumstances. At the same time I admit that I do not altogether like the arrangement. If we could pay in kind instead of in cash, as was suggested by one honorable member, I should be very much better pleased, and I am very sorry that the agreement does not provide for more payment in kind. Under present circumstances the necessities of the case, and not our own predilections, decide for us, and therefore I do not care much whether the squadron is to be under Australian or Imperial control. But I am sorry that it has not been practically arranged that the whole of the money we contribute should be expended in the training of seamen in Australia. The experience of the last few years has taught us beyond question that what England wants from us in times of stress is undoubtedly contributions in kind - in fighting men - not in money. In view of the fact that the Transvaal warloan was subscribed many scores of times over, we must realise that the mere £200,000 which we are to contribute would be neither here nor there, so far as the Imperial exchequer is concerned, and if that sum were to be expended in providing, in Australia, efficiently trained seamen for the purposes of naval warf are of whatever kind we should be doing something of far more value to the Empire than any mere money contribution. What is now the cry of the British Navy- it is not for construction programmes or for grants of money, but for men, men, men ! Our British mercantile service is manned, I will not say wholly by foreigners, because that would be an exaggeration, but it is manned by foreigner’s to an extent which is most injurious to British Naval supremacy.
– Then why do not the Admiralty ask us to give them men ?
– The honorable member is saying, in effect, that because the other fellow has sinned we should sin also.
– They are asking us to perpetuate the present unsatisfactory state of affairs.
– Australia sent her men to fight on land for the mother country, and they did their duty as soldiers to the satisfaction of every one. If Australia were also able to send men to fight for the mother country on the sea, if such a necessity arose, she would be performing a service that could not be measured by any money contribution within our means, and certainly not by such a very small amount as that which is now proposed.
– We did that the other day.
– Yes ; we certainly sent some of our naval forces to China.
– Our mercantile marine is also manned very largely by foreigners.
-Yes; but that is a, matter within our own control, and one upon which this Parliament will have something to say when an opportunity offers. I should think that amongst the 700 clauses of the Navigation Bill, which, we understand, is to be submitted for our consideration shortly, there may possibly be found one or two clauses dealing with that particular phase of our mercantile marine service. At the present time the question for us to Consider is how our contribution is to be dealt with. I understand that £40,000 is to be spent on the training of reservists, and that seems to me to be the best feature in connexion with the payment itself. I am only sorry that the whole of the amount to be contributed by us is not to be spent in the same way, because it is far more necessary to provide for the training of seamen than for the training of soldiers. Men can be trained to act as soldiers much more readily than they can be turned into efficient seamen. In just the same way a workman can be trained to follow an occupation not requiring any elaborate skill much more readily than he can be qualified for a calling requiring the highest degree of technical knowledge and ability. A seaman requires to learn more, to have much more practice, and to be capable of performing his duties with more accuracy than does a soldier, and, bearing that in mind, I am sorry that the agreement does not provide for the expenditure of practically the whole of our contribution in the training of men. If this were provided for, we should have men ready to man our ships immediately we were in a position to establish our own coastal defence squadron. It would be of no use having the best of ships unless we had men to man them, and a reserve upon which we could draw in order to fill up the gaps caused by casualties. I trust that this agreement does not mean that we are going to rest upon our oars in defence matters - I do not mean merely land defences -for the next ten years. I trust that we shall proceed with the systematic development of our defence forces, and that, at no distant date, we shall organize our defences in the wa)7 1 have indicated. In the meantime, it is our duty to the Empire and to ourselves to insure ourselves some protection through the Imperial Navy. Possibly the Admiralty are right in asking us to contribute in money; but I am very sorry that their request has not taken the shape I have suggested. There are only one or two other points to which I desire to refer. The new agreement gives a much larger sphere of operations to the Squadron than it had under the agreement of .1887. From one point of view this may prove of disadvantage to Australia. In a great crisis our, coastal ships and our oversea shipping trade might suffer, but in a great crisis something has to suffer, and it would be only in a great war that such an event would arise. It would be only when England was approaching a fight for her existence as an Empire that such a set of circumstances would arise, and I say without hesitation, apart from the fear that may exist that the Australian Squadron will be Australian only in name - I do not really share that fear to any great extent myself - that the argument of the Prime Minister, that the joining of the three squadrons upon the Australian, the China, and the East Indian stations, would be of benefit to Australia, is a sound one.
– Is it not a radical departure politically?
– I do not see that it is. I do not see any difference between paying for an Australian Squadron with its base in Australia, and designed solely for the protection of Australia, and having three squadrons with three different bases, which could unite for the protection of Australia, or the other two bases.
– We have had the protection of the whole British Navy all along.
– Of course we have; but the Australian Squadron is supposed to be to a certain extent an’ equivalent for our third line of defence - for the protection of the coastal and oversea trade of Australia. Of course we have had the protection of the whole British Navy all along, but we could not expect the British line-of-battle-ships to come here in order to protect our coasts. I believe that the junction of the three squadrons on the Australian, China, and East Indian stations, would, in practical application, work out to the benefit of Australia rather than to its detriment. I do not see any difference of principle between having three squadrons with three separate bases, and having an Australian Squadron with one base, say, in Sydney, and another in Fremantle, or one base in Australia and one in New Zealand. After all, in times of dire peril necessity is stronger than any written or spoken word, and if under the old agreement some great emergency had arisen which rendered it essential for the maintenance of British power - and that means our power - that our squadron should have gone off somewhere and left Australian shipping to look after itself, I should have said, “ Go, and good luck to you.”
– It would have gone without that.
– It would have gone with my hearty good will. The safety of a few ships upon our coasts is not to be compared in importance with the continued maintenance of the power which protects our whole coastal and oversea trade and makes those ships safe in 99 cases out of 100, and I cannot understand the grudging spirit which animates those people who say “ We want to have our trade protected, and if we allow the squadron to go away from our shores, we shall get nothing in return for our money.” I believe that the British Admiralty and the people of England are as honest as ourselves, and that they will abide by the spirit of the agreement so long as the urgency of the case does not override the ordinary condition of affairs. What does that agreement mean ? It means that, except in extraordinary cases, this squadron will specially guard and protect Australian interests, and that in exceptional circumstances it will be at liberty to go where it can render most service to ourselves as well as to the rest of the Empire. What can be more sensible than that ? I hope before many years are past to take a share in securing the establishment of an Australian fleet. I trust that before long we shall be able to say to the Empire - “ So far as our coastal shipping and commerce are concerned we are in a position to look after ourselves. Our only: relation with you in reference to that particular matter is to be found in our joint responsibility in regard to Imperial affairs.” I trust that that day may speedily arrive, but it has not yet arrived. We have not yet gone far enough to enable us to begin that task, and, until it is begun and is approaching completion, it is our duty to utilize the means at our command to give effect to the sentiment of the unity of the Empire, and to carry out the agreement that has been placed before us.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).I believe that this Bill is of the very first importance. The speeches which have been delivered during the course of the present debate have shown the House that honorable members who have addressed it have devoted themselves with considerable industry to a thorough investigation of this matter, with a view to rendering the best possible assistance to the Government in the arrangement which they are about to make with the Imperial authorities. No honorable member who has spoken has made any pretence of possessing technical knowledge in matters of naval warfare. At the same time honorable members have put before the House the expert opinions of naval authorities who have written, from time to time, in reviews and books upon the naval defence of the Empire. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has, I think, exhibited more technical knowledge upon naval warfare than has been shown by any other honorable member. Consequently, the views which he advanced in that portion of his speech which refers to these technical matters are remarkable. I have given this matter some attention, although I do not claim any expert knowledgeupon it. At the same time, it is my duty as a legislator to read up all the authorities at my command, and to endeavour, to the best of my ability, to cast a vote in accordance with my convictions, and in the best interests of the Commonwealth. The new agreement which we are called upon to consider is one of. far-reaching importance, inasmuch as it contains within itself a policy of Imperialism to which, I think, Australia is not yet educated. It is a long while since Imperial questions were discussed before the electors, and it will be only after the perusal of the splendid speeches delivered in this Chamber that they will begin to appreciate the full significance of this agreement. The Prime Minister has delivered a most admirable and exhaustive speech upon this matter, and the leader of the Opposition also made a notable address, which was full of patriotism and calculated to fire one with enthusiasm. The honorable member for Bland, too, approached the question in a manner that redounds very much to his credit. Excepting his proposed amendment, the general concensus of opinion seems to be that Australia should willingly contribute what is asked of her. It is because of this general feeling of loyalty towards the mother-country that the new agreement is tolerated by this House. The Australian Auxiliary Squadron was established for the special purpose of protecting the coastal trade and cities of Australia, and when the Government took upon themselves the task of diverging from that particular line of policy, in my judgment they undertook a very grave responsibility, and one which they should be called upon to explain at a later stage of the debate. Under theold agreement it was specified, first, that the fleet should not leave Australian waters ; secondly, that Australia’s contribution should not exceed £126,000 per annum ; and thirdly, that the Imperial Pacific Squadron in our waters should not be reduced in any way. These conditions are not embodied in the agreement under consideration, inasmuch as the proposed squadron may leave Australian waters, the contribution will exceed £126,000 annually, and the Pacific Squadron may be reduced or increased in any way that the British Government think wise, even to the extent of altogether removing it from Australian waters. Under the old agreement the contribution of Australia represented approximately 8d. per head of the population. The new agreementabolishes the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, and, in lieu of the subsidy which we formerly paid, we are to make a contribution to the Imperial Exchequer for the Naval Squadron in the Pacific. Thus I take it that, under the new agreement, the nucleus of a navy for Australia is entirely swept away. Whilst we had an Australian Squadron, which was auxiliary to the British Squadron, in the Pacific, we always had the nucleus of an Australian Navy. That has ceased to exist under the terms of the new agreement. According to the Prime Minister that agreement provides for the maintenance of a fleet which could “ blow the present squadron out of the water.” That is picturesque language, but to my mind it is somewhat misleading, and I believe that when the Prime Minister used the phrase in question he wished to convey the impression that the proposed squadron would be -very much superior in strength to the Auxiliary Squadron and the Pacific Squadiron together.
– It would be far superior to the two of them combined, according to the opinions of the naval experts of the Admiralty.
– As the new fleet is to replace the Pacific Squadron and -the Auxiliary Squadron, it is refreshing to hear that the Imperial authorities consider it will be sufficiently strong to blow those squadrons out of the water. I think, however, that the Prime Minister used the same phrase on a previous occasion. When he returned from England he made a similar statement, and I know that he then referred -to the Auxiliary Squadron. In all probability the new fleet would be able to blow that, squadron out of the water.. But after reading the long list of vessels which comprise the Imperial Squadron in the Pacific, I am of opinion that it would not be of the strength suggested by the Prime Minister. When the old agreement was entered into, the Imperial SquadTon in Australian waters consisted, according to the Prime Minister, of fourteen ships. I . ventured to interject “whilst he was speaking that it comprised eighteen vessels. I knew that I had seen it set down at that number somewhere. Since then T have looked the matter up, and I find that my statement was correct. I have in my possession the names of the vessels, their indicated horse-power, and their original cost, as given by Mr. Gillies, the Premier of Victoria at the time the Naval Agreement Bill was under consideration in the Parliament of this State. He gives the list which he had received from the naval authorities in England.
– Upon what date was that?
– I think it was in November, 1887. That list comprises the following vessels : - The Nelson, 7,630 tons, indicated horse-power 6,640, original cost £341,452 ; Diamond, 1,940 tons, indicated horse- power 2,140, original cost i£76,796 ; Opal, 2,120 tons, indicated horsepower 2,190, original cost £95,946 ; Rapid, 1,420 tons, indicated horse-power 1,400, original cost £45,000 ; Raven, 465 tons, original cost £18,000; Swinger, 430 tons; Undine, 280 .tons ; Harrier, 190 tons; Calliope, 2,770 tons, indicated horse-power 3,000, original cost £115,000.
– Those were the vessels which comprised the squadron before the first naval agreement was made. They consisted throughout, generally speaking, of smaller ships.
– I am quoting from the remarks made by Mr. Gillies, the Premier of Victoria, who made it thoroughly clear to the State Parliament that the same strength would be included in the new squadron that was to be established. He stated that several ships were to be added, which were then on their way out. Those ships were - The Orlando, 5,000 tons, indicated horse-power, 8,500 ; the Lizard 670 tons, indicated horse-power 1,000 ; and the Royalist, 1,420 tons, indicated horse-power 1,510.
– But when those ships came out some of the others went away.
– I have here an extract from the speech delivered by Mr. Gillies in moving the second reading of the Australasian Naval Force Bill, in 1887. It reads -
When the Orlando, Lizard, and Royalist arrive shortly, there will be - including several smaller boats which I have not mentioned - a total force of eighteen vessels on the Australasian station, over and above the new vessels which are to be provided under the agreement between the Imperial Government and the colonies.
Looking at that long list, in addition to the Auxiliary Squadron which is at present in our waters, I do not think that the new squadron would be sufficiently powerful to blow those ships out of the water, as stated by the Prime Minister.
– Would the honorable member kindly give me the reference to the remarks made by Mr. Gillies ?
– I think the right honorable gentleman will find them reported in the Victorian Hansard of 22nd November, 1887. In addition to the Auxiliary Squadron which could not be removed from Australian waters, we had the formidable list of ships, which I have mentioned, stationed ‘in the Pacific. If the necessity had arisen, those vessels might have been taken away to other seas, but, in all probability, other ships would then have taken their place. It was clearly stated, not only in the Victorian Parliament, but also by Sir Henry Parkes in the Legislature of New South Wales, that it was a stipulation - and, indeed, the very words “ Auxiliary Squadron “ implied it - that the vessels of that squadron were to be an addition to the the Imperial fleet in Australian waters. For the presence of the squadron, to be provided under this agreement, the people of Australia are to pay at the rate of 1s. per head, or 50 per cent. more than was paid under the old arrangement. That original agreement provided that the Auxiliary Squadron should always be in Australian waters, that the Imperial Squadron should do the “ policeing “ of the islands and the survey work, and that it should not leave Australian waters unless the exigencies of the Empire required its presence elsewhere. For a fleet that could not be taken away from our coast we were required to pay 50 per cent. less than we are called upon to contribute towards the cost of a squadron that may be removed from these waters. The question of cost is only an incidental matter. I refer to it simply because the Prime Minister appeared to lay special emphasis upon the point that under this agreement Australia was called upon to pay a very small amount for the powerful squadron to be provided. I believe that the people of Australia would care very little whether they had to pay1s. or 2s. per head, provided that a powerful navy was availablefor the work they require to be carried out - the protection of the enormous trade of Australia. It is proposed under this new agreement that the subsidy shall be increased to £200,000 per annum.I am inclined to think that the taxpayers of Australia would not demur even if they were called upon to make the larger payment, to which the Prime Minister indicated the Admiralty requested him in the first place to assent. They would be willing to pay it, because they would be confident that their interests would be conserved and their trade protected, whilst they would also have the knowledge that the Imperial fleet in the Pacific would be available for service in other parts of the world, should the necessity arise. That would be a consolation to the people of Australia. I am inclined to think that the Prime Minister did not correctly judge the spirit which pervades the people of the Commonwealth when he feared to accept the agreement first offered to him by the Admiralty, which would have afforded adequate protection to Australia. He rejected that agreement and asked for a minimum effective fleet. This agreement is one of very great importance. It is a new departure in the policy of Australia, and we have to remember that it has never been before the people. I believe that while the people would be ready to indorse its acceptance, they would not view with very great favour the action of the Parliament in committing them to it before its true significance had been explained to them during an election campaign.
– One hears no objection to it except in this House.
– The terms of the agreement were not at first clearly understood by the people. When the Prime Minister returned from London, I made a tour of my electorate, and made special reference to this matter. But the agreement, as then understood by honorable members, was not the agreement as we know it now. We understood then that the subsidy was to be increased from £106,000 per annum to £200,000 perannum. Myconstituents viewed the proposed increase with very much favour, believing from the remarks which had been made by the Prime Minister that the new squadron to be provided under it would be sufficient to blow the old one out of the water, and that, in addition, we should have an Imperial fleet in the Pacific to protect the trade of Australia. It is well to look back to the conditions which led to the first agreement being made. In 1881, an Intercolonial Conference of Premiers was held in Sydney to consider the best proposal for increasing the naval strength in Australian waters. That Conference unanimously adopted a resolution to the effect -
That, in the opinion of this Conference, considering the large Imperial interests involved, the naval defence of these colonies should continue to be the exclusive charge of the Imperial Government ; and that the strength of the Australian Squadron should be increased.
That the long list of ships, which I have read, should be increased in number -
That the members of this Conference pledged themselves to use all legitimate endeavours to procure the efficient fortification and land defence of the several ports of the Australian colonies at the cost of the several colonies interested.
The Premiers of the Australian colonies thus indicated that .they considered that, if we provided forts and coaling stations for the Imperial Navy, we should contribute very largely towards the efficiency of the navy of Great Britain. They considered that, by giving all these facilities .to the British Navy, we should bear our share of the cost of protecting the trade of Australia. At that time our fortifications were efficient, but we understand from the honorable and learned member for Corinella that the guns with which they are provided are now out of date. I believe he made the assertion that we have not one uptodate gun in our coastal fortifications. As showing the feeling of Australia towards the mother-country, it is worthy of note that the little colony of South Australia stood out when this resolution was carried, and through its representatives placed upon record its opinion that Australia should defend her own trade - that we should not expect the taxpayers of England to pay for the naval defence of this country. Shortly after that Conference, a Russian war scare occurred ; our fortifications were increased, and I believe that the Government of South Australia purchased the gunboat Protector.
– We have still two guns on the sand-banks there.
– And they are certainly not up-to-date. On the occasion to which I refer, I believe that forts were erected on St. Vincent’s Gulf and at Le Fevre’s Peninsula to protect the shipping of Adelaide. This action on the part of South Australia goes to show that the people of that province were in earnest in placing on record, through their representative at the Conference, their opinion that Australia should pay the major cost of her own defence, and that they were ready to carry out the terms of the resolution. They made their forts impregnable at that time, and they purchased the Protector to enable them to take their part in the protection of “Australia. In the course of the same year the British Government forwarded a despatch to the Premiers, in which they showed that they thoroughly appreciated the stand taken up by South Australia. The Secretary of State for the Colonies stated in this despatch that -
Her Majesty’s Government have noticed with much satisfaction that part of the resolution which pledges the members of the Conference to use all legitimate endeavours to procure the efficient fortifications and land defence of the Australian ports at the cost of the colonies interested. They are, however, unable to express similar satisfaction at the suggestion that the outlay for the naval defence of the Australian colonies should be increased, and, at the same time, that it should continue to be exclusively a charge upon the Imperial Treasury. On this point I am glad to see that the representatives of South Australia placed on record their opinion that the colonies ought to contribute to the cost of maintaining the Australian Squadron.
The opinion held by Downing-street at that time was that Australians did not realize their responsibility. The mother-country fully appreciated the readiness of Australia bo make her defences secure, bub felt that we had not awakened to the fact that we had some responsibility in regard to the protection of our enormous and growing trade. The despatch clearly set forth the opinions held by the British Government as bo what our duties were, and I think those opinions still prevail in high quarters in England. About the period bo which I refer the Lords of the Admiralty commissioned Admiral Try on to the command of the Australian station. Admiral Tryon was then one of the leading men in his profession. He was evidently a man holding definite ideas in regard to the welfare of a country like this, and ideas that he desired Australia should adopt. Whenever the opportunity offered, he was prepared to discuss the naval protection of Australia with Australian statesmen, and both pmvately and publicly he made ib his business bo educate the people as far as possible to a due sense of their responsibility in this matter. His proposal was that we should have an Australian Navy, and that we should pay for itS maintenance. That was the opinion he held when he came to Australia, and I believe that he only gave way when pressure was brought bo bear on him upon his return bo England. All the time that he was in Australia he fought for that, and he fought for more. He fought for the adoption .of a system such as I am very pleased bo find is provided for in the Bill, by which Australians will be brained in naval operations. He wished to see established here a naval reserve, and I think that the provision in the agreement for the training of Australians and New Zealanders will to some, extent carry out the object that he had in view. In 1886 Admiral Tryon met a conference of Australian statesmen in Sydney, and pub his proposals before them. The public were then becoming educated bo their responsibilities in these matters, and Queensland and New South Wales, as well as South Australia, then agreed to contribute towards the maintenance of a navy for the protection of Australia. It is recorded that Sir Henry Parkes throughout his public career was in favour of a policy by which Australia should defend her own shores, and in 1851 he moved in the Legislature of New South Wales that it was incumbent upon the people of Australia to protect their own trade and their own shores, instead of imposing upon the taxpayers of England the cost of . Australian defence. In 18S6, however, he thought that the time was not ripe for an Australian Navy, though I think that if he were alive now his opinion on this subject would very nearly coincide with those which have been expressed by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. At any rate, Sir Henry Parkes was a party to the agreement which was entered into in 1886. Another Conference was held in London, when the Imperial Government proposed that the interest upon the cost of a fleet, and its maintenance while on the Australian station, should be borne by these States. That was a modification of the proposal made by Admiral Tryon when he was in Australia, but it was evidently due to the opposition of Victoria .to that proposal, because that State .appears to have stood out against any contribution towards the maintenance of an Australian naval force. It was proposed at the London Conference to spend £700,000 upon a fleet, and that the colonies should pay £35,000 per annum for its capital outlay - 3 per cent, for interest, and 2 per cent, for a sinking fund - and £91,000 per annum for its maintenance, or £1 26,000 per annum in all. The agreement also stipulated that if the actual cost incurred was less than £126,000, a refund of the difference should be made to the colonies. Therefore, the bargaining of Victoria succeeded on that occasion. I am happy to find, however, that there has been a development of public spirit here since that time. The representatives of Victoria are now inclined to go even further than I am, inasmuch as most of them appear to be ready to vote for the creation, at an enormous cost, of a navy of our own. “No doubt we shall have an Australian Navy in time, but while the Braddon provision of the Constitution remains in force we shall be unable to have it. We are now being urged to ratify an agreement. under which a fleet of eight ships of modern type and three drill ships of the old type, costing in all £2,500,000, will be kept in Australian waters, provision being made for the training of Australians and New Zealanders, who are to be paid at special rates. In my opinion the provision for the training of Australians and New Zealanders is a very valuable one. It will give an opportunity to youths who wish to follow the sea to obtain a proper training in British naval methods, and if eventually Australia establishes a navy of her own, it will no doubt be their proud aspiration to join it. There will also be established here a Royal Naval Reserve in connexion with which 25 officers and 700 men will be instructed in naval methods. In these points the present agreement is much better than the old one. The Commonwealth is asked to pay five-twelfths of the annual expense of the squadron, or .about £200,000 a year ; New Zealand one-twelfth, or £40,000 ; and the Imperial Government the remaining half, and any sum in excess of £480,000 which the squadron may cost. There will be no possibility of a refund to Australia as under the old agreement. This is to be a contribution to the naval budget of Great Britain rather than to an Australian Auxiliary Squadron, so that we are now establishing quite a new condition of affairs. The sum of £480,000 which I have mentioned represents 5 per cent, upon the capital cost of £2,500,000, together with £355,000 for maintenance. I regard the proposals of the mother country as most liberal, though, in my opinion, we should not ask the people of England to bear so much of the cost. I would prefer to see an Australian Auxiliary Squadron established, the whole cost of which would be paid by the Commonwealth. The cost of such a squadron would be something like 2s. per head of our population ; and although we could not undertake such a responsibility during the operation of the Braddon provision in the Constitution, I hope that we shall undertake it as soon as the opportunity arises. I hope” that- upon the termination of the present agreement we shall have an Auxiliary Squadron which we shall pay for ourselves as part of the British Imperial fleet in the Pacific. I come now to the statements of the Prime Minister in regard to the last London Conference. He told the House that the first proposal of the Lords of the Admiralty was that
Australia should pay a contribution of £467,000 per annum, the British Government to pay a similar amount.
– Australia and New Zealand were to pay about £460,000, of which £374,000 was to be paid by Australia, and £93,000 by New Zealand.
– The proposal made by the Lords of the Admiralty was made after the fullest consideration of all the circumstances. They considered that an expenditure of £934,000 per annum was necessary to provide for the efficient defence of the Australian coast and our enormous export trade. The Prime Minister, however, scouted the idea. He would not consider a proposal which was considered by the Admiralty as necessary for the adequate protection of Australia. He said - ‘‘Give us the minimum effective estimate for the defence of Australia.” The proposals of the Admiralty were therefore modified to suit the whim of the Prime Minister. If we had an effective Auxiliary Squadron for the defence of Australia and the present Imperial Squadron for the protection and survey of the Islands of the Pacific, the latter would be ready to reinforce, if necessity arose, the fleet on the China station. There is very little possibility of the ships of the Australian Squadron being called away to the East Indies, because the force which it is thought necessary to maintain there is even smaller than that which it is proposed to maintain here. On the China station, however, the force maintained is enormous, because it is there that the greatest likelihood of trouble exists. If during the ensuing decade naval progress makes the strides predicted of it, the taxpayers of England will not only be called upon to foot our bill, for the sum I have already mentioned, but they will have to pay an additional amount. The navy bill of the Empire, however, is already £35,000,000 per annum, and it therefore appears to me very mean for Australians not to be prepared to pay at least one-fourth of the cost of defending the Commonwealth, according to the original proposal of the Admiralty. We are very much better able to pay for our defences than are the people of Great Britain, who have to support very heavy burdens and responsibilities in connexion with the Army, as well as the Navy. The people of Australia are very much -richer per inhabitant than are those of Great Britain. Our export trade represents a value of £109,000,000 or £110,000,000 per annum. Our trade with Great Britain amounts to £66,000,000 ; that with British colonies and possessions is valued at £15,000,000; and that with foreign ports at £28,000,000. Thus in regard to £43,000,000 of our trade Great Britain has no direct interest, and yet we expect her to defend it for us. The people of Australia are not only able to pay for the defence of their trade, but they are willing to pay. We might well enter into the proposed arrangement with the British Government, because, unless we desire to cut the painter, it would be in every respect as effective as that suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– Why does the honorable member talk about cutting the painter ?
– If we had a navy of our own, manned by Australians, there may be individuals of the opinion that we should be in a better position to cut the painter, if we desired to do so, in the face of any opposition that might be raised. I am sure that many people do not entertain any wishes in that direction, and therefore there is no necessity for our small population to provide a navy for itself at such enormous cost.
Mr. Mauger. Does the honorable member think it is fair to talk about cutting the painter 1
– I only referred to it incidentally. We find that the South American Republics which have their own navies have to incur much greater expense than we shall have to bear under the new agreement. The Argentine Republic has a naval force very similar to that proposed under the rejected proposition, and its maintenance costs it something like £1,000,000 per annum. That represents a contribution of 3s. 9d. per head of the population of the Republic. The Republic has a population of about 1,000,000 in excess of our own, and its resources and staple products are very similar to those of Australia. Therefore the amount which it has to pay for its navy affords us a good idea of the fairness of the estimate furnished by the Lords of the Admiralty.
– The figures quoted by the honorable member in regard to the Argentine Republic make no provision for interest on capital or depreciation.
– There are no doubt other expenses in connexion with th e naval forces there which are not mentioned in the Naval Annual. The agreement appears to me to be framed on the most liberal lines, and considering the immense trade which we have to protect, we might very well accept it with the intention of fully considering our position as soon as the ten years’ term expires. We might then possibly see our way clear to provide for our own defence, even though it cost 2s. per head of the population. We must remember that whilst the agreement is current our population will be increasing, and that the cost of the maintenance of a navy of our own would not necessarily be greater per head of the population than at the present time. Article IX. of the agreement states -
The Imperial Government recognise the advantages to be derived from making Australasia the base for coal and supplies for the squadrons in Eastern waters.
The coal and other supplies obtainable in Australia are most suitable for the purposes indicated. I understand that the Japanese warships which recently visited Australia made a trial of Australian coal with a view to ascertain whether it was as suitable for their purposes as the coal obtainable elsewhere. Perhaps the honorable member for Melbourne will be able to give us some information as to the results of that trial. Provisions suitable for the use of the Navy could be obtained in large quantities in Australia, because supplies are already drawn from Sydney for the use of the United States troops and naval forces in Manilla. There is no doubt whatever, therefore, that the requirements of the Imperial Squadron in the Eastern waters might be supplied from Australia with great advantage to all concerned. The Prime Minister has mentioned that £300,000 would be spent annually in purchasing these supplies, and that is a verY large sum. I do not think that the British Government inserted this article simply as an inducement to Australians to enter into the new arrangement; but it indicates to us that they are alive to the importance of Australia, and the means which it affords for obtaining supplies for their ships. The provision that 700 men for the Australian Squadron shall be enrolled in Australia marks the beginning of a system which Admiral Tryon and Lord Brassey recommended many years ago. It is to be hoped that opportunities will be afforded for enrolling a much larger number of men in Australia. I understand that the men are to be paid at Australian rates, but I do not see the necessity for that provision. It will undoubtedly add to the cost of maintaining the squadron, and I am disposed to believe that men would enter the service from patriotic motives rather than from any consideration for the amount of pay that they would receive.
– The honorable member had better try it.
– The honorable member is inclined apparently to doubt the patriotism of Australians.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– I think that Australians are just as likely as is Tommy Atkins to serve the mother country from patriotic motives. Therefore, I contend that this provision in the agreement for the payment of Australian rates will not afford any great inducement to Australians to join the service. The boys from the reformatory schools in England are drafted into the Navy and Army, and I believe that we should be able to recruit the naval service to a greater extent than that indicated in the agreement from similar institutions in Australia. In Sydney we have the naval reformatory ship Sobraon. The late Sir Henry Parkes, who ardently desired to see an Australian Navy established, was one of the strongest supporters of that institution, and to the end of his days he took the keenest interest in it, and in the boys after they left it. If opportunities were offered to such lads to enter the navy the probability is that they would eagerly take advantage of them. In pluck and handiness Australians are not behind the men of the mother country, and I am quite sure that our youths would make the very finest of seamen. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is inclined to believe that the higher pay would form the principal inducement to the men to enter the service.
– I did not say that. What I meant to convey was that the Australian standard of living could not be maintained on anything less than 5s. a day, and that to offer anything less would invite failure.
– If 5s. per day be deemed sufficient for 700 seamen, why should ls. 9d. per day be regarded as sufficient for 1,500 men on the same ship 1 The sailors who come from England will have to live here under exactly the same conditions as the local men, and I do not see why there should be any special provision for Australian rates of pay. We all come from the same stock. When Great Britain colonized Australia, she sent out here the purest of her race - the best sons of England, Ireland, and Scotland. They were picked men.
– They were picked men undoubtedly.
-The history of the State which is represented by the honorable member shows the tact and care exhibited in the selection of the hardy men sent out to South Australia.
– What were they sent out for?
-They were sent out as immigrants. The honorable member is apparently not acquainted with the history of Australia, or he would know that South Australia was never a penal settlement - if that is what he is hinting at. I would also ask the honorable member to bear in mind whilst he is jeering, or sneering at New South Wales, where they had the convict taint in the early days, that the worst of the men left for Victoria during the days of the gold rushes. It is to the credit of Victoria that she has made of them the best . of citizens, whilst their stock appears to be no less patriotic or courageous than are the people of South Australia. In the preamble, the parties to the agreement have recognised the importance of sea power in controlling sea communications, and the necessity for single government under one authority, by which alone concerted action can be assured. Now the authorities tell us that if England were at war the people of Australia must be prepared for oversea attacks. Naval defence, they say, is as much a part of military defence as is a regiment of soldiers, and if the powerfully armed nations of the world find England thus entangled, in all probability there will be raiders on our coasts who will do Australia as much damage as lies in their power. The Prime Minister made some reference to this matter in the course of his speech. But I wish specially to call attention to the fact that if England became embroiled in war, we must expect reconnoitring ships upon our coast, just as they were to be found upon the coast of America during the SpanishAmerican war. The Prime Minister stilted -
It mattered little to them where the next great naval battle was fought - whether close to Port Jackson or in the Mediterranean - what did matter w:is the result, for upon it depended whether they had to expect security or danger. The policy of the British Navy had been always to seek the enemy, to take the offensive and not the defensive.
Under the new agreement the Australian Squadron would probably be outside Commonwealth waters when this continent was being raided, and would therefore be of absolutely no value. But if it were an Auxiliary fleet, we should have the benefit of its services in the protection of our shores and trade. The Prime Minister said -
The destruction of an enemy’s fleet must be always the first great object, and such a result would be felt throughout the world, and after that would come the gathering of the fruits of victory. What those fruits of victory might be could be imagined if they took the converse position, and supposed England to have lost the command of the sea.
If England lost command of the sea, these raiders would sweep down on Australia, and we should not be protected against them. But under the original agreement the fact that the fleet could not be removed from Australian waters without the consent of the States Governments was in itself sufficient protection against raids, because a much larger fleet than our own would be required to effect a landing, and there are very few nations indeed which would be able to spare the requisite number of ships for that purpose. But knowing, as. they will, that the new squadron will merely be a part of the Imperial fleet in Eastern waters - there is one branch in theEast Indies, and another in Australian waters, whilst the main body of fighting ships, according to the Naval Annual, is located on the China station - they will experience no difficulty in raiding us. Thecruisers that we have in Australia and those which are to be found on the East Indies station are really the scouts of the main force which is stationed in the China seas. If the life-and-death struggle were to occur in Chinese waters instead of in the Mediterranean, I am inclined to think that Australia would not hesitate for a moment about sending her fleet to co-operate with the naval forces of Britain. But should the day go against England in the Mediterranean whilst our’ ships were absent on the China station, a splendid opportunity would be afforded to raiders to sweep down upon Australia, and to inflict immense damage upon our trade - to say nothing about looting the coffers of our banking institutions - and then to make off. Personally, I am of opinion that if a hostile force once got a footing in Australia, it would be very difficult indeed to dislodge them. I trust, therefore, that the provision which obtained in the old agreement, under which the fleet was not removable from Australian waters without our consent being first obtained, will be reinserted in this. I notice that the naval base of the proposed squadron is to be in Australian waters, although its sphere of operations is to extend to the China and the East Indies stations. That force I wish particularly to emphasize will of itself prove inadequate to protect us, and I base my statement upon the authority of the Lords of the Admiralty. I admit that it would be a very useful squadron acting in conjunction with the main force in the China sea. No doubt, many battle-ships might be sent to Australia if the Pacific were likely to be made the theatre of war, but in the opinion of experts there is very little likelihood of Australian waters being made the theatre of any great naval battle in the immediate future. In discussing this question, it is well to consider the character of the ships which we are to have upon the Australian station. According to the Prime Minister, they will comprise one first-class cruiser of 12,000 tons - the only armoured cruiser of the fleet - two cruisers of the second class, four cruisers of the third class, and four sloops. This is the fleet which the Prime Minister declares would be capable of blowing out of the water the present Auxiliary Squadron, in addition to the eighteen ships comprised in the Pacific Squadron, some of which have a displacement of 8,000 tons.
– And the navies of the world generally.
– No. The Prime Minister was referring to the Auxiliary Squadron and the Pacific Squadron. Under the new agreement the squadron on the Australian station will form a part of the great fleet in the Eastern seas. In this connexion I would mention that Captain Mahan - perhaps the leading authority upon naval warfare in the world - says -
Be ready to act in masses. Do notspread forces like batter over bread.
That is the very thing which is being done in this instance. There is a naval flank in the East Indies, and another in Australia, whilst the main body is in the China sea. Captain Mahan continues -
Mobility without force is almost useless.
The proposed squadron is a mobile force, and the cruisers which we have in Australia are the scouts for the main body in Chinese waters. They are to the fleet what cavalry are to a land force. Captain Mahan further adds -
Ships of different classes and size are required in a fleet.
That is the very thing which we have in the present Pacific Squadron. We have different classes of ships for different kinds of work in Australian waters. But under the new agreement that condition of affairs will be abolished. Our vessels will form a part of the Eastern fleet - really a flank - whilst the main force will be stationed in the China sea. Captain Mahan proceeds -
The most powerful and the least mobile fleet are the determining elements in warfare.
These are the very matters in which we are deficient. We have only one armoured cruiser. The same authority says that an armoured cruiser of 10,000 or 12,000 tons is too large, inasmuch as the space occupied by engines which are intended to give it the necessary speed diminish the weight of the armour that should be upon the ship. If we had a ship of the same tonnage as a first-class armoured cruiser - a vessel that was not mobile, but powerful - we should have a battleship which would be very useful indeed in defending Australia, because the cruisers would do the scouting and round the enemy up so as to bring him within reach of the battleship, and the latter could then very soon blow him out of the water. But under this agreement only cruisers would be sent to our shores. Evidently the naval authorities could not afford to part with a battleship. We have only to consider her experiences in the recent Spanish- American war to see that America was deficient in battleships. It was her deficiency in that respect which caused such great consternation in America. When the Prime Minister in his flights of eloquence quoted the following passage from Longfellow, I think that he might well have laid a good deal more emphasis upon the latter portion of it -
Sail on, O ship of State ;
Sail on, O Union strong and great ;
Humanity, with all its fears,
With all its hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate.
No doubt, if we had to meet a naval force comprised of one battleship and several cruisers as strong as our own, the fate of Australia would hang very much in the balance. I will quote Captain Mahan, in
Support of my contention, that we are living in a fool’s paradise if we expect to vanquish an enemy upon our coast with the force comprised in the proposed squadron.
Mr.G. B. Edwards. - Is the honorable member not supposing that the British Navy is non est?
-I will answer the honorable member when I have made this quotation. Captain Mahan, on page 264 of his work, Lessons of the War with Spain, says -
The testimony of history is - (1) that a navy which wishes to affect decisively the issues of a maritime war must be composed of heavy ships - ‘ battle-shi ps “ - possessing amaximum of fighting power, and so similar in type as to facilitate that uniformity of movement and of evolution upon which concentration, once effected, must depend for its maintenance, whether during a passage or in actual engagement; (2) that in such ships, regarded as fighting factors, which is their primary function, size is limited, as to the minimum, by the advisability of concentrating as much fighti ng power as possible under the hand of a single captain ; but, on the other hand, size is also limited as to its maximum by the need of retaining ability to subdivide the whole fleet according to the particular exigencies ; (3) as regards that particular form of mobility called speed, the writer regards it as distinctly secondary for the battle-ship ; -
I would draw the particular attention of the Prime Minister to this point. The armoured cruiser, which is to take the place of a battle-ship, will have the displacement of such a vessel, but it will not have equal power. Mahan continues - that, to say the least, the present proportions of weight assigned to fighting force should not be sacrificed to obtain increase of speed. Neither should the size of the individual ships be increased merely to obtain rates of speed higher than that already shown by some of our present battle-ships.
He states at another point that battle-ships should not exceed 12,000 tons. That is the size of the armoured cruiser to which the Prime Minister made special reference. He says further -
It is the belief of the writer that 10,000 tons represent very nearly the minimum, and 12,000 the maximum of size for the battle-ship.
– They have since gone much beyond that size.
– But this is an up-to-date book. Captain Mahan continues -
Offensive action - not defensive - determines the issues of war.
– That is quite true.
– I would point out that with our force we should be on the defensive from first to last.
– If we kept it by itself.
– That is so.
– That shows the necessity for concentration.
– Yes. But at the same time, when the necessity arose for concentration, it seems to me that these ships would find their way to a point nearer the China sea, and leaveAustralia unprotected. We should be on the defensive from first to last, whereas if we had a fleet such as was first recommended by the Admiralty to the Prime Minister, it would not be necessary for us to be always in that position. It might then be open to us to take offensive action. In the course of an article written by Captain Mahan, and published in a periodical as recently as July last, it is stated that -
What Australia needs is not her petty fraction of the Imperial Navy - such as the Prime Minister has offered Australia for defence purposes - a squadron assigned to her in perpetual presence, but an organization of naval force which constitutes a firm grasp of the universal situation. Thus danger is kept remote, but if it should approach there is insured within reaching distance an adequate force to repel it betimes.
In that event there would be an adequate force on the adjoining station to render us assistance if the necessity arose. But with such a fleet as that first proposed by the Admiralty, it is very unlikely that we should require reinforcements from other stations. Mahan, in Lessons qf the War with Spain, says -
To sum up : the attention of the public should be centered upon the armoured fleet to which the bulk of the expenditure should be devoted ; the monitor, pure and simple - save for verv exceptional uses - should be eliminated ; the development of the true cruiser - not armoured - both in type and in numbers, does not require great interest of the public ; much of the duties of this class, also, can be discharged fairly well by purchased vessels.
Thus it will be seen that having regard to the defence of Australia, and the possibility of having to meet an enemy in offensive warfare, the third-class cruisers which the Prime Minister has secured for us are not of paramount importance. Mahan says further, that armoured cruisers are of a hybrid type, and are only a second class of battle-ships. They may fight or they may fly. That is really the purpose for which they are attached to a fleet. But we do not wish our vessels to fly. If we have a fleet, it must be prepared to fight. The defensive rather than the offensive would be the policy for Australia to adopt. I have no sympathy whatever with those who desire an Australian Navy in order that at some future time the independence of Australia may be established. I am of opinion that we should long remain an integral part of the British Empire, that we should either stand or fall with the British people, and that we should contribute something in proportion to the degree of protection that our trade receives from the policy of the Admiralty. In the same book Captain Mahan says that -
Some of the elementary conceptions of warfare in general, and of naval warfare in particular, should be understood by the people. Iri the preface to his book lie touches a very important point, to which I desire to draw attention. He says that there has been imparted to the leading articles collected in this work -
Some of the elementary conceptions of warfare in general, and of naval warfare in particular. The importance of popular understanding in such matters is twofold. It promotes interest, and induces intelligent pressure upon the representatives of the people to provide, during peace, the organization of force demanded by the conditions of the nation ; and it also tends to avert the unintelligent pressure which, when war exists, is apt to assume the form of unreasoning and unreasonable panic. As a British Admiral said, 200 years ago, “It is better tobe alarmed now, as lam, than next summer, when the French fleet may be in the Channel.”
I quote this extract for the reason that I think that now is the time for us to awaken to our responsibilities, and to educate the people to the necessity of providing for the proper defence of Australia. In Victoria, at all events, the people have not hitherto been alive to the importance of having a naval defence force in our waters. It was only at the last moment, when the Conference was held in England, that the terms stipulated by Victoria were agreed to, and that a fleet was established as an auxiliary to the Pacific Squadron. Captain Mahan says in his work that fortifications are subordinate. I am sorry that the honorable and learned member for Corinella has left the Chamber, because the burden of his speech seemed to be that fortifications were of paramount importance. Captain Mahan asserts, however, that the navy is paramount, and that fortifications are subordinate to fleets. He says -
The sane conclusion to be drawn is, that whilst sea-coast fortification can never take the place of fleets ; that while, as a defence even, it being passive, is far inferior to the active” measure of offensive defence, which protects its own interests by carrying offensive war out on to the sea, and, it may be, to the enemy’s shores ; nevertheless, by the fearless freedom of movement it permits to the navy, it is to the latter complementary - completes it; the two words being etymologically equivalent.
He also points out that they enable the weaker- force to hold out for relief, and that is all that our own fortifications are capable of doing. They would enable our forces to hold out, but to war only on the defensive side. If you are crying for help, and that help is available, all will be well ; but if it is not, then the day will be against you.
It is necessary to check exaggeration of coast defence, in extent or in degree, by remarking that in any true conception of war, fortification defence, inland and sea-coast alike, is of value merely in so far as it conduces to offensive operations. This is conspicuously illustrated lay our recent experience.
During the Spanish- American war, America found that she was deficient in battleships ; she was short of the proper ships of war, and as so many vessels were required to patrol her coasts, she was unable at first to blockade Cuba as successfully as she would otherwise have done. The deficiency of battle-ships was one of the great defects under which America laboured, and, with that knowledge, Captain Mahan has devoted some considerable portion of his book to the education of the people to the necessity of being prepared in times of peace, so that in time of war there should be no panic. He points out that prior to the outbreak of hostilities between America and Spain, the difference in the naval strength was only one ship. When the Maine was sunk in Santiago Harbor, it was thought that the balance of power would be with Spain, and authorities believe that that was the object with which that vessel was sunk. When the Spanish Navy came into actual conflict with the American fleet, it was found, however, that it was deficient in a more material respect. It was deficient in equipment and armament, and its men lacked the training that would have enabled them to do their work efficiently. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports seemed to consider that there was no force in the contention that battle-ships were very necessary. The experience of America, however, proves that the honorablo member is in error. When Admiral Dewey went out to Manilla, he thought that he should have had battle-ships placed at his disposal ; but there were none available, and he had to do without them.
– But he did the work.
– Yes ; he had no battle-ships to meet, and consequently he was successful. No greater battle was ever fought in modern times. He successfully destroyed the naval power of Spain without the loss of a single man. The very essence of the art of naval warfare is to do your work successfully without the loss of any of your crew. Honorable members will remember that after the battle of Santiago, Dewey did not ask for battle-ships, but Admiral Camara was sent with two from Spain in order to oust him from Manilla. It was in the minds of the naval-authorities of Spain that if they could get battle-ships into the waters of Manilla they would be able to shift Dewey. Therefore America sent two of her monitors from San Francisco, so that they might reach Manilla before Camara arrived. But one of them broke down on the Manilla side of Hawaii, and had to put back to Honolulu for repairs. Those monitors would not have been in time had Camara been sent forward. The concern of the Americans, however, was such that they equipped a force under Admiral Watson to proceed to Manilla, to be in time for the battle which it was thought might take place, it being believed that Dewey would manoeuvre until the reinforcements arrived. The intention was that Admiral Watson should follow Camara,. but the latter was brought back, after passing through the Suez Canal, and no necessity arose for sending more American ships to Manilla at that juncture. The battle of Santiago took place, and the Spanish power was crushed. But even then, from fear of the nations who might come to the assistance of Spain, the Americans afterwards sent battle-ships to Manilla. Dewey was reinforced with two battle-ships and four cruisers, and in order to prevent the interception of those ships, the whole fleet under Admiral Sampson was sent down the Mediterranean with them. That goes to show that if wo have any regard for the establishment in Australia of a fighting force which will be equal to the work of offence rather than defence we must have sufficiently powerful ships. The latest experience in naval warfare shows that without powerful ships a nation must act upon the defensive, and that a nation that is forced to do so is doomed. Whenever England has met with disaster she has been acting upon the defensive. It behoves us, however, to keep our defences in a state of efficiency. But we have it upon the authority of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, that our fortifications are weak and insufficient for the protection of our cities and harbors, and that our guns are obsolete. That is a very serious charge against the authorities of Victoria, where I suppose £5000,000 has been spent in equipping fortifications. The honorable and learned member says that there is not one gun here which would fee equal to the occasion if the forts were attacked.
– I do not think that that is so.
– Such a state of things, if it exists, is very alarming, especially when it is contended by many honorable members that our policy should be to act entirely upon the defensive. That policy was greatly advocated in the early part of our sittings, but I have been glad to discover during this debate that very little is now being said in favour of it. That is because some reading has been done by honorable members on the subject of defence; and it is our duty to see that the general public is also educated up to the necessities of the situation. Our ships and forts should be always in a state of preparedness. When the Spanish Admiral Cervera was told that he would have to take command of the fleet if war with America broke out, he said “We are unprepared. Our guns are obsolete. If I am to have command, I shall want 50,000 tons of coal for evolutions and 10,000 projectiles for target practice. Unless you can give me those supplies, I shall go to a Trafalgar.” History has proved that he was right. Admiral Cervera pointed out that the men on the Spanish ships were not given an opportunity to make themselves proficient in the use of modern guns. They were given only one practice in twelve months, and that was not a complete one, so that when a battle came to be fought they were unable to hit the enemy’s vessels. Admiral Dewey’s fleet was not once struck by a Spanish projectile, and I do not think the American ships were hit more than two or three times at Santiago. The lesson of the Spanish- American war is the necessity for preparedness. We should always be ready. To expend £200,000 upona fleet which would not be ready to meet the enemy would be worse than tossing the money into the sea; but it is a contribution to the fleet in the Eastern seas. If we provide for our defence at all, let us do so effectively. The Prime Minister evidently did not know what sort of men this Parliament is composed of when he asked the Admiralty to give him the minimum cost of a fleet. They told him that an outlay of £200,000 a year would provide a squadron of some sort - the scouts of a fleet ; but for £400,000 we might have had effective battle-ships.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad that the Minister for Defence agrees with me. I do not consider that we are justified in voting a sum that will not be sufficient for the requirements of Australian defence ; however, the mother country will, no doubt, again find a Pacific fleet. Great Britain is humouring us in this matter, as she has always humoured us. Until we offered to pay, she was willing to bear the whole cost of defending Australia, as she is always willing to find the money for the defence of her possessions. She is sensitive lest we should be offended at any action on her part. But, as the representatives of the people of a country which is full of riches, of liberal-minded people who are as free with their purses as they are in their thoughts and opinions, let us rise to the occasion and strengthen the hands of the Government. Let it be known to the English authorities that, should necessity arise for the placing of a larger fleet in these waters, Australia will be prepared to terminate the new agreement on less than a two years’ notice, and makea larger contribution for the maintenance of an effective force, so that the £110,000,000 of export trade may have adequate protection. If we have an enemy upon our coasts, it will be very hard indeed for us to get rid of him, and in the absence of the fleet in the China sea, he might destroy our cities and empty our banks of their treasure. Some honorable members appear to be indifferent, but have they studied the policy of Germany in regard to the subject? While the German socialists and democrats are opposed to the internal militarism of their country, the German Parliament voted a sum of money sufficient to provide the Emperor with 26 battle-ships, in addition to 42 cruisers and torpedo boats. Furthermore, I would point out that the consort of the Queen of Holland is a German, whose sympathies are not with Holland but with the German policy for the annexation of that country. Now, the annexation of Holland by Germany would mean the annexation of all the Dutch colonies, and if such an event occurred, German interests would increase in New Guinea, and would take the place of the Dutch interests in Java and Sumatra. The possibility of such a change of affairs, together with the increase of the German Navy, is a menace to the safety of Australia. It is, therefore, necessary that we should speak openly and frankly upon this subject, and give as much encouragement as possible to the Minister for Defence and the Prime Minister in contracting for the proper and adequate protection of Australia. We find, on all hands, that force and strength rule the world, and unless we are prepared for the occasion we must go under. Longfellow truly says -
Force rules the world still,
Has ruled it, shall rule it;
Meekness is weakness,
Strength is triumphant,
Over the whole earth
Still is it Thor’s-Day !
– I rise to say that it is my intention to vote for the second reading of this Bill. I shall support the payment by the Commonwealth of an increased subsidy towards the cost of the British Navy, but I sincerely hope that means will be discovered in the near future for the realization to some extent, at any rate, of what I think everybody must admit is a natural aspiration on the part of Australians - the creation of an Australian Navy. I admit that at the present time, owing to the condition of the finances of the Commonwealth, little or nothing can lie done in that direction ; but I trust that in the arrangement now being made, care will be exercised that no absolute obstacle is put in the way of action being taken in the desired direction as soon as that may be possible. As I said in the debate on the address in reply to the GovernorGeneral’s speech, I am seriously afraid that the payment of a subsidy towards the cost of the British Navy is an arrangement which contains many elements of danger. At present England and her colonies are held together by bonds which are strong, but which in their essence are, to a large extent, sentimental. If the business element be introduced there may be trouble. Australians may ask - Is the arrangement good business ‘f And questions of that kind often become fruitful of unpleasant consequences. It is my loyalty to the Empire that makes me view with misgivings the payment of a subsidy, which must be an increasing subsidy if the agreement continues in force for many years. At any time friction may be produced. It should not be forgotten that there are in England to-day people who are interested in this question, not so much from a desire to safeguard the colonies as to reduce the cost of the navy to Great Britain. With them it is less a question of the maintenance of the Empire than a reduction of home taxation. I do not say these people are wrong, but I do say their attitude is an important fact. If I cannot see eye to eye with the right honorable the Minister for Defence, I must ask him to be generous enough to believe that my attachment to the old land, and my concern for the safety and development of the Empire, are just as sincere as his own ; and to believe that, even if he- should find that my enthusiasm is not excited by the importance from a military stand-point, of a railway across Australia from west to east.
– You want a railway from north to south.
– I listened with close attention and much admiration to the speech of the right honorable the Prime Minister. It was an address in every way worthy of an important measure, but I heard nothing to lead me to change my views. I must confess that I am much more in sympathy with the position taken up by some other honorable members, notably the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who, I thought, put the case for an Australian Navy wonderfully well ; so well, in fact, that it seems to me unnecessary that any one else should travel over the same ground. Like Senator Matheson in his pamphlets, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has given the history of the question. He has shown that what has been done in the past, in regard to the defences of Australia, has been done on the advice of English military and naval experts, who thought an Australian Navy desirable, not in the interests of this Continent merely, but in the interests of the Empire. They thought it advisable that Australia should be made a training ground for British seamen, and the Governments of the various States in the last thirty years have spent many thousands of pounds in attempting to give effect to the recommendations thus made to them. There is no saner or more patriotic journal in England than the London Spectator, and that newspaper is in agreement with the naval and military experts of the past, ‘ and not with the Admiralty of to-day. As shown by a cablegram published in the newspapers this morning, the Spectator strongly disapproves of the colonies getting their defence from the mother country for a money consideration . To realize the true nature of sea power the colonies must, it contends, have ships and men of their own. Canada, Australia, and ‘New Zealand will never attain to that naval spirit which is the life-breath of a maritime empire if they hire their naval protection in Britain and pay in money. Mere money subsidies to the Admiralty will never, it is declared, create the spirit in which naval power rests. Surely if the London Spectator writes in this way there can be nothing very wrong for an Australian to echo the sentiments so well expressed. It would be a serious misfortune to establish wrong conditions, and something of the kind is quite possible. The ordinary householder does not guard his house from attack ; he leaves that duty to the police. But it would be a great mistake for the various colonies to regard the British Navy as a sort of Empire police. That would never do. The creation of a feeling that defence is exclusively the business of the
Imperial Navy would be a hazardous piece of business, and an indication to all thoughtful people that the Empire was in jeopardy. Since I heard the speech .of the honorable member for Bendigo I have read an article in the latest issue of Macmillan’s Magazine. The author is Lt.-Col. Pollock, the editor of the United Service Magazine. This article puts the position admirably, and I am sure honorable members will forgive me for referring to it. It is true enough, and we all admit it, that the fate of the British Empire does not hang upon the inviolate security of colonial or even of British coasts, but Upon fleetpower at sea. Still, as the writer of the article from which I am quoting points out -
If the British Empire were to fall to-morrow, the subjugation of, for example, Australia would not necessarily follow. That Great Britain, shorn of her colonies, would sink to the level of Holland is clear, but that her colonies in general would “become the spoil of the victor is by no means a foregone conclusion. The conquest of Australia would be a colossal enterprise, beside which our recent expedition in South Africa would sink into insignificance.
But such considerations have no weight with Australians. They are prepared to pay more for naval defence than they have done in the past, but many do not like the subsidy idea. They are afraid of it. They claim to take the larger view, and to look at the matter from the Empire standpoint. Lieut.-Colonel Pollock states the case excellently. This is what he says -
Australia has for a considerable number of years paid an annual contribution to the Imperial Navy, but the amount (only £100,000) is obviously disproportionate to the proper responsibility of the Australian colonies. That the contribution hitherto paid is insufficient the Australians freely admit, but they resist the idea of making a larger grant to the British exchequer upon the ground that the money expended by Australia for naval purposes should be devoted to providing an Australian contingent of ships, and manning them with Australians.
He goes on -
Let us suppose that Australia, Canada, and South Africa each create navies of their own, severally amounting to, let us say, one battle-ship, four second-class cruisers, and sundry smaller vessels, and that these colonial squadrons are primarily intended by their owners for local defence. Might not Great Britain yet feel entire confidence that the colony which was not itself in imminent peril would eagerly despatch its ships to the Imperial point of danger? If we grant this much, and past experience would seem to justify the assumption, it would appear as if the situation arrived at would, practically speaking, be much the same as if we actually had “ one navy on one sea.”
In my mind there can be no question on that point. The writer proceeds -
The only difference, then, between “one nar3’ “ directly under the orders of the authorities at Whitehall, and the closely -allied navies of Great and Greater Britain, is that in the latter case the colonies would themselves send their ships to the place where their services might be required, while in the former they would be summarily deprived of the Imperial Squadron hitherto on the station.
Quite so, and this significant sentence follows -
It need scarcely to be pointed out that if mischief befell during the absence of the squadron, a willing sacrifice would be borne with some cheerfulness, whereas an obligatory one would provoke resentment.
My last quotation from this article is possibly the most important : -
Whatever the colonies are to do in aid of Imperial defence must, in order to secure the best results, be absolutely spontaneous. Any point that we may gain by reason of insistent importunity will rather be a step towards the eventual dismemberment of the Empire than, towards the permanent consolidation of its strength. What we want at present is to increase our naval power, and we quite reasonably ask the colonies to bear a more proportionate share in the burden of common defence. To this the colonies reply that they are ready and willing to assist in kind, but not in money paid over to ourselves. They point out that they are self-governing communities, and entitled to be guided by their own opinions as to what arrangement will suit them best.’ They do not care to be protected by contract, as it were, and instead of subsidizing the British Navy they desire to have their own. Let us take them at their word, and give them all possible assistance.
As I have already suggested, I think the authorities of the Admiralty are making a mistake in asking for the subsidy. It would have been better, I think - I say it with all deference - to have urged the colonies to make the fullest possible provision for their own defences. In this way they would have been handsomely contributing to the defence of the Empire. Their expenditure must have more than local significance, and seeing that it is local there could never be on this account friction with Great Britain. As stated by Lieut. -Col. Pollock, should the Empire be in danger at any time, all the ships of the colonies would be- available for service. This would be willing service, which is always so much better than service under compulsion. An illustration of such service occurred when ships of the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, without any obligation, were released for service in China.
But I maintain, as I have done before, that local defence is necessary to protect our ports and the floating trade in Australian waters. So long as England is mistress of the seas we have nothing to fear, we are told ; but in the past, military and naval experts, whose names were names to conjure with, have expressed contrary opinions, and personally I think their opinions still carry weight, and are consistent with common sense. The other day we heard, on what may be regarded as gopd authority, that the Russians some yearsago contemplated a raid on Hobart. In. this connexion I am reminded that the right honorable the Prime Minister stated in his speech that it was proposed to sell the Protector, the South Australian gunboat. When that is done, the State which I represent will have 1,500 miles of unprotected coast line. I was very much surprised to hear the Minister for Defence say that all the existing ships connected with local defences were valueless. When the Protector was in Chinese waters the CommanderinChief, Admiral Seymour, reported that she “ was most useful, being an efficient and well-kept man-of-war, reflecting credit on captain, officers, and men,” and we are told by Captain Clare that “ she won the admiration of all the admirals on the station.”
– He wanted to be nice.
– I am quoting from official reports. In 1899 Admiral Pearson in a report to Lord Tennyson, who was then Governor of South Australia, spoke of the efficient state of the Protector, described her as “ a very serviceable type of vessel for the work required of her,” and stated that “ her guns, though old, are still very useful weapons.” The voyage to China was practically made by the Protector in the same time as that taken by the Wallaroo, a much more powerful and more modern ship, belonging to the Australian Auxiliary Squadron. The Protector steamed 16,000 miles without a single defect of any kind showing itself, and no repairs were necessary whilst she was out of South Australian waters. Is it not curious that a vessel which was purchased on the recommendation of Sir William Jervois, and which has been so well reported on within the last three years by naval experts, should now be condemned 1
– What would she do if she met the Gromoboi or the Royal Arthur ?
– She must be kept out of the way of the Gromoboi. The agreement under consideration, according to the preamble, has two objects - recognition of the importance of sea-power, and its development in Australia and New Zealand. With the honorable member for Bendigo, I have grave doubts as to the realization of the latter. To do that there should be a contribution to the navyof the Empire in kind, not in money. I heartily agree with Captain Creswell that it would be in the true interests of Australia and the Empire to develop locally those qualities of race and that love of the sea which enabled us first to obtain, and since to hold, the land in which we live. I intend to support the second reading.
– I have listened with a good deal of attention to the debate which has taken place upon this measure. To my mind, a number of the speeches that have been delivered have been characterized by the “ yes-no “ principle. I am pleased to find that the discussion has been conducted in a manner which reflects great credit upon honorable members, and evidences the good-fellowship existing between them. I fully recognise that if a couple of years ago any person had ventured to oppose a measure similar to that which is now under consideration, he would have been immediately branded as a pro-Boer, or accused of disloyalty. It is refreshing to find that the hysterical feeling, which then pervaded the whole of Australia to such a degree that freedom of speech was practically abolished, has passed away. Upon this question, I differ probably from most honorable members. I am opposed to all forms of Imperialism, holding the view that whatever loyalty I owe to any countryI owe to Australia. After I have devoted sufficient loyalty to Australia, if I have any left, it will go to Great Britain. I am an Australian first, and I look upon my connexion with the British nation purely as a secondary consideration.
– The honorable member does not mind enjoying its protection.
– In Australia it has to be proved that it is absolutely necessary that we should have the protection that would be afforded by a navy. If experts decide that Australia requires a navy, I hold that the people of the Commonwealth should be possessed of sufficient patriotism to purchase it, irrespective of what it might cost. They have no right to depend upon any outside assistance.
– We are not a nation.
– When Federation was established, we heard the Prime Minister talking much about “this new-born nation.” Indeed, a number of prominent politicians throughout Australia repeatedly spoke in the same strain. Certainly I regard Australia as a new-born nation, and I voted for Federation because I believed that its accomplishment would constitute the first step towards national greatness. In this connexion, too, I can claim some credit, because if the party with which I am identified had not embraced the Federal movement in Northern Queensland, the probability is that that State would not have joined the union. Those espousing that movement in Queensland could not secure a meeting in the North until certain members of the labour party took the matter up. It was only then that the Federal feeling became strong, and resulted in the magnificent majority of 8,000, which was obtained at the referendum. I think that some of the arguments which have been used in favour of the payment of an additional subsidy, as proposed under this Bill, constitute an insult to the people of Australia. I certainly hold that the people of the Commonwealth, as the descendants of British stock, are just as capable of defending themselves as were their forefathers, and, given the same opportunity, would give just as good an account of themselves. When, therefore, I find honorable members declaring that we cannot possibly defend ourselves, I regard it as a deliberate insult to the Australian people. When we are asked to vote £200,000 annually to assist in our naval defence, the amount involved is not worth consideration. But I hold that something more is involved in this measure than the additional subsidy for which we are asked. There is a big principle underlying the new departure which it is proposed to make, and it has only been put prominently forward during the latter portion of the debate.
– It is the crux of the whole thing.
– Certainly. The question involved is one of Imperialism, and not merely of contributing an additional £94,000 to our naval defence. No one can truthfully declare that the Imperial Government simply desire Australia to grant an increased subsidy by that amount. They are far above any attempt at bargaining in a matter of that sort. Their desire is that we shall assume our share of the responsibilities of the Empire.
– Where do the responsibilities of Empire rest?
– I hold that the advantages of Empire are gained by Great Britain, and not by Australia.
– Who benefited by the South African war?
– A number of capitalists who dragged the honour of England into the mire, and were prepared to do anything so long as they could make huge dividends for themselves.
– What does the honorable member care about the honour of England?
– The honorable member indulges in the same old jingo argument. I do not know whether he is an Australian, or whether he belongs to Great Britain.
– I am a Briton, but I am an Australian also.
– The honorable member occupies the same position as I do. I presume that his parents were British, as mine were. Out of respect to them, I have as much regard for the honour of England as has my honorable friend.
– The honorable member declared that he did not belong to Great Britain.
– That is quite true. I said that I was essentially an Australian, and that my first duty was towards Australia. I do not hold a very high opinion of any resident of the Commonwealth who takes a different view of his obligations in that respect.
– That position is forced upon us, as our only duty under the Constitution.
– I believe in Australian nationality.
– Why not in Queensland nationality?
– Because Australia is a continent, and the different States comprising it enjoy a certain community of interests - so much so that we have decided upon a Federal form of Government.
We decided to federate for our own protection.
– Under the Crown.
– Of course. The right honorable gentleman knows that had we desired to bring about a Federation, without such a provision in the Constitution we should not have been able to do so. The fact that the words “ under the Crown “ are to be found in the Constitution proves nothing. I maintain that Great Britain gains a great deal more by advancing the policy of Empire than does the Commonwealth.
– Why ?
– Because Britain is the centre of the Empire ; everything centres there. What do we do with our wool? The bulk of it is sent to London, and from there it is distributed to various parts of world.
– Is not that as much to our advantage as to the advantage of England ?
– No. It is recognised by every commercial man that it would be more to our advantage to ship our produce direct to the countries with which we desire to trade.
– There is nothing to prevent us from doing so.
– Order !
– The fact stares us in the face that our trade with foreign countries is growing day by day. That goes to prove that it must be advantageous to trade direct with different countries of the world, instead of sending our commodities to England and distributing them from that centre. The growing trade between Australia and Great Britain that we are called upon to protect represents upwards of £60,000,000. I would ask, in all seriousness - “ To whom does that trade belong?” Does it belong to Australia, or are we in the position of people who are simply producing for others?
– We are debtors.
– Exactly; and while we occupy that position I do not know how we are to progressin the way that some honorable members predict.
– Do not borrow.
– That would be a move in the right direction. I consider that one of the wisest actions ever taken by theFederal Parliament was its refusal last session to allow the Treasurer to float a loan.
– We should have to borrow a large sum to establish an Australian Navy.
– Under the Constitution, we are at present returning to the States upwards of £1,000,000 per annum in excess of the amount we are required to return. Of that sum, a reasonable amount might be employed in the direction” of an Australian Navy, if an Australian Navy be required. 1 do not know that it is. I am glad to say that I am not an expert in defence matters, but when we do refer to the opinions of experts, we find that they are so conflicting that it is most difficult for a layman to understand them.
– We are all experts.
– I dare say that in a way we are. The principal argument that has been advanced is that we must protect the trade between Australia and Great Britain. I maintain that the great bulk of that trade belongs to Great Britain, and that we are already doing even more than our share towards the defence of the Empire. Whether we subsidize this squadron or not, the British Government will be compelled to have a fleet in Australian waters. Difficulties that are arising in other parts of the world practically demand, even for the protection of England herself, the presence of a fleet in Australian waters.
– We should not have one, if the honorable member had his way.
– Whether I had my way or not, the British Government, by reason of its interests in the East, would be compelled to have a squadron in Australian waters. Does the honorable member say that the Australian Squadron is to protect Australia ? Owing to the complications in the East, it is absolutely necessary that the additional ships to be provided in this agreement should be stationed in Australian waters.
– And would the honorable member like to see us refuse to pay anything for them?
– Would the honorable member ask the British Government to do the work for nothing ?
– No. I say that we pay our fair share, and that, even if England did not have Australia to fall back upon, shew ould be compelled to keep a fleet in Australian waters. She would require a coaling station here, with the necessary garrison to defend it. Instead of having to provide such a station at her own cost, however, she finds that the necessary provision has been made for her by Australia. We give her a certain amount of security for her vessels in our harbors ; and we provide her with a naval base which she would otherwise have to maintain at enormous cost. We do not do so purely in the interests of Great Britain ; we certainly consider our own defence as well ; but we spend between £800,000 and £900,000 annually in a way that helps very largely to defend a naval base in Australia which would probably cost England nearly £2,000,000 per annum if she had to stand alone. In this way I think that we are contributing a legitimate proportion of the cost of the defence of the Empire. I could have understood the position taken up by certain honorable members if they had told us distinctly that what they considered we ought to do was to take our fair share in the responsibilities of Empire. They might well have taken that view without laying themselves open to any imputation of unfair or dishonorable tactics. From their stand-point it would be quite legitimate for them to urge that we should contribute this amount for that purpose.
– That still leaves open the issue as to what is honorable and fair.
– Perhaps I have not put the position correctly in using those words, but the honorable member has his own opinions in regard to this matter. We have not been told that we are asked to take a share in the burdens of Empire. We have simply been urged to grant this extra £94,000 a year in order to provide a better fleet to defend our shores. Almost every honorable member who has discussed this question has admitted that the fleet which is to be provided under this agreement will be used for purposes other than the defence of Australia. If it was intended that it should be used solely for the defence of Australia, why should not a clause have been inserted in the agreement limiting its operations to Australian waters ?
– The theory of the Admiralty is that we can at times best help ourselves by helping others.
– Notwithstanding what the Prime Minister has said, it seems to me that the Admiralty is not always the best authority.
– Naval experts differ.
– The naval experts appear to hold widely divergent views as to what is the best course for us to pursue. Scarcely two of them are agreed upon the subject. It seems to me that there is a desire to “ sneak “ this proposal upon us. That is one reason why I object to it. We were originally asked to contribute £106,000 per annum on a population basis towards the cost of a certain number of vessels to protect our coast.
– The cost of the British Navy has since thenincreased to the extent of something like £10,000,000.
– I agree with the honorable and learned member that it has gone on increasing until it has reached a stage at which it is practically impossible for the Imperial taxpayer to bear the enormous burden much longer.
– That is why we should help them.
– I can understand the use of that argument by the honorable member. He did not tell us, however, that we should pay this contribution on a population basis.
– That is what they will eventually be driving at.
– Yes. In the first instance we were requested to contribute £106,000 per annum towards the cost of the Auxiliary Squadron. Then the Imperial authorities said - “ We will give you a better fleet for £200,000 per annum.” But they were careful to omit from the agreement the clause which appears in the original contract providing that the fleet shall remain in Australian waters, and that it shall be removed only with the sanction of the Australian Parliaments. The new agreement contains an article which extends the area over which the fleet shall operate. Those who urge that it is desirable that we should take a part in the responsibilities of Empire should say that they are prepared to pay their share of the responsibilities that Great Britain has undertaken. They do not take up that position. If I held the opinions which some honorable members entertain, I should be prepared to pay my share of the burden, and to take the full responsibility of my action.
– If the honorable member were an Imperialist he would throw his money about.
– If I were I should be prepared to accept the full responsibility. We are told that under the proposed agreement, not only shall we obtain protection against the raids of foreign fleets upon our shores, but we shall be afforded an opportunity to have a large number of Australians trained in naval operations, who in the near future will be available for the manning of an Australian Navy. Thatis the argument which we used when the last agreement was put before the Parliaments of the States. It was Admiral Tryon’s idea in asking for an Australian contribution.
– The present agreement does not provide for the creation of reserves.
– I shall not trouble to quote extracts from speeches and writings on the subject, but it is absolutely true that it has frequently happened that the Admiralty, when applied to by the Governments of the States to allow a certain number of men to be trained upon the vessels of the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, have refused to doso, in spite of the fact that the States were lured into accepting the arrangement’ by the promise that after ten years they would have a body of men trained to man vessels of their own. Under the proposed agreement, about 1,600 officers and men are to be trained in naval operations, and are to form a branch of the Royal Navy Reserve ; but at the termination of the agreement these men will belong, not to us, but to the Imperial Government. There is nothing in the agreement to say that we shall be able to put them into our own vessels, if we are prepared to provide for an Australian Navy. We shall have no control over them at all. I understand that we cannot now alter the agreement, but that we can so amend the Bill as to compel the Government to enter into further negotiations ; and I think it is our bounden duty to do so. If it is the desire of a majority of honorable members that the squadron shall confine its operations to the waters of Australia and New Zealand, we can putaprovision to that effectintheBill,andthe Government will then be compelled to negotiate with the Imperial authorities with a view to obtain some alteration of the arrangement. Ithinkthatweshould also amend the Bill so as to providethat the agreement shall terminate at the end of ten years without the giving of two years’ notice.
Then, if it is shown to be necessary to have a navy to protect us, we can pay for our own protection. We might also amend the Bill so as to provide that the men of the branch of the Royal Navy Reserve which it is proposed to create here shall on the termination of the agreement be available for the manning of an Australian Navy. Unless we make such stipulations as those, we shall at the end of ten years be in a worse position in regard to naval matters than we are in at the present time. It must be remembered that we are not merely voting an expenditure of £200,000 a year ; we are really voting an expenditure of £2,000,000, because the payment of £200,000 a year is to go on for ten years. If it were proposed when the Estimates come before us that any particular item should be agreed to for ten years, member after member would get up and protest that the control of Parliament over the public expenditure was being taken away ; yet that is what we are now asked to agree to. We are also being asked to cast in our lot with the present Imperialistic policy of Great Britain, of which Lord Rosebery has said -
Their Imperialism means bloated armaments and a bloated expenditure. The country needs a saner, cheaper, andless provocative Imperialism.
The Australians do not want to be dragged into Imperial concerns. The honorable member for Flinders spoke as though the Commonwealth was likely to go to war with some nation, and would then have the Imperial Navy to defend it. That is not our position. What I am afraid of is that we may be drawn into war, not through our own actions, but because of our connexion with Great Britain. Not only are we being asked to pay £200,000 a year towards the defence of the Empire, but, if Great Britain goes to war, we shall be drawn into the quarrel too, and will have ultimately to suffer the inconvenience and misery which always follow in the wake of war. The step we are now being asked to take is a very serious one. A number of honorable members appear to be unwilling to credit me with sincerity in the views which I am expressing, but I shall show that, in this instance at any rate, I am in very good company. The honorable member for Richmond said last night that those who believe that Australia should be an independent nation are fools, and worse than fools.
Letme remind him that Lord Beacons field is credited with the statement that -
These wretched colonies hang round our neck like a millstone, and the only consolation is that they will some day drop off.
Mr. John Bright, one of the most illustrious public men that England ever had, speaking, in 1888, upon the responsibilities of the Empire,said : -
I should like to ask the Federation people whether the colonies of this country - Canada and the many colonies, the great colonies, that cluster in the South Pacific, the Australian colonies - whether they think that these colonies will he willing to bind themselves to the stupid foreign policy of the Governments of this country ?Will they be willing to undertake the responsibility of entering into war, the seat of which is 10,000 miles away, and in which they cannot have the slightest influence or interest, and when they may not have been in the least consulted as to the cause of quarrel for which this country was rushing into war ? In my opinion the colonies will never stand a policy of that kind. If I were a Canadian, or Victorian, or New South Walesman, or Queenslander, or New Zealander, I would take good care, as far as I was concerned, that my voice should never go in favour of any connexion whatever with those complications in the foreign policy of the Government of the mother country. It would be much better for humanity, and for them, and for us, that these colonies should be under Governments of their own, and independent, and should not. meddle with quarrels in which they were not concerned.
Coming nearer home, I should like to quote the following extract from the Age of the 15th June, 1888, a newspaper which is, I believe, a very influential journal in the city of Melbourne -
So far, indeed, from receiving any commercial advantage from the (English) connexion, it would not be difficult to show that commercially speaking the colonies would be better off without it, for as long as we are involved in the wars of the Empire, we shall be exposed to the risks and interruptions of trade which they inevitably bring in their train. Pecuniarily speaking, it may be doubted whether separation would not be ultimately the most profitable policy for all parties, for the mother country would then be spared the expense of defending the colonies, and the colonies would not be put to the trouble of defending themselves.
– They have been converted since then.
– I believe they have. I know of some still more recent conversions. Some of the speeches of honorable members have suggested the idea that those who delivered them would make very good “lightning change” artists. I might read a number of other extracts upon the same lines, but I do not wish to detain the House.
I should not have spoken at such length had it not been for the question raised by the honorable member for Wannon regarding my loyalty. The Government have allowed us to be placed in the unenviable position of having either to accept the agreement or to put a slight upon the Prime Minister. I haveheard some honorable members go so far as to say that the amendment of the honorable member for Bland is practically a motion of censure. It was never intended as such.
– It does not matter what was intended.
– I quite understand that it occasionally happens that when a Government finds itself in an awkward position it tries to whip up its followers by making statements of that kind and endeavouring to frighten them into adopting a course they would not otherwise pursue.
An Honorable Member. - No selfrespecting Government could cany on if they were defeated on the amendment.
– Then all I can say is that the man who makes the subject of defence a party question is an enemy to his country. I belong to the only organized party in this House, and I should never approve of making a party question of the very important subject of defence. I hopethe time will never come when we shall descend to such low tactics as that, and I regret very much that any attempt should have been made to introduce party considerations into this discussion. I think the amendment is a reasonable one, because it will shelve the Bill until we have had a general election and have ascertained the feeling of the electors. It must be clearly understood that the question of an increased contribution towards the Australian Squadron has never come prominently before the electors.
– Most of the Victorian representatives were returned pledged to support the establishment of an Australian Navy.
– I believe that after the next general election a majority of honorable members in this House will be so pledged. Personally, I do not say that an Australian Navy is necessary, because I am not an expert, and do not feel qualified to express an opinion. If, however, it is necessary, it is our duty to provide for it rather than to adopt the course proposed by the Government. The honorable member for Parramatta and the Prime Minister asked whose advice we were to take if not that of the Imperial authorities.
– What I said was that, amidst such a conflict of opinion, who was to decide except the Admiralty ?
– I shall now endeavour to show the honorable member for Parramatta the character of the tribunal to which he is willing to submit the decision of this question. The Brisbane Courier has published a number of very able articles upon this subject.
– Is that the newspaper that the honorable member generally follows?
– I am following it just at the present, because its articles upon this subject are really well worth reading, and the honorable member for Parramatta would find them very instructive. The Courier says : -
The Admiralty is not infallible, as Sir Edmund Barton admits, but there is a fallacy in assuming, as he did, that “we knew of no authority to which we could more safely refer for guidance.” Whitehall has never been specially conspicuous for sagacity, and most of the reforms in the navy have been adopted on account of the insistent suggestions of outside critics. It was the same authority which objected to the use of steam in the navy on the ground that the smoke from the furnaces blackened the sails of the vessels, and which refused to adopt breech-loading guns until they became aware that in this respect Great Britain was behind all the rest of Europe. It is the same authority which, in more recent times, has preferred paint and gilt to efficiency in gunnery. The opinion of theAdmiralty as to what is economically, politically, and strategically best for Australia is, therefore, to say the least, somewhat doubtful until it has been confirmed by other naval authorities, reference to whom was carefully avoided by the Premier.
I think that that furnishes a very good reply to the statement of the honorable member.
– Is theBrisbane Courier as sound upon that question as upon the sugar question?
– I do not know to what point the Honorable member refers. I believe that we should make some attempt to develop the magnificent resources of the various States instead of spending large sums of money upon a navy or an army. Our only hope lies in the peaceful development of this country. I do not believe that Australia will ever become a great nation or make substantial commercial progress if we devote the greater part of our energies to building up large military or naval forces. Our best course is to endeavour to develop our resources and to follow a policy of peace instead of one of aggression, such as is contemplated under the proposed agreement.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).Notwithstanding that several honorable members have made exhaustive and comprehensive speeches upon this subject, I feel that the importance of the vote I am called upon to give is such that, at the risk of boring the House, I am impelled to put forward one or two reasons why I intend to support the amendment. During the whole of the debate which has been proceeding for some days, we have had no speeches in cordial support of the agreement, except those delivered by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence, and the honorable member for Richmond. Almost all honorable members who have spoken have employed more or less condemnatory terms in regard to the agreement, and yet we find that there is a strange disinclination to allow the matter to stand over until after the next general election. This is surprising in view of the fact that the Government waited for nine months before they submitted the matter to the House.
– They could not have submitted the matter during the recess.
– No, but honorable members might have been called together at an earlier date, if it had been a matter of supreme importance to secure approval of the agreement. The Bill was not brought forward at the very earliest period of the session, and apparently is not one of special urgency. Therefore, I think that we might very well wait for another few months ; especially in view of the fact that the Bill contemplates a distinct departure from our previous policy, which may be fraught with tremendous consequences to Australia. It is proposed to entirely set aside old conditions and old ideals in regard to naval defence, and the new development is one regarding which we may very wellconsult our constituents before committing ourselves to a large expenditure. I cannot understand why honorable members should express themselves in such strong terms against the provisions of the agreement, and then cast their votes in its favour rather than allow a few months to pass by. I can only assume that some of them are afraid of an accusation of disloyalty. Surely, the fear of being considered wanting in loyalty and in enthusiasm for the defence of the Empire should not induce us to make an important new departure without consulting the people of Australia. Had the measure been debated even in a casual way there might have been some justification for proceeding with it now. But upon the eve of a general election, why will the Government not consent to refer this matter to the electors, instead of committing the Commonwealth to a certain course of action for a period of ten years ? It may be that at the end of that term we shall occupy a much worse position than we do to-day in the matter of providing for our naval defence. Under these circumstances I hold that consideration of this Bill should be deferred. Can the Prime Minister possibly urge that it is ofsuch supreme urgency that the present conditions cannot be permitted to continue for four months longer? I repeat that the constituencies have a right to demand that upon such an important alteration of policy they should be consulted. It cannot be denied that the agreement involves an entirely new departure from the old ideals of the defence of Australia. If it merely involved the payment of an increased subsidy the speeches which have been delivered during the past week would have constituted a sheer waste of time, and a deliberate insult to our intelligence. But, as a matter of fact, they have been specially directed towards showing the tremendous difference which exists between the old agreement and the new one.
– There is practically no difference.
– If the honorable member for New England had read the Hansard report of the speech of the leader of the Opposition he would have seen that a very considerable difference exists. The idea underlying the old agreement was that Australia should look after her own defence, and make a certain contribution to an Auxiliary Squadron specially detailed for Australian defence. We did not pay anything towards the maintenance of an Imperial fleet. We contributed towards an Auxiliary Squadron, and that only. Up to the present time we have not paid a single farthing to the Imperial Navy as such.
– That is the difference between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.
– I am surprised that the honorable member does not comprehend the importance of the change which it is proposed to make. The old idea that Australia should defend herself is to be discarded, and we are to pay a money contribution to the Imperial Navy to defend us. That is a new departure from the policy adopted in the past, and one which I think will prove destructive of many of the best characteristics of the budding Australian nation. It has been urged that we ought to vote for the agreement from considerations of loyalty to the Empire. We have been told that the increased subsidy represents only1s. per head of our population, but that its payment will evidence our loyalty. If we adopt the agreement I suppose we shall then be able to boast that we contribute towards the maintenance of the Imperial Navy. We shall be in a position to proclaim that the great Commonwealth of Australia contributes1s. per head towards that navy, whilst every poor, out-of-work artisan in the old country, pays at the rate of 17s.6d.I do not think that such an exhibition of loyalty would be worth very much. My idea is that we can assist the Empire a great deal more by pursuing the policy which has hitherto been adopted than by making any cash contribution towards the Imperial Navy. One of the ways in which we can exhibit ourloyalty is by relieving the old country as far as possible from the necessity of protecting our coast in the way that is here proposed.
– Will the honorable member vote a good sum to put our land defences in order, so that we may protect our coast ?
– Up to a certain point, undoubtedly I will. It is the duty of every citizen to assist, as far as he can, in the defence of his country. Where he cannot accomplish his purpose in any other way, he should at least contribute in a pecuniary sense. The same remark is equally applicable to the navy. The honorable member for Parramatta suggests that I have supported the reduction of the defence vote. But in this connexion I would point out that a great deal of the expenditure in the Defence Department was of very little use so far as our actual defence needs were concerned.
– We did not cut down the armaments.
– Certainly not. The party with which I have the honour to be associated did not vote in favour of reducing the number of men who are to be armed. We did not vote to reduce their equipment.
– But the number of men have been reduced.
– Honorable members who vote for a reduction are not always responsible for the form which that reduction takes. The honorable member for Parramatta should recollect that the Committee laid particular emphasis upon the necessity for reducing the military staffs, notwithstanding which, they are still in existence. As a matter of fact, the cost of the defence of Australia, so far as the central staff is concerned, has been enormously increased. “ All these increases, from my point of view, do not assist in the real defence of the Empire. When, therefore, the honorable member twits me with having voted in a certain way-
– I have not* twitted the honorable member with having done anything.
– If we have brought about such a muddle in connexion with our arm)7, what should we do in connexion with a navy 1
– Reorganize it, as we have had to reorganize the army. It is true that this House reduced the defence vote, but it was the Government which cut down the naval vote. So far as our naval defence is concerned, the position at the present time is much worse than it was a year or two ago. Recognising as I do that under the new agreement Australia will be just as open as ever to raids upon her shores by swift armoured cruisers, and appreciating the importance of improving our coastal defences, it seems to me strange that the Government should have reduced the naval vote. Instead of adopting that course, in my judgment they should have attempted to reorganize our naval service, and to make it still more effective. They have, however, chosen to cut down the expenditure connected with it, whilst simultaneously proposing to augment the Imperial subsidy By their action they have shown - and if the House indorses the new agreement it will show - that they have no sympathy with the idea that Australia should have a coastal defence of her own. . We are further assured that this cutting down is to continue. The
Minister for Defence has declared his intention of disposing of the Protector and the Queensland gun-boats.
– I do not think that I said that.
– I think that if the Minister will road his speech in Hansard he will find that my statement is correct. It is intended to still further reduce the local naval forces by getting rid of the Protector and the other gun-boats which were obtained for coastal defence.
– We feared upon the advice which we then had that the Cerberus would not be serviceable, but we have since learned that she can be made serviceable by re-armament.
– I am astonished that the Government should consent to still further reduce our local naval forces. Upon what grounds can it be urged that we should get rid of a boat like the Protector, which is distinctly up-to-date, and which only the year before last steamed to China in record time, in order to assist in the naval operations there ? As a matter of fact, she is one of the most heavily-armoured boats of her size afloat.
– Of what good would she be against a cruiser ‘
– It depends upon the cruiser. I have been given to understand that with the exception of the Royal Arthur, the Protector could blow any ship of the Australian Squadron out of the sea.
– She. is more heavily armed.
– She is more heavily armed than any other vessel on the station-, with the exception of the Royal Arthur She was built at a comparatively recent date for the special purpose of coastal defence. It was intended that she should cruise about in Spencer Gulf and St. Vincent’s Gulf, and be fit to do service in such a port as Hobson’s Bay. She is also able to go to sea. I am not suggesting that she would be fit to take the place of one of the ships of the Imperial Navy; but I contend that she is a most excellent boat for the special purposes for which she was obtained by the South Australian Government. We have the statement of the Admiral who was in charge of the British naval operations in China, that she is highly suitable for the purpose for which she was designed - the coastal defence of Australia.
– We are going to keep her in commission for the rest of the year, so that we shall have time to think over the matter.
– I have no personal interest in the Protector. I refer to her simply because I am more familiar with her construction and equipment than with that of other vessels, and because she represents a class of vessel specially designed to protect the Australian coast. I understand that the Queensland gun-boats were also built for. the same purpose. W« are informed, however, that we are to cast aside our Australian boats. The mere fact that a vessel forms part of the present naval forces of Australia is advanced as a sufficient justification for the desire to rid the Commonwealth of her. We are to rely solely on this new agreement, which represents the development of the Imperial idea.
– If Adelaide was to be the head-quarters of this new fleet, would the honorable member be satisfied ?
– No. The position which I take up is not in any way affected by the question of head-quarters. The danger which I fear is, that we shall spend £200,000 a year towards the cost of an Imperial fleet which will not be detailed specially for Australian defence, and which may not be in Australian waters in the hour of trouble. The fleet to be provided under this agreement is undoubtedly intended to be at liberty to move to whatever point may be considered necessary, and Australia may be left absolutely without any naval defence.
– Does the honorable member say that this fleet is not to be detailed for Australian defence ?
– I assert that it is not to “be detailed specially for Australian defence. The honorable member must recollect that it is to form part of a squadron which is to operate between Australia and China.
– It may be sent to any part of the world. It is easy for the right honorable member to quibble over the matter.
– The honorable member should read article 2 of the agreement.
– I am familiar with the provisions of that article. Is it not essential that some guarantee should be given that some of the vessels of the fleet designed to protect Australia will always remain in Australian waters?
– The honorable member might as well say that British interests in the East Indies and in China will be left unprotected.
– The right honorable gentleman must remember that it is our duty to see that Australia shall not be left open to a mistake on the part of the Admiralty in determining the point at which the fleet shall be concentrated. We ought to have some protection. I think that at least there should be some attempt to provide for Australia a defence such as we have had for many years past. I do not desire- to traverse ground which has already been covered. It has been urged that we should not oppose this agreement, because it is impossible to at once establish an Australian Navy. But no one has advocated the immediate establishment of an Australian Navy which would be equal to the squadron to be provided under this agreement. No one believes that such a thing is possible. Like many other honorable members -who support this agreement, I desire to see the establishment of an Australian Navy ; but instead of furthering that object we shall really defer any step in that direction for another ten years by adopting this agreement. At the end of that period we shall have to begin practically at the point at which we stand to-day.
– There is nothing to prevent us from starting now.
– We cannot eat our cake and have it too.
– It is a small biscuit that we are eating now.
– We cannot spend £200,000 a year on the Imperial Squadron, and cut down our local naval forces, and at the same time build up an Australian Navy. The £200,000 per annum which we are to contribute under this agreement would be exceedingly useful in the work of building up an Australian Navy.
– It would not go far enough.
– No ; but it would help us in the direction named.
– Meantime what would happen I
– We could not be in a worse position than we are in to-day. We have managed to pull along for a considerable number of years.
– With the present Auxiliary Squadron.
– Which we should not have had if we had not made the contribution of £106,000 a year under the old agreement.
– Order, the honorable member for Parramatta has already spoken.
– We are told that the present squadron is not of much service to us. I contend, however, that we might adhere to our desire to establish an Australian Navy and yet enter into a new arrangement which would make some better provision for us than does the agreement which we are now asked to sanction. I do not know when we are likely to have a better opportunity than the present to do something in the direction of naval defence by training naval reserves. We do not know that ten years hence we shall be in an equally satisfactory position. At the present time we have peace. So far as I am aware there are no war clouds looming over the horizon, but we cannot say that at the end of the period named in this agreement we may not be compelled, by the circumstances then existing, to grant an extension of it for a further period of ten years. In the meantime, we shall go on and on without advancing in the slightest degree the desire that we should defend ourselves. So far from that desire being unpatriotic, I contend that it is quite the other way. I believe that we should rely as far as possible upon ourselves for our defence. If the contribution which we are asked to make were merely designed to help the old country in building up a fleet for the Empire the position would be different. But this new agreement is to supersede all proposals for local defence. Instead of being treated as a country inhabited by people ready to defend themselves, Australia is simply asked to pay a contribution to an Imperial Navy. I know that the honorable member for New England holds strong views in regard to this question, and seems to approve of the growth of the Imperial sentiment. I should like to remind him that Australian development has already extended over a period of nearly 100 years, and that up to the last eighteen months all our actions have been in the direction of defending ourselves. All the influence of British statesmen has been employed in urging us to do so. This new Imperial fad is, at the most, only a couple of years old. It has not stood the test of experience ; and yet we are asked to throw up all that we have had up to the present time, and launch ourselves upon the sea of Imperialism without knowing exactly where we shall land. In these circumstances, I do not think that this proposal should be pressed to a division. We should allow the matter to stand over for a few months, in order that the peeple of Australia may be consulted. It has been suggested that the amendment ought to be treated by the Government as a motion of censure. I should be sorry to see the Government adopt that attitude, because, in voting for the amendment, I do not for one moment intend to imply that I desire to censure the Government.
– The honorable member is censuring their policy.
– For what am I here? Am I here to act simply as a recorder of the will of the Government? I at once challenge the honorable member for New England in regard to the matter. The honorable member, equally with myself, was returned to this House to give effect to the views which he holds as to what should be the future policy of Australia. He was not elected simply as a machine to record a vote in favour of any particular Government policy.
– The honorable member had better stick to us.
– The matter involved is too important to permit of honorable members voting with the Government, simply from a feeling of loyalty to them. This is not a question of loyalty to the Government.It is a question of loyalty to Australia. I contend that the best interests of the Empire demand that we shall oppose this agreement, and for these reasons I do not think that the Government are unwise in refusing to look upon the amendment as one of want of confidence. The question is so important that even if the Government did treat the amendment as a vote of want of confidence that fact would not affect my vote in the slightest degree. One of the worst features of this matter is the growth of the Imperialistic spirit here, and the increasing disinclination of Australia to trust to itself for defence.
– We have been doing that for a long while.
– The right honorable gentleman is perhaps the most Imperialistic of the statesmen of the Empire. I have the greatest respect for him, and I admire him very much. I admit that he has done a great deal for the Empire in the development of Western Australia, but I consider it as approaching almost a national calamity that he should be at the head of the Defence Department during this transition period. His opinions are more at variance with Australian sentiment generally than are those of any other honorable member. But, notwithstanding this new born Imperialisticsentiment, he will find thatin the course of a few years our people will have dropped down again to the old sane idea of governing themselves, and of paying for their own defence instead of merely farming out the work. The more we make that our aim, the better it will be both for us and the Empire.
– The honorable member thinks that if we get this defence for nothing it will be all right.
– No one has suggested that we should get it for nothing. As a general rule we cannot get for nothing anything good. We must pay for our defence whatever it costs.
– We have been getting our defence for nothing for the last fifty years.
– I make no objection to a contribution to the Imperial Navy. What I am objecting to. is the terms of the proposed agreement, and the new ideals which it is sought to set up.
– Why demand terms at all ?
– I do not demand terms.
– Then why find fault with them?
-I am not making any demand for terms. I would be much more content with the old agreement.
– The terms of the old agreement are stricter than these.
– Under the old agreement the contribution which was paid was a contribution by Australia for Australian defence. This is a contribution by Australia towards the Imperial Navy ; it has nothing whatever to do with Australia. There is no getting away from the fact that under the old agreement we had an Australian Squadron.
– But no Australian seamen.
– I must again call attention to the fact that the honorable member, for South Australia is being entirely driven from his line of argument by the frequent interjections which are being made. I ask that he may be allowed to pursue his speech without interruption.
– I do not intend to take up the time of the House any further. I have placed my opinions before the Chamber, although I have sometimes been drawn away from the course of my remarks to reply to interjections. In conclusion, I desire to say that I hope no feeling of loyalty to the Government, or fear of being accused of disloyalty to the Empire, will prevent honorable members who believe that the proposed arrangement is not in the interest of Australia from recording their votes for the amendment.
– The satisfaction that I have felt in being a member of this first Federal Parliament has been largely tempered by my sense of the grave responsibility which we incur in deciding the very big questions which have necessarily claimed our attention during its two sessions. Of those questions I do not not know of any upon which have been offered such a wide range and variety of opinions, delivered with absolute conscientiousness, as have been offered upon that which we have now to consider and to settle. The gravity of the position is so serious that we should approach it with very great consideration for the results which may accrue from our decision, because upon it depends not only the present defence of Australia, but, to a larger extent, its character and efficiency in years to come. I am glad, therefore, that the House has approached the matter in the best of temper. I am not going to quote from the very able works of Captain Mahan, or to recite many of the other celebrated arguments which have already been used. I know very little about 4.7 guns or naval tactics, although there has been produced during this debate such a remarkable mass of information regarding navies, and the way to manage them, that it seems to me that many honorable members are quite competent to take command of the Channel fleet at a moment’s notice. As I have said, however, I know little or nothing about ships or armaments, but I find myself placed in a position in which I am bound to give an opinion, and so help to mould the defence policy of this new Commonwealth. I am obliged, therefore, to consider the matter to the best of my ability, and to that end I have armed myself by reading and studying the very large mass of information which has been placed before us. I have come to a decision upon the matter, and in giving it to honorable members I shall probably repeat a good deal of what has already been said in this debate, but I hope I shall not do so unnecessarily. I intend to express my views as plainly and logically sis I can, because, as 1 have said, I feel that the responsibility forced upon us is a very grave one. The question is the defence of the Commonwealth, and in considering it we are obliged to consider also the present and future relationship of Australia to the great Empire of which it forms a part. I find myself, after very mature consideration, obliged to support the Bill. Indeed, in speaking upon the abortive Defence Bill which was introduced here last session, I outlined my-views as to what I thought necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth, and in doing so covered pretty well the broad features of the measure now before us. I said in that debate that I believed that our first, chief, and greatest defence was the naval defence, and that that naval defence could not be better obtained in the early years of our national existence than by some amplification and extension of the existing agreement with the mother country. I pointed out that in that way we should receive the protection of the British fleet in exchange for a contribution towards its aid and support. But while I feel obliged to support the measure introduced by the Prime Minister, there are some small points in connexion with it to which I object, and to which, in Committee, I shall probably refer in detail. But, as I approve of the broad outlines of the Bill, I do not consider myself justified now in ‘doing more than establishing the position which I take up in supporting “it. In considering the question of defence I asked myself - What dangers has Australia to face 1 It is only by ascertaining what dangers we shall have to meet that we can estimate the kind of force and the character of the defence necessary for the protection of our country from attack. Among the papers which have been placed before us is the memorandum by the
Colonial Defence Committee on “Defence Forces and Defences,” which was laid on the table of the Senate by command, and ordered to be printed, on the 19th September, 1901. The members of that Committee are, I suppose, as highly qualified to express an opinion upon the subject with which they deal, seeing the valuable information that they command, as any body of men ia the Empire, and they say -
The Admiralty have accepted the responsibility for protecting all British territory abroad against organized attack by sea. The distribution in time of peace of foreign navies is known, all the enemy’s war-ships would be watched in time of war, and no expedition directed against Australia could be organized without the knowledge of the Admiralty, whose dispositions may be assumed to preclude the possibility of any such expedition reaching its destination. It is recognised, however, that while His Majesty’s ships are engaged in destroying or disabling the enemy’s squadrons they may not always be in a position to prevent raids by hostile cruisers on places of such importance as to justify, in the opinion of the enemy, the very considerable risks which an attack on them would involve. The strength of such raids would vary in different parts of the world according to the strength of possibly hostile navies, the proximity of their bases and the troops that are or could easily be brought there in time of war. On account of its insular character and its geographical position, there is no British territory so little liable to aggression of this kind as that of Australasia, so long as British naval supremacy is maintained in Eastern waters. The nearest foreign defended ports which at present possess the qualifications of naval, bases, from which raiding cruisers could start are mora than 4,000 miles distant from the chief centres of population in .Australia. At such a distance from bases of refitting and depots of ammunition and stores, coast attacks, which involve risk of damage to the vessels and expenditure of ammunition, are obviously extremely hazardous operations. Moreover, as such attacks reveal the position of the raiding vessels to the British ships whose duty it is to bring them to action, they must’ necessarily be of a hasty and fugitive character. Their objects might be to destroy shipping or other accessible property of value, especially naval and mercantile marine resources, such as docks, repairing shops, store-houses, jetties, cranes, and coaling appliances, to seize coal or Stores which might be urgently required, to levy a money contribution, or even merely to create alarm and to obtain the prestige which might appear to attach to an operation of no real military importance whatever.
I think that in that rather lengthy paragraph the character of the danger we have to provide against is summarized. It has always seemed to me, as a layman, that from the beginning we have not attached sufficient importance to the question of naval defence. We do not recognise the cardinal feature, the simple fact, that we are an island continent, far removed from the nations of the world which might desire to work us harm ; and consequently, in providing for our defences, we have always set apart a disproportionate amount for the military as compared with naval defences. If we could afford to pay £1,000,000 for the defence of Australia, at least £600,000 or £700,000 should be devoted to our naval forces - the only possible defence that would be of any real service, unless we incurred a very much larger expenditure in making it absolutely or almost impossible for any foe to obtain a footing on this continent. Last year, when the Defence Estimates were under consideration, I took part in the movement for reducing them, and I have always strongly objected to the strictures passed upon the labour party on the supposition that they were responsible for what was done upon that occasion. Whether credit or blame is to be attached to those concerned, I desire to stand with the members of the labour party and others who ‘ insisted upon the Estimates being cut down, I took the view that it was not a question so much of what amount we were to spend upon defence, as of what we were spending without getting value for our money. I considered that we were wasting our money, and I contended that a larger portion of our expenditure should be devoted to naval defence. The annual cost of the British Navy has been practically doubled since our last agreement was entered into, and the enormous sum of £70,000,000 is now appropriated for the defences of Great Britain. We are told that the naval defences of the old country are now in a satisfactory condition. If we turn to the very able lecture delivered by the Governor of Victoria, we shall obtain some valuable information upon this point. I am sorry that exception has been taken to this lecture by some members of the Federal Parliament, because, whatever views we ma.17 hold with regard to the establishment of an Australian Navy we cannot but regard the lecture as a very valuable contribution to this question of defence, and as very lucidly setting out the present position of affairs. Speaking of the Royal Navy, Governor Clarke says -
I consider that oar present position is satisfactory. Both absolutely and relatively, to probable enemies, the British Navy has never been so strong, or so efficient in peace time as it how is ; but this result has been attained only in recent years, and by strenuous efforts. During the last century there were periods of dangerous weakness. We had ignored the plain lessons of our history ; we lived, upon the prestige of the past, and we courted disaster. There can be little doubt that our marked efforts since 1889 to build up the navy have Stimulated a competition which would not have become so acute if we had maintained a consistent PolicY. Our naval estimates have been doubled, and their present amount, more than £34,000,000, exclusive of India and the colonies, must throw strain upon our resources, especially as we have not yet adapted our military organization to our real requirements, and our normal army expenditure has mounted up to more than £27,500,000, not including the cost of over 70,000 regular troops serving in India!
I think that His Excellency is wrong, because I believe that the military estimates have mounted up to nearly £35,000,000. That does not, however, include the ordinary annual expenditure only, but extraordinary expenditure arising out of the African war. He continues : -
In view of these enormous figures, I think that you will agree that the mother country is fully alive to her vast responsibilities, and is making splendid efforts to maintain that supremacy at sea which is the surest guarantee of peace, and which in war is the only means of guarding the commerce upon which the Empire, and most especially Australia, absolutely depend. On two recent occasions, at the time of the Fashoda incident, and during the critical period of the South African campaign, the navy stood directly and effectually between ohe nation and a great war.
I have referred to the case of the army and navy of Great Britain, in order to show that there is justification for the view I hold regarding the great disproportion between the amounts spent upon our military and naval defences respectively. The £70,000,000 which Great Britain devotes to her defence forces is fairly divided between the two arms of the service. Both arms are required for the protection of the Empire, because, rightly or wrongly, Mr. Brodrick’s idea is that we should have 120,000 troops in Great Britain ready to be placed upon the continent as soon as possible. Yet, notwithstanding that design, the expenditure upon the navy is greater than that upon the army. When we entered into the Federation our defence expenditure was rapidly reaching £1,000,000, and of that sum not £200,000 was devoted to naval defence. Now, supposing that the Defence Estimates were cut down to £850,000, not one-third of that amount would be spent in the naval defence of the Commonwealth. I contend that this shows great want of judgment and foresight, because th e most efficient defence for Australia must be furnished by the navy. In England the subject of expenditure upon defences has been referred to a Committee on Army and Navy Defence. It may be assumed that the Committee are not likely to take any exception to the enormous expenditure which has been incurred in connexion with the navy, but that when they deal with the army expenditure, they will reduce the total by many millions. It seems to me that the navy -is to Great Britain largely a matter of life and death and must be kept up. We may regret that very heavy expenditure is necessitated by the increased attention devoted by foreign powers to their navies ; but so long as other countries think it necessary to devote vast sums of money to the provision of ships and armaments, so long must England increase the expenditure upon her navy, upon which her integrity and her safety so much depend. The British Navy holds the Empire together. I am not altogether opposed to the views expressed by some honorable members with regard to our being independent of the. Empire. If we were independent of the Empire with regard to naval and other matters, it would not make the slightest difference to my loyalty. If we were not under the Crown in any way whatever, it would make no difference to me. I should still desire to have the protection of the British fleet. However great this country may grow, and I believe that it will. become very great and very wealthy, I hope that we shall always act in co-operation with the motherland, and that our fleet will co-operate with’ hers in the be3t interests of the world. It seems to me that there is no serious danger to Australia until the British Navy is defeated. Raiding vessels must defeat or elude the British ships operating near their ports of departure, and they must also defeat or elude the vessels engaged in the defence of the Commonwealth, before we shall be called upon to ‘employ those military forces upon which, I believe, we have mis-spent vast sums of money. It is not always realized that an enemy cannot come here except by sea, and unless we attach more importance to the fact that we have the sea all round us, we shall never appreciate the necessity of spending more money upon our navy than upon our land defences. In the United States they have been content for many years with a very small army, but latterly they have felt the necessity of a well-equipped and up-to-date navy. In the late war with Spain it was conclusively demonstrated that a nation with an efficient navy like that of the United States could successfully oppose an enemy that had a much larger army, because it could cut that army off from its base of supplies. The honorable member for Robertson seems to be under the impression that the United States Navy, in the character of its ships and range of armaments, was only equal to the Spanish Navy at the time of the late war. I am not an expert in these matters, but all my reading has led me to the conclusion that the United States Navy was very different in character from that of Spain. I have always understood that the. United States Navy was very much superior, and that it was thus able to bring the war to an early and successful conclusion. As a further proof of the necessity of paying more attention to our naval defences, let me quote an extract from the United Service Gazette of 27th July, 1901, as follows : -
We would go further, and say that the fostering of the idea in a colonial mind that their island continent can he protected by any other means than the navy is a positive danger, for it diverts consideration from the principles which must for ever govern the defence of our Empire. The day 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.
All the authorities give us the same information, and tell us that we must rely for the defence of Australia upon the navy. This being so, we are bound to consider what we can do in the direction of providing for the naval defence of the Commonwealth. As the Prime Minister said, there are three courses open to us. One is to continue the present trivial expenditure upon naval defences, and to rely upon Great Britain to protect us, as she assuredly would do ; the second is to enter upon some readjustment of our relations with the mother country for the purpose of defence, such’ as the scheme proposed by the Bill ; and the third and only other alternative open to us is, by such sacrifices and endeavours as we are capable of, to create a navy of our own. The first of these propositions - that we should do nothing, but leave it to the mother country to defend us - has only to be mentioned to be utterly scouted as an action that would be grossly dishonorable to us.
I am pleased to observe that in criticising this Bill not one honorable member has contended that we should leave the task of providing for our defence entirely to the mother country, without taking any step to share the cost of that responsibility, or to arrange that more of that cost should fall upon our shoulders year by year until we were bearing our proper proportion. If we eliminate that consideration - which some people outside of this House have been so base as to advocate - we are confronted with only two alternatives. We must either enter into some such arrangement as the one under discussion, or undertake the creation of an Australian Navy. For my own part I think that we had better adopt the proposal which is now before us. Had its adoption involved the payment of a very much larger subsidy I should have supported it with equal readiness. But I am quite content to adopt it in its present form, seeing that it has obtained the sanction of responsible Ministers in the old country, and has been fought out by the various dependencies under the Crown. In the first place that agreement seems to me to meet all existing requirements for our naval defence. Secondly, it is an excellent business arrangement for us. I know that that is rather a low sort of estimate to make in a matter of this kind, but it should always be recollected that we have to develop our territory in the interests of the Empire. Consequently, in the earlier stages of our history we may, with some satisfaction, contemplate the fact that the new agreement is a good business arrangement from our stand-point. Thirdly, it constitutes a demonstration of our loyalty to the Empire, and of our faith in the Imperial Navy. Though the Empire itself may not require any such demonstration, the world at large will not be any the worse for realizing the faith which we have in the great central heart, and appreciating that we are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with the mother country in any complication in which she may find herself. Further, the agreement is to be approved because it stimulates and assists our aspirations to ultimately become a sea power. We are the descendants of a race which has had its home upon the sea. The brine is in our blood. Our geographical position renders it imperative that our defence shall be a maritime one. I hold that we are ultimately bound to become a great naval power in the Pacific, and consequently I hail with satisfaction a measure of this kind; which must necessarily stimulate and assist our aspirations in that direction. Further, the Bill will practically create the men necessary to establish a navy prior to our having to obtain the ships. If we commenced to establish a navy of our own - and were forced by an emergency to complete the task within two years - we should have the ships but no sailors with which to man them. We should thus occupy a very much worse position than that of having to pay others to defend us, in that having purchased the ships we should still have to pay others toman them. The agreement is also satisfactory to me, in that it provides that an adequate number of commissions shall be given to the youths of the Commonwealth, so that they may become - if qualified by education and examination - officers in the Royal Navy. I look ultimately to these youths to fill the positions of officers in an Australian Navy. Finally, the Bill is to be approved, because it carries out the idea of reserves by which a war equipment is provided in the case of four ships at least at no greater cost than is incurred in time of peace. When referring to this question last year, I gave my adhesion to a proposal that the best and most economical system of naval defence would be to provide for a certain number of ships, half of which should be in commission, and the other half lying by upon a peace footing, ready to be made use of in time of war. We could thus secure the training either of the Naval Reserve men or of theVolunteer Naval brigades, who could be practically drilled on these ships for three or four days, or even a fortnight at a stretch. Then, when these men were called upon to serve under the conditions obtaining in naval warfare, they would be familiar with their work. We should thus gain the advantage of having six or eight ships for the expense involved in the maintenance of three or four, plus the capital cost of the ships, and the small payment which we should have to make to volunteers or reserve men. This question - as has been well pointed out by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor - is not a party one. I am thankful that it is not. Of course the Government must take the responsibility for the measure. I take it for granted that they would not have submitted the Bill if they had not thought it was absolutely necessary to do so. But at any rate honorable members on this side of the House will not regard it in any way as a party measure. That it is not a party question is clearly evidenced by the announcement by the leader of the Opposition, that he intends to support the agreement. I only regret that, in his very eloquent speech upon this Bill, the right honorable gentleman chose to criticise it rather adversely, when I feel sure that had he occupied the same position as the Prime Minister, he would have introduced and supported the measure. I do not see how he could have escaped from that position. Had he attended the Imperial Conference, realizing as he does the necessity which exists for providing us with a naval defence, he must have submitted a similar Bill to this House. However, he intends to vote for it knowing well that it is the only system of defence which we can at present adopt. But in criticising it he fell into one pitfall. He pointed out that whilst the Prime Minister was speaking, the honorable member for Robertson had interjected with the very pertinent question - “Is the Imperial Squadron to be retained?” He declared that the new agreement was a very bad one, because it provided that in the future we should obtain the services of only one squadron for which we should have to pay, whereas under the old agreement we had the services of two squadrons, one of which cost us nothing. Upon the face of such a statement, it would appear that the old country was getting considerably the better of the bargain, but when we look into the matter we shall find that such is not the case. In this connexion, I am sorry that the Government did not present the House with fuller details. In order to become fully seized of those details I had no option but to consult the press and to place in parallel columns the difference between the existing agreement with Great Britain, the proposals made by the Minister for Defence, embracing those submitted to him by Admiral Sir Lewis Beaumont, the proposals of the Admiralty, and, finally, those contained in this Bill. The mistake which the leader of the Opposition made was in assuming that under the old agreement we paid for only one squadron and received the services of two. We were supposed to pay for the maintenance of the Auxiliary Squadron, although we did not - our contribution falling short by some £30,000 or £40,000. The other squadron, I repeat, cost us nothing. But under the new agreement we shall get a fleet which in every respect is about three times as powerful and efficient as are the two existing squadrons combined, and we shall obtain it for half the amount that is representedby interest on its capital cost and maintenance, the total expenditure in this connexion being £480,000, of which the Commonwealth and New Zealand are called upon to pay only £240,000. When we review the position carefully I think we shall be forced to the conclusion that the new arrangement not only provides us with a more efficient scheme of defence, but does so at a much lower proportionatecost than does the present agreement. What are the objections to the proposals of. the Government ? One objection which has been generally raised is that Canada has not seen fit to enter into a similar agreement.Ifeel thoroughly assured, however, that Canada will ultimately do so. The intense feeling of patriotism in the Dominion is even stronger than it is in Australia. When it becomes known that the Commonwealth has adopted this agreement, I feel sure that we shall find a Government in Canada which is sufficiently alive to the interests of that country to join in a similar arrangement.
– Is this twopennyhalfpenny subsidy necessary to evidence our loyalty?
– I have defended its payment upon the ground that it constitutes an admirable business arrangement from our stand-point. But I can tell the honorable member that to certain nations - notably the German - this demonstration of our unity will have a very marked effect indeed. In this connexion I may mention that a recent writer has summarized various articles which have appeared in the German press. In that summary he sets forth the reasons which prompted the publication of these articles, and quotes some of them, for the purpose of showing how intense in Germany is the feeling of jealousy against England. This writer says -
One good shove find this ill-joined mosaic of the British Empire will fall to pieces.
That is the feeling which actuates the people of Germany. It is not the feeling which is entertained by the masses or the semi-ignorant alone. It is mostly disseminated by the university professors. A demonstration of our unity - not of our loyalty, because that has been shown in other ways - in entering into this co-operative naval defence agreement, will have a marked effect upon some of the nations which we must recognise as determined opponents of Great Britain. Apart from the objection as to the Imperial aspect of the agreement, the chief objection which has been used against it is that it contains the provisions to be found in Article 2, to which such frequent references have been made. That article provides that -
The base of this force shall be the ports of Australia and New Zealand -
Notwithstanding what the honorable member who immediately preceded me has said, that provision shows that the fleet is to be an Australian one. The article continues - and their sphere of operation shall be the waters of the Australia, China and East Indies stations as defined in the attached schedules.
It is objected that this means that the squadron is not designed for the defence of Australia ; that it will be only a portion of the British Navy, and will not be available for the defence of Australia when Australia will perhaps be most in need of it. I should like to point out that if the Commonwealth established a navy of its own, and the necessity arose for concentrating British ships in the China Sea, in order to resist the debarkation of troops for the invasion of India, or any other part of the British dominions, no power in any Legislature in Australia could arrest the desire or theclamour of the people of Australia that our navy should take part in those operations. If that would be the case, when we had a navy of our own, why should we object to the adoption of a similar course in the case of the navy which the mother country will assist us to obtain ?
– Australian clamour will be of no avail under this agreement.
– Australian feeling will always be considered in a sympathetic way. The honorable member who doubts the desire of the mother country to give us the fullest and most complete defence under this agreement surely does not know the history of the motherland ?
– I only doubt the infallibility of the Admiralty.
– Apart from the position of England itself, should we not consider the naval alliance’ which has been made between Japan and Great Britain to protect the interests of both nations ? If 6 i 2
England were about to resist the concentra-tion of some Russian Squadron in the far North East, would not the Japanese Navy quit the Sea of Japan and join the British fleet, leaving Japan, perhaps, defenceless? Would it not do so if it were assured, as it would be, that it was necessary for the salvation of Japan to do so? Whether that expedition was aimed at; Japan or India, or any” British possession, [ hold that the Japanese Navy would have no hesitation in leaving the Japanese coast undefended, for the moment, in order to join in these operations, which would probably afford the best means of avoiding the aggression upon them or some British possession. Another argument which has been used is that under this agreement we propose to pay people to do our fighting for us. That seems to me to be the flimsiest of all the contentions which have been advanced. We are not proposing to pay a foreign nation to do this work ; we are proposing to pay our own people. We are not even proposing to pay only Englishmen to defend Australia. Australians will be employed on this fleet, and we shall pay them. We are no more proposing to pay other people to fight for us than the noncombatants of England are in paying other people to fight for them by supporting the British army. The position would be different if we were to say to some foreign nation, as was said during the decay of the Roman Empire - “Come here and defend us ; we are feeble and know not the art of war.” But because we propose to make a business arrangement with Great Britain - because she has the money and the means to build the ships, and the skilled men to officer them - to provide us with a fleet to probably tide over a transition stage of our development, it is urged that we are proposing to pay others to fight’ our battles. That is a most absurd argument. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo who did not employ any such fallacious contention, as well as the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr, Glynn, are the only honorable members who have put forward anything like sub*stantial reasons against the passing of this Bill. But even those reasons do not seem to me to weigh against the preponderance of strong arguments in favour of the acceptance of the measure. The honorable and learned .member for Bendigo said that the question of naval defence had been before Australia ever since the passing of the Colonial
Naval Defence Act of 1865, and that it was always contemplated that the colonies individually, and subsequently the Federation, should undertake the work. I contend that this measure is no abnegation of that arrangement. We are going to arrange for our own defence. We are going to enter into this agreement so that we shall have an adequate defence. In regard to all these matters, we have passed through a variety of development. We have had one development in which the mother country defended us by sending out, with every ship-load of convicts, a certain number of soldiers to protect us from foreign aggression. When the settlers came to Australia we had British soldiers stationed in barracks and forts to defend us. Subsequently we combined our volunteer regiments with the British forces stationed here. Later on, the Home Government, for reasons which were good at the time, and which are still sound, said to us - “ You should undertake your own defence ; you should have citizen soldiers of your own.” When the British troops were withdrawn the British ships remained, and finally it was said that we should contribute something towards the cost of an auxiliary squadron. We did so. Now we are taking another step by providing for an Australian Squadron as an auxiliary of the British Navy. I take it that in this development, going on step by step, we shall eventually provide an Australian Navy which will be of our own creation, paid for by Australia, and working in co-operation with the British Navy. But the honorable and learned member for Bendigo says we have abandoned a duty which stands in the very forefront of the Constitution. How can it be said that we are doing so when we are adopting the very best means at our disposal to provide for the adequate defence of the Common wealth t We certainly should abandon our duty if we were to accept an inefficient protection for the Commonwealth. When we are adopting the very best means known to us to secure an adequate defence, and to secure it at a cost so ridiculously low, that the opponents of the agreement taunt us with proposing to give a twopenny-halfpenny contribution to the cost of the British Navy, I say that we are fulfilling to the utmost letter of the law what is demanded of us by the Constitution in regard to the naval defence of Australia. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo inquires also whether we are going to abolish the fine naval brigades that we have formed. I believe that they are a very fine and admirable body of men, capable of doing good work anywhere. But if a small circumstance stands in the way of a great reform, that small circumstance must go. At the most we can only say that the members of these naval brigades have been foot soldiers masquerading in sailors’ clothes. They have had no experience in warships. Many, of them are sailors and capable men, but they have had no efficient training on board ships of war. Under this arrangement, instead of being disbanded, they may be drafted into the naval reserves. They may be transferred from one service to another, but they will remain with us as Australian men-of-warsmen in the new fleet. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo asked what is to become of the new power in the Pacific. I do not yield to any honorable member in the warmth and liveliness of my. imagination as to what position these States are ultimately to occupy. I believe that we are going to be the greatest Power in the Pacific; but, according to an old Scotch proverb, you must “ creep before ye gang.” We do not want to launch into spread-eagleism about the dominant power of the Pacific before we have scarcely come out of the long clothes of the babyhood of our national life. It seems to me that those who oppose this Bill have paid no regard to the fact that the reserves will largely help us in this connexion. Several honorable members say and say correctly, that the best way in which to help the mother country is to contribute men, not money. But although the contribution proposed to be made under this agreement will take the form of money, it is intended for the creation of naval men. In the naval reserve, and in some of the ships of the squadron, we shall have Australian men at work ; and it is designed that out of this system we shall develop a body of Australian men who will be. able to man Australian ships. AVith reference to the question of reserves, I should like to quote from an article in a recent English publication, dealing with the difficulty of securing men. I think’ that the only weak point in this magnificent engine Of defence, the British Navy, is” its inability to obtain the men necessary for manning it in time of war. Matters go along very smoothly, while everything is on a peace footing; but in time of war, when many of the men of the navy might be lost, there is no adequate means of replacing those losses. This difficulty in regard to our naval reserves is so serious that the Admiralty in June of last year referred the question to a committee for report. The report of the committee forms very instructive reading for us, because it deals with the various ways in which reserves might be created so as to assist the navy. The committee referred particularly to the Royal Naval Reserves. The article to which I have referred points out that -
Among the recommendations with regard to Royal Reserve Executive Officers are an increase in their numbers, the establishment of a new rank of commander for officers who have a certain seniority in the reserve, and are in command of the larger classes of mercantile steam-ships, who could Lie employed in war under the same conditions as the former Staff Commanders Royal Navy, and an improvement in the rules for promotion.
They desire under this system of naval reserves to obtain not only the sailors, but the officers required for manning these ships. The article continues -
The institution of a Royal Naval Reserve engineer warrant rank, and the formation of a reserve of 1,500 engine-room artificers are also recommended.
The committee reported -
That they cannot but think that a body of volunteers would be likely to prove a most valuable auxiliary branch to the personnel of the navy in time of war, and they propose that the times of services for the new forces should be as set forth.
Finally, the committee reporting on the question of Colonial Naval Reserves, said -
That they desire to see the colonies in a position to give the navy, in time of war, assistance similar to that which they have already given to the army, and should the Colonial Naval Reserves in course of time grow to large numbers, it might become possible for a proportion of the complement of every ship cm a foreign station to consist at all times of colonial reserve men.
Thus, if these ideas were carried out, our growing Australian naval men could secure adequate training in the British Navy. In that way we should gradually obtain a body of men who would be equal to the best in the world for the purpose of naval defence. I have remarked, in considering the details of the agreement covered by the Bill, that a certain number of men are to be provided for stokers ; but I regret that no provision is made for obtaining the services, as reservists or volunteers, of artificers, engineers, and mechanics. 1 do not think that there is any place in the world where such a large body of skilled mechanics could be obtained who would be willing to take part either in a voluntary movement for manning naval reserve ships, or to enrol in a naval reserve. It has become the vogue to speak of the man-of-war’s man as the handy man, and handy men could be recruited in Australia more easily than in any other part of the world. Another argument which has been used against the Bill is that, if we agree to the proposals it contains, we shall, within ten years, spend £2,000,000 of money, and have nothing to show for the expenditure. This system of capitalizing an annual expenditure to make it tell against a proposal or institution might be pursued in various directions. We might, for instance, capitalize the annual expenditure upon this Parliament, and after showing that in twenty years an immense amount of money will have been spent, ask what there will be to show for the expenditure. I will, however, put the argument in another way. If we provide a navy of our own, we should probably have spent by the end of ten years at least £4,000,000. Should we then have ships of the value of £2,000,000 to show for the expenditure? I think that £4,000,000 is the smallest sum for which we could provide a navy of our own, and, unless honorable members can show that at the end of ten years our vessels would be worth £2,000,000, they cannot prove that Australia would be any better off under their suggested arrangement than under that now proposed. In my opinion, all we should have would be” about £2,000,000 worth of experience. But the chief feature of the proposed arrangement is that it will, between now and the period when we can provide for a navy of our own, train men for naval warfare, and in this way create an experienced force which will make it all the easier for us to man our ships when we consider that the time has come to build them. I pass over some other .small objections which have been advanced, and come to what I consider the only one of importance, lt has been voiced in different ways, and with different ability by various honorable members, but by no one so ably as by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn. It is undoubtedly felt in many quarters, and the suggestion affects the minds of those who support the Bill as well as of those who are opposed to it, that there is a suspicion attaching to this scheme of its being the commencement of the development of a political ideal which goes in the direction of Imperialism. It is unfortunate that that should be so. If I thought that the scheme embodied a permanent and perpetual policy of naval defence, and that under it we should be committed to pay a naval tribute to a modern Athens for all eternity, I should not be found supporting it. But, whatever may be the intention of those who had the drawing up of the agreement, I do not think that the wording of it commits us to any such policy. Unfortunately the proposal brought forward at the Colonial Conference, and many of the reasons and statements uttered by the brilliant, able, and talented statesman who presided over it, have instilled into many minds the belief that he, at any rate, favours some scheme for bringing the whole of the dependencies of the Empire into an Imperial Federation, under which we should be entangled in all the complications which might arise hereafter through the wars in which the mother-country might become engaged. It is unfortunate that this suspicion should attach to the scheme. It was, ho wever, at one time proposed that we should create in Australia array reserves which would be available for the service of the old country in time of war, although Australians might have no sympathy whatever with that war. To some extent, therefore, there is a justification for the feeling that the adoption of a scheme of this’ kind might have the effect of committing the dependencies of the Empire to some Imperialistic ideal. But, on the face of it, it is a plain businesslike arrangement, and I cannot see that there is any possibility of its adoption committing the Commonwealth to the acceptance of an Imperialistic policy in the future. Under the agreement it will be open for us, or for any other Parliament, to give two years’ notice of a desire to terminate the arrangement, and to terminate it at the expiration of that time. If at the end of the period we are ready to provide a navy of our own, in God’s name, let us do so ; but, seeing that we cannot at the present time provide a navy that will be of use to us, let us agree to this arrangement, which will provide us with an adequate defence, and will show that in this and other matters we feel that the interests of Australia and the mother country are one. To my mind, the idea of a Federation of all the British communities is a magnificent dream, impossible of realization. I think that no proposal has yet been suggested which would not lead us into some dangerous experiment. I hope that we shall never agree to anything of the kind. To my mind, the colonies have cost the mother country nothing. The great philosopher, Franklin, in giving evidence before the House of Commons, pointed out to the members of that distinguished body that the thirteen revolted American colonies had cost Great Britain nothing to govern but a little pen, ink, and paper, and could be led by a thread. Similarly, I say that the cost of these States to the mother country has been a mere nothing. There is, therefore, no reason why we should be drawn into an Imperialistic scheme by reason of the statement that we have been costly to the mother country.- But .the advantages of the proposed arrangement, both to the mother country and to Australia, are very great. If Great Britain had not these possessions she would still require a great navy. We are thankful for the protection of her ships, but we know that they are not maintained on our account alone. Therefore, I say that I hope that we shall not be drawn into any Imperialistic scheme, or agree to any proposal for Imperial federation, because it seems to me that such ideals are full of danger. The main consideration in dealing with this agreement appears to turn upon the probable development of the political relations between these dependencies and the mother country. There was a time when the value of dependencies to a parent State was summed up by philosophers and politicians under five or six different heads. They were useful to the mother country to pay tribute during times of peace, to provide military aid in times of war, for the wealth which they contributed from their territorial and mineral resources, as a market for the manufactures of the parent State, as a source of maritime strength by reason of exclusive commerce, and as a relief to the parent State in providing a place for the reception of its redundant or criminal population. But as the people of Great Britain have got rid of one of these ideas after another, the real value of the dependencies of that country has increased. As fast as she has taken off one fetter and another, their importance has grown. When the restrictions imposed by navigation laws were removed, the trade and commerce between these States and the motherland became greater ; when the laws restricting commerce were repealed, our commerce increased ; and when the transportation of felons was stopped, our population began to grow. Each removal of a restriction made these dependencies still more valuable than they were before; and now that they have al I been taken away, I think that the value of this country to the mother land is greater than it ever was before - -certainly much greater than it would have been under any restrictive policy. Furthermore, if when the States entered into federation they had constituted themselves a separate nation, under a President elected by their own people, instead of into a Commonwealth under the Crown of Great Britain, the value of Australia to Great Britain would have remained the same, and the loyalty of our people to those of the British race would have been unaffected. The feeling which would prompt us now in times of danger and distress to fly at once with all the means at our disposal to the help of Great Britain would still have remained. It is sometimes held that loyalty should adopt some other form of expression than a mere belief in the race from which one has sprung. For my part, loyalty is not a matter of singing God Save the King, or Auld Lang Syne, or Rule Britannia. It is a pride and glory in, and a sincere affection for, the people of the British race. The people
Who speak the tongue
That Shakspeare spake ; the faith and morals hold
Which Milton held.
I sometimes feel it difficult to find a difference between my feelings towards the descendants of the people of the thirteen revolted American colonies and the people of Great Britain, who might be the descendants of Lord Howe, Cornwallis, or Burgoyne. I think that the brightest and highest hope of humanity will come from the combination and co-operation of the great English-speaking races, and that that co-operation should take the form of a combination of their navies for the preservation of the peace and goodwill of the whole world.
– I do not intend to detain the House very long, though, in my opinion, the expenditure of the time which has been occupied in debating this question has been fully justified by its magnitude and importance. So many interests and so many important considerations are involved, apart from the monetary payment of £200,000, that it deserves the * fullest discussion by honorable members. I may say at once that it is my intention to vote for the second reading of the Bill. I recognise that the subject with which it deals affords opportunities for excursions into a very wide area. of information and inquiry, but I feel that if I confine myself entirely to what I regard as the ordinary business aspects of the case, I shall be acting more in accordance with my usual habit and custom, and be better able to bring my experience and knowledge to bear upon it. An alternative which has been put before us is the postponement of the consideration of the subject proposed by the honorable member for Bland. If I thought that that proposal was actuated by a distinct desire to ascertain the will, purposes, and intentions of the people of the Commonwealth on this subject, I would say that the Suggestion possesses great merits. I say that without any feeling of disrespect for the honorable member, for whom I have the greatest regard ; but we must recognise that the real object of the amendment is to defeat the measure. The labour party is thoroughly well organized, but its decisions are arrived at outside of the House. The honorable members belonging to it come here with a full knowledge of what they want, and in this respect they set an example which might well be followed by other honorable members. If we do not accept the proposed agreement another alternative will be to continue that at present in force. I understand that would be attended with disadvantage to the Commonwealth, because it is recognised that the vessels now provided are inadequate and out-of-date. It has been suggested that we . should endeavour to secure better terms than those now proposed, but I understand that we can scarcely do that at this stage. At the same time I desire to direct attention to one or two respects in which I think the agreement might have been made much more practicable and serviceable from the point of view of the Commonwealth. The proposal for the establishment of an Australian Navy seems to me to be utterly impracticable at this stage, and the honorable and learned member for Corinella put the matter very plainly and very ably in the excellent address with which he favoured us this afternoon. He pointed out that our duty lies in making our harbor defences effective before we undertake to establish a navy of our own. It is absolutely out of the question for us, in the present state of our finances, to contemplate the unlimited expenditure that would be necessary to provide a navy that would be capable of carrying on aggressive operations against any force that might be brought against us. I really cannot understand how any one can entertain the idea of creating an Australian Navy without utterly disregarding straightforward business principles. It has been pointed out that, under the proposed new agreement, we shall have associated with the Australian Squadron the Imperial Squadrons upon the China and East Indian stations. In addition to that, we shall have our ally, Japan, who in case of danger would be very ready to give us assistance and support. In view of these advantages it would be unwise for us to set on one side the proposed agreement. Our position is entirely different from that occupied by Canada, or the South African colonies. We have a coast line of enormous extent, which is open to attack at almost any point, and it is impossible to conceive that our defence would be adequately provided for, unless we had such a combination of forces as that which is provided for under the agreement. We could not for many years provide an efficient squadron of our own. I cannot understand the provision in the agreement that special rates shall be paid to the men who are to be enrolled in Australia. It seems to me that it is most objectionable to make invidious distinctions as to pay between men who are fighting upon common ground, and doing equal work, and that such a provision is likely to lead to trouble in time of war. No mention is made in the agreement of any arrangement for taking over the services of the officers of the local naval forces. For many years these officers have rendered valuable service in building up our navy, which it is now proposed to abandon, and I think some provision should have been made for their transfer to the new squadron, as well as for utilizing the services of our splendid Naval Brigade. The reservists proposed to be enrolled should not be absolutely at the beck and call of the Admiralty. We should supply the ships with mento the f ul- lest extent necessary, but the men on our own shores should be available for coastal defence purposes, if necessary. In my judgment, no naval defence scheme will be permanently satisfactory to Australia which does not provide for coastal and harbor defence, and I think that the Government will be lacking in their duty if, during the period of ten years covered by the proposed agreement, they “do not make some effort to establish a more complete and efficient system. I am Australian-born, and I hope that my sons will live’ in Australia, as I have done, and die here, as I expect to do. I trust, moreover, that they will prove prolific, and that for generations to come there will be plenty of my descendants to entertain the feelings and sentiments which I have with regard to Australia. I hope, also, that our union with the motherland and with the other parts of the Empire will be strengthened year by year. My feeling is that we have everything to gain by remaining in the closest union with Great Britain, and everything to lose by taking such independent action as has been advocated hy some honorable members during this debate. We should show a united front to the world, and afford an object lesson of unity to the nations. By unanimity on this subject we should have shown that we were as solid upon the question of giving Great Britain our assistance in connexion with the navy as we were two years ago in helping to defend all that was right and true, and to uphold the interests of the country to which we belong. Some reference has been made to the position of Canada. I recently had an opportunity of passing through that country and of holding conversations with men occupying prominent public positions there. The feeling was that it was a stain upon Canada that she did not contribute anything towards the naval defence of the Empire. I have no knowledge of the developments which have taken place since then, except that which has been gained from conversations with one or two Canadian representatives. They confirmed what has been stated in this Chamber today; that there is a growing feeling in the Dominion that that country should enter into a similar agreement to this, and contribute towards the maintenance of the’ Imperial Navy. Reference has been made to the causes which have led up to the present position in Canada. We know that in the Dominion there is a party which occupies very much the same position as a certain party which exists in this House, and which I have previously described as being ably led and organized. The members of that party in Canada have not the blood of Britishers in their veins. They are undoubtedly influencing the present situation in Canada, but their influence is on the wane, and the British race there will ultimately prevail as it has done in every part of the world, because its principles are founded upon justice and freedom, and a determination to do what is right in the sight of God and of man. We have heard a great deal during the course of this debate upon the subject of economy. Speaking for my own electorate and for other parts of this State of which I claim to have some knowledge, I say that the Federal Parliament has yet; to secure the confidence of the electors in regard to its expenditure. They are not yet possessed of sufficient know- ledge of the intentions of this Parliament to warrant them in sanctioning the creation of a large spending department such as would be involved in the establishment of an Australian Navy. I am here to urge economy and the reduction of expenditure in every possible direction. I am here as a loyal subject of the British Crown. I am not here as a separatist–
– Are there any in the House?
– Yes. We have had it stated so to-night.
– Surely the honorable member does not think there is a single man in the House who would dream of separation 1
– I am -not a separatist in any sense of the term ; and it is because I believe that the agreement makes in the direction of the unity of the Empire and for present economy that I support the Bill.
– I do not propose to occupy much time in discussing this measure, because its principles have been pretty well thrashed out. The honorable member for South Sydney made some reference to the character of the speeches which have been delivered during the’ course of the debate upon it. Honorable members have been congratulating themselves upon the loyal tone that has been evidenced throughout, and I regret exceedingly that a somewhat discordant note was introduced into the discussion to-night by the honorable member for Kennedy. When the honorable member declares that he owes loyalty to no country but Australia, and that after he has devoted to Australia the loyalty due to it, the residue will be given to the Empire, he is not doing justice to himself, his constituency, or the Crown to which he has sworn allegiance.
– He was speaking only for himself.
– But when remarks of that kind are made here, it is desirable that they should be reprobated by others who hear them, lest an erroneous impression should get abroad. The honorable member for Kennedy congratulated himself that he could speak upon this question in a manner that he could not adopt two years ago when the South African war was in progress. If he imagines that the temper of the people of this continent has undergone a change during the past two years, I should like to inform him that he is making a very grave error indeed. If the occasion arose tomorrow for a demonstration of loyalty, he would find that that feeling was as pronounced as ever, and that such a flame would sweep throughout this country as would scorch him, and those who think with him, out of political existence. I regret that the honorable member for Bland submitted his amendment in the manner that he did. To my mind he adopted a most unusual course. Coming as it did from the leader of a strong party, a- certain significance must be attached to it, although the members of that party have deprecated any significance being attached to it except that it evidenced disapproval of this Bill. Surely they have had sufficient political experience to understand that no Government with any respect for itself could retain office for a moment after an amendment of that character had been carried against it. Further, no majority could support a Government which retained office in the face of a defeat of that kind. It is satisfactory to know from the speech of the Prime Minister that no undue pressure was brought to bear to induce him to submit this agreement to Parliament. An attempt has been made to show that this is a matter which chiefly concerns Britain. I think it concerns Great Britain very little, unless it be from a sentimental stand-point. It concerns ourselves mainly, and it is a matter of the deepest moment to us - much deeper than many appear to suppose.
– It is of greater concern to the electors who Sent us here, and who have not been consulted.
– If the amendment of the honorable member for Bland were carried, and a dissolution took place, I believe that the electors would express their opinions in a way that would not be forgotten for generations to come. This agreement has been before the country for some time, and with the exception of articles- in one public organ there has not been a dissentient voice raised against its adoption.
– -The honorable member speaks of Victoria only.
– I speak of the newspapers which I chiefly read j but I have not heard of any adverse expression of opinion from the public journals in the other States. It is true that this agreement contains certain differences from the agreement of 1887, some of which are in our favour, whilst others will operate to our disadvantage. The proposed agreement is in our favour, as against the. existing one, in that we are to have larger ships and more of them. Not only is their construction to be up-to-date, but they are to be kept up-to-date during the currency of the agreement. It is also in our favour in that it affords us a chance to train a large number of our men for naval service. 1° do not think we can over estimate the advantages of a maritime training to the youth of Australia. I behove that such a training would impart to our own people, that vigour, energy, and robustness of character, which to a certain extent they lack. They are in a country which has been extremely favoured by Providence, and very few of them have had to lead lives of hardship. Naval training would introduce into our national life a new characteristic which is badly needed, and which would make for our benefit for all time. Again, we are favoured under the new agreement, in that we shall not only have the advantage of a larger fleet, but that if necessary the squadrons in other waters will come to our assistance. That is a very important feature. Certainly, we have to contribute an additional £94,000, but I am very glad to note that not a single honorable member has quibbled for a moment over this extra payment. On the contrary, a large number protested against the subsidy on the ground that it is too small. I am aware that objections have been urged that under the new agreement we shall exercise no local control oyer the squadron, that its sphere of operations has been extended, and that it does not constitute an Australian Navy. When, however, we consider that New Zealand has practically adopted this scheme - although it has not yet been formally ratified by both Houses of Parliament - that Cape Colony, Natal, Newfoundland, and in fact all the autonomous States of the Empire, with the exception of Canada, have adopted it, we should be acting very unworthily if we did not accept it in the spirit in which it has been offered to us by the mother country. We all know the conditions which at present obtain in Canada, and that the Government of the Dominion would naturally hesitate to risk a breach with its own supporters by entering into this agreement. At the same time, I believe that before long Canada, which is extremely loyal, will come into line with the other autonomous states of the Empire. We could not have local control of a fleet such as is to be provided under this agreement. There must be only one control. If we were to have local control the consequences would be most disastrous. Disaster might occur in time of peace, and it most certainly would in time of war. It is essential that the fleet should be under one control, and that control must be exercised by the Admiralty or the Admiral in charge of the station. Mention has been made of the fact that the fleet to be provided underthis agreement will operate over a wider area than does the fleet formed under theexisting arrangement* But have honorable members looked at the area over which the existing fleet can operate? There seems, to be an impression that the present fleet has simply to remain at our different ports and be ready at any moment torespond to a call. What are the facts ? The area covered by the fleet provided under the existing agreement embraces onefourth of the globe. It runs from the 95th meridian in the latitude of Java, through the Arafura Sea to the north-west of New Guinea, then up to the PhilippineIslands, away to the East, and thence to within 40 degrees of California. Thence it extends down to the Antarctic circle and round the circle to the 95th meridian. Thearea which the new fleet will cover will include the present Australian station as well as a stretch of ocean beginning at Mozambique on the African coast, extending round the Af rican and Asian coasts to the Behring Straits, and running across to the old boundary some 40 degrees from the Continent of America. The extent of that area is not by any means a disadvantage. It seems to me that, in view of the wide area over which the existing fleet is required to operate, it will make very little difference if we extend that area and allow the fleet to go a little further. If the present limits were maintained, under the new conditions that obtain in the East, our fleet might fall absolutely short of its usefulness. It might be Bent away to the north to fight an enemy, but find itself unable to reach the very part at which it should meet it. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the developments that have taken place in the east as well as in the south-east of Asia during the last eight or nine years have entirely altered the position of affairs which prevailed when the agreement of 1887 was entered upon. That fact alone must show that if we were to confine the new fleet to the limits of the Australian station the agreement would be shorn of much of its usefulness, and the fleet itself would probably fail in its duty at a time when it was most required. These wide limits are really necessary, because of the developments which are now taking place in Asia. It is said that this will not be an Australian Navy. But we cannot have an Australian Navy at the present time, and I hope the day is far distant when we shall have an Australian Navy which will be absolutelydissociated from the British Navy.
– Cannot the Commonwealth have one that will not be dissociated from the British Navy ?
– We cannot have one now, because of the question of expense.
– We have already had one.
– It has been considered unsatisfactory, and if war were declared we should find the existing squadron absolutely wanting in the points of usefulness that are essential. We have never known the horrors of war. We cannot realize what a great war would mean to us, and what it would be to have fleets gathering round our coast. I believe the very men who are now decrying this agreement would then be the first to feel remorse and to repent of their votes.
– They would be the first to turn up their sleeves.
– For my part, I am very glad that the responsibility of looking after our shores has been removed for the present from the Federal Parliament. I am pleased to know that we shall be able to pursue the development of our resources and our industries without having the further responsibility placed upon our shoulders of “ policeing “ and looking after our shores. We must recognise that it is not only the cost of the ships and the payment of the men that is involved in the proposal that we should have an Australian Navy. In that event, we should have to provide, at very great cost, other Departments on land. We already have enough Departments and quite enough expense in connexion with Government, without being called upon to pile up other Departments’ to administer the affairs of an Australian Navy that we can well do without for a long time to come. I believe that if we desire to develop the maritime instinct in our young people we shall require to do so by means of the mercantile marine. I should like to see the attention of the Government given to this very important question. We know how long it took Great Britain and the United States to develop their fleets, and it will also take us a considerable time to do so. I should like to see a start made by the encouragement of ship-building and the carriage of our own traffic. We shall develop the maritime instinct of our people far more readily and on more secure ground by encouraging a mercantile marine of our own than by having a few ships devoted only to the purposes of war. I am somewhat surprised at the objections that have been raised to this agreement by the members of the labour party. Like them, I am strongly in favour of the policy of a white Australia, and I am quite prepared to take my share of the responsibility of its adoption. I believed in it before Federation, and I still do so. I venture to say, however - and I think that the assertion cannot be contradicted - that the policy of a white Australia would not have been thought of, and certainly would not have been proposed, if we had not had the British Navy at our backs to support it.
– We could not have stood alone against Japan. Therefore it seems to me that the labour party are wrong in decrying the British Navy and the British connexion, and in saying that we want an Australian Navy. They are on the wrong track altogether. We never could have carried out the white Australia policy but for the backing we knew we should obtain from Great Britain and the British Navy. I have not the least doubt that this debate is being closely watched. It is doubtless being followed by both friend and foe. It is being watched in Great Britain, but not because of the material benefit that Britain is going to obtain under this proposal. What is the £200,000 per annum that we propose to pay under this agreement, as compared with the vast expense that Great Britain will have to incur in providing a squadron for the protection of Australia ? This debate is being watched, and it will show that the spirit which animated our people two years ago in helping the Empire in the South African struggle - and the same objections that are now put forward were raised then - is still alive in Australia. I think the honorable member for Kooyong said the adoption of this agreement would assure the other nations of the Continent, who looked with jealous eyes upon Great Britain, that the Empire is still one and indivisible, that unity still exists and will exist, and that this is one of the links that will draw the Empire together and make it stronger than it ever was before. I say that we of Greater Britain cannot hold back. I should like to ask this question of those who oppose the naval agreement - what decision of this Legislature upon the agreement would be received with the greatest favour by our enemies? Would our enemies be more pleased to see the agreement rejected or adopted? I hold that they would be infinitely more pleased to see it rejected. Is it not clear that it is our duty to accept the agreement if the rejection of it would be regarded by our enemies as for their benefit and not for ours. Of course, this agreement, like any other contract, is a matter of good faith. If we enter into such an arrangement with the mother country we must trust the mother country. We must trust the Admiralty, which will have charge of the Australian Squadron, as it has charge of the rest of the British fleet. Have we ever trusted the mother country and found that she has failed us ? It is said that in time of war, the ships of the Australian Squadron will be sent to patrol other seas. That is one thing which we should make clear. It should be distinctly understood that the ships are not to be sent away, as the honorable member for Parramatta put it, to do”policeing “ on other shores. I do not think that that will be the case. The agreement states that the base of the squadron is to be in Australia and New Zealand. That fixes the locality of the fleet. Though the ships may be sent to other stations - to the China or India station - if it is considered to be in the interests of Australia that they should be so sent, that does not mean that they will be sent away when it is not in the interests of this country to send them. If they are sent elsewhere they will not be sent to bombard towns, but to defend Australian interests.
– Great Britain’s direct trade with China is not one-fifth of her direct trade with us.
– We have trusted her in the past, and she has given us all that we want. Instead of taking ships away from us in time of need to protect British interests elsewhere, the inclination of Great Britain would rather be to send us her last ship, her last man, and to spend her last shilling to defend us if we required her help. Sir, I shall support the agreement. There are one or two little things which I should like to have made clearer, and that can bedone in Committee. IthinkthatthePrimeMinister did well to secure for us an agreement of this description, and I trust that the House will think well over it, and that, instead of carrying it by merely a narrow majority which might cause some apprehension in the minds of people in the mother country, and a certain amount of joy in the breasts of our. enemies, we shall pass it by the vote of an almost unanimous House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Page) adjourned.
– In moving
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to say that the debate on the Naval Agreement Bill will be continued tomorrow, but it is also desired if time permits to give my right honorable friend, the
Minister for Defence, an opportunity of moving the second reading of the Defence Bill ; not that the measure will be proceeded with at once, or that an attempt will be made to take a division, but in order that honorable members, in perusing the Bill, may have my right honorable friend’s explanation before them. The second reading debate will not be continued until they have had ample time to consider his explanation. I make this statement now, Decause, probably, some honorable members might otherwise be surprised at the Minister moving the second reading of the Bill to-morrow. If the discussion of grievances does not take too long, we hope to go on with the Naval Agreement Bill until a reasonable time has elapsed, when the Min- ister for Defence will submit his measure.
– I desire to take this opportunity of asking the Prime Minister whether it is correctly stated that it has been arranged by the whips that the House shall not sit on Friday t This is a serious question with some of us. Honorable members from the distant States of Western Australia and Queensland have to be here all the week, whilst the members from the more adjacent States can go home every week end. We might be transacting some 25 per cent, more business if we met on the full number of sitting days. It is only reasonable that the Government should have business on the paper for Fridays. If private members are not prepared to proceed with their Bills and motions, when they are called on in the usual course, we should go on with the Government business. It is quite unfair to expect honorable members from distant States to defer to the mere convenience of members from the more adjacent States, who are able to go home every week end. I am not only expressing my own opinion. Notwithstanding the hilarity of the honorable member for Parramatta, I believe it is the view of the majority of honorable members that we should sit on Fridays. It is absurd that we should sit for only three days a week while business for four days is set down on the paper. Some of us have been invited to visit bur own States for particular reasons, but have indicated that business requires our attendance here. Notwithstanding that, we find that the Government gives up a day per week for the convenience of particular members. I cannot understand any other reason for it. I trust the Government will for the rest of the session cause Parliament to meet for the despatch of business four days a week so as to get our work done as expeditiously as possible.
– I should like to draw the attention of the Minister for Defence to a matter that has already been foreshadowed several times during the last few days, and about which I should like to know something definite. It is the question of the introduction of the scheme for the reorganization of the military forces. I have seen paragraphs in the newspapers time after time to the effect that the scheme, though apparently ready for adoption, has been postponed from one Executive meeting to another. I do not .know what the details of the Government scheme are, nor how far they differ, if at all, from the scheme submitted by the Military Commandant, the character of which is pretty well known to all who are interested in the matter, whether it is supposed to be officially known or not. I do not think . it is supposed to be officially known, but a great many people have a fair knowledge of what it is. The point which I desire to emphasize is that I think in all the States as in Victoria the financial year for the military forces begins on the 1st of July. The training year also begins on the 1st of July. But recruiting is stopped in Victoria, and, I think, in the other States also. The result is that the forces are not able to get to work properly on their annual training. They do not know what the organization is going to be, and they are no further forward in that respect than they were twelve months ago. It is very regrettable that matters of such grave importance should be repeatedly postponed ; and I can assure the Minister for Defence that this unsatisfactory - I might also almost say chaotic. - state of affairs is having an injurious effect on the well-being and the efficiency of the Australian land forces. The sooner the matter is settled, and we know on what lines the Government propose to proceed, the better it will ‘ be, even if alterations have to be subsequently made in the regulations. There is not a commanding officer who does not feel he is hampered and hindered in carrying out his work, because, for what reason I know not, the Government have not authorized any scheme ; and the forces are now in the same state of uncertainty that they have been in for nearly two years. It is not as if the staffs of the General Officer Commanding and the district commandants were not large enough to enable matters to be expedited. I know that they have a great deal of work ; indeed, the centralization at present is to my mind ridiculous. Personally, I can say that as an officer I have to sign more formal papers than ever I had to sign before. It is essentially the duty of the Government, who I suppose are prepared to take the responsibility, to promulgate some pelicy. At present portions of the infantry in Victoria do not know whether they are to continue infantry or become mounted troops, while there are corps who do not know whether they are to continue as separate bodies or become amalgamated. There are no corps who know exactly what their strength, establishment, or work is to be ; and the sooner some definite scheme is adopted the better.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has done well to draw attention to an arrangement which promises to become a custom of adjourning on the Thursday for the week. Honorable members from distant States have a right to protest, and the people of the Commonwealth have a right to protest, against such an arrangement if it be continued very much longer. It would appear that the affairs of the Commonwealth are being arranged to suit the convenience of a few honorable members from some of the States. I recognise I am here to do certain work; and in view of the fact that we are not likely to pass all the legislation that is contemplated, the least the Government can do is to make sure that all reasonable time at our disposal is utilized. I for one would be quite willing, as a private member with a motion on the paper, to put that motion aside in order to assist the Government to get on with their business on Fridays. Under existing circumstances it would be very unfortunate if the arrangement of adjouring on the Thursday for the week were continued very much longer.
– I am very glad to have the opinion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella on this matter. I can assure the honorable and learned member that the delay to which he refers has occurred solely owing to the pressure of Government business. The whole organization is ready, and has been laid before Ministers, but has not yet been approved.
I hope, however, that in a day or two, at the latest, the scheme will be approved and gazetted. I was very anxious to have the scheme completed before the beginning of the year, because I know full well that after a financial year has begun, all sorts of complications arise if it be sought to introduce a new system. I hope the difficulty will not be great, but there will probably be some difficulty. As I have said, the organization is ready, and the peace establishment has been decided upon
– How does the Minister account for the reorganization scheme being carried out in Western Australia and Queensland ?
– I think some misunderstanding has arisen.
– The reorganization scheme was issued as a general order, and is being worked under.
– That does not make it legal if it has not been approved by the Governor in Council. I do not anticipate any difficulty on account of its premature publication. There has been a good deal of criticism in this House, and certainly outside, in regard to the action of the Government in carrying out a reorganization - scheme before the Defence Bill has become law. But if those critics take the trouble to look into’ the matter they will see that the powers proposed in the Defence Bill - and certainly those powers in regard to reorganization - are for the most part conferred by the Defence Acts of the States. It is far better to proceed with the reorganization, andcomplete it in anticipation, under the laws as they exist, than to wait and do nothing until after the Defence Bill becomes law. Although we have had some difficulties in regard to transferring officers and men fromone place to another, still inthemain theDepartmenthasbeenabletoact legally under the authority of the States Acts. There may be some little matters to which exception might be taken, but, speaking generally, we have been able to act legally. I do not think it would have been justifiable to delay, perhaps for months, the reorganization of the Defence Forces. It is far better to have the scheme approved and published now ; and, in any case, whether the reorganization be under the new Act or under the old Acts, it must be by regulations under Order in Council. If, as has been intimated by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, the regulations are found inconvenient, they can be amended. My opinion is that no time should be lost ; indeed, all along I have felt that the reorganization should be carried into effect at the earliest possible moment. If the scheme be carried out now, honorable members will be in a much better position to criticise it than if it were delayed until the recess, or, it might be, until after a dissolution. I see no reason at all for delay.
– Then why do the Government delay ?
– This is an important subject on which all the members of the Ministry have something to say ; and that may have caused delay in obtaining the approval of the Governor in Council. I believe I have the authority of the Prime Minister for saying that in a few days - this week in fact - the reorganization will be approved, and it will be at once gazetted.
–I rise to support the protest of the honorable member for Wide Bay. One honorable member was good enough to interject that I had been conspicuous this session by my absence. I desire to assure him that ,my attendances, except for the past three weeks, will compare favourably with those of any other member of the House, but, owing to .the small-pox having broken out in Tasmania, and the quarantine laws having been put into operation, it was impossible for me to be present during that period. But that does not make any difference so far as the protest of the honorable member for Wide Bay is concerned. I am prepared to give up as much of my time to attendance in this Chamber, so long as there is ‘public business to be done, as any other honorable member is prepared to sacrifice, but when, week after week, the House meets for only- three days, and upon some pretext or another is adjourned over the fourth, honorable members are apt to become lax in their attendance. I think that some consideration should be shown by the representatives of Victoria, of New South Wales, and of South Australia, who can go to their homes every night, or every week end, to those who come from distant States and have to remain in Melbourne during the whole session, at the entire sacrifice of their private time. It must be remembered that the general elections will shortly be at hand. If the elections for this House are to be held simultaneously with the Senate elections in
December next, we shall have to leave important work undone, unless business is proceeded with much more rapidly than has hitherto been the case. Honorable members from the States I have named should, in the interests of Australia, be prepared to sacrifice a little more of their time for the expedition of parliamentary -business.
– I have a little grievance to ventilate. This afternoon I put a question to the Prime Minister as to whether he would consent to the appointment of a select committee to investigate a serious difference between the testimony of the Minister for Trade and Customs and that of a newspaper reporter, in connexion with the premature disclosure to the public of the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I thought, though I hope t am mistaken, that the right honorable gentleman was curt and almost contemptuous in his reply.
– I did not mean to be so.
– I am glad to hear that ; because, so far as my experience goes, I have never found the right honorable gentleman wanting in courtesy to even the humblest member in the House. But I think it right to say that he appears to me not to be taking the proper view of the duty of the Government in this matter. The Minister for Trade and Customs has been charged in this Chamber with a serious breach of faith with honorable members, the alternative being that some newspaper has betrayed the confidence of the Minister. We have had from the Minister - and I should be the last man in the House to throw any doubt whatever upon his word - the explicit statement that the document to which I have referred was given to the reporter in absolute confidence. We have, on the other hand, from the reporter a denial - though not a very explicit and emphatic one - that the Minister gave him the Bill with any but a full knowledge and consciousness that it would be published in a certain issue of the newspaper he represented, the date of that issue _ being antecedent to the time when the members of this House would be in possession of the details of the measure. Apart from the general relations between Ministers and representatives of the press, a matter upon which I could, if I might, say something, I think that this incident should be sifted to-‘ the bottom, so that we may find out whether a gentleman who has ready access to the rooms of the Ministers has or has not been guilty of a serious breach of confidence. I wish to keep myself perfectly free and open - minded in the matter, and, therefore, I do not at the present time blame either the Minister or the reporter. I am unable to decide who is at fault, and for that reason, and because I think the recurrence of such a proceeding should be prevented, that I ask that the matter be investigated, and that some understanding may he-arrived at by the House as to the relations between Ministers of State and the representatives of the press. I am only voicing an opinion which has been frequently expressed when I say that the representatives of the press appear sometimes to have more ready access to Ministers than have honorable members. Yet there is something to be said for the practice since the press thereby obtain and publish facts which the people should know. At the same time, I think the Prime Minister is assuming rather a high-handed position when he in effect says that what takes place between Ministers and reporters is of no concern to this House. I put to him with all due respect the desirability of allowing the matter to be investigated by a Select Commi ttee. It may not seem a very important matter in itself, but I think that every member of the House feels that he was to some extent lightly treated, when a newspaper reporter was given the details and text of an important measure before it was laid upon the table of the House.
– I think that the honorable member for Wide Bay has some justification for bringing before the House the proposed adjournment over Friday next. Although my home is in Sydney, and I am always willing to take “advantage of any opportunity to get back at the end of the week a day earlier than is usual, I recognise that it is my primary duty to assist in getting the business of Parliament done with the utmost expedition. As we are now in the eighth week of a session which cannot reasonably continue beyond the middle of October, I feel that we have not yet done a sufficient amount of work to justify the time which has been occupied by our deliberations. We have only passed one Bill through this Chamber, although we have advanced others beyond their initial stages. It seems to me, therefore, that the representatives of this and the adjoining States might very well consent to forego the opportunity of leaving Melbourne on Thursday next.
– Who objects to do so?
– I have not heard that any one does. I wish to say, however, that for my part I am willing to forego the opportunity to get away a day earlier.
– So am I.
– Every one will admit that it is not sufficient, during a short session in which a large amount of work has to be done, that we should meet for only two and a-half days in each week.
– Why not abolish Friday as a private members’ day ?
– I have no motion on the business paper, and perhaps I have therefore no right to appear to be willing to make a sacrifice in respect to Friday sittings, but I think that most of those who have given notice of private business would be willing to give up Friday for Government business rather than see important Government measures delayed. Speaking for the section of the House which I represent, I say that we shall be quite prepared to allow Friday to be taken for Government business, so that we may thereby insure the expedition of public measures of importance if one or two Fridays are set apart later on in the session for private motions. It seems to me that the Government have something at stake in this matter, seeing that they have submitted a very large programme to the House and the country. Unless they make a more determined effort than they have made up to the present it is not likely that any very large proportion of the work will be completed when the session comes to an end. I admit that the responsibility for that will be upon their shoulders, and we need not worry particularly over that aspect of the question. Those who desire that legislation should proceeds are prepared to make the sacrifice of personal convenience. No doubt other honorable members are as willing as I am myself to make that sacrifice, but unless Government business is pushed on the necessity for the sacrifice is not apparent. I therefore trust the Government will see the wisdom of making an effort to push forward with their business, and that they will make some proposal in regard to Friday sittings for Government work.
– I am rather surprised at the attack which the honorable member for Wide Bay’ has made upon certain members of the House. Our desire has always been to facilitate public business. With regard to the statement of the honorable member that representatives coming from New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria have been desirous of closing the proceedings of Parliament for the week on the Thursday, the honorable member must know that uo such desire has beer shown. Honorable members generally will admit that representatives from those States have been as regular in their attendance, and have paid as much attention to the business of the House, as any honorable members who have agreed with the honorable member for Wide Bay. I do not think, it was fair for that honorable member to single out one or two of us for attack.
– I singled out no one.
– The honorable member was probably referring to the adjournment on last Thursday night, but that was due to a general desire on the part of honorable members who knew that there was no chance of a division, being /taken, at that sitting. That has been proved by ‘ the debate which has taken place during this week, and by the fact that there are several speakers who still desire to address the House on the subject of the naval agreement.
– That is a good argument for taking Friday for Government “business
– The honorable member for Wide Bay did not argue’ in that way. On Thursday last, we found that a number of speakers desired to address themselves to the question before us, and there was a general expression, of opinion that an adjournment would be agreeable to most members of the House. Honorable members who desired to speak continued the debate until the usual time for adjournment on Thursday night, and no harm was done by the adjournment over Friday, because there was no public business on the paper for that day, and the honorable members in charge of the private business on the paper gave way to the general desire expressed for an adjournment because the principal matter down for discussion had practically been determined by the Government declaring their intention to settle the .matter of the elections at the end of the year.
– The honorable member has failed to notice that I asked the Government to put their business on for Friday.
– The honorable member did that ; but he made rather an unfair reference to me.
– I withdraw anything I said which could be so construed.
– I accept my honorable friend’s expression of regret, and his statement that his remarks have been wrongly interpreted. . It is unfair to suggest that honorable members coming from certain States are not desirous of going on with business, when they have shown every desire to do so.
Sir EDMUND BARTON (HunterMinister for External Affairs). - On the question of Friday’s business, I may say that the position, so far as the Government is concerned, is this : On two occasions I have been informed that the honorable members in charge of business on Friday have been willing to postpone that business. I was asked .on those occasions - those honorable members consenting - whether the Government were prepared, inasmuch as there was nothing but private business on the paper for the Friday, to adjourn from Thursday until Tuesday? It would not have been much use to refuse to adjourn until Tuesday, because, with honorable members generally holding an opinion in favour of the adjournment, and only private business being set down for discussion, it was extremely problematical whether a House would have been formed.
– There is nothing to prevent the Government putting Government business on the paper for Friday.
– If the honorable member will be a little less impetuous in his youth, I shall tell him what is intended. I think that out businesspaper should be arranged as the businesspaper is arranged in every Legislature with which I am acquainted - that is, that where Government business has precedence, the private business is also placed on the paper after the Government business. And in turn on those days on which private business has precedence, Government business is also placed on the paper in a subordinate position. Having consulted Mr. Speaker on the subject, I understand that he is prepared to take that course, which I shall welcome.’ As to the use of Fridays in future, I believe I may say, with all respect to honorable members in charge of private business, that I have been struck with the fact that in most instances the matters submitted for discussion have been of an abstract, and not of a very urgent character. As to our not being desirous of proceeding with Government business, we have taken public business quite as far as has been possible in the circumstances. On Government nights the House has been sitting for eight hours or more, which is a very fair average. At the same time I admit that there is much important business still to be dealt with, and I quite concur in the proposition that honorable members might wisely consider, if I may be permitted to make the suggestion, whether they should not agree to the Government taking some Fridays for Government business. If, for instance, two Fridays out of three were given to Government business, they would find that there would be a better paper before the House on the Fridays set apart for. private business, and a greater probability of our being able to keep a House together. As to the action taken by honorable members, who see that there is no chance of a division being taken, in trying to get to their homes on Thursday, I put it to the honorable members who complain of that, whether they would not jump at the chance if they had it themselves ? There are two sides to human nature. There is always the man who has something and the man who desires to get it. If the man who wants a thing desires the man who has it to give it up, I say that is natural, just as any contention is natural, and I do not expect anything but human springs to govern human action. If we take a course which will enable us to transact Government business on some Fridays, honorable members will have every reason to remain here and keep a quorum. I put this to honorable members for consideration because, if I find that there is any prospect of general support of a proposal of that kind, I shall be prepared to make it in order that the important business to engage our attention may be transacted within a reasonable time. I should be extremely pleased if I could see any chance of keeping members here until a little after11 o’clock in the evenings, but I know that it is difficult for honorable members to exercise their affection for this place after about a quarter to eleven o’clock, and that they are then apt to go home. This is a difficulty which must beset any Government in a House which is carrying on its business at a distance from the homes of most honorable members. It furnishes an additional reason why honorable members should be asked to give up one or more Fridays, and I shall take an opportunity of making a proposal upon that point.
– I cannot make it to-morrow, because I have not given the necessary notice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at11.7 p. m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 July 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030715_reps_1_14/>.