1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. R. EDWARDS presented a petition from the president and secretary of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce, referring to the case’ of Goldring v. the Collector of Customs, and praying the Bouse toforthwith adopt measures to bring the Minister for Trade and Customs and his officers under the immediate jurisdiction of a court of law wherein any citizen may claim those rights which have existed from time immemorial.
– As I understand that this petition is not under seal, it can be received only as from the persons who have signed it.
Petition received and read.
– I desire to present a similar petition from the president and secretary of the Brisbane Chamber of Manufactures, and I move-
That the petition be received.
– I should like to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by this motion to make a suggestion as to the putting of the question - “That the petition be received and read.” My object in doing so on this occasion has no connexion whatever with the presentation of the numerous petitions dealing with the case to which these petitions refer, to which I have no objection. Standing Order 90 says -
The only questions entertained by the House on the presentation of a petition shall be - (1) That the petition be received ; (2) That the petition be read.
Then follow provisions relating only to election petitions and to petitions respecting any subject under the consideration of a select committee. To negative the motion “ That the petition be read,” involves the refusal to receive the petition, which would be far from the design of those who might think that the time of the. House would be taken up unnecessarily in the reading of, perhaps, one petition after another, each of which dealt with the same subject and was presented with the same object. I suggest, therefore, that. you, Mr. Speaker, should take into consideration the advisability of in future putting, first, the question “ That the petition be received,” and then the question “ That the petition be read,” so that honorable members might have an opportunity of determining after the reception of a petition whether the subject to which.it referred was of sufficient importance, or whether it contained sufficient new matter, to justify them in agreeing to the reading of it.
– I would point out to the Prime Minister that I have repeatedly, when honorable members desired me to do so, put the two questions separately ; and on more than one occasion the House; while receiving petitions, has refused to allow them to be read. I propose to follow the same course in future, and whenever the right honorable gentleman, or any other honorable gentleman, desires that the questions be put separately, they will be so put.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to an advertisement which appears in the Commonwealth Gazette dated 14th July, signed by Harry F. Johnston, Commonwealth Electoral Divisions Commissioner for the State of Western Australia, and intimating that maps of proposed divisions have been displayed at the post-offices throughout the State. Those maps have not yet reached Melbourne, although it is eight days since the date of the notice. I desire to know what the reason for the delay is, and whether steps will not be taken to have the maps forwarded at Ihe earliest possible moment?
-Honorable members will be sorry to learn/ that the Minister for Home Affairs will not be present to-day because of a severe bereavement. I have not Been the Gazette notice to which the honorable gentleman refers, and I do not know what circumstances have caused the delay of which he complains ; but if he will make his inquiry by letter, I will obtain from the Department of Home Affairs the information which he desires.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister what- instructions have been given to the Federal Sites Commissioners in connexion with the visit which they are now making to Dalgety ?
– The honorable member gave me verbal notice of his intention to ask this question, and I have obtained the instructions from the Department of Home Affairs. They are Contained in the following letter, .written on 18th J July, to the Secretary to the Commission by the Secretary to the Department for Home Affairs : -
X have the honour, by direction of the Minister, to request that, as your Commissioners have already inspected Dalgety in connexion with the water supply of tho proposed site for the Federal capital at Bombala, and have already made certain inquiries there, they will revisit Dalgety with a view to inspecting and reporting upon thd site for the proposed capital there, such report to be furnished on lines similar to those laid down in the Commission under which they are acting! and to be drawn as addenda to the report required from them under that Commission.
– I am very sorry to hear that the Minister for Home Affairs is absent because of a bereavement. In his absence I wish to ‘know from the Prime Minister when the report of the Capital Sites Commission, which was promised for to-day, will be laid upon the table.
– I intend to lay it on the table immediately.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN Shall we have with the report a memorandum of the directions given to the individuals who formed the Commission 1 I desire to know what official instructions, if any, were given to the Commissioners, and whether, if such instructions were given, they are appended to the report?
– They are not appended to the report j they preface it, and are contained in the commission which was issued to the Commissioners.
– . Ap”parently the report which the right honorable gentleman is about to lay on tho table will not contain the definite finding of the Commission, as they are now working in a new direction. I think .the House should know definitely when we shall have finality in regard to the work of the Commissioners:
– In the absence of the Minister for Home Affairs, I shall immediately lay upon the table the commission which was issued, and the report of the Commissioners. So far as the sites which have been investigated by them are concerned, I have heard no word of the likelihood of any further report from them, but, as I have just mentioned, they have been desired to revisit Dalgety, which was looked at in- connexion with the water supply of Bombala, to report upon it as a substantive site for the capital. They will report separately upon that question.
– Will the Prime Minister, when be lays the report on the table, accompany it with the ‘minutes of evidence taken by the Commissioners, to enable honorable .members to understand how they came to the strange and extraordinary conclusions which it contains ?
– Two of the sites recommended are in the Hume division.
– The evidence has not yet reached me from the Department for Home Affairs, but I am willing to lay it upon the table when I receive it. I may state, however, that it is extremely bulky. .
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister if it is not a fact that the House fixed the date by which the Commission should report as the 30th April last ? Has not that time been very largely exceeded, and does not this further extension mean greater delay and still more expense ‘i If so, will the Prime Minister take steps to instruct the Commissioners to furnish their final report by a certain day1? I understand that they have already visited Dalgety, and that it was one of the sites upon which, in the first place, it was understood that they would report. Apparently they have neglected to report upon it, and consequently further delay is to be caused by a second visit.
– I do not think that Dalgety was a site originally referred to the Commissioners.
– Was not Dalgety mentioned in the discussion of the motion moved by the Minister for Home Affairs, and was it not understood that an investigation of its advantages should be made in connexion with the investigation of the Bombala site 1
– There was an understanding on the subject, but not a direction by the House.
– The honorable member, like some other honorable gentlemen, has a great habit of asking me questions without notice, to which I am compelled to reply without being able to refer to the original documents. I cannot say whether a time was mentioned in the House upon which the Commissioners should report.
– The time is mentioned in the resolution carried by the House.
– Then the Commissioners’ report was expected by the 30th April, if that was the date mentioned. They represented, however, that it would be impossible for them to conclude their investigations by that date, if they were to deal thoroughly with the question referred to them, and, therefore, an extension of time was granted to enable them to produce a report which in their opinion would do justice to the subject. I assume that the examination of the Dalgety site will involve further expense, just as its original investigation, if it had been among the sites named in the Commission, would have involved further expense ; but the Commissioners in order to minimize expense have in some, and, I think, in all, cases examined the country within 25 or 30 miles of the proposed sites, in order to see if localities superior to those recommended existed within their immediate neighbourhood.
– When will the report be sent in 1
– I shall ask the Commissioners - or request the Minister for Home Affairs, if he is here, to do so - to furnish their report as soon as they possibly can.
– Last session I pointed out that if the Government appointed Mr. Kirkpatrick as chairman of the Federal Sites Commission, the site selected would certainly be in the Hume electorate, and that therefore no expense need be incurred in taking evidence. I desire to know if the Prime Minister will now acknowledge that I was correct1?
– I think that every honorable member will recognise that that is not a question which should be put in the absence of the Minister for Home Affairs, especially considering the cause of his absence.
At a later stage -
– I should like to say, by way of personal explanation, that I did not hear what was said by the Prime Minister in reference to the bereavement which has been sustained by the Minister for Home Affairs. I ‘was quite unaware, when I asked my question, that the honorable gentleman had suffered a bereavement, and I therefore now express my regret, under the circumstances, for having asked it. I may add that I very greatly sympathize with him in the trouble that has befallen him.
– I have received a letter from a manufacturer in Geelong who states- that he has attempted to import six barrels of whale oil from New Zealand. He says - .
I have not been able to obtain the goods, and am informed that a sample of the oil has been drawn off and sent on to Sydney for analysis. Other manufacturers have been importing the same class of oil from the same persons for years, and the goods have been invariably received promptly by them without any trouble whatever, as there is no duty on the oiL
I desire to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs whether there is any reason why this oil should be analyzed in Sydney and not in Melbourne, and, further, why it is necessary to analyze oil upon which no duty is payable ?
– The oil has to be analyzed in order to find out whether it is subject to duty. With regard to the question as to analyses being made in Sydney or Melbourne, I may mention that some little time ago we lost the services of the State Analyst of Victoria, and only this morning I signed the necessary papers for the employment, temporarily, of an analyst, whom we hope to find reason to appoint permanently after a short probation.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Treasurer to a statement alleged to have been made by the Treasurer of South Australia, as follows : -
Every penny of increased taxation this year had been owing to the increased cost of federation - new expenditure and shrinkage of revenue in the Postal and Telegraph Department. The latter used to be one of our most profitable departments, but it looked as if the expenditure would equal the receipts in future. He asked the ladies to take an interest in these matters as they were as much concerned in good government as men.
I would ask the Treasurer, when he is delivering his Budget speech, to furnish statements showing the expenditure incurred in connexion with the transferred departments before and after federation.
– In connexion with the Budget statement, which I propose to deliver next Tuesday, I shall be very glad to afford the fullest information upon the matter referred to by the honorable member. No doubt there has been a shrinkage in the receipts of the Post and Telegraph Department, in consequence of the reduction of the charges for telegrams, and also to some extent because of the opening of the Pacific cable.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he was authorized by Captain Creswell to state that - “ Captain Creswell is very pleased with this agreement,” meaning the proposed naval agreement. Further, if the Prime Minister was not so authorized by Captain Creswell, on whose authority did he make the statement? Will the Government, under the circumstances, permit Captain Creswell to give public expression to his opinion ?
– It is a fact that Captain Creswell did not authorize me to repeat the statement which he made to me, but it is also a fact that the statement was made under circumstances which did not involve any confidence whatever. I wds only drawn into mentioning it by hearing it stated in this House that Captain Creswell entertained an opinion different from that which he had expressed to me. In view of the fact that an officer of such high position is now arguing against the agreement, I am entitled to say that his statement to me was that he considered that the agreement was a splendid one, and far beyond anything that he had expected. With regard to the latter portion, of the question asked by the honorable member for Maranoa, I may point out that Captain Creswell’s views regarding the naval agreement have already been expressed in a long ‘ report. From certain things which I have seen and heard recently, I think that the practice of Government officers, sometimes openly and sometimes anonymously, entering into a controversy regarding political affairs, is, even when they do so with permission, becoming too frequent.
– I desire to ask the Prime ‘Minister whether, iri view of the statement he has made regarding Captain Creswell’s later views, he will allow that officer to make a statement? Further, I would ask whether there is any reason why the advice of English experts should be accepted, whilst that of Australian experts is disregarded and suppressed 1
– I am perfectly willing that Captain Creswell shall have every liberty to say whether what I have stated is correct or not. If he denies it, I shall be astonished. I do not think that we should, as a matter of course, extend opportunities to officers in the employment of the Government to deal with questions of policy. Such leave should be granted only under peculiar circumstances, and upon special occasions, and I do not think this is one. If, however, the honorable and learned member thinks that it is right that Captain Creswell should have a further opportunity of expressing his views, I shall take time to consider whether it is proper to give him permission.
asked the Minister for Defence upon notice -
Minister’s request ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will state which duty stated in the Tariff Guide is the correct one : - That on page 263, “ Strawboard, corrugated, for packing bottles in, 15 per cent.,” or that on page 344, Strawboard, corrugated, for packing bottles, 25 per cent.”
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The item should read, Strawboard - corrugated - 15 per cent. Strawboard, corrugated (with back or front attachment), 25 per cent.
I believe that the Tariff has been thus administered.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of the following Message : -
The Senate, having taken into consideration Message No. 4 of the House of Representatives, requesting the concurrence of the Senate in certain resolutions transmitted therewith, in reference to the metric system of weights and measures, acquaints the House of Representatives that it concurs in such resolutions.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Sydney Smith) -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to the honorable member for Laug.
Sir EDMUND BARTON laid on the table the following papers : -
Report of the Royal Commission upon Federal Capital Sites, with appendices.
Report of Commissioner Morrison, of Victoria, on the distribution of the State into divisions, together with a map.
– I move -
That on Friday, 24th instant, and on every following Friday, until otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of general business.
In asking honorable members to make this sacrifice of the time which would otherwise be devoted to private business, I would suggest that it is highly desirable that more rapid progress should be made with the measures claiming our attention. I think it is well known that I am not one of those who endeavour to unduly curb discussion, but it must always be recollected that this House contains a large number of gentlemen who have been prominent in public affairs in the States, and who have been accustomed to deal fully with public questions. The result of that is, of course, that on some occasions our debates are more prolonged than those who do not quite understand the whole of the circumstances might expect. We have now been in session since 26th May. I have endeavoured to expedite public business as much as possible, but it cannot be said that the rate of progress has been extraordinarily rapid. With the exception of the Supply Bill, this House has dealt with five Bills, one of them a very small one, and only an adjunct to another Bill, so that we may reduce the. tally to four. I think that, since we have been in session about eight weeks to-day, we may now reasonably expect to compress a little more business . into each week’s sittings. I know that I am asking honorable members to make a selfdenying ordinance in the public interest; but looking to the fact that resolutions passed at the instance of honorable members generally have the effect only of bringing forward the matter for consideration, or of initiating it, I would suggest that a prior place be’ now given, at any rate for a considerable time, to those measures upon which much thought has been bestowed, and’ which, after having been before the public for years, or which, being part of the necessary machinery of the Commonwealth Government, have really the first claim upon our attention. I shall feel myself indebted to honorable members if they will consent to expedite public business to the extent indicated by this motion. I do not think it is necessary to say anything more except that, if it is found that we have so far dealt with public business that some attention can be given to private business, the Government will be glad to co-operate in securing to honorable members the necessary convenience.
– Under ordinary circumstances, I think the course proposed by the Prime Minister would be a very drastic one - that is, if there is any sense whatever in setting apart certain days for private members’ business - but we are all anxious to expedite the public business, especially during this session. I need not refer to possible eventualities, but it is very necessary that we should get through- the important work awaiting our attention as soon as possible. I feel very strongly that Friday is wasted, when devoted to private members’ business because many honorable members look upon the proceedings on that day as to a large extent formal, and leave for their homes on Thursday. At the same time, discrimination might be used with regard to certain motions which are on the notice-paper, and I think- the Prime Minister might pledge himself to afford an opportunity for the discussion of certain motions upon ordinary days, or before the end of the session, to devote a week to’ private business. Personally, I have one or two important matters which I wish to bring before the House, and which cannot very well be dealt with upon a motion for adjournment. If, for the sake of expediting the public business of the session, this motion is agreed to, I do hope that the Prime Minister will promise to afford honorable members an opportunity of discussing those matters of private bnsiness which in his opinion are of sufficient .public importance.
– I said something upon that subject just now.
– I heard the observations of my right honorable friend. It is the desire of honorable members upon this side of the House to expedite the transaction of business, and, therefore, I do not think that any opposition need be shown to the right honorable gentleman’s propositi, at any rate, as an experiment.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I have no desire to- do anything that would obstruct the efforts of the Government to expedite public business. There is one little motion upon the notice-paper, however - a little ewe lamb of mine - that I do not want to see slaughtered. It is not a proposal to commit the House to anything, but it has reference to the desirability of preparing a grave problem for solution. It was tabled with the intention of assisting the Government, and, through thom, the country, in the solution Of one of the most difficult problems connected with Federation. Outside this House I have found various indications of a belief that the problem of how to deal with the indebtedness of the States - to which I have referred - would be taken in hand at the very inception of our Federation. Tn Victoria all that has occurred is a kind of shooting behind kopjes between our Attorney-General on the one hand, and ‘ the Premier of Victoria on the other. They have not come to close quarters, and, so far as the House is aware, nothing is being done in regard to this important matter. There has been no putting of heads together by responsible persons with a view to determining what is the best plan to adopt for the purpose of saving interest to the different States, and of arranging that our finances shall be placed upon a better basis. I would suggest to the Prime Minister that as the motion is merely one for inquiry, he might’ consent to the appointment of a Commission, the functions of which might, perhaps, cover a larger area than that contemplated by my proposal. Instead of confining the inquiry to the powers contained in section 105 of the
Constitution, I think that a Commission might be appointed to determine -whether there are any other means by which the awkward provisions of that section can be evaded. I think that there may be means for accomplishing that object. A few men of finance and business training should be appointed-
– I must ask the honorable and learned member not to discuss that question. He is now practically debating his motion.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. I merely desire to point out that the Prime Minister has moved that all these questions should be placed outside the pale of ordinary business. If my motion involved an affirmation which would commit the House to any new principle, I should acknowledge that there is a great deal of force in his contention ; but it merely contemplates putting matters in train for an inquiry. Under the circumstances the Government might consent to the appointment of a board or Commission for the purpose. Such a tribunal, which would not COSt very much, should consist of men who would be able to devote their best efforts and training to the solution of this problem - men representative of the States as well as of the Federation. A small body would be sufficient for the purpose. I do not wish to oppose the motion submitted by the Prime Minister, but if he could enter into some undertaking in regard to this matter it would be very expedient.
– As a private member who has business upon the notice paper, I frankly confess that the resolution submitted by the Prime Minister is one to which - in the interests of public business - we should agree. At the same time I should like to emphasize what was said by the acting leader of the Opposition, when he asked that, if possible, a week or some few days should be set apart, during which private members’ business of importance might be discussed.
– How shall we keep a quorum 1
– How do we manage to keep a quorum upon Fridays? When every honorable member is interested, each will remain in attendance to assist in transacting the business of others. Personally, I have taken a good deal of trouble to prepare myself to speak upon the subjectmatter of the motion which stands in my name. I have also requested other honorable members to look into the question, and one of them has promised to second my proposal. Practically, those honorable members will have wasted their time if . no opportunity is given for the discussion of. the matter this session. I admit that the Government business is of far more importance than is that of private members, although everybody is naturally prone to regard the subjects in which he is interested as of very great moment. I wish specially to urge that if possible a few days should be set apart for the transaction of the most important business of private members.
– I desire to protest against Friday being retained as a sitting day. The reason underlying my objection must be sufficiently clear to all. In the ‘first place I hold that three days is quite often enough for Ministers to be in attendance in this House. How can they attend continuously upon four days, and satisfactorily discharge their administrative work during the remaining days of the week ? Honorable members should recollect that the work which they have to perform is not only legislative but administrative. Further, if this House sits more than- three days a week is it possible for honorable members to deal with the measures which claim their attention in a proper way? Have they sufficient time to read those Bills, thoroughly digest them, and prepare themselves to debate them 1 Certainly not ! It seems to me that we are falling into the habit of sitting upon altogether too many days. We cannot properly deal with the measures which are brought before the House on three days of the week unless we are allowed an opportunity of studying them upon the other three days. In view of these circumstances, the Government would be very wise if they considered the question of whether we should have a fourth sitting day at all. I cannot conceive how the administrative work of .the Departments can be efficiently performed when the House sits four days each week. Probably that fact largely accounts for the maladministration of the past. Ministers have been unable to attend to the work of their Departments. They cannot be expected to be in two places ato the same time. On behalf of honorable members who wish to transact business, and to prepare themselves upon all the measures brought forward, I hold that three sitting days are quite sufficient.
Unfortunately we seem disposed to think that a section of the House can attend to one particular measure, and a different section to another. But, if we persist in that practice, measures coming before us will be considered,’ not by the representatives of the people, but by a section of them. I trust that, if the Ministry think that the business of private members is not of sufficient importance to be considered on Fridays, they will seriously consider whether they ought not to reserve that day to themselves, and allow honorable members an> opportunity of having another day for study.
– I think it is only fair to honorable members who have important motions upon the business-paper that a more definite statement should be made to them as to the period when those motions will be considered. The proposal to defer their discussion till the last week of the session simply means that they will not be considered at all. I have a motion upon the notice-paper, in which, personally, I am not very much concerned, but which is of vital importance to the people of- New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria. My proposal has reference to the utilization of the Murray waters. Australia has just experienced the most severe and protracted drought that has been known since its settlement by white men. The only way in which we can minimize the evils resulting from such an experience, is by taking that question into consideration, and arriving at a settlement of it as soon as possible. I would urge upon the Prime Minister the necessity of setting apart an early day, or week, during which the most important motions by private members can be discussed.
– I have some hesitancy in speaking upon a motion of this kind, but 1 think that the House ought to extend some consideration to the representatives of distant States. Those coming from Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania suffer very considerable personal inconvenience in attending to the ordinary business of the House, and the motion of the Prime Minister is clearly in the right direction. If there are matters upon the business-paper, which can with advantage be postponed until a future occasion, it would be wise for the right honorable gentleman to indicate those measures which will positively be proceeded with. Certainly there is more private members’ business upon the notice-paper than can be squeezed into the current session. If the Prime Minister will make an intimation of those measures which he considers of supreme importance, honorable members will know what business they have to face. I sincerely trust that the House will give some consideration to those representatives who live so far away. The contention of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, that sufficient time is not given to honorable members to prepare themselves upon the various measures claiming attention, seems to be entirely opposed to reason. Only recently one subject was discussed for fully a fortnight. If, after having heard the principal speakers upon a question like that, honorable members were . not acquainted with all the facts necessary to qualify them to take part in the discussion they are hardly fitted to become members of so august an assemblage as this. I sincerely- hope that the Prime Minister will be able to carry this motion, and, in consultation with honorable members who have private business, will be able to come to some satisfactory arrangement.
– It may be quite right, as the Prime Minister has stated, that much of the private business on the notice-paper is simply of an abstract character, and that other of it cannot hope to be brought to a conclusion in a session of ordinary length.- But we have to remember that in all British Parliaments honorable members are extended certain rights in the form of opportunities to bring forward private business.
– Private business has to give way to” Government business.
– That is true to a certain extent, but I am sure that the honorable member for Bland, with his experience, knows that when private business has to give way entirely to. Government business, some good specific reason is advanced. The reason may be that, owing to the shortness of the proposed session, as compared with the length of an ordinary session, there is not the opportunity for extending to private business the usual consideration. If the Government mean to terminate this session so as to have the elections for both Houses at the same time, I am quite at one with the Prime Minister as to the necessity for giving preference to Government business. But we should have a definite assurance - which, so far as I know, we have not yet had - that the Government see their way to terminate the session of this House before the Senate elections, so as to allow the elections for both Houses to take place at the same time - then, in consideration of the saving which would thereby result to the country, and also the convenience which would be extended to electors, there is good reason for our taking unusual steps to meet the position. If the Prime Minister will assure the House that what I have indicated is the intention of the Government, I shall be very glad to forego the consideration of private business, and give preference to Government business on Fridays. But if this is to be a session, of ordinary length - that is, if it is to be extended into next year, to the full term for which honorable members have been elected - then I see no reason whatever to restrict the rights of private members in the way proposed.
– I quite agree with the remarks of the honorable member for North Sydney. The Prime Minister has not given us any assurance that he intends to dissolve this House, so that the elections for both Houses may take place at the same time ; and yet we are to be deprived of our right to bring forward private business on the day set apart for it. In the first place, it was a great mistake to set Friday aside for private members’ business ; and it is well known that the arrangement has become a deliberate political farce. Those who are able to do so leave Melbourne for their homes on Thursday nights, and leave about half-a-dozen honorable members to carry on the business. In my opinion it would have been wiser if, as is done in the South Australian Parliament, Wednesday from half-past two o’clock until half-past six o’clock had been set apart for private members’ business, Government business being taken in the evening. I Agree with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that if Parliament is not to be dissolved in December, there is no use in sitting more than three days a week ; and then honorable members who reside in adjacent States like South Australia- and New South Wales might leave for their homes and have time to attend to their personal business. We are rapidly approaching the conclusion that either we must sit here all the time and receive more pay, or that we must work less and be able to do some business for ourselves.
– Talk less.
– The honorable member for Melbourne has done more talking than I have this session.
– I have not spoken at all.
– Speaking personally, I have a notice of motion relating to old-age pensions, which is one of the most important questions that could be considered. Then the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has on the notice-paper a motion relating to the establishment of penny postage ; the honorable member for Bourke, a motion advocating the establishment of a Federal Assurance Department ; the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, a motion relating to the question of the Commonwealth taking over the States debts ; and the honorable member for Wentworth, a motion having for its object the amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act. These are matters just as important as any Government business can be. The Government must act quite squarely in this matter, or they will find private members running away, and leaving the Government to “run” Parliament themselves. During last year honorable members had no opportunity at all of submitting private motions. We are now told that the last week of the session will be devoted to private members’ business ; .but I am afraid that honorable members will then be found hastening either to the tomb or to their constituencies. When we reach the last week of the session not an honorable member will be able to remain here, because the Kyabram reformers will be at -work, and the newspapers will be full of the elections. If we carry the motion, we might as well do away with all private members’ business, and make this a Government of the most tyrannical despotism.
– I fully realize the anxiety of the Government to secure an additional day for. public ‘business. It is not my intention to ask the Government for a Royal Commission ; the motion standing in my name will not involve the expenditure of any money, but, on the other hand, is submitted for the purpose of effecting a saving by having the elections for both Houses on the same date. Up to the present, however, I have not been able to elicit from the Government any definite statement as to whether it is intended to dissolve this House in time for the elections of both Houses to take place simultaneously. If the Prime Minister would set my motion down as unopposed I should - like the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne - be perfectly satisfied. An opportunity ought to be given for honorable members to give a vote upon my motion, because I feel qui te satisfied that they are practically unanimous in its favour, and, therefore, of effecting a saving of some £50,000. The Prime Minister would do well to state what the intentions of the Government are. I may say that I do not intend to oppose the motion.
– I sympathize entirely with the remarks of the Prime Minister as to the amount of work done this session. We have been here for eight weeks, and, as the Prime Minister says, we have very little to show for the time spent. We have to remember, however, that during the.past fortnight the Government did not give private members any opportunity of submitting business on a Friday, the House in both weeks being adjourned’ on the Thursday night for the week.
– I did not take that step without being assured that private members desired it, or at any rate were content that it should be taken.
– If that be so, then honorable members have nothing to complain of. I have on the paper a very important motion which I am sure has the sympathy of honorable members, inasmuch as it deals with the question of granting a bonus to the primary industry of coffeegrowing. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’M.alley is, I think, an admirable one. If private members were given four hours of one afternoon per week, it would be a great concession which would meet them more than half way. But I would make an alternative suggestion, that one Friday in each month might be set apart for the purpose.
– Any other day but Friday, because honorable members are sure to “clear out” on that day.
– Then make it some other day, and let honorable members draw lots for priority of place. The honorable member for Echuca says that the most important business should have first consideration, but each member thinks his motion of primary importance ; and for that reason I suggest that lots should be drawn.. I ask the Prime Minister to take into favorable consideration either of the two suggestions which have been made.
– I am very glad that the Government propose’ to take Fridays for Government business. The motions to be submitted by honorable members are of only an abstract nature, and can have practically no effect unless the Government take them in hand. The Government know what the motions are, and if they were prepared to adopt them something practical might be done; in which case action must be taken within the time allotted to the Government. The Prime Minister has told us that we have been sitting eight weeks, and have very little to show for the time spent. If this House is to adjourn during the senatorial elections, or if there is to be a dissolution so that the elections for both Houses may be conducted at the same time, we have not much more than another eight weeks at our disposal. On the businesspaper the Government have a number of Bills which will require consideration at some length. The Prime Minister has just laid on the table the report of the Federal Capital Sites Commission, and if that important matter has to be dealt with this session, it will occupy some time. Then, in addition, we are promised a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, an Inter-State Commission Bill, a Patents Bill, a Naturalization Bill, and a Bill to provide for the redistribution of seats in the Federal electorates. All these are important measures which will require a considerable amount of time in order to do justice to them. In view of the fact that this session must be brought to a termination within, at any rate, the next twelve weeks, the Prime Minister is acting very wisely in taking all the time available for Government business. Honorable members who have motions on the paper may very well allow them to stand over until a more opportune time.
– I sympathize with the Government, but at the same time I think that private members should receive some consideration. Representatives of Western Australia and Queensland are a long way from their constituencies ; and we should adjourn or be dissolved within a reasonable time before the elections. It would be’ manifestly unfair to keep all of us here until almost the eve of the elections. I trust that the Prime Minister will say what he is going to do. So far as the electoral rolls of Western Australia are concerned, we are entirely in the dark as to the extent of our constituencies. Some portions have been taken off present constituencies and added to other constituencies. I trust that the right honorable and learned gentleman will consider those honorable members who come’ from far off States.
– I feel that I almost owe an apology to the House for presuming to utter a discordant note amongst those honorable members who have been protesting with regard to their notices of motion. It happens that I have on the business-paper a motion which, as regards its importance and far reaching results, I consider of as much moment as any one of them, but I fully recognise that the Government business has a prior claim upon my attention, and for that reason I am perfectly willing to put the motion aside pending some other opportunity.
– While I sympathize with the Prime Minister in wishing to get on with Government business on Fridays, I feel very sore about his leaving the debate on my two motions unfinished. On a previous occasion, if a vote had been taken, I could have carried them. ‘ If the Prime Minister will promise to appoint a Royal Commission on the question of establishing a small arms and ammunition factory for the Commonwealth, I shall be quite prepared to abandon my motion in regard to the establishment of a Commonwealth clothing factory. I consider that it is of paramount importance to the Commonwealth that some step should be taken in that direction. We should be in a nice position in time of war if ‘we continued to trust to the outside world for our supplies of ammunition. If the object is to get on with Government business - and that is what we have come down from Queensland to transact - I am not at all sorry we are going to deal with Government business on Fridays. It is no joke to me to be idle here half the week. I hope that the Prime Minister will give us an early opportunity to get our motions off the business-paper, and will not leave them unconsidered till the last week, when each of us will be scurrying away to his constituency. If we have to go to the country, I should like 6 p to nave a reasonable time at my disposal. I am very anxious that some definite action should be taken in the matter of an ammunition factory. What I desire to know is whether the Government do or do not intend to carry out the objects of my motion before we go to the country % I wish to get an expression of opinion from the Prime Minister. If he is willing to give us an opportunity to debate these questions I am quite satisfied to allow Government business to take precedence on Friday.
– I only rise to mention the question of the redistribution of seats. To my mind it is being delayed unduly.
– his is not grievanceday, and, therefore, the honorable member earl discuss only the motion which is before the Chair.
– I understand that nearly every honorable member who has spoken has discussed all the questions on the business-paper.
– I think that no honorable member has done that.
– I was only alluding to this matter as a reason why the Government should take an extra day. To my mind it ought to be dealt with as speedily as possible, so that honorable members may know their fate. It is not fair to us to hang up the matter, as is being done, in. order to push on with every other kind of business. I sincerely hope that the Government will arrive at a definite decision, so that the determination of the House may be taken at the earliest possible time. ‘
Sir EDMUND BARTON (HunterMinister for External Affairs). - I have been asked to make about half-a-dozen pro mises, none of which I am afraid I can make. The honorable member for North Sydney makes the most important suggestion, and that is that we should give an assurance that we intend to dissolve the House so that our elections may be held on the same .day as those for the Senate. I have already explained, in answer to a question, that, in respect to either a dissolution or other great public step, it is not usual to state what advice will be given until it has been given. I am as desirous as my honorable friend can be of seeing the elections for this House take place on the same day as the Senate elections, and I hope that the support in expediting public business which the House will extend will enable the Government to reach so desired a consummation. But I am not going to say that I shall give certain advice to the Governor-General, irrespective of the way in which the proposals of the Government are treated in the House. I cannot be expected to do so. I may not be here to do it either, because a great deal depends upon the way in which Government business is treated. What I wish to lay emphatically before honorable members is that it is in the interests of all of us - as much in the interests of the Opposition as in our own - that public business should be expeditiously and properly dealt with in the House, and ifI find a sufficient recognition of that end, which is so enthusiastically cheered now, it will help me very much to give certain advice.
– The Government are responsible forthe delay in most instances.
– I never knew a Government which was not, in the eyes of the Opposition whip, responsible for every delay.
– It is true all the same.
– It is always true in the eyes of the Opposition whip With regard to the ewe lamb of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I can only give him this consolation - that the Treasurer has been -for a long time engaged upon the question to which his notice of motion relates, and that while he cannot promise that a Royal Commission will be appointed for the purpose of dealing with it we shall take in every way and at all times the best means of endeavouring to deal with the question so as to reach its solution in a manner satisfactory both to the States and the Commonwealth.
– Are there any negotiations going on ?
– There have been negotiations of various kinds which it is not expedient to disclose, otherwise I should have informed the House of them. Honorable members will understand that questions of public credit are of so very delicate a nature that it is not expedient that even an intimation of that kind should tie asked for. As regards the other motions which have been spoken of, honorable members put me in a great difficulty, because if I make a promise as I am asked to do, that the most important of them shall be dealt with towardsthe close of the session, there is not one of them I could select as tne most important without being told that seven or eight others are of greater importance. I cannot undertake to make a selection of the motions which in the eye of the Government are the most important, but I hope that honorable members will put notices of motion relating to the introduction of Bills, and matters which are purely formal or unopposed, on the business-paper for Government nights, and I shall then endeavour to make time for their consideration on the termination of Government business. I refer to those matters which in their essence are formal, and cannot be expected to provoke debate. I can say no more than. that. If the Government is asked to set aside a week at the end of the session for their consideration, it will be found that the concession with regard to Friday sittings will have been rather an empty one, but such time as can be spared from the consideration of the more important Government business I am prepared to give. What that time will be must necessarily depend upon the progress of Government business in the meantime.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 16th July (vide page 2264), on motion by Sir Edmund Barton -
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 do not propose to occupy the time of the House to any considerable extent, seeing that the various aspects of the situation have been discussed from many stand-points. The honorable member for Bland has simply gone one better with his amendment than the Government did with their original proposal. They appeared to have followed the line of action that it is never desirable to do to-day that which we can put off until tomorrow, whereas the honorable member for Bland proposes that we shall reconsider the situation six. months hence. I do not propose to discuss the amendment from that stand-point, nor can I see my way to support the proposal of the Government. I think that Australian sentiment generally recognises that there can be no difference between the interests of Australia and those of the Empire in matters of defence, particularly at sea. Those who attempt to belittle Australian sentiment, and ask what is the use of an Australian Navy to be shut up in ports or harbors, or to be destroyed piecemeal at sea, can at least give us credit for aspirations, at least as patriotic as those of the Admiralty authorities. If those persons will cast their memories back, they will find that exactly similar expressions of opinion were heard in 1887, when the present agreement was entered into, as we now hear from the Government and their supporters - that the time was not ripe for Australia to have an Australian Navy, more particularly as the States could not be brought into line. We find the same position to-day. I would remind the Attorney-General that when he was explaining the position to the Legislative Assembly of “Victoria in 1887, after representing the Government of the day at the Imperial Conference, he stated that he hoped that, at the expiry of the period for which the agreement was being entered into, federation would have been achieved, and that ail opportunity would then present itself for Australia to make a commencement in what was termed Australian naval defence. That time has arrived, but has the opportunity been seized ? Is effect given to any of those lofty aspirations, ambitions, and sentiments with which the air was filled in those days ? Practically, the same sentiments are expressed now as were ex pressed some fifteen y ears ago. Why 1 Simply on account of procrastination. I am notamongst those who say that we should have a purely Australian Navy for Australian naval defence. We cannot separate the interests of Australia from those of the Empire. It is our duty as citizens of the Empire to take our share not only in the defence of Australia, but of the Empire at large. Whatever concerns the British Empire in its broadest sense equally concerns Australia and the Australians. I find that even the First Lord of the Admiralty cannot give to this agreement that support which we find the present Federal Government giving to it. He asked, in his 6 p 2 address to the Colonial Conference - Of what value is this monetary contribution of £200,000 per annum to the Imperial authorities compared with the cultivation of that maritime spirit and the training of men for- naval purposes that we might foster in Australia? In alluding to the Australian agreement the First Lord of the Admiralty is reported to have said -
I attach great importance to that agreement, because the statesmen who negotiated it and signed it, led the way in what I may cull the Imperial consideration of this question of naval pOliCy. But, like every document that commences a policy, it has faults : and to my -mind there is uo fault greater in it than this - that the relations of the Australian Governments to the Imperial are simply that of the man who pays to the man who supplies. The Australasian Governments pay us a certain contribution ; for this contribution we supply them with a certain article. Now, this is good so far as it goes ; but it does not, to my mind, go far enough. It does not give our New Zealand and Australian fellowcountrymen the sense of personal interest, of personal possession, in the British Navy, which I most of all desiderate for the future ; and I want not only the Colonial Governments to understand that on the naval protection of the Empire, exercised through a wise naval strategy, depends our future existence as a united Empire, but I want them to regard the navy as their own - atleast, as much as ours - and with that object I wish to see in the navy more colonial officers and a contribution of colonial seamen.
Is there any possible prospect of that end being achieved under this agreement ? What have we to show for the contributions which we have made during the last fifteen years amounting to £1,500,000 sterling ? Have we a single man trained for naval purposes ? Should we be in the position to contribute a single trained seaman to the Imperial Navy in the event of necessity arising ? What will be our position ten years hence if we adhere to the proposal of the Government?
– We are to have trained men under this agreement.
– I venture to say that we shall not have trained men under it. Is it likely, the Australian sentiment being as it is, that Australians will be recruited for the Imperial service under the proposed conditions? Can it be argued that if the troops of G Great Britain had still been quartered amongst us, and had been recruited here, we should have had that enthusiasm throughout the length and breadth of Australia which was manifested four or five years ago when the need for it arose ? We shall be in tho same position in regard to the navy. I venture to say that the agreement will be continued for generations. Perhaps that is the intention.
– That is the intention.
– It may or may not be the intention, but, in any event, under the conditions laid down, we shall not have a single individual trained for naval purposes. As for the amount in question I regard it as being a mere bagatelle: I do not question thesum, but the principle involved in the contribution. Now that we are a United Australia it is our duty to strengthen not only Australia but the Imperial defences, and we can best do that by forming the nucleus of an Australian Navy in these waters. That idea has been belittled, because we have been told we cannot bring into existence forthwith a navy fit to cope with the navy of any one of the great European Powers. We know that navies are not the growth of . a year or a couple of years. But we can develop the growth of that sentiment which is the bedrock principle upon which nationhood itself is founded. This agreement gives us no possible hope for the development of that sentiment. I was somewhat surprised by the line of argument taken by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and by the order of precedence in which he placed the branches of our defence. He placed the navy third upon the list. Now I look upon our naval defence as practically the first branch in importance. Whenever an attack is made upon Australia by a foreign power, it must be made by sea. If we lock ourselves up in our own homes we shall not be able to strike the first blow. That being so, I cannot agree with the honorable and learned member- in his line of argument. As to the cost of a navy for Australia, I would point out that we shall devote the money that is available, be the sum large or small, to much better purposes if we start right down at bed-rook, and do something towards the development of the sentiment - of which we are justly proud - that Australia is part of the Empire, never forgetting that Australia must stand or fall as part and parcel of that Empire.
– I think that this House may very well be congratulated upon the tone of the debate which has taken place on the motion for the second reading of this Bill. It is true that from one honorable member there has fallen an entirely new and strange view as to what constitutes loyalty. The honorable member for Kennedy told us that he holds the view that whatever loyalty he owes to any country he owes to Australia, and that after he has devoted sufficient loyalty to Australia, if he has any left, it will go to Great Britain. That observation rather suggests to my mind some such comparison as this : A man says - “ I have sufficient honesty to keep me straight in a rag and bottle shop, and if there is any to spare I will use it when I happen to be in a jeweller’s shop.” I say that .so long as Australia is an integral portion of the Empire, the true loyalty of Australia is to the old country, and it is only a veiled disloyalty that practically confines itself to the borders of Australia. We have, happily, during the course of this debate heard no whisper of the suggestion that has occasionally been mooted outside - of what is a degraded idea, to my mind - that as long as we remain a portion of the Empire it is the duty of Great Britain to protect us : that we can leave that duty to her without undertaking any share in the cost of her navy ; and that as soon as we are strong enough to be free and independent, then and then only, should we adopt means for our own defence.’ The alternative suggested, as opposed to that of the agreement, is, I understand, that we should have our Australian Navy localized in these waters, and provided for entirely from our own revenue and resources. I think it has been abundantly shown that if we had a navy of any sort, even of the poorest quality - a navy by no means sufficiently effective - it would cost us considerably more than it will cost to insure our safety under this agreement. The agreement gives us not only the protection of “a local squadron, but, in addition, that which will be ours, and as a matter of fact has always been ours, the protection of the fleet of the whole British Empire.. In my judgment we should be blind if in any way we sought to restrict the movements of the fleet which from time to time may be in Australian waters. The most effective duty which that fleet may have to perform may very well be outside Australian waters. It may be its duty to act in conjunction with the East Indian Squadron or the China Squadron, for the insurance of the safety of Australian interests and Australian trade. Under this proposal we have to contribute a sum of £200,000 a year for ten years. If we had our own navy the very least cost of it, if it were anything like effective, would be £500,000 a year. At the end of ten years, instead of our having expended £2,000,000 we should have expended £5,000,000. We should, then have a fleet which was ten years old, and which possibly would require a very large expenditure in repairs and renewals. In ‘this connexion I am altogether with the right honorable the Minister for Defence, who exhibits his own beautiful ideas of economy in regard to this subject. He says - and says very justly - “ See what we gain by this: In ten years we shall save from £3,000,000 to £5,000,000-possibly the latter sum - which we can immediately expend upon the great transcontinental railway.” The right honorable gentleman is safe until he comes to what to him is a dangerous attraction, the transcontinental railway. When he is in his economical moods, and tells us in his own happy fashion that already, by anticipation, he has disposed of this saving of £5,000,000, he somewhat, resembles the Chancery ward, of extravagant ideas, in Bleak House, who, when he refrained from purchasing an article that was not essential, and which would have cost him £2 10s., considered he had saved that amount and was at liberty to expend it in purchasing anything he pleased. That is the way in which the right honorable gentleman comforts himself with the view that he is economising to the extent of £5,000,000, and so placing himself in a way to secure his much-desired railway. There is no doubt, however, that we shall effect a very considerable saving. At a cost of £200,000 per annum we shall for ten years insure the safety of our own coasts as well as our commerce at sea. By this agreement we shall, by a form of partnership, secure the services of the whole of the British Navy, and feel secure both as to our local defence by sea and as to the protection of our commerce -afloat. At the end of ten years we shall have attained all this at a cost which will Tse something like £3,000,000 or £5,000,000 less than w6 should have expended upon a navy of our own. During all that time we shall have purchased protection. Some honorable members have asked - “ What shall we have to show for this expenditure at the end of the ten years during which this agreement is to run 1” We shall have to show for it, I hope, a condition of absolute safety, and our own ability then to deal with our further protection in a manner such as may be most profitable to us, and best effect the purpose desired. We. should remember that in this matter we are not in the condition of a dependent State or a conquered country, paying tribute as vassals to the conquering power. We are entering into a partnership with the mother country. We are more closely bringing together our ties of common interest, and we are purchasing at this exceedingly low price the proud privilege of -being co-sharers with the mother country in that splendid navy which has built up our Empire, which has carried the British flag throughout an Empire wider than that of Akbar or Alexander, and carried with it everywhere the highest enlightenment and perfect freedom.
– It is unnecessary for me to offer any apology for speaking at this stage on o subject of so much importance, more particularly when the direction in which I intend to cast my vote seems to demand that I should do so. During this debate a flood of information has been afforded to honorable members, and quotations from the reports of experts very frequently interlard the columns of Hansard. I do not propose to trespass upon that ground, or to pose for one moment as one who has anything to put forward from actual knowledge of the subject. But, like other honorable members, I am called upon to cast my vote on a great matter- of policy, and to give some reason for the course which I propose to pursue. It is perhaps one of the singular features of this debate that the most cogent reasons for voting against the proposal have been afforded this House by honorable members who have spoken in its favour. I shall not include in that class the Minister for Defence, whose speech was everything that could be desired from the stand-point from which he views these matters, although I venture to say that it gave neither light to honorable members who were in a difficulty, nor did it explain matters which had been overlooked by the right honorable gentleman in charge of the Bill. But several honorable members who have spoken in favour of this agreement have, to a very large extent, supplied those of us who do not agree with them with very good and sufficient reasons for voting against this proposal. I may, perhaps, be permitted .to point out, even at this stage, the reason why those of us who object to this agreement are opposed to it, and to indicate the real and effectual differences that are to be noted between it and the agreement of 1887. The Auxiliary Squadron provided under the last-named ageeement is, as has been pointed out by the leader of the Opposition, a purely local force ; it is supplemental to, and not substitutive of the Imperial Squadron. The right honorable gentleman also pointed out that the agreement of 1887 stipulated that the Auxiliary Squadron should be under our own control ; that it should not be removed without our consent; and that the Imperial Squadron on the Australian station should not be lessened by reason of the fact that an Auxiliary Squadron was provided. Some fifteen years have elapsed since that agreement was made, and we are asked now to accept a proposal in lieu of it which is a direct negation of every one of the principles to which I have referred. The essentials of this agreement are that the Imperial Squadron to be provided under it shall be a substitute for the Auxiliary Squadron as well as for the Imperial Squadron now stationed here. The squadron is to be no longer under our control, and the sphere of its operations is to be extended to the China and East Indies stations. Those are the fundamental and basic differences, and I think that those who object to the agreement because of them, have ample reason for doing so. The leader of the Opposition pointed out very clearly that by virtue of this agreement we were now engaged in a partnership with the Empire. As to whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, or as to whether we should be allied to the Empire or not, it is too late at this stage in the history of our race and our nation to inquire. Whether it is for good or for evil it is evident that we are so connected. Hitherto, however, that partnership has not been upon a cash basis, nor has it taken the form of tribute. Certainly, viewed from the stand-point of a quota for our defence, the amount of the proposed contribution is a contemptible one. It has been admitted on all hands that we now enjoy, not because of this contribution, the whole weight of the protection of the British Empire, and that practically the whole British Navy is at our disposal. It is and will be, whether we pay this contribution or not.
We are now to obtain, according to the right honorable gentleman in charge of the Bill, more up-to-date vessels. That fact is undeniable, but it is also undeniable that the interests of the Empire demand the presence of these vessels on the Australian “station, and demand also that the squadron’s sphere of operations shall be extended as proposed. I do not know whether this agreement is a good one, viewed as a business transaction ; but whether it is or not, it remained for the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, to point out the grave danger that might arise if Australia were called upon to view any transaction with the mother country purely in that light. Hitherto, as I have pointed out, we have not so regarded our transactions with the mother country. Our ties have been purely sentimental, and have not been less strong because of that fact. From a national stand-point, I think that, so far as we have been able to gather, the proposed agreement is not a good one, and I very much doubt whether it is a good agreement from the stand-point of the Empire. It was reserved, I think, for the honorable and learned member for Corinella to point out how much better it would be if we agreed to pay in kind rather than in cash. Here I may be permitted to say that the leader of the Opposition, the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, furnished a number of such cogent arguments against the acceptance of the agreement, that I cannot conceive how they arrived at the conclusion they did, and how others who heard them were able to escape from the irresistible conclusion to which those arguments seem to point. The honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, stated that Lieut. -Col. Pollock in an article published in McMillan’s Magazine pointed out that -
Whatever the colonies are to do in aid of Imperial defence, must, in order to secure the best results, be absolutely spontaneous ; and later on, that the colonies - 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.
Having referred to this article, Sir Langdon Bonython went on to say -
But I maintain, as I have done before, that local defence is necessary to protect our ports, and the floating trade in Australian waters.
The honorable member afterwards said -
I heartily concur 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.
Then, as the result of these views, he intimated that he intended to support the second reading of the Bill. The honorable and learned member for Corinella said that what the Empire wanted was men, and that payment in kind would be of infinitely greater importance to the Empire than a payment on a cash basis. In support of that argument, I wish to refer to a newspaper extract showing that during the ten years between 1891 and 1901 the number of lascars on British ships increased by 12,288, and the number of other foreigners by 8,730, while the number of British seamen decreased by 7,155. In 1S91 there were 37,794 British seamen rated as ablebodied, and in 1901 there were only 28,698. Here is the position then, from the stand-point - and we have a right to continue to view it from that standpoint - of the Empire and also of Australia. There is yearly a decreasing supply of trained men available for the British Navy. It is becoming more difficult each year to obtain men to volunteer . for the service. In the face of this, we propose to rely exclusively upon that navy for defence, and we have done nothing, and, so far as I know, we propose to do nothing, to give the navy, or to give ourselves, that essential for defence of all kinds, trained men. What is. our position to-day under the proposed agreement ? The position under the existing agreement is, that we have a squadron which is at our disposal. It is said that it is not up-to-date ; nevertheless, admitttng so much, that is a defect which may be remedied. It is true that it has been supplemented, or attempted to be supplemented, by a purely local miva] force in the various States. The condition of the Queensland, Victorian, and South Australian vessels may be, if honorable members like it, beneath contempt. But that, too, is a matter which can be and ought to be remedied. The condition of the local Auxiliary Squadron is, very likely, since honorable members say so, not what it should be, but it is supplemented by an Imperial Squadron. It is proposed to substitute for all these forces, this squadron of up-to-date ships, but also to extend their sphere of operations. The right honorable gentleman in charge of the measure said, that as against the disadvantage of withdrawing the fleet from Australia to the East Indies or China in emergencies, we secure a corresponding advantage, but a far greater one,, in having the right to call upon the China and East Indian squadrons to come here. Very well, that is undeniable. But I ask honorable members whether the vulnerable part of our Empire is here or in the China seas 1 It is obviously not here at all, and it is j lust as obviously in the China seas. That is conclusively shown by the strength of thefleet at present maintained in the China seas. There is a fleet there now of four battleships, three first-class cruisers, three second-class cruisers, two third-class cruisers, and eleven sloops and gun-boats. It is proposed to maintain a very much inferior squadron here. And the squadron maintained in the East Indies is very much inferior. Russia, to-day, I understand, has 69 ships of war, all told, in the China seas.” It is there that the immediate possibilities of trouble exist. It is there that trouble is likely to arise, and it is the Empire’s interests in China that are likely chiefly to be benefited by the extended sphere of operations proposed for the new Australian Squadron. It is those interests, and not ours, which will first be attacked, and, therefore, the squadron from here is more likely to be called to the China seas than is the China squadron to come here. We do not deny that the Imperial policy demands concentration. That that is best for the Empire may be admitted. But we must remember that on matters of Imperial policy we have absolutely no voice. The Imperial authorities may extend her territories, they may enter, as they have done, into embarrassing alliances, they may declare war, or may become involved in a war, and in connexion with none of these steps have we the right to say one word. We cannot control one constituency in the Parliament which directs the affairs of the Empire, nor can we in any way, excepting by protest - which protest may be utterly disregarded, and will be disregarded if the, interests of the Empire demand it - influence the councils of the Empire. It has been reserved for the right honorable gentleman in charge of this Department to point out the possibilities of an Imperial Council, in which gentlemen like himself might lend the light of their expert knowledge to the Imperial authorities.
– I did not say that.
– So I understood. The right honorable gentleman is too bashful and too modest. He was referring not to himself, but to others. I will say then, that on this Council a gentleman from Australia less diffident than the Minister for Defence will be found advising statesmen who, guided by the traditions of ages, are directing the helm of British affairs. The Minister for Defence proposes that there shall be assembled an. Imperial Council composed of men from Canada, India, Australia, and various other places. We can well understand what a council of that sort would be, but if the Empire were directed by it, I should like to ask any’ unprejudiced person how long the Empire would last?
– They would be so foolish, I expect.
– The dangers and confusion of an aggressive Russia, of an emancipated China, would be almost innocuous compared with the devastating effects of such a council as that. We have then no voice in the control of the Empire, nor can we have any voice. In dealing with this proposal, the leader of the Opposition referred us to the very apt illustration of the gentlemen in parti-coloured blankets, who represent Algiers in the French Parliament, and he invited us to say what effect we thought they had in the> councils of that great nation, and to consider how much less influence would such a council, as is here proposed, have upon the policy of the British Empire ? It must always remain so. We are a part of the Empire, though we in the nature of things can have no voice in its policy. Yet it is undeniable that a decade ago, or fifteen years ago, in 1887, no- one would have dared, as the right honorable member for East Sydney pointed out, to make such a proposal as is made to-day - with any hope of obtaining the votes of a majority in this Chamber, or a majority of the votes in the country - a proposal to subsidize a navy not under our immediate control. In fifteen years we have removed so much from our former position that, to-day, it is regarded by a very large number of people in this country as being a proper thing to do to all)’ ourselves, to tie ourselves, if honorable members like, to rely wholly upon the naval power of an Empire over whose policy we have absolutely no control. I, for one, regard it as a great privilege to belong tothe Empire. I should not, if I were in England, belong to the “Little Englander”’ party ; but, were I in England, I should’ raise my voice and give my vote for a sane Imperial policy, as opposed to one that is apparently finding . no expression except in a continuous territorial aggrandizement, of the Empire. In my opinion thatman will do best for the great British, Empire, and best for mankind, who will call a halt in a policy which involves an ever-increasing burden of that naval and military expenditure under which theBritish taxpayer is groaning, and which affords neither commensurate benefit nor added security in return. That expenditure -has, in a, few years, risen from, £24,000,000 to £70,000’,000- an increaseof 400 per cent. It is still increasing year by year, and the British Empire is asked tokeep up her naval force equal to any triplecombination. She does so, spurred on by those insatiate ones, who are never satisfied unless she is grabbing fresh portions of empire, which they believe add to her glory, but which I, and many others, believe sapher strength with each extension of frontier. The greatest Imperialist of ancient Rome washe who pointed out - and be left the policy asa legacy to his successors - that the man who advocated the continuous extension of theRoman Empire was its greatest enemy. Ithas lately been the habit “of gentlemen here to point out that the man is an enemy of the British Empire who wishes to express, some such sound opinion as to its policy. I repeat that, if I were in England, I should not belong to the “ Little Englander “ part)’. It may be that I could not justify such an opinion from the stand-point of reason, nevertheless I do take a genuine pride in the greatness of our race.
– But the honorableand learned member thinks we should stop-
– I should never, I hope, be so carried away by the Imperialistic sentiment as not to see that the mere extension of territory is no guarantee of the stability of the Empire, much less is it an assurance of the happiness and prosperity of the people. The honorableand learned member for Corinella lent to this proposed agreement just that additional argument that it seemed to demand. Honorable members will remember that the Prime Minister seemed to have but one argument in support of his motion, and that was that the British Empire demanded the concentration of the naval force. The right honorablegentleman reiterated that sentiment again and again, as if he were ^propounding some novel doctrine, or something which would occasion hostile criticism. So much is admitted, and it may be admitted, too, that this agreement means the provision of an up-to-date force. With those two arguments, and the statement that this is a cheap agreement, the right honorable gentleman was apparently satisfied. The reiteration of these arguments served his turn in place of more cogent ones, and it remained for the honorable and learned member for Corinella to give to those who are supporting the agreement some other reasons for so doing. It remained also - by a singular commentary upon the proposal, and those who are supporting it - for that honorable and learned member to find some of the most cogent reasons why we should not support it. The honorable and learned member said that we should have four lines of defence, and that the most important of these, or the first of them at any rate, should be that by which we insured the safety of our homes and persons. The second, he said, was that by which weinsured the safety of our harbors, ports, and cities ; the third that by which we insured our coastal defence, and the fourth that by which we insured the safety of our oversea trade - by which we went out to defend our country by offensive operations. I think we may admit that that is a fair statement of his position. But what was the honorable and learned member’s reason for voting for this agreement ? It was, as he has admitted in so many words, that this- agreement would leave us in some measure defenceless. The honorable and learned member -said that the real reason for our not having an Australian Navy at the present time was that we had no efficient land force, and that our harbor defences were in a wretched and incomplete condition. That was his reason why we should not do something towards providing an efficient coastal defence of our own. But the honorable and learned member said that if he thought that this agreement was to be the final word in the aspirations of those who believed in the establishment of an Australian Navy, he would not vote for it ; but that since he believed it would only be putting it off for ten years, he would not mind voting for the agreement. Now, it is admitted that we are in a defenceless state today. It is admitted that the land defences of this country are simply beneath contempt, that we have a body of men partly trained, chiefly without guns, and that any guns we have are without ammunition. It is admitted that the whole system of land defence here is beneath contempt, and even beneath Criticism. That has been reiterated so often that every one is now beginning to realize it.
– And yet honorable members cut it down as much as they can.
– No; we cut down the frills.
– Undoubtedly we have cut “off the gold lace, and we have trimmed the right honorable gentleman’s comb.
– It is easy to talk like that.
– The right honorable gentleman has taken off his spurs, and he has sold his sword to emblazon his coat, rather than cut off his lace that he might sharpen his sword. We have no defence in this country but that of untrained men and obsolete guns.
– It is not so.
– The right honorable gentleman knows it very well. If he says that this country has ammunition, and if he also says that we have guns, it should be a very simple matter to prove that it is so. The mere vapid reiteration of the same statement will not make us believe it. On a subject such as this, I would accept, the word of the honorable, learned, and gallant member for Corinella quite as readily as that of my right honorable friend. The right honorable gentleman came to the Defence Department with as little knowledge of military and naval affairs as the most ignorant of us has now. He is, as he himself has said, a man who takes a long while to come to an opinion ; but when he comes to it, he sticks to it like grim death. In what stage, I ask, is he now ? Is becoming to his opinion, or has he come to it? If he has come to it, what is it? In what direction does he propose to go ? I can see where we shall go if we follow him very much longer. I agree with the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, that it is nothing less than a national misfortune that at this juncture the reins of defence administration should have fallen to one who has so strong an opinion and so peculiar a brain. The honorable and learned member for Corinella admits that the agreement practically postpones the creation of an Australian Navy for ten years, but he regards that as inevitable. He does not deny that if we permit to be taken from us the right of controlling the squadron which we are asked to subsidize, we shall expose our harbors and cities to the risk of destruction by swift foreign cruisers. It must be admitted that the risk of devastation being wrought by a fast cruiser is certainly not less to-day than it was in the time of the Alabama. The mobility of cruisers is greater to-day than it was then, while their destructive power has infinitely increased, while, on the other hand, our merchant shipping is not better equipped . with means for escaping them. The safety of our shipping can be insured only by the continuous and vigilant policeing of the seas, and yet we are now being asked to cast a vote which will remove from our shores that localized naval force without which we cannot even partially insure it. I admit at once that it is almost impossible to insure absolute immunity from attack on a coast line of over 8,000 miles in extent, but between absolute immunity from attack and the insurance that a moderately efficient fleet would give there is a wide gulf fixed. The force which we are now asked to subsidize may be called away from Australia to fight the battles of the Empire in some other quarter of the world, and what is to become of our coastal cities while it is away 1 The honorable and learned member for Corinella has asked - What is the destruction of a few ships upon our coasts compared with the maintenance of the power of the Empire 1 If we have to decide whether we shall preserve our shipping or allow the safety of the Empire to be menaced, I say that the ships must go and the Empire must stand.’ But is that the onlyalternative? If the safety of the Empire demands that the Imperial squadron in these waters shall go to China, our commerce will be left exposed to the attacks of the enemy, and if it be asserted that we must, then, in the interests of the Empire, remain defenceless, our people should have an opportunity to give their opinion upon the situation. If the Empire could be saved only by. the complete sacrifice of our cities, our commerce, and our very nationhood, that sacrifice might have to be made, but it is perfectly clear that those who assert that it is necessary are not, and never will be, able to prove their assertion. The most efficient way in which we can aid the Empire is to leave Great Britain unfettered in its operations in other parts of the world, by giving her the positive assurance that, whatever may come, we shall render a good account of ourselves here both on land and on sea. If our fortunes are bound up so intricately with those of the Empire, why has Great Britain left our land defence unreservedly to us ? The British forces were withdrawn from these shores is. 1870, and since that time Great Britain has been content to rely upon our loyalty in the matter of land defence. In that I think she has not made a mistake. But are we not to take upon, our shoulders the, perhaps, still more important duty of defending our coast line ? It is only after the first line of defence has been broken through, by the defeat or avoidance of our localized squadron, that our second line, our harbor and city defences, can be attacked ; and it is only when they have been broken through that we shall be exposed to the danger of attacks upon land. It seems to me chat as the various portions of the Empire are so widely separated from each other, it . is the absolute and positive duty of each integral self-governing part to provide for its own defence. Then, when the Imperial Squadron is in times of emergency sent elsewhere, we can rely upon ourselves. Ours is an Empire which is for ever growing. It has during the last fifteen years increased its territory by 33 per cent. There has. been hardly a month, and certainly not a year within the last decade or quarter of a century, if not within the last 50 years, in which Great Britain has not been engaged in war. In one place or another, the British have been either seeking fresh fields or defending possessions which they have already obtained. As the Empire is always growing, war is a condition apparently natural and even inevitable. Under these circumstances, when, the day comes, as it inevitably will, when the struggle for the world’s supremacy will be waged between Great Britain and Russia, or some other power or combination of powers, it will be a struggle to thedeath. To my mind. there is no room on the earth for two such powers as Great Britain and Russia. The talk about a. cordial understanding between them is. amusing reading in the cablegrams which are printed in the morning newspapers, and a fie subject for the leading articles which appear on Saturdays when news is slack. But, in point of fact, Russia knows no landmark, and the only thing that will stop her advance is an armed force. As for Great Britain, we who are her children know well that when slip, has her hands on a thing she is not likely lightly to let go. But, when the Empire is engaged in a death grip with Russia or some other power, what will become of Australia? When that day comes, not one vessel of the Imperial Squadron can be spared for local defence, and our shores will then be defenceless, and exposed to the attacks of raiding cruisers, unless we are prepared to defend them ourselves. Yet it is calmly proposed by this agreement to remove the local Imperial fleet now stationed here, and - though not in so many words - to give the deathblow to the budding aspirations for an Australian Navy. As to the cost of such a navy I say nothing; that is a question for -experts. But no matter what it costs, we must have it if it be necessary.
– The honorable membur does not say’ whether it is or is not necessary.
– I do not know ; but if it is necessary, we must have it. A local naval defence force may have deficiencies, but it is only in such a fleet that we can train the naval spirit which is inherent in the British race, and which now lacks development here for want of training, and when the day of peril comes, we must have a fleet in being. Neither valour, nor enthusiasm, nor discipline, nor the lavish expenditure of money will serve us then, without a fleet, and trained men to man it. To create such a fleet we require, not merely the money to build the ships, but the time and opportunities for training the men. Apparently, however, we shall lack both men and ships. It does not appear in the agreement that the 1,600 men who have been spoken of are to be trained upon the Imperial Squadron, but, if they are so trained, they may be called upon to fight in defence of the Empire in China or elsewhere, and we shall be without their services. To obtain trained men and a fleet in being we must set about the business before they are actually required. It has been said that our interests are so closely allied to those of the Empire that, if it falls, we must fall. It may be that that is so. But there is a great difference between the fall of the Empire and the withdrawal of the Imperial Squadron from our coast. The Imperial fleets might be victorious everywhere, though they could be so only by the concentration of every ship, and yet we might be left temporarily as defenceless as if they were annihilated. Even continuous and complete victories might leave us open to the* attacks of raiding cruisers. But in the most prosperous days of our history there have been reverses, and one reverse, though only a temporary one, would leave us absolutely at the mercy of the enemy. What then are we to do ? We have been told by the Minister for Defence that we shall save enough money by subscribing to this agreement to build the transcontinental railway. But we might, by the bombardment of Sydney, or of some other coastal city, lose in twenty-four hours property which would be worth a sum which would construct a dozen transcontinental railways. If the British fleet is withdrawn, what protection shall we have from raiding cruisers ? Absolutely none. But it is the business of Australians to defend Australia, whether it costs much money or little. It is the inherent duty of every citizen to defend his country himself, and not to hire others to do it for him. In that way, and in that way alone, has the British Empire been built up and defended. Would an Englishman vote for this agreement if it were to be applied to England 1 Would an Englishman in Middlesex, or a Scotchman in Midlothian, cast his vote in favour of an agreement which would leave him absolutely denuded of support in the hour of danger? If the interests of the Empire demanded it, would a Londoner, for instance, agree that the Channel Squadron should be withdrawn and concentrated in the Mediterranean, or in the seasat some point east of Suez ? Certainly not. Have not the residents in Great Britain a positive assurance that, whatever comes or goes, there will always be upon their coasts a sufficient number of vessels .to cope with any hostile force that may menace them? We have no such assurance. We have to be not only loyal to the Empire, but a hundred times more loyal than are those who reside in England or Scotland. Loyalty to the Empire is an admirable thing, and I yield to no man in that respect. But I demand to be placed upon the same footing as the Englishman who lives in England. As one who is not living in England, I resolutely decline to allow this part of the Empire to be left absolutely defenceless. The agreement put forward is, no doubt, admirable, so far as the whole interests of the Empire are concerned, but it affords no assurance of safety for this particular part of the British dominions. Great Britain assures not only safety to the Empire ‘as a whole, but by her naval and military defences secures the safety of her own shores. We at least should do no less. I feel compelled to vote against the Bill, because I conceive that it involves a radical departure from the old agreement, inasmuch as it proposes to substitute for a force that was locally controlled one that is to be no longer placed wholly at the disposal of the Commonwealth. It is proposed to substitute for an Auxiliary Squadron combined with an Imperial Squadron, solely an Imperial Squadron, of greater power, but no longer localized in its operations to Australian seas. In short, it is proposed to substitute for a system more or less efficient for local defences one which is no doubt admirably adapted to the interests of the Empire, but which will not in times of danger assure the safety of these shores. It is at such times of danger that the services of the Australian Squadron, will necessarily be called into requisition in other parts of the Empire. Only once during the last twenty years has there ever been any danger of a raid upon Australia. In 1S85 there was some such danger, and I remember very vividly indeed the fearful state of funk or chaos into which we were then thrown. I was in Brisbane, and I remember one night, when the alarm-bell rang out, and it was seriously stated that a Russian man-of-war had been seen coming up past Fort Lytton. I was a coherent part of the Queensland Navy then, and no doubt I should have done a great, deal in my own way to stop the Russian cruiser. I remember being mobilized in a great hurry, and seeing a large and ever-increasing crowd of people making for the railway station. They were thus displaying the characteristic of our race, which combines with the valour that takes no thought of obstacles or difficulties that discretion which enables us to again come up smiling on some more aus- picious occasion. With the exception of that wild and improbable alarm there has been no menace to Australia during the last 20 years. During the last five years, however, there has centred round China the whole of the possibilities of a world conflict, and to-day that country is the seat of a European disturbance. There are massed in the China seas 69 Russian war vessels, whilst the British Navy is represented by a local squadron of four line-of-battle-ships besides other vessels ; and all the probabilities point clearly to British interests being most vulnerable at that point. Australia, on the other hand, is perhaps the least vulnerable part of the Empire, and therefore when the squadrons are concentrated where they are most required we shall be left defenceless. Noone can deny that the withdrawal of the squadron would leave us absolutely defenceless. Those who argue in favour of the agreement urge that it may be necessary in the interests of the Empire that the whole of our squadron shall be withdrawnDoubtless it is so, and therefore it behoves us to see that we are enabled, during the absence of the squadron, to give a good account of ourselves, to safeguard our commerce; to protect our cities, and to give some assurance to our wives and families that they will be protected. I shall vote against the proposed agreement, because I conceive that it contemplates so wide a departure from the existing agreement that the people of this country ought to be consulted. They ought to be asked whether they are in favour of the agreement. I donot say that they will not give an affirmative answer. I do not deny that the Imperial sentiment is so widely disseminated throughout Australia that its people may be prepared to accept the agreement.
– Hear, hear.
– The right honorable gentleman occupies a most pathetic position as one of those who profess to know the true state of public opinion. The right honorable gentleman thinks he knows what the people are going to do, but it would be a lamentable thing if my right honorable friend, with his well-known opinions, could give a correct forecast of what the people are, going to say. The people of the Commonwealth ought to have an opportunity of saying whether they are prepared, in their zeal for the Empire and for Imperial interests, to cast their votes in favour of an agreement which leaves them absolutely defenceless in time of war. If they like to do that let them do it ; but atleast they should have an opportunity of expressing their disapproval. The Prime Minister had no mandate from the people to enter into such an agreement, and Parliament has no authority to ratify it. Parliament, no doubt, has the constitutional power to do so, but it has no authority from the people. Since so long a time has elapsedsince the Prime Minister, for his part, entered into the agreement, and since no evil can result from a further delay of some three to six months, I fed that I must vote for the amendment.
– I do not think I can add very much to the fund of information that has already been laid before the House, and I do not therefore propose to speak at any great length. The question, however, is one of so much importance that I do not think I ought to cast a silent vote. As the debate has proceeded I have been surprised to discover that we have in this House so many “men-of-war.” Apparently quite a large number of honorable members have had practical experience of naval warfare, in which, however, the mother’s washing tub seems to have played a very important part. My own experience has been very limited, and, therefore, I am not in a position to entertain honorable members with any reminiscences. I do not forget that some two years ago, when addressing myself to the motion for the second reading of the Defence Bill, ‘ I spoke in favour of an agreement of the nature of that now before us. At that time, however, we had no indication of the terms embodied in the Bill. Had provision been made with a view to the ultimate establishment of an Australian Navy, I should no doubt have been able to support the measure, but as that element has been entirely ignored, I shall be obliged to vote against it. When the Prime Minister was in London he apparently overlooked the naval spirit which has already been evinced throughout Australia. In fact, “Australia’s noblest son” appears to have forgotten for the time being that he was an Australian. Talk as we may of the love of the seas being inherent in the British race, or of the glorious deeds of the “hearts of oak,” we can come to no other conclusion than that which I have indicated with regard to the mental attitude of the Prime Minister. We ought to look at this question as Australians, and keep before us’ the possibility of doing something substantial for the future welfare of the Commonwealth. We all glory as much as the Prime- Minister does in the magnificent history of the great nation to which we belong, and whilst being as strong in my loyalty as any honorable member, I must join the leader of the Opposition in objecting strongly to liployalty playing so prominent a part in this discussion. I think that it is unfortunate that the word “ loyalty “ was made use of. I have seen no reason for the slightest hint . of any want of loyalty to the Empire on the part of one side or the other. Those who are opposed to the agreement might repel any insinuation of that kind by asserting that those who are supporting the agreement are disloyal to Australia. It should not, however, be necessary to make such statements on one side or the other. I am quite sure that all honorable members are equally loyal to the motherland. I have spent over 40 years in Australia, and I should knock down the man who hinted at disloyalty on my part. I ask - “ What does this agreement offer to Australia?” “ Safety,” may be the reply. But do we measure the protection of children by their mother by money considerations ? I think not, and I refuse to believe that any such sordid consideration ‘ could enter into the relationship between Australia and the mother country. In the Empire’s need - and I am referring more particularly to the recent war in South Africa - did Australia measure her loyalty by any monetary consideration ? Most decidedly not ! Without counting the cost, we poured out our life-blood and our treasure from loyalty to the motherland. I trust that honorable members will not misunderstand me. I am not one of those who arecontent to rely solely upon the sympathies of the Empire for our protection. I trust that at all times I shall be prepared to bear my share of the cost of providing Australia with adequate naval protection. But I am not prepared to allow all the provision which we have made for our own defence to go for naught. In this connexion we have made considerable progress, ‘ and under very disheartening influences. If this agreement be accepted that progress will count for nothing. The Australian coast is populated by an ocean-loving race, in whom a strong desire has been implanted to build up a naval system of our own. The most practical way in which we can evidence our loyalty to the great Empire to which we. belong is by relieving her as rauch as possible of the responsibility of protecting us. The Prime Minister when in England appeared to utterly forget that he was an Australian, and that his fellow countrymen eagerly sought an opportunity to perfect themselves in naval tactics. In Queensland there is a large number of fine young men who have devoted some years of labour, -and spent considerably of their own substance in an endeavour to perfect themselves in these tactics. Doubtless the same remark is applicable to every other State. Under this Bill it is proposed that we shall thoroughly dishearten these men. Further, I entertain a very strong objection to Australia becoming a recruiting ground for the Imperial Navy. The Government have asked us to adopt the proposed agreement. I cannot do that unless I disregard the aspirations of our young men to become rulers of the seas surrounding our coast. I do not object to the amount that is involved in the proposed contribution. That, however, is not the question which is under consideration. I object to the utter absence from the agreement of any provision foi- the establishment of an Australian fleet. Even had it contained provision for the creation of a local navy at a future date I should have supported it. I really cannot understand the action of the Prime Minister in pledging himself to an agreement of this nature. Even if provision had been made in it for the training of Australian seamen under Australian officers there might have been some reason for its acceptance. But evidently the Prime Minister had not given a single thought to the necessity for establishing an Australian Navy. That fact is to be regretted, because no more opportune period for creating the nucleus of such a force could possibly have presented itself. Under this agreement we are asked to pay interest at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum upon £4,000,000. In other words, during its currency we shall pay away not less than £2,000,000. At the end of that period what shall we have to show for such a large expenditure1! We shall not have even a canoe by which we could cross the Yarra. Reference has been made to the provision in the agreement for the training of Australian seamen. I do not attach very much importance to that provision, because the training of our young men upon Imperial warships will be of very little advantage to the
Commonwealth unless it has ships of its own to which they can be drafted. As we possess no ships, these men will be compelled to take service upon Imperial vessels in order to earn a livelihood, and by that process the Commonwealth will lose the best of its manhood. Under the existing agreement we have already paid £1,500,000 in the form of naval subsidy to Great Britain, and for that expenditure we have derived no direct advantage. The payment of a much larger sum will be productive of a similar result. .In my opinion the old agreement is rauch better than is the new one. Under the former the squadron remained in Australian waters, and to that extent we exercised some eontrol over it, whereas under the proposed agreement it may be removed to China, or elsewhere, even in our hour of need, thus leaving Australia utterly defenceless. I regret that I am unable to support the Bill, realizing, as I do, that the Commonwealth needs some system of naval defence. In conclusion, I cannot do better than read an extract from a leading article, dealing with this subject, which appeared in the Brisbane Courier on the 9th July.
– The honorable member spoke in an altogether different strain last time.
– I have already explained that the agreement was not then before us. The Minister for Defence, I take it, has had very little hand in drawing up that agreement, and, therefore, I attach no blame to him. I am, however, utterly astonished that the Prime Minister, in entering into an agreement of this sort, should have utterly failed to recognise the necessity for making some provision for’ the future establishment of an Australian Navy. After referring to both agreements, the Brisbane Courier said -
No reasonable objection could be offered to the amount of contribution required from Australia under the proposed agreement, if it in any way secured the nucleus of a future navy and made adequate provision for the training of Australian seamen ; but in this respect the new agreement has the same faults as the old one. This means, in other words, that after the lapse of more than a- quarter of a century Australia will be in the same dependent position as when Admiral Tryon first directed attention to the’ need of utilizing Australian resources, patriotism, and seamanship, for purposes cif local naval defence. The expenditure of an additional £2,000,000 within the next ten years will, under the proposed scheme, still leave
Australians without a war vessel of their own, and no forward step will have been taken in the creation of a distinctive navy. The scheme is also open to objection on the ground that it surrenders the responsibilities of the Commonwealth Government into the hands of on Imperial Department, in the control of which Australians have no representation. The ships of the old squadron could not be removed from Australian waters without the consent of the contributing colonies, but though six of. these have now been amalgamated into the one Commonwealth, thus making the necessary sanction easier, it is proposed to give the Admiralty power to use the’ vessels of the new squadron wherever it is believed ‘ ‘ they can most effectively act against hostile vessels which threaten the trade or interests of Australia and New Zealand. “
A more recent article which appeared in the same newspaper on Thursday, 16th July last, says : -
There is no certainty that the protection of our floating trade will, in time of war, be deemed on essential part of the general schemes of the Admiralty authorities, in their impossible endeavours to bottle up an enemy’s vessels within the numerous ports and seas of the Pacific and the Far East. The very terms of the new agreement assume that Australia is not entitled to the same local protection which is enjoyed by the United Kingdom ; and, if this assumption be admitted in time of peace, what chance is there that our. special interests will receive consideration during the stress of an Imperial war? If it be said that the authority of the Admiralty would be used wisely under such circumstances, is it not equally fair to say that similar wisdom would be shown if the same authority were given to the Commonwealth iii permitting the new squadron to be used outside Australian waters ? ‘ ‘ The sea is one,” said Sir John Forrest, ‘ and there can only be one navy. “ It would have been more pertinent if he said that Australian defence is one. For this reason alone it would be well if the Naval Agreement Bill were postponed until proper consideration has been given to the bearing of its provisions on our local naval and. land forces, which are now in a demoralized condition. The proper organization of Australian defence in the co-ordination of all its details will be rendered impossible by the hurried acceptance of an agreement which surrenders principles without giving any compensating advantages.
It would be very much better if consideration of the proposed agreement were deferred until the people of Australia during the next few months had had an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon it. There is not the slightest necessity for hurrying the matter through this House in the way that seems to be desired. 1 shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.
– Although I make no pretence of possessing any special knowledge upon naval matters, the great importance of this question is in itself sufficient to justify me in addressing the House. It will be conceded by all that these States owe the opportunities which they have hitherto enjoyed for developing their civilization and progress to the protection which has been accorded to them by Great Britain. I sincerely trust the day will never come when Great Britain is not ready to render us assistance, or when the people of Australia, who are now living under the Crown, will be unprepared to do their duty when the Empire calls. The present position at which Australia has arrived as a dependency of the British Crown was marvellously foretold by a well-known Professor of Oxford University when delivering a series of addresses on Tlie Colonization qf /.he Colonies in the years 1839-40. I refer to Professor Merivale ; and I ask the House to bear with me while I read a rather long extract from his utterances. Professor Merivale said -
It does not follow, as a necessary consequence, that the attainment of domestic freedom is inconsistent with a continued dependence on the Imperial sovereignty. The epoch of separation is not marked and definite - a necessary point in the cycle of human affairs, as some theorists have regarded it. ‘ Union might be preserved, for any reason which theory has to show against it, long after the sense of necessary dependence is gone. I do not speak of that inglorious and unlovely subjection which may be maintained by force, a possibility to which the last few years have given more colour than over from the increased facilities of communication, and the terrible strength which has been added to the resources of modern war, but one which every wise man must deprecate as a far worse result than that which it prevents ; but the mere political link of sovereignty may remain, by amicable consent, long after the colony has acquired sufficient strength to stand alone. Existing relations may be preserved by very slight sacrifices, on terms of mutual good-will ; but this can only be by the gradual relaxation of the ties of dependence. The union must more and more lose the protective and approximate to the federative character, and the Crown may remain at last, in solitary supremacy, the only common authority recognised by many different Legislatures - by many nations politically and socially distinct. On such conditions as these - and assuredly if not on these, then on none - may we not conceive England as retaining the seat of the chief executive authority, the prescriptive reverence of her station, the superiority belonging to her vast accumulated wealth, as the commercial metropolis of the world, and united by these ties only with .a hundred nations, not unconnected, like those which 3’ielded to the spear of the Roman, but her own children, owning one faith and one language ? May we not figure to ourselves, scattered thick as stars over the surface of this earth, communities of citizens owning the name of Britons, bound by allegiance to a British Sovereign,’ and uniting heart and hand in maintaining the supremacy of Britain on every shore which her unconquered flag can. reach ? These may be extravagant views, but, if rightly understood, they have this advantage, that the pursuit of them cannot lead the mind to wander in an unprofitable track. They are altogether inconsistent with the notions which have, at different times, led this country so fatally astray in the defence of valueless rights or imaginary advantages ; they are altogether inconsistent with the idea of a subjection enforced by bayonets, of a subjection bought through the means of a constant and gulling expenditure, or bought b3’ the still more injurious method of conceding commercial monopolies.
It will be seen that the present stage in our national existence was accurately foretold by Professor Merivale. We are here now, one of the “ stars “ of the surface of the earth, bound by allegiance to the British Sovereign; and surely our action in South Africa and China has shown that we are prepared to stand side by side with Great Britain “ oh every shore which her unconquered flag can reach,” and to remain part and parcel of the Empire for good or ill, for weal or woe. Whatever we may think of the agreement which it is now proposed shall be ratified by this Parliament, or whatever we may think of the means or mode by which it was entered into, I feel sure that no action of this Parliament will allow any man in Great Britain to think for one moment that we in Australia wish to avoid our responsibilities or duties in connexion with the defences of the Empire. The proposed agreement may or may not be a fair one. It is absolutely impossible to estimate in a monetary sense what has been done by Great Britain for these colonies, which are now a Federated Australia. (We have had the protection of Great Britain - she gave us responsible government, and granted to ns our Constitution, and to her we owe practically everything we have. On the other hand, it is just as impossible to estimate in a monetary sense what has been done by Australia for the Empire. We have here developed, as far as was in our power, the vast resources of this continent. We have, out of our own pockets, established bases for naval purposes, which are now, and will be in the future, of very great value should Britain be engaged in war either in the Eastern Seas or in the South Pacific. So far as Great Britain and Australia are concerned, it is, as I say, absolutely impossible, from a monetary point of view, to estimate what has been done by the one for the other. It was pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that encouragement has in the past been given by the Empire to these colonies to establish navies’ and provide other defences for ourselves, and that the proposed agreement is practically a reversal of the Imperial policy in Australia for many years past. Under the old system, when we were six disunited colonies, the agreement of 1887 gave us power and control over the Auxiliary Squadron, which, in consequence, could not leave Australian waters without the consent of the six Governments concerned. The six colonies are now united as the Australian Commonwealth, and it appears to me that instead of the national Government of this continent becoming greater and stronger, it is, by the proposed agreement, practically put into a weaker position than that which was occupied previously by the States. This change, we are told, is necessary for the purposes of concentration. It has been pointed out by several speakers that a decisive battle may be fought many miles from Australia, and that the result will mean either security or danger foi- the people of this continent. The leader of the Opposition held very strongly that if this agreement had in 1887 been submitted to the people it ‘ would have been absolutely scouted. The right honorable gentleman submitted, first, that if there was to be no Auxiliary Squadron, that would form one very strong reason why Australia would not accept the agreement now proposed. The second objection raised by the leader of the Opposition was in regard to the Imperial fleet being removed from these waters without the consent of the Government of Australia; the third objection was, that the limits of the station would be enlarged ; and the fourth objection, that there was to be only one squadron instead of two. ‘ As an argument for the new agreement, it has been pointed out that events have marched in a marvellous manner since the agreement of 1887. That is perfectly true. There have been marvellous changes in armament and in the development of fleets, and other matters connected with warfare ; so much so, that in England there is expended on the navy alone a sum of £39,000,000 per annum. But there have also; been changes consequent on the Federation of the six colonies as the Commonwealth of [Australia. What was it that galvanized into life the question of Australian
Federation1! Was it not the report of Major-General Edwards on the Defences of the Australian Colonies, which resulted in the question of Federation being taken up by Sir Henry Parkes, and in the meeting of the first Federal Convention of 1891. I I should like to remind honorable members of what was done by Sir Henry Parkes at that Convention. I am always ready to refer to that great statesmen, because I believe it would be far better for the welfare of the people of Australia, if the great ideals which he placed before us when he was advocating Federation, had been moreclosely kept in view by this Parliament than they have been up to the present. The third motion, which Sir Henry Parkes moved at the Convention, was -
That the- Naval and Military Defences of Australia shall be intrusted to Federal forces under one command.
In supporting that motion Sir Henry Parkes made use of these words -
Whatever our views may be on other points, I think we shall all be agreed upon this, that for the defence of Australia - to be economical - to !be efficient - to be equal to the emergency that may arise at any time, it must be of a Federal -character and must be under one command. I jim seeking to simplify my. words as much as possible. I do not mean that the land forces and the naval forces shall be under one commandinchief, but that they should be under one kindred command ; that the naval officer in command, equally with the military officer, shall bea Federal officer, and amenable to the National Government of Australia
In the agreement now before us we are distinctly getting away from what was laid down by Sir Henry Parkes in the National Convention of 1891. I ask those honorable members who were in that Convention - I fisk all honorable members of this House, and, indeed, every person throughout Australia - whether there was an v charge of disloyalty associated with Sir Henry Parkes when he expressed the opinion that for the defences of Australia to be economical and efficient in any emergency that might arise the forces should be put under one command, and should be amenable to the Federal Government of Australia ? No -accusation of disloyalty was made in connexion with those proposals ; and I feel that no such accusation will be made against any person who may advocate the establishment of an Australian Navy which shall be subject and amenable to Federal control.
– Some honorable members of this House see disloyalty in opinions of that kind.
– That is why I make the remark. I do not think it is fair to impute to any honorable member a want of loyalty because he happens to be in favour of the establishment of an Australian Navy. It was pointed out by the honorable member for Richmond that it would be disastrous to have any division of control as between the British Navy and an Australian Squadron. I know the honorable member for Richmond was a great admirer and strong supporter of the great statesman, to whose remarks I now invite his attention. . I ask the honorable member for Richmond, if, after hearing what Sir Henry Parkes said, he thinks there is any danger likely to arise from an Australian Navy being placed under the control of the Federal authorities. Although for the purposes of the defence of the Empire an Imperial fleet may be withdrawn from Australia and taken to China or any part of the world, it appears to me absolutely essential for the effective defence of Australia that, in addition to an Imperial fleet there should be an Australian Squadron for coastal defence. It was well pointed out by the honorable and learned member foi’ Bendigo that our Constitution gives us the power to establish naval defences for the first time in the history of colonial constitutions. Did not the Imperial authorities expect us to exercise that power when they granted the Constitution t I am sure every honorable member of the House has read or heard of what was said in England at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, namely, that a new power was rising in the Pacific, lt was pointed out that Australia being an island continent, whose future must be of a maritime character, it was necessary to her proper development thatshe should have a navy for her protection. It was also pointed out that if this navy were established by Australia it would be a means of help to the Empire. I shall quote one of the great English newspapers on the question, although I feel sure honorable members have seen the same opinions expressed time after time. The Spectator of 2nd November, 1889, at the time Sir Henry Parkes brought forward a project for Aus tralian Federation, said this : -
The first object is to place the colonies in position to defend themselves without” assistance from the mother country.
Further on in the same issue of the Spectator there occurs the following : -
The great southern State will be an island, and, like every other island, cannot avoid incessant relations with every other power in the world. Water divides, but it also unites, for it furnishes a perpetually open road. Australia, as a republic, cannot help being a maritime power, and, from the days of Phoenicia downwards, there never was a maritime power yet without a foreign policy. She is too liable to attack, too eager for commerce, too clearly compelled to protect settlements and subjects at a distance from her own shores. It is a fleet Australia will need rather than a militia.
Judging from the public opinion expressed in England when that power was given to us, I think that the British people expected us to establish an Australian Navy, which would be a help to England - at any rate, in these waters, and the honorable and learned member for Bendigo very properly asks whether we are to abrogate that political right, and abandon the great duty which was placed upon us by the Constitution of providing sufficient defence for the people of Australia. It appears to me that those who are content with this agreement have given us the strongest arguments for the establishment of an Australian Navy. I intend to vote for the acceptance of the agreement, but I think that the Government ought to do something more than merely to be content with paying over £200,000 a year, which, although a large amount for us, is too small to be of any assistance to a power which spends £39,000,000 a year on the maintenance of a navy.
– It is the assertion of a principle rather than the amount of the subsidy.
– It is the question of showing loyalty to the Empire as to which the honorable and learned member, perhaps equally with myself, is so keen. It is the fear of being misunderstood by the people of England as well as for other reasons that induces me to vote for the acceptance of the agreement. But I should like to ask my honorable and learned friend, and those who are associated with him on the other side of the House, whether they have always been so keen in their demonstration of loyalty to the country which has done so much for them 1 I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs, with his self-contained policy for a country which, on the showing of the Prime Minister, is not capable of defending its industries, or the hearths and homes of ‘its people, what was he prepared to do, so far as loyalty to England is concerned, if he and his supporters had had their way 1 Not one single ton of British goods would have been allowed to pass into the ports of Australia. In that direction they could have loyally assisted the old country ; but their loyalty was gone when it was a question of mere monetary advantage - a question of serving petty selfish ends, and the interests of certain classes in Australia. That was the sort of loyalty which was shown by the Minister for Tradeand Customs, the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and others whoare associated with him. The honorable member for Richmond has spoken very strongly in favour of this agreement as a demonstration of loyalty to theEmpire. From beginning to end his speech was full of eloquent references of loyalty to the grand old mother country ; but what does his loyalty amount to 1 It was the same as that of theMinister for Trade and Customs in connexion with the Tariff. He is convinced that we must do something now to show our loyalty, and the extent of it is to pay £200,000 a year. He says- “This is the cheapest thing we can do in the cheapest time that Australia has ever known.” The extent of his loyalty is to ‘do the cheapest thing he possibly can in the cheapest time that .Australia has ever known. How does the Prime Minister deal with this question 1 He talks of it as a business: deal ; he speaks of getting the best of England in a business deal. I sincerely trust that we have not arrived at that stage in our relations with the Empire when we wish to get the best of her in a business deal. Did we show any disposition of that sort when we sent our contingents to South Africa, when we sent a contingent to China, when we shed our life’s blood, and spent hundreds of thousands of pounds. No ; and should England be in danger to-morrow we should be equally prepared - every native-born Australian, as well as those who have come from the old country - not only to spend our money, but to send our men in aid of her. The objection which the advocates of an Australian Navy are met with is that we cannot stand the expense. It has been pointed out clearly by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that the financial aspect of the proposal has been altogether exaggerated. AVe heard that an Australian Navy would cost millions and millions ; but we have it, on the admission of the Prime Minister in answer to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that a navy equal to the squadron which is to be sent out would cost about £500,000 a year. By means of their Tariff the Government were prepared to drag £11,000,000 or £1 2,000,000 out of the pockets of the people; but by the action of the Opposition it was amended until it is producing about £10,000,000. While content to drag that money out of the pockets of the people in a time of drought, when our farmers were losing their herds, and our pastoralists their flocks, the Government are not prepared to spend £500,000 a year to provide for the defence of Australia. They seem to think that they have done their duty when they have paid over £200,000 to the British Government. It looks very much as if it is to be a constant payment for our defence. We have had an agreement since 1887, and we are asked to enter into another agreement for a period of ten years. May not the principle be developed to such an extent that this constant expenditure may become galling to the people of Australia ? That is one of the great dangers which may result from this new Imperialism which is being promulgated everywhere. The Empire has never been held together by any contribution of this character. It has been held together purely by sentiment, and if this annual contribution is to be levied upon us, the time may come - I hope it never will - when it may be galling to the Australian people. I do not think that our duty to the people of Australia is discharged simply by doing what is asked in this agreement. We ought also to establish the nucleus of an Australian Navy for the purpose of coastal defence. In finishing his speech the other night, the Prime Minister quoted those eloquent lines -
Sail on, O ship of State !
Sail on, O union, strong and great !
– We are sailing on all right.
– The honorable member for Dally interjects - “ We are sailing on all right,” but instead of showing strength we are showing weakness. Instead of showing ourselves a source of strength, we are merely hanging on to England as a pauper dependent. It was through putting forward the idea that Australia could not afford to do this and that thing that this agreement was entered into by the Prime Minister with the Imperial authorities.
I object to Australia being represented as a pauper dependent of England. I wish to see, and I feel sure that every honorable member desires to see, Australia not a pauper dependent, but a proud, sturdy support of the Empire in these southern seas. I contend that in entering into this agreement we have not done enough. We are showing weakness in hanging on to the old mother country, which honorable members opposite are never tired of representing to us as a country which is staggering under its burdens. I do not think that Great Britain is staggering under its burdens. But, instead of hanging on to her as we have been doing, we ought to put ourselves in such a position that we could enter into a firm, honest, and honorable alliance with her. I did intend to speak at greater length, but the matters to which I desired to refer have been mentioned so often that I shall not weary the House by repeating them. I trust that we are prepared to pay the sum of £200,000 a year which Great Britain has asked us to pay, and that the time is not far distant when we shall have a bolder and broader policy put forward by men holding the reins of office, and that they will be prepared to take, up the question of establishing an Australian Navy which will meet the aspirations of the people of Australia, and that the humanity of the Commonwealth may have no doubts and fears that in its future ample protection will be provided for safeguarding the great country which we are now developing.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for Illawarra that the amount of this naval subsidy is a mere drop in the bucket compared with what is spent by the British taxpayers on the British Navy. From my point of view our bargain - if it is looked upon as a bargain - is a very contemptible one. The payment of £200,000 a year is hardly worth consideration’. I oppose the proposal of the Government, not on the score of cost, but on principle. I also think that the time has come when Australia should give assistance to the Empire, quite apart from this monetary contribution.
– Would the honorable member vote half-a-million towards the navy?
– I should vote a good deal more than that sum if it were proposed ; but, unlike , the honorable member and his confreres who object to more taxation, I should make the people who require this defence pay for it. The great fault I find with the mother State of the Union, is its confounded meanness, not only in this respect, but in every other respect. It -will not put its hand into its pocket to pay for anything. Its- press is always asking for something, and yet it is continually growling about the extravagance of the Federal Government, and at the same time saying that the people are being taxed up to the hilt. I think that this sum of £200,000 might be spent to very much better advantage. In his speech, the Prime Minister mentioned the class of vessels which we are to have in the projected fleet. He spoke of the Amethyst as a vessel of considerable capacity, carrying a number of guns and capable of steaming 21 knots, and, I think, he mentioned that she cost £220,000. Suppose that we had eight vessels of that class at a cost of £2,000,000, and we spread the expenditure over a period of eight years - that is to say, suppose we spent £250,000 instead of £200,000 a year as proposed - then, at the end of eight years, we should have a fleet of our own.
– In the meantime, what about our defence ?
– Does any one suppose for a’ moment that England would leave us unprotected? Does her history during the past few years show that that is likely to happen? Why would England protect us ? We have nothing of our own to protect. We have not a ship upon the waters. The very vessels trading upon our coasts are owned “by English shareholders. The cargo does not belong to us - not a pennyworth of it. Every shilling’s worth of cargo is in pawn. This very building is in pawn. The furniture upon which we sit is pawned. We have nothing to protect - not a single thing. The British taxpayer will protect his own. He has done so in thepast, and will do so in the future. So far as concerns the defenceof our coasts or shipping, we have not the slightest need for fear. We shall be protected, because the pawnbroker has got us in pledge, and will take care that we are looked after. Let honorable members consider what happened a little while ago when England joined with Germany in coercing Venezuela for the sake of a few thousand pounds. The whole debt of Germany was I think £63,000. I do not know what the English claim amounted to, but I do not suppose it was much more than that of Germany. But England joined Germany in coercing Venezuela, though by so doing she ran the risk of offending a Power with which England should always endeavour to be on the most amicable terms, namely, the United States of America, where the friction caused by England’s action was very great. England at that time was really acting as a ‘ bailiff - neither more nor less. Her ships had the Union Jack at the masthead, instead of which they should have been decorated with three brazen balls. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in discussing this question, pointed out very clearly that we have not much to fear from the attacks of a foreign fleet. ThePrime Minister urges that - “Where the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” The right honorable gentleman argued that as long as the watch-dog was at the outer door, it would have to be destroyed before our ports could be attacked. But the honorable and learned memberfor Bendigo showed that we have nothing to fear from armed cruisers so much as. from privateers, or armed merchant vessels. Suppose the British fleet were concentrated at one particular place, where it fought thecombined fleets of powers with whom Great Britain was at war. Suppose the enemy’s fleet were beaten. What would be the result? The war might not end for someconsiderable time, and in the meantime we should be exposed to the attacks of armoured merchant vessels or privateers under letters of marque, and should beabsolutely defenceless. As the honorableand learned member for West Sydney has pointed out, we should really have no means for our own defence. Would an agreement of this kind be tolerated by the British people themselves ? Not for a moment. It is one of their principles that both the Channel fleet and the ReserveSquadron shall be always in commission on the coasts of England to protect her, nomatter where the incidence of naval operations may lie. Though the remainder of thefleet. might be thousands of miles away, and. the concentrated fleets might be strengthened by the addition of the Channel fleet and the Reserve squadron, there is no doubt that the Admiralty authorities would nevercountenance the removal of those vessels, from the vicinity of the British coasts.
– Does the honorable member believe that the Admiralty would allow, the interests of Empire to be threatened rather than remove those vessels?
– In what condition would the Empire be if its kernel were cracked ? What would be the value of the outside shell? It would simply cease to exist. So far as concerns our own defences, I am quite in accord with those who think that we ought to have a fleet, no matter how small our commencement may be. lt has been urged that the time is not ripe, and that we should wait a little longer. Are we in any better relative position than we were fourteen years ago, when the naval agreement was first made? Are we likely to be in a better relative position ‘ ten years hence when the proposed agreement expires ? I do not think so. We may as well make a start now as ten years hence, especially us by doing so the money which we propose to spend under the agreement can bo devoted to laying, the foundations of a navy of our own. If the agreement be carried as proposed, we shall not have at the end of the term so much. as a canoe or even a cocked hat to show for our money. W e have already in such trainingships as the Sabraon, in Port Jackson, the nucleus of what might be turned into a firstclass fighting force. But, under this agreement, we have no guarantee that one Australian will be employed in the fleet. The agreement provides that under certain circumstances New Zealanders and Australians may be employed at special rates, and that if a sufficient proportion of men shall not be forthcoming, a number of men to complete the complement of ships may be engaged in other colonies, or brought from other places.
– What else could be done if the nien could not be obtained from Australia 1
– Take them by the collar and run them in !
– I do not know whether that method would not be as good as that proposed by the agreement under discussion. Australia has a coast line of about 8,000 miles, and we ought to be a maritime people. Nevertheless, the sea is as effectually closed to us as though we were living in the very centre of a great continent. We have a mercantile marine manned by Germans, Norwegians, Danes, Maltese, Lascars, Javanese - people of all colours and all nations ; but I suppose that if every ship on these coasts were examined, not a single Australian man would be found amongst their crews. Here we have an opportunity of affording an outlet for the maritime aspirations of our own people in a manner which would be commensurate with the best interests of Australia. The AttorneyGeneral, when discussing the Judiciary Bill, adopted an attitude which waswidely different from that assumed by theGovernment in regard to the present measure. In fact, their change of front has. been a complete surprise to me.
– The honorable member must not refer to another debate.
– I merely wish to remark that when the Judiciary Bill waslaid upon the table of this House, theAttorneyGeneral in a most pleading tone - which was very effective, coming from him - urged that the measure was something which the Constitution had enacted that we should have, and something which was purely Australian. He argued that the Judiciary Bill would give us the benefit of our own law, which would be cheaper than the present system. He appealed to our national aspirations as Australians, and was particularly emphatic on the point. To-day we find the Government taking up an entirely different attitude. They are asking usto be tied to the apron-strings of the mother country for an indefinite period ; because it must be remembered that if we enter into this, agreement we shall be no better able toprovide for our defences ten years hence than we are at the present moment. It appears.to me that the £200,000 which it is proposed to spend is intended not only to ratify the agreement for the present, but to make something of the kind permanent. Otherwise it would have no value whatever. The tendency of the policy of the mother country in dealing with Australia has been apparent for a long time past. For instance, titles are occasionally given to our p’rominent public men ; now and again we have a visit from a prominent person in England, just as, lately, we had a visit from the present Prince of Wales. Other circumstances point in thesame direction. Governors who have had a military or naval training have been sentout, and some of them have spread themselves in regard to this Bill and other matters which do not exactly pertain to their office. It seems to me that all these strawsshow which way the wind is blowing, and that theideain the mother country is that Australia is getting too much of her own way, and that her aspirations ought to be nipped in the bud. This agreement is another link in the chain. The silken bonds are becoming, too elastic, and they want to replace them with what is nothing else than a fetter. If this agreement is ratified, there will be no hope of establishing an Australian Navy, and by the time it expires, the Australian sentiment in that direction may have subsided altogether. The time has now arrived when we might make a new departure. The Prime Minister has told us that the Government are not pledged to this Bill. It is not a party question. He has said that the agreement must be ratified by the Houses of Parliament. I, therefore, trust that the House will accept the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, and allow the people of Australia to express their views as to whether we shall have an Australian Navy, or shall continue to be in the leading strings of the old country. I am very sorry to be out of accord with the Government, but in Australian concerns I am one of those who, whilst contending that my loyalty is equal to that of any other honorable member of this House, think that Australia should be first in the opinions of every Australian. I therefore hope that when the motion goes to a division the vote will be against the proposal of the Government.
– Since I have been a member of this House I have always been an ardent supporter of everything in the direction of economy. But occasionally questions arise concerning which economy in certain directions is likely to be injurious to the welfare of the people o£ Australia. I am always prepared to hear arguments upon the various measures that are brought before us, and to be guided by opinions which I form in the course of the debate. On the present occasion, I have been particularly struck by the opinions expressed by those honorable members who oppose the proposed naval agreement with Great Britain. I propose to group them into three divisions, and to deal with them respectively. The honorable member who undoubtedly deserves -the greatest attention is the honorable member for Bland, who has moved that the Bill “be read a second time this day six months. I listened attentively to his remarks, and it seemed to me that the position which he -took up was that the people themselves knew little or nothing of this proposal, and that, in view of the near approach of the general elections, it was only fair that they should be given an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon it before a decision was arrived at. In other words, he proposed that, if he could obtain the necessary majority, he and those who voted with him should become the mere delegates of the people; that this question should be submitted to the people, and that, when they had expressed an opinion upon it, honorable members should then give a decision in accordance with that opinion. I, on the contrary, have always held that no Member of Parliament should bea mere delegate. A man is presumably returned to Parliament because he is the ablest candidate who offers himself for election, because it is believed that he will devote a considerable amount of time - which the people themselves cannot spare - to the consideration of public questions ; and because also of the belief that he will exercise his opinion as he sees fit. Holding these views, I cannot agree for one moment with the honorable member for Bland’s contention that before we deal with this agreement the peopleshould be requested to express an opinion in regard to it. I am rather surprised at his attitude in view of the fact that 0111V a few days ago this House dealt with a Bill in regard to which the course which he proposes should be adopted in relation to this measure might, and perhaps ought, to have been taken, in order to determine whether the people were in favour of it or not. But the honorable member did not then advance the opinion that the people should be allowed to express their views in regard to that measure. He voted straight out for it, and with the assistance of the majority of his party a Bill involving an expenditure, not for ten years, but for as long as the Federal Constitution exists, was passed.
– But that matter has been before the people.
– A great many matters have been before the people, but at the time they may have taken very little interest in them. This is one reason why I cannot share the view held by the honorable member for Bland in . regard to this Bill. Another section of this House, curiously enough, consisting also to a certain extent of honorable members of the labour party, say that we must have an Australian Navy. “ What is to become of our celebrated gunboat, the Protector t” they ask. “What is to become of the two little gun-boats owned by the Queensland Government ? Are they to be thrown on one side as being pf no value ? “ And they cry - “ Let us have an Australian Navy.” To this I answer that, even if the agreement be accepted, there is nothing in it to prevent us from having an Australian Navy if we are prepared to vote the money requisite for the purpose. I have always been strongly in favour of an Australian Navy, but I hold that that matter has nothing whatever to do with the question of whether or not we should make’, the contribution proposed in this Bill. It is to be given for a certain object - the welfare not only of Australia, but of the whole of the Empire, and it need not interfere in the slightest degree with local defence. I may also point out that another section of the House, of the views of which I think I am justified in saying the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has been the ablest exponent, holds still another opinion in regard to this question. In order that there may be no misunderstanding, I shall quote the words used by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, who professes to see in this agreement a new principle, in other words, the principle of taxation without representation. We know that when America rose in rebellion against Great Britain, the cry that was raised was, “ No taxation without representation.” I contend however, that that cry is not applicable to this agreement, for the reason that we have at the present timean agreement which provides to a certain extent for the defence of Australia; which confines the operations of vessels of the squadron provided under it to a certain area, and which also requires the payment of a certain annual contribution. All that we are now asked to do is to extend the area and to increase the contribution. I fail to see that there is any good ground for the contention raised by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, that a new principle is involved in this proposal. We are not naval men, nor oan it be said that the people of Australia are naval authorities, and therefore we are really not in a position to determine the best point at which these vessels should be stationed to secure the defence of Australia. We are asked to contribute a certain sum for the defence not only of Australia, but of other parts of the British dominions, and to give the
Admiralty the power to remove the squadron to other waters within the area of the China and East Indies stations. I contend, therefore, that there is no newprinciple involved in this agreement. Apart from such matters, however, this House and the country have to consider what are the dangers that Australia is likely to encounter, and what are the best means to secure her. defence. It is well known by every honorable member that there are only four maritime nations in the world that are in a position to cause Australia one moment’s uneasiness. They are France, Germany, Russia, and Japan. I do not include the United States of America in this category, for the reason that the people of that country to a very great extent speak our own tongue, and are allied to us by certain ties of kinship. Undoubtedly they are very small ties, but they do exist. The United States of America also is allied, not to us, but to Great Britain as a whole, by a much stronger tie, which, to a great extent, animates all mankind - the tie of selfinterest. As you, Mr. Speaker; well know, she supplies Great Britain with a very large proportion of all that she consumes in the way of eatables, and I think we need not fear that America is likely, at all -events, for a very long period, to enter into strife with us. In this way, therefore, I reduce the maritime nations of the world which we have to fear to the four that I have named. J apan may at once be set aside, inasmuch as she has entered into an alliance for certain purposes with England. We have also to remember that her navy, although powerful, is of comparatively recent growth, and not nearly so strong as. it may be in the course of time. I could readily recognise that Germany would be likely to become the enemy of Great Britian and presumably of Australia also if she had the means. But we all know that she has no base nearer Australia than China, and it is only of late years that she has acquired a base there that will be of any practical use to her. If her squadron, or squadrons, were to attempt to attack us they would have to come here vid the Suez Canal or the Cape, and before they could reach Australian waters they would have to encounter the Mediterranean Squadron, the Channel fleet, and, no doubt, auxiliary ships despatched by England to intercept them. I do not think, therefore, that we need take her into consideration in regard to this matter. Thus there remain only two foes that we can have any reason to dread, namely, France and Russia. We know that Russia and France for the last few years have been in close alliance. The terms of that alliance are known neither to myself, nor I think, to any other man in Australia ; but it undoubtedly exists. France, whatever she may profess to do, has never loved England, and it is possible that if she saw her way clear she might assist Russia against Great Britain. Russia for many years, a?id in fact for generations, has been a kind of octopus, extending her tentacles in every direction and endeavouring, at every conceivable point, to secure territory at the expense of her neighbours. It is quite possible that she may atsomefuture period, if she does not now do so, cast eyes on Australia, and desire to obtain possession of it. At present her efforts are being directed towards China. At the port of Vladivostock she gathered, a few months ago, a fleet of between 35 and 40 vessels, some of them being very powerful, and others not so, but together forming a very large squadron. She has a railway connecting Manchuria with the Trans-Siberian Railway which will enable her - at very great cost, -it is true - to convey troops and seamen and munitions of war to that port if she sees fit to do so. It seems to me, and I contend that the same view must force itself upon any man who devotes any thought to the subject, that the only power, which Australia has to fear, perhaps not in the near future, but at some time or other, is Russia. If that be , so, what could be fairer than the proposal that the British fleet maintained in Australian waters shall be allowed, should occasion require, to leave for Chinese waters. We know that if Great Britain joined her fleet in the eastern seas at the present time with that of Japan, it would be’ quite as powerful as the fleet at present maintained at Vladivostock by Russia. But let us assume, for the sake of argument, that it would not be so powerful. We know that owing to Russia’s aggression in Manchuria, war between Japan and Russia may be declared at any time. We also know that England is in alliance with Japan, and that English interests in the East are very considerable. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that” the combined fleet of British and Japanese warships in the eastern seas was not so powerful as the Russian fleet there, or likely to be there in the near future, and that the British fleet maintained in Australian waters consisted of ten or eleven vessels as proposed by this agreement, would it not be madness for us to refuse to allow those vessels to leave this station ? Must it not at once appeal to honorable members that we should adopt a suicidal policy if we were to say to the British Government - “ We will give you the contribution that you ask, but on the condition that you pledge yourselves not to remove the fleet you propose to give vis from Australian waters.” War having been declared between Japan and Russia, and tho combined fleets of England and Japan not being equal to that of Russia, would it not be madness for us to say - “ Let the Russian fleet fight the English ships, and defeat them if they can. We must have these ten English vessels left in Australian waters for the defence of Australia.” I contend that such an answer would be madness. If the Russian Squadron were sufficiently powerful to defeat the English and Japanese Squadrons in the Chinese seas they could then, if they saw fit, come on here and destroy the twopennyhalfpenny English Squadron in Australian waters at their leisure. Whereas, if the ten ships that it is now proposed should be supplied to defend Australia were allowed to join the English ships in the China seas, the battle, however it might result, would, at all events, be more equal.
– But those ten ships would still be in existence.
– That may be so ; but if a strong man had to fight two small boys, he would prefer to thrash one boy on one day and the other on the next ; whilst if the two small boys could fight the man at the same time, one in front and the other behind him, they would have a much better chance of success than if they were divided. It is for this reason that I support the proposed agreement. I can see no advantage to be gained by confining these ships to Australian waters if a Russian or a French fleet were to come in a force of three to one against the British fleet. At the commencement qf my remarks I indicated that in addition to the ships supposed to be supplied under this agreement, I would heartily support any proposal to maintain a fleet raised by Australia for purely Australian defence. I can quite recognise that with the immense coast-line of Australia, some 8,000 miles in extent, as I have heard various honorable members say, there may be many points of attack which would be absolutely defenceless in the- present sparsely-populated condition of Australia. I can see no reason why, in these circumstances, the Ministry, if they saw fit, should not bring down a proposal to vote £100,000, £200,000, or £300,000, to maintain a purely Australian fleet for purely Australian defence.
– -That is in addition to the fleet provided under the agreement.Would the honorable member vote for that?
– I would, and for more if necessary. I recognise that where it is a question of national defence, and of maintaining ourselves as a free and independent country under the flag of Great Britain, no expenditure which we can possibly afford should be withheld. I look upon such expenditure very much as a provision for insurance. Bringing the subject down to a personal illustration, I may say that my house has been insured for some twenty odd years. During the whole of that time I have never had a fire, but I have had to pay my insurance premiums year by year ; and, according to the argument of honorable members of the labour party, the money I have spent in that way has been practically wasted, inasmuch as I have now nothing to show for it. But during the whole of that period I have had the sense of security and the knowledge that if my house was burned I should be in a position to re-erect it. I contend that the principle of insurance which I apply to my own house can be, and ought to be, applied to the protection of Australia ; and any money devoted to the building up of a fleet for the protection of Australia, in conjunction with her defence force, is money well spent. The proposed agreement has my strongest support. I wish that it could be carried unanimously, to show the people in England that the people of Australia are with them heart and soul, and are always prepared to do their duty.
– I should like to say, at the outset, that if I could give this proposal my whole-hearted support I should probably adopt the course which I usually follow as a Government supporter, and give a silent vote in favour of it. But as I find it impossible to give the agreement placed before us my whole-hearted support, I desire to make my position perfectly clear. I should like further to say that theproposal does not appeal to me in the sordid light of the pounds, shillings, and penceinvolved, in which it has been viewed by some honorable members. I consider that the amount of money that we are asked tocontribute to the British Government for the protection that we are to ‘ receive is proportionately altogether inadequate to the protection afforded. I go further and say that we should not view matters of this kind from a purely business stand-point. I thin k weshould be actuated rather by the very highest sentiments of loyalty towards the Empire which has done so much for us, and which will no doubt continue to afford us protection in the future. The interests of Australia and the interests of the Empire are inextricably bound up, and we must consider this question not only from the national, but also from the sentimental stand-point. Before I proceed to criticise the agreement, I should like to say that I appreciate very much the candour and the openness with which the negotiations leading up to it have been placed before us. We have had put before us everything to enable us to come to an intelligent decision upon this matter. Before the negotiations and the agreement were submitted to us, I was very strongly inclined to support the proposed increase in the naval subsidy without any question whatever. But when I cameto read all the negotiations leading up to this agreement, and when I cameto read the agreement itself, I must confess that my ardour was considerably damped. I propose to deal with the subject in the order in which it appears in the documents laid upon thetable of the House. We have, first of all, the report of the proceedings of the Conference which took place in ‘England during the recent visit of the Prime Minister and his colleague, the Minister for Defence. There is in these papers a lengthy statement from Mr. Chamberlain, an important paragraph in which he deals exclusively with this, question of Empire defence. In Mr. Chamberlain’s address to the representatives of the Commonwealth, and of the other British colonies, he made a most pointed comparison between the expenditure which waa being incurred by the taxpayers of Great Britain and that incurred by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. No doubt it was a. very proper comparison to make from his stand-point. But what could have been the object of that comparison? The object could only have been to impress upon the representatives of the Commonwealth, and the people of Australia, that it was time they should undertake “to shoulder their end of the log.”
– And he will not be satisfied until they bear a full share.
– Mr. Chamberlain expressed a very strong hope that those to whom he was addressing his remarks would do something towards undertaking their fulL share of the responsibilities of the Empire. Following that statement, we have the minute from the Minister for Defence advocating the necessity for increased naval protection. So far so good ; but in that minute the Minister for Defence has adopted in extenso the principles laid down by RearAdmiral Sir Lewis Beaumont when in charge of the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, in a report made at the request of the Commonwealth Government. I must confess that it came as a shock to me to find that that gentleman was so strongly opposed to the establishment of an Australian Navy. The most important principle he enunciated in that report deprecates the establishment of an Australian Navy for Australian defence, and that is the principle which has been adopted by the Government. It is most unfortunate, it seems to me, that the policy which we are now asked to consider is not a policy . which has been initiated by the Federal Government at all, but a policy which has been conceived and nurtured in the office of the British Admiralty. It has been merely adopted by the Commonwealth Government; and we are now asked to ratify it. If I saw any possibility or any hope that by adopting this proposal we should hereafter establish an Australian Navy, or if I saw any attempt, or even the most shadowy outline of such a policy by the Government, I should be quite content to vote for this subsidy. On the contrary, it seems to me that if we adopt this agreement, we shall sound the death-knell of an Australian Navy.
– Hear, hear; that is the last of it.
– Not a bit of it.
– The preamble of the agreement reads -
The Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, fta, and the Governments of the Commonwealth of Australia and of New Zealand, having recognised the importance of sea power iu the control which it gives over sea communications, the necessity of a single navy under one authority -
It is the words “ a single navy under one authority,” which, in my opinion, sound the death-knell of all the hopes and aspirations of the Australians so far as the establishment of an Australian navy is concerned ; because if that contention is good now it must hold good for all time. The Minister for Defence, in his minute, pointed out, in perfect agreement with Mr. Chamberlain, that our contribution to military and naval expenditure was far less in proportion than that of Great Britain, and that if we paid our share we should have to provide something like £5,000,000 per annum. The right honorable gentleman also seems to be strongly imbued with the idea that we must continue to hire ships and men for the purposes of Australian defence. I regret to say that throughout his administration of the Defence Department the policy appears to be to cut down to the very bone our naval estimates, and to deal as lightly as possible with the expenditure upon the military forces. I have a document furnished by the Defence Department at my request, which shows that, at the time of the transfer of the Defence Department, of the Commonwealth, the expenditure upon our naval forces amounted to £70,837, whilst the reduced estimates for 1902-3 provided for an expenditure of £46,524, the decrease being £24,313, or a little over 34 per cent. At the time of transfer, provision was made for an expenditure upon the military forces amounting to £684,243, and the estimates for 1902-3 provided for a total outlay of ±’589,742, or a reduction of £94,501, equal to 13-8, or, say, 14 per cent. It is, therefore, very evident that, the policy of the Minister for Defence - who must be held responsible, although he was absent in England during the time that the estimates were reduced - is to reduce our naval forces to the utmost possible extent. It is now proposed to get rid of the Protector, the only ship we have that is really worthy of the name, and I understand that it is also intended to dispose of the Queensland gun-boats. .The two torpedo boats that were formerly provided for in connexion with the defences of Sydney Harbor have already been sold and their crews discharged with the ordinary gratuities. I may be told that the torpedo boats at Sydney were not of much use. I believe they were out of date, but they might have been Used until we could provide something better. It is poor policy for a man who has an inferior house to burn it down or dispose of it before he can secure another. I have taken all these matters into consideration before coming to a decision. I have also noted the view taken by the First Lord of the Admiralty, who makes the views of Rear- Admiral Beaumont and the Minister for Defence the basis of his conclusions. He expects to create a personal interest in the navy among Australians by providing for the manning of some of the vessels of the squadron by Australians. I venture to say that, however desirable that proposal may seem at first sight, it will not achieve its object. To stimulate interest in a navy we must have our own ships manned by our own men. How would honorable members regard a proposal which had for its object recruiting for the British Army in Australia t I have no doubt that it would be strongly resisted.
– Is there anything to prevent that from being done now ?
– I do not know that we could prevent it, but we would resent it. I remember that, at the time of the South African War, when it was reported that certain officers were in Australia for the purpose of recruiting for the British Forces, very strong representations were made to the Prime Minister, who undertook to stop any recruiting that might be going on.
– No ; I said that I had been asked to approve of certain recruiting, and that I had stated that I could not countenance any recruiting that was not under the authority of this Government. The application was made on behalf of the Marquis of Tullibardine
– I am pleased to hear the Prime Minister’s version, and it goes to show that the feeling of the Government and of honorable members, so far as we could ascertain it, was entirely opposed to the recruiting for the army in Australia at that time. Throughout the whole of the negotiations in reference to the agreement perfect harmony existed between the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Minister for Defence. The terms agreed upon are slightly different from those of the current agreement, inasmuch as it is now proposed that the ships forming the squadron shall be withdrawn whenever they may be required, without reference to the Commonwealth Government, to proceed to other waters, whereas the ships of the present Auxiliary Squadron are not to be taken away from Australian waters. Under the new agreement we should, in times of peace, have the ships of the squadron stationed at Sydney or at other ports of the Commonwealth, but in time of war they would be withdrawn and concentrated where they might prove most useful. So far as the effectiveness of the British Navy is concerned, I do not think any one could take exception to such concentration, but we have to remember that these ships were withdrawn, the coasts of Australia would be at the mercy of any stray cruiser that might come along. . One or two cruisers could easily be detached from an enemy’s squadron, and by selecting routes other than those usually taken, might reach these shores. It would only be in time of war that such an event would take place. Although the consequences to Australia might not be very serious, in so far that no actual invasion might be attempted, it would be very humilitating for us if we had presented to us the spectacle to which Captain Creswell refers in his report. He says -
The spectacle of some 5,000,000 AngloAustralians, with an army splendidly equipped, unable to prevent the burning of a cargo of wool in sight of Sydney Heads, is onlY the ordinary consequence of a policy of naval impotence. The main artery of trade in Queensland, that which connects the sea terminals of the several lines of railway, is the coast route. It carries all her commerce, and is exposed.
The moral effect of such a disaster would be tremendous and far reaching. I would now ask those honorable members who argue that our financial position is such that we could not well establish a navy at the present time, if there was ever a nation that was financially able to establish a navy in a moment. Navies cannot be created by magic. I admit that the financial difficulties are great, and that the creation of an efficient navy must be with us, as with other nations, the work of years. But if the difficulties are great, and years must elapse before we can complete the work of building up a navy, the greater necessity exists for making a start as early as possible. I venture to say that the agreement which we are asked to ratify will not meet with the approval or fulfil the aspirations of the people of Australia. As a strong supporter of Federal union, I always entertained the belief that Australia, when federated, would develop not only her own policy of military defence, but also of naval defence. I have a lively recollection of the great excitement and enthusiasm which was caused in Sydney by the unfurling of what we were then pleased to term the “Australian” flag. Since then, I understand that a design has been accepted for an Australian flag. Where are we going to fly that flag 1 We shall not have a single ship or a mast-head from which we can allow it to flutter.
– What have we now ?
– I would prefer that the Minister should refrain from interjecting, because prior to his entrance’ to the Chamber I mentioned that the little naval force we had at the time of its transfer to the Commonwealth has been ruthlessly cut down by the policy of the military authorities.
– The States commenced to do that prior to federation.
– Even if that be so, it is no reason why such a policy should be persistently followed.
– Look at the votes of this House.
-There was one vote given in this House in favour of reducing the Military and Defence Estimates which I did not support, but which, I think, would have been justified under other circumstances. Although I believed that a reduction of the military vote was necessary, I thought it was desirable that the Minister should be allowed a little breathing time in order that he might ascertain where that reduction could be best made. Even now, I am inclined to think that the reduction which has been effected has been made in the wrong place. Under the new agreement, we are told that should the. ‘ necessity arise the Australian Squadron may be withdrawn to other waters. I should like to ask whether, in the event of Great Britain being engaged in a naval war, either with a combination of powers or a single power, the British fleet would be entirely withdrawn from the English Channel 1 Would her shores be left exposed to the attacks of an enemy ? I venture to say that they would not ! Yet we are asked to ratify an agreement which gives the British Admiralty power to withdraw this fleet to parts remote from Australia - perhaps 1,000 miles away. We have no guarantee that in time of need we shall have anything for our coastal defence except what is supplied by our own fortifications. To my mind, the adoption of the agreement undoubtedly involves a surrender of our powers of self-government. Looking back and reviewing the statements which were made at the Imperial Conference, it seems to me that the proposed agreement marks the initiation of a policy which will develop in course of time, so that later on we shall be asked to contribute a very much larger subsidy towards the maintenance of a navy over which we shall have no control whatever. Not only are we invited to sacrifice all control over the squadron, but as the honorable member for Lang has pointed out, we are to have no voice in the foreign policy of the Empire. An objection which has been repeatedly urged against the views of those who are opposed to the agreement, is that the expense involved in the creation of an Australian Navy is beyond our present means. It is urged that we could not undertake to build up an efficient navy. In this connexion, I desire to quote from the report of Captain Creswell. Honorable members have quoted various authorities at considerable length in support of an Australian Navy - authorities who gave expression to their views some years ago. I prefer to quote from Captain Creswell’s report, because its author has had the advantage of an experience gained in Australia, and because his report is of comparatively recent date. He says -
The objections to the provision of an Australian Navy were on the ground of - Firstly, great cost of original outlay ; and secondly, ships of war, it was said, become obsolete so quickly that they have to be continually replaced. Both the above have been much over estimated. The cost of a ship of war was said to be £1,000,000. That is the price of a battle-ship, a vessel practically useless for Australian service. Their sphere of service is restricted to the major operations of war, the scene of which, it is extremely unlikely, will be in Australia. Our work in hand is the protection of the floating trade ; for this a different claSs of vessel, costing a fraction of tho amount paid for a battle-ship, is required. The limit of cost for the Australian war vessel would be £300,000.
He goes on to point out that to efficiently man a ship of the type which he suggests would cost about £47,000 per annum. Of course, during the first year we might be able to build and man only one ship, and mighthave to work in time of peace with what are called “ skeleton “ crews. But such a step would constituteacommencement, and would foster that spirit of self-reliance which is as necessary to the interests of Australia as it is to those of the Empire itself. I do not take ‘ up the attitude adopted by some honorable members that the establishment of a local navy would mark the first step towards the separation of Australia from the mother country. I trust that whilst our present relations with the mother country continue there will never be any desire for Australian separation. But I should regard the establishment of an Australian Navy as a source of strength to the Empire, whilst I look upon the new agreement as a probable cause of disagreement and weakness with it. But to return to the question of the cost of maintaining a local navy. I find that the cost of the naval defence of Holland, which has a revenue of £11,000,000, is £1,100,000 per annum ; that of Brazil, which possesses a revenue of £9,500,000, is £1,000,000 per annum. Similarly, the Argentine Republic, with a revenue of’ £-9,400,000, expends £1,900,000; whilst Chili, with a revenue of £5,900,000, spends £1,952,000 upon naval defence. Now, the revenues of Australia and New Zealand combined aggregate between £13,000,000 and £14,000,000. In that sum I do not include territorial revenue ; I am speaking only of revenue from Customs and Excise. We are told by those who support this agreement that we are not in a financial position to undertake the establishment of an Australian Navy, or even to initiate such a policy. Those who assert that are belittling Australia.
– Upon the figures given we could provide a fleet as well as a subsidy.
– As I have previously stated, we cannot expect a navy to be of mushroom growth. It cannot be created in a night or in a year. The experience of other nations is that its establishment is the work of years. The greatest naval expert would not be prepared to say that the sea strength of any particular nation, after the lapse of all these years, is adequate to the tusk of its defence in the event of a combination of powers against it. Because we cannot build a navy which is’ adequate to our needs in one year, or in five years, it is no argument to say that therefore we should not initiate such a policy. It only goes to show that we should make a start immediately. I have already pointed out that we are spending only £46,000 per annum upon our naval defence as against £600,000 upon our military defence. Do honorable members think that that is a fair proportion ‘? Do they believe that £46,000 is a sufficient sum to expend upon our naval forces in view of our geographical position ] I scarcely think so. I am not prepared to suggest that the military vote should be still further reduced, because it is difficult, if not impossible, for one who is not actually behind the scenes to determine to what extent, if any, a reduction can be made. We are told by those who ought to know that our military forces are in a very inefficient condition. If that be a fact it is useless to talk about cutting them down still further. In answer to several applications to the Defence Department for the supply of rifles to rifle clubs, I have been told that the requisite modern weapons were not available. The sooner that state of affairs is remedied the better. But whatever view may be taken of the expenditure upon our military forces, that upon our naval defence is certainly too small. If a proposal were submitted for an expenditure of £400,000 towards the establishment of an Australian Navy I should not hesitate for a moment to support it. If we devoted £400,000 per annum, or whatever sum we could afford, to the creation of an Australian Navy, it would mean, at any rate, an additional ship every year for the defence of the Empire, because, from what I know of the spirit of the Australian people, if the Empire were in need, and we had a navy of our own, we should at once place it at her disposal to act in concert with the British Navy. If we agree to the proposal which we are now asked to consider, at the end of ten years we shall have paid away £2,000,000, and will not have a ship, and perhaps not even a man, to show for it. I do not agree with those who say that we shall have nothing at all to show for it, because I recognise that it will give us for a period of ten years the protection - to a limited extent, not to the extent I should like - of the British Navy. Neither do I hold with those who think that, because Great Britain must maintain a navy for the defence of the Empire, we should selfishly refuse to assist in the maintenance of the ships necessary for the defence of this portion of it. No money contribution, however great, can secure that self-interest and sympathy in the defence of the Empire which the creation of an Australian Navy would, give. If there is anything lacking in Australians it is national Spirit and character, and the best way to create it is by placing in the hands of the rising generation the means of defending their own country, and, if need be, the Empire itself. At the outset, no doubt, the ships of an Australian Navy would have to be commanded and officered by British naval officers, but a spirit of friendly rivalry and emulation, would, I think, spring up between the officers and men of the Australian and British war ships which would lead to good results. I wish now to say a word or two in regard to an aspect of the case which it is rather disagreeable to mention. I have no means of forming an opinion of my own upon the subject, but I have heard very grave reflections cast upon the organization and administration of the British Admiralty authorities. I have read statements made by men who may be presumed to know what they are writing about, to the effect that the British Admiralty is not organized as it should be. We know that very serious mistakes were made by the British War Office during the South African war. As an instance, I may remind honorable members that when our first offer of troops was made to 1 he British authorities they cabled back that unmounted men would be preferred. Subsequent events showed that there could have been no greater mistake than that. Then we had the admission of one of the members of the British Government, not many months ago, that the British blundered through that war somehow. Those are not very comforting matters for us to reflect upon. They are, indeed, very disagreeable things to speak of, though I mention them, not as a hostile critic, but in the spirit of one who wishes to see reform carried out. Severe criticisms were also passed by one who was on the spot all the time, upon the tactics of the British officers during the Boer war. I refer to Conan Doyle’s book on the Boer war.
– The conduct of every campaign is open to ad verse criticism.
– No doubt mistakes will always be made, but in the South African war they were repeated day after day, and were not remedied. That was the most extraordinary part of the whole business. For instance, the guns were continually concentrated in the open, where they were I exposed to the fire of Boers, who were under cover. This is some of the criticism upon the British Admiralty to which I refer -
There are two great defects in the organization and administration of the British navy -
Very light armament for cruisers.
Undermanning of the engine-room departments. There is not a single vessel in His Majesty’s service that can steam at full speed for twelve hours without drawing largely from the deck for coal-trimmers.
The Lords of the Admiralty, although masts and yards have been abolished, have not yet got accustomed to a steam navy, or do not recognise the importance of providing an efficient engineroom staff.
I am not at liberty to divulge the author of that statement ; in fact, I can hardly say now who gave it to me.
– Perhaps it is not accurate.
– It may not be, and I hope it is not.
– If the honorable member reads Mr. Arnold White on the Admiralty he will see what he has read is an understatement of the case.
– I am not vain enough ‘ to think that the British Admiralty, are likely to pay me the compliment of taking notice of what I say here, but the matter is one which should be looked into. A Government, of course, cannot be expected to unfold a policy which is to come into force at the expiration of a period of ten years, but if I could gather from any statement by the Prime Minister, or by the Minister for Defence, or from any ti ring that I can read in the agreement, that there would be an opportunity to establish an Australian Navy later on, I would vote with- a light heart for this subsidy. But I see no such possibility, and, as we have been told that we cannot amend the agreement, but must either adopt it in its entirety or vote against it, I must regretfully take the latter course. I regret todo so because of my great respect for the Prime Minister, because I have hitherto been a consistent supporter of the Government, and because this is a matter of momentous importance, in regard to which the Government policy may be right. I have taken a lot of trouble to try and argue myself into the belief that it is the right policy, but I have not succeeded in doing so, and, therefore, I must oppose it. I shall not, however, support the amendment of the honorable member for Bland to postpone the second reading of the Bill for six months until the electors of the Commonwealth can express their opinion upon the agreement, because I do not see how a clear-cut issue could be put before them ‘ on a question of this sort, and because I think we are quite capable of interpreting the wishes of our constituents on the subject. For my own part I am satisfied that I am capable of interpreting the wishes of those who sent me here, and therefore I shall vote against the ratification of the agreement.
– May I make a personal explanation in regard to a matter affecting this discussion t This afternoon I was asked a question in regard to the opinion of Captain Creswell upon the naval agreement, and I have since received the following telegram from him : -
My congratulations to you on landing were sincere for your general efforts on our behalf, which I felt had been strenuous, but did not naturally refer to details of a policy, unknown to me, vitally affecting conditions Of training and defence. “Regret my misunderstanding.
What was said before Captain Creswell made use of the expressions to which I have alluded was to this effect - “ You see, we have a new naval agreement.” Then follow the words which I have mentioned. It is quite possible that Captain Creswell did not properly hear me when he made that reply. I prefer to put that construction upon his present attitude, and I hope the House will do the same.
– In addressing myself to this very important subject, I wish to take the precaution of claiming the comparative immunity from responsibility of a non-expert. I think I am, in common with other honorable members, fairly entitled to that immunity. In. regard to almost every other branch of our jurisdiction, we can confidently rely upon the personal knowledge and experience of many of our members. Upon any subject affecting the learned professions, upon any scientific subject, and upon any matter concerning trade, manufactures, commerce, or even military defence, we may fairly expect to receive advice and information from honorable gentlemen in our own ranks. But on this question of naval defence it seems to me that for our guidance we are thrown on our present opportunities, on chance reading, on common sense, and, where we are in doubt, I should say not least upon our sense of patriotism which, in numerous instances, affords the ultimate key to many a difficult situation. The speeches that have been delivered by honorable members who have preceded me were, I am proud to think, of a very high and comprehensive character, and they leave very little untouched regarding the subject of discussion. I would particularly apply that observation to the speech of the Prime Minister, which I regard as a most admirable deliverance, and one which, to my mind, has remained to the present moment practically unanswered. If it were not for what the honorable member for Cowper described as the momentous importance of this subject, leading, as it does, to results very great in their ultimate nature regarding our trade and our policy, I should have been very glad to rely simply on the arguments which have already been offered in support of the Bill, and, especially after the lengthy debate we have had, to refrain from adding any observations of my own. But the attitude that we assume on this question opens up so wide a vista of general policy, and so extensive a view of our trade relations with the world at large, that I feel I should not be justified in giving my vote without stating in my own way the reasons which actuate me in supporting the Bill. I approached the consideration of this question with the desire, which I venture to think is not unnatural, to advocate as far as I possibly could some immediate steps being taken for the establishment of an Australian Navy. That was the first impulse that I experienced, and’ I have looked into the question with the most ardent wish, if I could possibly see anything feasible in that direction, to advocate and support such a policy. At this instant, if I could see or learn of any proposal which would be of an effective nature - ;any proposal that was practicable and not destructive of what I consider to be the best immediate and future interests of Australia - I should gladly support it. But after the fullest consideration, I am forced to say that I think I am bound - and the more I consider the future, the more strongly I feel bound - to support the Bill. So far as I can judge, there are three possible views which, at this moment, may be entertained on this question of naval defence. The first view is that we might resolve that no naval force whatever is necessary in our present circumstances ; the next is, that we might determine to provide an Australian Navy, quite independent of
British control ; and the last’ view is, that we might ratify the proposed agreement, reserving to ourselves, as we necessarily must, for our future consideration as a Parliament, any scheme of Australian local defence supplemental to or in substitution of the present arrangement. These are the three possible views of the situation. The first view, that we should have no naval force, does not deserve a moment’s consideration. But the reasons which lead us to reject that view without hesitation, are reasons which I think will assist us in determining which of -the other two alternatives we. ought to adopt. It has been said over and over again - and it cannot be too well remembered - that we live in a country entirely surrounded by water, with 8,000 miles of coast-line. All our capitals are situated within a very short distance from the coast, and even our Inter-State communication is dependent to a very large extent - in some cases, such as as those of Western Australia and Tasmania, entirely dependent - upon marine transport. We have a large and growing trans-oceanic trade, and it would be mere midsummer madness to resolve that there should be no navy. The very force of circumstances must lead us to the conclusion that we require’ powerful and effective naval protection. The second possibility is the one that is advocated by the opponents of the Bill - namely, that we should commence and look forward to the early establishment of a purely Australian Navy, entirely independent of British control. How is that to be provided ? Plainly we cannot hire the ships. There have been suggestions made, both in the House and out of it, that we should borrow ships from the British Government - that in effect we should say to the British Government - “ We desire to establish an Australian Navy, entirely independent of you ; and for that purpose we come to you to advance us the means of carrying out the scheme ; we do not directly ask you for your money; but we do something more - we ask you for what you have purchased with your money ; you have ships that you undoubtedly would not have built if you had not thought them necessary for the defence of the Empire, and we want to borrow those ships from you, with your guns on board, in order to mark our independence of British control.” It seems very difficult to imagine a purely Australian Navy, composed of purely British ships, armed with purely British guns, with the proviso thatif an enemy appears anywhere but in the immediate proximity of Australia, those British ships are not to stir a single league, and those British guns are not to fire a single shot, to defend the honour, or maintain the supremacy, of the British flag. Thatseems to me to be an impossible position - a position that Australia could not consistently seek to create, and one that the British Government would scarcely dream of granting.
– Who advocates that 1
– That is the necessary advocacy of those who say we should establish an Australian Navy by borrowing British ships.
– By buying ships.
– I could understand buying ships, and that is a point with which I shall deal later. But borrowing British ships, and saying that ‘the British Government shall have no control over them without the consent of the Federal Government, is what I cannot understand.
– What honorable memberhas advocated borrowing British ships 1
– I do not want to mention names, but more than one honorable member has suggested that course; and borrowing has no meaning foi- the purposes of this discussion unless the ships are to befree from thecontrol of the British Admiralty. Under such circumstances, we should not have a purely Australian Navy to be retained in Australian waters at the will of the Commonwealth in time of danger, even though the British Admiral desired its presence elsewhere.
– We have had that position for fifteen years with the Australian. Squadrons.
– Certainly not. If the honorable member looks at the existing agreement he will see that no such position has arisen as that which I have endeavoured to describe.
– The squadron is in Australian waters.
– The squadron is certainly in Australian waters, but the position I have endeavoured to indicate has never arisen. We have never taken up the position that the squadron should, be entirely independent of British control - manned, officered, and commanded by Australians solely. We have never taken up the position desired by those who oppose the Bill, that there should be an Australian Navy, under purely Australian control, though composed of British ships, and armed with British guns. That is the inconsistent position I am now endeavouring to explain. J can thoroughly understand the proposal to purchase ships - that is consistent. But there is a practical difficulty in the way of our adopting such a scheme. I shall deal with this position without the introduction of any sentiment, and simply in the cold, clear light of pecuniary advantage. This, after all, is the only proposal which is in competition with the Government measure. Viewing the purchase proposal in this cold, clear, calculating light - which leaves nothing in obscurity except, perhaps, those bonds of sympathy between us and the rest of the Empire that are sometimes looked upon as part of our precious and permanent possession - I would ask, what are our means of purchasing an Australian Navy which would be anything like effective to cany out the designs of such an institution ?
– The same arguments were used fifteen years ago.
– I do not care how long ago the problem was propounded - I should like to hear an answer to it now. If I did hear a valid answer to the question I have raised, I should give my adhesion to the view which I am now combating
– There never will be an answer if we carty out Mr. Chamberlain’s idea.
– I do not want to diverge, because, to do so, would be to introduce a subject foreign to this discussion, but I must say that Mr. Chamberlain’s idea seems to have as its object the welding of the Empire: and at a proper time and place I shall be prepared to defend that idea. There has been one, and only one, suggestion that I know of which has stood practical consideration for a moment, and that is Captain Creswell’s ; and as it is the best, I shall endeavour to deal with it. But before I do so I should like to say to the advocates of the establishment of an Australian Navy on the purchase system that it is most singular that three honorable members who delivered most able speeches on the subject selected
extracts from two London journals in defence of their position - from the Speaker; of September, 1895, and the Spectator, of, I think, July, 1902. I was amazed to hear the extracts, which were written not from the Australian standpoint, but from the British taxpayers’ stand-point. They were rather reproachful of Australians. They said in effect - “Why does not Australia “provide her own navy 1 Why does Australia not buy, man, and support her own ships, so that they might be of assistance to the Empire in time of war ? “ Did they indicate how the money was to be provided 1 They were written without the slightest regard for any strain on the Australian purse. Yet time after time they were brought out in the House as evidence - I can hardly call them expert evidence - that the- purchase of a navy was the best thing for Australia, though no practical indications were gi Hollow it should be carried out. We have in the report of Captain Creswell something that we can deal with, something in the nature. of figures, something that we can grasp, both as a matter of policy and as a matter of calculation. I have not the pleasure of knowing that gallant officer, but we are all familiar with his reputation, and while I have the greatest respect for his ability and intelligence, I am bound to add that I do not regard his ability and intelligence as a bit higher than that of other commanders of Australian forces. When the Conference of naval officers, including Captain Creswell, was held in Melbourne, in August, 1899, and presided over by Captain Hixson of New South Wales, we heard of no such proposal, nor does any such proposal appear in the general report or elsewhere, as he made a’ year or two later for the purchase of an Australian fleet.
– He had given the matter more mature consideration in the meantime.
– I do not know whether he had given the matter more mature consideration or not, but I venture to say that not only was he inconsistent in the two reports that he signed, but that the second report - the only one that can support a proposal to purchase an Australian Navy - is impracticable, inconsistent, and impossible to be carried out. This is an extract from his report, which indicates what he looks forward to, and which I ask honorable members to bear in mind, because the whole scheme depends on it. He says -
The scheme required must be within our means, and of gradual development on sound lines, to advance by progressive steps during a fixed course pf years ;
We find later on that this “ fixed course of years “ is ten years. Then he says -
Bach forward step aud addition to the Federal naval strength to be met by a reduction in the annual contribution to the Imperial Government,
So that he assumes that our contribution under the existing agreement is to continue by progressively decreasing amounts until it vanishes, and I presume that the British fleet will vanish at the same rate as the contribution. Then he adds, and this is all important - finality being the taking over by Australia of the protection of her own floating trade, the particular duty for which the Auxiliary Squadron is maintained.
Is it possible for Australia to take over finally the protection oE her own floating trade? Captain Creswell’s scheme takes that as its central point. And how does he work up to that ? I am going to show as far as I can discern what it would cost, and what we should have for the money? Putting it shortly, hes suggests that we should spend about £350,000 a year for naval defence for ten years - that is, £3,500,000 as against the £2,000,000 which the Government propose to spend by way of contribution under the agreement- - and at the end of those ten years for the extra payment of £150,000 a year we should have five ships of the second class, one ship being purchased every two years. We know that at the end of ten years, so quickly do naval matters progress, that some of the ships, at all events, would have to be relegated to an even lower class.
– Under the Government scheme we shall not have any ships at the «nd of ten years.
– I am going to point out the comparative advantages if I can. Instead of spending £2,000,000 as under the Government scheme, we should spend £3,500,000, and how much better off should we be? We should have five ships, only second-class cruisers at their best, and some of which would be deteriorating, and if we did not have the full complement of the British ships on the station we should lose the additional protection that they would have afforded us.
– Why does the honorable and learned member say only secondclass ships when Captain Creswell asks for a special type of vessel ?
– Because we cannot get first-class ships for less than about £500,000.
– We cannot get a first-class cruiser under £750,000.
– I am putting the cost at a very low figure, and if the honorable, member for Bourke will look at Lord Brassey’s Naval Annual he will find that a second-class cruiser costs about £300,000. It has been said that we should have a cruiser of the Highflyer type. The Highflyer cost between £270,000 and £300,000, including armament. Captain Creswell speaks about a special type of vessel for Australia, and lie says -
Great advantage will be gained by the adoption of a type of vessel specially designed for the service she will be required to carry out in Australian waters. None such exist in the Royal Navy.
There is no indication of what that type is, and it is practically admitted, I think, by all experts who have said anything definite on the subject, that it must be a secondclass cruiser. This is the position under Captain Creswell’s arrangement. But what is the position under theGovernment’s arrangement ? First of all, we spend only£2,000,000 in ten years. During all this time we have the finest naval protection that any nation can afford. The great defect of the present agreement is rectified in that it is no longer a mere money contribution, because the new agreement gives us what is desired by the British’ Government and the colonies - a personal interest in the navy thatis defending us. The agreement further insures to the Australian manhood an opportunity of cultivating and encouraging the maritime spirit that is plainly essential to national greatness in these days, and, more than that, it offers to Australians and New Zealanders opportunities of rising to the highest positions in the British naval service. Are these not great advantages 1 Are these not results upon which we ought not lightly to turn our backs ? Surely, when we consider the greater efficiency, and remember that at the end of ten years the ships, if of the second class, will be replaced by better ships at the expense of the British Government, do we not gain something in addition to the £150,000 a year that we save by adopting this agreement ? I If honorable members could prove to me that, under Captain Creswell’s scheme, we should have something worth more than the £1,500,000 we shall save by adopting the Government proposal, I should be very glad to go with them. But we have another matter to consider. The Prime Minister has pointed out that, under the agreement, we have not only the advantages which I have indicated, but that we also have established a naval reserve. It seems to me that by such means we have embedded in our policy a personal interest in the British Navy, a means of educating those of our youth -who desire it in naval affairs, and all that at less cost - which is a very important matter to us at the present time - than would be involved in the only other scheme that presents any features of’ practicability even on its surface.
– And we shall not have a dingey to put the men into !
-I do not know whether the honorable member means to say that the ships of the British fleet are dingeys. But let me put this point to him. There is nothing to prevent -the honorable member from asking the Government to spend £150,000 per annum in addition to the £200,000 which this agreement involves. Is he willing to do so? is not that more to the purpose to us? We could pay the £200,000 and get the magnificent protection of the British fleet, and could also spend £150,000 a year towards the establishment of an Australian Navy. There is no obstacle in the way if the honorable member desires to propose that, nor is there any reason why Parliament itself should not agree to it. We should then have a double set of advantages. But in the meantime why forego the indisputable advantages of this agreement.
– The honorable and learned member is arguing that, if there is no subsidy, there is to be no British service.
– 1 am not so arguing ; but I am not going to be guilty of what I consider to be the unfairness to the British Government of saying to them - “ We intend to be utterly independent of you, but we will take advantage of the position that you dare not be independent of us.” Surely that is not a position that any fair man or any fair nation would take up ; and I think the Australian nation, as a nation, should be at least as high-minded as any individual in it. There is another thing to consider in Captain
6 Q 2
Creswell’s scheme if it is worked out. I have worked it out. I find that at the end of ten years there is to be an annual expenditure of about £240,000 in the up-keep of the five ships. Because, he says, that the expenditure would be £47,000 a year for one ship, and if you multiply that sum by five you have £235,000 a year. Then you may have to replace your ships, or to retire them, or byaccident one . of them may be lost. Are not such contingencies to be calculated upon? It surely is an additional consideration in the discussion of this matter. I am now dealing with the subject on a purely pecuniary basis - a basis of pounds, shillings, and pence. I shall endeavour to add later on some other considerations that I think are worthy of remembrance. But, assuming that we have our ships, there are contingencies that must present themselves to our minds, even though we be not experts. Naval strategy, in one sense, is as old as history itself ; but naval architecture, naval armament, and naval equipment are modern. They are sometimes startingly novel. “ Mr. Wilks. - Changing yearly.
– Yes, indeed ; and there is more than one change in a year. Indeed, sir, so fast do these changes occur, that I venture to say that no nation except one inthe very first rank can ever hope to keep pace with them. Australia could never dream of continually drawing upon her purse to maintain at an effective standard her naval forces, even though the)’ were effective at the very beginning. Superiority of type, of gun power, of speed, and of general equipment, are features so important as to make it most disastrous if, through want of any one of them, we were to fail in an emergency. My honorable friend, the member for Cowper, said to-night that it takes ages to establish a navy.
– Comparatively speaking it does.
– Well, I think there is a fallacy lurking in that observation. Prom the time of Queen Elizabeth down to the time of the reign of Queen “Victoria, scarcely any change of moment took place in the type of ships of the navy, or in naval architecture and armament. There were the old wooden walls of England, the old unrifled guns. The ships were at the mercy of the winds for their propulsion. It is only in comparatively recent years that any of those distinct changes have taken place that have revolutionized naval warfare.
– Then why this fear of our ships becoming obsolete in so short a time?
– It is the fear of constant changes in the construction of ships, this struggle between attack and defence, and the wild expenditure - as we regard it at first sight - on the part of the nations of the earth. First ships were built with an armour plating of iron, then of steel. I will give an instance in a few moments, showing how difficult it is for naval experts to foresee what alterations are going to take place.
– The Royal Arthur is fifteen years old.
– I have heard that the Royal Arthur is on the verge of bein’g put in another class. If I am not mistaken she is about to be lowered in her class in consequence of her depreciation. I am reminding honorable- members of the fact that the instruments with which naval warfare is conducted were up till recently of the veryoldest type. Nelson won his victories in the old wooden ships. But if we want to see in the words of an expert some advice on the subject, and some indication of the changes that have taken place in later years, we should turn to such a work as the brochure issued in 1902 by Sir William Laird Clowes entitled Four Modern Naval Campaigns. In his preface he uses expressions which I shall venture to read to the House, because I think they bear in more ways than one on the subject we are now discussing. He says -
The most interesting, because the most momentous questions which presented themselves for study by a patriotic Briton, are those which bear upon the future of the Empire upon the sea. No one can foretell exactly what a naval war between powers of the first importance will be like, or what surprises it may bring forth : yet we all know that, if Great Britain be a party to that war, the issue must be decisive of her fate. Either she must maintain, and indeed increase, the glories of her naval past, by coming triumphantly out of the contest, or she must lose everything that now gives her a unique position in the world.
Later on he says -
Since the introduction of modern factors, such as steam, armour, high-powered guns, the ram, the torpedo, and the electric light, Great Britain has fortunately had no naval wars of any magnitude.
Since that was written, there have been two additional inventions which have led to further changes - wireless telegraphy and the submarine boat.
– The introduction of the turbine makes another change.
– Having regard to these constant changes, and recognising that it has taken centuries for navies to be established by other countries, can we really hope to create an effective navy of our own at this stage 1
– Would not that be as applicable in ten years’ time as it is now %
– In a thousand years’ time !
– I do not know why the honorable member asks that question, but I do know that we have to put aside for the moment what is to happen in ten years’ time. We have to deal with the present, and to resolve that, whatever the interests of the country demand, we must do our best to meet it. The book from which I am quoting deals with four distinct naval campaigns, the facts concerning which are collated by this undoubted authority, who shows how a nation should be prepared, not for manoeuvres, not for the exigencies which have been coped with in the past, but for the necessities of the case always looking ahead. I shall take one or two observations which Sir William Laird Clowes makes in other parts of his book. He alludes to what happened in 1866, in the campaign of Lissa, when the Italian fleet was destroyed. It was “ the first occasion when a battle took place between armoured fleets in the open sea.” . Then he shows that in the war between Chili and Peru the contest was between coast-bound countries, both having a considerable length of coast line. He points out that that war was a very instructive one from all points of view. He says -
Besides emphasizing in a very forcible manner the influence of sea power upon history, it demonstrated in a startling way the immense importance, especially in armoured craft, of superior speed.
Then he deals with the Chilian revolutionary war of 1891 when, as he points out, there was an army matched against a navy - the army on shore, the navy having difficulties to contend against. The navy won. He shows how important it is to have a powerful navy. He does not deal with the war between Japan and China, nor with the Spanish-American war, but in the chapter relating to the attempted revolution in Brazil in 1893-4 he points out how General Montt - secured command of ‘the sea, obtained a distant shore base, where he gradually assembled and trained an efficient army ; transported that army and proper supplies for it, with singular carefulness and yet with striking audacity, to the far off point whence it could strike with effect ;
And won his object.
He writes also of the startling instance in which - 41 single iron-clad, of very moderate size, prac tically held possession of Bio Harbor ; in and out of which she passed almost scathless, in defiance of heavy guns and searchlights, and, for aught her officers knew, of mines and torpedoes as well.
These illustrations have a peculiar attraction for us, showing, as they do that, in the case of a country having a considerable extent of freeboard, and, as in the case of Brazil, a considerable extent of country behind, a navy has tremendous power provided that it is up-to-date, of the finest class, and of sufficient number. Therefore, we cannot afford to take up the position that we can <lo without the British Navy for our defence, or to think that with our enormous coastline of 8,000miles- ona portion of which, as I have already said, it is indispensable to have undisturbed sea communication - five second-class cruisers are going to do all that we desire for Australia. It seems to me, looking at the matter as well as I can, that the small and admittedly second-rate fleet advocated by Captain Creswell would not be sufficient to defend our coast, and would certainly not be sufficient for the real defence of Australia. That brings into great prominence what I consider to be the vital question of this controversy - What is the defence of Australia1! In the first place, what do we mean by defence? Does defence merely consist of driving off an invader who wishes to set foot on our shores, or of preventing or punishing a raid or bombardment on our coastal towns ? What would be thought of a ship of war that was able to repel boarders, but to do nothing else ? Would she be considered sufficient for her purpose ? Yet that is an exact simile of the position taken up by those who say that it would be sufficient for us to be able to prevent some chance raider from coming to Australia, bombarding a capital, and demanding a ransom. And what do we mean by “Australia”? Do honorable members who oppose the Government proposal, confine their definition of “ Australia “ to this continent and Tas- mania ? Are their aspirations bound by our sea-board ? Is our coastline to be the limit of our hopes and desires ? Do we assert no right and no control in regard to the Pacific? Is the name “Australia “ to be limited, as I say, to this piece of territory on which we stand ? I think not. If it is, then, it seems to me that Australians have greatly changed their opinion in very recent times. If that is the case, their aspirations have shrunk. Do the opponents of this Bill mean to say that they are satisfied to confine the defence of Australia to the patrolling of our coasts ? Are they content to allow every island in the Pacific, every strategic point, every possible base, to be occupied by any foreign power that chances to come along ? Are they prepared to allow any foreign power already in possession of the islands, such as the New Hebrides and New Caledonia, to carry out any policy they please «n those islands without expostulation by Australia, and without an effort on the part, of the British Government ?
– Great Britain has already done so.
– What about Samoa ?
– I think that the very best bargain that could be made was made with regard to that island, although I should like to hove seen Australia federated at that time, so that she might have been consulted about the matter. I have seen the Harbor of Apia, and in the circumstances I think that the very best bargain was made in regard to Samoa. But I should like to say that, if, as I believe, Australians do not confine their attention to the bare coasts of Australia, if they extend their gaze beyond our coastline to the oceans that wash our shores on every hand, and find there points alike of danger and advantage, then I think that, looking forward to the future as we must, to the possibilities of a policy that we cannot yet see with any definiteness, to the time when we may have to think and to act in a manner that would render any encroachment impossible, we must be convinced that the small navy contemplated by the advocates of theimmediateestablishmentof an Australian Navy, would be utterly inadequate. And if it would be inadequate we must be convinced that it would be impossible for Australia singlehanded to establish a navy that would be sufficient. If Austraia cannot undertake out of her own purse to provide a navy necessary for all these purposes for the present and the future, can we in fairness ask the mother country to undertake, not only the heavy burden as it stands at the present time, but the increasing burden of looking after interests that are admittedly more directly and distinctly Australian than appertaining to any other part of the Empire, without some payment on our part? It seems to me unfair, inconsistent, impossible. Therefore, I say that, looking at the matter from that stand-point, we cannot consider what has usually been termed “ the defence of Australia “ as being really the defence of Australia as we believe it to be, as we hope it will be. I have referred to our position in regard to the Pacific. I have also referred to Captain Creswell’s declared object that we should take into our own hands the protection of all Australia’s floating trade. Perhaps it has been my fault, but I have not yet heard, during this debate, any reference to the way in which it is proposed that we shall treat New Zealand. This is an agreement between the mother country, New Zealand, and Australia. Are we to leave New Zealand severely alone? Are we to regard it as a country so alien to us that we need not give- it a moment’s consideration ? We should remember that this agreement is for the benefit of. New Zealand as much as it is for our own ; and yet, during the whole of this debate, as far as I have been able to follow it, we have not given the slightest attention to the position of that colony. When we consider the defence of Australia we should consider the defence of New Zealand. It is, to my mind, an important matter, and I hope it will be so to Australians, wherever the)’ may be, that in n:card to an agreement of this nature, which has for its object the protection not only of the Commonwealth - on terms of great advantage to us as I think - but also the protection of our sister colony of New Zealand, we should hesitate very much, when we know that New Zealand is not only willing, but anxious to enter into it, before we reject it. I think that what I have said does not even carry the question of Australian defence” in its larger sense, as far as it ought to be carried. It does not exhaust it. Sir George Sydenham Clarke, in 1896 - long before he was Governor of Victoria - read a paper before the Royal Colonial Institute, which was subsequently published in a work called the Navy and the Nation, of which he was joint author with Mr. Thursfield. There are only two lines which I wish to quote from that paper. They are to befound at page 26 of the work I have named, and, coming from so high an authority, they ought to carry weight with us all. He says -
To Australasia the Channel and Mediterranean fleets are fully as important as the squadron in. Australian waters.
And why? Simply because Australia’s floating trade is not confined to Australia’s coasts, but extends all over the world. It would be impossible for the little fleet thatwe could, at greatly increased expense, establish as suggested by Captain Creswell, to guard Australia’s floating trade around our shores, as well as around those of New Zealand, and it would be ridiculous to suppose - it is not intended that we should - that it should ever leave Australia to venture out into the open sea for the purpose of protecting our trade there. What are we to do with that trade ? Are we still to depend on the British fleet ? We must do so ; but that circumstance seems to have been entirely overlooked in some of the arguments that we have heard. As to> the volume of that trade and its destination, I would refer honorable members to page 50 of the White Book. There we find a table in the minute from the Admiralty,, dated June, 1902, giving the total value of the exports and imports in 1900 in certain States, and showing “ The magnitude of thetrade in Eastern waters.” Thefigures relating to the Commonwealth are as follows : - With United Kingdom, £50,582,000; intercolonial with Commonwealth, £27,264,000; with other British dominions, £11,675,000;. with foreign countries, £25,053,000 ; total, £114,574,000. The minute points out that thus less than half the trade is with the United Kingdom. Honorable members will see at once the absurdity of framing any proposals such as we have heard and read of for the establishment of an Australian Navy, by which we should take into our hands finally the protection of the Australian floating trade. The objection has been made that this agreement is one which looks forward to the withdrawal of the Australian fleet from Australia to any other part of the Empire, or to any other part of the world. But I find that Article 2, df it is carefully read, points to a conclusion which, I think, is in the interests of Australia and “New Zealand. I should like honorable members to look at it, because it seems to me that too hasty a generalization has been drawn from a cursory reading of this article. It says -
The base of this force shall- be the ports of Australia and New Zealand, and their sphere of operations shall be the waters of the Australian, China, and East Indies stations, as defined in the attached schedules, where the Admiralty believe they can most effectively act against hostile vessels which threaten the trade or interests of Australia and New Zealand.
I ask honorable members to observe the language in which this article is couched : Not hostile vessels which threaten the Empire, not hostile vessels which threaten any other part of the Empire, but hostile vessels which threaten “ the trade or interests of Australia and New Zealand.” Is that anything to complain of? Is not that something which we ought gladly to welcome? Does any honorable member mea.n to say that that indicates an intention on the part of the British Government to forget the interests of Australia and New Zealand ? Rather the contrary. I certainly listened with a considerable amount of amazement to the deduction sought to be drawn from the power to remove vessels given in Article 2. It seems to me that, so far from the presence of those words raising any ground of complaint, we should rather have had a ground of complaint if they had not been there. Another objection has been raised that that Article 2 commits us to any policy of aggression that Great Britain may think fit to undertake. I have read already the observations of Sir “William Laird Clowes, which show that since the introduction of all these innovations in naval welfare, Great Britain has not been involved in any war of magnitude. I may be told that that is a piece of British testimony. Let me go to Captain Mahan, an authority who is an American. What does he say ? In his work Interest of America in Sea Power, published in 1897, he says, at page 211-
Durable naval power besides depends ultimately upon extensive commercial relations ; consequently, and especially in an insular State, it is rarely aggressive in the military sense. Its instincts are naturally for peace, because it has so much at stake outside its shores. Historically this has been the case with . the conspicuous example of the sea power of Great Britain since she became such, and it increasingly tends to be so.
With that testimony ; with our knowledge of the mother country ; and with the confidence that must rest between us, are we afraid to trust her as to wars of aggression ? I do not consider a war to be a war of aggression, when, in the face of threatened danger and imminent peril, -a blow has to be struck. A navy, as we are told, and especially the British Navy, does not wait skulking in a harbor in a position of defence. If an enemy declares that we must fight, the British Navy goes out, and looks for him, and undertakes what are called offensive operations. That is the traditional policy of the British Navy, but that is not war of aggression. I think that no case whatever has been made out, and no case can be made out, for believing for an instant that this agreement will tie us to any aggressive policy on the part of the British Government.
– Suppose our fleet were at the present moment in the China Seas, and it were kept there for five or six months. Does the honorable and learned member think that that would be a desirable thing 1
– I should be perfectly prepared to trust to the British Admiral who kept it there, in the belief that he was doing what was best for Australia as well as for every part of the Empire. I am not going to set up my naval knowledge or want of knowledge against his.
– It is a matter of confidence.
– It is a matter of confidence. It is a matter of expert knowledge and confidence, and I shall not be wanting in confidence between ourselves and the central authority in this Empire. We must not forget that the duties and responsibilities of modern nations extend a great deal further than their frontiers. No modern nation can afford to hug its own shores, and yet that would be the inevitable result, so far as Australia is concerned, of the proposal for the purchase of a navy as made by Captain Creswell. There was a day when nations had their power confined to their own territories. Those days are over. Commerce, world-wide commerce, has changed the whole aspect of national affairs. ‘ This commerce has forced the hands of every great power. It has initiated a new policy. That policy is a change from nationalism to what is called “ the new Imperialism.” The eighteenth century witnessed the emancipation of the individual ; the nineteenth century saw the consolidation of nations by the instinct of nationality ; the twentieth century is likely, if one may venture into the realm of prophecy, to see the new Imperialism carried out with a strong hand- Here, I think, there is some necessity for definition. I do not speak of Imperialism in the sense in which it is often understood, or rather misunderstood. I do not speak of “ Imperialism “ - and far be it from me to defend it - if it is defined to be that insatiable and detestable earth-hunger instigated by a spirit of militarism and a desire for more dominion and power which we have known in the past. The new Imperialism is that spirit which forces a nation to follow its interests all over the world wherever they legitimately and peacefully expand, and to protect those interests with all the means in its power. In other words, it guarantees on the part of a nation its fullest protection to its citizens, and to the commerce and property of those citizens, whether they are found within its own territory, or upon the broad and common highways of the ocean. And it is that new Imperialism that is changing the face of the whole world. It is that which in the very last few years has necessitated these gigantic armaments upon the sea, which are intended not for the purposes of aggression, but of protection. The old Imperialism was the Imperialism on land, gathering in territory. The new Imperialism is the protection of citizens upon the sea, a totally different thing, and not at all that wild, grasping, military spirit that has been justly deprecated by many of my honorable friends in this House during this debate. The late Prime Minister of England, about two months before he relinquished his position, in his last speech not only to the people of England, but through them to the people of the Empire, addressed to his audience a few words upon this particular subject. This was as late as May, 1902, and he said -
Remember that out of the confusion that recent events have caused, that out of the new difficulties that have arisen, there is arising a state of things perfectly new to the world, a condition in which an Empire depending not on any territorial contiguity, but merely upon the action of naval defences, is slowly arising out of the sea.
Those are words of deep import, not of hidden import, because the idea is there as plain as words can make any idea. They lead us to reflect that we are not to judge of this matter by old standards; and if this question had had to be debated twenty years ago it would probably have received, and properly received, a vastly different answer from that which will be an appropriate reply to it to-day. If there is one source of information which I have found more enlightening than another upon the subject, because the information is gathered in small compass, is treated with marked ability,, and is collated from a large range of authorities, it is a work which is no doubt familiar to honorable members, called World Politics, by Dr. Reinsch, of America I do not think any one can rise from a, perusal of that work without being profoundly impressed with the marvellous changes which have taken place on the world’s surface, impelled and forced by the enormous spread of commerce, by the hurrying of- nations to extend their trade operations, and the necessity to maintain themselves as first-rank powers on sea or to ‘sink into comparative insignificance. One of the vivid lessons which this great array of facts imperatively teaches us is this - that that old Imperialism, the Imperialism of Alexander, of Caesar, of Napoleon, of Bismarck, and even of Disraeli, has ceased to be the dominant principle of the great powers. It is being entirely supplanted by this new Imperialism, which holds its dominion chiefly upon the sea, and has for its purpose and design the protection, of the communications with markets. Honorable members may see in that work how every nation of any magnitude is hurrying to1 deserve the reproach, if it be a reproach, which Napoleon hurled at the British, that they were a nation of shopkeepers. The whole world is becoming a nation of shopkeepers. It is that great fact which, with commerce streaming from every direction over the great ocean routes, the desire to open China, the desire to obtain footholds everywhere as bases for protection and support, is causing this great agitation in the world’shistory at the present time, which is leading to these enormous armaments, which is making it compulsory that naval defences - ships and equipment - shall be of the finesttype and of the highest quality. Dr. Reinsch says that for communication with markets three things are needed - a merchant marine, a navy for its protection, and certain territorial bases throughout the world;.
He commences by indicating how, within the last six years, the whole conditions of statesmanship have altered by reason of the circumstances to which I have referred. He points out that since 1897 Germany, though late in the field, has transformed itself from a purely European military power, such as Bismarck knew when he declared that there was no place in Asia worth the bones of a Pomeranian grenadier, into one of the great naval powers of the world. In 1897 its Minister of Marine came to the Reichstag and demanded a grant which was the first distinctly new step in German policy towards the establishment of a navy. He reminds us how the Kaiser, when he despatched his brother, Prince Henry, to China, used these words -
It is simply the first realization of the transoceanic ambition of the newly united German Empire. It is my duty to follow the’ new German Hanse and to offer it the protection which it has the right to demand of the Empire and its ruler.
Further on he said -
We simply wish equal rights for German commerce under the Imperial banner. Imperial power 5s sea .power. The two arc mutually dependent One cannot exist without the other. Our citizens abroad may rest absolutely assured that the protection of the Empire will everywhere be given them through the Imperial Navy.
Later on, speaking at Hamburg in 1899, upon the aid of the Imperial Navy, he said -
We should be able to push our thriving trade
And commerce over the seas.
Since then, Germany has made giant strides on the field of commerce. She has established a seaport in China, at Kiao-chau. She possesses -the Ladrones and the Carolines in the North Pacific, and has a hold upon New Guinea in the South Pacific. Russia, since 1893, has spent about £50,000,000 upon her navy. The cables tell us to-day how determined she is. Until Russia had Port Arthur, she had not, I believe, any port which was free from ice all the year round. She has now, however, a, port which can be entered and departed from at airy moment throughout the year-. What is the struggle on her part 1 Is it not to partake of the great commercial dominance of the world ? I believe it is. The position looks menacing. But whatever these facts may mean, they show this : that every other nation, and England perhaps most of all, should be prepared to defend her supremacy upon the sea. I was asked a few minutes ago what would have been the answer if this question had been raised twenty years ago ? Let us take the case of America, and see how utterly and absolutely the position there has changed. Not even the veneration which is entertained there, as elsewhere, for the memory of Washington, has prevented the Americans from deviating from the lines he laid down in his last words as President. In his farewell address to the people of America, he reminded them that they were so distant and detached from other parts of the world’ as to have hardly any interest in the affairs of other countries. Yet quite recently America found it necessary to hoist her flag at Hawaii, thousands of miles away from her ‘Pacific coast, to secure the integrity of her country, and to prevent an enemy from using it as a base from which to attack her. She has also established herself at the Philippines, at Tutuila, near Samoa, and she is interested in China. America is now a world power. Therefore, it seems to me that we must not approach this question with any such restricted ideas as those which might lead us to believe that a small fleet of comparative insignificance will do all that is necessary and desirable for the defence of Australia, and of Australian floating trade. It is impossible to escape the admission that Australian defence means something more than the patrolling of our coasts and the watching of the inlets and outlets of our harbors. I believe that the expression “ unity of the Empire “ is more than a fine sounding phrase. It is something tangible. It means security for us and our development, security in the work of production, and safety to us when we are sending away our productions - our wheat, our wool, and our wine - to other countries, and receiving from them in return such products as we find necessary for use.
– Is not the able statement which the honorable and learned member is now making one of the strongest possible arguments in favour of creating an Australian Navy ?
– To which observation does my right honorable friend refer t
– The honorable and learned member’s speech for the last half hour.
– I was not aware that the right honorable gentleman was listening to my speech.
– O yes, I have been following the honorable and learned member’s remarks with great pleasure.
– I am gratified to know that my observations have afforded my right honorable friend some pleasure. If my arguments are in favour of the establishment of an Australian Navy at this time, I must utterly have misconceived them. When I say that the magnitude of our interests on the ocean is such that, in order to afford any effective security we must have a large and powerful navy, up-to-date, and equipped with guns and apparatus of the very first order ; and when I say, further, that Australia has not the means to provide such sea force, how can my statement be an argument in favour of the establishment of an Australian Navy at the present time ? Does not my argument lead to the inevitable conclusion that it is only a power of great wealth, with enormous trade, and with a number of territorial bases all over the world that can do what is necessary. Yet my right honorable friend thinks that the arguments which so plainly conflict with the position he has indicated lead in the other direction.
– All the magnificent developments of the last few years have sprung from small beginnings.
– I am quite sure that my right honorable friend was not listening halfanhour ago.
– I think that the honorable and learned member has got off the track altogether.
– Well, I intend to vote in the way that my remarks would indicate.
– The honorable and learned member always votes according to the same index - the Ministerial finger.
– That is. hardly worthy of my right honorable friend.
– It is historically correct.
– So long as the Ministerial finger points in the one direction, as it has done in my opinion, upon all important occasions, and that direction accords with my views, I shall follow it. I believe that without the protection offered us by the fleets of the Empire under one command - I believe that is absolutely essential - we can. not have the security that our welfare demands. I believe that the sentiment of a new Empire is very strong in our hearts today. It is no longer a question of England and her dependencies ; it is no longer the United Kingdom and “ those wretched colonies that hang like a millstone round our necks.” We do not hear any more Liberals, like Bright, or Conservatives, like Beaconsfield, sneering at the colonies. We have awakened to a sense of our rights, and 1 trust that we shall never forget that these rights carry with them responsibilities. For more than a century, Canada, Australia, New Zealand,and the Cape went on their toilsome way, carrying on the necessary work of pioneering and colonization, progressing in the manner that is now demonstrated, their efforts very often unappreciated, their importance unacknowledged, their destiny unperceived, their very existence frequently ignored; bub there came a moment, one signal moment, when in a flash, the flash of that red glare that lit up the fields of South Africa, there stood revealed, not only to England, but also to ourselves and the world at large, the unity in all essential particulars, of the great white nations that gather under the folds of the British flag. I hope that the sentiment to which I have referred will never be imperilled or impaired ; I feel confident -that nothing that can occur on this side of the world will ever have that tendency. Before everything else, we are, and we must remain, Australians. This land has been intrusted to us by God and nature to develop, to serve, to love, and to defend, but between our duty and devotion to Australia, and our fidelity to the Empire, I can see no barrier. Let us at all times and under all circumstances maintain our right to guide this country as we will, to create our own ideals and to insist on those ideals, to form our own plans, to perfect our schemes, to mature our own projects, and in all that appertains to us as Australians, to permit no interference whatever with our desires. But the most unfaltering allegiance to Australia is not incompatible with that larger British citizenship to which we all aspire, and whatever our troubles or our triumphs - and no man can foretell them - I trust that the paths of ourselves and our brethren may so far run together that we may as Australians always proudly claim as a right to share in the perils and the glories of the united British Empire.
– We have just heard an admirable speech, upon which nodoubt a good deal of thought ‘ has been bestowed. This has been the distinguishing characteristic of most of the speeches made during this debate, and, according to my judgment, they have been the most powerful delivered during the existence of this Parliament. I ‘ listened to the honorable and learned member for Indi with great attention, and for the first hour I was overpowered by the solemnity of his speech. Afterwards I wondered whether he was impressed with the importance of his subject, or oppressed by the fact that he was at variance with his pet organ, the Age. My slight experience has taught me that the honorable and learned member and the Age are almost invariably , in accord. Although I was absent from the House last week I took the trouble to read the speeches delivered by honorable members as reported in Hansard. I noticed that the bulk of the speeches consisted chiefly of quotations from naval experts. When these experts failed them, honorable members invoked the assistance of the poetic goddess. They jumped from Calliope to Mars and from Mars to Calliope. Poetic sentiments were employed, not only by the Prime Minister, but by almost every honorable member who spoke upon the Bill. But, despite this precedent, I do not intend to cite the opinions of naval experts nor to soar into the realms of poetry. Captain Malum, the eminent American naval expert, has been quoted both in support of and in opposition to the Bill. For example, the honorable i and learned member for Indi quoted him in support of the agreement submitted by the Prime Minister, whilst the honorable and learned member for Corio cited his opinions in opposition to it. From these facts I conclude that honorable members have used chunks from Captain Mahan’s admirable essays just as they suited their purpose. The only naval experts whoso opinions seem to be solid upon this matter are those wellknown Australian heroes, Captain Creswell, Captain Collins, and Captain Hixson I am not personally acquainted with Captain Creswell, but I know of Captain Collins as secretary of the Defence Department, and I have not heard of any great battles that he has won or of any enduring fame that he has achieved. Captain Hixson I know as an admirable citizen and a kindly old gentleman. Nothing can be said against him in his capacity as an officer of the Marine Board of New South Wales, but apart from that his reputation extends only to the Sydney Heads and back again. I trust, therefore, that it will not be considered heresy On mv part if I refuse to accept my fellow Australians, Captains Creswell, Collins, and Hixson. as an advisory board upon this matter. I shall not attempt to copy the almost inimitable language of the honorable and learned member for Indi, in describing the great importance of sea power throughout the world. Upon this Bill I find tha.t honorable members are divided into several parties. First, there is the straight out royal navyist who believes in a direct contribution by Australia to the Imperial Squadron. Then there is the advocate of an Australian Navy who desires to commence with a squadron consisting of one vessel. My task is to determine whether I can accept the measure submitted for our consideration, or whether I shall support the creation of a squadron of one vessel only. The .honorable member for Bland has submitted a proposition, which, if carried, will virtually shelve the Bill. He has moved that the measure be read a second time this day six months. For what purpose ? Simply that the electors may have an opportunity of expressing their opinions upon it. but I would point out to the honorable member that the adoption of his proposal will not give them any such opportunity. It virtually amounts to the shelving of the Bill, because we have no guarantee that the matter will be submitted to the people at the forthcoming election. Then the honorable member - to whose remarks I attach some significance, because he is the leader of a compact and well-organized party in this House - declares that a land force would provide Australia with an adequate defence. If the party with which he* is identified could carry a caucus resolution which would be binding upon the nations of the world, that all future engagements should be fought upon the Yarra, or upon -the Riley -street drain which debouches upon the Yarra, I could understand the position which he takes up. But in the absence of any such arrangement, his mere dictum requires further arguments to support it than those which have been presented. Speaking upon the Defence Bill only twelve months ago, the honorable member said-
All this emphasizes the fact that we cannot have anything like an Australian navy without incurring an expenditure which we dare not face, and it is, therefore, of no use for us to discuss a question of this kind at the present stage. I am quite prepared to admit that, as far as outside defence, and the protection of our commerce is concerned, we ought to be prepared to make some contribution towards the maintenance of something like an efficient British fleet.
Yet, during the course of this debate, he has declared that he does not believe in spending money upon a force of that character, and that a land force alone will afford us a sufficient measure of protection.
– He is not going to vote this time in accordance with the ideas expressed in his recent speech.
– The honorable member for Bland can answer that question for himself. I merely desire to point out that twelve months ago he favoured a direct contribution to the British Navy, and declared that the maintenance of an Australian fleet would be altogether too expensive an undertaking for us. These are problems which perplex us, but unquestionably they are problems which await our treatment. The hesitancy on the part of some honorable members is doubtless attributable to their belief that we are initiating a policy, not for a day,- but for all time. The honorable member for Kennedy openly declared that he was an Australian from first to last. Others have affirmed that they must be loyal and patriotic to Australia-
– The honorable member for Kennedy said that he supported federation as a step towards independence.
– That was an honest and straightforward statement to make. Because an honorable member opposes this Bill it does not follow that he is disloyal, or that an honorable member who supports it is necessarily loyal. I can quite understand some honorable members hesitating to ratify the agreement because “of their belief that we are initiating a policy to-day which in a few years they may not be prepared to advocate. ‘ I have no qualms of conscience upon- that ground.
– -To vote against the Bill would be to commit us to a certain policy for all time. That remark, however, does not apply to those who vote for the .agreement.
– Exactly. I regard the proposed naval agreement as providing for a’ nominal contribution calculated to have a moral effect, not only on us and the mother country, but on the rest of the nations of the world. , I regard the agreement as destined to have a similar moral effect to that which was intended in the early stages of the Transvaal war when the
British authorities applied for Australian troops. It was then stated that the troops were not . so much required for effective purposes, as to afford a moral demonstration that the colonies and the old country were really one. There was then evidence of a combination of European countries againstGreat Britain, and the sending of troops by Australia and the other dependencies to assist in the war in South Africa had the result which I have indicated. Even some of the labour representatives and other opponents of the proposed agreement decry the smallness of the amount” which is asked for. The honorable member for Herbert described £200,000 as a pitiful amountunder the circumstances.
– It is curious how representatives of the smaller States wantto spend millions.
– It is, indeed, marvellous how, under the circumstances, the necessitous States are anxious to spend large sums when only £200,000 is asked for. The contribution proposed cannot be regarded as a cash payment for services rendered, but merely, as I have said, as a nominal’ contribution in order to create a moral’ effect. Some honorable members seem to have an unreasonable fear about voting for the proposed agreement. In this very Chamber, in 1887, the then leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament, Sir James Patterson, made a powerful speech in defence of the naval agreement of that year, and that agreement was unanimously accepted by the State House. Why honorable members should hesitate to support the Bill I cannot understand, in the light of the experience of the last seventeen years, during which the Home authorities have never been found exercising or attempting to exercise any power with the squadron as against the wishes or interests of Australia. We are not dealing with a distinct nation - we are not dealing with any foreign power. We are a daughter nation of Great Britain, though, so far as. our internal affairs are concerned’, we are practically independent. We have been given responsible government and full autonomous powers ; and if honorable members who oppose this agreement could show that any attempt is contemplated to infringe any of the rights we now enjoy, their contention would be sound and powerful. But until I am shown evidence of some probable infringement of those rights,. I must refuse to accept the arguments put forward by the opponents of the Bill. There is no fear that by the payment of the subsidy ‘ asked for we shall sacrifice any of our present powers. The honorable and learned member for Indi used the word “ Imperialism,” and some honorable members and certain of the public may be frightened by the bogy which is conjured up by the use of this term. The word “Imperialism” is often taken to mean Caesarism - the pageantry, pomp, and military despotism of a Caesar. But that is not the kind of Imperialism which the British Government or the people of Great Britain desire to exercise ; and he will be a fortunate and powerful public man who can find the true phrase to describe the position. The word “ Imperialism” does not suffice to convey the relations of Great Britain and her colonies ; it carries too much the meaning of Empireism. The only phrase that occurs to rae as sufficiently expressive of the unity of the British race is that of “ British dominionism.” The Downing-street of to-day is not the Downing-street of even twenty years ago. The Downing-street of to-day does not represent either conservative or liberal politicians, who look upon the colonies as burdens, but represents a public opinion much more enlightened than that which prevailed in the past, and one which demands more and more attention to the development of the British dependencies. I could understand the objection of the leader of the Opposition when he said he could not assent to an Imperialism which would involve the smaller dependencies in the whole foreign policy of the Empire. I do not think that that is intended, nor, indeed, that it is practicable. But there is a point up to which the unity of the race can be shown, and the proposed agreement is a step in the right direction. This is all a matter of confidence between Great Britain and her dependencies. We have had experience of the mother of the Empire, and of her gratitude, as shown even in the creation of this Commonwealth. If we have not confidence in Great Britain, all the parchments and agreements which may be drawn up will not secure our proper treatment.
– The proposed contract is only for ten years.
– And it can be concluded by two years notice even before the expiration of that period.
– That is not the intention of the Minister for Defence.
– No ; but if we find we are being badly treated it will always be open for us to alter the agreement. In my opinion we never will be badly treated.
– I do not pretend to be able to deal with the technical aspect of this question, but I think’ I understand its political bearing. To-day Great Britain, as the honorable and learned member for Indi pointed out, is mistress of the South Pacific, and it is our duty to assist in maintaining that supremacy. I hope to show later on that that is one of the reasons why it would be more profitable to enter into the proposed agreement than to establish a navy of our own. Under the agreement we propose for a number of years to continue to hire vessels and men. We may call the result, an Auxiliary Squadron, a new system of Imperial defence, or apply to it any euphemistic term that we like - it will still consist, of hired vessels and hired men. Great Britain has the vessels and trained officers and men, and we hire them for an amount which cannot be described as a fair rental, but is a mere contribution. Whether an Australian Navy be started with a squadron of one vessel or of more than one, we shall simply have to go to Great Britain or elsewhere for officers and men. Under such circumstances, we would own the vessels, but have to hire men, whereasunder the agreement we hire both, and they form practically a portion of the Empire to the power of which we look for protection in serious disaster. I haveheard it said that Australians ought to be encouraged to exercise the influence of sea power, and that our men should be given a chance of a thorough training. I have only to use the rugged illustration of experience. The unfortunate position of the Australian to-day - and I speak as an Australian - is that he does not care to go to sea at all. The difficulty with our mercantile marine to-day is to get Australians to man them. Take the little boats that run on the coast of New South Wales or Victoria. In five cases out of six they are chiefly manned by Swedes and Scandinavians. When I hear honorable members say that Australia is a maritime nation I am reminded of our insular position with 8,000 miles of coastline. Our position warrants honorable members in saying that we are a maritime nation ; but the inclination of most Australians does not warrant them in making that statement. Under this agreement we shall have training-ships and drill-ships and the power to employ 1,600 Australians. If men can be induced to join the ships it will be all the better for the advocates of an Australian Navy, because periodically there will be turned out 1,600 trained officers and men to form the nucleus of an Australian Navy in the future. I have heard for years that if we do not establish a navy the eastern nations, such as Japan and China, will come down and eat us all up. I have heard these statements made until I am sick and tired of hearing them. I do not intend to pit my naval experience against them, but I shall pit against them the experience of history, and not ancient history either. In 1870 Germany ‘and Prance were engaged in a death struggle. Prance possessed a powerful navy, while Germany practically had no fleet. Did. Prance make an invasion of Germany by the use of her naval power 1 She never attempted to invade Germany by sea, because it is well known that while the mere sacking of a town, or destruction of a fort, only counts in the cost of a war, and has very little effect on the nation, a military invasion of territory has the effect of defeat. The French, as well as the Germans, relied on their military strength. There we had a splendid illustration of a power which possessed a large fleet not attempting to invade the territory of another power by means of the sea. The honorable member for Indi spoke about the rapid and constant scientific improvements in war-ships and naval equipment. He pointed out that, in less than ten years, great changes would occur, that, in fact, vessels’ which are useful this year might be practically obsolete next year. We are on the verge of great advancement in electrical matters, and some persons contend that submarine boats, with a better system of propulsion, and torpedoes will supersede what are known as cruisers or battle-ships. It has been admitted that it is a number of years since Great Britain had a serious naval engagement. It is probable that in the next great naval engagement she will have to meet the combined fleets of other nations. It will not be ‘a small engagement, but a death struggle, and whether it will take place in the eastern seas in a war against Russia or not, no man can say. But we do know that if the naval force of Great Britain is defeated, it will mean the defeat of her naval strength, and, ultimately, the defeat of her colonies. It will not be a matter of skirmishing. Her immense trade and her vast possessions will compel Great Britain to maintain the efficiency of her navy, whether we contribute or not to its maintenance. In the last twenty years she has piled up her naval expenditure by as much as 200 is to one in comparison with her military expenditure. Certainly, as an island power, she realizes that naval strength is her main defence, and as a colonizing power, an upholder of colonies all over the world, it is to her interest to keep on enlarging her navy. Not as a matter- of sentiment, but for her own protection she is the mistress of the seas. Both for the purpose of feeding her people and for the purpose of protect.ing her colonies, and her commerce, she is compelled to remain the mistress of the seas. In accepting this agreement Australia will assist her in maintaining her supremacy of the seas, for we have much in common in the SouthPacific. While we contribute this money to the support of the British Navy there is not the slightest necessity to neglect our local naval defence by means of naval brigades or naval reserves. I am referring to the torpedoes and submarine boats which are required in our harbors and along our coasts. So far as control is concerned, I did think at first that it would be a surrender of certain self-governing rights to allow the Admiralty to have full control of the Australian Auxiliary Squadron. But on reflection I recognised that if it were provided that the movements of the ships should be subject to the consent of the Commonwealth Ministry it would be only a fictional control. If Great Britain were engaged in a conflict, and her Admirals counselled that it was to their advantage to use the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, the Commonwealth Ministry would immediately grant its consent, and therefore it would be only a fictional provision.
– It would be very difficult for the Admiral, if he had to land to ask for that permission.
– It would be a most peculiar position indeed if the Admiral had to ask whether the squadron should be allowed to proceed to sea to effect a certain purpose with which he was .more conversant than even the Commonwealth Ministry could be. As we are a daughter nation of Great
Britain, we need have no fear in giving that power to the Admiral. Australians cannot say that they are being dragged at the heels of Mr. Chamberlain. It is a matter of indifference to Australians whether Mr. Chamberlain oi’ Sir William Harcourt has charge of the Colonial-office. Downing-street today is sufficiently well advised not to treat, or attempt to treat, Australia, or any other portion of the British Empire, in the contemptuous manner in which it did 30 or 40 years ago.
– We may not always get the same treatment as we get to-day.
– I am not loyal to an individual but to a principle, and the principle is the feeling of the British people to-da)’, and their inclinations in the future. Coining from the same stock, and holding the same aspirations, our interests are intertwined, and cannot be separated. When we speak about our loyalty, the Ministry in Great Britain, like the Commonwealth Ministry, simply represent the feeling, of the people for the time being. I am satisfied to be loyal and to trust to the people of Great Britain and their desire. I hope to see in the near future - and I do not think it is a mere phantasy of the brain - a continuous scientific improvement in both naval and military warfare, which will bring home to the mind of man the rational idea of doing away with war. I do not say that it will be accomplished in our time ; but from the stand-point of the labour party, who have very high ideals, one might ask why should Australia have a naval force at all. Why should they vote for a navy for Australia 1 Surely if they are to be taken as at one with their co-related forces in other parts of the world- with the socialists of Germany, of America, of England - they should be against war of all kinds. If the ideas of the labour party run in unison with the socialistic ideas which are entertained in Germany and elsewhere, instead of fighting for the establishment and equipment of an Australian Navy they should be inclined to have as little in the way of a navy as possible. This agreement affords an opportunity for emphasizing their ideas, which at the end of eight years will possibly be entertained by a larger number of people of the world than now hold them. I therefore hope that the labour party, instead of going in for the establishment of an Australian Navy, will be inclined towards shutting down both naval and military armaments. The honorable member for Maranoa has referred to the two Brisbane gun-boats, the Palumah and the Gayundah. He seems to regret that those vessels are to be taken out of commission under this agreement. The honorable member for Oxley, when speaking upon the Defence Bill last year, expressed opinions favorable to such an agreement as this. The honorable member is a quiet representative whom we all highly respect as a thoughtful man. He said in the course of the speech to which I refer -
For some years to come it would be .wise for us to leave ourselves iu the hands of Great Britain, so far as naval defence is concerned, instead of plunging the country into an outlay of many millions of money. We are at present contributing ,-tl26,000 per year towards the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, and it would be better, even if we doubled this amount, to continue under the protection of the British Navy.
There is an expression of the views of the honorable member for Oxley delivered twelve months back, similar to those expressed by the honorable member for Bland. Both of them now contradict their own utterances. The honorable member for Bland asks us to shelve this agreement, and the honorable member for Oxley opposes it. Am I to believe that, because Captain Creswell, the giant intellect of Australia so far as concerns these questions, has said that the agreement is a dangerous one, the honorable members to whom I allude have been persuaded that we should reject it ? Or am I to believe that, because the Acheron and the Avernus the two New South Wales torpedo boats, are to be withdrawn from commission, the honorable member for Bland dislikes the agreement We have been told that modern thought is opposed to a policy of this kind on account of some fear of Imperialism. That is the word to which people are opposed. We require a better term in order that the public may appreciate the idea. The public at large desire the British race to be brought closer together, though some of them do not like the term Imperialism. If some honorable members, in consequence of theiracademic studies, are of opinion that Imperialism means government by a sort of military despotism, they are greatly miscalculating the intentions of those who use the word. A quotation from Sir Henry Parkes has been made upon this subject. The inference drawn was that Sir Henry Parkes was in favour of Australia endeavouring to establish an Australian
Navy when he supported the Federal idea. I have here an extract from a speech by Sir Henry Parkes, delivered in New South Wales in 1887. He there says that -
The opinion which has guided my action from then to now is that we should not think of imposing upon the taxpayers of England for the defence of a country so free and powerful as- this colony”,
But, at the same time, he did not say that he believed in the establishment of an Australian Navy. Mr. Chamberlain’ has described Great Britain as “a weary Titan,” and has represented to us that the English taxpayer ought not to have imposed upon him heavy burdens, which are beyond his share, in matters of Imperial concern and moment. I am of opinion that, in matters of Imperial concern, it is the duty of all portions of the Empire to pay their quota. Australia should pay her share. The honorable member for Cowper, in a thoughtful speech, urged that an Australian Navy ought to be established, and said that he believed that in the hour of danger our navy’ ought to be sent forth to help Great Britain. But does not the honorable member see that by that contention he renders his own argument untenable ? He says in one part of his speech that,, if we do not have a navy of our own, we shall be placed in a defenceless position if the British Navy is withdrawn from our shores. If that be so, the honorable member must see that, if we established an Australian Navy, and allowed it to go abroad to help Great . Britain in a time of need, we. should be equally in a defenceless position. The honorable and learned member for Indi has pointed out that commerce is the great incentive of the nations towards naval expansion. To-day Great Britain is preeminent in naval affairs, and it is in the interests of Australia to be perfectly fair in her relations with Great Britain in this particular. I cannot see that experience warrants us in believing that Australia has any hopeof becoming a great maritime power. That is probably due to the fact that the conditions of life at sea are not attractive, and that the wages which obtain are not sufficiently high. Whatever the reason, the fact is well known, not only in Australia, but in other countries, that Australians have very little inclination towards a maritime life. I shall support the Government, for I think they are adopting the right course in urging us to accept this agreement.
In my opinion we shall run no danger by doing so. It surrenders none of our rights and infringes none of our self-governing powers. I think that the honorable member for Bland has failed to put forward reasons that should encourage honorable members to vote for his amendment. If he had referred to a work which was familiar to us all in our school days -Lord Lytton’s Coming Raw - in which the writer deals with the mightly strides of science, and speaks of a time when a child may touch a button and destroy a race; if he had said that the armaments of the powers of to-day and the discoveries of science were reaching such a pitch that the nations of the world would find that direct warfare was no longer possible, I could have understood his proposal, In an admirable work by M. Bloch, a man who was not a dreamer, but a worldwide economist taking an active part in the administration of Russian affairs, it is pointed out that the preparations for serious encounters between the great powers have reached such a stage and the science of war has made such remarkable strides that a serious encounter would be appalling in its consequences, and Russia and other great nations are advised to disarm. If the honorable member for Bland had put forward his amendment because he entertained views similar to these, I could have understood his attitude. But I am not prepared to shelve this Bill. I -shall record my vote most freely and willingly for this agreement. Many honorable members have given much consideration to this question. I regret that’ I have not been able to apply the same industry to it, but the attention which they have devoted to the subject is a compliment to themselves and to this House. Probably I am more indolent than they are, or lack their capacity.
– The honorable member has done very well.
– Usually one does not rush Ilansard, but I have read the Hansard report of this- debate, and I think honorable members will find that it will well repay perusal. I am willing that this contribution shall be made. The proposal is an economical arrangement for Australia, and we should willingly agree to it. The immediate establishment of an Australian Navy is beyond the question. If the time ever becomes ripe for the establishment of an Australian Navy, it will not be in the near future. I hoped that as the Victorian Parliament, as well as the Parliament of New South Wales, practically gave a unanimous vote for the agreement of 1887, the Federal Parliament would have been unanimous in accepting the agreement now before us, but I regret to find that my desire is not likely to be realized.
– It is not my intention to occupy for any length of time the attention of the House. Indeed, I do not believe that I should have addressed myself to this question but for the action of the Minister for Defence in including my name among a list of honorable members who, he said, had spoken in a certain direction during the second-reading debate on the Defence Bill introduced last session. It is a piece of presumption for any one to assume that because I said on that occasion that I failed to see the possibility of establishing a local navy at present that, therefore, I am going to support this proposal.
– That was not the argument I used.
– I view this proposal with very great alarm. Rightly or wrongly, I hold the opinion, and hold it very strongly, that it is only the thin edge of the wedge.
– What wedge ?
– The wedge of Imperialism. I hold that there are certain honorable members who, if it is ever in their power to prevent the establishment of an Australian Navy, will certainly do so. We have ample evidence to support that view. I have before rae a statement put before the Conference of Colonial Premiers by the Minister for Defence, which, in my opinion, was a misrepresentation of the aspirations of Australia. . Such statements can only be misleading to the Imperial authorities. What did the Minister for Defence say ? Did he say, as the honorable member for Dalley said just now, that this agreement would be only for ten years ? Did he say that in his opinion it was ‘to be a terminable agreement? Nothing of the kind.
– He expressed only his own personal opinion. ‘
– He expressed an opinion that had considerable influence, and which was backed up by the Secretary- of “State for the Colonies. Again and again during his tour through South Africa, and since his return to England, Mr. Chamberlain has made it as clear as the noonday sun that this contribution will be only a mere bagatelle compared with what is expected of Australia in the future. What did the Minister for Defence say in the minute which he put before the Conference of Premiers in London. He said -
Our aim and object should be to make the Royal Navy the Empire’s navy, supported by the whole of the self-governing portions of the Empire, and not solely supported by the people of the British Isles, as is practically the case at the present time. It is, I think, our plain duty to take a part in the additional obligations cast upon the mother country by the expansion of the Empire, and the extra burdens cast upon her in maintaining our naval supremacy.
He went on then to suggest that a conference of the leading men in the British dependencies should take place, and we have every reason to believe that it is intended that such an arrangement shall be made. The Minister went on to say that -
If such a plan can be brought about, it would be necessary for the “British Dominions beyond the Seas” to be adequately represented at the Admiralty, and I feel sure this could be arranged on a mutually satisfactory basis. In -time of war there could not be any division of responsibility, and, until a more extended federation of the Empire is established, that responsibility would have to rest upon the Imperial Government.
To my mind the contribution we are now asked to make is a rather moderate ohe, as compared with the figures which one of our representatives placed before the Imperial authorities in this minute. The Minister for Defence went on to say that -
Great Britain spends annually on her army and navy about £50,000,000 (not including the South African war), or about £1 os. per head of her population. If the Australian Commonwealth contributed in the same proportion it would amount to something like £5,000,000 a year.
These figures have been repeatedly reiterated by Mr. Chamberlain in connexion with his assertion that the sum of £200,000 per annum is not what is expected of Australia. I fear that it is never intended to allow Australia to have a navy of her own. The whole trend of every argument which has been used to-night - including the new Imperialistic ideas which were expressed by the honorable and learned member for Indi - goes to show that this is so. The speeches delivered by those who support this proposal have been of the most astonishing kind that I have ever listened to. The honorable and learned member for
Bendigo made one of the strongest speeches against the agreement. Every argument he used was against its acceptance, 3’et he concluded by saying that he intended to support the Bill. Every argument put forward by the leader of the Opposition was also against the Bill, but he, too, concluded with the intimation that he intended to support it.
– And so with the rank and file.
– Yes. What I dread is not that this agreement is to extend over a period of ten years, but that it is to be a continuous one. We have it in evidence that, if the Minister for Defence has his way, there will be no such thing as an Australian Navy, but there will be an Imperial Navy, to which we shall contribute, and to which we shall contribute our quota in the same proportion as do the British people.
– No ; I did not say that.
– That is what the right honorable gentleman’s recommendations come to, and that is what Mr. Chamberlain refers to repeatedly in his speeches.
– No representative of Australia ever for a moment said a word in furtherance of the idea that our contribution should be pro rata..
– The Prime Minister will admit that the Minister for Defence did say that what we want, and what our aim and ambition should be, is to have an Imperial Navy, and the right honorable gentleman, right through his minute, scouted the idea of anything in the shape of an Australian Navy. I admit that in our present circumstances we are not in a position to establish an Australian Navy ; but I believe we are in a position to make a start towards it.
– How much a year ?
– We are now no whit better off than we were ten years ago, norwin we be one whit better off ten years hence. But the chances are that we shall then be accused of disloyalty, with very much greater force, if we wish to break this agreement, when it has been clearly laid down by our leading men, and by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, that this is only a temporary affair, and that it is to be extended very much in the same direction the next time it is considered. It would be better if we were to ear-mark a certain amount of money for the establishment of an Australian Navy.
– How much ?
– We might ear-mark the full amount’ proposed here, for ten years.
– £200,000 a year; that would not go far.
– In addition to the sum of £100,000 a year?
– I would approve of setting aside that amount in addition to the £106,000 at present paid in preference to this proposal, as we should then have some certainty that a start would be made with the establishment of an Australian Navy.
– The honorable member will have Mr. Jenkins on to him.
- Mr. Jenkins probably will be on to me ; but I say that that would be preferable to this arrangement, because if we were to accept the position as the Minister for Defence puts it, we ought to be paying £5,000,000 a year.
– I never said that.
– The right honorable gentleman said that if we contributed our share we should pay £5,000,000.
– The honorable member cannot say that the Minister for Defence ever advocated that.
– The honorable member may read another minute in the papers just the opposite. I dealt with the contribution, and I said it was not necessary that the Australian payment should be on the same basis as that of the United Kingdom.
– I am referring to the official document by the right honorable gentleman which was placed before the Conference. There may be some other minute which I have not seen.
– There is a clause in that minute which contains what I now state.
– As a matter of fact we have had a squadron for the last fourteen years. We have no result from it, and what result will we have from this agreement ? It must be remembered that we are not voting £200,000, but £2,000,000. Notwithstanding all that has been said of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bland, I think that honorable member makes a most reasonable proposition when he suggests that this matter should be submitted to the people of the
Commonwealth. It has never been submitted to the people of the Commonwealth, because when they were considering the proposal for the Auxiliary Squadron at present existing, they were dealing with an entirely different arrangement from that now proposed. Seeing that we shall have the elections within the next few months, it is a reasonable proposition to have this agreement submitted to the electors. If they desire it, by all means let them have it ; but if I understand the desires of the people of the Commonwealth, their aspiration is not for an Imperial Navy. , They do not desire to be dragged into conflicts brought about by the aggregation of territory. They desire to have a navy for defence, and not for aggression and offence. These matters might be threshed outatthe general election, and if theMinister for Defence, as he says, is voicing the opinions of the people in this matter–
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The right honorable gentleman has nothing to fear, but everything to gain, by an appeal to the electors, and he can come back from the elections backed up by the people’s will.
– Some of us may come back.
– But if we accept the Government proposal the matter will have been decided, and we shall be locking the door after the horse is stolen. If the course proposed by the honorable member for Bland were taken, the right honorable gentleman, after the elections, would be in a position in which he could tell the House that this matter had stood the bruntof an election, in which it had been discussed in every detail, and that those who supported the agreement had come back with renewed vigour, strengthened in their position. Does any honorable member mean to say that any danger will arise from delaying the settlement of this matter for four or six months?
– If we do wrong, we shall not get back at all.
– Does the right honorable gentleman fear any aggression? Does he think there will be an invasion by an enemy from any part of the world ? Does he for a moment think there is any fear of an enemy coming to Australia at the present time?
– The honorable member cannot go to the country on that ; he must on the votes he gives against the Government.
– I believe that if I were to go to the country in South Australia, and were able to say that I had given so many votes against the Government, and a very much smaller number in their favour, I should considerably strengthen my position in that State. The people there have an idea that the present Federal Government is extravagant, and that idea will be strengthened when they know, as they probably will within the next 24 hours, that they are responsible for their share of another £2,000,000.
– Another£2,000,000 ?
– Does not the honorable member see that this involves an expenditure of £2,000,000 ?
– I see that it is an increase of £94,000 a year only.
– It is an expenditure of £200,000 a year for ten years.
– Less £106,000 a year.
– The old agreement has terminated. I hope that I am wrong in my belief ; but time will tell whether the fears I have to-night are groundless or are justified. I honestly believe that it is intended that this agreement shall be extended, and that every possible obstacle will be placed in the way of Australians carrying out Australian aspirations in connexion with the establishment of a navy.
– Is that why we are going to train men for the navy at once?
– But the Government are not going to train them for an Australian Navy ; and, considering all the circumstances, I shall vote against the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Brown) adjourned.
– I move -
That this House do now adjourn.
I should like to intimate to honorable members that the Government very much hope to see a division taken on the Naval Agreement Bill to-morrow, and at an early hour. It is a fortnight since I moved the second reading of the Bill, and, although I admit that some of the intervening time has been taken up by other business, the best part of the time has been occupied with the debate on the naval question. I suggest that honorable members might aid the Government by having this matter decided. Should that Bill be dealt with in Committee to-morrow, I shall move the second reading of the New Guinea Government Bill, a measure which, when it has been seen, will not, I think, occupy the House long.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister when it is proposed to lay on’ the table the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and also when it is intended to give Parliament an opportunity of dealing with the report of the experts on the proposed Federal capital sites. It appears to me that the report presented is only a progress report.
– We have received a report only in regard to certain sites, and an instruction has been given to the Commission to give a further report.
– Only as to one site, which was not included in the Commission.
– Do the Government intend to extend the power of the Royal Commission by asking for a report on other sites ? The report had, as laid down in theresolution, to be submitted in April, and yet towards the end of July, a further report is asked for. Under the circumstances, some time must elapse before we receive the second report, and it is impossible to say when the matter will be finally dealt with. I hope the Prime Minister will so expedite the inquiry that the question . of the capital site may be settled this session. It seems to me that considerable unnecessary delay has taken place.
– I share the desire that the question of the Federal capital site should be brought to a conclusion at the earliest possible moment. If the Royal Commission is to report on the Dalgety site, they might also be asked to furnish some further information about the Lake George site, in relation to the water supply in regard to which there seems to be some error or omission. The report states that the reservoir on the Molonglo River is too low to supply the city site on Lake George by gravitation, but I have it from Mr. Wade,, of the New South Wales Water Conservation Branch, as shown in a map which has been in my possession for some time, that the Molonglo basin is between 170 and 180 feet “ higher than Lake George.
– That is, than the lake.
– Yes; but the figures give a fair height above any contemplated city site. It is possible the Commission merely desired, to indicate that the site of the reservoirs is too. low for the gravitation scheme, as it would not supply the whole of the suggested capital area, and, if so, their report seems to err on the side of not disclosing all the facts of the case. It might be suggested to them to furnish some information on this point.
– We are now realizing the results of the procrastination in connexion with the selection of a Federal capital site. We are almost at the close of this Parliament, and honorable members, particularly those who are intensely interested, are very naturally asking for a redirection to be given to the Commissioners to make further investigation.
– That would have happened in any event, and it is what happened in the case of Mr. Oliver.
– Precisely so, and that shows the need there was for appointing the Royal Commission at least twelvemonths earlier than it was appointed. The whole matter is being rushed through, when as a fact there should have been plenty oftime for consideration ; and it is quite clear that, unless prompt steps are taken, the question will not be dealt with by this. Parliament. If it is dealt with in theclosing hours of the Parliament, and a merebald resolution passed, I am afraid we shall not be much “ forrader.” The newspapersin Victoria and elsewhere are getting ready to make this an issue at the next election.
– Not elsewhere 1
– I an, afraid thehonorable member will find that representatives from elsewhere than Victoria cominghere pledged against the spending of any money on a Federal capital site. There isabsolute need for all haste, so that we may definitely fix the location of the Federal capital.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the States generally will break faith
– I do not suggest that the States are likely to break faith. It is not a question of breaking faith ; and without putting the matter in that ugly way, there are many means of delaying the commencement of operations. I am only arguing that there is every need for the Government to take prompt steps to have this matter decided definitely in a way that will insure the carrying out of the work to a completion.
Sir EDMUND BARTON (HunterMinister for External Affairs). - I feel called upon to make a short reply on tho question of the Federal capital. As I mentioned, Dalgety was not included in the resolution of the House, and, therefore, was not in the Commission as a substantive site for report. But, as I stated this afternoon, the Commissioners read their instructions so as to enable them to extend their inquiries for a radius of 25 or 30 miles beyond the areas mentioned. The extension does not appear to have included Dalgety ; and a letter of the 8th J July has been read to the House, to day, in which the Minister for Home Affairs instructs the Commission to include it as a substantive site. It cannot be that the investigation of that matter will take very long. I must also remind honorable members of this fact : The investigation of the advantages of the Dalgety site may take some days, but honorable members have asked me to lay upon the table thu evidence which has already been taken by the Commission, and I have promised to do so, and the delay in inspecting and reporting upon the Dalgety site will be nothing to that which will be caused by printing the evidence, circulating it among honorable members, and giving them an opportunity to read its bulky contents.
– That only shows that the matter should have been taken into consideration before.
– The consideration of the evidence will,’ no doubt, take some time. Meanwhile there will bo legislation to occupy the attention of honorable members while here, and in the intervals - I will not say of rest, but of absence from this Chamber - they will be able to devote themselves to its study. The selection of a site for the Federal capital has been in no way. slummed over or neglected by us. The statement that it has been, neglected is a false report, picked up from some outside source. I defy any honorable member to be - I will not say more anxious than - but as anxious as I am to see the administration of the Commonwealth conducted from the permanent seat of government.
– We ought to have hod the report months ago.
– The Government ought to have done this and that, but those who taunt us with not being able to move heaven and earth within a certain time are those who have not been able to do anything themselves when they have been in office.
– The Government have done nothing in this matter but call for reports.
– Considering the length of time that the Government havebeen in office, it is idle to say that we ought to . have accomplished a great deal more. No Government that has ever preceded us in any of the States would have attempted as much as we have performed. It is an unfounded and incorrect statement to say that we have npt pursued the business of choosing the Federal capital in the best way . open to us, considering all the difficulties with which we have been surrounded. But, notwithstanding the manner in which I have been assailed/. I intend to give the House this session an opportunity to select a site for the capital, and to go as much further towards its actual establishment as the time at our disposal will permit.. I am not to be deterred from that action by any amount of press criticism here - by any such assertion, for instance, as that the cost of the transcontinental railway from Kalgoorlie is to be included in estimating the cost of establishing the capital and the consequent increase of the burdens of the Commonwealth. Hideous nonsense of that kind will not deter me. But the. Government are entitled to reasonable consideration in a matter of this importance. When the difficulties that surround the question are considered, and the fact that the Governmnent of the United States did not get into .their capital until 24 years after the declaration of independence is remembered, it will be admitted to be a great advance on the part of this Government if the Bite of the Federal capital is chosen and the- necessary preparations for its commencement entered upon this session. That I have every hope and belief will be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 July 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030721_reps_1_14/>.