House of Representatives
23 July 1903

1st Parliament · 2nd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 2503

PRINTING COMMITTEE

Report (No. 5) presented by Sir John

Quick, read by the Clerk, and agreed to.

page 2503

NEW SOUTH WALES ELECTORAL ROLL

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I wish to know from the Prime Minister, in reference to statements which have been published in the newspapers in explanation of the difference between the adult population of New South Wales, as shown by the census returns, and the number of names on the electoral roll, what is the date of the roll referred to the Now South Wales Electoral Commissioner for use in the redistribution of seats under the Commonwealth Electoral Act ; and what is the number of male and female electors upon that roll 1

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Minister for External Affairs · HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– The only information which I have been able to obtain at such short notice has been supplied to me by the Chief Electoral Officer, and is as follows : -

The male adults entitled to the State franchise within the State of New South Wales numbered 303,315, and were collected during the statutory police canvas in 1902. The lists were revised at the Revision Court held on the 16th December of the same year. The lists of female adults were collected and printed for the same State during the early part of this year. These number 286,032. To these are added the adult membora of the Defence force, making a grand total of 589,784, and yielding a quota of 22,684.

If the honorable member will give me notice in writing of any other information which he desires, I shall be happy to get it for him.

page 2503

QUESTION

VICTORIAN ELECTORAL DIVISIONS

Mr A C GROOM:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · FT

asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

Whether he will cause tbe report by Commissioner Morrison on the electoral boundaries of the State of Victoria to bo printed and circulated amongst honorable members ?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Protectionist

– I have been supplied with the following answer to the honorable member’s question : -

The report having been laid upon the table of this House, the matter appears to be one for the Printing Committee, who have decided to print the material part of it.

page 2503

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH POPULATION

Mr WILKINSON:
MORETON, QUEENSLAND

asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

  1. What was the totalpopulation of the Commonwealth on 31st December last, as estimated for the purpose of determining the quota for the election of the House of Representatives?
  2. In estimating that population, was the coloured alien population of all the States included ?
  3. If not, what races were excluded, and in what States?
  4. Of what races were the 18,038 coloured aliens who were excluded from the count when determining Queensland’s representation in this House ; and what was the number of each race ?
  5. Will the Minister state, approximately, how many unnaturalized coloured aliens have been counted in Victoria in determining the representation of that State in this House ?
Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Protectionist

– I have been supplied with the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -

  1. 3,874,122.
  2. No.
  3. Coloured aliens- 24,000 in the States of Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia.
  4. Chinese, Pacific Islanders, Japanese, Ceylonese - the number of each race is being obtained.
  5. About 7,000.
Mr McDONALD:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND

asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

Whether, in view of the fact that, in the official return of the population of the Commonwealth, upon which to. determine the number of the members of the House of Representatives to be returned by each State, dated 11th June last, the population of the State of Tasmania on the 31st December, 1902, is given as 177,072, and in a similar return published in Coghlan’a Seven (polonies, at page 273, the population of that State on the 30th June, 1002, is given as 172,572, he can account for the extraordinary increase in the population of Tasmania during the period between the above dates.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I have boon supplied with the following answer to the honorable gentleman’s question : -

When the census of Tasmania was taken on the 31st March. 1901, the population of the State was found to be 172,475, and on the3lstDecember, 1901, the population was officially estimated at 174,233 (see page 99 of the Statistics of Tasmania for 1902). According to the latest estimate of the Tasmanian Government Statistician, Mr. Johnston, on the 31st December, 1902, the population of the State numbered 177,072.

On page 273 of the Seven Colonies of Australasia, Mr. Coghlan sets down the population of Tasmania, at the 30th June, 1902, as only 172,572, but he, while forming his own estimate of the population of New South Wales, accepts Mr. Johnston’s estimate for Tasmania, which has been adopted by the Commonwealth.

page 2504

PAPERS

Sir EDMUND BARTON, in laying on the table the following paper : -

Correspondence with reference to a complaint made by Captain Strachan as to the action of certain officials of the British North Borneo Company,

I desire to explain that this correspondence merely consists of despatches. It will scarcely be worth while to lay the an nexures upon the table, because I understand that they are all contained in a pamphlet of which I believe every honorable member has received a copy, and which pamphlet contains Captain Strachan’s complaint.

Sir JOHN FORREST laid upon the table:

Commonwealth Military Forces, Queensland - alteration of regulations (Section 13).

page 2504

NAVAL AGREEMENT BILL

In Committee (Consideration resumed from 22nd July, vide page 2467) :

Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.

Schedule.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Minister for External Affairs · Hunter · Protectionist

– I wish to inform the Committee that, as I stated yesterday, I intend to add to the covering olause of the Bill a declaratory provision making itclear that the right to maintain and control local naval forces is retained by the Commonwealth. The new clause which I propose to insert reads as follows : -

Nothing in this Act or in the said agreement shall be deemed to affect the purely Australian naval defence forces ships and armament maintained in the Commonwealth for harbor and coast defences. Such Australian forces ships and armament as may be approved by Parliament shall be maintained by the Commonwealth and be solely under its control.

That seems to me to be simply a maintenance of legal rights we already have, but it will give satisfaction to some honorable members who are under some apprehensions to have it placed in the body of the Bill.

Mr GLYNN:
South Australia

– I think it would be a mistake to insert the proposed amendment in the Bill. . It certainly is not necessary, because we do not exclude our powers, except in so far as the agreement expressly states that they are cut down. But the mere putting in of these words will give to the agreement an implied meaning, the scope of which we cannot at present anticipate. Not only that, but I believe that the amendment as drafted is, to some extent, a limitation upon what we wish. It refers to harbor defence rather than to coastal defence. The vessels may go beyond territorial limits, and yet they would be local vessels.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– It says “for harbor and coast defences.”

Mr GLYNN:

– But an Australian Navy would not necessarily be one for harbor and coastal defence. We might have a navy whose sphere would be quite as extensive as that of the navy under Article 2 of this agreement.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– Does not the honorable and learned member think that this amendment is purely declaratory, and therefore does not affect our right to legislate on the defence of Australia, or our right’ to establish an Australian Navy, if this Parliament thinks it right and proper to do so 1

Mr GLYNN:

– What I am endeavouring to point out is that by putting in explanatory words of this sort we may by implication negative certain of our powers which are not specially referred to. The amendment certainly is not necessary, and may work towards a limitation of the powers which we have at present. The Prime Minister is too good a lawyer not to know that the amendment may, by affecting to explain some things, and not others, exclude those others. There is one amendment which may be made in the - Bill, and which I should like to draw attention to now. It is a very proper one to make, and not merely an amendment of the kind before us, which may really accomplish nothing except a dangerous limitation. There is in the prefatory words of the agreement a declaration which we ought not to accept, and which is not essential to the contract which we are asked to enter into with the Admiralty. The prefatory words have nothing to do with the binding agreement, but they state the whole principle for which the Admiralty is contending. I will not quote the whole of them, but if honorable members will turn to the words they will notice that it is stated that we have agreed upon the “ necessity of a single navy under one authority, by which alone, concerted action can be assured.” Any one who has read the Blue-book can see that the whole principle for which the Admiralty is contending is in those prefatory words. The agreement is not intended to exist merely for twenty years, but to bind us permanently. The words are unnecessary for the purposes of the agreement, which bind us to no principle, but to an arrangement which may last twenty years, and to which we can put an end at two years’ notice at any time after eight years. That is an arrangement into which we can enter independently of the principle enunciated in these prefatory words. We need not declare the reasons for entering into the arrangement. Those reasons differ as given by some honorable members from those given by others. Some believe that in the infancy of federation we cannot afford to go in for an Australian Navy. Some think that just at present it may be well for us to go in for seme temporary arrangement. Others believe that it is advisable that there should be an Imperial fleet for our defence, that we should depend only on the British Navy, and that our local defences are useless for the purpose. That is the principle of some honorable members, and that is the principle contained in these prefatory words. That is, that the naval defence of Australia should be under one common control ; that it should be provided for by one navy, and by that alone; that there should be concerted action of the fleet for our defence ; and that our immunity from attack can be attained only in that way. I am now indicating to honorable members the nature of an amendment which I intend to move upon the preamble. My objection to the prefatory words is that they really give away the whole position, so far as concerns our moral power, at all events, to exercise our right to cancel this agreement after eight or ten years. If we declare the terms of the contract, it is all that the Admiralty have a right to ask us to do. If we once adopt the prefatory words of the schedule, we shall be declaring at the very outset a principle which will be really binding upon us in honour, perhaps 20 or 30 years hence, quite as much as now. The amendment suggested by the Prime Minister, if it is accepted, may be regarded as a bar to the acceptance of my wider amendment. I think that the proper course is not to accept the proposed amendment, but to amend the preamble when the proper time arrives.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– It seems to me that the object of this new clause is merely to maintain our existing powers which, without it, I think we should still have had, but the continued declaration of which is looked upon by some honorable members as a fair and fit explanation of the action which we take in providing otherwise with reference to the combined navy of the Empire. The honorable and learned member for South Australia no doubt had in his mind the provision of the Constitution which gives us power to’ provide for the defence of the Commonwealth both by way of naval and military forces. That provision cannot be overridden by any declaration or preamble in this agreement. If there were fifty preambles such as this, they would not affect our right to provide for the defence of Australia by means of a navy. I say, after carefully considering the question, that the preamble cannot affect our right to maintain an Australian Navy in addition to contributing towards the navy of, the Empire for which purpose this agreement provides. I am quite clear upon that point. If at any time, even during the pendency of this agreement, it seemed wise to this Parliament to establish a small naval force - or, indeed, a large one - for purely Australian defensive purposes, the power provided under the Constitution is inalienable, and could not be cut’ down by any mere recital in an agreement. I -think that the honorable and learned member will on consideration be of opinion that this recital, as to . the necessity of a single navy under one authority, refers merely to the navy of the Empire, and has no restrictive effect upon any other naval force we choose to establish for what I may term local defence, if such a term may be applied to the defence of the Commonwealth.

Mr Glynn:

– Technically, no doubt that is so.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– We are speaking simply of the naval forces as part of the naval forces of the Empire to be employed on this station. We are speaking of ships to be supplied by Great Britain, to be partly officered and manned by our own people, and to be paid for, half by us and half by the Admiralty. That force cannot, by any stretching of terms, be included in “ an Australian Navy.” Nor could it be so extended as to prevent the establishment of an Australian Navy. We have pointed out that the time has not come for the establishment of an Australian Navy. We think that during the next eight or ten years, until certain financial restrictions ‘ have been removed, we shall not be in a position to incur the expense involved in establishing a navy of our own. That, however, is a matter of argument.

Sir Edward BRADDON:

– It is a matter of finance.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

-It is a matter of argument based upon finance.

Some honorable members may hold that under altered financial conditions there is a possibility of our establishing a navy at an early date, and as I have already pointed out, that could be done without interfering in any way with the agreement. I do not wish that anything in the Bill should take away one jot or tittle of our constitutional rights. My contention is that it does not take away these rights. We are free to proceed as we wish in the matter of local naval defence. We can subsidize a portion of the navy of the Empire, or establish an Australian Navy, or we may arrange for our defence by both processes. But the necessity for the establishment of a single navy under one control is a matter of argument, upon which it may be assumed that the votes already taken afford some indication of the opinions of honorable members. But that does not mean anything more than that, so far as the Imperial Navy is concerned, it shall be one navy under one control. I am most hopeful that, so far as outside naval purposes are concerned, the provision in this agreement will be sufficient during the whole of the term of its currency. But if some extraordinary emergency should arise to render it necessary for us, not to become an independent naval power, but to arrange for the establishment of auxiliary forces, it is clear that there is nothing in the Bill that would prevent that course from being adopted. It would be purely a question of policy.

Mr Glynn:

– Do not the Imperial Government value the preamble more than any other part of the Bill ?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I have not heard any one say that. The preamble is confined to the purposes of the agreement itself. It cannot be read into any other transaction. It refers to the agreement and the agreement alone, and, therefore, it cannot on that ground, if otherwise it could, restrict any of our rights. I think that the honorable and learned member will agree with me that our right under the Constitution to provide for the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth is not curbed by the terms of the preamble, nor could it be curbed by any such provision. I can see the force of the honorable and learned member’s argument in another way. He may think that as the proposed declaratory clause does not refer in terms to an Australian Navy, therefore it is exclusive of an Australian Navy. That might be a strong argument if it were a purely enacting clause. But I do not think, and I am sure the honorable and learned member will agree with me, that the mere declaration of an existing right to do a certain thing takes away existing rights to do other things which are equally lawful . Although I am prepared to go on with this clause, if honorable members who desire it are anxious that it should be inserted, I am not particularly keen about taking that course, because I think we have our rights without it.

Sir JOHN QUICK:
Bendigo

– I understood the Prime Minister to say during the second-reading debate . that all the existing naval forces of Australia except the Cerberus were to be abolished.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– I did not say that.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– I understood so, and that was the impression of other honorable members. I said clearly and distinctly that if that were so, and it .were not made clear that we were to retain our existing naval forces, I should vote against the third reading of the Bill. But after hearing the explanation of the Prime Minister yesterday, and his clear statement of the policy of the Government not to interfere with the existing naval forces-

Sir Edmund Barton:

– Except by way of substituting better things.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– Except by subsequent legislation, I was not keen for the insertion of the amendment of which I gave notice. The amendment was not intended to assume the form of a declaration of constitutional rights, because, as I should be in a position to know, no such declaration in ‘the Bill would have any validity. I desired to insert a clause in this Bill which would have the effect of preventing the Executive from disbanding the existing naval forces without the authority of Parliament. It was repeatedly stated in the press that it was the intention of the Government to disband the existing naval brigades, and to sell off our ships, so that our naval defence forces might be embraced wholly in the new squadron. .1 should be no party to any such policy ; but if it is not the intention of the Government to abolish the existing forces, I see no occasion for the amendment.

Mr HUGHES:
West Sydney

– I am pleased to learn that the Prime Minister does not intend to go on with this amendment, and that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo does not wish to press it. But I must be permitted to express my unbounded astonishment at the explanation of the meaning of the amendment - an explanation which’, I venture to say, no other honorable member would have been able to afford. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in his speech on the second reading of the Bill, supported with all his power and all his eloquence the idea- of creating an Australian Navy, and then erected a miserable aboriginal mia-mia in which he proposed to shelter himself from the extraordinary consequences of his extraordinary action in voting against his declared sentiments. The amendment is too ridiculously absurd, and too milk and watery even to bear contemplation for’ a moment, to say nothing of criticism, and therefore, after another honorable and learned member has spoken against it, and the Prime Minister has found in his category of eloquent and effusive phrases no sort of explanation, but rather an excuse for its presence, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo says he did not mean anything except to prevent the disbandment of the Australian forces. No sane man, to say nothing of a lawyer, could have conceived that the Bill had anything to do with that matter. No one knows better than the honorable and learned member that no reasonable human being would conceive that the Bill had any bearing upon the local defence forces, and the amendment was intended as a shelter under which he might place himself to avoid the consequences of his political inconsistencies. Now he says that he is quite satisfied with the Prime Minister’s explanation - in plain English, that he was quite prepared to insert an amendment that could have no real ‘ effect except, as the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, says, to include in the agreement by implication that which is not included. The Prime Minister has declared that he is not keen upon it, and with a pathetic appeal to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to do the “straight” thing, he resumed his seat. Thereupon the honorable and learned member for Bendigo rose and did the “ straight “ thing.

Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN:
Wentworth

– Upon the whole, I think that it would be better to withdraw the proposed new clause. If there be any chance that such a provision may restrict the powers which we undoubtedly possess outside of this arrangement, it would be a pity to do anything that may lead to a mere technical squabble in the future. The Prime Minister has asserted - and I take it that he is one of the chief legal authorities in this House - that we have the fullest possible power to do what we choose in any matter connected with our defence, either by establishing an Australian Navy or by adopting any other means that we deem to be necessary so long as we honorably abide by the terms of the agreement with regard to the external and larger fleet of the Empire. Therefore, it seems to me that it would be far safer for the Prime Minister to withdraw this proposal, and to leave to the future any question which may arise.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I understand that the Prime Minister is willing to agree to the insertion of this new clause.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– I am riot keen upon the clause at all, because it really defines rights which we already possess, and I shall, therefore, be quite content if it is omitted.

Mr CROUCH:

– I think it will be a very great pity if the Committee do not insist upon its insertion. After the exhibition which we have witnessed during the debateupon this Bill, it is just as well that this Parliament should know the position which it really occupies. This Bill is an attack upon our independence as a Parliament, and it is just as well to straightforwardly declare that we possess some rights in regard to the expenditure of our own money. If we do not insert some such provision, people will begin to suspect that we have no rights. After the way we have handed everything over to the Imperial Government, it is well to declare that we have certain rights which some honorable members think we have not. I think that any Parliament which will accept a measure of this character, which declares that for a period of ten years we shall have no control over the money contributed by the people of the Commonwealth for this object, will accept anything. I hold that the clause is a very proper one to insert.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– I think that the honorable and learned member for Corio has rather misunderstood the effect of the proposed new clause, which it is now agreed shall be withdrawn. ,

Sir John Quick:

– After the assurance by the Prime Minister.

Mr CONROY:

– Yes. After the assurance given by the Prime Minister, it is not necessary to press the matter further, especially as its operation might have the effect of limiting the rights which we at present enjoy. In my judgment, we are wasting time in further debating the matter. The clause which has been proposed places a limitation upon the rights which we at present enjoy, and that is why many honorable members object to it.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– I am content not to move the clause, if that course meets with the approval of the House.

Schedule agreed to.

Preamble -

Whereas the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, and the Governments of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand, have entered into the Agreement set out in the Schedule of this Act subject, So far as it affects the Commonwealth, to the approval of Parliament :

And whereas it is desirable to approve of the said Agreement and to make a special appropriation of moneys for the purposes thereof :

Mr GLYNN:
South Australia

– ! move -

That after the word “the,” line 8, the words ‘ articles of the “ be inserted.

In the present form of the preamble of the Bill we are practically asked to adopt the preamble to the agreement, which goes far beyond the necessities of the case. Various honorable members supported the second reading of the Bill for different reasons. Some have aspirationsfor the establishment of an Australian Navy. Others believe that for an indefinite time we should adopt the principle of having only one navy in addition to mere harbor defences, that navy being the Imperial Navy, towards which we ought to make contributions which should gradually be enlarged until they become proportionate to our liability per head of the population. That is the principle which underlies the action of the Imperial Government, as any one who has read the Bluebook of the Imperial Conference must see. For that reason they have inserted in this preamble, provisions which extend far beyond the necessities of the agreement itself. As the preamble is not part of the agreement, and as it contains a declaration of policy from which many who support the agreement differ, I think it is wise to insert these words. Otherwise, in fifteen years’ or twenty years’ time, when the question of the continuance of this agreement is raised, we shall at once be met with the objection that there was no qualification to the preamble which the Imperial Government asked us to adopt. The preamble to the agreement, honorable members will note, reads as follows : -

The Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to., and the Governments of the Commonwealth of Australia and of New Zealand, having recognised the importance of sea power in the control which it gives over sea communications, the necessity of a single navy under one authority, by which alone concerted action can be assured, and the advantages which will be derived from developing the sea power of Australia and New Zealand, have resolved to conclude for this purpose an agreement as follows : -

The words,” by which alone,” go far beyond the necessities of the present agreement. If honorable members agree that this is the only method by which the defence of the Empire can be properly secured, they are affirming a principle from which it will be difficult to depart ten or twelve years hence. Prefaces to agreements are so many superfluities. Even in Acts of Parliament the tendency is to cut down the preambles. I am sorry that in some of our Bills the ridiculous old custom has been followed of having elaborate preambles, which often occupy 20 or 30 lines.In this measure, which is a sort of cross between private and general legislation, the old idea has been followed. It is, however, utterly unnecessary, and the tendency latterly - even in i connexion with private Bills - is to cut out the preambles. Considering that this preamble contains a far wider declaration of policy than we are prepared to accept, that it assigns reasons for the approval of the agreement which do not operate in the case of some honorable members, that it is not required, and does not affect, one tittle of the letter of the agreement itself, I think that we should insert words which will clearly indicate what was in our minds when we accepted it.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Protectionist

– I do not desire it to be understood that I am taking up a rigid ‘stand in regard to the question ; but I have already explained to the Committee that this is a tripartite agreement, and that we are laying the whole proposal before Parliament for approval or disapproval.

Mr Higgins:

– It is not a tripartite Act.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– It is not anything of Chat kind ; but when this Bill has been passed, and a similar measure has been carried by the Legislature of New Zealand, the agreement will have been ratified for its essential purposes. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has moved an amendment which would interfere with the agreement to the extent of cutting out the recital. He says that all recitals are a superfluity. I would put it to the Committee whether that statement does not defeat the honorable and learned member’s own purpose. If the recital is a mere superfluity, what is the reason for desiring to cut it out 1 If it is a superfluity it can never be a binding declaration of policy. On the honorable and learned member’s own argument it is not a binding declaration.

Mr Fisher:

– Then it may be cut out?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– According to the argument that has been put forward, the recital is a superfluity ; but if it is cut out it will interfere with the text of an agreement to which I think I must consider myself bound.

Mr Glynn:

– Not the text.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– It would interfere with part of the text of the agreement. There is no doubt about the point which I have already put before the Committee - and which,I think, will appeal to the honorable and learned member - that the declaration in this agreement as to the necessity of a single navy applies only to the navy of the Empire, of which this squadron is to be a part. It does not apply to any other navy, and cannot restrict our rights in that respect. It seems to me, therefore, that this preamble has no threatening effect. I felt satisfied that it did not, and I should not have dreamt of agreeing to it if I had thought that it would limit our legislative rights in any way. I think it would be better for the honorable and learned member not to persevere with the amendment, which only renews the trouble that we have already had. If it were a matter that was under our sole control - if we were simply passing a draft of something which ‘we intended to submit subsequently to the other parties, I should be perfectly open to receive the amendment, and to fight out every line and letter of the agreement. But that is not the position. This agreement has been accepted subject to approval, and, therefore, it is subject to the approval or disapproval of this House. If it is disapproved of, an effort can be made to secure another one. But, in view of the fact that it is an agreement which has been assented to by the three parties, subject to legislative approval or disapproval, nothing but disapproval will alter it. Disapproval, of course, would do away with it altogether. For instance, a negative vote on the motion for the third reading of the Bill would achieve all that the honorable and learned member and those who are with him desire. Why should they not call to their aid. all the forces they can muster, and endeavour to defeat the Bill on the third reading, rather than seek to practically defeat the agreement now by cutting something out of it ? Such a course places the Government, and the supporters of the Bill generally, in a position of difficulty in which I am sure the honorable and learned member, upon reflection, would not desire to place them. It raises a most delicate question, and I think that at this point, in view of the majorities which have decided the successive stages of the Bill, it should not be put to us. It will be seen that there are two points to consider. In the first place, if the honorable and learned member thinks that the recital is a superfluity, it cannot affect - as he in his alarmthinks it will - subsequent questions of legislation. Any policy within the bounds of our powers will be possible to us hereafter, save, of course, the repudiation of an agreement when we have entered into it. The next point is that the amendment would interfere with the terms of the agreement. It may be thrown back at me that “terms” means only “articles,” but the amendment would interfere with the written text .of the agreement that we have submitted for approval or disapproval. I hope that the honorable and learned member will not persevere with the amendment, because of the difficulty and delicacy of the position to which it gives rise. The adoption of the amendment would place me in. a false position - a position which I am sure the Committee would not like to see me occupy.

Mr HIGGINS:
Northern Melbourne

– I cannot help thinking that the Prime

Minister has misunderstood the proposal: which has been put forward by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn. The honorable and learned member does not seek to touch one word of the agreement or of the recital.Even if this amendment be carried, the agreement as drawn will stand unimpaired. The proposal is simply to alter the preamble to our own Bill.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– To alter it so as to affect the schedule.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Not one fraction of the agreement would be affected by what is proposed. The agreement is tripartite, and one party cannot vary it. The Bill, however, is our own Bill, and we are perfectly free to make any alteration in it that we may think desirable. All that the honorable and learned member proposes to do isto make a slight alteration in the preamble of our own Bill, which has never been seen by the Imperial authorities, and to alter it in order to give expression “to our desire. The question is whether, in making our own law, we cannot say that we do not adopt, as a matter of permanent policy, what is alleged for the time being in this agreement. The question is whether, in adopting this agreement, we are finally adopting a. certain principle as the naval policy for Australia, or whether we are simply doing: the best that we think the circumstances of the case will permit. I believe that the majority of honorable members feel a repugnance to this agreement, but that, in agreeing to it, they are doing the best that the circumstances will permit. All that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, desires to do is to avoid the possibility of it being said hereafter that we have committed ourselves to the scheme embodied in this agreement as being the best one possible in the best possible circumstances. The whole of the articles in the agreement will be untouched by this amendment. Even if we adopt it, every proposal in the agreement will be carried. The honorable and learned member contends, however, that we do not desire to be bound permanently by the recital in the agreement. Its preamble sets forth that the Government of the Commonwealth recognises - the importance of sea-power in the control which it gives over-sea communications, the necessity of a single navy under one authority -

Sir Edmund Barton:

– “By which alone concerted action can be assured.” Those words show the purpose of the agreement.

Mr HIGGINS:

– To my mind, we might as well declare that we recognise the necessity of a single hat or a single coat, as the necessity of a single navy. Experts have advised us that it would be a good thing to have an auxiliary, navy ; but, although I do not want to impugn the decision of the Committee in regard to that matter, I think that we should, nevertheless, not commit ourselves to the expression of a final and permanent policy for Australia. We may be coerced by our financial conditions into following a particular road at the present time, but do not let us bind ourselves to the assertion that by a single navy under one authority concerted action can alone be assured. The naval history of the world shows that auxiliary fleets have often rendered valuable assistance at particular crises, and why should we say that it is only with a single navy under one authority, who may be a blunderer, that the advantages which we desire to secure can be obtained?

Mr Thomson:

– We have just decided that there is no restraint upon our power to establish an Australian Navy if we think fit.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Yes ;. but I object to a recital which distinctly states that we recognise that the only way by which Australia can protect herself is by throwing her money into the Imperial gulf. We should be at liberty hereafter to .urge that a better policy than that now being adopted would be for each part of the Empire to provide, first, for its own defence, the various parts afterwards combining for the defence of the whole. I object to a provision which we may be told hereafter is a binding expression of our opinion. In 1887, when the existing agreement was under the consideration of the Victorian Assembly, Mr. Gillies, the then Premier, explained the negotiations which had led to the drawing up of the Bill, and stated that he had agreed to the subsidizing of an auxiliary squadron manned by British officers and men, because the Australian colonies were not united, and could neither finance nor control a navy of their own. He is reported at page 2L91 of volume 56 of the Victorian Parliamentary Debates to have said -

No doubt many persons sometimes think that it would be more advantageous, if it were possible, for the colonies to join together in providing for their own defence. Unquestionably there is a great deal in the sentiment. But I venture to think that at present we ai-e not in a position to adopt that course. Every honorable member who has paid attention to the subject must know that the colonies joining together to provide an efficient naval defence for themselves would in- volve a very large expenditure indeed. I believe it would involve, to say the least, double the amount which any of the colonies will be called upon to pay under this agreement. No doubt, we can look forward to the time - probably some few years hence, probably about the period when this agreement will terminate - when the colonies will be able to join together to provide for their own naval defence.

Sir John Quick:

– That hope has not been . realized.

Mr HIGGINS:

– No; but almost the same language has been used as to what will happen at the termination of this agreement. We ought to be more likely to get a navy of our own now that the States are united, and there is one Parliament for all Australia ; but, apparently, the old, thriftless, shiftless policy is to prevail, and we are to postpone indefinitely the task of providing for our own defence. We should surely by this time have attained full age, and be able to relieve the mother country of the burden ; but, although it has been shown that we could hire the necessary ships without paying a penny more than we are now being asked to pay to subsidize the Imperial Navy, honorable members say - “ Oh, no ; we cannot shift for ourselves. We must trust to England, and lean upon the Imperial authorities.” The Prime Minister has not fairly met the point of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, which is that we ought to put into a Bill, in regard to whose provisions neither Mr. Chamberlain nor any other outside party can have been consulted, exactly what we think fit. I think his amendment is a fair one, and I shall support it.

Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN:
Wentworth

– To my mind,’ the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has shown clearly that any amendment which would help to destroy the Bill would have his advocacy. I look upon this amendment as a very finely-drawn piece of hyper-criticism. We have already come to the decision that the agreement in no way restricts our powers of independent action in the matter of defence, by determining not to adopt a declaratory provision to that effect. The preamble to the schedule simply sets forth the general character of the agreement, which is to last for only a limited period. If there were no limitation of its term, there might be some reason for the objections which have been urged against the wording adopted, but, as it is drafted, we in no way commit our- : selves to any policy after the expiration oE ten years. Some honorable members, at this period of our Australian national life, view with grave suspicion any agreement between Australia and other parts of the Empire and the mother country in regard to their mutual relations.. I think it is a very proper thing for every man to suspend judgment for a few years to come. But we have practically agreed to the terms of this schedule ; and this mere declaratory paragraph, to my mind, does nothing more than to declare that for the present time, and in the present conditions of our Commonwealth life, it is necessary to have one naval power operating as a means of external defence. “We must regard this declaration simply and purely in view of our present position, our present condition, and our present financial situation. It would be a thousand pities, and it would show, to my thinking - I say it with all respect to my honorable and learned friend the member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn - an almost small-minded attempt at quibbling, when member after member has risen and declared that the provisions of this agreement are of a most magnanimous and generous -character. The whole surroundings of these proposals for naval defence are such as might only be expected from a great and generous mother country. For us to show our suspicion where the mother country has shown none to us - to proclaim that we are so careful about a few words of declaration, in a purely limited agreement, lest they might bind us or bind future Parliaments of this country - would, to my mind, be indicating on our side the very opposite character to that which is exhibited in the terms of the agreement itself.

Mr Conroy:

– “What are we assenting to now 1

Sir william mcmillan:

– We are assenting to this schedule, which has a declaratory preface, not inconsistent with the terms of the agreement itself.

Mr Glynn:

– It goes beyond the agreement itself.

Sir william Mcmillan:

– At the present time, when there is so much sensitiveness on this question, I defy honorable members to so draft any declaration or recital that some people will not find in it some inner secret reason for being suspicious. I do not believe that anything was intended beyond this : There may be a. hope - I believe there is a hope - on the part of the British Government that as the years go on some means may be found - some practical means - by which in matters of external defence the mother country and the outlying territories of the Empire may be brought together in some system of representation. I believe that those who oppose this Bill, as those who are favorable to it,, have an ardent desire to see the union undersome conditions or other of the Commonwealth with the mother country continued for all time. In England they are groping; for some means which will meet the susceptibilities of the outlying ‘parts of the Empire. We ourselves are groping to see if we can meet the mother country in this good endeavour. At the present time we have had submitted to us a most gene.rons and magnanimous proposal ; and to quibble over a few words of this preamble when we have unlimited freedom reserved to those who come after us - and they are not bound by anything which we may do - seems to me to be a mistake.

Mr Crouch:

– We are bound for ten. years.

Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN:

– The agreement remains for ten years ; but our subsequent action is not restricted. We do not restrict the powers of Parliaments of the future. This agreement does not continue after ten years if notice is given. It is a limited’ agreement. Therefore, looking at the matter broadly, generously, and fairly, I say that we may well brush aside any feeling of suspicion with regard to the recital, and take the substance of the agreement in the spirit and temper in which it has been pre-

Isented to us by the British Government.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– I cannot quite agree with the Prime Minister in saying that the amendment alters the effectof the agreement, because in the previous lines we state that we have entered into the agreement set out in the schedule. If the amendment were adopted weshould not be departing from that declaration. But, at the same time, I would remind my honorable and learned friend the member for South Australia that, in asking for this amendment to be made, he does not secure the alteration that he supposes. The preamble says -

Whereas it is desirable to approve of the said agreement.

If we turn to article 10 of the agreement, paragraph (2), we find the following provision -

The agreement shall be for a term of ten years, and only terminate if and provided notice has been given two years previously, viz., at the end of the eighth year, or at the end of any subsequent year, and then two years after such date.

I cannot see that the alteration suggested affects the power which we have under the agreement as it stands. The schedule has been passed, and the words of the agreement which I have quoted have been assented to. Therefore, of course, we cannot alter that. Indeed, I confess that I feel inclined to adhere to the terms of the agreement as it stands. By doing so we shall be in ten years absolutely in the same position that we are in now.

Mr Fisher:

– Not during the first eight years.

Mr CONROY:

– Whatever the words of the preamble may be, we have power at the end of eight years to give two years’ notice whether the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, be made or not. I do not quite see the force of the Prime Minister’s objection to inserting the amendment, but at the same time I think that the right honorable gentleman is quite right in refusing to accept it. Indeed, he is bound to adhere to the position which the Government have taken up. There is quite sufficient protection in the paragraph of article 10 which I have quoted. Under the circumstances I cannot support the amendment. It does not seem to me that in any way whatever our existing rights are interfered with. -Whether we amend the preamble or not, sub-clause (2) of article 10 must prevail. I think that under the circumstances I shall be compelled to support the Prime Minister.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

– I think that every credit is due to the Prime Minister for the stand which he has taken in this matter. No one doubts his sincerity or his ability to negotiate matters of this kind; but I do not think that he did himself justice in dealing with the arguments of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn. If the recital in the agreement is superfluous it casts a serious reflection upon those who drew it up. The honorable member for Wentworth has accused those honorable members who are opposed to the Bill of endeavouring to destroy it by means of amendments.

Sir William McMillan:

– I referred only to one honorable member.

Mr FISHER:

– I am opposed to the Bill, and I should very much like to defeat it. I venture to say that if some flaw were discovered in the agreement the honorable member for Wentworth would scarcely be prepared to allow it to pass rather than effect the necessary amendment. If the honorable member saw that some of our rights were in danger would he oppose an amendment which would safeguard us, simply because it would embarrass the Prime Minister ? It was represented during the earlier part of the debate that unless we accepted the agreement Great Britain would become the laughing-stock of the great nations of the world ; but that argument cannot lie against amendments which are intended to improve the preamble to the Bill, and we should not be doing justice to ourselves as a Parliament, or to Australia, if we refrained from making amendments which, in our opinion, are necessary to secure the rights of the Commonwealth. I admire the courage of the Prime Minister, although I fear that in one or two instances he has rather warmly resented the attacks made upon the Bill.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– It might facilitate a speedy settlement of this matter if I were to mention something which I forgot to state when I previously addressed the Committee. If honorable members will look at the recital, they will find that it is simply a statement that the three Governments concerned - not Parliament - recognise the importance of one subject, the necessity of another, and the advantages of a third. It was intended purely as a recognition of certain facts or principles by those who were concerned in making the agreement, subject to Parliamentary control. It did not bind, and it does not bind members of this Parliament. It is a statement that the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Government of New Zealand recognise the importance of sea power in the control which it gives over sea communications, the necessity of a single navy under one authority, by which alone concerted action can be’ assured, and the advantages which will be derived from developing the sea power of Australia and New Zealand. As a matter of fact the three Governments concerned did recognise these principles. There can be no getting away from that, and I should not be frank to honorable members if I did not say that I did, and that I do, recognise them. That, however, does not bind the House. The recital is only a statement that those who represented the parties to the agreement did recognise certain principles, and to amend the preamble in the way proposed by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, would be to deny the facts. The honorable and learned member wishes us to approve only of the articles of the agreement, and to convey that the Committee does not indorse the recital.

Mr Higgins:

– Clause 2 says that the agreement “is hereby ratified and approved.”

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I know that, and if the honorable and learned member’s statement conveys anything it means that the amendment would be perfectly nugatory, and ought not to be adopted. It is nugatory in any sense, because by leaving out the recital we shall deny the fact that the three Governments concerned, subject to their responsibilities to Parliament, recognised certain things which are set out in the recital. If we did wrong in recognising those principles the proper course to adopt after the Bill has been dealt with is to direct a vote of censure to the Government for having recognised them. I shall be prepared for any action that may be taken in that direction, but what is the rise of inferentially denying that we recognised certain principles, in face of the fact that we did recognise them 1

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I would suggest to the Prime Minister that, although the Government only may have recognised the principles set out in the recital, he wishes us to go further and say that we approve of the agreement, which includes the recital. I think that without any loss of dignity, and without any injury to the Bill, the Prime Minister might leave it open to us to amend the preamble in the way suggested.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– The honorable and learned member said last night that he supported amendments in the Bill solely with the object of killing it.

Mr CROUCH:

– No man should be answerable for all the heated things he has said, and I do not wish the Prime Minister to remember that statement against me. I think he might’ make some slight concession to those honorable members who are jealous of the slightest suggestion of an invasion upon our rights and privileges. Although the right honorable gentleman says that the recital simply states that the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty and the Governments of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand approved of certain principles, he will find that the agreement is described as one “ Between His Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth of Australia, and the colony of New Zealand.” This not only commits the Government, but the Commonwealth itself. The honorable member for Wentworth has spoken three times upon this Bill, and he does not seem to be able to recognise anything beyond the magnanimous treatment that we have received at the hands of Great Britain. It is the same sort of magnanimity that might be shown by an enemy in feeding a prisoner, or that which might be shown by a man who, after binding a tree round with iron hoops watered it to make it grow. We want liberty not charity. Freedom is far -better than magnanimity, and the honorable member seems to look at the charitable rather than the constitutional side of the question. I think that the Prime Minister might very well yield in this matter, and I shall certainly support the amendment if the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, presses it to a division.

Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- The Prime Minister has explained that this preamble is not to be considered as binding upon Parliament - that it is merely an explanation by the representatives assembled at the Conference in England, of the reasons why we are asked to enter into this agreement. According to the statement of the right honorable gentleman, it need never have been included in the schedule. I cannot understand why he has placed it there, because the very fact that it is there amounts to its indorsement by Parliament.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– It is a recognition of the fact that we agreed to certain principles as a Government.

Mr GLYNN:

– It goes far beyond that. If we agree to this preamble we indorse the reasons which actuated the members of the Conference in arriving at the terms of the articles of the agreement. But, according to the right honorable gentleman, it amounts to nothing more than a resolution which was arrived at by the Conference. I am very glad that the amendment has drawn the Prime Minister-

Sir Edmund Barton:

– There was not even a resolution upon the subject. The preamble simply embodies principles which were admitted in discussion and in consultation with the Admiralty authorities.

Mr GLYNN:

– It really goes beyond that. Mr. Chamberlain, in his opening speech, expressly stated that we were not to trust to our defence by local fleets. He said that we were not to have a Channel fleet to protect the Thames, and another fleet to protect Sydney, but were to trust to one navy, under one control. In accordance with that principle, this resolution has been adopted as a preface to the agreement. I find that a good many honorable members entertain the view that these words ought to be inserted, but are averse to touching the sacredness of the schedule. As I have no desire to put them in the position of having to vote against their convictions, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Preamble agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.

page 2515

NATURALIZATION BILL

Bill received from Senate, and (on motion by Sir Edmund Barton) read a first time.

page 2515

PAPUA (BRITISH NEW GUINEA) BILL

Second Reading

Sir EDMUND BARTON (Hunter-

Minister for External Affairs. I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

It is a measure which is the natural consequence of the resolutions which this House, and, subsequently, the other Chamber, passed in November, 1901, the date of their passing this House being the 19th of that month. They read as follows : -

  1. That this House is prepared to join in measures for the acceptance of New Guinea as a Territory of the Commonwealth, if His Majesty is pleased to place it under Federal control.
  2. That towards the expenses of the administration of the possession, this House is willing when culled upon to vote a sum not exceeding £20,000 per annum, as from the 1st July, 1901, subject to revision at the end of five years.

Upon that occasion I dealt so fully with the facts of the case so far as the topography and products of the possession were concerned, and also with its history under the British Crown, that I am now absolved from repeating what I then said. I propose, therefore, for the sake of brevity, to address myself to this Bill from the point at which I discontinued my previous remarks. In the acceptance of New Guinea as a Territory of the Commonwealth, it is necessary that we should follow the provisions of the Constitution, as defined in section 122, which reads -

The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.

The time has not arrived for the latter part of this section to come into operation, because at present it is impossible to arrange for the representation of British New Guinea in either House of the Commonwealth Parliament. Honorable members will find a long preamble to this Bill. It has been found necessary to insert that preable. It contains a recital of the various letters patent and Orders in Council, by which the government of New Guinea has been carried on under the Colonial Department, and by which its bonndaries were ascertained, together with provisions as to law appeals which will be dealt with by a substantive clause in this Bill. Amongst the documents mentioned in this preamble, that which is most referred to is the letters patent of the 18th March of last year, upon which the Government - as honorable members know - acted at a later date. That document recites and repeals the letters patent creating the possession, quotes section 122 of the Constitution, and the resolutions which I have read, and places the possession under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia to take effect from a date to be appointed by the GovernorGeneral. The next step necessary is its acceptance by the Commonwealth in order to fulfil the provisions both of the letters patent and of the section of the Constitution which I have quoted. That step is provided for in clause 5. The next matter we have to consider is how the Territory is to be governed. In that connexion two alternatives are presented. The Territory can be governed by virtue of our exclusive power of legislation - because whatever legislation we may enact will override that enacted by any other authority. It is possible for the Territory to be administered directly by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, or by a delegated authority. The Commonwealth Parliament can legislate upon all matters in respect of the’ internal needs of that community without any local authority. To do so however, would be cumbrous and unsuitable, and I do not at this stage propose that we should adopt that course. But it must always be remembered that there is in this Parliament a reserve power to legislate for New Guinea at any time it pleases, and upon any subject. No such power is forfeited or frittered away by this Bill. The government will be carried on in a measure by the transference of the powers which were exercised by the Colonial-office to the Governor-General in Council. That is to say, the local authority will be enabled to pass ordinances for the internal government of the possession, subject always to the veto of the GovernorGeneral, exercised on the advice of his Ministers, who thus become responsible for everything. It will also be subject to any further legislation which we may at any time choose to exercise with reference to the possession. The reasons why we think that a measure of legislative authority should be instituted even from the outset are the distance of the possession from the Commonwealth, and the special character of the legislation which will be necessary. The class of legislation necessary can be ascertained in many respects only by those who are on the spot ; who are not only familiar with local conditions, but who understand the kind of enactments that are advisable in respect of the tribes of the possession. That special knowledge is to be gained only by the Administrator and those associated with him in the work of government. That is why we propose to adopt the second alternative, subject, of course, to the superintendence of the Commonwealth Parliament and Executive, for which the Bill makes adeauateprovision. It is intended that the system of government shall be much the same as before, save that we shall substitute the Commonwealth for both the Imperial Government and the Governments of the States which formerly contributed the annual endowment of £15,000, which we have since increased to £20,000. Provision is made in the Bill for local administration and local legislation. The laws at present in existence in our part of the island will continue in force, but may be repealed or otherwise altered by the newly-created Legislature, subject to the paramount power of this Parliament. We provide that the ordinary laws of the Commonwealth are not to extend to the territory unless any Act that we pass specially provides that they shall do so. The reason for this determination is that we think it is obviously undesirable that laws intended for a highlycivilized people, for the passing of which a Parliament like ours is more specially adapted, should be applied to a people many of whom are in a state of barbarism, and to the small white population of the possession. There are some few hundreds of white people on the island, but in many cases they are not permanent settlers. We propose to change the name of the possession. We do not consider that “British New Guinea” conveys any clear idea in regard to it, or that there is any abundant reason for that name. The name under which the island was formerly known is Papua. The British portion of the island embraces the Gulf of Papua, and we think that “ Papua “ will be a snorter and a better name for the territory that forms part of the British Empire. We therefore propose to make that alteration.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Protectionist

– I do not think so. The Germans and Dutch have given their own distinctive names to their possessions.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– The whole island has been known for many years as New Guinea.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– Yes. We think that the name “ Papua “ is especially applicable to that part of New Guinea about to be transferred to the Commonwealth, because it includes the shores of the Gulf of Papua, which is a distinctive part of the possession. I shall now give a short sketch of the structure of the proposed Government. First of all, a LieutenantGovernor is to be appointed by, and is to be responsible to, this Government. In the next place, all other appointments will be made temporarily and provisionally by the LieutenantGovernor. They will not become permanent unless approved of by the Governor-General, who, of course, will act with the advice of his Ministers. Thus the Federal Government will become responsible for all appoint ments in the Territory. There will be an Executive Council which, as its name implies, will be an advisory body in the matter of administration. It will consist of the principal officers of the possession such as the Chief Judicial Officer, the Government Secretary, the Treasurer, the Chief Medical Officer; the Surveyor, and, of course, the Lieutenant-Governor, who will have a seat in the Council by virtue of his office. These are the present members of the Council. There will also be a Legislative Council for framing and passing such laws as may be needed by the Territory. At present it consists of only officials. We propose, however, to extend it somewhat, so that it will consist of the members of the Executive Council, and also of not more than three nominee members.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– It will be weaker in construction than the Executive.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– Yes. It comprises the Executive ; but with a view to some representation of the outside population it is deemed desirable to add three nominee members to represent their wants and wishes. They will voice the wants and wishes of the population outside, whom it is not possible to represent at present by any other means.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– There will be an increase in the membership of the Council.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– Yes.

Mr Thomson:

– Are there now two Councils 1

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– My memory is not clear on the point. But I think that the members of the Executive Council act also as a Legislative Council. This will be an ampler Council than the one which at present exists.

Mr Higgins:

– There is no limit to the number of members of the Executive Council.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– The number of members may be increased.

Mr Higgins:

– The Bill fixes no limit to the number of members of the Executive.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I do not think so. The Government have carefully considered the question of whether part, at least, of the Legislative Council could not be made elective. It is our’ desire that it should be so. We have come to the conclusion, however, that in the present con- ‘dition of the territory it would be impossible to arrange such a system. The white population of the possession numbers only a few hundreds, and is scattered over a very large are!).. Honorable members know, of course, that the possession is a very extensive one. There are only two settlements, namely, Port Moresby and Samarai, and neither of them contains a population of 100 white people. The difficulties of communication are intense. Save for an occasional track there are no roads, and but for an occasional passing steamer there are no facilities for a postal service between the various parts of the possession. There is no regular postal service ; but that is a matter in regard to which I may hereafter appeal to the liberality of honorable members. In this little settlement, scattered as it is over a wide area, there is no community of interest, and the bulk of legislation required up .to the present has been very small. We do not propose to lose our hold on any nominees that we may appoint. A member of the Legislative Council will be nominated, not for life, but for a period of six years. If a nominee turns out to be in any way undesirable, or unsuitable, we shall have power under this Bill to revoke his nomination, even during the currency of his six years’ term of office.

Sir William McMillan:

– If an officer resigns his post, will he continue to be a member of the Legislative Council t

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– He will cease to be a member of the Council if he ceases to hold office, unless, of course, he re- ceives another appointment in the possession. Ample provision is made for the authority of the Commonwealth in clause 36, which provides that the Governor-General may disallow any ordinance. In addition to the power which the Commonwealth will always possess in regard -to legislation extending to New Guinea we have provided that any ordinance or law of a special character shall be reserved. This provision refers of course to laws, such as are reservable generally under the Constitutions of the States. A’ list of them will be found in clause 38.

Sir William McMillan:

– Are they called laws or ordinances t

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– We call them ordinances, but they will operate as laws, subject of course to the veto. Under clause 39 all ordinances of the possession * will have to be laid before Parliament. So much for the executive and legislative power. The Judiciary consists of the chief judicial officer, and magistrates and assistant magistrates. Even before the transfer which will be made complete by the passing of this Bill, this Government practically appointed the successor to Mr. Francis Winter, who retired from the position of chief judicial officer, and was succeeded by a Mr. Robinson, formerly a practitioner in the State of Queensland. His Excellency the Governor of South Australia, who formerly administered the possession as Lieutenant-Governor, highly commends the manner in which Mr. Robinson is performing his duties. The chief judicial officer has to try all important civil and criminal cases, and he is constantly travelling throughout the possession. In a place where the white population is so scattered, it is not possible to introduce the system of trial by jury, and therefore the duties of the chief judicial officer are most important. No great risk of serious maladministration is run, and it is very seldom that capital punishment is imposed for any offence. There are, in addition to the chief judicial officer, six resident magistrates and nine assistant resident magistrates, who are in their spheres of action the embodiment of justice amongst the natives, and come into direct contact with the members of the various tribes. Their position is, no doubt, responsible and important, and great care has hitherto been taken in their selection, a care which I hope this Government will emulate in the future. The duties of these magistrates is especially arduous in a climate such as that of New Guinea, and is often dangerous, because they have sometimes to travel through country inhabited by uncivilized natives. I am sorry to say that the salaries attached to their offices are very small, the highest salary paid to any magistrate being £400 a year without pension rights, the Colonial-office not having conferred such rights upon any of the officers whom it has appointed. There is the right of appeal from the decision of the magistrates to the chief judicial officer, and in cases of importance, from the decision of the chief judicial officer formerly to the Supreme Court of Queensland, but in thefuture, under the provisions of the Bill, to the High Court of the Commonwealth. Asto the financial conditions of the territory, if honorable members will look at clause 46, they will find that it turns into an enactment the second part of a resolution passed by this Parliament two years ago, granting- £20,000 a year for a period of five yearsfor the administration of British New Guinea. That grant takes effect only up tothe end of 1906, and the Bill makes noprovision for its renewal, so that future provision will, at the expiration of that time,, be entirely subject to the will of Parliament.

Mr Fisher:

– Does the resolution referred to bar us from supplementing thegrant from year to year?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– No. But looking at the history of the possession, it must be admitted that the country needs opening up, and that the first step in that direction should be the provision of better postal communication. At the present time the territory has no distinctive postal service of its own ; it is dependent for the transmission of its mails upon the casual visits of vessels, and upon the line of steamers which touch at Samarai, and then proceed further north. The revenues of the possession are small, and, including the £20,000 contributed by the Commonwealth, they have never exceeded £40,000 per annum. Most of the revenue raised locally is obtained by a small Customs Tariff. The resources of the Government are, therefore, strained to their utmost to carry on the existing administration. I intend, however, to take into consideration the advisability of providing for a contract for a direct postal service, the greater part of the cost of which will be borne by the Commonwealth, so that the share contributed by New Guinea may not be .such as to unduly strain its finances.

Mr Higgins:

– Under clauses 45 and 46, the Government appear to increase the grant of the Commonwealth beyond £20,000 a year.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– That is not what is meant by the provisions to which the honorable and learned member refers, and, if it be their literal meaning, it is due to an error of the draftsman which I have overlooked.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– What sources of revenue will the Territory have? What power will its Legislature have to raise revenue ?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– Any power which it now possesses is confirmed by the Bill. It can raise revenue by means of customs duties, by the issue of certain minor licences, and by the sale of land where that is possible, though, as a rule, before land can be sold by the Government it must be bought from the natives.

Sir Malcolm Mceacharn:

– Is the revenue of the territory £40,000 per annum ?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I do not think that it has ever been more than £40,000 per annum, including the Commonwealth grant of £20,000, and last year, owing to a drought, it fell to between £36,000 and £3S,000. Our grant is a small one if the work done by the Government of New Guinea is taken into consideration. We should congratulate ourselves upon the fact that we are taking over an appanage or territory which has been most economically managed in the past, and whose Government is now being administered by a staff of officers who are well equipped for their work. The Government grant for the administration of German New Guinea, in addition to any revenue that may be locally raised, is £44,125.

Mr Higgins:

– Are the German Government doing anything towards the internal development of their territory ?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I believe that they are trying to do something, but I do not think that the management of the German territory has been as successful as that of the British territory. The grant which I have just named shows an increase of £8,025 upon former grants, the annual expenditure of the German Government having increased from about £36,000 to about £44,000. It is anticipated, however, that a grant of £20,000 from the Commonwealth will be sufficient for the present, in addition to the revenue raised locally for the administration of the Territory, especially if this Parliament looks favorably upon a proposal to increase the postal facilities of the territory, which are indispensable to its proper development. During the year which has just come to a close, the finances of the territory, through drought and other causes, were hampered by the prevalence of high prices ; but, although the Government Secretary,

Mr. Musgrave, anticipated a deficit, the expenditure was, by firm and economic administration, kept within the revenue. Apparently, the local officials are thoroughly alive to the necessity of economy. Now as to the future of this possession, in regard to which there are two alternatives, unless a middle course is adopted. The administration of the possession may be conducted, as there is sometimes a temptation to conduct such administration, solely in the interests of the natives, excluding the whites as much as possible ; or it may be conducted on the lines adopted by some other nations, which have exploited the countries of which they have acquired possession entirely for the benefit of their ‘ own people, regardless of the interests of the natives. My view is, that neither of these courses is acceptable, and that we should try to encourage the settlement of white people, with a constant regard to the promotion of the welfare of the natives, and the avoidance of oppression and tyranny towards them. It must be remembered that New Guinea is the ancient habitation . of the natives now residing there, and that they have a primary right to earn a living upon its soil. Whatever our policy may be in regard to the exclusion of aliens from Australia, their right to the means of existence in New Guinea must be recognised by our sense of humanity. It will be admitted, however, that the enforced idleness in times of peace of natives whose principal occupation before the advent of the whites was warfare, will tend to their deterioration. It is necessary, therefore, that they should be turned towards habits of industry. We must provide work for them. At present the Government supervise all native engagements. That supervision is properly and humanely carried out, and we intend to continue it. But we feel that inducements must be offered to white people to settle there, and therefore progressive administration and legislation in regard to the occupation, of land is highly desirable. It will be my endeavour to inquire closely into the matter, to see what amendments of the existing law are required for the encouragement of white settlers, and can be adopted without injuring the natives.

Mr Brown:

– What system of tenure do the Government propose to adopt ?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– It is very difficult to say, but I think that a system of leasing, at any rate as part of the land system, can be adopted with a prospect of success. Of course, the climatic conditions of. New Guinea are probably more severe than are those of any other part of the Commonwealth, but while it may be desirable that the whites who settle there should be allowed to employ the natives for the cultivation of the soil, it will be necessary, first of all, to obtain fuller information as to the area of land available for settlement, its situation, the terms upon which it can be acquired, and the purposes for which it is suitable, than we now possess. Before putting any definite proposals before Parliament, I hope to obtain information to such an extent, and so arranged, that we may consider it reliable, and I have already issued instructions which I think will attain that object. The present practice in regard to land matters is for the Government to buy from the natives, the land thus bought being advertised for sale or lease from the Government. We intend to continue that policy, but I shall look with- an especially favorable eye upon the principle of leasing, at any rate by way of a trial, in order to see if it is likely to be successful.

Sir Malcolm McEacharn:

– No one will lease land in New Guinea.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I am not convinced that that is so. It will largely depend upon the conditions under which the land is open to lease. I agree with my honorable friend that there is no prospect under the present conditions of the Island of leasing land unless the rents are very low indeed, and unless the terms are very long indeed. In connexion with that matter clause 38 provides that no ordinance authorizing the purchase of land by private persons, except from the LieutenantGovernor, or from purchasers from him or from the Administrator of the Possession of British New Guinea shall come into operation until the Governor-General has signified his pleasure regarding it. Honor.able members will readily see the purpose of that provision. It is in order to insure that there shall be no improper and perhaps oppressive trafficking with the natives in land. Such trafficking might be carried on by the suppression of the value of the land from the knowledge of the natives, and so lead to cruel and iniquitous bargains. Mr. Higgins. - Could not that reservabe extended even to the sale of Crown lands ?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I shall quote some of the provisions of the existing ordinance, which will show that attention has been paid to that subject in the past. As the law stands in New Guinea, the Administrator may purchase native lands which the natives do not require, and he is required by law to purchase such lands only in the public interests. He may acquire on behalf of the Crown lands to be held as Crown lands, or on behalf of and for the use and benefit of the Crown any lease of lands. Lands are not to be sold or transferred to aliens by the Administrator. Crown lands may be sold either by private contract or by public auction. These conditions will continue, unless they are altered by local or Commonwealth legislation. It is provided also that the Administrator may give notice that lands are open to applications for purchase in any part of the possession, the land to be specified in the notice, which is to be published in the British New Guinea Gazette, the London Gazette, and the official Gazette of each of the colonies and New Zealand. This list will also include the Commonwealth Gazette. The notice has also to be published in at least one of the principal newspapers in London and in each of the colonies. It is to state the period of expiration, the approximate area, and the conditions with respect to upset price, and minimum terms of occupation and improvement. I quote these provisions in order to show that there has been no attempt to make any hole-and-corner sales of land without giving due public notice. These provisions are contained in an ordinance of 1889, by which it is also enacted that the Administrator may sell without notice blocks not exceeding 640 acres, provided that no land which has been included in the notice I have mentioned is to be sold until the period named in the notice has expired. He can also sell, without notice, to settlers up to 5,000 acres, with the proviso which I have just mentioned. From an advertisement published in the British New Guinea Government Gazette, of 2nd December, 1899, I find that certain freehold and leasehold lands were announced for sale. These included the central district - south coast, central district and western district freehold grants, limited to 50,000 acres to any one grantee until after the 30th April, 1900. It was after that time that it was proposed that there should be a sale to a syndicate of capitalists called the Hall Sound Syndicate. The proposal was a very large one, and it was not carried out owing to objections raised by some of the State Governments, notably that of New South Wales-. I may say that the land embraced in that area which was to have been disposed of to the syndicate was no doubt good land, as land goes in New Guinea, and whether for better or for worse, it is still in the hands of the Crown. I- say “for better or for worse “ because it may prove of advantage or otherwise to the Commonwealth. The prices asked, subject to arrangement with the Government, were not less than 2s. 6d. per acre for freehold agricultural land, and 6d. per acre for freehold pasturage land.

Mr SPEAKER:

– wish to call atten-tion to Standing Order 54, which is some times transgressed. Perhaps it is advisable that I should read it. It provides -

Every member of the House, when he comes into the Chamber, shall take his place, and shall not at any time stand in any of the passages or gangways.

When I see honorable members standing in the passages, I call their attention to the standing order, which they sometimes appear to forget. If they will kindly remember it, it will not be necessary to mention it on future occasions.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– The price asked for leasehold agricultural land was 6d. per acre, and for leasehold pasturage land Id. per acre. While the freehold conditions look extremely liberal, those who are acquainted with the conditions of pastoral estates on the mainland will not consider that the leasehold conditions are otherwise than substantial. I. am not saying this by way of advocating the purchase which was then proposed, but in order that honorable members may understand the terms upon which the land was offered.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– The leasehold terms are six years’ purchase.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– My sole desire is to give honorable members an idea of what has been done, and of the prices which were fixed upon the land. The improvement conditions, which were to be subject to arrangement with the Government, provided for an expenditure of not less than 2s. 6d. per acre, within five years, upon agricultural land, and of not. less than 2s. per acre, also within five years, upon pasturage land. These lands were to be open for sale after the expiration of six months from the date of the third publication of the notice in the London Gazette. I find that in the British New Guinea Gazette of 28th December, 1901, it was announced that the following should be the schedule of deposits to be paid upon applications for land: - Ten acres and under, £3 ; over 10 acres, and under 50, £5 ; over 50, and under 200, £10; over 200, and under 1,000, £20. For every additional 1,000, £10. Upon approval of publication, a further sum was to be deposited that, together with the first amount, would be equivalent to half the purchase money, plus the survey fee. The balance was to be paid upon issue of deed of grant. I have mentioned these matters, not for the purpose of showing that they are actually and fixedly regulated at present, or as indicating what, I think, ought to be done in the future. I simply wish to inform honorable members as to the conditions that have prevailed, and to show also that land has been obtainable at New Guinea at no great price ; but that, nevertheless, the lowness of the prices has not attracted settlement. This shows conclusively that there must be some obstacle independently of the price, because, no doubt, a large quantity of the land would be useful and productive. One of the chief obstacles is that lack of communication to which I have referred, and I think that both for transit and postal purposes the Commonwealth ought to be prepared to do a little beyond granting £20,000 per annum towards the expenses of the Administration, with a view to turn the settlement to good account for white people, and at the same time promote the interests of those who were the original owners of the soil.

Mr Brown:

– What is the total area of alienated land in New Guinea 1

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I have not the figures by me, but I shall take a note of the honorable member’s question, and have the information prepared before the close of the debate. I find that the mission work that has been done in New Guinea has been of great assistance^ to the Government. The most amicable relations have hitherto prevailed between the missionaries and the Government, and Sir George Le Hunte informed me some time ago that the Government were’ very largely indebted for the progress made to the assistance and co-operation of the missionaries, especially in reference to the preservation of peace. That completes the short sketch - I hope honorable members will not think it too long - of the provisions of the Bill. Honorable members will have inferred that it is not thought proper in this Bill, which is in the nature of a Constitution for New Guinea, to deal with questions which call for legislation. It is intended to leave these for subsequent action by the local authorities, subject to the control of the Government and Parliament of the Commonwealth, and also to such controlling Acts as the Commonwealth itself may think fit and proper to pass. I have endeavoured to avoid laying down broad lines of policy relating to the land or other matters, leaving that for separate legislation, primarily by- the Legislative Council, to be established in New Guinea, which will always be subject to the control of this Parliament. It will be necessary to make some provision with regard to our dealings by way of trade with New Guinea. I am afraid that I cannot do so in this Bill owing to the terms of the Constitution, but the matter is so important that I propose to make it the subject of a supplementary Bill. Honorable members have been informed that New Guinea has a small Tariff of her own which embraces some specific duties and a fair range of ad valorem duties. If I remember “aright the ad valorem duties do not in any case exceed 10- per cent. Of course, it is a revenue Tariff pure and simple. Inasmuch as it is impossible to say that New Guinea has reached the stage at which manufactures can be established there, I do not propose, by any legislation at present, to interfere with the Tariff under which the possession raises a considerable portion of its annual revenue. But I put it to honorable members whether some distinction should not be made between territories which are acquired by the Commonwealth, and which become - even in a limited sense - part of Australia, and those which stand outside of it. To my thinking, in this young and struggling possession, which cannot have much in the way of manufactures, but which produces certain articles for export - its productions are varied, although there is no great quantity of them - we might make some relaxation in our Tariff. It appears to me that some consideration must be extended to such territories as they come under the aegis of the Commonwealth. Some honorable members may entertain an objection to that proposal on the ground that the products are to some extent raised by black labour. But it must not be forgotten that -these people inhabit the territory of which we are assuming control, and in taking them under- our protection, even if we are not bound to do so, we are, at any rate, justified in making to them some concession which we should not make to outsiders.

Mr SPEAKER:

– It appears to me that the Prime Minister is anticipating a discussion upon a contingent motion which appears upon the business-paper.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– Of course, I cannot make any such provision in this Bill. I was about to add that when the House resolves itself into a Committee of Ways and Means at an early date, I propose to put before honorable members a measure which is designed to effect that object. It consists only of a clause or two, and when it is submitted for consideration honorable members will be able to determine whether my proposal in that respect is a just one. I have now completed my sketch of the provisions of this Bill. I should like any honorable members who may be prepared to do so, to continue the discussion. I anticipate that the measure will incur some criticism, and I do not expect the motion for its second reading to be carried until further opportunity has been given for debate. If, however, any honorable member feels justified in commenting upon the Bill to-day, I shall be extremely pleased.

Mr E SOLOMON:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · FT

– Does the measure contain any provision for the control of the liquor traffic 1

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– There is no provision in the measure dealing with that question. This is more of a Constitution Bill. I may add, however, that the proper way to deal with the control of the liquor traffic, if it is not dealt with satisfactorily by local ordinances, is as a department of legislation in which the Commonwealth has its own powers, in the exercise of which it can see in what way that particular traffic can be prevented from becoming noxious to the community.

Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN:
Wentworth

– This Bill is, of course, the natural corollary to the resolutions which were adopted by this House last session. No doubt it marks, a very interesting departure on the part of the Commonwealth. We are asked to deal with the first dependency that has been established under our Constitution. It seems to me, however, that this is a Bill which can be better discussed in Committee than upon the motion for its second reading. The number of questions which were asked the Prime Minister during the course of his speech clearly indicate that much of the criticism which may be levelled against the Bill depends upon the explanations which he has to make. To my mind it is a simple, plain machinery bill for the administration of our new possession. In some respects I apprehend that it is merely a tentative measure, because the Government cannot possibly have had much opportunity of understanding the intricacies of. the administration of New Guinea. As they become more fully acquainted with them, I presume that this House will have an opportunity either of amending this Bill or of passing a more acceptable measure. There are one or two points which were not made quite clear by my right honorable friend. I do not quite see the connexion between the control exercised by this Parliament and the administration in New Guinea. I presume that there will be full power of control, to prevent the Legislative Council and the Administrator of the Government of Papua from doing anything that might be inimical to the general interests 1

Sir Edmund Barton:

– Oh, yes ; the power of disallowance which the Crown possesses in regard to our legislation. There is a provision that measures of special importance shall be reserved for the assent of the “Go vernor-G en era .

Sir WII LIAM MCMILLAN:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES

– This Bill also embodies the regulations made by the Imperial Government which were operative under the administration of Queensland.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– Where they are repealed a substituted provision has been made to the same effect.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– The Prime Minister, referring to the very low price at which land was offered in Papua, said that that inducement was not sufficient to attract population. If there be any difficulty in attracting population there, we cannot do better than take a leaf out of the book of Canada by granting special terms to people who are prepared to occupy moderate areas, paying no regard to the matter of price. In a country like New Guinea, which possesses a climate that is not suitable to the white races, we need, whilst preventing speculation and land-grabbing, to- offer the utmost inducements to those who are willing to overcome the difficulties incidental to its development. I am glad to know that one of the chief points of administration will be to conserve the privileges and rights of the people who were the original inhabitants of the land. I have no doubt that with our experience of land settlement, which we have gained in previous years, the administration of this territory under the Commonwealth will be much better than it was under the British . Government. Whilst I have no desire to prevent second reading speeches upon the Bill, I think that as the machinery which it provides is of a very simple character, it might be better to take the measure formally into Committee, and then to adjourn its further consideration. If no other honorable member . desires to speak upon it - and I have just sacrificed my own opportunity - the Prime Minister might consent to that course. By that means I think that time will be saved.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Henry Willis) adjourned.

page 2523

PERSONAL EXPLANATION

Mr SALMON:
Laanecoorie

– I desire to make a personal explanation. I intended to take this course at the commencement of our proceedings to-day, but the honorable member for Melbourne was not then in his place, and therefore I deferred my opportunity. In addressing the House upon the 16th July, I stated that the freight for horses from Melbourne to South Africa was £8 per head. The honorable member for Melbourne challenged the accuracy of my statement and said -

If the honorable member will give me the horses I will have them conveyed from Melbourne to South Africa at £5 per head by a steamer leaving here on the 20th inst.

A firm of shippers and stock and station agents in Melbourne upon seeing that statement in the press, applied to Messrs. Mcllwraith, McEacharn, and Co. for space for a number of horses on the Cooeyanna, which was supposed to leave Melbourne on the 20th inst. They were told, however, that the vessel was full, and that no space was available.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Is the honorable member explaining any matter ?

Mr SALMON:

– Yes. The accuracy of my statement was challenged, and I am showing that it was substantially correct, and that horses could not be shipped to South Africa for £5 per head. Whilst the honorable member for North Sydney was speaking, I interjected -

Do all these lines cany cargo to South Africa ? I think the honorable member is wrong.

He then asked -

Which line does not !

To which I replied -

The White Star Line

The honorable member ‘for Melbourne then interjected -

The White Star Line carries cargo.

I have since applied to Messrs. Dalgety and Company, the agents for the vessels, who have assured me that they do not carry cargo to South Africa. The accuracy of these two statements was challenged, and I think it is right that I should show that they were both correct.

Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN:
Melbourne

– I think it would have been fairer if the honorable member for Laanecoorie had informed me of his intention to bring this matter before the House. I am not prepared to answer his statements as fully as I should have been, had he given me notice of his intention. Under similar circumstances I think that I should have extended that courtesy to him. The statement which I made, that the freight for horses from Melbourne to South Africa was” not £8 per head, is perfectly correct. Steamers will carry horses, when their deck space is free, for less money than that. Had the Cooeyanna had space available, we should have been only too glad to carry them for £5 a head. After the honorable member had spoken upon Thursday last, I found, upon returning to my office, that whilst the information previously in my possession was that the Cooeyanna had deck space available, that space had since been filled up with sheep. Had deck space been available, we should have been only too glad to carry horses to South Africa for £5 per head. Regarding the honorable member’s statement that the White Star line does not carry cargo, I should like him to ask Messrs. Dalgety and Co. whether that line is not interested in a contract for the carriage of fruit from Tasmania, also whether it is not interested in a contract for the carriage of butter 1 I shall be surprised indeed if the information conveyed to me regarding the White Star line is incorrect. I” was informed that it was a party to a contract for the carriage ofbutter.

page 2524

DEFENCE BILL

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 16th July, (vide page 2278), on motion by Sir John Forrest -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I scarcely think that the Minister for Defence can expect this measure to be passed into law with the celerity that his breezy optimism suggests. Although the measure has been before us for a considerable time it is one of very great importance. The Minister for Defence invited the House to allow the Bill to go speedily into Committee, so that it may become law without delay, and spoke in a way that seemed to suggest that the whole matter had practically been consented to. I should like to be able to join with the patriotic Opposition in assisting the Government in this matter, just as we have done in regard to other questions ; but I feel satisfied that if we allowed the Bill to go into Committee immediately, our action would result only in a still greater loss of time. The Minister has requested us to read the Bill together with the regulations that have been made under it. I have spent many hours in looking over this measure, and, indeed, in reading up the whole question of the defences’ of the Commonwealth. I have also perused the regulations that have been recently issued under the powers conferred upon the Minister by the Defence Acts of the States. And having done so, having considered all that has been put before us on the subject, I feel bound to ask - “What is now the defence policy of the Commonwealth ? “ Two years have elapsed since the Defence Department was taken over by the Commonwealth, and we have a right now to ask the Ministry what is their defence policy. The Minister for Defence has had the privilege of moving the second reading of two Defence Bills in this House. On each occasion he has explained to us their various provisions, but we are still utterly in the dark - and those who take part in our defence are themselves also still in the dark - as to what is to be the Commonwealth system of military defence. The Minister says that we must regard this measure as a machinery Bill. No doubt that is so. But I hold that, according to the best examples we have in the political history of the mother of Parliaments, in introducing a measure of so much importance as this, the Minister - and particularly in the exceptional circumstances in which the question of defence has so long stood - should not only have explained the provisions of the Bill, but should have detailed the system to be pursued in regard to our defences. Upon that point, which is. of so much interest to every one who has to take a part in shaping the legislation of the Commonwealth, we have no information. The Minister has referred us to the regulations- that have been issued under the various States Acts. I ‘have read those regulations, and it seems to me that in them, as in the measure itself, there is no declaration of policy. No glimmering is given of what is to be the system of land defence for Australia.

Sir John Forrest:

– A citizen soldiery.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I wish to remind the Minister that Canada and Switzerland have a system of citizen soldiery, and that the colonies which now form this Commonwealth have each had a separate system of citizen soldiery. We desire now to know which of those systems, or what combination of the whole, is to be adopted by the Commonwealth? Prior to federation the various colonies had schemes of defence which more frequently than otherwise were systems of comparative mismanagement calculated to result in chaos. It was always said that one of the most important benefits, so far as the question of economy was concerned, to be secured to us by federation, was that we should obtain an improved system of defence for a greatly reduced expenditure. So far, however, we have seen nothing in the shape of the result which was anticipated by so many federalists. It was always urged, prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth, that under federation we should have great savings and secure a better and more efficient defence. Up to the present we have certainly made savings, but until we have obtained more light and guidance than it has yet suited the Minis- try to give to this House, it will be impossible for any one -to say whether we have secured a more efficient system. As an evidence of the absence of systematic consideration, I desire, in the first instance, to refer to the report of the Federal Military Committee, which sat here nearly two years ago. In this interesting report, it is stated that a sub-committee strongly recommended that -

In order that a scheme may be prepared for the division of the Commonwealth into military districts a map should be prepared showing -

The distribution of the population within the Commonwealth.

Facilities for transport by land and sea.

Distribution of the existing forces.

Position of strategical ports, coaling and cable stations.

The sub-committee concluded their report with the following recommendation : -

That the Minister be recommended to appoint an organizing committee of five officers representing the General Staff, Artillery, Engineers, Departmental Corps, and Pay Department, to procure and collate the information required under sub-paragraphs (as) and (ft).

That the above committee should be instructed that they are not to lay down an3’ organization, but to confine themselves solely to procuring and arranging the data necessary for laying down the organization.

The committee consisted of some of the best military experts that we had in Australia. They concluded their report with a request that this essential information should be collected presumably for the use of the General Officer Commanding, who had not then been appointed, and one of the first and signal blunders committed by the Department was its failure to carry out that recommendation. These facts should have been collected not only for the guidance of the General Officer Commanding, but for the information of this House. It is true that the fact that a general officer had not been appointed affords some excuse for the failure of the Government to do more than they did in ‘the early stages of the Commonwealth. I was one of those who entirely coincided with the expressions of approval which were offered when it was announced that the services of the present General Officer Commanding had been secured. I think, however, that immediately after the appointment of that distinguished soldier the Government should have commenced to frame a system of defence, and that they should have laid that system before this House. In that way the system would have been much more rapidly established. But what did the Ministry do ? They seem to have left the whole matter entirely in the hands of this distinguished soldier. They left it t6 him to give them the lead as to the character which our defence should take. If the question at issue had been purely one as to the calibre of guns, the quantity and character of the small arms to be provided, the quantity of ammunition necessary, the kind of uniform to be worn by the troops, and the tactics to be followed, the Minister might well have depended upon the advice of that very skilled and distinguished expert. But a Ministry whose Treasurer, in the course of his first Budget statement, said that he stood aghast at the enormous military expenditure which had been piled up by the States ; a Ministry whose Minister for Defence admitted, when we were dealing with the first Defence Estimates submitted to the House, that they were at least £100,000 too high, who consented to cut them down by £1 31,000. and who subsequently cut them down by £175,000, and agreed to reduce them still further ; a Ministry such as this, who finally said they believed . that we should still secure efficiency notwithstanding all these savings, should have said to the Commanding Officer as soon as he was appointed - “We are of opinion that the land defences of this Commonwealth should be made effective for a sum of £600,000 per annum.” They might have mentioned that amount or whatever other sum they thought should be allocated to that important object. They might also have ing that- they considered that the defence system of the Commonwealth should have certain broad characteristics. They might have allowed the General Officer Commanding to present them with a report within those lines, setting forth some system which they could have placed before the House, and upon which they might have obtained some expression of legislative opinion.

Sir John Forrest:

– We did so.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– If the Government have done so they have never taken this House into their confidence. No definite scheme has been put before us.

Sir John Forrest:

– We have never had a chance to do so.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– We have never had a scheme placed before us.

Sir John Forrest:

– The House will have the report from the General Officer Commanding in the course of the next day or two.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– We are now called upon to legislate upon this question, and we have to form conclusions as to the land defence of Australia. When we were dealing with the question of naval defence’ no such difficulty was experienced. A clearcut proposal was put before us. The whole of the details of that proposal were as freely available to every honorable member of this House as they were to the members of the Ministry, and the House had no difficulty in arriving at an intelligent decision. But so far as our land defences are concerned, the expenditure upon them has been cut down from time to time with the consent of the Ministry.

Sir John Forrest:

– By the direction of the House.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The decision of the House was that the Estimates first submitted to us should be reduced by- £131,000. Subsequently the Ministry reduced those Estimates by £175,000.

Sir John Forrest:

– Then honorable members reduced them to the extent of another £62,000.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– That is so. The Acting Minister for Defence at that time said that they could be cut down to that extent, and that the forces would still remain effective. In view of that fact, it is useless to blame any section of this House for having reduced the Defence Estimates. The Government made themselves a party to the reduction. So far as that reduction is concerned, I do not know of any more maligned political party in this House than is the labour party. I, with other honorable members of the Opposition, as well as certain honorable members on the Government side of the House, joined with the labour party in insisting that the Estimates should be reduced. Yet from time to time we see statements in many of the principal newspapers in Australia, blaming one particular party in this House for having ruthlessly cut down our defence expenditure, and left the country undefended. Such a charge is not just. It is not in accordance with the facts. The true history of the cutting down of our Defence Estimates is to be found in Hansard, and in the journals of the House. They show that on every occasion when Ministers were urged to reduce the Defence Estimates, chey were apparently only too willing to do so. As a matter of fact, before any attempt had been made to reduce them, the Treasurer, as I have already pointed out, stated in the course of his first financial statement that he stood aghast at the enormous totals. Ja dealing with the contingencies or allowances he remarked that he was positively afraid to add up the totals because he did not know to what proportions they might reach. Apart from that, we have the fact that the cost of the States systems of defence carried on prior to Federation was rapidly approaching something like £1,000,000 per annum. If we have to pay anything like an adequate sum for the naval defence of Australia, the Commonwealth will not be able to afford the expenditure we are drifting into in regard to our land defences.

Sir John Forrest:

– There is nothing in this 13ill as to money matters.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The fault of the Bill is that it puts no system before us. The history of this question shows that from the very first we have been awaiting the presentation of a scheme.

Sir John Forrest:

– The honorable member should look at clause 27. That provides for a system.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I nave looked through the Bill most carefully, and I see nothing in it but a want of system. Indeed, there is an inconsistency in several of the clauses, to which I shall have to refer later on. The measure was brought before us in the first instance on the 2nd August, 1901. But on the 30th April, 1902, during the consideration of the Estimates, the light honorable gentleman admitted - and his statement is on record in Hansard - that £100,000 could be saved in the Defence expenditure, and that, although he could not undertake that saving in the expenditure of the current year, he would see that it was made next year. A motion was carried to reduce the Defence expenditure by £200,000-

Mr SPEAKER:

– I think that the honorable member should deal more closely with the provisions of the Bill itself.’

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– No doubt you are right, Mr. Speaker. I shall, therefore, make no further reference to the details of this matter. At present, however, the case stands in this position : AVe have repeatedly discussed the various phases of military organization, but, whether we have been dealing with the financial aspect of the question or with the system of defence to be adopted, the difficulty has always been that no proposal for any definite plan of organization has ever been put before us. Consequently, we have always been in the dark as to the bast way in which to face the problem before us. There is another matter to which I wish to refer. Although Ministers have received advice from the General Officer Commanding, and from other experts, it is quite apparent that those experts were not aware, when they prepared their reports, of the arrangements into which we have just entered for the naval defence of Australia. Their recommendations were not based upon the knowledge that this House would vote for the scheme of naval defence to which we have just agreed, a scheme much more effective than any hitherto in existence. It has been my contention all through that, in dealing with the Defence expenditure of the country, we should determine, not only exactly how much we are prepared to spend, but upon what system we are prepared to spend it, and what steps will be taken for the provision of naval defence. If Ministers are guided by the advice which they receive from the General Officer Commanding, how is it that nothing has been done so far towards strengthening what he has indicated as the weakest part of our defences t It has been pointed out that an expenditure of perhaps £500,000 is necessarily to properly equip our forts.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member is not yet coming to the Bill.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I intend to point out that the Bill does not provide for a proper scheme of defence, and that it is only when we have a well-grounded and thoroughly considered system before us that we can properly deal with the matter.

Sir John Forrest:

– The honorable member should read clause 27. That and the following clauses will give him all information as to the system which, the Government intend to adopt.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I have read every clause in the Bill, and I intend presently to refer to them briefly, in order to point out what I consider defects in the measure. When we were dealing with the Defence Bill introduced last session, a great deal was .said about the expensiveness of the officers’ uniforms, but there is no provision in this Bill to regulate that matter. Honorable members generally were of opinion that equal opportunities must be afforded to the members of a citizen defence force to become officers if they duly qualify themselves for commissions ; and, that being so, the Minister should not only have provided for such equal opportunities, but should have introduced into the measure what I might term a sumptuary clause, which would prevent the wearing of expensive uniforms such as men of small means could not afford to purchase.

Sir John Forrest:

– Regulations have already been published concerning the uniforms of both officers and men.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– At the very time when we were discussing the matter here, and honorable members were (objecting to the use of expensive lace and braid and other adornments on officers’ uniforms, the subject was also being discussed by the members of the Canadian Parliament, and they were equally of opinion that, not only should opportunities be given to every man in their citizen defence forces to obtain a commission and distinguish himself in the service of the Dominion, but that no obstacle should be placed in the way of the acceptance of a commission by a man of small means because of the expensiveness of the uniform which would have to be worn.

Sir John Forrest:

– The honorable member should read clause 11.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I would point out to the House that our attitude in regard to this matter is not merely the attitude of an extremely democratic people. The question is being dealt with even in the old countries of the world, where military systems have been in existence for centuries. In Great Britain a special committee was recently appointed on the motion of the Secretary of State for War, to inquire into the nature of the expenses incurred by the officers of the British Army, and to suggest measures for bringing commissions within the reach of men of moderate means. It must be remembered that that committee was asked to inquire into the conditions prevailing in the regular army of a country where social differences exist which we have not to consider here. Yet in concluding their report they recommended that none but authorized articles of uniform shall be worn by officers under any circumstances, and that frequent changes in the details or design of dress should be discountenanced to the utmost extent practicable. When a recommendation such as that is made in the old country in regard to the uniforms of the officers of the regular army, surely we have every justification for’ the attitude which we have taken up in regard to the uniforms of the officers of our citizen army. The Bill, but for one or two signal exceptions, is on the lines of the measure introduced last session. I shall give the Government every assistance to get it into Committee, so that we may obtain a workable measure under which the defence force of the Commonwealth may be properly organized. As the Minister has said, it is largely a machinery Bill, under which we can provide for the employment of 50Q,000 soldiers, or for a force of only 200 or 300. There are, however, some clauses in it which provide for one system, while other clauses provide for another system, and I intend to address myself to the House particularly in regard to those clauses, in the hope that the Ministry will consider the objections that are pointed out, and will be willing to accept in Committee the amendments which I feel sure honorable gentlemen will wish to make. The Minister has taken credit, and I think rightly, for giving preference, under clause 11, in the appointment of officers, to persons who have served in the defence force “ for three years without a commission.” Nothing seems to me fairer and more equitable than a provision of that character. It carries into effect an idea which I have always entertained, that we can never make a defence force popular with the masses, upon whom we have to depend for the defence of the country, unless opportunities are given to all its members to qualify for, and to obtain, commissions, if they desire to do so. That being so, it is only right that men who have served in the ranks should, other things being equal, have the preference in the appointment of officers before persons coming from outside. I do not see, however, why this provision should apply only to the “ first appointment of officers.” Why should it not apply to every appointment, if the principle is a good one? Another provision of which I approve is that which empowers the Governor-General to appoint any person to be an officer, or to promote an officer for distinguished service or marked gallantry in the field, without requiring him, to pass the prescribed examination. But although that is a very good clause, I hope that our forces will never be engaged in actual warfare, and that, therefore, there will never be an opportunity to bring it into force. The provisions of clauses 24 and 25 are very different from the provisions of clause 15 of the Bill introduced last session. That clause provided a limitation of the tenure of certain important appointments.

Sir John Forrest:

– Since then it has seemed better to allow the matter to be dealt with by regulation.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I think that it is a matter which should not be dealt with by regulation. We leave too many matters to regulation. Under clause 15 of the Bill first introduced officers were limited in their tenure of important positions, and after listening to the discussion on the second reading of that measure, I came to the conclusion that there were good reasons for such a limitation. A man may have done good service which entitled him to appointment to an important position, but he may afterwards, by reason of age or for some other cause, become incapacitated for the proper performance of his duties. It is not pleasant for a Minister to have to force such an officer to retire, and consequently he often remains on after he is really incompetent. The provision to which I am referring, however, provided for the compulsory retirement of such officers. Under this Bill, the GovernorGeneral is to have power to place officers upon the retired list, and to fix by regulation the ages for the retirement of officers. In my opinion those provisions are not as good as the provision in clause 15 of the original Bill. The clause which provides for the establishment of a military and naval college is a very important one. I do not know that we are likely to take immediate action for the establishment of such a college, but it is quite certain that something must be done at this end of the world to provide for the military education of our officers. I was pleased to hear the Minister say that he had taken great interest in what he had seen of the administration of Kingston College in Canada. A great number of committees have been sitting in England, inquiring into various military matters, and one of the subjects thus dealt with is the education and training of military officers. Some of the disclosures made by the evidence obtained by that committee show that if we rely entirely upon the old country for our officers, we may get men who have been brought up in a very bad school. In many respects the existing military schools are utterly condemned by the committee. With the Woolwich Academy the committee expressed themselves as “on the whole satisfied,” but they recommended certain changes, special stress, according to the weekly edition of the London Times, being laid on the defective organization which separates the command from the instruction of the cadets. It would appear from the committee’s remarks that the officers placed over the cadets are divided into two branches - discipline and instructional. The discipline officers have nothing to say to instruction, and the instructional officers have nothing to do with the command. . This system is the legacy of bygone days. It is a matter for surprise that the Woolwich authorities, who, in all other respects, are so entirely uptodate, should have waited for an outside committee to suggest a change which has been long ago applied throughout that admirable regimental organization which exists in the Royal Artillery.

Turning from Woolwich to Sandhurst, the committee make remarks which are wholly unfavorable, and constitute a severe indictment of the college administration. According to the report of Mr. Akers Douglas and his colleagues, there is a lamentable lack of supervision both of the indoor studies and of the outdoor work of the cadets, the time and duties of instructors being badly economized, and arranged with only haphazard regard to the discipline and educational requirements of the students. The drill and practical training, instead of being carried out by the officers, are delegated to staff-sergeants, and, when the committee asked the AssistantCommandant for an explanation of this extraordinary arrangement, he admitted the system to be bad, but ascribed it to the incapacity of the officers under his command.

This report also recommends that advantage should be taken of some of the universities, and I think that even if we establish a military college for the instruction of our officers in certain lines of military education, we should still take some measures to get our officers passed through the universities in order that they may possess special groundwork qualifications. I come next to what are called the divisions of the defence forces, and this is where I complain of the utter lack of system in the proposals. The existing militia and volunteer forces are to be perpetuated. I have never been able to understand why we should preserve the distinction that exists between volunteer and militia forces. Some militia officers will say that the militia has turned out the best class of serviceable men, and, on the other hand, volunteer officers claim that their system has been attended with the best results. I do not care what kind of force we have, but if we are going to create citizen forces - and the title chosen by the Minister for Defence is an admirable one - we ought not to have two classes of men. We do not want volunteers on the one hand, and partiallypaid men on the other. We should get rid of these shreds and patches - these tattered remnants of an army. Our military forces should consist of riflemen clothed in the same uniform and subject to the same regulations, as to pay and otherwise, in all the States. I believe the wisest plan would have been to get rid of the old system, lock, stock, and barrel, and start anew, because, undoubtedly, the changes which have been made, or which are under contemplation, have very much disorganized the forces, and have disheartened some of the best of the men. It would have been very much more satisfactory if the whole of the forces had been disbanded and re-enrolled under a new and uniform system.

Mr Higgins:

– Which would the honorable member prefer - volunteer or partiallypaid forces’!

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I do not care very much which we have, but our system should certainly be uniform. Perhaps we ought to have partially-paid men, because I do not think we should get as good results from a purely, volunteer force as from a partially-paid body of men. The men should not expect to receive payment equal to the wage of a first-class mechanic, but they should be paid at a fair rate for their time and trouble in ‘submitting to training and discipline. In Canada the forces are practically all militia-, the men receiving only half-a-dollar, or about 2s. per day, compared with the 8s. per day received by the members of our partiallypaid forces. The militiamen of Canada, therefore, occupy a position midway between our volunteer and militia forces. We cannot have an effective national system of military defence which provides for both classes of soldiers. There must necessarily be a feeling of irritation on the part of volunteers when they know that other men receive 8s. a day. Let us glance at the anomaly which presents itself in another respect. I have here the latest return which I was able to obtain relating to the strength of the forces in the different States. In New South Wales the establishment of the partially-paid forces is 5,527, and that of the volunteer forces 3,479. In Victoria there are 3,405 partiallypaid or militiamen, and 2,729 volunteers.

Queensland has 2,768 militiamen and 638 volunteers. South Australia has 1,968 militiamen and no volunteers.

Sir John Forrest:

– But they have reserves.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Western Australia has no militia, but 1,923 volunteers. Tasmania has practically no militia but she has 2,043 volunteers.

Sir John Forrest:

– Those are not the most recent figures.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– They are dated 23rd of April, 1903. I have quoted the establishment, and not the actual strength. The actual strength varies but very slightly from these figures. I do not think the difference amounts to more than 7 per cent. It it will be seen that some of the States have practically all militia and some practically all volunteers, and the return will serve for the purposes of my argument. In nationalizing the defence forces, we should put them upon one common footing. If we cannot induce men to submit themselves to training for the purposes of defence without payment, we should make some provision for an allowance.

Sir J ohn Forrest:

– We should have to provide for an additional £70,000 per annum.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I should not object to that. Although I have joined others in cutting down the Defence Estimates, I should never be a party to reducing them to the extent of leaving the country defenceless. I am ready to pay any amount that is necessary for defence purposes ; but I want our defences to be arranged upon a proper system, and to be assured that, we are getting what we pay for. . I am certain that under the old regime scarcely one of the States got fair value for its money. I am anxious to assist the Minister, whose heart I know is in this measure, to adopt some good system of military defence, which will give us’ as effective a force as possible for the money which we are prepared to spend upon it. If another .£70,000- is required in order to bring our forces into a proper state of efficiency I shall be quite satisfied to grant it. I know that if we act in the direction I have indicated a far more satisfactory spirit will prevail among the men.

Mr McCay:

– There are militia and volunteers in practically every country in the world.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Not in Canada. Perhaps the honorable and learned member does not consider that half a dollar a day could be called payment.

Mr McCay:

– I should not call it pay ; it would be more like tea money.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I scarcely regard 2s. a day as adequate payment for the time which a militia man would have to devote to training in order to make himself efficient. The Bill provides that the permanent forces may be employed outside of the Commonwealth or its waters. When the Minister was addressing the House I could not help asking him why he sought this power, and he pointed out that the men belonging to the permanent forces had adopted soldiering as a profession, and that there was no reason why they should not be sent beyond the bounds of the Commonwealth if it were considered desirable. It is not on account of the men that I object to the clause, but because I do not see why the Government should be granted such a power. I can well understand that our ships should be permitted to go beyond territorial limits, but there is no reason why our soldiers should be required to do so. The defence of Australia, so far as the army is concerned, should be confined to operations upon our own soil, and the Government should not have power to send away our men to take part in some war in which we might have little or no interest.

Sir John Forrest:

– We are a part of the Empire, and if the Empire were at war we ^should be at war also.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I am just as loyal to the _ Empire as is any honorable member, but I think that it is well to occasionally check that desire for military exploits which exists even in this part of the world. The provision that members of the citizen, forces of the Commonwealth shall not be required to serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth is a very proper one, because the Constitution does not empower us to go beyond protecting the Commonwealth. Some objection has been raised to clause 47, which provides for the protection of the States against domestic violence, but, it seems to me that by inserting a provision of this kind the Government have simply discharged a constitutional liability. It is clear that it is only in cases where a Government of a

State has proclaimed that domestic violence exists therein, that the Governor-General, upon the application of the Government of the State, may call out the forces necessary for its protection. There can be no danger in granting such a power. There is a very broad distinction between our power to deal with defences, and that which is conferred under the Constitution of the United States. In the United States each separate State, subject to the ultimate authority of the Federal Government, controls the militia forces, and can use them for the suppression of domestic violence, but under our Constitution all power over the defence forces is vested in the Federal Government. Therefore, some such clause is necessary. I think that the Minister is quite wrong in desiring power to call out the whole of the male inhabitants of Australia in case of emergency. His object is to show to the rest of the world that, if occasion demanded it, the Commonwealth could put a million men in the field. The fallacy of that position is at once obvious. It is true that we could put a million men in the field, if necessary. But what sort of men would they be ? The greatest experts in the world would acknowledge that they would be absolutely useless. What we require is a body of thoroughly trained and efficient men, and I do not think that the power to call out the whole of the male population of the Commonwealth between the ages of 18 and 60 years will ever require to be exercised. If occasion arose, the safety of the State being is the highest law, the Minister would have that power. The clause in question is, to my mind, a blot upon the Bill. It implies a doubt as to the capacity of Australia to defend herself under a purely voluntary system. I hold that, if we adopt a system which commends itself to the patriotism and democratic spirit of our people, there will be no need for the exercise of these extraordinary powers, because the patriotism of Australia will provide sufficient men for her defence. If the Minister desires to adopt a system such as that which the clause suggests, he had far better go in for conscription at once, because by that means he would secure trained men. Personally, however, I am opposed to conscription. The idea of putting a million men in the field for the purpose of bluffing Russia or Germany is altogether too thin to be contemplated in a Bill of this character. Under clause 58 power is conferred to establish and maintain a cadet force. I do not think we can obtain any system of defence which is likely to prove satisfactory which has not the cadet force for its basis. Quite recently a series of articles appeared in the Times concerning the military resources of Great Britain. The author of those articles, who is evidently very well acquainted with the military system, not only of England, but of the rest of the world, lays great stress upon the power of Great Britain and Ireland to defend themselves without any regular soldiery whatever if the potentiality of a citizen defence is sufficiently appreciated. He declares that they should adopt the system of training cadets in their schools and universities. By instructing children at school they receive a much more efficient training than they are likely -to get subsequently. Even if the State had to pay for compelling them to remain at school a year longer than would otherwise be required of them, in order that they might receive the rudimentary training of soldiers, I hold that the money would be well invested from a national point of view. Under clause 61 power is given to the military authorities to assume control over the States railways. That is a power, which cannot be avoided in case of war. But under this Bill power is given to use not only the States railways and tramways, but also private railways and ferries. An officer simply b)’ wearing a uniform can thus make use of any railway or ferry without paying toll.

Mr Higgins:

– Does not that apply only to time of war ?

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– No ; it applies also to times of peace. Clause 64 provides -

Members of the defence force may, as prescribed, be billetted, quartered, or cantoned, hut nothing in this Act shall authorize the quartering or billeting of any member of the defence force in any house solely occupie c women or by women and children.

Strange to say the regulations under that provision apply only to time of war, whereas the operation of the clause itself is not restricted in any way. I think that is an oversight. Every civilized community has abandoned the idea of quartering troops, except in times of great emergency. The power to make regulations under this Act is one that I think should be limited. I have seen most important regulations tabled here, which have been confirmed through default of objection being taken’ to them, and they have thus received the force of law. Under this Bill there is the usual stipulation that -

All regulations shall be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within 30 days after the making thereof, if the Parliament be then sitting, and i not, then within 30 days after the next meeting of the Parliament.

If either House of the Parliament passes a resolution, at anytime within fifteen sitting days after any regulation is laid before it, disallowing any such regulation, that regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.

I should like to point out that regulations made under a Defence Act are amongst the most important matters that can affect society r The power to get a regulation confirmed through default of objection being taken to it by this House within fifteen days is one which should not be vested in any Ministry. It would be utterly impossible for any honorable member who might disapprove of any regulation to geta specific motion bearing upon it discussed within that period. Further, he could not deal with the question except by consent of the Government or by adopting an extreme course which might involve a crisis. In matters of such importance as regulations under a Defence Act, which may affect society and the liberty of individuals-

Sir John Forrest:

– They are not so wide as that.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– -These regulations are very wide indeed.

Mr MCCAY:

– How could this House discuss and settle a set of regulations of that kind?

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I am merely pointing out that we shall not get an opportunity of considering them. “ I think that a substantive resolution by a member of the Ministry that- any regulation should have the force of law would overcome the difficulty. Then there are some minor clauses in the Bill bearing upon the question of the wearing of the military uniform or dress. I often think that we have not been careful enough to preserve the dignity of the uniform. I have seen the uniform of a militia man positively degraded. In dealing with offences of that kind the powers conferred under this Bill are not sufficiently great. Clause 79 says -

Any person who not being a member of the defence force wears any uniform of the defence force, or any colourable imitation thereof, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding ten pounds.

Provided that this section shall not prevent any person from wearing any uniform or dress in the course of a stage play, a music hall or circus performance, a ball, or a bond fide military representation.

I see no reason for allowing the military uniform of the Commonwealth to be worn by a performer in a circus or a stage play. Our young soldiers should be taught to respect their uniform as they are taught to respect their flag. That uniform ought to be protected from the insults which have been heaped upon it in the past, at any rate, in some of the States with which I am acquainted. The clauses dealing with courts martial I must leave for the consideration of the legal members of the House. I think the Minister may accept my assurance that we shall do our best to pass the Bill this session. Certainly he needs it. He has already deferred its consideration too long, and I think he has been wanting in his duty to this House in not having made us acquainted with the system under which he intends to carry on the defence of the Commonwealth. In a breezy, cheery way he invites us to pass it en bloc, and indeed he would like to attach to it a provision for the construction of the transcontinental railway. Cato in the Roman Legislature used to conclude every speech he made with the words Delenda est Carthago - “ Carthage must be destroyed,” which he declared he would repeat until Carthage was destroyed. Similarly it seems to me that the Minister must refer to the construction of the transcontinental railway in every speech that he makes. I hold that that line is not required so much for defence purposes as it is for the purpose of connecting the States for the purposes of trade and commerce. I trust that the right honorable gentleman will obtain both the railway and the Bill, and that the latter will provide the Commonwealth with an efficient system of defence.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I must say that I have read this Bill with surprise and with pleasure. I desire to congratulate the Minister upon the very manifest improvement in tone which this Bill displays. We saw in the original Defence Bill all the swagger and bluster of swollen militarism, but in this we have a much more moderate proposal, which I hope will eventually be moulded into a practical scheme for the Commonwealth of Australia. In the original Bill it was actually proposed that every man who enlisted in a rifle club, in order to make himself proficient in the use of the rifle, should be liable to be ordered against his will to Afghanistan, Africa, or anywhere else. We have no such provision in this Bill. I agree, however, with the honorable member for South Sydney, that we miss, both in the opening statement made by the Minister, and in the Bill itself, any reference to a definite system which would commend itself to the people or the Parliament of Australia. It seems to me that in Australia we have been fluctuating in regard to this matter between fits of scare and fits of economy, and that we do. not exactly know whether we should throw all our money into defence and its cognate subjects, or whether we should set apart no money whatever for that purpose. Therefore we have at present a system of defence which is really no system, which is not founded upon any definite lines, and at the same time we have no guidance from the Minister as to the policy that we ought to adopt. I do not speak as an expert in regard to these matters, but I consider that it is about time that those who are not experts should remove the heavy heel of the expert, with his clanking spurs, and show from the commonsense point of view of ordinary people what seems to be required in this direction. I am quite content to accept, as authoritative and correct, the opinion given by MajorGeneral Hutton in the report presented by him in April of last year. In that report he shows, as clearly as any one could show, that it is absurd to suppose that there will be much need of land forces in Australia. After all Australia is an island, and we cannot make it anything else. If we cast aside the responsibility that we are taking upon us of having a land frontier in New Guinea we must see that an attack upon us must be from oversea, and our position is as Major - General Hutton describes it -

Efforts at oversea aggression upon Australian soil will in all probability therefore be reduced to raids by an enemy’s cruisers based on his defended ports. Such raids might be undertaken to extort an indemnity under threat of bombard ment, or to destroy commerce, or to obtain coal

He points out how that with a people so truly united as we are in one allegiance it would be utterly absurd for any large body of troops to attempt to obtain a permanent footing upon Australian soil in support of a foreign power. No one would venture upon such an experiment. I think that there has been far too much made of the necessity for infantry, and even as to the necessity for artillery and engineering corps, while far too little has been made of the necessity for the naval defence of Australia. I am not, however, going to carry that opinion to an extreme. Evidently the people are very desirous of having some kind of a defence force, and even if it were only for the sake of the physical training and discipline which it affords, I think it may be advisable that we should have one. I believe that, in this Bill, the Minister is claiming for the Government of the Commonwealth, from time . to time, extraordinary and unconstitutional powers with regard to the determination of what is “war” and “time of war.” He proposes in the Bill to give the Government, for the time being, very large powers “ in time of war “ or “ war.” If we turn to the definition of those terms in the interpretation clause, we find that they virtually mean that the extraordinary powers proposed to be given to the Government are to be used, and that the ordinary courts are to be closed, at the will of the Minister in office - not necessarily in the case of war, but if he considers there is danger of war.

Sir John Forrest:

– The honorable and learned member objected to the use of the word “ emergency “ in the last Bill. What word would he have us use ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– It is not a question of words, but of things.

Sir John Forrest:

– Would the honorable and learned member have us wait until the Minister saw the danger at our very door 1

Mr HIGGINS:

– I do not wish to put this matter unfairly. I am sorry that the Minister cannot distinguish in this case between words and things. He was usually able to do so in Western Australia. If the Government chooses under this Bill to say that there is danger of war, not in Australia but in any part of the British Empire, they will be- able to bring into play the extraordinary powers with which they are to be vested, to call out the inhabitants, and .to enforce what is called martial law. If honorable members turn to the definition clause, they will see that although the opening words are fair sounding and correct, the words at the end are dangerous. The Minister read to us an extract from the United States Act. But he will find no words in that law that enable the Government to say finally whether a state of war exists. That is a responsibility which the Government must take. It is a responsibility which was taken by the British Government in the South African trouble. It is a responsibility which was discussed in the De Marais case in the Privy Council. The truth is that it is a very important protection to the liberty of private people, that a general who enforces martial law takes the risk of being able to prove that a “ war,” or a “ state of war,” exists in that district. I shall, therefore, ask the House, in due time, to consider the definition given in clause 4 of “ time of war.” Another matter to which I desire to call the attention of the House relates to our permanent forces. I think the less we have of permanent forces the better it will be.

Sir John Forrest:

– There are now only some 1,300 in the whole Commonwealth.

Mr HIGGINS:

– But the Government take the power under this Bill to appoint any number of permanent forces.

Sir John Forrest:

– We have first to obtain the money.

Mr HIGGINS:

– If the Government appoint them, we are almost bound to find the money. My experience is that we have no choice in the matter. We are told in these cases that nothing can be done until the House gives it approval, but when we are asked for our approval, we are told that we cannot cross a “ t “ or dot an “ i “ in the proposal ; we must agree to what the Government have done, or else face the consequences of a vote of want of confidence. I wish our permanent forces to be defined. Under this Bill the GovernorGeneral in Council may create any number of permanent forces that he may think fit.

Sir J ohn Forrest:

– Where would he obtain the money to pay them 1

Mr HIGGINS:

– I have already dealt with that question. I contend that there should be some limit to this provision. It may be said with some fairness that some permanent artillery and engineering forces are required ; but it is rubbish to talk of permanent infantry forces.

Mr McCay:

– There are none at present.

Mr HIGGINS:

– But there is power in this Bill to create them. I wish to ask honorable members whether ‘they think it would be well to allow such a provision to stand. In my opinion we might limit not only the number of permanent forces, but also the classes. I submit also that we ought not to allow the permanent forces to be ordered beyond the limits of the Commonwealth and its dependencies. It will be seen that clause 42 provides that the services of the permanent forces, as well as those of others, may at all times be utilized wherever required, either within or beyond the Commonwealth. I do not consider that that is a constitutional provision. I do not believe that we have power under the Constitution to do more than to provide for the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth. We have no right to provide for the naval or military defence of Afghanistan or Canada. I shall submit later on that not only is such a proposal unconstitutional, but that it is inexpedient. We ought not to have any class which might be called upon in virtue of their oath, and on pain of imprisonment or death by shooting, to take part in quarrels in the making of which they have had no hand, and of which they mayor may not approve. If permanent forces are provided for in this Bill I shall object to their being required to go outside the boundaries of the Commonwealth and itspossessions, except by their own free will.

Sir John Forrest:

– Why 1 Any one would think that we should not be at war if Great Britain were in that position.

Mr HIGGINS:

– The right honorable gentleman is very happy in sending men to fight battles and cause bloodshed ; but that is the most serious thing that a man can do. I agree with those who say that if war is not the most essential of duties it is the most horrible of crimes. There are men who would be willing to enlist in the permanent forces, but who do not wish to be compelled to fight whomsoever they are told to fight, without regard to the justice of the case or to any considerations of light or wrong. We do not want our men to join in an opium war. We do not want our men to be dragged into a war that may be against their conscience.

Mi Kirwan. - Do soldiers usually consider the rights or wrongs of a war t

Mr HIGGINS:

– If they do not they ought to do so. The absurdity of the position is that these men, because they are poor, are treated as being willing to sell their services to the country, as if they had no conscience of their own. 6 y 2

Mr Reid:

– The honorable and learned member and I have frequently to fight for injustice.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Even if the right honorable gentleman would fight for an injustice, I should not.

Mr Reid:

– I mean that we have to see justice done even to the unjust.

Mr HIGGINS:

– The right honorable and learned member knows that even in the law courts he has- not to decide the question at issue in the case in which he appears. There is a Judge to determine who is right or wrong ; but every man who fights, and tries to shoot his brother man, has to decide for himself whether it is right or not for him to do so.

Mr Reid:

– He leaves that to the commanding officer.

Mr HIGGINS:

– And the commanding officer does not deal with it. The naval forces, too, ought not to be sent .out of the Commonwealth against their will.

Mr Reid:

– Does the Bill propose that they may be sent out of the Commonwealth ?

Mr HIGGINS:

-Clause 42 provides that -

The services of the permanent forces, and of nil persons continuously employed in the active forces on regular pay and duty, may, at all times, be utilized wherever required, either within or beyond the limits of the Commonwealth.

Mr Reid:

– That will not do.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I think not. Care is taken that this provision shall apply, not merely to the permanent forces, but to - all persons continuously employed in ‘the active forces on regular pay and duty.

The Minister informs me that that means those who are instructors, and who have their time fully occupied in the instruction of the Militia or Volunteer Forces. I do not think that they should be liable to be withdrawn from the Commonwealth on compulsion whenever a war scare occurs, leaving those forces without experienced officers to guide them.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– None of the Commonwealth forces should be withdrawn on compulsion.

Mr HIGGINS:

– That is so. Then again, I object to the compulsory oath provided for in clause 34, which must be taken by all persons liable under clause 55 to serve in time of war. Under that clause a levy en masse of all male inhabitants between the ages of -18 and 60 years is provided for, and persons so called upon to serve are compelled on pain of imprisonment to take an oath. I can understand it being contended that both those who are willing, and those who are unwilling, must take up arms and fight in defence of their country, but I shall always object to men being compelled to take an oath under such circumstances as those for which the clause provides. The form of oath to be taken is set out in the third schedule, and the person who takes it declares -

I will resist His Majesty’s enemies, and cause His Majesty’s peace to be kept and maintained.

There are people who object to fighting, because they consider warfare entirely wrong, and while it may be right to punish them for refusing to enlist for service, we should not punish them for refusing to take an oath of that description.

Sir John Forrest:

– Those who do not wish to take an oath may make an affirmation.

Mr HIGGINS:

– To a man of honour the making of an affirmation is as important as the taking of an oath. What I contend is that we have no right to punish people for refusing to promise to do what they think it is their duty to refuse to do.

Sir John Forrest:

– Who is going to perform the work of defending the country, then?

Mr HIGGINS:

-Under clauses 34, 35, and 56 every one is compellable under certain circumstances to enlist, and to take the oath provided for in the third schedule. At first sight it would seem that the levy en masse provided for in clause 56 must take place according to a certain order set out in sub-clause (3) - first, the bachelors and widowers under 30, and then the persons belonging to classes 2, 3, and 4 being called out. But if honorable members will read paragraphs (a) and (b) of sub-clause (2), they will see that it is optional to the Government either tocall out people according to the classes specified, or to call out all men between the ages of18 and 60 at once. If the Government exercise the power conferred upon them by the first of those paragraphs, they can call out all men between the ages of 18 and 60, including the Judges of the High Court, the members of this House, the Quakers, and any one they please.

Mr Reid:

– Are not the Judges and Members of Parliament exempt ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– No. The last Bill contained specific exemptions, but under this Bill only such persons are exempted as the Governor-General may, by proclamation under clause 57, declare to be exempt. I do not think that it should be left to the Governor-General, which, of course, means the Executive, to declare what persons shall be exempt, and I suggest that that clause should be amended to make it provide for specific exemptions. We should above all things exempt those who, for the sake of conscience, object to take any part in warfare. They may be right or they may be wrong, but their conscientious scruples should be respected. They are not cowards ; they are people who, on principle, object to fight.

Sir John Forrest:

– I hope that they are not very numerous.

Mr HIGGINS:

– The honorable member for South Sydney was quite right in calling attention to the clause which provides for billeting. I suppose it is intended that soldiers shall be billeted upon the Commonwealth only in time of war. I have seen billeting in English villages in time of peace, but then the accommodation given to the soldiers was always paid for.

Sir John Forrest:

– Of course, the Commonwealth Government will also pay for the accommodation of its soldiers.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Perhaps so, but the clause does not make it necessary for them to do so. Another point to which I wish to call attention is this : Although there is in England what is called a standing army, the English Army Act, by which it is governed and controlled, is a measure which has force only for one year, and is consequently re-enacted annually. The preamble of that Act reads as follows : -

Whereas the raising or keeping of a standing army within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in time of peace, unless it be with the consent of Parliament, is against law.

It is an old principle of British constitutional law that a standing army is a menace to the security of the State. Under this Bill, however, we shall have a permanent army, unlimited as to size, without the safeguards which they have in England. Despite all the needs of an Imperial power, the English Army Act ceases to operate so far as England and the Channel Islands are concerned, on the 30th April ; so far as regards other parts of Europe, the West Indies, and

America, on the 31st July ; and so far. as regards the rest of His Majesty’s dominions, on the 31st December. That being so, why should we provide for a permanent army ?

Sir John Forrest:

– There has been a permanent force in each of the States for years past.

Mr HIGGINS:

– It ought not to be so. There is a provision in the Bill regarding the proceedings of court martial which I consider endangers the liberties of the press. Under clause 85, as I read it, if the members of a court martial behaved, as I have known officers to behave, foolishly and autocratically, and a newspaper, after their decision had been given, commented upon their behaviour or expressions, its publishers would be liable to committal for contempt by the parties criticised ; because clause 85 provides that any person who, by writing (or speech, uses words calculated to bring the court into disrepute shall be guilty of contempt. So if a newspaper writer or a public man pointed out the absurdity or injustice of any finding of the court, he might be adjudged guilty of contempt, and be punished accordingly. We must look very narrowly at these provisions, because there is no appeal from the decision of a court martial, nor can proceedings be removed by writ of certiorari or other means from it to another court. Although I recognise the importance of the principle, that cases should not be discussed whilst they are pending, I feel that when they are over, the utmost liberty should be given to the press and to public men and others to comment upon what the courts have done.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– The courts-martial have not the final decision in capital cases.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I know that the death sentence of a court martial cannot be carried out until it has been approved by the GovernorGeneral, but still the judgment of the court is unappealable. It is provided that any person who, by writing or speech, uses words calculated to being the court into disrepute, shall be guilty of contempt of court. Under that provision, if a newspaper writer said that captain this, or major the other, was unreasonable or utterly foolish he would be liable to be . thrown into prison, not by an impartial tribunal, but by the very court which he had criticised.

Sir John Forrest:

– That is what the Supreme Court does now.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I do not think that the Minister desires to infringe upon the liberty of the subject, and I think it is only necessary to direct his attention to the effect of this clause in order to secure its amendment. I find, further, that the members of the defence forces are to be brought under the Army Act, which includes all the military regulations under that Act. In clause 4, the Army Act is defined as meaning the Imperial Act, called the Army Act, including the Articles of Wai- for the time being in force. I am not familiar, with the Articles of War, and I think that honorable members are entitled to’ know exactly what rules and regulations are to be applied to the members of our defence forces.

Mr McCay:

– It is bad in principle to legislate in that . way, and I hope that the provision will be eliminated.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member that a provision of that kind is bad in principle, because I think that the Bill should show on its face the exact extent to which the members of the defence forces may jeopardize their, liberties or their property by failure to comply with any rules or regulations. Clause 74 provides that any member of the citizen forces who, when liable for employment on active service, absents himself for more than seven days may be punished as a deserter. I think some exception should be made in the cases of men who can produce evidence of illness. Such men should not be at the mercy of a court martial because they have not obtained leave of absence. A man might fall ill before he could obtain leave. Clause 83 contains a dangerous power. It is provided that the Governor-General may delegate his powers to convene courts martial, to appoint officers to constitute courts martial, or to approve, confirm, mitigate, or remit, the sentence of any court martial. That is to say, that the Governor-General may give to any officer or civilian the power to approve, confirm, mitigate, or remit the sentence of any court martial. We can see how that would work. If the Governor-General approved of the remission of a sentence, the Ministry would be responsible to this House, but if his authority were delegated to some one else, the Ministry might shelter themselves behind that person.

Mr Page:

– That would be a very dangerous thing.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I have no objection to these powers being exercised by the GovernorGeneral, but I am strongly opposed to his being allowed to delegate them to other persons.

Sir John Forrest:

– This is a very big country.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Yes ; but the Government have to deal with the whole country. They are called upon every day to deal with matters affecting every relation of life in all parts of the Commonwealth, and why should they delegate these huge powers to others?

Mr Page:

– We have an idea how some of the military officers would use such a power.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Yes, we have. Clause 108 provides that an order - for instance, an order for commitment for contempt of court martial - need not be given in writing. I think that such an order should be given in writing if an accused person insisted upon it ; otherwise he would have nothing definite to proceed upon, but would be at the mercy of any witness as to what was said, or directed, or ordered.

Mr McCay:

– That does not apply merely to the proceedings of courts. The honorable and learned member would not permit a private before obeying an order on parade to ask the officer to put it in writing?

Mr HIGGINS:

– Certainly not. I was referring only to the orders of the courts martial. I only wish the operation df the clause to be limited, so as to secure to any man ordered to gaol for an alleged offence the right to ask that the order for his commitment should be put in writing. I think that nothing is more essential in the cases of courts martial than to make their decisions clear and definite, so that the public may know exactly what they are doing, and, further, so that men may not be lodged in gaol or fined hastily for what may be very trivial offences. According to my experience it is useful for honorable members, even when they intend to vote for a Bill, to discuss it generally on the motion for the second reading. This very often saves time, because it indicates to the Minister in charge of the Bill the direction in which amendments are likely to be made in Committee. Ho can consult with others and consider how far he can yield to the suggestions of honorable members. The advantage of this course was abundantly proved by the results which followed the debate upon the second reading of the Defence Bill which was introduced last session. I am quite sure that the Minister will admit that that measure was launched before sufficient experience had been gained of the Defence Department.

Sir John Forrest:

– It was drawn up by the commandants.

Mr HIGGINS:

– That is the very thing I object to. The commandants were the very worst people in the world who could be selected to draw up a Defence Bill. We shall have to watch most jealously in order to prevent the swashbuckling spirit from dominating our defences, and I am glad that the good, strong, robust common sense of the Minister has been at last brought to bear upon the subject. I am. sure that the improvements in the Bill are the result of the control which the Minister has exercised over the military authorities, because he knows how jealously Parliament would look upon any attempt to foist militarism upon the people.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella.) - It is not my intention to detain the House at any length, because I feel that the very long and full debate “upon the Defence Bill of last session has rendered it quite unnecessary for me to offer any extended remarks upon the second reading of this measure. Still I have one or two suggestions to make. I think I may echo what the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has said to the effect that the Bill shows that the Minister is ready and willing to listen to suggestions, from whatever quarter they may come, that will tend to make the policy of this Parliament with regard to defence matters more completely in accordance with Australian desires. In spite of the fact that the Bill contains 112 clauses, and is therefore fairly long, I am strongly of opinion that the most important clause is the last one, which gives the Governor-General in Council power to make regulations, because, when all is said and done, this Bill is very little more than an Enabling Bill, a measure which simplifies the methods by which an Australian defence policy may be evolved - I will not say “completed” - because, up to the present time, we can scarcely say that any systematic methods have been initiated. However, it will be better for me to reserve my remarks upon that subject until the Estimates are under discussion. We shall then have seen the re-organization scheme, which has been. undergoing the painful process of Cabinet consideration.

Sir John Forrest:

– It has passed the Cabinet.

Mr McCAY:
CORINELLA, VICTORIA · PROT

– Then I trust that we shall see it at an early date, and I am sure that we shall all peruse it with very great interest. Apart from the fact that the Bill lays the foundation of a theoretical system for our defence forces, it has established one or two important principles which seem to me to be correct. First, it settles our system of defence as territorial. I have always “believed in that. I have always believed in connecting each particular district with a denned portion of the force, and the Bill certainly does that. It even goes further than I conceive to be necessary, because sub-clause (4) of clause S authorizes the division of districts into sub-districts. If that means that each State i3 to be divided into a military district, I heartily agree with the object in view ; but there are possibilities beyond that which do not seem to be desirable. If, for example, the States are to be divided into sub-districts, and permanent officers are to be placed in charge of those subdistricts

Sir John Forrest:

– The clause does not confer that power.

Mr McCAY:

– I do not know whether such a power is not covered by clause 112. Then the Bill proceeds to declare that our forces shall be divided into permanent and citizen forces. I must confess that I do not share the fears of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne in regard to the undue development of our permanent forces, though -I think that in establishing a system of Australian land defence, it is extremely undesirable to mix up with it any other matter of policy, however great and important it may be. It seems to me that in this measure we should ‘ strictly confine ourselves to the question of Australian defence. Such a provision as clause 42, which authorizes the removal of the permanent forces anywhere under the terms of their enlistment, is, in my judgment, a distinct departure, not only from the public sentiment of Australia, but also from the proper policy that we should pursue. Experience has shown that no difficulty is ever likely to be experienced in securing as many volunteers for service beyond Australia as may be required. But when we recollect that outside of instructional officers and non-commissioned officers practically the whole of our defence force consists of garrison artillery and engineers for fort and harbor defence, and that of all soldiers, those who require to be kept continuously to their one job, are the members of those very forces, it will be seen that anything which tends to prevent that being done is undesirable. In the administration of the Defence Department last year I observed a very marked tendency to take the Permanent Garrison Artillery away from the duties which they are specially fitted to perform, and utilize their services in all sorts of other work, converting them into practically an instructional cadre. Apparently it is regarded as sufficient if they work for two or three months at our forts, and are detailed for other duties during the remaining portion df the year. Without reflecting, in any way upon our Citizen Garrison Artillery, I hold that in the use of big position guns, the difference between the speediest service of those weapons and even a good service may be very disastrous indeed. A ship of war in endeavouring to pass any of our forts would be under effective fire for only a comparatively brief period. Consequently, if we fail to see that these guns are served as rapidly as the capacity of the most skilled men will permit, we may bring about a disaster that no ordinary annual expenditure could cover. No Citizen Garrison Artillery force will pretend that it can serve these guns as well as can the men who are daily employed upon them. This is no new opinion -of mine. I believe that if there are any men in the defence force who should be kept to their work, it is those comprising the Permanent Garrison Artillery. Any provision which enables them to be detailed for other duties is a mistaken provision. If we are to have permanent troops who, under the terms of their enlistment, may be moved outside the borders of Australia, let us exempt from the operation of that provision those men whose absence’ would deprive our harbor defences of all value. In the present temper of public opinion as reflected in this House it is quite clear that we cannot expect to incur a large military expenditure. I think that our expenditure for defence purposes is scarcely sufficient, and I very much regret the reduction which was effected upon last year’s

Estimates. I have always held the opinion that £750,000 is the minimum sum upon which the defence forces can be effectually maintained in Australia. The defence vote has, however, been reduced below that amount, I think, to the injury of the best interests of the Commonwealth. I should like the Minister to say - “As regards the permanent “ forces we require a certain number of men to work our big guns, and we must also have a certain reserve. The maintenance of these men will cost so much. How much is Parliament prepared to grant us for the purpose V Then we should know the position that we occupy. The present system of mixing up the grant to the permanent artillery with that to the citizen forces does no good to either. I desire to see a division of the forces to which the money voted by .Parliament is applied. Until some such system is initiated we shall .never be able to determine whether the vote is being spent in the way that we desire. Personally, I approve of the system of having a permanent force, a partially paid militia, and volunteers, because to maintain a sufficient force under another system would require the expenditure of more money than Parliament is prepared to grant. That is the only reason why I am willing to support such a system, because I have always held that we do not assume a noble or even fair attitude when we ask men to work for nothing. If they are prepared to be trained as a first line of defence in time of war, they are entitled to some remuneration for their services, because they become a valuable asset in the way of insurance to the State. Of course, if we have not sufficient money to pay them all, we must rely upon the’ patriotism of a portion to prompt them to offer their services practically for nothing. That, however, can be justified only on the score of economy, and not as a matter of fundamental principle. I have already referred to the proposal for extra territorial services by the permanent soldiery. It is obviously wrong to take away instructional staffs from the citizen soldiers to which they belong, in order that they may go abroad for service. Then I notice that the Bill provides for the formation of reserves from which the partiallytrained troops may be recruited. In Victoria we have had a good deal of experience of reserves, and they have proved a most misleading asset. I cannot speak of the reserves of the other States. Here the reserves of men, who have left active servicewith the forces, have been purely paper reserves. That statement is proved by the fact that, although for many years the reserve men could draw an allowance of. £3 for attending camp and a few parades, practically none who had passed through the forces, turned up for their reserve training.. These men would be available in time of war. They would undoubtedly come back to thecolours, and rejoin their regiment. But itis an error to think that because we have on paper so many hundreds or thousands of men who have passed through the forces,, and are nominally on the reserves, that in time of need they will be ready with their training up to date. They may have had experience, discipline, and training which will always stand them in good stead. Butapart from that, they are not realty a. reserve, and it would be a great mistake to create a reserve that would be only a paper one. I desire to say a word or two with regard to that part of the Bill which relates, to cadets. As I said when the first Defence Bill was before the House last session^ it seems to me that until we have a proper system of military cadets in existence - a system under which boys who are at school, or who have just left school, may obtain’ that military training which consists of a knowledge of the value of discipline and of prompt obedience to orders - we shall always have to apply a considerable portion of that time which might be more usefully devoted to practical field work to what I might call the barrackyard training of troops. It is absolutely necessary that our troops should have a certain amount of barrack-yard training, if itis only to lead them to respond quickly tothe word of command. If the bulk of our youth could obtain that training while at school we should be able to take them much more quickly into the field, for field-training purposes, than we can now do.

Mr Crouch:

– Would the honorable and learned member make the system compulsory ?

Mr McCAY:

– No ; because if we make anything compulsory in a British community we do not recommend it to the general sense of the people. In regard to thetraining of cadets, there would have to be, of course, some arrangement between the States and the Commonwealth, because the greater proportion of our children are being trained in States schools, or whatever other name those schools may be known by in any particular State. It would have to be a matter of arrangement ; but I think that this is the way in which the initial training can best be given. The impressions made upon a young cadet, apart from the use they are to him in his after life as a citizen, are of great service in enabling him to get into the way of being a good soldier much more quickly than he otherwise would. I admit that it is a big question, and that it cannot be settled in a day ; but it is an object which the Defence Department might very well keep in view, and work towards as rapidly as it can consistently with making sure and safe each step as it is taken. But I observe that clause 112, to which I have already referred more than once, apparently does not specifically give any power to make regulations with regard to cadets. If that is an intentional omission it would seem as if the proposal for military cadets was to be purely a paper one, and not one to have practical force or effect.

Sir John Forrest:

– Clause 112 gives power to make regulations.

Mr McCAY:

– But, for example, the clause specifically gives power for the making of regulations relating to the formation and management of rifle clubs’, and so on. I think it would be advisable, therefore, to make special reference in the clause to the military cadets. Apart from the actual field-training of disciplined “troops, the two initial works which have to be carried out are the training of the boys to understand what discipline means, and the training of the men in the use of the rifle. If we have those two conditions complied with, we shall find it very easy to turn men into useful and effective soldiers for service on land when any emergency arises. It does not take long for a man who has any idea of what discipline means : - that is to say, of prompt obedience to orders, not asking to have his orders put in writing, as suggested by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne - to become a useful soldier. The suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, to which I have just referred, would somewhat hamper operations at a critical, period of a battle. But if we have compliance with the two conditions which I have mentioned -we shall find it much easier and cheaper to carry out our system of training troops for field service. I think these are the fundamental principles. I have never agreed with those who say that soldiers do not require any training, nor do I agree with those who forget the fact, which I had the pleasure of pointing out before, that even although we may train men quickly we cannot readily train leaders. We require a citizen soldiery of fairly large numbers if for no other reason than that we may have an opportunity of training soldiers either as leaders of corps, companies, or regiments. Under the present system of land warfare, the success of military operations, in the last resort, very often depends upon sergeants or corporals. Troops move over such an extended front that once they are engaged within the firing line they cannot be controlled even by the commander of the company, except in a partial and incomplete way. The front is too extended for him to control it. He can keep only a general watch over its movements. He cannot convey his orders directly to the whole of the company. The result is that it is essential that leaders - not only generals, but corporals - shall be trained in field work, in order that they may be in a position to lead the men and to control those whom they have to command. For that reason, it seems to me that what appears to be a proposal in connexion with the reorganization of the forces - to diminish the size of the corps, whilst maintaining the same number of leaders, is a sound one when we are limited in regard to the total amount of our expenditure. I have no intention of speaking at length upon this Bill. There is only one other point to which I desire to refer. I allude to the proposal to make the forces of Australia subject at all times - when on duty or in uniform - to the provisions of the Army Act. The Army Act of 1881, which I think is the latest consolidation, contains some 200 clauses, making provisions of all sorts and kinds. I have always thought that it is a bad system of legislation to incorporate other laws, whether they be in the form of an Act of Parliament or otherwise, which we ourselves do not control. It is provided in clause 51 that the regulations may prescribe that certain provisions of the Army Act shall not .apply to the forces or certain specified portions of the forces. But that very addition to the clause shows the unwisdom of legislation of the kind. Instead of expressly declaring what provisions shall be applicable, we are providing in this Bill that the provisions of the Army Act shall apply to our forces until we declare that some of those provisions shall be abrogated, It might result in a little more trouble to the Department, it might mean a little more in the way of regulations, or even a supplementary Bill, but I would urge the Minister to eliminate this provision, and to let us have before us in black and white - subject, of course, to clause 112 - exactly what are the legislative enactments to which our Australian forces are to be subject. I think he will find that the course I have suggested will be a more satisfactory method to adopt. If he spends a couple of hours in reading the Army Act of 1881, he will learn that it contains many provisions which are not suited to our forces. It contains many which it would be undesirable to apply to our forces, and I believe that the Minister would find it a matter of no great difficulty to make our legislation in this respect positive, as it should be, instead of negative, as it is proposed to be. I see no great objection to the provision relating to service in time of war. “We must trust the Executive for the time being in some respects. I do not believe that there is anything to fear in respect of the exercise of this provision. I cannot imagine that any Executive would exercise the power, save when the circumstances absolutely compelled them to do so’.

Sir John Forrest:

– Parliament must first be called together if it is not then in session.

Mr McCAY:

– I do not think we need be afraid of this power. It is a great and purely a reserve power, to be used in circumstances of great emergency and of exceptional importance and gravity. It can only be exercised, it seems to me, on an occasion when Australia itself is in imminent danger, and if it were, no steps that we could take should be omitted in order to enable her to meet and cope with that danger. It is possible that the definition of “time of war,” given in the interpretation clause, may be amended in Committee so as to make it a little clearer. I think it is very desirable that we should have something specific in the Bill for a purpose of that kind, so that we may be enabled to know so far as discipline is concerned that a time of war is in existence. There again I think we come face to face with a matter in respect to which we have to a large extent to trust the Executive, and I believe that they will do what the public feeling of Australia requires. That is all I desire to say upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill. There are a number of matters to which I intend to call attention in Committee, but I do notwish to assist to prolong the debate now. The Bill, as I have already said, is largely an enabling Bill. It does not commit us to anything more definite in the way of policy than that which exists now. We shall do more in regard to the framing of a military policy for the defence of Australia upon the discussion of the Estimates, after the consideration of the scheme which is now being propounded and shortly to be published, than will be effected by discussion upon this Bill. Practically, any system could be adopted under its provisions, and we must wait until some system is definitely enunciated before we can express an opinion upon it.

Mr WILKS:
Dalley

– I think it is the duty of the representatives of the people to always keep a watchful eye and a tight hand upon proposals for military expenditure, or even for the organization of the military forces. The civil control must never be allowed to be superseded, even in times of excitement, by a military dictatorship. As the last speaker pointed out, the most serious danger connected with the measure arises under clause 112. The provision allowing the Executive to frame and publish regulations which will have the force of law may be a dangerous one, because in times of excitement a General Officer Commanding might recommend the framing of regulations which would bring about all the evils of military control. The Bill is an example of how by the criticism of honorable members assistance may be given tothe Minister in charge of the Department in the drafting of a measure for its control. The first Defence Bill was laid before us about two years ago - no earlier than it should have been - and a debate lastingabout six weeks took place upon the motion for its second reading, most of the time being occupied by Ministerial supporters, who dealt with the measure in a cruelly Critical manner. The views then put forward may or may not have influenced the Minister and the General Officer Commanding, but the fact remains that the Bill now submitted for our approval is a very different measure from that introduced last session. It differs from the former Bill in several respects. In the first place, it provides for the appointment of a military board of advice. The first Bill contained no such provision. Secondly, the obviously democratic character of the provisions of this measure was lacking in the provisions of the original Bill. This Bill, for instance, provides that commissions shall be granted to men who have served in the ranks, a tardy admission that ability and capacity, and not caste and class interest, should be considered in the appointment of officers, at any rate so far as our citizen forces are concerned. In the past, commissions have been given only to a privileged few, but in the future men from the ranks will be able to rise to the highest positions of command. Such a provision should be an incentive to our citizen soldiers to make themselves thoroughly capable and efficient, and should make the militia and volunteer service more popular and attractive. A third point in which this measure differs from the former Bill is this : It provides for the establishment of a military college for the training of officers, whereas the former Bill made no such provision. In the past, the Governments of the States have depended for the services of staff instructors purely upon Imperial officers. The Minister has told us. however, that his visit to the Kingston Military College, in Canada so impressed him with the desirability of establishing a similar institution here, that he put the provision to which I refer into the Bill. Another instance of the advantage of travel. Among the matters which were dealt with in the original Bill, but in regard to which no provisions appear in this Bill, is that of conscription. In the original Bill the power of conscription was in evidence from the first leaf to the last. It was pointed out, however, that conscription is a thing at variance with British ideas of what is right, and opposed to Australian sentiment ; and it is an instance of the good results obtained from the criticism of that Bill, and of the aptitude of the Minister to feel the public pulse, that the conscription provisions have been dropped. But while the provisions of the Bill have been democratized, the Government have made no provision for the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of small arms and ammunition, though, no doubt, such a factory could be established under the miscellaneous clauses. I have a suggestion to make in regard to the proposal to constitute a board of advice. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo was very strong in his advocacy of a council of defence, to which he was prepared to give very important powers. The Bill provides, however, for a board of advice, and I suggest that that body should consist of the General Officer Commanding, the Naval Officer Commanding, the officer commanding the’ artillery, and the officer commanding the engineers. That would be a practical board, which should be able to make valuable recommendations in regard to proposed schemes or plans for defence, organization, military resources, and the distribution or arrangement of forces in regard to localities. Those duties would, I take it, pretty well comprise the scope of the functions of such a body. But in no case, I think, should there be any interference with the General Officer Commanding in matters of discipline or matters connected with the movement of troops. We pay our General Officer Commanding a salary which should secure the services of a competent man, and we are told that the officer now holding the position is possessed of the experience and qualifications necessary for the efficient discharge of its duties. If that be so, he should not be hampered in any way in the proper discharge of those duties, nor interfered with in regard to matters of discipline or matters connected with the movements of troops. On this point I would direct the attention of the Minister to a pronouncement culled, not from the military law of one of the great European powers, but from the admissions of General Stonewall Jackson. He stated that the greatest trouble he had during his com: mand in the American civil war was occasioned by a Council of. Defence, whose members had no responsibility themselves, but were always giving advice and directions, whose chief effect was to cause irritation and trouble.

Mr Crouch:

– But that was a political body.

Mr WILKS:

– Yes, and I hope, therefore, that our Board of Advice will not be a political body, but will be composed of the officers whom I have named. An immense amount of mischief was done by the wire-pulling of politicians during the American war, and I hope that we shall profit by the experience of that country.

Clause 11 provides that men may be promoted from the ranks, and promotion to positions below the rank of a lieutenantcolonel in the military forces, or of a commander in the naval forces, is contingent upon the passing of prescribed examinations. I cannot see, however, why the word “below “ has been used. “Why should lieutenantcolonels and naval commanders be exempt from examination? If they are qualified for their positions, they should be willing to prove their ability at any time.

Sir John Forrest:

– Officers who have risen to such positions are supposed to be thoroughly competent.

Mr WILKS:

– There is no analogy in this respect between the position of our officers and that of the officers of the Imperial Army. In the Imperial Army advancement has been obtained for many years past only by the passing of examinations, whereas here there are officers holding such high positions as the rank of lieutenant-colonel who have never proved their capacity in that way.

Mr Page:

– Is the honorable member referring to New South Wales ?

Mr WILKS:

– The state of things to which I have referred is very marked in New South Wales.

Mr Crouch:

– It is not so in Victoria.

Mr WILKS:

– I am glad that it is not so in Victoria. I think that no officers should be promoted until they have shown their fitness for promotion by passing examinations. The provision for promoting men from’ the ranks is a very wise one. In this and in other matters the lessons learned in the Transvaal war should be of great value to Australia. The people of the Transvaal defended their country nobly against the trained troops of Great Britain, with forces very much of the character of our citizen forces. Much is to be learned, and great expense to be saved, by the experiences of that war. With regard to the military college, I do not anticipate that we shall be able to provide for instruction in the highest branches of military science, as it is known to the military authorities of the great powers of Europe, but the college ought to offer encouragement and facilities to our people to enter upon, and to fit themselves for, the duties of professional soldiers, and should provide the Commonwealth with officers whose services will be of advantage in the training of our troops. I have already referred to the need of a small arms and ammunition factory. The superintendent of the British arsenal has computed that the ammunition expended by the small arms used during the Transvaal war was five times as much as was expended during theFrancoGerman war, and that three times asmuch big gun ammunition was fired away in South Africa as was exploded in France and Germany during the war between thosetwo countries.

Mr Crouch:

– In the Franco-German, war, every man engaged shot away, on the average, his own weight in lead.

Mr WILKS:

– That is said to be so, though I do not know whether the statement is absolutely true. The point I wish to make, however, is this : If Great Britain were embroiled in a European war, the quantity of ammunition she would have to use would be so enormous that it would be impossible for the Commonwealth to rely upon her for its supplies, and, therefore, if we are to properly prepare for our own defence, we must establish a local factory for the manufacture of ammunition. Theestablishment of such a ‘factory is one of the most important duties which the Government have to undertake in regard to defence, and I regret that no specific, provision is make for it in the Bill, though, nodoubt, as I have pointed out, it can be undertaken under the miscellaneous provisions of the measure. I shall not repeat what the honorable and learned member for Corinella, has said in regard to the provisions relating to cadets, but I desire to express my satisfaction that, under the Bill, they will besubject to the control, not of the Ministers, for Public Instruction of the various States,, which was the provision in the original Bill,, but of the military authorities of the Commonwealth. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne objected, to some of the details of the measure, such, as the provision for billeting. I think it is clearly intended that billeting shall takeplace only in times of war, and the provision to which he takes exception can easily be amended in Committee. The provisions of the Army Act are the outcome of the exertions of Cromwell in the interests of thepeople of England, and the measure is reenacted annually to prevent the recurrence of evils which are well known to honorable members. The Bill is a consolidation of the StatesActs, and should receive the very closestattention in Committee. I shall have some, amendments to propose when we are dealing; with the clauses relating to the seniority of officers. It is not fair, in my opinion, that officers of the smaller States, such as Victoria and South Australia, in which military operations have not been carried on to the same extent as in New South Wales, and in which promotion has been more speedy, should stand upon the same footing as officers in the mother State, who have given years and years of experience -to the service. What I desire is that the ability and experience of officers shall be taken into consideration in fixing their positions upon the seniority list. I am pleased that the Bill provides for a number of changes to which I have referred, and that a Board of Advice is to take the place of the Council of Defence. It is gratifying, to see that . the whole trend of the Bill is in the direction of liberalizing the conditions under which our forces are to be organized. Australia does not require to build up an elaborate system of defence, but we should certainly have an effective system-. I regret that some provision has not been made for the training of members of rifle clubs, so that they may be made efficient for the purposes of defence. I do not mean that the riflemen should be acquainted with the drill of the barracksquare, but that they should be put through field exercises, which would enable them to secure training of an elementary character upon conditions approaching as closely as possible to those of actual service, instead of confining their attention to rifle practice at square targets and unlifelike objects. So far as the militia and volunteers are concerned, we know that the militia will -always keep up their strength, whereas the number of volunteers will fall away, except in times of excitement. Our experience has been that volunteer forces always become weakened when there is no trouble, or prospect of trouble, whereas, as soon as war is mentioned, young men rush eagerly into the ranks. Good service is performed by both branches of our defence forces. If we have the necessary arms, there will be no scarcity of men in time of trouble. The experience of the American Civil War, and that gained more lately in South Africa, shows that no highly scientific training is required for soldiers. Therefore, we have ample material at our command which could be readily brought under control in times of emergency. We should provide for the systematic training of our cadets, and also offer facilities for the lads as they grow up to keep themselves in touch with our defence forces. We must continue to exercise a strong civil control over those forces. I hold that that civil control should not be in any sense superseded by military dictatorship. We have had enough of military caste prejudice, and I hope that in future no obstacles will be presented to the promotion of men from the ranks to the most important positions they are capable of filling with efficiency.

Mr MANIFOLD:
Corangamite

-I must congratulate the Minister for Defence upon the improvement which he has effected in the Bill as compared with the measure previously introduced. Some honorable members might almost be disposed to think that if he were compelled to withdraw it, and postpone legislation for another session, he would achieve still better results. I think, however, that he has so closely approached perfection that the House will probably put the stamp of its approval upon this measure. I object to the provision contained in clause 42, under which the permanent forces may be called upon to serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Corinella that if the members of thepermanent forces are worth training and maintaining, they will probably be of the greatest value to us in time of war. The members of the militia forces are able to devote only a small portion of time to the necessary training in connexion with the working of the big guns in ourforts, and we must depend largely upon our permanent forces to make effective use of those weapons. I hope the Government will be able to see their way to keep theguns in the forts quite up to date. Themore perfect our equipment is in that respect, the more necessary will it be to retain a considerable number of highly-trained forces. Further than that, it would be extremely injudicious to send away from the Commonwealth the drill sergeants who perform such an important work in connexion with the training of our men. If our citizen forces were called upon for active service our drill sergeants would be of the utmost value to us. In cases of emergency, non-commissioned officers are of perhaps greater value than are a great many of the commissioned officers, who are less familiar with the men. I do not think that clause 56, which provides for compulsory enlistment in time of emergency, is necessary..

It might be of some use as a kind of «’ bluff” to the enemy, but we have something much better than that in the high spirit of our people. I am sure that Australians would not require to be forced into the ranks in order to repel an attack upon our shores. We all realize that our country would be of very little use to us if some one came here and assumed possession of it. In view of the ready response which was made to the call for volunteers foi: South Africa, I do not fear that we should at any time lack the very best material for defence purposes. We shall probably have more men than rifles.

Sir John Forrest:

– A similar clause is embodied in the Acts of three of the States.

Mr MANIFOLD:

– I do not think that should weigh with us, because we are framing a measure for the whole Commonwealth, and should legislate upon truly Federal lines. When volunteers were called for to go to South Africa the difficulty was not to get men, but to prevent them from going: In Victoria hundreds and thousands of men had to be rejected upon merely nominal grounds. If a man had one tooth missing he was rejected on the ground that he would not be able to eat the hard biscuits served out to the troops on service in South Africa. I do not see the necessity of retaining the clause.

Sir John Forrest:

– It is a very good placard.

Mr MANIFOLD:

– It might be a very good advertisement, but we are not advertising just now. The cadet system should receive the most careful consideration of the authorities. I am unable to appreciate the full force of the provision dealing with the subject because no definite policy is disclosed. I hope, however, that any regulations that may be brought into force will afford the greatest encouragement to our cadets. If we desire to train up men to effectively defend our shores, we should not only train our boys in the schools but afford them facilities for retaining their touch with defence matters after they leave school, and until their physical development will fit them to join the citizen forces. I am glad to hear from the Minister that the Victorian Mounted Rifles are to be treated as militia. I was informed that they were to be regarded as volunteers, but I am glad to know that they are to be placed on the same footing as corps of similar character in other States. If we became involved in a prolonged war it would be very difficult for us to procure the necessary supplies of ammunition from abroad, and we might be unable to repel a persistent enemy. I hope, therefore, that the Government will very seriously consider the necessity of establishing an ammunition and small arms factory. I do not very strongly advocate the establishment of State manufactories, but I think that the manufacture of ammunition could be carried out by State employes with much more satisfaction than by private firms. We might fairly assume that the ammunition would be of better quality, and that fair and reasonable wages would be paid to those engaged in the work.

Sir John Forrest:

– We are making our own ammunition now.

Mr MANIFOLD:

– Yes, but I do not approve of existing conditions. When the Bill reaches the Committee stage, I shall join other members in effecting one or two improvements.

Mr WINTER COOKE:
Wannon

– The Minister for Defence may be fairly congratulated on the very mild criticism to which the Bill has been subjected. Even such a vigorous critic as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is prepared to give it his blessing. The measure does not vary from that which was introduced last session to such a great extent as the honorable and learned member seems to think.. He stated that the Bill of last session was an example of swollen militarism, but the only justification for that’ statement appears to lie in the fact that it provided that the militia and volunteers might be called upon for service beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. Personally I think it would have been a very good thing. I am glad to know that under this Bill the Executive will retain that power so far as the permanent forces are concerned. The honorable member for Corangamite agrees with the views expressed by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. He says that we should retain these men for the defence of Australia. But I would ask - “ What is the defence of Australia?” Surely it is quite possible that its defence may require our forces to proceed beyond its territorial limits ! For example, let us suppose that New Zealand were attacked, and that a hostile force had been landed there. For the safety of ourselves, as ‘well as of New Zealand, would it not be advisable to despatch troops to the assistance of that country? That is a view which I have always entertained, and I cannot understand why it should be held that. the defence of this continent means that we should remain in Australia until we are attacked. It reminds me of a man playing in a cricket match who does his best to keep up his wicket, but who scores no runs, and thus succeeds in carrying out his bat. Can it be said that he comes off victorious ? In this instance, however, there would be no bat to carry out. New Zealand would suffer, and in the end we should suffer. I believe that if ever the occasion arose when Australia thought that troops, either .permanent or partially paid, should be despatched for service abroad, the force of public opinion would be so strong that they would go. But there is this difference between a force despatched by the Executive and a body of volunteers : the Executive would send men who were thoroughly trained, and who were known to the officers. Indeed, the officers would be known to each other, and it goes without saying that a force of that kind would be much more valuable than would be a force of officers and men gathered from all parts of Australia.

Mr Crouch:

– Is the honorable member aware that last year every member of the permanent force in Queenscliff volunteered for active service t

Mr WINTER COOKE:

– Because they volunteered it does not necessarily follow that their services should be accepted. The provision in the Bill relating to the establishment of a military college is a new one, and I would suggest that to avoid- expense it might be possible to attach such an institution to one or more of our universities. I know that as regards the Indian Civil Service it is the practice of young men who have passed their examinations in the old country to go to Oxford and Cambridge before proceeding to India. By that means they secure a training which they could not obtain in any private establishment. Similarly I think that these military colleges should be attached to the Melbourne and Sydney universities. I agree with some of the criticisms levelled at the Bill by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, especially in regard to the penalties imposed for contempt of court in the case of a court martial. It seems to me that the clause goes far beyond the necessities of the case. We should be very careful to protect our newspapers after proceedings have been concluded. With regard to the specific exemptions from service, I hold that the Bill of last year was much better than is the present one. There are men who, from conscientious motives, object to war, and who should therefore be exempted from service. In this connexion I may mention the members of the Society of Friends. I do not know to what class the’ honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne belongs. It has always seemed to me that he ought to . join the Society of Friends. Whilst he is prepared to compel the male inhabitants of the Commonwealth to defend Australia, even though she may have entered into an unjust quarrel, he declares that no soldier should be compelled to fight in an unrighteous cause. To my mind the two statements are grossly inconsistent. I trust that the Bill will speedily become law. We have waited a long time for such a measure. Of course the Minister has been blamed for not having submitted a defence policy to the House, but the position was that in six different States six different Defence Acts operated, and he was obliged to weld the whole of them together as best he could. He could not begin as if there had not previously been any defence force in Australia. Having regard to the facts of the case, the right honorable gentleman is asking us to give him very little more than an Enabling Bill. It is true that some of its provisions may be objectionable, but after all the measure is little better than an enabling one, upon which we may build up the land forces of Australia. If the Executive in the future commits any act of which the House disapproves, it will be for us to put the matter right. I trust that the measure will become law -without delay, so that we may have an Act upon what we may build up the Defence forces of the country.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I do not know whether the thin House is due to the fact that honorable members have exhausted themselves in discussing the Naval Agreement Bill, or whether the measure under consideration is so good that the Minister deserves nothing but congratulations upon it. Personally, I think it was very wise to defer the consideration of the Defence Bill last session, because the interval has enabled the Minister to become the master of his own house, and to thoroughly know his Department and the forces of the Commonwealth. The measure which is now submitted for our consideration constitutes a wonderful improvement upon that of last ‘year. In the first place, I should like to refer to clause 34. Under that provision the oath of allegiance, set out in the schedule, is insisted upon from soldiers and sailors only. In all the States the practice is that every member of the forces must take the oath. I do not see “ why any departure should be made from that practice. Why should a warrant offi- cer or a commissioned officer be exempt from this duty ? Personally, I had to take the oath of allegiance when I joined the force, and I am surprised that this exemption has been made.

Mr Page:

– In the Imperial Service every one has to take the oath.

Sir John Forrest:

– I am not so sure of that.

Mr CROUCH:

– I thought that possibly the exemption had been made because certain officers who were members of the King’s regular army did not care about taking the oath to serve the Commonwealth.

Sir John Forrest:

– There is absolutely no reason for it that I know of. I have an idea that I asked a question in reference to it, and was informed that the oath was not required in the Imperial Army in the case of officers.

Mr CROUCH:

– I congratulate the Minister upon the insertion of clause 11, which gives a preferential right to a commission to persons who have served in the ranks. The Minister has been good enough to inform me that he has in this Bill adopted the amendment which I proposed last year. If there is one thing more than another for which I have consistently fought it is that of , the right of men to rise from the ranks. Under this measure ability will be given an opportunity which it was previously denied, and a man will be chosen for a commission because of his military skill rather than on account of his social position. I have heard so much against the proposal for compulsory military service outside Australia that I do not propose to refer to the matter more than to quote the words of the late Chief Justice Higinbotham, who, in speaking upon this subject, said -

The land force and the naval force which is created and called into existence by our own means, and maintained at our own cost, should be kept under our own control. I do not think there is any one who can raise a rational objection to that limitation. It is prescribed by selfrespect and prudence, for I do not know what advantage this, or any of the neighbouring colonies can gain by paying in time of peace for either a naval or military force, which may be withdrawn in time of war. If it is outside our control, it may be withdrawn, and probably will be withdrawn.

He refers to the occasion on which one of the colonies appealed to ‘ Great Britain for aid, which was refused. That was in 1869, when the New Zealand war was in progress. Chief Justice Higinbotham then declared -

It was stated that the application for help by New Zealand colonists in 1869 was refused, and the general who temporarily granted them help was censured because they possessed in full measure self-government ; and that having selfgovernment, it was a duty to defend their own country against aggression from native tribes or any foreign source.

At that time the Imperial Government refused to assist New Zealand. I do not say, however, that we should decline to help Great Britain, because I think that if the necessity arose every able-bodied man throughout the Commonwealth would render assistance to the mother country. Whilst the honorable member for Wannon was speaking I interjected that every member of a Queenscliff permanent corps had volunteered for active service in South Africa. Even the Government did not . consider it advisable to accept their services, but they allowed the men to volunteer individually. I know also one militia corps, from the colonel to the drummerboy,’ volunteered, but, although they were in a far better state of training than were the men who had been sent out after six weeks’ preparation at Langwarrin, or in the camps of the other States, the authorities found it inadvisable to accept their services. I am glad, also, to find that several honorable members have condemned clause 41, and also clause 42, which provides that our forces may be called upon to serve outside Australia.

Sir John’ Forrest:

– No one objects to clause 41.

Mr CROUCH:

– At all events strong exception has been taken to clause 42. It seems to me that the trail of the Colonial

Conference is to be seen all over this Bill. Tomymind it is due largely to the fact that the Minister for Defence took part in the Conference held in London during the Coronation celebrations, that he insists upon the presence in the Bill of clauses of this description.

Sir John Forrest:

– I was only twice at the Conference ; I was too ill to attend.

Mr CROUCH:

– The Minister was enabled to put very important proposals before that Conference.

Sir John Forrest:

– I did not put any proposal before it.

Mr CROUCH:

– I find in the White Rook a very important report that was submitted by the Minister for Defence, and which has been referred to by several members in the discussion. I do not propose however to refer to his statement, but to a report furnished by Assistant QuartermasterGeneral, Colonel E. A. Altham, who said -

As regards Australia, therefore, it is submitted that it should be the policy of His Majesty’s Government to encourage an organization for Imperial service on the following lines -

Then he went on to suggest that the Government should encourage the organization of -

Two mounted brigades and one infantry brigade, to be at the disposal of the Imperial Government for general service, in the case of war between Great Britain and one or more European Powers, as soon as the naval authorities are in a position to undertake the responsibility for the movement of troops by sea.

Officers and men belonging to the force to be trained in peace time on the same system as that adopted for the partially paid forces of Australia, but to engage for periods of not less than two years to serve in war wherever required.

There are other conditions attaching to this proposal which are to be found at page 45 of the White Book, and honorable members may read them’ for themselves. I think thatif the Minister will be guided by the tone of the House, he will allow clause 42 to be eliminated. The Minister has before him undisputed evidence, from our experiences of the South African war, as to the desire of the men to volunteer, and I do not think it is necessary to provide a compulsory clause of this description. I am also in agreement with the honorable and learned member for Corinella as to the application of the Army Act to our forces. A very grave mistake will be made in this Bill by providing for its adoption by the Commonwealth. Perhaps honorable members, with the exception of the honorable member for Maranoa, are unaware of the true nature of the Army Act, but when I inform them that if we adopted it, we should adopt the right to flog a soldier, to give him 25 lashes-

Sir John Forrest:

– We provide that the Army Act is to apply only so far as it is consistent with this measure and the regulations.

Mr CROUCH:

– There is nothing in the Bill which provides that a soldier shall not be flogged.

Sir John Forrest:

– We have no desire to disfigure our legislation by a reference to a practice which does not now obtain in the army.

Mr Page:

– Flogging was abolished in 1881.

Mr CROUCH:

– Clause 51 clearly applies the Army Act to our forces. I find that it is provided in section 44 of that Act, that punishments may be inflicted in respect of offences committed by soldiers according to a certain scale, and that - a sentence of corporal punishment shall not exceed 25 lashes, and shall not be inflicted upon a non-commissioned officer, or on a reduced noncommissioned officer, for any offence committed while holding the rank of non-commissioned officer.

I object to the application of that provision to our forces.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– But it is not in force.

Mr CROUCH:

– That provision appears in the Army Discipline and Regulation Act, which was in force inVictoria. As the honorable member knows, there are certain Imperial Statutes which apply not only to the United Kingdom, but to all parts of the Empire. The Imperial Parliament has power to declare that an Act shall apply, not only to the United Kingdom, but throughout the British Empire, andVolume VII. of Victorian Statutes, from which I am quoting, contains the list of Imperial Statutes in force in this State.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– But flogging has been abolished since that Act came into force.

Mr CROUCH:

– It is abolished only so far as the United Kingdom is concerned. Clause 51 applies the Imperial Army Act of 1881 to our military forces. Of course, that Act has been amended from time to time.

Sir John Forrest:

– At all events, at the present time there is no flogging in the army.

Mr Page:

– I remember the day when the general order abolishing flogging was read out to us. It was in 1881.

Mr CROUCH:

– A general order cannot override an Act of Parliament. Another matter to which the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne objected was the right of “ billeting,” and the Minister for , Defence, I understood, said that he felt inclined to omit the clause in the Bill which relates to that matter.

Sir John Forrest:

– Yes.

Mr CROUCH:

– Are honorable members aware of the provisions in the Imperial Act in regard to “ billeting.” I desire them to realize what it means to apply the Army Act to our forces.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I agree that we do not want the Army Act.

Mr CROUCH:

– I am glad to hear the honorable member say so. If we omit the clause relating to “ billeting,” but adopt the Army Act, all the sections in regard to “billeting,” which are not inconsistent with our Act, will apply. Section 100 of the Army Act provides that -

Every constable for the time being in charge at any place in the United Kingdom - - and that would be applied to Australia - mentioned in the route issued to the commanding officer of any portion of Her Majesty’s general forces shall, on the demand of such commanding officer, or of an officer or soldier authorized by him, and on the production of such route, billet on the occupiers of victualling houses and other premises specified in this Act as victualling houses in that place, such number of officers, soldiers, and horses entitled under this Act to be billeted as are mentioned in the route and stated to require quarters

There are many provisions of this kind. They may not all apply to Australia, but they apply to the United Kingdom, and we do not know what may happen if we swallow the Army Act at a gulp.

Sir John Forrest:

– The Army Act and the King’s Regulations are in force in every State with the exception of Victoria, and they are applicable in Victoria in time of war.

Mr CROUCH:

– I am proud that Victoria has never adopted this system.

Sir John Forrest:

– They are applicable in Victoria in time of war.

Mr CROUCH:

– I do not want it to apply even in times of peace. According to section 38 of the Army Act, any person who attempts to commit suicide, if he is an officer, must be cashiered ; but if he isa soldier he is to suffer imprisonment. Other distinctions between officers and men are to be found in section 19. If an officer becomes intoxicated whilst he is on duty he is - cashiered ; but if a soldier, one of the rank and file, is guilty of that offence, he is liable to be imprisoned or fined. I do not say that the Minister proposes to apply all these provisions to our forces, but this House, in its ignorance, might adopt them. We do not desire to see any of them applied unless we know exactly what we are doing in the matter.

Sir John Forrest:

– At any rate, we have never got into trouble about them yet.

Mr CROUCH:

– It would be far better if the Minister would embody these matters in regulations, and bring them up before the House. If that were done, any person who enlisted would know what he had to do. As it is, a soldier will not know how he stands. He will have to see that he does not transgress against the Army Act, the Articles of War, the King’s Regulations, the Australian Defence Act, and the Australian Military Regulations. There is another matter to which I desire to draw attention. Clause 49 provides that -

In time of war, the Governor-General may place the defence force or any part thereof under the orders of the commander of any portion of the King’s regular forces or Royal Navy, as the case may be.

By sub-clause (1) of section 8 the GovernorGeneral is also given power to -

Appoint a military officer of the King’s regular forces or of the defence force to be the General Officer Commanding the military forces of the Commonwealth.

It seems to me that it would be an unfortunate thing to allow the Governor-General in time of war to take away the powers of the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian forces and to appoint some officer of the King’s regular forces over his head. If there is a time when the true duties of the position become apparent it is the time of war.

Sir John Forrest:

– Clause 49 is designed to enable us, in the event of a large British force being in Australia, to attach our own troops to it, and to place them under the command of the British general, who would be acting as Lord Kitchener acted in South Africa.

Mr CROUCH:

– There can be no question that if the officer in charge of those troops were a senior officer, he would at once assume the position of commander. But J! do not want the position to be taken by some officer who may be junior to the commander of our own forces. I am sorry that the Minister is unable to make any provision in this Bill for the construction of the transcontinental railway. I do not think that our defences will be complete until that railway has been constructed. Perhaps the Minister could not provide in a Bill of this description for the appropriation that would be necessary for a work of that kind. But apart altogether from the expense that might be incurred, I feel that we might very wisely, and far more advantageously, devote the £200,000 per annum which we propose to contribute to outside naval defence purposes to the construction of a railway which would bring what is our largest province within the powers of mobilization of the Eastern States. No doubt the Eastern States would have to defend Western Australia if occasion arose.

Mr Fowler:

– We might be able to send the Eastern States a few thousand very good men.

Mr CROUCH:

– We may require their assistance. At all events, I feel that federation will not be complete, and that no defence of the Commonwealth can be perfect, until we have a railway connecting the Eastern States with Western Australia. The last suggestion that I have to make is in regard to the power of enlisting men, without the consent of the Governor-General, for service beyond the Commonwealth. Honorable members will remember that I had an amendment dealing with this matter on the notice-paper, and I propose to again bring it forward. During the closing stages of the South African war various corps were raised, not by regular Imperial officers, but by others, who held out inducements to recruiting officers to visit various parts of the Empire, in order to obtain certain troops. The officers were paid for their services according to the number of men they obtained. They received so much per head, just as they might have been paid for selling bullocks. I have no desire to mention names j but honorable members will remember that a certain officer visited

Queensland and held out inducements that gave rise to some questions in this House. I find, on referring to Hansard, that many questions were asked in relation to the matter, and that the Prime Minister then made certain promises. When the time comes I shall ask honorable members not to leave it to the sweet discretion of the Minister of the day to stop recruiting, but to make it an offence for any person to come here and take away our men, it may be on a filibustering expedition, without that control which we ought to have, when they are serving in another part of the world. Certainly we should have control over defence forces which are raised in Australia, and if we did not approve of sending men to South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, or wherever it is - of course we should approve of their going - we should have the matter in our own hands, and we should not have recruiting in Australia by side dodges. I wish the Minister to consider what position he will take up in that respect, because it is a serious omission in a Bill which I regard as a very good one.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– I wish to express my gratification that the Minister has given such attention to the remarks which were made on the Defence Bill last session, and to many of the amendments which were then suggested to him. I believe that if one of the measures which were passed last session had gone through a similar process it would be much better for the community. While I am gratified that the Bill in its present shape is likely to receive the assent of the House, since it recognises the responsibility of every capable man to do his duty in the citizen forces if the necessity should arise, I am also pleased that the Minister has been good enough to adopt the amendments which I submitted last session in regard to the cadets. I firmly hold the opinion that if we desire to secure a satisfactory citizen soldiery we must train the boys in the schools. Subsequently, while they are following their various callings, they can join the ranks of the militia or reserve forces. I hope that, although the clause is permissive, the Minister will deal with the matter on an extended scale. The value of the cadet movement is recognised more widely in Victoria than in any of the other States, and I hope that the good work which was started here by the legislator who, to our infinite regret, is deceased, will be begun in other States. Although the educational system is not placed under the control of the Commonwealth yet, I hope that the Minister will place himself in communication, at a very early date, with the educational authorities in the various States, in order that every boy who is physically capable may be taught the oridnary rudiments of drill. It will have an important bearing upon our rising youth, in whom there is a tendency to want of discipline. I hope that an effort will be made in this direction, and that it will result in our young people feeling that they are able to defend their country in time of need. I wish’ to say a few words in regard to the rifle clubs. We are all intensely gratified that our representatives have again won the Kolapore Cup at Bisley. However advantageous and desirable it may be that our prominent riflemen should have that inducement to go into representative teams, I feel that the responsibility of the Defence Department is simply to see that the members of the rifle club are efficient members of the reserve forces. I hope that the Minister and the General Officer Commanding will enter fully into the spirit of the rifle club movement, which, like the cadet movement, has taken a stronger and more permanent hold of the people in Victoria than in any other State. I think that the regulations which the Minister has issued will bear some reconsideration at a future time. I am perfectly alive to the difficulties which must have faced the Department and the General Officer Commanding, in endeavouring to bring into line the different systems in the various States; but I hope that the rifle clubs will receive from both the Minister and the Department the fullest assistance ; they certainly deserve it. During last session I had the honour to introduce to the Prime Minister a deputation from the Society of Friends, who wished to urge their position under the “ conscience “ clause of the Defence Bill. I hope that when we come to deal with that part of this Bill in Committee the Minister may be able to see his way to specify in more detail the persons to whom it applies. An objection has been taken to the existence of a permanent force. I hold the opinion that for the purpose of manning our forts, doing the necessary work in cities and towns, and quelling any disturbance, it is necessary to have a limited but effective force of permanent men. I shall continue to hold that opinion until I hear arguments which should cause me to alter it. I do not think that these men should be compulsorily sent beyond the borders of the Commonwealth in time of war, or at any other time. Experience shows that if the services of our people are required abroad in the defence of theEmpire, they are ready to volunteer, and volunteers are preferable for such work to men who are forced to serve. But whilst it is desirable to create the machinery of the defence force, for which the right honorable gentleman has provided in the Bill, I should like to remind him qf the need that exists for furnishing ourselves with the munitions of war. I understand that new rifles haverecently been sent out here, but I wish toimpress upon the Minister the need for pushing on with the work of effectively arming our forces. I am very strongly in favour, too, of the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of small arms. We shall never be able toeffectually provide for our defence until we are able to manufacture our own necessities, and are independent of supplies from abroad.

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

– I shall not add my voice to the chorus of congratulations, which the Minister is receiving, though, as the representative of a Western Aus- tralian constituency, I wish to express my . satisfaction at the manner in which he has vindicated the claim which I have often heard him make to be possessed of sound liberal instincts. The Bill undoubtedly entitles him to make that claim. We are- . now being asked to accept a measure which, no doubt because of the earnest efforts of the Minister, is much more in line with the opinions which have already been expressed by honorable members than was thatintroduced last session. The few remarks I have to make upon it are more by way of friendly suggestion than of hostile criticism. If there is any fault to be found with the measure on general principles, it is that it leaves too many matters to bedealt with by regulation. Again and again matters which might well be dealt with specifically, are left to regulations. TheMinister has, I hope, realized the need for carefully scrutinizing the regulations framed by the officers of his Department, to seethat they are in harmony with the intentions of Parliament and the desires of thepeople. Very, little has been done in regard to the establishment of our rifle clubs upon. a definite basis by the specific provisions of the Bill ; that is left largely to regulations. But the recent South African war has, I believe, convinced military experts that in future conflicts the great power will be the man with the rifle, and, therefore, every inducement and opportunity should be given to our citizens to make themselves familiar with, and proficient in the use of that weapon. That can be done without importing into our rifle clubs the frill and frippery of militarism. I believe that a large number of our citizens would be willing to make themselves efficient riflemen if they could avoid the strict discipline which, while necessary in time of war, can well be put aside in time of peace for more important considerations. The efficiency of our men in the use of the rifle should be the first consideration in the establishment of rifle clubs. If we had a large number of men who could render a good account of themselves when armed with rifles, they would make a very formidable defence force. Then again, it appears to me that the GovernorGeneral is invested with more power than should be given to him. Under clause 40, for instance, he may at any time, by order published in the Gazette, disband any corps or portion of a corps, and dispense with the services of any officer, soldier, or sailor. The members of the Commonwealth civil service have been given a definite status, and certain definite rights, and I ask why should not similar rights be given to our soldiers and sailors 1 Why should they be liable to dismissal unless good and sufficient reasons are given ? Then I find that the use of the militia, permanent, and volunteer forces for the protection of the States against domestic violence is left to the Governors of the States and to the Governor-General.

Sir John Forrest:

– With the advice of the Executive Government.

Mr FOWLER:

– I have so much more faith in the Commonwealth Government than in some of the States Governments that I should like to see the matter left solely to the determination of the former.

Sir J ohn Forrest:

– The responsibility is with them.

Mr FOWLER:

– -In view of the fact that time and again - not perhaps in Australia, but in other countries - the calling out of the military forces has been resorted to at times when there was no justification for it, I contend that this is a power which ought only to be exercised by responsible Ministers. For that reason, when the Bill isin committee, I shall try to get an amendment in the direction which I have indicated. There is another matter which I think hasnot been referred to, but which is of some importance. In the list of offences .no mention is made of a particular offence which confronts us almost every time waris declared. Time and again during the course of the South African wargrave scandals have occurred, and mismanagement and corruption have been alleged against officers of the King’s forces,, contractors, and others who, for monetary considerations, resorted to practices which seriously interfered with the efficiency of the army in the field. Take thehorse-jobbing scandals which occurred notso long ago in connexion with the South African war, or even the offence of supplying light-weight tins of jam to the troops, in that way inflicting hardship on the men, who were supposed to be getting a certain quantity of food, when in reality they were not getting it. This is an evil which confronts every nation when it engages in war. Although the scandals are raked up, and a great deal of indignation and denunciation are occasioned at the time, somehow or other nothing more happens. The contractor makes his fortune, and the officer who, by gross negligence, or from a worse motive, has allowed the thing to be done, escapes with what appears to be a totally inadequate punishment. . I should like to see thesecrimes against the efficiency of our defence forces mentioned expressly in such a measure as this, and a drastic punishment indicated against those who would so offend. The necessity for this is apparent to any one who- has followed thedetails of wars of modern times. It has surprised me that some more distinct action °has not been taken by the authorities of the various countries who have -suffered so much on that account. I was very glad to hear the honorable and learned member for Corio refer to the necessity for a transcontinental railway in connexion with a scheme of defence. Most of the members who have spoken on the second reading of this Bill have emphasized the necessity for the establishment of a small arms factory, or at all events an ammunition factory, in Australia. I contend that even MajorGeneral Hutton himself cannot get off the horns of this dilemma - either that a small arms and ammunition factory should be established in Western Australia or the transcontinental railway should be constructed. It is absurd to think of any scheme of defence which leaves Western Australia with neither the means of defending herself, nor with the means of obtaining defence from other parts of Australia.

Mr Mauger:

– Suppose the factory were established in Western Australia, in what position would the other States be i

Mr FOWLER:

– That question only emphasizes the necessity for a factory being established in this part of the continent also in the absence of a transcontinental railway. I hope that by this time honorable members are. beginning to see that the simplest and mo3t satisfactory way of solving the problem of defence is to construct the railway. I do not think that this Bill will occupy much time in going through Committee. One or two suggestions have been made by honorable members to which, I dare say, the Minister in charge of the Bill will attend very carefully. That having been done, I feel sure that we shall soon be in possession of a measure which will give us a thoroughly effective basis for a scheme of defence suited to the needs of Australia, and in accordance with the ideas of a democratic community. Having established that basis, I have no doubt that the Minister and his officers will find that the money will be forthcoming to make the scheme in all respects effective, and in every way up to date.

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– I do not intend to take up the time of the House at very great length in speaking upon the second reading of this Bill, as the subject was fully debated two years ago. With the honorable and learned member for Corio, I think it was a very good thing that the Bill was shelved on that occasion. It has been altered a great deal in the meantime. Some of its Imperialism has been cut out of it.” Had it been passed embodying the language which was contained in it, as first laid before Parliament, we should be under very severe discipline indeed. I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman in charge of the Bill should be called the Minister for Defence or the Minister for War - I do not suppose that we can any longer call him Minister for Defence, as he has told us that the word “defence” is not recognised in naval strategy. I think that for the future he ought to be called the Australian Minister for War. Sir John Forrest. - I do not remember saying that.

Mr PAGE:

– If the right honorable gentleman could carry out his ideas of Imperialism to the fullest extent, we should not need to ‘ discuss a Defence Bill at all. As I said in the debate upon another measure, why should not some of those honorable members who were then crying out for handing over the navy to the Imperial Government, go one better, and hand over the military forces to the Imperial Government also? I look upon the defence forces, particularly the militia, as being little better than what we - the regular soldiers, when I was soldiering - called Saturday-afternoon soldiers, who are “playing at it.” We are paying a very large amount of money on account of them, and what have we got to show for it ? Practically nothing. We have a number of gentlemen walking about with cocks’ feathers in their hats and gold lace on their clothes. That is all I can see in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. In Queensland, nearly the whole of the forces are below what the regular quota should be, and one will very often see none but officers on parade. These officers have a “confab,” a gallop round the course as if they were the only ones to be noticed, and then they shake hands, bow, and go home. That is the defence force in Queensland so far as I have seen it ; and I do not believe that the Commonwealth is getting value for the money expended. If the Minister would, as I have suggested, hand over the whole of the military forces to the Imperial Government, Australia would save money, and there would be no more trouble about there being no military escorts for States Governors. As to the permanent force, I quite agree with the remarks of the honor- able and learned member for Corinella. If we are to have a permanent force, it ought to be used for the purposes for which Parliament provides the money ; but I have noticed in Melbourne that the majority of the artillerymen are . doing fatigue Work at the Victoria ‘Barracks, although, they are kept as trained soldiers to be ready in case of necessity. The honorable member for Wannon suggested that those permanent forces should be sent to New Zealand to defend Australian interests ; but I do not think, that he can have quite realized what he was suggesting. If permanent forces are to be employed at all, they ought to be employed in manning and maintaining the forts and practising at the guns. The honorable arid learned member for Corinella was quite right when he said that a few minutes, or even seconds, might mean great disaster to a particular port in the case of attack by an enemy’s cruiser or gun-boat ; we want the best trained men for the Garrison Artillery. To become experts, men. have to be kept constantly in training ; at any rate, my experience is that men who are the best at practice are the best in the competitions. If we are to have a permanent force, outsiders ought to be obtained to do fatigue duty, and soldiers kept to soldiering. According to the Bill, the cadets are to be part of the Commonwealth forces, and I consider that these youths, in conjunction with the rifle clubs, form the basis of an ideal citizen soldiery. As the youth is trained so is the man ; and in this connexion I may say that, although I am -not, perhaps, as quick and lively as I used to be when soldiering twenty years ago, I have not yet forgotten how to handle a field gun. I had a practice in Brisbane, and I found I was quite as smart as some of the young fellows in the militia ; and it is a fact that we cannot expect that force, with a training of one or two days a month, to be competent as permanent men. The honorable and learned member for Corinella urged that if the Estimates showed how the money voted was allotted to each particular branch of the service, we should know whether we were getting full value. Some £12,000 odd was spent on the Headquarter’s Staff last year, but I am pleased to hear that, as a step in the right direction, the expenditure on this score has been cut down. When the Estimates were before us last year, it was urged on the Minister for Home Affairs, who was then Acting Minister for Defence, that the staff of the General Officer Commanding should be reduced, and it was promised that that should be done. We found, however, that one thing we asked should not be done was done, namely, that the Australian Navy was made to suffer.

Sir John FORREST:

– I do not think there has been any retrenchment in the navy since last year.

Mr PAGE:

– I do not say that there has been retrenchment, but there has been no advancement - the whole of the navy . is practically “ held up.” I have every reason to believe that the Prime Minister will carry out his promise that the Australian Navy shall be kept intact. I hope the Minister for Defence will treat the rifle clubs and cadets in as liberal a manner as possible. In Queensland, about the time of the South African war, the idea of rifle clubs was taken up with avidity, and we have now in that State some of the smartest shots in the world. These men, if Australia were invaded, could be used as a first line of defence, for what more effective line could we have than practised shots 1 A great deal has been said about the navy as a first line of defence, and that is all very well so far as the coast is concerned.

Mr Fowler:

– When the navy is away in the China seas we shall have to rely on riflemen.

Mr PAGE:

– I hope the day will never come when Australia will be attacked while the navy is away in the China seas ; * I do not take such a pessimistic view of the situation. I am pleased and proud at the Prime Minister’s promise that the Australian Navy shall not be abolished. It was the primary wish of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to obtain such an understanding, and I am sure that it is my own wish. We have the nucleus of a really good navy at our different ports, and it gladdens my heart when I see the men drilling, to think that we have such a force at our command. I hope the Minister will take into his serious consideration the necessity of affording every facility to members of rifle clubs, because I regard them as forming an important element in our defence organization. I was not particularly enamoured of the proposal for the establishment of a military college, when it was introduced last session by the honorable member for Wannon, but, after full consideration of the good work achieved by such institutions in other parts of the world, I.believe that we might very well try the experiment. I believe that if the Boers had established military colleges, and their officers had had military training, such as that given to European officers, a very different tale would have been told about the recent campaign. I am not specially interested in the location of such an institution, but I should like to see it established in Brisbane. If a small arms factory is to be established in Western Australia, as has been suggested by one honorable member, Queensland might fairly claim to have the college situated within her territory. I am pleased that the clause which found a place in the Bill formerly introduced, providing for certain exemptions from military service, has been abandoned. I believe that a number of members of Parliament, who are officers, were quite prepared to shield themselves behind such a provision, and thus secure immunity from- active service. It is all very well for such gentlemen -to wear the feathers attached to’ their rank, but they should be compelled to take the risk of having those feathers singed. We were told during the discussion upon the Naval Agreement Bill that the word “ defence “ was no longer strictly applicable to the operations of our forces, and yet I find that that term has been used throughout the Bill. If there was any point in the -remarks made upon that subject, I think the word “ defence “ should . be struck out, and the word “offence” substituted in order to bring the Bill into line with the other measure to which I have referred. I am strongly opposed to granting the power sought in clause 42, to call upon the members of the permanent forces to serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. I do not believe in any man being taken out of the Commonwealth against his will for military service. We have the word of the honorable and learned member for Corio that the whole of the members of the permanent force at Queenscliff volunteered for service in South Africa, and the same remark would apply to similar forces in the other States. I know that every man in Brisbane offered his services. When I was a soldier and a difficult task had “to be performed, the commanding officer communicated the fact to the captain of the battery, who addressed the men, pointing out the difficulties to be encountered and the risks to be run, and then called for as many volunteers as might be necessary. I do not remember one occasion upon which the whole of the battery did not volunteer. The difficulty was not to get the men, but to make a selection, and that was generally done by “ a dip in the hat.” Whilst that spirit inspires our men we do not need to introduce the element of compulsion. One volunteer is worth 50 pressed men. A volunteer goes out with a strong determination to do his very best, whereas the pressed man frequently does not care whether he succeeds or not. I hope the clause will be struck out. The question of establishing a small arms and ammunition ‘ factory is one which I regard as of greater importance than almost anything else connected with our defence system. I think that there should be several factories, and_that they should be located some distance inland. If there is to be no railway communication between Western Australia and the Eastern States, a small arms and ammunition factory should be established in Western Australia. Not only so, but an arsenal should be provided, at which guns could be rerifled and ammunition for heavy artillery could be manufactured. In Queensland, also, we should have either ammunition factories or good reserve depots situated some distance inland. It is all very well to say - “ Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” but we do not know the day when we may be called upon, not only to defend our shores, but, perhaps, to help Great Britain in the China Seas or in the East Indies. If we had reserve stocks of ammunition, we could render great service to the mother country by placing our supplies at her disposal. The question of ammunition supply is one of the greatest importance. I do not believe in intrusting this work to private firms. We know of the very unfavorable experience gained of contractors in connexion with the despatch of the Australian contingents to South Africa. The report of the select committee of the New South Wales Parliament, which investigated certain complaints against contractors for the supply of clothing and equipments for the forces, showed that the greatest abuses had existed, and that all sorts of shoddy material was used. It is surprising that men of our own race should stoop to such despicable methods, and that men who howl about their loyalty should be ready to line their own purses at the expense of our soldiers.

Mr Fowler:

– It ought to be a made a treasonable offence.

Mr PAGE:

– Yes. It was also found that almost all the tinned goods supplied to our troops in South Africa were short in weight. All these experiences point to the importance of making^ our own ammunition. Not only should we insure the manufacture of ammunition of good quality, but, in time of -emergency, we should’ be able to rely upon a constant supply at a reasonable cost, instead of having to pay exorbitant prices. Great Britain would have found herself in a position of the utmost difficulty if she had had to rely entirely upon private manufacturers at the time of greatest need during the South African campaign. I hope that the Bill will be carried, and that it will emerge from Committee in a shape equally satisfactory to honorable members and to the country. I agree that the most important clause is that which gives the power to make regulations. I do not believe in government by regulation, but it appears that we must have regulations, and I am satisfied from the observations to which we have listened from time to time from the Minister for Defence, that not only the defence forces of the Commonwealth, but the rifle clubs, and particularly the cadet corps, will get a square deal from the right honorable gentleman. I hope that in Committee the Bill will be made to suit not only the House, but the country.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I cannot approach the consideration of this Bill with any profession of special knowledge or expert experience of military matters, but it has often occurred to me that in the discussion of military matters we too frequently lose sight of the fact that the citizen and the taxpayer are entitled to be very seriously considered as well as the man in the ranks and the officer who is to take charge of the military forces. It is particularly from the stand-point of the citizens that I desire to speak in reference to this measure. I may be permitted first of all to speak of the clause which has perhaps excited most hostile criticism to-night. I refer to clause 42, which empowers the Government practically to order the military forces of the Commonwealth to serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. I feel that in the interests of the citizens of the Commonwealth particularly, and also in the interests of the soldiers themselves, this is a provision which should not be passed in this Bill. We are proposing to organize military forces for the defence of the Commonwealth, and are not likely, within .the next few years at any rate, to be able to raise a sufficient force to do more than effectively defend our own country. There may be times such as occurred at the outbreak of the war in South Africa when a demand will be made on the loyalty and patriotism of Australians, and when it may be necessary to call for offers from our soldiers and citizens to serve abroad. If ever that occasion again arises, as has already been pointed out by honorable members, there will be an outburst of loyalty on the part of our people, which will insure a sufficient number of volunteers for service abroad, to enable us to dispense with such a provision as we have in this Bill. I remind honorable members that the members of the force itself have reserved for them under this Bill the power or the right to volunteer for service abroad. That is as it should be. Clause 106 provides -

Nothing contained in this Act shall prevent any member of the defence force from volunteering to serve in any force that may be raised by the Commonwealth to augment any of the King’s regular or other forces.

That is a power which it is quite rightwe should give. We should reserve a full right for our own volunteers and soldiers to offer their services abroad, if they wish to do so. But I think that we shall be acting against the very best interests of the Commonwealth, and that we shall be. imposing a very grave disability upon the men themselves if we make them subject to orders to go forth and serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. I seriously trust that the Minister for Defence will be influenced by the criticism which has been directed against this particular clause and will see that it is eliminated, or will, at least, consent to its amendment. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne called attention to one clause dealing with courts- martial, and especially to the power which is given to a court martial to deal with comments upon its proceedings, as a matter which should receive the serious consideration of the Minister. Every member of this House and every thinking person outside will admit the necessity for preventing any comment upon the proceedings of a court martial, just as we prevent comment upon the proceedings of any other court,, while a case is under consideration. But it will be an outrage upon the liberty of the press and upon the liberty of public. men to criticise the actions of public bodies, if the decisions of a court martial are not to be open to comment.

Sir John Forrest:

– What is provided is that they shall not so criticise as to bring thecourt into disrepute.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Does not that after all mean that they are not to adversely criticise ?

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– That they are not to call a drunken court, drunk ?

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the decision pf a court is ridiculous, would not any newspaper be entitled to hold the finding of that court up to public ridicule 1 In my opinion it would be in duty bound to do so.

Mr Page:

– It could not do so under this clause.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– It could not do so under this clause, and it is for that reason I say that the clause should not be allowed to pass in its present form.

Sir John Forrest:

– That cannot be done in the case of a Supreme Court either.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– - Newspapers may comment upon the decisions of a Supreme Court.

Sir John Forrest:

– I have known persons connected with them to be sent to gaol for doing so.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– It depends upon how they do it.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Exactly so ; but we do not attempt to prevent a newspaper or public men commenting in the way of legitimate criticism upon the findings of juries or the decisions of Judges. Would the right honorable gentleman think of investing a police court with such a power as this, a power to commit for contempt of court any person who adversely criticises the decisions of magistrates ? Surely it will be admitted that at times it is absolutely necessary in the interests of public justice to hold a ridiculous decision up to public ridicule 1 In this matter the Minister for Defence will do well to be influenced by the criticism which has been so freely offered upon this clause. The chief feature of this Bill is certainly the prominence which it gives to the citizen force : but the Minister for Defence might well consider some of the criticisms, indulged in by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne in referring to the disabilities which citizens may suffer under the provisions in regard to enlistment.

Sir John Forrest:

– I think the honorable and learned member referred to clause 56.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The honorable and learned member was referring particularly to clause 56, and especially to sub-clause (2), under which by proclamation all persons liable to serve in the militia, forces may be called upon to enlist in those forces, before the provisions of paragraph (6) of that subclause are put into force. That involves a disability which the Minister should take into consideration. All that is required is the power to issue a proclamation calling upon all the persons specified in the sub-clause (3),. because the Minister is there given power to call out one by one each class of persons liable to serve, in the order in which the classes are set down in the sub-clause. It is, therefore, not necessary that he should possess a power to proclaim that all persons liable’ to serve shall serve at once.

Sir John Forrest:

– It may be necessary.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– It may be necessary to call them all out, and if that is what the right honorable gentleman means, it would be better to reverse the order of these sub clauses, and so give the power only in case of extreme emergency to call upon all persons liable to serve in the Militia forces to enlist in those forces. I think that the criticism offered by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is justifiable, and the Minister for Defence will do well to give it serious consideration before we come to deal with the Bill in detail. I should like to call attention to another matter which is dealt with in clause 45. It is another phase of the question we have discussed in regard to calling upon the members of the Permanent force to serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. In this clause it is provided that

Members of the citizen forces, who are members of the naval forces, may be required to serve either within or beyond the limits of the Commonwealth.

The Minister for Defence will see that in the arrangement which this House has already consented to, in connexion with the Naval Agreement Bill, we have given up our right to demand protection from the Imperial Squadron in these waters in times of war, and I, therefore, do not think we should allow our naval forces to go abroad in times of war. That is a provision which we ought not to agree to.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– It merely means outside of territorial waters.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– It may mean anything. The small naval force which we possess may be requisitioned for service in distant waters.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– If we had torpedo boats for instance, would the honorable member keep them within the three miles limit ?

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Not at all. They should render the most effective service, of which they are capable. But under this clause our naval force can be utilized for service in the China seas or anywhere else.

Mr Fowler:

– If we restrict their movements in the direction suggested, we shall make it impossible to transport men across the Bight to Western Australia.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I think that we should grant power to move the forces anywhere within territorial waters. But this clause would vest in the Governor-General power to order our local naval forces to render service abroad.

Sir John Forrest:

– The provision is limited by the words - “ For the defence and protection of the Commonwealth.”

Sir Edmund Barton:

– Unless it is for defence purposes, the force cannot be taken away. We might have to fight a hostile cruiser ten miles off the Heads.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– In that case we have the power to make use of our naval forces. I hold, however, that when a force has been raised for the defence of our own coasts it ought not to be used for any other purpose.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– If we had a couple of fighting cruisers why should they not proceed 500 miles north of Thursday Island to meet an enemy ?

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I think that the Minister for Defence has already admitted that, th rough an oversight, no limitation is imposed upon clause 64, which reads -

Members of the Defence Force may, as prescribed, be billetted, quartered, or cantoned, but nothing in this Act shall authorize the quartering or billeting of any member of the Defence Force in any house solely occupied by women, or by women and children.

We all recognise that very extreme powers must be given to military commanders in time of war, but in its present form this provision is not limited to the period during which a state of war prevails. Now that the Prime Minister is present, I should like to direct his attention to clause 6. In connexion with another measure we experienced a little difficulty regarding our power to repeal State Acts. This clause may not be quite a repealing clause, but to a certain extent it exercises the power of repeal. I do not know the position which the Commonwealth occupies at the present time, and the Minister has never informed us whether we have any legal authority in connexion with the defence forces of the States.

Sir John Forrest:

– I did so in my speech.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I read the right honorable gentleman’s speech very carefully, and I confess that that part must have escaped my attention. I suppose that the Minister is thoroughly satisfied that we have full legal authority in this connexion ?

Sir John Forrest:

– I think we can utilize the State Acts until we pass a uniform Defence Act.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Do not the provisions of this clause virtually amount to a repeal of the State Acts?

Sir Edmund Barton:

– Except as to anything that has already been done under them.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– But is it not really a repealing clause?

Sir Edmund Barton:

– There is a doubt as to whether we have power to repeal the State Defence Acts in so many words, but I think we can direct the cessation of their application.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I call attention to the matter, because it will have a very important bearing upon future legislation undertaken by this Parliament. How are we to clear the ground ?

Sir Edmund Barton:

– In this way.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I direct attention to the matter because it is very important that we should know exactly how far we have power to clear the ground of State Acts which stand in our way. When the Immigration Restriction Bill was under consideration it was urged by the Senate that we had no power to repeal State Acts, and, without contesting the position taken up by the other Chamber, we consented to that view rather . than provoke controversy. I should like to know, therefore, whether clause 6 is a repealing clause to the same extent as was the provision in the Immigration Restriction Act to which objection was taken ?

Sir Edmund Barton:

– I think it is as good as a repealing clause.

Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I trust that this measure will speedily become law, and that the different forces of the Commonwealth will, be placed in a thoroughly sound condition. I am sorry that the funds at the disposal of the Minister, and the absence of a uniform Defence Act, have very seriously curtailed the organization of the military forces in all the States. In New South Wales it has been almost impossible to establish a rifle club, or encourage those who wished to volunteer their services for the defence of the Commonwealth. The sooner the provisions of this Bill can be availed of, the better will it be for the defence of Australia, and the sooner we shall be able to give some encouragement to the patriotism of the young men of the country, who are anxious to offer their services.

Sir JOHN QUICK:
Bendigo

– I shall support this measure with the greatest pleasure. I believe that it is the embodiment of the best views of the House as expressed during the debate upon the Defence Bill last session, and the Minister is entitled to every credit for the consideration which he has given to those views. It is undoubtedly a very comprehensive measure, and, on the whole, a very workable one. I am glad to notice that the Minister has not failed to take power in this Bill to deal with the re-organization of the local naval forces and naval defences. I find that under clause 59 -

The Governor-General may: -

Acquire or build and arm and maintain ships, vessels, and boats ;

Construct and maintain forts and defence works ; while by sub-clause (2), of clause8, he has power to

Appoint a naval officer of the King’s regular naval forces or of the defence force, to be the officer commanding the naval forces of the Commonwealth.

I hope that the Minister will, at an early date, exercise the power to appoint a general naval officer to supervise the naval defences which are already in existence in Australia, and to report upon them. An Imperial officer of a status in the navy equal to that held in the army by General Hutton, might be in a position, if placed in command of the naval forces of Australia, to suggest improvements and lines of. development so satisfactory that in the course of a few years - I do not say that the change could come about very hurriedly - he would place them on the high road to success, I hope that the Minister will take a personal interest in the existing naval forces, and that he will help to carry out the promise made by the Prime Minister to improve them. I trust that he will exercise the power which he proposes to take in this Bill to improve the existing naval forces rather than to ruthlessly sweep them away. The total appropriations made last year in respect of the naval and military defence of Australia amounted to £787,151.

Mr Crouch:

– Does that include the naval subsidy of £106,000?

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– No. Out of that total only £46,524 was expended on Australian Naval Defence. It- seems to me that in a country like Australia, whose first line of defence is mainly its sea forces, these figures represent an utter disproportion in the distribution of that expenditure. It is suggested that more attention should be given to the development of our naval defence, rather than to an undue expansion of our military forces. I trust that, so far as the naval expenditure is concerned, the Minister will not be discouraged by the action which was taken by this House during his absence last session, when the Defence vote was reduced ; but that he will take courage and try to make that branch of our defence effective. I do not think that anything that has been done by this House in the way of a general reduction of our defence expenditure, is significant of a desire to reduce our naval defence.

Mr Fowler:

– The money will always be found to give us efficiency.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– £46,524, out of the total vote of £787,151, seems to be a very small and fragmentary expenditure on our- defences by sea. I hope, however, that the Minister will obtain the services of the naval officer, for whose appointment authority is given in the Bill, and that he will accept the advice of that officer. If he does so, I am sure that he will very soon be able to make improvements in the existing forces which will command the respect of Australia.

Sir John Forrest:

– If Parliament will give us the money.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– The Government will always obtain money for every reasonable outlay in connexion with naval purposes.

Here, as in England, we shall never begrudge any expenditure on the navy.

Mr Fowler:

– Nor any expenditure to place our military defence on a good basis.

Sir John Forrest:

– That has not been our experience.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– The right honorable gentleman should not take too much to heart the experience of the past. If he had been here when the defence vote was under discussion he might have been able to give us information that would have prevented any reduction.

Mr Fowler:

– We never had any satisfactory basis to work upon.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– I do not believe that the House intended to reduce the naval expenditure. It was never specifically intended that there should be parsimony, so far as the naval forces, were concerned. For these reasons I trust that the Minister will exercise the power that he has taken in this Bill to develop our naval resources and to place them on a satisfactory footing. I do not object to the clause which provides that if the necessity arises -

The Governor-General may, for the purpose of training, or in time of war, for the defence and protection of the Commonwealth and of the several States, place the Naval Forces, or any part thereof, on board any ship of the King’s Royal Navy, and during the time they are so placed they shall be under the command of the officer commanding the ship upon which they

Are placed, and be subject to all laws and regulations to which the King’s Naval Forces are subject.

I am sure that the Government, as well as the people of the Commonwealth, would desire that the naval forces of Australia should operate in complete harmony with the British naval forces, and under the command of the Admiral on the station, in any naval war. In naval operation there must be unity of command and operation, and it would be a pride and a glory to Australia if its naval forces were placed under the command of the Admiral in time of war. Therefore that provision will have my hearty support. There might be no Australian ships available for the naval brigades which are being trained here, but in the absence of Australian ships an opportunity to place them under the command of the Admiral for service on British ships should be readily availed of. If Australian ships were available and could be manned by our forces, they should, if necessary, be placed under the command of the Admiral. I rose only for the purpose of drawing attention to the clauses in the Bill relating to the naval forces, and to say that they command my hearty support. I express the hope that the Minister will give early attention to the Australian naval forces as they exist, and will assist in giving effect to the promise of the Prime Minister that those naval forces - some of which it may be true are mere skeleton forces - shall very soon be placed on a sound and satisfactory footing ; that they shall be gradually increased, and that, if necessary, modern ships shall take the place of those which are inadequate and out of date. If he does that I am satisfied that he will have the hearty support of every section of the House. I have great pleasure in supporting the motion for the second reading of the Bill.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Minister for Defence · Swan · Protectionist

– I desire to express my thanks to honorable members for the generous way in which they have dealt with the Bill during this debate. I may say that I scarcely anticipated that so little exception would be taken to the measure, because it relates to a matter upon which there is a great diversity of opinion. But even if all the objections which have been made were allowed, I think that the Bill would still be found to be useful for the purposes for which it is intended. The honorable member for South Sydney, in the course of his criticism of the measure, complained that no scheme of defence had been placed before the House. As I have already pointed out, however, this is only, a machinery Bill. It was not in? tended that the question of re-organization should be considered during the debate on the motion for the second reading of the measure ; but honorable members will perhaps be interested to learn that the work of re-organization is complete, and that I hope to be able to-morrow to lay the scheme on the table of the House. At any rate, before the Bill is considered in Committee honorable members will have before them the complete scheme of reorganization, so far as it can be complete without the Estimates, which’ will be laid upon the table, I believe, on Tuesday next. I may mention, for the information of honorable members, that the present militia, volunteer, and permanent forces number 22,343, not including, of course, the members of the rifle clubs ; that on the Estimates for this year, 22,985 men will be provided for, and that under the scheme of the General Officer Commanding, the peace establishment is fixed at 25,844 ; so that there will be only about 3,500 more men on the peace establishment than we have at the present time. The establishment provided on the Estimates for this year will comprise 1,300 permanent men, 15,034 militiamen, and 6,651 volunteers. I merely give this information to show honorable members that the existing number of the forces, the number provided for on this year’s Estimates, and the number under the scheme of the General Officer Commanding are nearly alike. Owing to the wish expressed by the House for economy, and to the desire in theStates for economy, the next Estimates will show a reduction of £260,000 on those which were submitted for the year 1901-2. I hope that honorable members do not think it is necessary for me to deal to-night with the important matters which have been referred to, as we shall have an opportunity of considering them in Committee. It has been regretted by honorable members that the establishment of an ammunition factory has not been provided for in the Bill. The matter has received a good deal of attention, but there is a difficulty owing to the fact that there is existing in Victoria a contract with a company which has still ten years to run. Victoria uses more than one-third of the ammunition which is used on the continent.

Mr Tudor:

– Let us make the other twothirds for ourselves.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member is only anticipating me. At the present time all the “303 ammunition that we use is made in Australia, and that is what I think the honorable member desires that we should do. The factory at Foot- ‘scray makes all the ammunition - 8,000,000 rounds a year - so that we really do not import any small arms ammunition unless it is for the purpose of increasing our reserve stock.

Mr Page:

– They import the cordite.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Yes ; but the whole of the ammunition is made here at the present time. The question of establishing a factory is surrounded with some difficulty. It is not one which should be dealt with hastily. It has been before the Cabinet on several occasions, and has received a good deal of consideration, but the existence of this contract in Victoria makes the difficulty of dealing with the question greater than it would otherwise be. The honorable member for Dalley said that in some States promotions are made more quickly than in others, and that therefore officers who have had less service have higher rank than those who have had longer service. There is a great deal of difference between giving and taking. It is very pleasant to give a thing to any one ;. but when a person has a thing it is not so easy to take it away. It seems to me that the difficulty is so great that it is better not to take away a rank already legally conferred. For that reason, I have hesitated to put in the Bill a ‘ provision which would mean taking away from officers rank which they have had, perhaps, for years, and placing over them others of lower rank.

Mr Page:

– What would the Minister do if they were not competent 1

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If they were not competent, that would be a very good reason for retiring them. In regard to what was said about too many powers beinggiven in regulations, personally I should have no objection to as much as possiblebeing inserted in the Bill ; but it is not easy to do that. It would make the Bill very much less elastic than it is, if therewas no power to’ make regulations. The Bill is not singular in that respect, because most Acts of Parliament give a power to make regulations, and it is very freely used.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The Parliament has no check on them.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Public opinion and the Parliament have every check on them. It would not do, I think, toput everything in the Bill-r-at any rate it would be very inconvenient. In regard to what are called the “conscription clauses,”’ I may say that for a long time they have existed in the Defence Acts of Tasmania, South Australia, and Queensland. Although South Australia has the reputation of having democratic legislation on its statutebook, still we find “ conscription clauses “ in its Defence Act. So that we have notbeen striking out in a new direction in inserting similar clauses in this Bill. I donot think that at this hour I need detain honorable members any longer, except to-

Again thank them for the generous way in which they have dealt with the Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee :

Clause 1 (.Short title).

Mr MCDONALD:
Kennedy

– I regret that the Bill has been taken so far to-night. Several members who desired to speak have gone away.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– It is intended to commit the Bill only pro forma

Mr MCDONALD:

– Apart from the fact that some honorable members who were desirous of speaking have gone away, there may be others who would have liked to vote against the second reading. But we are in the unfortunate position that if a division had been called for it would have been found that there was no quorum, and the measure would have lapsed. That is an inconvenient position, for which I do not blame the Government but the honorable members who ought to have been here to attend to the business..

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– The honorable member for Kennedy takes up a most peculiar attitude. If we remain and do the business of the country, there is no need for us to consider those who have chosen to leave. I am very pleased that the Bill has been read a second time, because it is purely a Committee measure.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I think the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy are uncalled for.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I do not think this discussion ought to be continued.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I am dealing with clause 1 ; but I trust it is not intended to-night to deal with the measure in any detail. It is admittedly a Committee Bill, and honorable members left the House on the understanding that the Government would -not go beyond the second reading.

Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -

That the Chairman do now leave the Chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.

Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN:
Melbourne

– I quite agree with honorable members who are of opinion that if we remain and keep a House while others choose to go away, we should not refrain from going on with work. Honorable members who have left knew perfectly well that it was the intention to pass the second reading. It is purely a Committee Bill ; and the action of the honorable member for Kennedy may cause readers of the newspapers to think that there are very few members present.. At any rate, I desire to let the public know that I am here to do my duty.

Mr. MCDONALD (Kennedy).- I maintain that the position I have taken up is the right one. I am not objecting to the motion for the second reading being passed; but merely pointing out that if an amendment had been moved and a division called for it would have been found, as I said before, that there was no quorum.

Mr Kirwan:

– Is the honorable member sure there would not be a quorum t

Mr MCDONALD:

– I am pretty well sure.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– But the Bill would not lapse.

Mr McDONALD:

– It would have been necessary to submit a motion to-morrow to restore the Bill to the notice-paper, and a great deal of difficulty might have been experienced. However, I will not take advantage of the position, and personally I should be prepared to stay an hour or two longer and deal with a few of the clauses.

Motion agreed to ; progress reported.

page 2563

SUGAR BONUS BILL

Bill returned from the Senate with the following message : -

The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the Bill for “ An Act to provide for a Bonus to Growers of Sugar-Cane or Beet,” and acquaints the House that the Senate does not insist upon amendment No. 3, but requests the House to amend the Bill as set forth in the annexed schedule.

page 2563

ADJOURNMENT

Newspaper Supplements - Commonwealth Library - Sugar Bonus Bill

Motion (by Sir Edmund Barton) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– In the absence of the honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Philip Fysh, I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister a matter which affects newspapers and the Postal Department. I am not asked to do this only on behalf of the newspaper immediately interested, because although it is an important publication, which does attach much consequence to the inconvenience ;I call attention to the subject because it also affects a number of country newspapers: I have here what it was proposed should be a supplement to the Geelong Times, and the complaint is that, on its being presented at the Post-office at Geelong, and afterwards in Melbourne, it was refused, although it complies absolutely with the Post and Telegraph Act of 1901. Section 28 of that Act provides -

A publication printed on paper, and issued as a supplement to a newspaper, shall be deemed to be a supplement, and to be a part of the newspaper, if -

  1. It consists in substantial part of reading matter other than advertisements, or of engravings, prints, lithographs, or coloured supplements . . .

It is very hard when arrangements have been made to issue a supplement of that sort that it should be refused simply because it does not contain “ matter other than advertisements,” which is no requirement of the Act.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– The sheet produced appears to contain nothing but advertisements.

Mr CROUCH:

– But that has nothing to do with the matter, as it will be seen from the section I have read that there is no necessity for a supplement to contain “ reading matter other than advertisements,” the provision being that it shall consist of reading matter “ or engravings, prints, lithographs, or coloured supplements,” and this is distinctly a lithograph.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– The title of the newspaper ought to be printed upon the matter.

Mr CROUCH:

– That would have been done ; the sheet appears as it was submitted to the Post-office, which was satisfied that all the requirements but that referred to were complied with. This, as I said before, is a matter of considerable importance to country newspapers. I am told by the postal authorities that the debate upon the Post and Telegraph Act, as reported in Hansard, shows that other intentions on the part of this Parliament were manifest ; but the Prime Minister, as a lawyer, will agree that the only authority to which we can look is the Act of Parliament itself, and that the Postal Department has no right, by interpretation, to read into the Act of Parliament what is not contained in it. I hand the supplement and this correspondence to the right honorable gentleman, and ask him to see that the newspaper in question is treated justly. I also ask him to remember that it is not only the Geelong Times which is interested in this matter, but that that journal is representative of a large number of Victorian newspapers to whom the issuing of supplements of this kind is very important.

Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I should like to call the attention of the Prime Minister to a report which was tabled last, week with reference to an officer who was. commissioned to inquire into the collection and care of archives in the principal countries of Europe, with special reference to the collection and care of our own archives, and together with the subject of the commencement of a library for the Federal Parliament or the Federal capital, as the case may be. I had the honour of communicating with the Prime Minister with reference to this important subject, and had an interview with you, Mr. Speaker ; and I have received certain information which shows me that the subject is not being altogether forgotten. It is of sufficient importance for us to have some comprehensive report made to the House so that honorable members may see for themselves what is being done, and have an opportunity of criticising if what is being done is insufficient for the purpose. I am led to believe that the Government have received reports from several officials, librarians, and others with respect to the question, and it is well worth while to ask the right honorable gentleman if these reports cannot be furnished to the House, together with some information regarding what has been done towards securing not only a library of Australian literature and history, but all documents affecting the early days of federation, together with an account of various systems of collecting and storing the information ; so that when we have a capital of our own we shall not have to be searching the world for what can be obtained very easily at the present moment. The matter, I say, is of sufficient importance for us to obtain a really comprehensive report to show honorable members what has. been done in the matter, and in order to determine whether something more should not be done.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

– Seeing that it is probable that the consideration of the message of the Senate will be taken tomorrow, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will take care to insure that there will be a fairly good attendance, and to intimate publicly that the question is to be considered? Tomorrow is Friday, and there may be a comparatively small attendance of honorable members. Considering that the matter is a very important one, I shall be. glad if it is intimated that the attendance of honorable members will be required.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
HunterMinister for External Affairs · Protectionist

– With respect to the last question raised, as the House meets at half-past ten to-morrow morning I cannot see that it will be easy for the Government to intimate to honorable members that a quorum is necessary. Honorable members themselves know that some of the members who come from other States have gone away this afternoon. Probably honorable members whohave that knowledge will help us to form a quorum to-morrow. I have put the Sugar Bonus Bill on the paper, but it may possibly be inconvenient to go on with that business to-morrow. I hope, however, that after I have seen the Treasurer we shall be able to decide to proceed with it. Therefore, of course, it will be more satisfactory if there is a reasonable attendance. As to the question raised by the honorable and learned member for Corio, I will communicate with the Post and Telegraph Department calling attention to what he has said, and also asking them for their interpretation of the section to which allusion has been made. The question raised by the honorable member for South Sydney is an important one, and I am able to. say; on the authority of Mr. Speaker, that, as matters stand, the Library Committee of this Parliament is collecting - and has a vote applicable to the purpose- documents, pamphlets, and books relating to the early history of the various States, and to the origination of the Commonwealth, wherever it can find them. It may be that further steps will have to be taken in that direction, because there may be in the Federal capital a public library - as there are ordinarily public libraries in all capitals - as well as a Parliamentary library. On the other hand, it may be possible to found a large library, which may contain, contiguous to the Parliamentary Chambers, works of reference and general literature. It may be decided to follow the plan that has been adopted in other places of establishing a library of works for general use and research, to which the public will be admitted. It is possible - it may be possible, at any rate - to combine a public and parliamentary library, in that way. But I do not think that there should be a premature decision upon that subject. It is true, as the honorable member has said, that I asked a number of gentlemen who may be considered experts on the subject to offer me their suggestions as to. the method of instituting and maintaining a public library for the Commonwealth. Some most interesting papers were prepared and forwarded to me by gentlemen of standing in that regard. Correspondence which took place at the time between the Library Committee - through the President of the Senate and Mr. Speaker - and myself, induced me to go no further at that time, in consideration of certain representations they mode concerning the work of their own department. But the papers to which I refer are, I must say, of great value. They would amount to a considerable bulk, and whether or not they ought to be printed at the present time I cannot say. But I can see no harm in laying them upon the table, and I will do that. I. derived assistance and information from a letter which the honorable member wrote to me on the subject. I have to say also that I have derived a good deal of assistance from a valuable report by Mr. Bladen, whomI commissioned - during a tour for which he had leave of absence from his work in Sydney - to inquire into and report upon the method of collection, maintenance, and. keeping of archives in the principal cities of the world. I believe the Printing Committee have considered the question of ‘ printing the report, and if not, I hope they will do so. The report is a most valuable one, and I can commend it highly to the attention of honorable members.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 10.59 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 July 1903, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030723_reps_1_14/>.